MAHENDRA NATH GUPTA
When Prophets or founders of religions pass away, they leave their message in the hands of their disciples and followers who become torch-bearers of that to the world. Of the monastic disciples of Sri Ramakrishna, if Swami Vivekananda has done most in the matter of broadcasting his message far and wide, among the lay disciples of the Master, Mahcndra Nath Gupta, better known by the pen-name of "M,” or as Master Mahashay, ranks first as being the greatest instrument of spreading his teaching to the spiritually hungry world. His Kathamrita—notes on conversations with Sri Ramakrishna, through the original in Bengali and translations in various languages, Indian and foreign, has served as veritable ambrosia to innumerable souls thirsting for religion, and it has also become, as it were, an explosive to social life inasmuch as by reading it many have given up the world in quest of Truth. This book alone was sufficient to immortalise him; for as at present so also in future it is bound to be a ceaseless source of inspiration to thousands of persons.
The spoken words of “M” were no less important than this his printed record. He was a vista through which one could get a glimpse into the life of Sri Ramakrishna as it was lived at Dakshineswar in the last few years of his earthly existence. With his imaginative mind and a most tenacious memory “M" always lived, as it were, in the years when he enjoyed the company of the Master, and he could carry into that atmosphere all who would go on a pilgrimage to him to hear about Sri Ramakrishna. Ask any question and he would describe some incident from the life of Sri Ramakrishna in the answer which followed. And that description would be so vivid! One would feel one were in the blessed company of the Master. From day to day “M” thus preached the Master and his message till the cruel hand of death took him away in June, 1932, and he became only a memory, but an inspiring one to those who had had the privilege of meeting him, even though only once.
Mahendra Nath was born on July 14, 1854, Calcutta. His father Madhusudan Gupta and his mother Swarnamayce Devi were both very pious people. They had four sons and four daughters, of whom Mahendra was the third child. The outstanding impression left on Mahendra Nath by his parents was the piety of his mother to whom he was deeply attached. Once when he was only four years old, he accompanied his mother to witness the Ratha Yatra Festival at Mahesh on the Ganges near Calcutta, and when returning, the party landed at Dakshincswar Ghat to see the temple of Mother Kali, then newly built by Rani Rasmani in 1855. With reference to this Mahendra Nath said: “The temple was all white then, new and fresh. While going round the temple I lost sight of my mother and was crying for her, standing on the dais of the temple. Some one then came from inside and caressed me and began to call out, ‘ Whose child is this ? Where has his mother gone?'" The fond imagination of Mahendra Nath would dwell upon the incident and love to think that it was perhaps his Master, whom he had met in early life in this fugitive way. The outstanding piety of his mother so impressed him in early life that Mahendra grew very fond of her, and when his mother died, he felt disconsolate and wept bitterly. Then one night he saw his mother in a dream speaking in a sweet voice, “ I have so long protected and looked after you, I shall still continue to look after you, but you will not see me." Master Mahashay, after narrating the incident, would say: "It is the Divine Mother of the universe who in the form of my earthly mother protected me in life. She is still protecting and watching over my life."
The early lineaments of his character bespoke the intense spirituality of his later life. He was from a very early age of a religious turn of mind, and the make-up of his mind was different from the ordinary. He was thus blessed with religious experience which does not fall to the lot of the majority of humanity at an early age.
This religious temperament found expression in an early manifestation of piety. From an early age, whenever passing by a temple, he would bow down before the Deity and stand in awe and reverence. At the time of the Durga Puja, he would sit for long hours near the Image rapt in love and admiration. He was very fond, in early age, of seeking the company of Sadhus who visited Calcutta specially on the occasion of “Yoga ” for a holy bath in the Ganges, or Melas, or en route to Puri for pilgrimage to Jagannath. Later in life he would say that this habit of seeking the company of Sadhus stood him in good stead and eventually brought him to the feet of the Prince of Sadhus—Sri Ramakrishna Parama-hamsa.
Mahendra Nath was a bright student. He passed the Entrance Examination from the Hare School and occupied the second place; in the F. A. Examination he stood fifth and graduated from the Presidency College in 1875, standing third in the University. He was a student of Mr. C. H. Tawney, the well-known Professor of English, with whom he kept up correspondence even after the latter's retirement. This professor afterwards wrote a brochure on Sri Ramakrishna.
