Apostles of Sri Ramakrishna (RMIC)
The Direct Disciples of Sri Ramakrishna (Gomu)
These have been consolidated here for ease of browsing.
Abhedananda (1866 - 1939)
Swami Adbhutananda (d. 1920)
Swami Advaitananda (1828 - 1909)
Swami Trigunatitananda (1865 - 1914)
Swami Akhandananda (1864 - 1937)
Swami Subodhananda (1867 - 1932)
Swami Vijananananda (1868 - 1938)
(1863 - 1922)
The early name of Swami Brahmananda was Rakhal Chandra Gosh. He came of an aristocratic family in Basirhat in the district of twenty-four Parganas. His father Ananda Mohan Gosh was a zemindar. His mother was a pious lady and a devotee of Shri Krishna. Perhaps it was she who gave her son the name Rakhal (meaning the boy-companion of Shri Krishna) when the latter was born on 21st January 1863. Unfortunately the mother died when Rakhal was only five years old. Soon after, his father married a second wife who brought up Rakhal. Rakhal's education began in the village school which was started by Ananda Mohan chiefly for the sake of his son. As a student Rakhal was remarkable for his intelligence. But even as a boy he had varied interests in life. Physically he was much stronger than the average boy of his age.
Nearby was a temple dedicated to the Goddes Kali. Often enough Rakhal would be found seated still and calm witnessing the ceremony, or at the hour of darkness, when the service was being performed Rakhal would be seen standing before the Deity in great devotion.
Rakhal, from his boyhood, had instinctive love for devotional music. When begging friars sang songs in praise of Krishna the Flute-player of Vrindaban, or when anyone sang songs about the Divine Mother, he would become lost himself.
After he had finished the primary education, Rakhal was sent to Calcutta in 1875 and admitted into an English High School. In Calcutta he came in contact with Narendra Nath, afterwards known as Swami Vivekananda, who was then leader of the boys of the locality. Narendra, with his dinamic spirit and born leadership, cast his influence over others and carried them along the path he thought right. Rakhal, meek, quiet and soft-natured as he was, easily come under his spell, and there grew a close friendship between the two which culminated in a common discipleship at Dakshineswar and bore far-reaching results.
Alarmed at Rakhal's indifference to studies and wordly things, his father got him married. Such, however, was the irony of fate that his marriage itself brought Rakhal in contact with the one who afterwards changed the hole course of his life.
TO BE CONTINUED .......
Swami Brahmananda, the `Spiritual Son' of Sri Ramakrishna was the first
president of the Ramakrishna Order. Known as Rakhal Chandra Ghosh in his
premonastic days, he was born at Sikra, a village near Calcutta, on the
21st January 1863, of aristocratic parents. During the High School days
of Calcutta he came into contact with Narendranath ( Swami Vivekananda
) which developed into an intimate lifelong friendship.Even from his child
hood days he was given to devotional moods bordering on mysticism, which
naturally led to indifference to studies. His father got him married at
an early age to ward off the religious pursuits from his mind and fix him
up in the world. Strange to say, this very tie of marriage brought him
to Sri Ramakrishna who at once recognized in him his `spiritual Son' as
per the vision vouchsafed to him by the Divine Mother. Thus started a course
of spiritual intimacy and intensive training under the loving care of the
Guru, which resulted in several exalted mystic moods and
Practise a little Japa and meditation every day. Never stop for a single day. The mind is like a restless child, it wants to runaway. You must bring it back again and again and apply it to the meditation on the Lord. Go on this way for two or three years, and then an inexpressible joy will fill your mind. Meditation and Japa appear dry in the beggining. But still you must engage the mind in the contemplation of the Deity, like swallowing a bitter medicine. Slowly spiritual joy will grow in you. People work so hard to pass an examination! To realise the God is even easier than that. Only let them call on Him with a calm, cheerful heart.
Initiation into a Mantra helps concentration of mind, otherwise your mind will change and fluctuate; today you will like Kali-form, tomorow the Hari-form, and the next day perhaps the formless aspect of God. And thus your mind will not be concentrated on any one.
Pranayama and other Yogic practices are not suitable to the present times and conditions. One must observe complete Brahmacharya in order to practise them. One's food must be absolutely pure, Sattvika, and one must be guided by an expert teacher.
Practice is the means of concentrating the mind. Pranayama, breath-control, is also one of the means. But it is not safe for a householder; if one is not continent, one falls ill. Moreover, one must have nutritious food, a fine place, and pure air. In order to have meditation and concentration, you must practise in solitude. The more you will try, the more you will achieve. Wherever you find condition favourable, say if there is a fine serenity, sit down and meditate.
God is with form and is also formless and He is also above form and formlessness. What does Vedanta mean by saying that "Brahman is true and the world is false"? That the world as we see it now is false. The world vanishes in Samadhi, but you feel that you are experiencing a great joy.
There is a spiritual eye of wisdom between the two eyebrows. When its vision opens, a fountain of joy is released. The whole universe is seen to be merged in bliss.
This apparent universe, which you see, iis within the domain of the mind. The mind is the author, the mind has conjured it up. It cannot go beyond its own domain. Behind the mind, of which we are aware, is a subtle spiritual mind, existind in a seed form. Through contemplation, prayer, and Japa this mind develops, and with its unfoldment a new vision opens. This subtle mind also cannot reach God, the supreme Atman. But it leads you near to Him. At this stage, the world loses all its charm for the aspirant. He remain absorbed n the consciousness of God. Next comes Samadhi. The experience of Samadhi is indescribable-beyond is and is not. In this blessed experience there is neither happiness nor misery, neither light nor darkness. All is infinite Being, inexpresible.
The mind is susceptible to suggestions. It learns whatever you teach it. If through discrimination you can impress upon it the joy and fullness of life in the spirit and the folly of worldly attachments, then your mind will devotee itself more and more to God. Everyone must have an ideal firmly established in his life. This ideal must never be lowered. The supreme ideal of human life is to know God.
The Guru leads the disciple through different stages until he leaves him with the Lord. But there is no greater Guru than your own mind. When the mind has been purified through prayer and contemplation, it will direct you from within. Even in your daily duties this Guru will guide you.
The way of steadying and purifying the mind is to retire into solitude, control all cravings, and engage yourself in contemplation and meditation. The more you occupy the mind with holy thoughts, the greater will be your spiritual unfoldment.
Another means of steadying the mind is to let it wander; but keep watch over its workings. After some time the mind gets tired nd comes back to find peace in God. If you watch your mind, the mind, in turn, will keep watch over you.
Can anything be achieved without spiritual discipline? Do you not see what severe disciplines even Avataras had to perform?
Be self-reliant. Effort is indispensable to succes in spiritual life. Follow some discipline for at least four years. Then, if you don't make any tangible progress come back and slap my face.
Resign yourself utterly to the Lord. He is everything. There is nothing besides. Never be calculating. Is self-surrender possible in a day?
Work and worship must go hand in hand. It is very good if one can devote oneself solely to spiritual practices. But how many can do that? Two types of men can sit without work. One is the idiot, who is too dull to be active. The other is the saint who has gone beyond all activity. Work is a mean to the state of meditation. Instead of working for yourself, work for the Lord. Know that you are worshipping the Lord through your work.
I will declare again and again and emphasize this truth-that however busy you may be in carrying out your duties, you must practise Japa and meditation. If you work and forget God, egotism and pride will overpower you. Therefore I tell you, never forget God, no matter whether you are working or sitting idle. To maintain this attitude you must keep your spiritual practices as well, whatever happens.
The Gita and other scriptures emphasize the ideal of worship and meditation in the midst of the activities of life. I can confirm this from my own experience. "Work and worship" is the surest way to spiritual progress.
Why are you afraid of work? Work for Him. You can overcome all disinclination for work if you consider it as dedicated to God.
In performing Japa and meditation, certainly sufficient time and favourable conditions are important. But those who are inclined to practise spiritual exercises will do so under all circumstances. Cultivate the habit of constantly remembering God whether you are idle or engaged in work
(1861 - 1918)
BABURAM GHOSH (SWAMI PREMANANDA) was born in 1861 in the village of Antpur, in the Hoogli district of Bengal. His parents were pious, and the boy showed a strong religious vocation from childhood.
Baburam's sister was married to Balaram Bose, a wealthy man who became one of Ramakrishna's most prominent devotees during the last years of his life. Whem Babauram started his secondary education in Calcutta, the principal of his school was Mahendra Nath Gupta and one of the students in his class was Rakhal. Rakhal took Baburam to visit Dakshineswar in the autumn of 1882.
During his first visit, Ramakrishna subjected Baburam to certain physical tests. Ramakrishna often did this, saying that an examination of a man's physical characteristics reveal his spiritual character - at least to the insight of an initiated person. For example, Ramakrishna would say that eyes shaped like lotus petals betokened good thoughts; that eyes like those of bull betokened a predominance of lust; that the eyes of a yogi were reddish and had an upward cast. Those who are in a habit of looking out of the corners of their eyes from time to time, during a conversation are more intelligent than the common run. Again, a man of devotional nature has a soft body with flexible joints; even he is thin, his joints do not seem angular. Ramakrishna would wigh your forearm, asking you to hold it loose; if it was lighter than ordinary he would say that this showed a 'benefit intelligence".
He weighed Baburam's forearm in this manner, and also gazed into his face and examined his limbs. The verdict was evidently satisfactory, for Ramakrishna urged Baburam to visit him again. He particulary praised the young man's purity, saying that, when he was in a high spiritual mood, Baburam was one of the only few he could bear to have touch him. Two years later, he asked Baburam to become his attendant, and he told M.: 'When I ask Baburam,"Why don't you come here?" he answers, "Why don't you make me come?". Then he looks at Rakhal and weeps. "Rakhal is so happy here," he says. Baburam's hesitation to accept Ramakrishna's invitation was due to his fear of making his mother unhappy. But, soon after this, Baburam's mother, who had also become a devotee of Ramakrishna, came to Dakshineswar. Ramakrishna asked her to give her son the necessary permission and she did so gladly, only asking him in return that she might become perfect in devotion to God and not live to witness the death of her children.
