HIS LIFE AND TEACHINGS
VIVIFYING THE NORTH
The passing away of Sri Maharaj (Swami Brahmananda) marks an epoch in the history of the Ramakrishna Mission. He was the Raja (King) of the Brotherhood by divine right. An object of adoration to one and all – his gurubhais included – he did not govern or manage the Mission and its members, he gave no orders; his personality permeated and enveloped all. He was the Soul, which animated the organization.
After him; it was Mahapurushaji, Swami Shivanandaji who became the President of the Ramakrishna Mission. He had decided to visit South India once more. He went to Madras and from there to the Nilgiris. Two of Swamiji's devotees, the Chempollee Brothers, were there at that time. They met Mahapurushaji. He was graciously pleased to initiate them. Accepting their invitation he also visited their, residence. When going upstairs he saw a life-size photo of Swamiji on the wall, he exclaimed 'Tulasi Maharaj has already come' and he lovingly touched the photo. Swamiji was very glad that the brothers were blessed by Mahapurushji. On the 1st of July 1924 he wrote to the younger brother: "Very glad to receive your letter and to learn that Mahapurushji has blessed you and that he very kindly took his bhiksha at your place with the other Swamis. I am also glad to be told that the site over there was duly and properly inspected by the authorities and that your brother will, later on, send us the detailed information of the same. x x x Convey my love and sashtangas to Sri Mahapurushji when you visit him after receiving this."
Mahapurushji reached Bangalore on the 28th of July. It was at that time that Kerala experienced heavy floods which brought on great distress and loss of property. Swamiji immediately sent Swamis Sukhananda and Deshikananda for flood relief work in Travancore. The inmates of the Alleppey and Trivandrum Ashramas also joined in the work which lasted for six months. A sum of Rs. 20,000 was distributed among the destitute.
About this time Swamiji had a call from Sri Saradananda and he went to Calcutta, in August 1924. From that time till May 1925, for 10 months he was in Upper India, while almost all the time the President, Mahapurushaji, was in the South. During the 10 months' sojourn in North India the Swami did magnificient work.
As usual he was ever active and constantly on the move from centre to centre, awakening pure souls, inspiring and charging them with spirituality, quenching their thirst for religion and blessing them all. In fact he became a Dharma Megha (spiritual rain-cloud), raining love, light and peace. He made innumerable new friends, devotees and disciples, this time.
He visited Patna, Chapra, Benares, Sewan, Dacca, Mymensingh, Dinajpur, Comilla and various other parts of East Bengal. Many of these places he visited more than once and in all of them he distributed his accumulated spiritual power profusely. Till the end of 1935 he visited them every year. He lived with his devotees or in the Ashramas or Maths, if any there were, in those places. Wherever he was, he attracted large crowds to have his darsan, to listen to his illuminating talks and to derive peace and solace from his advice and instructions.
From Calcutta he proceeded to Benares halting at Patna and Chapra on his way. It was at Patna thai Sjs. Bibhuti Ranjan Ghosh, Shambhu Barhmeswar Prasad, Nandipati Mukherji, Umachandra Sen Muzumdar, Panchanana Chatterjee, Shanker Moulidatta, Prabodh Roy Chowdhuri, Jivan Kumar Acharya, Prabodh Chandra Chatterjee and others met him. Rai Saheb Bhiman Bihari Basu had met him for the first time at Bangalore. During most of his visits to Patna he was the guest of Nandipati Mukherjee, and at Chapra he was invariably the guest of Krishna Chandra Dutt. It is not only the individuals above mentioned, but the members of their families also became Swami's devotees and disciples. Whether in the North or in the South children were his special favourites. He used to play with them, fondle them, tell them interesting stories, give them presents and care for them as a mother or a father would do, teach them the Kintergarten of religion and unconsciously mould their tendencies and lead them higher and higher. He had his eyes more on the future generation than on the present. To them he was not a teacher of spirituality but simply their beloved friend, playmate and protector. Not the children alone, but many adults also who either could not or did not take interest in religion, loved him with all their heart, because of the love he bore them, because of his selflessness, of his simplicity, straightforwardness and dexterity in everything he did. Generally, whoever looked upon him saw in him their friend and guide. The poor, the weak and the helpless had his special love. Most undemonstrative, he was always relieving distress, unasked, unobserved and unknown. He was supporting many a poor student and many a poor family and he was comforting all in times of anxiety or distress. His observing eyes, and helping hands were everywhere and upon all.