Towards the end of his college career he married the daughter of Thakur Charan Sen, Srimati Nikunja Devi, who was related as cousin to the well-known religious teacher Keshab Chandra Sen. Nikunja Devi was also blessed with the intimate acquaintance of Sri Ramakrishna and the Holy Mother, and obtained their grace and love.
Entering the householder’s life he first served as headmaster of different schools, e.g., the Narail High School, City, Aryan, Model, Metropolitan and Shyambazar Branch schools and the Oriental Seminary. Besides this he served in the City, Ripon and Metropolitan Colleges as Professor of English Literature, Mental and Moral Science, History and Political Economy. When he first met Sri Ramakrishna, he was serving as teacher in the Shyambazar Branch School, established by Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar.
Before he met Sri Ramakrishna, the religious teacher whom he frequented and looked rip to as his ideal was Keshab Chandra Sen. Keshab was then in the plenitude of his power and popularity and by his sermons, religious discourses and saintly character had won the heart of many Bengali youths like Mahendra Nath. He attended many of Keshab’s Upasanas both at his family house and at the Navavidhan Mandir. He used to say that the soul-stirring prayers of Keshab, delivered in such sweet language and voice, with his face bright with the enthusiasm of a prophet, produced a great impression on him, and Keshab appeared to him like a god. He had heard no one speak with such power, and none had stirred his soul so much before. Latterly Mahendra Nath used to say that Keshab’s sermons appealed to him perhaps because he was then contacting his Master through Keshab and his light was then coming to him reflected through the medium of Keshab Chandra. Keshab had then already made the acquaintance of Sri Ramakrishna and used to visit him in company with his friends and disciples.
It was at this time, in the spring of 1882, that Mahendra Nath first met his Master, Sri Ramakrishna, in the temple-garden of Dakshineswar. Sri Ramakrishna was sitting in his room discoursing on God before a rapt circle of listeners. The first meeting captivated the heart and soul of Mahendra Nath, and he returned home a slave to his love, to revisit him soon. Educated in Western lore, saturated with the thoughts of Western philosophers like Kant, Hegel, Hamilton and Herbert Spencer, he believed in the intellectual sufficiency of modern knowledge. He had a little of its hauteur and considered himself a man of learning. But a few hard knocks from the Master were enough to shatter his intellectual pride. He soon placed himself in the position of a learner at the feet of one who had access to the Fountain of all knowledge. Real knowledge is the knowledge of God, the Ultimate Reality; all other knowledge, limited and sense-bound, is only a form of ignorance. This he was never tired of reiterating to his listeners in later life. He would often say: “Intellect has been weighed in the balance and found wanting; intellect, a feeble organon, limited and conditioned by the senses, cannot solve the problem of the Unconditioned and the Unlimited. Revelation is necessary to have a knowledge of the Unconditioned Reality.’’ “And for that,’’ his advice was, “the association of Sadhus who are ever communing with the Infinite and Eternal is required, is the sine qua non of religious life. That alone will purify our mind, which will then receive and catch messages from the Beyond, the Unconditioned and Infinite Reality. Without that no amount of intellectual knowledge is of any avail to take us into the region of the Unconditioned.”
He found in his Master one to whom knowledge was revelation, who was not walking in the dim twilight of finite knowledge, half-light and halfdarkness, but who had the direct perception of truths in a supersensuous state (Samadhi). His Master’s intense hunger for Truth, his frequent plunges into the depths of superconsciousness, his perception of God as a very near and ever-present Reality, and his rapturous communion with the Divine Mother produced a deep impression on Mahendra Nath, and putting aside all vanities of education he became a rapt listener to the flow of revealed knowledge that fell from the lips of his beloved Master in a state of trance, semi-trance or in the state of outward consciousness. This attitude he maintained to the last. Seeing this attitude his Master once called him to himself and said, "Whatever you hear falling from this mouth, know to be the words of the Mother."
His Master recognised at first sight the spiritual calibre of Mahendra Nath and the unique spiritual material which lay imbedded in his make-up waiting for a spark of the Divine Fire. He was not a little shocked to hear from his mouth, in answer to a query, that he had already bound himself by marital ties and that a son had been bom to him; for it was the Master's idea that one must conserve all one’s power and not scatter it in worldly pursuits. One should direct the collected and concentrated energy of mind, body and soul Godwards; then only there will be a great development of spirituality. Then he explained to Mahendra Nath: "I can see from the signs of your eyes, brows and face, that you are a Yogi. You look like a Yogi who has just left his seat of meditation.”