Baburam begged Ramakrishna to give him the lower form of samadhi, bhava samadhi or ecstasy. Ramakrishna appealed to divine Mother and was told that Baburam could not have ecstasy but he would have non-dualistic knowledge of Brahman instead.
Baburam impressed all who met him by his sweetness. Ramakrishna would say of him that he had the nature of a woman; ading that he was like a clean new pot in which milk could safely be kept without fear of its turning sour. Yet this self-effacing young man matured into a marvellous teacher and trainer of the young, during the period when, as Swami Premananda, he virtually presided over the Ramakrishna Math (monastery) at Belur, from 1902 to 1916, two years before his death. He looked after the young monks and novices in his charge devotedly. His love seemed inexhaustible; it forgave and often overcame even their worst failings. Nevertheless, he would say to them, "Do I love you? No-for it I really did, I should have bound you to me forever. Oh, how dearly the Master loved us! We don't have even a hundreth part of that love towards you".
The name `Swami Premananda' given to Baburam by Swami Vivekananda at the time of accepting the monastic orders, was a true reflection of his basic trait universal love. Born to affluent parents on December 10, 1861, Baburam completed his early schooling in his village of Antpur (Bengal), came to Calcutta for higher education and joined the Metropolitan Institution. There he had the privilege of having Sri `M' ( Mahendranath Gupta ), the celebrated author of The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna as his Headmaster and Rakhal ( Swami Brahmananda) as his class-mate. It was the latter who was instrumental in taking Baburam to Sri Ramakrishna. Sri Ramakrishna examined Baburam's features in his own, rather queer, way and was satisfied about his high spiritual potentialities. Increased contacts with Sri Ramakrishna intensified Baburam's inherent spiritual thirst which had been manifesting itself even from his childhood. After the passing away of Sri Ramakrishna, Baburam, along with his brother-disciples like Narendranath ( Swami Vivekananda ) and Rakhal embrace the monastic life, becoming `Swami Premananda.' He spent most of his life in the monasteries at Baranagore, Alambazar and Belur taking care of worship, internal management and training of the new monastic recruits. His innate motherly love endeared him to one and all. Many a young man was reformed by his golden touch. During his later sojourn in several parts of Bengal, especially in East Bengal ( present Bangladesh ), he inspired the youth to be useful to the society by voluntary service. Though a man of high spiritual attainments, he was wont to hiding them and very reticent in giving expression to them. The deadly disease of Kala Azar took him on the 30th July 1918.
To follow the Master means to practise what he taught; otherwise nobody can advance by just offering to him a few flowers or through some momentary sentimental outbursts.
Can one become a great devotee of God simply by dancing and jumping or by quoting plentifully from the scriptures? What is wanted is freedom from selfishness - freedom from egotism... Mere talk will not do, this is an age of action.
Not mere theory; actualize it - there has been enough talk and writing. Put the books aside and let your actions speak. This is what the lives of the Master and Swamiji stand for.
The poor, the weak, the fallen, the ignorant - all these you have to make your own. And yet I warn you, that in loving one section of society you must not become hateful of the other, the rich.
(1861 - 1899)
YOGINDRA NATH CHAUDHURY (SWAMI YOGANANDA) was born in the year 1861. The Chaudhurys were once very aristocratic and prosperous but Yogin's parents had become poor. His father was a very orthodox Brahmin and performed many religious festivals.
Yogin was about sixteen or seventeen when he meet Shri Ramakrishna for the first time. He was then studying for Entrance Examination. At the very first meeting the Master recognised the spiritual potentiality of the boy and advised him to come to him now and then. Yogin was charmed with the warmth and cordiality with which he was received; and he began to repeat his visit as often as he could. He was very much devoted to Sri Ramakrishna and spent most of his time with him. Yogin friend's and companions begin to taunt and ridicule him for this. Of a quiet nature, he met all opposition with a silent smile. His parents were perturbed to see him indifferent to him indifferent to his studies and so much under the influence of Sri Ramakrishna. They decided to marry their son for that might create in him an interest in wordly things.
Things were arranged accordingly at home. Yogin knew nothing about this. He only got information that some one was ill at home, and thinking it might be his mother to whom he was greatly devoted, he hurried to Dakshineswar. But to his great dismay he found that he had been trapped; all this was simply a pretext to bring him home for his marriage.
Yogin was too gentle to be able to resist the wishes of his parents-specially of his mother, and in spite of hinself he consented to marry. His parents wrongly thought that marriage would wean his mind from other-wordlyness. But the effect was just the reverse. He became moody and brooded day and night over his mistake. He did not even like to show his face to the Master, who had a high expectation about his spirirtual future and would be sorely dissapointed to learn that he had through a momentary weakness.
When the news of all that had happened with regard to his beloved Yogin reached the Master, he sent information again and again to Yogin to come and see him. But Yogin was reluctant to go. Thereupon the Master hit upon a plan to drag him in, and told a friend of Yogin:"Yogin once took some money from here (i.e. from a temple oficer). It is strange that he has not returned the money, nor he has given any account of that!". When Yogin heard of this, his feelings were so aggrieved that he resolved to take the earliest opportunity to return the money and at the same time he thought that it would be his last visit to him.
Sri Ramakrishna was seated on his cot with his loin cloth on his lap when Yogin came to see him. Putting his cloth under his arm, he ran like a child to receive Yogin as soon as he saw him. Beside himself with joy at the coming of Yogin, the first thing that the Master said to him was: "What harm if you have married? Marriage will never interfere with your spiritual progress if God is gracious. One day bring your wife here. I shall so change her mind that instead of an obstacle she will be a great help to you."
A dead weight was lifted, as it were, from Yogin's heart, as he heard the Master utter these bold and encouraging words in an ecstatic mood. He saw light where it has had been all darkness for him. He was filled with new hope and strenght. While taking leave of the Master a little later, he raised the topic of money which he has to return, but to this the Master was supremely indifferent. He understood that the earlier remarks about the money had simply been an excuse to bring him back and admiration for the Master became all the more great, and he began to repeat his visits.
There are many incidents to show that Yogin, with all devotion to the Master, kept his critical faculty alert and did not fail to test him in a case of doubt. Once he asked the Master how one could get rid of the sex-idea. When Sri Ramakrishna said that it could be easily done by prayer to God, this simple process did not appeal to him. He thought that were so many persons who prayed to god, but nevertheless there came no change in their lifes. He had expected to learn from the (????) e, but he was dissapointed, and came to the conclusion that this prescription of a simple remedy was the outcome of his ignorance of any better means. During that time there stayed at Dakshineswar a Hatha-Yogi who would show to visitors his dexterity in many Yogic feats. Yogin got interest in him. Once he came to the temple precints and without meeting the Master went straight of the Hatha-Yogi where he sat listening to his words spellbound. Exactly at that moment the Master chanced to come to that place. Seeing Yogin there, he very endearingly caught hold of his arms and while leading him towards his own room said,"Why did you go there? If you practise these Yogic exercises, your whole thought will be concentrated on the body and not on God.". Yogin was not the person to submit so easily. He thought withim himself, perhaps the Master was jealous of the Hatha-Yogi and was afraid lest his allegiance be transferred to the latter. but on second he tried the remedy suggsted by the Master. To his great surprise he found wonderful results and felt ashamed of his doubting mind. Afterwards Swami Vivekananda used to say, "If there is any one amongst us who is completely free from sex-idea, it is Yogin".
Yogin grew spiritually under the keen care of the Master. Afterwards when Sri Ramakrisna felt ill and was under medical treatment at Cossipore, he was one of the disciples who laboured day and night in attending to the needs and comfort of their beloved Master. Long strain on this account told upon the none too strong health of Yogin, but the devoted disciple worked undauntedly.
The Mahasamadhi of Sri Ramakrishna threw all into deep gloom. To recover from this shock the Holy Mother went to Vrindaban with Yogin, Kali, Latu, Golap-Ma, Lakshmi Devi and Nikunja Devi (wife of M.).
Though counted among the disciples of Sri Ramakrishna and guided by him, Swami Yogananda was the first initiated disciple of Sri Sarada Devi, popularly known as the `Holy Mother.' Like the Mother whom he served meticulously with matchless devotion, his life was very unobtrusive for all outward appearances but very deep in inner mystic experiences, of which he sometimes gave a hint or two. Born in 1861 in an orthodox Brahmin family which was in indigent circumstances but had once been aristocratic and rich, Yogindra - the premonastic name of the Swami -- was by nature indrawn, gentle and shy. The desire to pluck a nice flower in Dakshineswar garden brought him face to face with Sri Ramakrishna whom Yogin mistook for gardener working there! He got the flower all right, but in the process, himself became a `flower plant' to be tended by a great gardener of lives. Though married, the world could never drag his mind down to worldliness. Just as pure gold cannot be shaped into ornaments but has got to be alloyed with a small quantity of other metals, Sri Ramakrishna had to `alloy' him with a bit of harshness to counter his too gentle a personality that could not last in this mundane world. But the disciple was not a goody goody simpleton. He could exercise his highly critical discernment even against his own guru or leader ( Swami Vivekananda ) when he thought it necessary. He was a good organizer. He had successfully attracted and inspired many a young man to the monastic life. He was extraordinarily devoted to the Holy Mother whom he served till the last day of his life. His congenitally frail constitution could not stand the rigors he chose to impose upon himself resulting in a rather premature death on March 28, 1899.