It was In 1924 that Swamiji stayed at Patna for the first time and thereafter he visited it many times and he had very many disciples there. On his first visit, several gentlemen met him. He stayed there for a few days, went to Benares and soon returned to Patna itself. As soon as he got down from the car at the gate of the local Ashrama, his eyes fell upon Professor Nandipati Mukherjee and he at once said: "I have come for you." Mr. Mukherjee understood what he meant and took initiation from him.
When Shambhu Barhmeswar Prasad prayed for initiation while at Patna, he was asked by Swamiji to go to Benares. Mr. Prasad went there alone. Swamiji then told him: "You are a house-holder, you should be initiated along with your wife." Mr. Prasad went back and brought his wife also to Benares. It is not the practice for any to give Mantra within the limits of Holy Kashi – the Lord Shiva alone being the Teacher and Liberator there. Swamiji, therefore, took them outside those limits and gave them Mantras.
Sreemati Annapurna Devi (wife of the late Rajani Kanta Mukherjee, Deputy Magistrate, Sewan) was very anxious to get Mantra from a proper guru. She visited many good Sadhus, but was not satisfied with any. At last one day in the hot midsummer sun, she started for the Ramakrishna Adwaita Ashrama, Benares. Reaching ing the Ashrama she saw Swamiji sitting there and at once she decided within herself that she should take initiation from him. Swamiji received her very cordially as If she were known to him from a very long time. He initiated her outside the limits of the Holy Kashi.
Sj. Dheerendranath Dutt, nephew of Kiran Chandra Dutt, M.R.A.S., begged of Swami for Mantra. Swamiji declined to give him Mantra, within the limits of Kashi, On his behalf Bibhuti Babu of Bankura also requested Swamiji, but he would not listen. "On the third night of his stay with me," writes Mr. Dutt, 'I dreamt that I was being called by Maharaj for Mantradeeksha and my heart leapt with joy. To my utter surprise in the early hours of the morning I was actually called by him. Almost all the inmates of the house were still asleep. He directed me to take my bath and to prepare myself for deeksha. Feeling happy and at the same time astounded for a while, I hurriedly took my bath and followed him into the room where he used to take rest. I found that he had already collected flowers from our garden, and some fruits which visitors had offered to him were also kept ready there. I took my scat and Swamiji blessed me giving me my Ishtamantra. He would not take any gurudakshina. He laughed and asked me to take one fruit in my hand and to give it as gurudakshina. I obeyed him. After a while, the sun rose and the visitors began to come in. Dr. Khandalwal, who had like myself asked for Mantram and who had been given the same reply, also came in. Guru maharaj called him into the room and he was also favoured with Deeksha then and there."
At Patna Mr. T. – a brother of one of Swamiji's disciples, requested Swamiji to initiate him. Swamiji refused. Thereupon the Swamis of the local Ashrama and others interceded on his behalf. Their entreaties became so insistent that Swamiji reluctantly agreed to do so. Shortly after initiation however Mr. T. – began to criticise Sri Gurumaharaj and disciples. One day when Mr. T. – was criticising Sri Gurumaharaj himself, he distinctly heard Swamiji's voice telling him that thenceforward Swamiji would have no connection with him, and that he had ceased to be Swamiji's disciple. Swamiji was at TrivandrLim and Mr. T. – at Patna that day. Mr. T. – thereafter wrote several letters to Swamiji to none of which he replied.
A leading Pleader of Patna asked Swamiji if it was possible to attain perfection through the grace of a perfected Saint. Swamiji at once replied that it was possible. He illustrated it thus: "Suppose a beggar is passing along a street in front of the house of a millionaire who happens to take pity on him. The millionaire out of mere kindness, takes a lakh of rupees from his treasury and gives it to the beggar. The beggar becomes a very rich man, while the wealth of the millionaire docs not appreciably decrease. Similarly a Siddha who had acquired much spirituality through Sadhanas of many lives can transmit a portion of it to some other person and make him free. Persons who attain perfection in this way, through the grace of God or a Mahatma are called Kripasiddhas."
He was also asked if it was possible for a perfected man to know everything about the Universe, all about the past, present and future. Swamiji replied: "It is possible. One who has realised God can know everything; but he does not care to focus his attention on anything but God, he does not want to know how the Universe is worked. The Adhikarika Piirushas – persons who come with a special purpose have got to know something and they do know them."