The Master then began to train him for his work. He began to teach him how to live unattached in the world, and all his instructions to him tended that way. In his first meeting when M. asked the Master how to live in the world, the Master said:
“Do all your work, but keep your mind on God. Wife, children, father and mother, live with all and serve them as if they are your own, but know in your mind that your relation with them is temporary.
“ The maid-servant of a rich man’s house does all the work of the household but her mind flies to where her native home is in the country. She calls her Master's children hers, and brings them up as such. She calls them ‘ My Ram, My Hari,’ but knows in her mind that they are none of her own.
‘ ‘ The tortoise swims about in the waters of the lake, but her mind is fixed on where her eggs are laid on the bank. So, do all the work of the world, but keep your mind on God.
“After attaining love for God, if you mix in worldly work, you will remain non-attached.
“For that one must retire to solitude occasionally and think of God intensely and exclusively.
“ In order to get butter out of milk, one must let the milk settle into curd in a solitary place; then one must, sitting alone, with concentration, chum the curd; then the butter will rise to the top and that butter will float on the water and not get mixed up with it.
“Similarly if by prayer and meditation in a solitary place one can get the butter of love and knowledge of God in the mind, then the mind even if kept in worldly work, will float on the waters of the world; it will remain non-attached; be in the world, but not of it.’’
How difficult it is to practise these things in worldly life, in the midst of wife, children, money and a hundred other worldly distractions, in the storm-centre of life exposed to gusts from all directions—any one who has attempted it knows in his heart of hearts. It becomes easier if one isolates oneself in early life, fixes one's thoughts first on God and then mixes in the world. Yet Mahendra Nath, through the grace of the Guru, carried it to success, and attained to perfect Yoga in God in the midst of the storm and stress of life. The grace of the Guru made the impossible possible. Anyone who has seen Mahendra Nath in later life will bear testimony to the fact that he lived in the world only in name, that his mind was always in union with God, revelling in His Love and Knowledge. His unbounded joy in the company of Bhaktas and Sadhus, whose association he always sought, the incessant flow of his words while talking of God and things divine in his unwearied discourses on his Master’s life and personality till a late hour of the night, were phenomena to see. In the latter part of his life his Calcutta residence was a place of pilgrimage to many, and some visited it every day.
Whenever you would go, you would find that either he was listening to some devotional scriptures being read and making comments occasionally, or he was talking of his Master and his teachings, throwing on them wonderful sidelights from the life and teachings of Jesus, Chaitanya and Sri Krishna by apposite references to the Bible, Purana, Bhagavata, Upanishad, etc. There was no other discussion. If any other things were brought in by some venturesome questioner, they were at once turned skilfully to a religious topic, to the life and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna: and the whole atmosphere would be changed. No word was heard but the word of God, no word was spoken but the word of God, no word was read but the word of God.
The Master knew that Mahendra Nath was one of his “Officers,” destined to preach his word, and he began to train and commission him for the purpose. So we find the Master, in one of his trances, praying one day in July, 1883, to the Mother about Mahendra Nath: “Mother, why have you given him only one Kala of Power? Oh, I see. That will be sufficient for your work?” So as early as that, all these arrangements of commissioning the disciples with power were being made secretly with the Mother so that they would do the work of teaching people in future.
Mahendra Nath was from the beginning inclined to the worship of the formless God and spoke of this to the Master. The Master encouraged him in that worship and gave instructions accordingly.
One day he took him to a famous artificial lake to teach him how to meditate successfully on the Formless, like a fish moving about in joy unobstructed in a large sheet of water. But he. advised him to give up all sectarian and narrow outlook, and not to look upon other modes of worship as wrong. Then gradually he taught him the worship of God with forms (Sakara). So wc find him teaching: “Recognise the worship of God with forms. He appears before the devotees in forms carved out of Consciousness.” He was thus broadening the base of his spiritual life.
The Master led M. gradually from one aspect of Divinity to another and gave him the tastes and visions of God desired by heavenly beings.