NITYA NIRANJAN GHOSH (NIRANJANANANDA) first came to Ramakrishna at the age of 18. At that time he was living in Calcutta with an uncle. He was a big youth, with a fine physique, and extremely handsome. In his boyhood, he had c lairvoyant powers and was used as a medium by a group of spiritualists. He was also a psychic healer. A rich man who was suffering from insomnia once came to him for help. Niranjan used to say later that he did not know if he had been able to cure the man, but that the sight of this suffering in the midst of wealth made him realize the worthlessness of all earthy possesions.
It is said in one account of Niranjan's first visit to Dakshineswar that he was accompanied by his spiritual friends who had heard of Ramakrishna and wanted to use him as a medium. Ramakrishna is said to have submitted to this experiment with his usua l innocent trustfulness, but later to have sensed something evil in it, and to have refused to continue. At all events, we know that Ramakrishna did, at this meeting reprove Niranjan for taking part in spiritualistic practices. 'My boy,' he told him,'if you let your mind dwell on ghosts, you'll become a ghost yourself. If you fix your mind on God your life will be filled with God. Now-which are you going to choose?'
M. tells us that Ramakrishna often praised Niranjan for his guilelessness and frankness.'Niranjan has no spot of guilt on him,'. When Niranjan took a job in an office, Ramakrishna was at first distressed. He told the youth,'I feel as if there were a d ark shadow over your face.' . Then, however, he learned that Niranjan had only done this to support his mother, and he agreed that he was justified. But, in general Ramakrishna felt that his young disciples should serve no master but God.
Niranjan was habitually good-natured. But he had a violent temper. One day, when he was coming to Dakshineswar on the public ferryboat, he overheard some of the other passengers speaking sneeringly of Ramakrishna, saying that he was not a true man of renunciation but a hypocrite who enjoyed good food and every comfort, and whose disciples were gullible schoolboys. Niranjan protested strongly, but the speakers ignored him. At this, Niranjan became enraged, jumped to his feet and began to rock the boat , threatening to capsize it in midstream. Niranjan was a powerful swimmer; he could easily have swum ashore after carrying out his threat. The passengers were frightened and they begged to be forgiven.
When Ramakrishna heard about this incident, he rebuked Niranjan severely. 'Anger is a deadly sin'., he said, 'you ought never to let it carry you away'. The seeming anger of a good man is something different It's no more than a mark made on water. It vanishes as soon as it's made. As for those mean-minded people who worth getting into a quarrel with - you could waste your whole life in such quarreling. Think of them as being no more than insects. Be indifferent to what they say. See what a great cr ime you were about to commit, under the influence of this anger! Think of the poor helmsman and the oarsmen in that boat-you were ready to drown them too, and they had done nothing!'
After the death of Ramakrishna, Niranjan was one of those who showed special devotion to the worship of his ashes and other relics. He was devoted also to Sarada Devi, whom the disciples then called the Holy Mother. He died of cholera in 1904.
Nityaniranjan Ghosh, more commonly known as Niranjan, was probably born in village Rajahat-Vishnupur (Bengal), but lived in Calcutta with his uncle. Physically well-built and majestic in appearance, he had somehow become associated with a group of spiritualists who has found in him a very good medium. Having heard about the great spiritual power of Sri Ramakrishna, Niranjan came to Dakshineswar one day. During this very first visit, the great Master told him, `My boy! If you think of ghosts and spooks, ghost and spook will you become! But if you think of God, divine will be your life. Which do you prefer ?' And this converted him from spiritualism to spiritual life. Though frank and open-hearted, he was subject to loosing temper and consequently all sense of proportions. Sri Ramakrishna took special care to help him overcome this weakness. Niranjan was one of the few who served the Master day and night during his illness. After his demise he took sannyasa along with others and became `Swami Niranjananda'. He was mainly instrumental in getting the major portion of the ashes of Sri Ramakrishna, to be later interred at the new Math built by Swami Vivekananda. He has a deep devotion for the Holy Mother. Though tender at heart, he could be fiercely stern in the face of hypocrisy. He breathed his last on the 9th may 1904.
(1865 - 1927)
Swami Saradananda (Sarat Chandra Chakravarty) first came to Dakshineswar in October 1883, when he was eighteen years old. Sarat's father owned a pharmacy and therefore wanted his son to become a doctor. Sarat was willing to do this, especially when Naren approved the plan, and he entered the Calcutta Medical College. But when Ramakrishna became fatally ill, Sarat at once abandoned his medical studies in order to nurse his Master. He never returned to them; for he became a monk. Throughout the rest of his life, however, he showed a vocation for nursing the sick. This he did fearlessly, even in case of most infectious diseases.
Sarat was noted for his courage and his imperturbable calm, the calm of the true yogi, which he displayed in the midst of various dangers. On one occasion, when he was travelling by carriage in the mountains of Kashmir, the horse took fright and bolte d down a steep slope; it was only saved from disaster because the carriage was stopped by a tree. Saradananda got out just a moment before the horse was killed by a great rock which fell from above. When he was asked later how he had felt at the time of the accident, he said that his mind had remained detached throughout, observing what took place with the objective interest. On another occasion, Saradananda was coming up the Ganges by boat with one of the devotees when a violent windstorm arose. The bo at seemed likely to sink, but the Swami never stopped puffing away at his hookah. His aplomb irritated the nervous devotee so much that he finally seized the pipe and threw it into the water.
In 1893, Vivekananda went for the first time to the United States and spent more than three years there and in Europe lecturing. In 1896, he wrote asking Saradananda to come to the West and carry on his work. The two met in London, where Saradananda h ad been giving some lectures. Vivekananda left for India and Saradananda sailed for New York, where he remained, as the head of Vedanta Society, until his return in India in 1898. He later became the first secretary of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission a nd held this office until his death in 1927.
Among Saradananda's many duties was the direction of a magazine called the Udbodhan (Awakening), which has been founded by Vivekananda. In 1908, he decided to build a house which would serve as an office for the magazine and a home for the Holy Mother. It was to pay off the debts incurred in building of this house that Saradananda began to write his articles which formed his Ramakrishna the Great Master ( called in Bengali Sri Sri Ramakrishna Lilaprasanga ). It was typical of him that he demanded no special privacy for himself while he engaged in this enormous task. Sitting cross-legged at a low desk in a tiny room, with the chatter of visitors all around him, he worked away with perfect concentration, breaking off, whenever nec cesary, to attend some administrative detail.
Saradananda continued his work on the Ramakrishna biography until the death of the Holy Mother in 1920. After that, he seemed to lose all desire to finish it; and this is why an account of the last days of the Ramakrishna is missing from the book. Ins tead, Swami busied himself in arrangements for the building of a temple to the Holy Mother at her native village of Jayrambati. It was consecrated in 1923.
While in ecstasy Sri Ramakrishna's behavior would often be mysterious. One day in such a mood, he sat on the lap of a young man, Sharat Chandra by name, and remarked, `I was testing how much weight he could bear'. This Sharat Chandra who was later known as `Swami Saradananda' successfully bore the burden of running Sri Ramakrishna Math and Mission as its (General) Secretary for nearly three decades.
Sharat Chandra Chakravarti (b. 23rd December 1865) was born at Calcutta in a rich and orthodox Brahmin family. He and Shashi, who later became Swami Ramakrishnananda, were not only cousins and family friends but also studied together at the Metropolitan College of Calcutta.
The first contact of the two cousins with Sri Ramakrishna during October 1883 -- was a turning point in their lives. Friendship with Narendranath (Swami Vivekananda) gave a further fillup to their spiritual and monastic aspirations.
Sharat, who was an adept in serving the sick, both by temperament and by experience, was one of the few important disciples of Sri Ramakrishna who nursed him during his fatal illness. After his passing away, Sharat too joined the select band of monastics under the leadership of Narendra and became `Swami Saradananda'.
Like his other monastic brothers, Swami Saradananda also spent a few years as an itinerant monk practising severe austerities. However, when Swami Vivekananda called him for continuing his work in the West, Saradananda went to London first and later to New York for the same. While he was proving to be a great success in the West, especially due to his spiritual attainments, he was recalled to India in 1898 by Swami Vivekananda to take over the executive responsibility of the Sri Ramakrishna Math and Mission as its (General) Secretary in which capacity he served till his last day.
The way he served Sri Sarada Devi, the Holy Mother, was a model par excellence for anyone to emulate, In order to build a residence for her at Calcutta which would also house the office of the Udbodhan, the Bengali Monthly of the Ramakrishna Order, he labored hard. To repay the debts he had incurred in doing so, he wrote the now monumental work Sri Ramakrishna Lilaprasanga (`Sri Ramakrishna, the Great Master').
The Swami was as learned as he was spiritual. His courtesy and gentleness were so overwhelming that even the rudest of men would melt into submission. Equanimity and coolheadedness, even under very trying circumstances, were another remarkable characteristic of his.
Soon after successfully convening the Ramakrishna Mission Convention at Belur Math in 1926, he took ill and shuffled off the mortal coil on the 19th August 1927.
Through selfless work the mind gets purified. And when the mind becomes pure, there arise knowledge and devotion in it.
Whatever work stands in the way of God-realization and increases discontent is bad work. You should wholly discard it.
The Ramakrishna Mission does not like to express any opinion, good or bad, about political discussions, for the Master did not instruct us to do anything of the kind, and Swamiji asked the Mission to keep itself aloof from such effort. That is why the Mission has been all along engaging itself in spirituality and service to humanity.
Now-a-days there are so many religious societies, but people lose all interest in them after a few days. What is the reason for this? The reason is our words are not in accord with our thoughts. The first step in religion is to be sincere to the core.