Whether bad Karmas can be nullified or their effects modified by good Karmas was another question put to him by the same leading Vakil. Swamiji replied that they can be modified and in rare cases also nullified by good Karmas, provided the good Karma is done with that intention and is as powerful as the bad Karma, if not more.
Once the second son of Mr. S. P. – left the house in the company of some bad boys and went away. Nobody knew where. Nothing was known of him for 2 months. All efforts were made lo find out his whereabouts, and the matter was published in the news papers. Losing all hopes the father at last wrote to the Swamiji informing him of all the facts and expressing an apprehension that the boy was not alive. Immediately Swamiji replied: "Do not be anxious. The boy is safe. He will come back to you very soon." On the 3rd or 4th day the boy came back. Such were some of the incidents during his visits to Patna. Sewan was one of the places in Bihar to which he paid annual visits. Here he was the guest of Sri Annapurna Devi whom he initiated at Benares and here he had many devotees and disciples. After her daughter, Jaya Devi, was married to Mr. Harihara Chatterjee, Railway Engineer, Lucknow, Swamiji used to visit Lucknow also.
Finishing the first long tour in U. P. and Bihar the Swami retraced his steps to Calcutta whence he proceeded to East Bengal, the birthplace of Nag Mahasaya. During the time of Sri Gurumaharaj and Swami Vivekananda, not many persons in East Bengal had been benefitted by the Ramakrishna movement. In after years some of the Sanyasin disciples including the Swami had visited it and founded Ashramas there. Yet there had been no general awakening as in other parts of Bengal. The Swami visited it again in 1925 when he made a long stay and repeated the visits in the succeeeding years. Here he worked hard and untiringly, inspired hundreds of souls and gave Mantra-deeksha to hundreds. Influenced and inspired by him many young men joined the order and they are some of the most active and efficient workers of the order. Mosi of the days at Dacca were spent at the Ashrama. Mymensingh, Comilla, Shillong and Barisal were some of the many other centres where he electrified audiences by his fiery words and lifted them to a higher plane. As one of the concrete results of his labours his disciples at Mymensingh founded an Ashrama of their own for the worship of Sri Guru-maharaj.
At Comilla Swamiji used to be put up at the house of Dr. Aghor Nath Ghosh whose wife had met Swamiji at Bangalore. He was their guest while the Doctor was at Dinajpore also. At his residence at Comilla, Swamiji initiated many of the students and teachers of the Nivedita School. There was a low class girl student whose intellect was not well-developed. She was neglected by all. Swamiji noticed her and resolved to initiate her. He asked the Doctor's wife if she would kindly allow the low-class girl to enter the Thakurghar (worship room). Of course, she had no objection, and Swamiji took her to the room and gave her deeksha. Swamiji's love for the students was such that he used to buy cloths in bundles and distribute them among the students. The days of his stay at Comilla were festive days. The students and teachers used to be invited to join in the festivities.
Once he had an attack of fever which continued for days. The Doctor became nervous and anxious and asked Swamiji if he might inform the Swamis of Belur Math or Dacca. 'Why, what for, asked the Swami. 'To attend on you, Swamiji,' said the doctor. 'Are you not attending on me? Is there any lack of attendance? Are you tired?' asked Swamiji and he forbade any one being informed of it. Although very much weakened by the protracted fever, he never allowed any special arrangements for his convenience – not even to answer the calls of nature. Once he went to the privy and on his return he found that his bed had been made. He was shocked and asked vehemently: 'Who touched my bed?' He was very uneasy and upset about it and had Ganges water brought and sprinkled all over it. 'People with impure thoughts should never touch my bed,' he said.
Speaking of the protracted illness of a certain person Swamiji told the Doctor's second daughter that he (Swami) would not linger in his sick-bed, he would die suddenly before people came to know that he was ill. He predicted such a death for her also.
He was dead against miracle working. If you want to see a miracle, look at Nag Mahasaya. He was an example of Gurumaharaj's miracle working.
It is a noteworthy fact that very few who had the good fortune to get him as their guest asked him any question on religion or philosophy. They were happy to have him in their midst, to feel his overflowing love and to love him in return. He seemed silently to clear their doubts if they had any. And the function of questioning and getting answers was relegated to the many who visited him.
After breaking up the soil where it had lain fallow. and sowing some seeds there and also nourishing the old plants he returned to Calcutta.