The Master would ask his newly-come disciples, by way of testing their power of spiritual appreciation and openness to spiritual truths, “What do you think of me ? ’' And if any one at an early period recognised him to be an Incarnation, the Master thought he had great spiritual possibilities. Accordingly on the third day of his meeting, he asked M., “ What do you think of me, how many annas of knowledge have I?” M. answered, “ Annas, I cannot say, but such love, knowledge, dispassion and catholicity, I have not seen elsewhere.” The Master began to laugh. Some time afterwards he again asked M. about himself. M. answered, “The Lord has created you Himself with His own hands (self-created), and other beings with a machine.” Some time later, M. gives his own estimate of the Master, “ The power of the Lord has been embodied in you.” “What is the measure of that power?" "Measure, I cannot say, but that His power has become incarnate is clear.” Some time afterwards M. made an open avowal and said, "I think Jesus Christ, Chaitanya and yourself are one and the same."
When the Master in explaining the theory of Incarnation compared the Incarnation to a big aperture in the wall through which the Infinite Expanse of the Unconditioned Existence is seen, M. answered, "You are the opening through which the Unknown is seen."
The Master with great satisfaction patted him on the back and said: "You have understood that at last. It is excellent." That very evening when M. avowed his liking for the Formless, the Master said, " I also would not see forms of God before, now also it is diminishing (vision of form)." Then M. said, " Of forms the manifestation of God in human form appeals to me." "That is sufficient and you are seeing ME," was the reply. The perception of the Divine incarnate in Sri Ramakrishna was the last word in the Sadhana of Mahendra Nath. After that he knew nothing besides Sri Ramakrishna; his whole mind and soul centred round him—to meet him, to serve him and to hear his words were his all-absorbing passion. His allegiance and loyalty to his Master was phenomenal. Never for a moment did he waver in his love and devotion to him and never did his interest flag. His pleasure in his company knew no satiety.
The estimate of the Master about M. was high. The Master would narrate how, in one of his trances, he had seen him in the circle of Sri Chaitanya's disciples. The face seen in the vision had been imprinted on his mind; therefore when he saw M. he recognised him at once. Again we find the Master saying: " I have recognised you, hearing you read the Chaitanya Bhagavata: you are of the same essence as I am, as father and son. So long as you did not come here, you remained self-forgotten. Now you will know yourself. Now go and live in the world unattached.” Then the Master prayed to the Mother: “ Do not make him give up everything. Do in the end what You will. If You keep him in the world, show Yourself to him now and then. Otherwise, how will he remain in the worldly life, where will he find the z.est for living?”
When Mahendra Nath one day expressed his desire to give up all for the sake of God, the Master said: “You are well established in God already. Is it good to give up all ? The Lord keeps the speaker or preacher of the Word in the world, otherwise who will speak the word of God to people ? That is why the Mother has kept you in worldly life?”
The great non-attachment for worldly things and the intense love for God that were seen in Mahendra Nath were the result of lifelong struggle. The spiritual practices which he began at the feet of his Master he continued in later life. He regularly visited the Baranagore Math established by the group of monastic disciples of Sri Rama-krishna headed by Swami Vivekananda, and invariably spent the week-ends there. There was at that time a fever of excitement for spiritual practices and for the realisation of God in the Baranagore Math. Mahendra Nath would warm himself in that benignant flame. He was never tired of narrating the life lived by these apostles and of their great longing for God manifested at this period. When some lay disciples of Sri Ramakrishna brushed the monastic disciples aside as a few unripe, inexperienced youths, Mahendra helped the latter to rally together. Swami Vivekananda writes in one of his letters to the Math from America : “ When Ramakrishna left his body everybody gave us up as a few unripe urchins; but M. and a few others did not leave us in the lurch. We cannot repay our debt to them.” M. used to say to us that the life and atmosphere of the Baranagore Math appeared to him to be so holy that he would sprinkle over his body the water gathered in a cistern there, with an idea of purifying himself thereby. Sometimes at the Baranagore Math, sometimes at Dakshi-neswar temple-garden, he would retire into solitude and spend long days in spiritual practices. When he would get leave for a longer period, he would sometimes retire to some neighbouring garden and there live alone, himself cooking his simple meal and thinking of God. While at home also, he would sometimes get up at night, carry his bedding to the open verandah of the Senate Hall of the Calcutta University, and there sleep among the waifs of the city in order to feel that he was homeless. When questioned why he went to such extent, he said, “The idea of home and family clings to one and does not leave easily.” During the hours of his work at college as a professor, whenever he would get a little leisure or interval he would retire into a solitary room on the roof and there open his diary of the Master, pore over it, read, think and digest it. Latterly, when he had become the proprietor of a school, as soon as his work of supervision was over he would retire to his private room, shut the door, and live by himself. All these are to recount only a few among many of his habits. Is it a wonder that with his talents and such intense living in God, he was able to live in the world unattached, filled through and through with the thought and presence of God?