(1854 - 1934)
Swami Shivananda, the second president of the Ramakrishna Order, was popularly known as `Mahapurush Maharaj'.
Born probably in 1854 at Barasat of West Bengal, in a respectable and deeply religious family, Tarak -- that was his original name -- got a good education, both secular and spiritual. When he was working in Calcutta in an English Firm, he got an opportunity of seeing Sri Ramakrishna about whom he had already heard. Later, when he met Sri Ramakrishna at Dakshineswar, the latter was pleasantly surprised to learn that he was the son of Ramkanai Ghosal, his old friend. Needles to say that Tarak had the full approval of his father for becoming a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna.
Tarak was the first person to join the monastery at Baranagore after the demise of the Master, and was christened `Swami Shivananda' while receiving the monastic orders. Though Tarak had been married, he had successfully kept up the vow of brahmacharya (celibacy). This made Swami Vivekananda remark in later days that he was a `Mahapurush.' This name stuck and he became known as `Mahapurush Maharaj.' Like his brother-disciples, he also spent a few years as an itinerant monk. But he had to settle down at the monastery in 1897 after the triumphant return of Swami Vivekananda from the West. Fro some time he was in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) also, preaching Vedanta at the behest of Swami Vivekananda. He also took a leading part in the first plague relief work of the Ramakrishna Mission in 1899. It was he who started the Ashrama at Varanasi.
But the most memorable part of his life was during his stewardship of the Ramakrishna Organizations as the president from 1922 to 1934, when he blessed a large number of people with initiation and brought spiritual solace and comfort to thousands of devotees. He passed away on the 20th February 1934 after a protracted illness which, never alienated him from his Lord whose presence he was constantly aware of. He was was one of the finest examples of the fact that the beauty and sublimity of the inner life of a holy man can never be described in words but can only be tangibly felt.
Low thoughts will come and go. Don't mind them. Through His grace, as a result of constant practice you will get strength. Devote your whole mind to japa, meditation, worship and the study of the scriptures, whichever appeals to you for the time being.
Mere mechanical japa does not help much. You must have love for the Lord. But then, even mechanical japa has some results; after all it is Lord's name that is being repeated.
Pray to the Lord for strength, knowledge and dispassion. Pray to Him with all your heart for His grace and for devotion and faith. It is not possible for everyone to practise hard austerities, but then, through prayer everything is attained.
(1863 - 1911)
Shashi Bhusban Chakravarti - Swami Ramakrishnananda - was born in an orthodox brahmin family of the Hooghly district, Bengal, on 13th July 1863. His father, Ishwarachandra Chakravarti, a strict observer of religious traditions and a devout worshipper of the Divine Mother, gave the early training that laid the foundations of the lofty character exhibited in the life of his great son.
Shashi went to school and having successfully completed the school course he entered the Metropolitan College, Calcutta. He was a brilliant student at college and his favourite subjects were literature (both English and Sanskrit), mathematics and philosophy . He and his cousin Sharat Chandra - afterwards Swami Saradananda - came under the influence of the Brahmo Samaj. Shashi became intimately known to the Brahmo leader Keshab Chandra Sen, and was appointed private tutor to his sons.
On a certain day in October 1883, Shashi and Sarat, along with a few other boy-companions, arrived at Dakshineswar to see the Master. Shri Ramakrishna received them with a smile and began to talk to them warmly about the need of renunciation in spirit ual life. Shashi was then reading in the First Arts class and the others were preparing for matriculation. As Shashi was the oldest of the band, the conversation was addressed to him. Shri Ramakrishna asked Shashi whether he believed in God with form or without form. The boy frankly answered that he was not certain about the existence of God and was not, therefore, able to speak one way or another. The reply pleased the Master very much. Shashi and Sharat were fascinated by the personality of Sri Ramakr ishna whom they henceworth accepted as their Master, the pole-star of their lives. Of Shashi and Sharat, Sri Ramakrishna used to say that both of them were the followers of Jesus the Christ in a former incarnation.
Shashi was the very embodiment of service. Other disciples also gave the best in the service of Master. But Shashi's case was conspicious.
After the Master death, the boys who were children of the Master gathered together at the newly founded monastery at Baranagore. While others were indifferent as to whether the body lived or went in their intense search for the Highest, Shashi took ca re that his brother disciples had not to face any starvation actually. The time came when the boys decided to renounce the world formally by taking the monastic vows. They changed their names. Shashi became Swami Ramakrishnananda.
In 1897, Ramakrishnananda became the founder of the Ramakrishna Mission in Madras and remained in the charge until his death in 1911. He was very strict in his choice for novices for the Madras monastery; and he could be strict to them and with the ho useholder devotees.
It is said that Swami Vivekananda at the time of sannyasa wanted to take the name of 'Ramakrishnananda' for himself, but gave it up in favor of Shashibhushan, who, he thought, deserved it best. And, Shashi deserved it eminently by dint of his devoted service to Sri Ramakrishna especially during his last days. The way he served Sri Ramakrishna when he was alive and the way he carried on his worship through relics after his Mahasamadhi were, to say the least, exemplary.
Born on the 13th July 1863 -- the same year as Vivekananda -- in an orthodox Brahmin family of the Hoogly district of Bengal. Shashi got a good education and an excellent training during the early years which laid the foundation for a lofty character. His very first visit -- along with his cousin Sharat ( Swami Saradananda) -- to Sri Ramakrishna forged strong links with him, whom he accepted as the pole-star of his life.
During the last illness of the Maser, Shashi toiled say and night to serve him and to lookto his comforts. After his demise, when the relics were gathered and established in the shrine of the maiden monastery at Baranagore, it was Shashi who took upon himself the responsibility of worshiping it as also take care his monastic brothers who had been fired by an intense spirit of renunciation. No mother would have served her children with greater feeling and care than Shashi cared for them.
At the behest of Swami Vivekananda, Shashi -- now Swami Ramakrishnananda -- came down to Madras to start a monastery there. By his austere life, devoted service and immense scholarship he was able to put the monastery on a solid foundation though he had often to pass through fiery ordeals. It was he who kindled the interest of the people in the then princely State of Mysore, in the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna and eventually start a Math at Bangalore also.
The Swami was a combination of intellectual scholarship of the highest level and devotion of the deepest type. In spite of all his stern external discipline, he possessed a soft and motherly heart.
The hard incessant work he did to consolidate the work of the Math at Madras broke even his massive frame. He left the mortal coil on the 21st August 1911.
What kind of devotion takes us to God? The child's devotion to the mother. Why does the baby go to the mother? Because it has reasoned out that the mother is the best friend it has. And why do you go to God? Because you have previously reasoned out that God will help you and no one else can. So, as the baby goes to the mother, you will go to God.
So long as we have no ideal to follow, we will have to heed the calls of our lower nature. A characterless man is slave to all worldly enjoyments.
You have been worshiping this god of your body for so many lives; it is not easy to begin worship the true God all at once. It you would raise you Self, you must crucify the body and conquer the senses.
A few people, there are, who appear to live in this world, but do not really belong here. Swami Turiyananda was one of them. Born in a religious family, of Brahmana parents, on the 3rd of January 1863 (just nine days earlier to the advent of Swami Vivekananda), Harinath Chattopadhyaya -- that was his premonastic name -- was given to much orthodox observances even in his younger days. An innate desire for liberation in this very life, kindled by the study of Vedantic works brought him to Sri Ramakrishna. The Master through his deep spiritual insight and all-encompassing love, quickly won his heart. Not only that, he soon discovered and destroyed two unhealthy trends in his personality -- abhorrence of womankind and excessive reliance on self-effort.
After accepting the monastic robes and vows, Harinath became `Swami Turiyananda'. His orthodox mental makeup made him undertake long and arduous journeys as an itinerant monk, and practise severe austerities as also study of the scriptures. Though he had great love and respect for Swami Vivekananda, he was at first averse to active missionary work. But, Swamiji's love melted his heart. He accompanied Swamiji to the United States and worked there for about three years. The Shanti Ashrama in California was practically his creation.
After returning to India he spent his days mostly in austerity and in training the younger generation of monks. His burning spirit of renunciation, deep faith in the Divine Mother, and insight into the intricacies of the scriptures left an indelible impression on everyone that came into contact with him. His fortitude and the control he could exercise over his body were astonishing.
He left the body on the 21st July 1922.
Never pride yourself on your having gained control over the passions. If you do, they will at once raise their heads. Ever pray to Him, `O Lord, save me from them'.
Nothing short of complete self-surrender to Him will do. You call Him the Inner Controller (Antharyamin), omniscient, omnipresent, and yet you are afraid to surrender yourself to Him!
Never expect anything from anyone. But always give. Otherwise a sense of dryness will overtake you. But you must not give your mind to anyone. That you must give only to God.
Work done in the spirit of service can lead one as surely to the goal as meditation and japa.
KALI PRASAD CHANDRA (ABHEDANANADA) was a precocious scholar. At a very early age he learned Sanskrit and studied Western Philosophy. He was naturally open-minded and felt no prejudice in favour of any one religion. Having beco me fascinated by the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, he was eager to find someone who could teach him to follow the methods of meditation they prescribe. One of his classmates told him about Ramakrishna, so he went to visit him.
As soon as Ramakrishna set eyes on the boy, he told him, 'You were a great yogi in your previous birth. This is your last birth. I am going to initiate you in the practice of yoga.' Thenceforward, Kali came to Dakshineswar as often as he possibly coul d. When Ramakrishna fell sick, he was among those who nursed him most devotedly. After Ramakrishna's death, he entered the Order and became known as Abhedananda.
In 1896, while Vivekananda was in London, he sent for Abhedananda to join him. When Abhedananda arrived, he found, to his dismay, that Vivekananda had already arranged a lecture for him and announced it to the press. Abhedananda had never spoken in pu blic before in his life; but, such was his faith in Vivekananda's decisions, that he appeared in front of an audience which filled the hall to its capacity and gave a brilliant lecture. Vivekananda was delighted, and left for India with perfect confidence that his work would be carried on as well as could be wished. Abhedananda remain in England for a year.
In 1897, Vivekananda asked him to take charge of the Vedanta Society in New York. There, too, Abhedananda was most successful. He appears to have felt more at home in America than any of his brother swamis. With the exception of one short visit to Ind ia in 1906, he stayed on there, teaching and lecturing, until 1921.
Abhedananda was always an individualist. When he returned to Calcutta, he founded his own Vedanta Society, which gradually dissociated itself from Belur Math, though there were no unfriendly feelings between the members of the two institutions. By 193 9, the year of his death, Abhedananda was the last survivor of the direct disciples and one of the very few people still alive who had ever meet Ramakrishna.
Author of several exquisite Sanskrit hymns on Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Sarada Devi -- the most popular one being `prakritim paramam' -- Swami Abhedananda was a rare combination of several talents like intellectual acumen, devotional fervor and yogic introspection. He was a good speaker and a prolific writer.
Known as Kaliprasad Chandra in his premonastic days, he was born on the 2nd October 1866 in Calcutta to enlightened parents, both of whom were deeply devoted to Mother Kali. Even from his boyhood days, he was inclined towards the study of Sanskrit. As he grew up he was drawn to the study of philosophical works, both eastern and western. His desire to become a yogi brought him to Sri Ramakrishna who immediately recognized him as a disciple in his inner circle. He progressed speedily in the inner life under the guidance of the Master.
After the demise of the Master, Kali accepted Sannyasa along with the other disciples and became `Swami Abhedananda'. He was given to much study and contemplation during the early days of his monastic life earning for himself the nickname `Kali Tapasvi.'
When Swami Vivekananda wanted a proper assistant to continue the work in the West, he naturally thought of Swami Abhedananda. His very first discourse on Advaita Vedanta delivered at London was an instant success. He later shifted to New York. He toured and lectured very extensively in the West (both USA and Europe) for a quarter of a century. His lectures attracted the cream of Western intellects as also earnest seekers of Truth. He returned to India in 1921 and formed a `Ramakrishna Vedanta Society' in Calcutta to carry on his work in his own way. When he gave up the mortal coil on the 8th September 1939, the era of the direct Sannyasin disciples of the Master came to an end.
If you desire to have firm and unshakable faith and devotion to the Lord, you should also take to tapasya, hard austerities. Tapasya does not mean aimless wandering hither and thither, it really means regular and steadfast japa, meditation and self-control.
Why should you be afraid of doing work? if the mind is not purified by work, one cannot attain true knowledge. Wherever you go with your little mind. the mind will also accompany you and abide with you.
"Latu is the greatest miracle of Sri Ramakrishna", Swamiji once said with reference to Swami Adbhutananda. "Having absolutely no education, he has attained to the highest wisdom simply at the touch of the Master". Yes, Latu Ma haraj, by which name Swami Adbhutananda was popularly known, was the peer of the Master in this respect that he was entirely innocent of the knowledge of the three R's. Nay, he even surpassed the Master in his ignorance; for whereas the Master could some how manage to read and write, with Latu Maharaj any reading or writing was out of the question.
Once Shri Ramakrishna attempted to teach young Latu how to read and write. But in spite of repeated attempts, Latu pronounced the Bengali alphabet in such a distorted way that the Master, out of sheer despair gave up the attempt to educate Latu. It di d not matter, however, that Latu had no book learning. Books supply us knowledge by proxy, as it were. Latu had direct access to the Fountain-head of knowledge. The result was that great scholars and philosophers would sit dumb at his feet to hear the wo rds of wisdom that dropped from his lips. Sri Ramakrishna used to say that when a ray of light comes from the great source of all light, all book-learning loses its value. His own life bore testimony to his fact.
The early name of Swami Adbhutananda was Rakhturam, which was shortened to Latu. He was born of humble parents in a village in the district of Chhapra in Bihar. His early life is shrouded in obscurity. It was very difficult to draw him out on t hat point. As a sannyasin he was discreetly silent on matters relating to his home and relations. If anybody would ask him any question about his early days he would sharply answer, "Giving up thought about God, will you be busy about these trifles?". On ce a devotee expressed a desire to write a biography of Latu Maharaj. To this he raised objection saying, "What is the use of writing my life? If you want to write a biography, just write a biography of the Master and of Swamiji. That will be doing good to the world". From details that fell from the lips of Latu Maharaj in his unguarded moments it was known that his parents were very poor-they could hardly make both ends in spite of their hard labour. Scarcely was Latu five years old when he lost both p arents. His uncle then looked after him.
Latu left with his uncle his home village for Calcutta and got employment in the house of Ram Chandra Datta, who was a devotee of Sri Ramakrishna. At Ram Chandra's house, Latu heard of Sri Ramkrishna and naturally he felt eager to see him. At the very first meeting, brought about in this way, the Master was greatly impressed with the spiritual potentiality of the boy, and Latu felt immensely drawn to the Master even without knowing anything about his greatness.
The Master went to Kamarpukur for about eight months. When the Master returned back, he felt the necessity of an attendant. When he proposed the name of Latu to Ram Chandra, the latter at once agreed to spare him. Thus Latu got the long-wished-for opp ortunity of serving Sri Ramakrishna.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Swami Vivekananda once declared that Latu ( the premonastic name of Swami Adbhutananda ) was the greatest miracle of Sri Ramakrishna. If an orphan servant boy who had absolutely no knowledge of even the alphabets could rise to such a state of sainthood that the scholars of great book-learning would sit at his feet and listen spellbound to his words of wisdom, it was nothing short of a miracle that Sri Ramakrishna brought about. Hence the appropriateness of his name ( adbhuta = wonder ).
The early life of the Swami is shrouded in mystery. Born in a remote village of Bihar, and orphaned at a tender age, the boy was later brought to Calcutta by his uncle. Good fortune favored him by getting him the job of a servant in the house of Sri Ramachandra Datta, a great devotee of Sri Ramakrishna. The religious atmosphere in the house helped unfold his religious temperament. The frequent errands to Dakshineswar brought him into close contact with Sri Ramakrishna who graciously accepted him as a disciple. Later on, as Sri Ramakrishna felt the need for an attendant, Latu started living with him and serving him. Since the guru was all in all for him, his service was exceptionally devoted.
After the demise of the Master, Latu embraced monastic life and became `Swami Adbhutananda.' Though he lived a mendicant's life, he seldom moved away from Dakshineswar, his holiest place of pilgrimage. Through hard austerity and long bouts of meditation he was able to live constantly in God.
He lived for an unusually long period of nine years at the house of Balram Bose, another great devotee of Sri Ramakrishna. It was during this period that many earnest seekers would meet him and get their doubts resolved.
He spent his last days at Varanasi where he breathed his last on April 24, 1920.
What is the use of prayer and meditation if you have no dependence on Him ? Everything else is useless if you lack this.
It is a great sin to find fault with others. You will invariably find that it is such people as never do a good act themselves who easily see defects in others and energetically spread rumors.
It is better to continue calling on the Lord devotedly than to know,
speak, and preach thousand and one
(1828 - 1909)
Swami Advaitananda in his pre-monastic days was known as Gopal Chandra Ghosh. He was the oldest of the monastic disciples of Shri Ramakrishna, being older than even the Master by a few years. Besides, as there were two Gopals, Shri Ramakrishna would address Swami Advaitananda as "aged Gopal", while others would call him Gopalda or Gopal the elder brother. His father was Govardhan Ghosh, and he was born in a village called Jagaddal in Twenty-four Parganas, but usually he lived in Sinthi near Calcutta. Gopal was an employee in a shop in Chinabazar, Calcutta, belonging to Beni Pal of Sinthi. Beni Pal was a devout Brahmo, and in the religious celebrations which he performed at his place, the Master would also occasionally be pre sent on invitation. Perhaps it was at these meetings that Gopal first met the Master.
Gopalda was a married man. At the death of his wife he received such a great shock that he did not know what to do. A friend, who was a devotee of the Master, asked him to go to Dakshineswar, which he did. Gopalda did not profit much by the first visit, nor did he find anything very remarkable in the Master. But his friend insisted on his repeating the visit, for holy men do not often reveal themselves at once. Gopalda complied and this time he was caught in the love of Shri Ramakrishna. As he began to frequent Dakshineswar, the overwhelming burden of his grief was completely removed. The Master's simple explanation of the unreality of the world made a deep impression on his mind, and he began seriously to think of giving up the world in search of God.
Ultimately he renounced the world and devoted himself heart and soul to the service of the Master in his last illness. He was very neat and clean and the embodiment of method and orderliness. These traits in him received great appreciation from the Maste r. His service to the Holy Mother was equally whole-hearted. As the bashful Mother did not talk with anyone except the old Gopalda, the young Latu, and a few others, Gopalda used to attend to her needs.