It is at this time that young men from local colleges gathered round to hear him speak on God and his Master's life and teachings. It is his burning words of renunciation and intense love of God that first roused the fire of spirituality in many young men who afterwards became completely dispassionate to worldly life and dedicated themselves to God and His worship. Even during the lifetime of Sri Ramakrishna he brought some of his students to his feet, and they afterwards became great personalities in the circle of the Master’s disciples. So he was called by the familiar name of Master Mahashay.
Thus living and moving in the atmosphere of his Master’s life and personality and the associations of his brother-disciples for more than a decade, he felt inclined to bring out the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, the book which will immortalise his name. The genesis of how the diary of conversations with Sri Ramakrishna came to be recorded, he narrated thus : “I was in worldly life, bound to my work and could not visit the Master whenever I wished; so I used to note his words and impressions in order to be able to think on them in the intervals before I met him again, so that the impressions made on my mind might not be overlaid by the stress of worldly work and preoccupation. It was thus for my own benefit and good that I first made the notes, so that I might realise his teachings more perfectly.” The Gospel first appeared in 1897 *n English in a pamphlet form. It drew immediate praise and encouragement from Swami Vivekananda. The dramatic setting, the vivid impression given of the Master, the description on every occasion of the framework and the atmosphere, all contrived to produce a wonderful effect. One felt transported to the period of the Master's living, to be sitting by him and listening to his talk. The dramatis personae seemed to be moving and living figures, and the spiritual aroma of these lovely scenes and holy conversations filled one’s heart with a divine fragrance. Swami Vivekananda was all praise for the book. He wrote: " I am in a transport when I read it. The dramatic part is infinitely beautiful. The language is fresh and pointed and withal easy. I now understand why none of us attempted his life before. It has been reserved for you—this great work.” Indeed it is the poetic temperament of Mahendra Nath, his sensitive, impressionable nature, his long dwelling upon these scenes with infinite love and reverence which helped him to recall those scenes with the vividness and the force of life to make his Master and the disciples live in literature as immortals.
In 1905 he retired from his work as guardian tutor and purchased the Morton Institution, then situated in Jhamapukur Lane. The school remained in these premises for many years, and when the number of students increased, he transferred it to 50, Amherst Street. At both these places he remained by himself in a solitary room in the school building, much sought after by devotees from far and near. In the mornings and evenings he would be surrounded by a circle of listeners and would continue to talk of religious topics, mainly on the life and teachings of his Master.
After his Master’s passing away Mahendra Nath visited Benares, Vrindavan, Ayodhya and other holy places. At Benares he saw the famous Trailanga Swami whom he fed with sweets, and also Swami Bhaskarananda with whom he had a long talk. In the year 1912, he went on a pilgrimage with the Holy Mother to Benares and spent eleven months in Benares, Hardwar, Kankhal, Rishikesh and Vrindavan in the company of Sadhus. After some time the idea of seeing the places associated with his Master so powerfully drew his mind that he abandoned the project of staying in those parts longer and returned to Calcutta.
Mahendra Nath had a wonderful capacity for idealising things, for sublimating things human into divine. Everything, to his eyes, was coloured with the tints of Divinity; nothing was small or commonplace to him. This trait he got from his Master who possessed it in an abundant degree. He had first visited the birthplace of his Master at Kamarpukur while the Master was living at Cossipore. Everything there seemed to him apparelled in glory. The road, the temples, the way-side villages, the peasants, the neighbours, even the road-side dust appeared meaningful to him, and he saw them with a different eye. All places where his Master went and lived in his boyhood or afterwards, he visited and lovingly touched, and he bowed before them all. When he returned from his peregrinations and narrated them to his Master, he asked, “How could you go into such out-of-the-way places, infested by robbers ? ’ ’ And when he learned how M. had carefully visited the places and scenes of his childhood, he was almost in tears at the manifestation of his love, and said to a person near by: “ Look at his love, nobody has told him and he out of his own accord with infinite care and love has gone to those places. His love is like that of Vibhishana, who, when he found a human form, at once dressed it in rich apparel and worshipped it by waving lights, saying, ‘ This is the form of my Ramachandra.’ ’’ Anyone who saw how reverently he stood before Prasad (sacramental food of any deity) and took that in his hand and put it on his head, how he would worship any memento of any holy place like Dakshi-neswar or the Belur Math and keep that long before him and lovingly look at that day after day, how, whenever any word of God was being read, he would sit up reverently, leaving aside his slippers, would realise the infinite ocean of love and reverence that lay at the bottom of his heart and manifested itself in these forms. If the idea of seeing Brahman in everything is the last word of Sadhana, then the ideal can be realised only by such reverential attitude; Brahman is seen in everything only through such loving eyes.