One day Gopalda expressed a desire to the Master to distribute some ochre cloths and rosaries to monks. On this the Master replied, "You won't find better monks than these young boys here. You may give your cloths and rosaries to them. " Thereupon Gopald a placed a bundle of saffron cloths before the Master, who distributed them among his young disciples. Thus was sown the seed of the future Ramakrishna Order. At the Cossipore garden-house Swami Vivekananda then Narendra Nath, when sitting one day in med itation was lost to outer consciousness. His mind flew beyond the realm of relative consciousness and was merged in the Absolute. Gopalda became terrified and rushed to the Master to report that Narendra was dead. The Master understood that it was a case of Nirvikalpa Samadhi and assured Gopalda accordingly. After some time Narendra regained normal consciousness. After the passing away of the Master, Gopalda had no home to go to. So, with himself and Shivananda as the first inmates, was started the monastery at Baranagore. After staying in this monastery for a few years, he went to Varanasi where he practised aus terities for about five years. One who had the privilege of staying with him at Varanasi says that his regularity in spiritual practices was wonderful. Very early in the morning, even in the severe wintry days of Varanasi, he would get up and go to the Ganga for a bath. From there he would return shivering with cold but his mind absorbed in reciting some Sanskrit hymns. The programme of the whole day was fixed, and he would follow it without the least deviation for days, months, and years. At that holy city he lived on Madhukari. i.e., small quantities of cooked food collected from various houses, so that it might not be taxing to a single individual. Adjacent to a place where an image of Shiva was installed, he occupied a small room. But how neat and clean that small room was ! Everything was kept in its proper place, the room at once gave indication of great taste and orderliness. His steadiness would cause wonder to those who watched him. He was quite indifferent to worldly sights and sounds, and f ollowed his own tenor of life in the contemplation of the Divinity from day to day without any break.
When Swamiji returned to India and organised the Ramakrishna Brotherhood, Swami Advaitananda, the name he was given when he became a monk, returned to the Math at Alambazar. Afterwards he stayed mainly at the new monastery at Belur Math, where he looked after the management of various affairs of the monastery, specially the garden work. But all work he undertook or supervised had to be done very systematically and with scrupulous care. The young novitiates could hardly rise to his standard of perfection as regards work and for that reason they had a very hard time with him. Many of them would receive mild rebukes from old Gopalda, but they would take his criticisms more as a token of affection than as any indication of bitterness. Gopalda, however, wou ld say latterly, "The Master has shown me that it is He who is manifested through all. Then whom to blame or whom to criticise?" After this experience, Gopalda ceased from finding fault with anyone however great might be the latter's errors. Even in his old age he was self-supporting. He would not like anybody to take the trouble of attending to his personal needs. Being the oldest in age, he was looked upon with affectionate regard by all his brother-disciples. But they aIso enjoyed making fun with him . Swamiji composed a comical verse in order to tease Gopalda, but that really indicated in what great esteem Gopalda was held by all. Old Gopalda, too, had his moments of humour, though it might be at the cost of others. Swami Vijnanananda related one such incident. "He (Gopalda) and Nityananda Maharaj were staying at Belur Math, with several monks and Brahmacharins. Calling them, Nityananda Swami said, 'Well, look here, come and dig up this plot of land. I shall raise brinjals and potatoes here.' They started diggi ng up. Seeing this Gopalda said, 'Oh, what a hard labour they are put to! Come away, all of you boys. Should they be made to work so hard? Gopalda took them along with him. Then he told them quietly, 'You brothers dig up this plot for flower beds.' The s oil of the latter plot was harder than the first. Swamiji and other monks had a hearty laugh' when they heard Gopalda saying that. I am, therefore, always reminded of Gopalda when someone takes pity on another and wants to make him comfortable." In those days of hard work, the monks knew how to lighten the burden through humour. But Gopalda was not always successful with all. He disliked tea, while Swami Subodhananda cherished it. Gopalda warned all that if they drank tea, it would lead to dysentery. Bu t Swami Subodhananda asserted emphatically that each drop of tea in the cup would produce a drop of blood. After his return to the monastery, Gopalda's special duty was to look to the levelling of the newly purchased land at Belur and the repair of the o ld structures there. The land had been in use for repair of steamers etc. and was hence full of pits and canals. All this meant strenuous work. When the monastery became fully established there, Gopalda willingly took up the duty of looking after the com forts of the monks and producing vegetables etc. for offering to the Master. Gopalda made strenuous efforts to mould his life according to the life and example of the Master, and would sometimes express disappointment that he fell so short of the ideal. But this feeling of disappointment indicated only his real spiritual height. Because of his age, Gopalda did not engage himself in any public activity, philanthropic, missionary, or other, so that his monastic life was quite uneventful. But so long as he was in the physical body, he definitely set an example to all, and he was the source of inspiration to many. His uniform steadfastness in Sadhana till the last days of his life elicited admiration, if not reverence, even from his brother-disciples. His love for truth was wonderful. He heard the Master say that one should not twist truth even to make fun. Gopalda obeyed this instruction in letter and in spirit and insisted on others doing likewise. He travelled extensively and visited, at one time or ot her in his life, sacred places like Kedarnath, Badrinarayan, and Hardwar in the north, Dwaraka in the west, and Rameswaram and other places in the south. He kept sound health till the good old age he lived to. After suffering for some time from stomach t rouble, be passed away on 28th December 1909, at the age of eighty-one.
The darkness of a crisis in life often acts like the twilight before dawn leading to the effulgence of the sun. When Gopal Chandra Ghosh of Sinthi (Calcutta) lost his wife and was heart broken, that very grief led him to Sri Ramakrishna, seeking relief. The contact thus established through a crisis ultimately led to glorious spiritual heights.
Gopalda -- as he was endearingly called -- was older than even Sri Ramakrishna. Nevertheless, the attitude of reverence and devotion he cherished towards Sri Ramakrishna, his guru, was unflinching. It was his good luck that made him instrumental in the birth of the future Ramakrishna Order of monks by gifting a few pieces of ochre-colored cloths to Sri Ramakrishna who personally distributed them among Narendra, Rakhal and others including Gopal himself, during his last days at Cossipore.
Along with Tarak (Swami Shivananda), Gopalda was the first to join the Baranagore monastery after the departure of the Master from this world. The monastic name given to him was `Swami Advaitananda'. He spent a few years at the monastery, shifted to Varanasi for about five years and returned to the newly established Math at Alambazar, and later at Belur.
His advanced age prevented him from taking active part in the missionary activities of the new organization.
His personal cleanliness, neat and methodical ways of doing any work, has been admired even by Sri Ramakrishna.
The Swami passed away on the 28th December 1909 at the ripe old age of eighty-one.
(1865 - 1914)
The depression brought about by the loss of a gold watch led the young Sarada Prasanna to Dakshineswar seeking peace. Master Mahashaya, the celebrated author of The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna who was his teacher, led him to his future guru. The first visit itself forged strong links between the them. Fearing that his religious inclination and frequent visits to the Saint of Dakshineswar might ultimately induce him to become a monk, his relatives tried hard to change his mind, taking recourse to, in the process, religious rites and charms. But nothing worked. And, Sarada Prasanna became `Swami Trigunatitananda'.
The Swami had a strong constitution and was a dare-devil. During his itinerant days, he had often been on the brink of disaster and was miraculously saved. It is said that he once underwent surgery for fistula without anesthetics.
He never cared for his personal comforts but was eager to serve others. The famous relief work he organized at Dinajpur (now in Bangladesh) bears testimony to this.
At the behest of Swami Vivekananda, Swami Trigunatitananda started the Udbodhan, the Bengal Monthly of the Ramakrishna Order, and assiduously built it up.
When Swami Turiyananda returned back to India from San Francisco, it was Trigunatitananda who was entrusted with the responsibility of organizing the Vedanta work there. It was he who built the first Hindu Temple in the West.
The great life came to an abrupt end as a result of a mad man's act of throwing a bomb. He breathed his last on 10th January 1914.
People talk of finding out the proper kind of guru. But that is not a reasonable position in all cases. Whoever the guru may be, everything will progress nicely if the disciple is earnest and sincere.
People of all castes can be initiated by a good guru who has attained perfection. What caste can a true devotee or the perfect soul have? When the individual soul merges in God (like rivers in the sea), they can no more have any individuality. So how can there be then, the distinction of caste, as Brahmin, Shudra etc., belonging to the body and never to the soul?
(1864 - 1937)
`I do not covet earthly kingdom, or heaven, or even salvation. The only thing I desire is the removal of the miseries of the afflicted!' If these words of Prahlada, the great devotee, could be found truly reflected in anyone's life, it was in the life of Swami Akhandananda, the third President of the Ramakrishna Order. The Swami, known as Gangadhar Ghatak before ordination into Sannyasa, was born on the 30th September 1864 in Calcutta. Even in his boyhood days Gangadhar was deeply religious and orthodox to the point of being dubbed as `oldish' even by Sri Ramakrishna himself! As a corrective measure Sri Ramakrishna introduced him to Narendranath (Swami Vivekananda) who was, for all outward appearances very heterodox, but inside him he had nothing but God. This acquaintance matured into a deep and lifelong friendship between them.
After the demise of the Master, Gangadhar, who took monastic orders and became `Swami Akhandananda', led the unfettered life of a wandering monk. For three years he roamed in the Himalayas and visited Tibet also three times. Because of his experience in the Himalayas, Swami Vivekananda took him as his guide in his sojourn there.
Swami Vivekananda's burning words to do something for the poor and illiterate masses, inspired Swami Akhandananda to do some good work for the education of poor children both in Khetri and in Udaipur. Finally he started an orphanage at the village of Sargacchi in the Murshidabad district of Bengal to where he had gone to conduct famine relief work. He and the institution grew up with each other.
On the death of Swami Shivananda, Swami Akhandananda was elected as the third President of the Ramakrishna Order.
The Swami had a flair for learning languages, which brought him into intimate contact with the people wherever he went. His childlike simplicity endeared him to one and all. His austerity and scholarship were a source of inspiration for many.
He breathed his last on February 7, 1937.
The spiritual path for the present age lies through the harmony of all paths of earlier ages -- harmony of knowledge, devotion and selfless work. We must have knowledge, devotion and service. It won't do to have only one.
In this age of Kali, one thing that counts is the Lord's name. Go on repeating His name. ..Just repeat His name for a hundred and eight times; that will bear fruit in time. Try to increase the number slowly.
No work should be considered degrading. All works are His. Swamiji himself scourged the vessels. When you sweep the floor or dress vegetables, think that you are doing His work.
(1867 - 1932)
The early name of Swami Subodhananda was Subodh Chandra Ghosh. He was born in Calcutta on 8th November 1867 and belonged to the family of Shankar Ghosh, who owned the famous Kali temple at Kalitala (Thanthania), Calcutta. His father was a very pious man and fond of religious books; his mother also was of a very religious disposition. The influence of his parents contributed not a little to the growth of his religious life. His mother would tell him stories from the Ramayana the Mahabharata, and other scripturcs. and implanted in him, while still very voung, love for truth and devotion to God. From his very boyhood he showed a remarkable spirit of renunciation and had a vague feeling that he was not meant for a householder's life. When pressed to marry, he emphatically said that he would take to the life of a wanderinng monk, and so marriage would only be an obstacle in his path. As it was settled that, on his passing the class examination, he was to be married, Subodh fervently prayed to God that the result of his examination might be bad. God heard the prayer of the little boy, and Subodh, to his great relief, failed in the examination and did not get promotion. Subodh was at first a student of the Haret School and was then admitted into the school founded by Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar. At this time he got from his father a copy of the Bengali book, The Teachings of Shri Ramakrishna by Suresh Chandra Datta. He was so much impressed with its contents that he became very eager to see Shri Ramakrishna. His father told him to wait till some holiday when he could conveniently take him to Dakshineswar. But Sudodh was impatient of any delay. So one day m the middlc of 1884, he stole away from the house and along with a friend started on foot for Dakshineswar. There he was received very affectionately by the Master, who caught hold of his hand and made him sit on his bed. Subodh felt reluctant to sit on the bed of a holy person, but the Master disarmed all his fears bv treating him as if he were his close relation. In the course of conversation he told Subodh that he knew his parents and had visited their house occasionally and that he had also known that Subodh would be coming to him. He grasped the hand of Subodh and remaining in meditation for a few minutes said, "You will realise the goal, Mother says so." He also told Subodh that the Mother sent to him those who would receive Her grace, and asked the boy to visit him on Tuesdays and Saturdays. This was difficult of accomplishment for Subodh, as great objection would come from his parents if they knew of his intention. The next Saturday, however, Subodh fled away from the school with his friend and went to Dakshineswar. During this visit Shri Ramakrishna in an ecstatic mood stroked his body from the navel to the throat and wrote something on his tongue, repeating "Awake, Mother, awake"' Then he asked Subodh to meditate. As soon as he began meditation his whole body trembled and he felt something rushing along the spinal column to his brain. He was plunged into a joy ineffable and saw a strange light in which the forms of innumerable gods and goddesses appeared and then got merged in the Infinite. The meditation gradually deepened, and he lost all outward consciousness. When he came down to the normal plane, he found the Master stroking his body the reverse order. Shri Ramakrishna was delighted to see the deep meditation of Subodh, and learnt from him that it was the result of his practice at home; for Subodh used to thinl; of the gods and goddesses of whom he heard from his mother. After that meeting with the Master, Subodh would see a strange light between his eyebrows. His mother, coming to know of this, told him not to divulge this Iact to anybody else. But seized as he was with a great spiritual hankering, Subodh promptly replied, "What harm will it do to me, mother? I do not want this light but That from which it comes."
From his very boyhood Subodh was very frank, open minded, and straightforward in his talk. These characteristics could be seen in him throughout his whole life. What he felt, he would say clearly without mincing matters. One day the Master asked Subodh, "What do you think of me" The boy unhesitatingly replied, "Many persons say many things about you. I won't believe in them unless I myself find clear proofs." As he began to come closer and closer in touch with Shri Ramakrishna, the conviction gradually dawned on him, that the Master was a great Saviour. So when one day the Master asked Subodh to practise meditation, he replied, "I won't be able to do that. If I am to do it why did I come to you? I had better go to some other Guru." Shri Ramakrishna understood the depth of the feeling of the boy and simply smiled. But this did not mean that Subodh did not like to meditate his whole life was one of great austerity, prayer, and steadfast devotion it only indicated his great confidence in the spiritual nowers of the Master. Subodh's straighforward way of talking led to a very interesting incident. One day the Master asked Subodh to go now and then to Mahendra Nath Gupta afterwards known as 'M' who lived near Subodh's home in Calcutta. At this the boy said, "He has not been able to cut asunder his family tie, what shall I learn of God from him?" The Master enjoyed these words indicative of Subodh's great spirit of renunciation and said, 'He will not talk anything of his own. He will talk only of what he learns from here." So one day Subodh went to 'M' and frankly narrated the conversation he had had with the Master. 'M' appreciated the frankness of the boy and said, "I am an insignificant person. But I live by the side of an ocean, and I keep with me a few pitchers of sea water. When a visitor comes, I entertain him with that. What else can I speak?" The sweet and candid nature of Subodh soon made him a great favourite with 'M'. After this Subodh was a requent visitor at his house, where he would often spend long hours listening to 'M''s talks on the Master.
Gradually the attraction of young Subodh for the Master grew stronger and stronger, and some time after the passing away of the Master, he left his parental homestead and joined the monastic order organised by Swami Vivekananda at Baranagore. His monastic name was Swami Subodhananda. But because he was young in age and simple in nature, Swami Vivekananda would lovingly call him "Khoka", meaning child, by which name he was also called by his brother-discipes. He was afterwards known as "Khoka Maharaj" (Child Swami). Towards the end of 1889, along with Swami Brahmananda, Swami Subodhananda went to Varanasi and practised Tapasya for a few months. In 1890 they both went on a pilgrimage to Omkar, Girnar, Mount Abu, Bombay, and Dwaraka and after that went to Vrindaban where they stayed for some time. He also underwent spiritual practices in different places in the Himalayan region, later went to the holy shrines of Kedarnath and Badrinarayan twice and also visited the various holy places in South India, going as far as Cape Comorin. He also went afterwards on a pilgrimage to Assam.
When Swamiji, after his return from the West, appealed to his brother-disciples to work for the spread of the Master's message and the good of humanitv instead of living in seclusion, Subodhananda was one of those who placed themselves under his lead. After that he worked in various capacities for the cause of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission. During the great epidemic of plague in Calcutta in 1899, when the Ramakrishna Mission plague service was instituted, Swami Subodhananda was one of those who worked hard for the relief of the helpless and panic-striken people.
During the great famine on the Chilka islands in Orissa in 1908, he threw himself heart and soul into the relief work. He had a very tender heart. The sight of distress and suffering always found an echo in him. He would often be found near sick-beds nursing the sick at considerable risk to his own health. On one occasion he nursed a young student suffering from smallpox of a very malignant type with such loving care and attention that it amazed all who witnessed it. Sometimes he would beg money from others in order to help poor patients with diet and medicine. Many poor families did he help with money given by devotees for his personal needs. One family near the Belur Math was saved from actual starvation by the kindness of the Swami. If he knew that a devotee was ill, he was sure to go to see him. The devotee would be surprised and overwhelmed with emotion at this unexpected stroke of kindness on the part of the Swami. A young member of the Alambazar Math had to go back temporarily to his parents because of illness. Swami Subodhananda would now and then call on him and inquire about his health. That young member rejoined the monastery after his recovery and he remembered for ever with respectful gratitude the kindness he received in his young age from Swami Subodhananda. Later, although Swami Subodhananda could not personally work so much, wherever he would be, he would inspire people to throw themselves into the world; started by Swamiji. During his last few years, he made extensive tours in Bengal and Bihar and was very instrumental in spreading the message of the Master. He would even go to the outlying parts of Bengal, scorning all physical discomfort and inconvenience. In religious giving also, he spent himself without any reserve. During his tours, he had to undergo great inconvenience and to work very hard. From morning till late at night, with little time left for personal rest, he had to meet people and talk of religious things about the message of the Master and Swami Vivekananda. But never was his face ruffled and nobody could guess that here uas one who was passing through great hardship. The joy of giving was always on his face. The number of persons who got spiritual initiation from him was very large. He even initiated some children. He would say, "They will feel the efficacy when they grow up. " But in this act of spiritual ministration there was not the least trace of pride or self-consciousness in him. If people would approach him for initiation, he would very often say, "What do I know? I am a Khoka." He would refer them to the more senior Swamis of the Order. Only when they could not afford to go to them, did he grant their prayer. In accepting the supplicants as disciples, he made no distinction between the high and the low. He initiated many untouchables also. His affection for them was not a whit less than that for those disciples who held good position in society or were more fortunately placed in life.
Swami Subodhananda was one of the first group of trustees of the Belur Math appointed by Swamiji in 1901, and was afterwards elected Treasurer of the Ramakrishna Mission. His love for Swamiji was next to that for the Master. Swamiji also had great affection for him. Sometimes when Swamiji would become serious and none of his Gurubhais dared approach him, it was left to "Khoka" to go and break his seriousness.