His great love for Sadhus and Bhaktas was phenomenal. He would idealise Sadhus and their life above all and could not bear to class them in the same category with householders. The Sadhus who are trying to devote their whole time and energy to God, without giving their energy to anything else, he would consider as the ideal of life. If the realisation of God is the end of life, then that realisation is possible only to those who give their all to God—who, leaving all other preoccupations, with single-minded devotion, wait upon God for a spark of the Divine Fire which will set their hearts aflame with Divine Love. Householders, even if they are devotees, have a thousand distractions, a hundred necessary setbacks which put a limit to their allegiance to God. They cannot be compared with those who have set their whole mind and face towards Him—that is what he would say. He would say again that all the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna tended towards renunciation; even in his teachings to householders he sowed the seeds which would ultimately sprout up in the form of renunciation either in this life or another. Thus he would idealise Sadhus—whole-time men, as he would call them—and set them apart in a category by themselves and would resent the least slight shown to them or their life, and would always preach the glory of association with holy men—the only practical means of spiritual realisation. When a Sadhu would come, he would sit near him for hours forgetting everything and say: “A Sadhu has come, the Lord Himself has come in one form, as it were, shall I not postpone my eating and bath for him ? Absurdity can go no further if 1 cannot do that.” He would love to feed the Sadhus and sit by them and watch and say, ‘‘ I am offering food to the Lord, I am taking part in and seeing a Puja.” He would paint in brilliant colours the life of the Sadhu, his great ideal and mission of life, his great sacrifice for the highest end, and would show infinite regret if any Sannyasin neglected his rare opportunity of realising the sutnmum bonum of life. Sadhus learnt from him the glory of their mission.
His humility was very touching. A great spiritual personality with a face beaming with the light of heaven, having made acquaintance and enjoyed intimacy with such great souls as Rama-krishna Paramahamsa, Keshab Chandra Sen, Swami Vivekananda, Ishwar Chandra Vidya-sagar and many others, he acted and behaved as if he was nothing, as if he was an insignificant person. His Master told him to live like a servant in this life, and he literally carried it out. He considered himself the servant of all. He would be infinitely pained if anyone advanced to render him any little service, and he would go forward enthusiastically to serve all. Although teaching and speaking for more than forty years of his life about God and religion to generations of young men, he never assumed the role of a teacher. He taught indirectly, and his words would pierce the most adamantine heart and work wonders. He never ordered any one to do or not to do anything while guiding the persons who had come under his spiritual influence. He never used compulsion or rebuke. His was a commission of love and yet his soft and sweet words would pierce the stoniest of hearts, make the worldly-minded weep and repent and turn Godwards. He would in his talks hammer and hammer on the truths till they were engraven on the minds ol the hearers and they were converted.
His great love for all, like that of a fond mother towards her children, was very striking and spontaneous. Yet he had wonderful control over his feelings. Devotees were to him the life of his life. He would say that devotees made his life bearable; without them life would be a desert; that in the great darkness of the world, the devotees of God were the only shining lights. He would find infinite pleasure in their company.
His temper was phenomenally calm and unruffled. Rarely did one find him to use a harsh word. The calm placidity of his mind remained undisturbed even in most provoking circumstances. Even when suffering from the most excruciating pains in fits of attacks of nerve-spasms, he was kind and loving to the devotees as ever, and anxious for their service. He attained to the state of perfect conquest of the flesh.
The abstemiousness and the extreme simplicity of his life struck his visitors forcibly. Although able to live more lavishly, he limited himself to the strictest frugality. In food and dress and external surroundings he was very simple. He would say that one of the great teachings of the Master was the simplification of life; otherwise the paraphernalia of life would increase, engross the mind and completely smother the spirit leaving no time for thinking about God. Thus living in simple, almost tattered garments, on food simple to bareness, in surroundings the most common-place, he lived a life of absorption in God, and was an example of high thinking and plain living. Living this simple life and being merged in God, he was a blessing to innumerable souls and a hope and stay to many a lost wanderer of this planet.