Swami Subodhananda was childlike in his simplicity and singularly unassuming in his behaviour. It is said in the Bible, "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall nor enter into the kingdom of heaven." But rare are the persons who can combine in their lives the unsophisticated simplicity of a child with the high wisdom of a sage. One could see this wonderful combination in Swami Subodhananda. Swami Vivekananda and other brother-disciples greatly loved the childlike aspect of the personality of Swami Subodhananda. But they would not therefore fail to make fun now and then at his cost, taking advantage of his innocence and unsophisticated mind. Once, while the monastery was at Alambazar, Swami Vivekananda wanted to encourage the art of public speaking among the monks It was arranged that every week on a fixed day one of them should speak. When the turn of Swami Subodhananda came, he tried his best to avoid the meeting. But Swamiji was adamant, and others were waiting with eagerness to witness the discomfiture of Subodh while lecturing. Just as Swami Subodhananda rose to speak, lo! the earth trembled, buildings shook and trees fell. It was the earthquake of 1897. The meeting came to an abrupt end. The young Swami escaped the ordeal of lecturing but not the fun at his cost. "Khoka's was a 'world-shaking' speech", Swamiji said, and others joined in the joke.
Swami Vivekananda was once greatly pleased with "Khoka" for some personal
services rendered by him and said that whatever boon he would ask of him
would be granted. Swami Subodhananda said, "Grant me this that I may never
miss my morning cup of tea." This threw the great Swami into a roar of
Khoka Maharaj was easy of access, and everybody would feel very free with him. Many, on coming in contact with him, would feel his love so much that they would altogether forget the wide gulf of difference that marked their spiritual life and his. Yet he made no conscious attempt to hide the spiritual height to which he belonged. This great unostentatiousness was part and parcel of his very being. It was remarkably strange that he could mix so freely with one and all with people of all ages and denominations and make them his own. Many are the persons who, though not religiously minded, were drawn to him simply by his love and were afterwards spiritually benefited. The young Brahmacharins and monks of the Order found in him a great sympathiser. He took trouble to find out their difficulties and help them with advicc and guidance. He would be their mouthpiece before the elders, mediate for them and shield them when they inadvertently did something wrong. One day a Brahmacharin committed a great mistake, and was asked to live outside the monastery and to get his food by begging. The Brahmacharin failed to get anything by begging except a quantity of fried gram and returned to the gath of the monastery in the evening. But he did not dare to enter the compound. Khoka Maharaj came to know of his plight, interceded on his behalf, and the young member was excused. The novices at the monastery had different kinds of work allotted to them. Often they did not know how to do it. Khoka Maharaj on such occasions would come forward to help and guide them.
He was self-reliant and would not accept personal services from others,
even if they were devotees or disciples. He always emphasised that one
should help oneself as far as possible, and himself rigidly adhered to
this principle in his everyday life. Even during times of illness he was
reluctant to accept any service from others, and avoided it until it became
absolutely impossible for him to manage without.
Spurred by a spirit of renunciation, Shridhar Swami was thinking of giving up theworld when his wife died giving birth to a child. Shridhar felt worried about the baby and was seriously thinking how to provide for the child before retiring from the world. One day as he was sitting deeply absorbed with these thoughts, the egg of a lizard dropped from the roof in front of him. The egg broke as a result of the fall, and a young lizard came out. Just then a small fly came and stood near the young lizard, which caught and swallowed it in a moment. At this the thought flashed in the mind of Shridhar that there is a Divine plan behind creation, and that every creature is provided for beforehand by God. At once all his anxiety for his own child vanished, and he immediately renounced the world. His spiritual life was marked by as great a directness as his external life was remarkable for its simplicity. He had no philosophical problems of his own to solve. The Ultimate Reality was a fact to him. When he would talk of God, one felt that here was a man to whom God was a greater reality than earthly relatives. He once said, "God can be realised much more tangibly than a man feels the presence of the companion with whom he is walking." The form of his personal worship was singularly free from ritualistic observances. While entering the shrine, he was not obsessed by any awe or wonder, but would act as if he was going to a very near relation; and while performing worship he would not care to recite memorised texts. His relationship with God was just as free and natural as human relationship.
He realised the goodness of God, and so he was always optimistic in his views. For this reason his words would always bring cheer and strength to weary or despondent souls. Intellectual snobs or philosophical pedants were bewildered to see the conviction with which he talked on problems which they had not been able to solve, all their pride and self-conceit notwithstanding. Towards the end, he suffered from various physical ailments, but his spiritual conviction was never shaken. While he was on his death-bed he said, "When I thinic of Him, I become forgetful of all physical sufferings." During this time, the Upanishads used to be read out to him. While listening, he would warm up and of his own accord talk of various deep spiritual truths. On one such occasion he said, "The world with all its enjoyments seems like a heap of ashes. The mind feels no attraction at all for all these things." While death was slowly approaching, he was unperturbed, absolutely free from any anxiety. Rather he was ready and anxious to meet the Beloved. The night before he passed away, he said, "Mv last prayer is that the blessings of the Lord be always on the Order." The great soul passed way on 9nd December 1932.
At the behest of Swami Vivekananda, but most reluctantly, Swami Subodhananda rose to speak before a gathering of monks and novices of the Math. And lo! There was an earth-quake! (It was the earth-quake of 1897) It was really an earth-shaking speech!
Whether the speech was `earth-shaking' or not, the Swami could certainly help even the lowliest in spirits, to shake off his dejection. He was a wonderful combination of compassion, love, childlike simplicity and profound spiritual wisdom.
His premonastic name was Subodh Chandra Ghosh. He was born in Calcutta on the 8th November 1867. His parents were deeply religious by nature which automatically left its influence on the son also.
Coming to know of Sri Ramakrishna through a Bengali book of his teachings, Subodh lost no time in meeting the Saint of Dakshineswar. Even during the first two visits, Sri Ramakrishna gauged the spiritual potential of the boy and put him into a deep meditation by mystic methods.
Subodh joined the Baranagore monastery along with the other disciples of the Master and got the name `Swami Subodhananda' after ordination. Because of his simple and childlike nature, he was endearingly called `Khoka Maharaj' ( khoka = child ) by his monastic brothers. After much austerities and itinerant life, the Swami settled down to a life of service to the suffering humanity. He was very actively associated with many of the relief works of the Ramakrishna Mission. He was extremely liberal in the matter of initiation also, especially towards the weaker sections of the society, whom he tried to help in all possible ways.
The Swami passed away on the 2nd December 1932.
Before the Lord enters the temple of anyone of His children's hearts, he fills it with devotion, faith and love, just as a king sends different pieces of furniture and vessels to a subject's house which he intends to visit. Else, where can the poor subject get all those things? The Lord grants devotion, faith and love, just because He will come.
(1868 - 1938)
Sri Ramakrishna one day challenged a young man to wrestle with him. The tall and hefty youth put him down in no time. And the wonder of wonders: The young man soon felt a power entering from Sri Ramakrishna's body into his own, making him completely powerless! This was how Hariprasanna had one of his early encounters with the Master.
Born on the 28th October 1868 in a respectable Brahmin family at Belgharia (Calcutta), Hariprasanna Chattopadhyaya (the pre-monastic name of Swami Vijnananda) received a good education from his parents. He became an engineer and rose to the position of District Engineer in the erstwhile State of United Provinces, before renouncing the world.
From his very first visit, Sri Ramakrishna spotted him out as one belonging to the inner circle and a future monk. He took particular care to instill in him the ideal of brahmacharya or celibacy. His visits to Dakshineswar and contact with the Master laid a firm foundation for his spiritual life.
When the Master passed away, Hariprasanna who was still a student at Patna, had a strange vision in which he saw Sri Ramakrishna as if in flesh and blood, standing before him.
Since he had lost his father at early age and had to support his mother, he was obliged to take to government service, but kept in touch with the disciples of the Master, especially Narendra (Swami Vivekananda). Later -- in 1896, to be more precise -- he gave up the world and joined the Math then at Alambazar, and became `Swami Vijnananda' after ordination.
Since he was an engineer with good experience in building construction, he was entrusted by Swami Vivekananda himself with the task of building the Math campus as also preparing suitable plans for a memorial temple of Sri Ramakrishna. So he prepared it in consultation with a noted European architect of Calcutta and Swamiji approved of the same. Due to the sudden demise of Swamiji and lack of funds, the project had to wait for a long time to be taken up. It was completed and dedicated by Swami Vijnananda himself on the 14th of January 1938.
A group of young men in Allahabad had formed themselves into an association called `Brahmavadin Club' with a view to uplift themselves morally and spiritually. They had done so under the inspiration of a devotee of Sri Ramakrishna. This devotee had left Allahabad in 1900. As luck would have it, Swami Vijnananda arrived at Allahabad in the same year as a wandering monk. The young men who were delighted to have a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna amongst them requested the Swami to live in the rented premises of their Club and guide them. The Swami agrees and lived there for nearly ten years, spending most of his time in austerity and study. He later on established a permanent branch of the Ramakrishna Math at Allahabad in 1910.
The Swami was a great scholar, not only in Sanskrit and religio-philosophical works but also in astronomy and astrology.
He was elected the President of the Ramakrishna Order in 1937 after the demise of Swami Akhandananda. He strove hard to complete the construction of the temple of Sri Ramakrishna at Belur Math, which he successfully did and dedicated in January 1938 as already indicated. He then returned to Allahabad and passed away on the 25th April the same year. The body was consigned to the sacred waters of the Triveni, at the confluence of the rivers Ganga and Yamuna, and the invisible Saraswati.
One should not ask for anything from God, but remain satisfied with whatever He is pleased to give. If you ask for anything He will give a gift which is like a double-edged sword. Real welfare lies in using things properly; wrong use of things brings misfortune.
Whatever situation one may be in, one can, to some degree, server the motherland, serve the common people, and above all, sever God. Always have the good of the universe at heart and let this become a part of your daily prayer.
One reason for the decadence of our country is that in the name of religion, people put forward harmful theories, as a result of which, people lose their faith in religion itself. Simplicity, faithfulness and purity of heart are called for.
One who can detach his mind from material things will see the light of God and his presence in everything. Worldly attachment draws people away from God and scorch them in the wild fire of the world.