Toward The End of his life, Sri Ramakrishan prayed to the Divine Mother to give certain devotees spiritual power to help him in his work, Ramachandra Datta was one of them. He was an older cousin of Swami Vivekananda, and although trained in the line of western Swami Vivekananda, and although trained in the line of western sciences, great changes came over him as a result of his coming into close contact with Sri Ramakrishna. He result of his coming into close contact with Sri Ramakrishna. He was his first disciple to proclaim publicly that Sri Ramakrishna was none but an incarnation of god. Not only that, over the bodily none but an incarnation of God. Not only that, over the bodily relics of Sri Ramakrishna he built in his garden house at Kankurgachi the first temple in memory of his Guru.
During the years from Sri Ramakrishna's passing away in 1886 until his own death in 1899, while most of Sri Ramakrishna's young monastic disciples were leading the lives of wandering young monastic disciples were leading the lives of wandering monks and practising spiritual disciplines in various places of pilgrimage, coinciding with Swami Vivekananda's stay in the West, Ramachandra took it upon himself to spreading the teachings of the Master, lecturing writing books and articles, maintaining Sri Ramakrishna's temple, organizing the festivals of the Master's birth anniversary and giving initiations to the disciples in and around Calcutta. He also wrote the first Biography of Sri Ramakrishna, but promised not to publish it till the death of the Master.
Examples of biographies of the incarnations of God, written shortly after their passing away but rare; no account of Buddha's Life was written down until the first century BCE, at last 400 year after his death, and the earliest Gospels appeared between 60-70 CE, that is three decades after the death of Jesus Christ. One of the striking features of this book is the chapter in which Ramachandra testifies how a person would become transformed for the better under the influence of Sri Ramakrishna. In this chapter Ramachandra describes Sri Ramakrishna as the "Purifier of the Fallen" with as much passion as intense conviction, which cannot but make this account thrilling to as well as challenging for the sympathetic readers. We have rarely seen such candid confession appear in any other literature published by the Ramakrishna Order. Ramachandra tells us how he had been an atheist and a materialist, his mind steeped in the scepticism born of an English education in western science. He admits he was largely ignorant of his Hindu heritage, having learned of it mainly through English translations. He confesses that he was primarily concerned with earning money by whatever means, ethical or not, and used to be driven by an inordinate libidinous urge. He writes of behaving like a model devotee outwardly while inwardly resenting spending money for the Master who used to pay visits at his house along with his many devotees. He tells us that his association with Sri Ramakrishna Transformed him in the course of time both inwardly and outwardly. In fact, this power to transform people's lives is the raison d'etre for Ramachandra's main argument to prove that Sri Ramakrishna was an incarnation of God, as much as Sri Chaitanya of the Sixteenth century was. In A Portrait of Sri Ramakrishna (second edition) by Akshyakumar Sen, Ramachandra and his maternal cousin Manomodan are portrayed as Jagai and Madhai, the two ruffians whose lives were thoroughly changed by the spiritual power of Sri Chaitana (p 344). Together, the cousins visited Sri Ramakrishna for the first time.
Ramachandra had built for himself a distinguished career in medicine, developing remedy for dysentery from locally available herbs, and becoming a chemical examiner at the science Association an extraordinary accomplishment for a Bengali during the British rule. On his very first meeting with Sri Ramakrishna, whom Ramachandra also refers to as the Paramahamsadev throughout this book, Sri Ramakrishna mysteriously recognized him as a doctor and asked him to examine
Hriday, nephew of Sri Ramakrishna, who had been suffering from a fever (Portrait P 328). In the same meeting the master used a doctor patient simile to illustrate a spiritual point, revealing from the very beginning his way of teaching each disciple according to his own nature and understanding. Ramachandra had such firm faith in the divinity of the Master that he believed whosoever had the good fortune of seeing his physical form during his lifetime would be liberated, as if seeing the Master was equivalent to being illumined. Ramachandra received a mantra from Sri Ramakrishna in a dream, which Sri Ramakrishna verified as a very propitious omen. However at a later date the Master asked him to give the mantra back, advising him only to think of him (the Master) whenever he wanted to "see something". He was convinced that the Master's disciples did not need to practise any spiritual discipline, as merely associating with him would be good enough. To illustrate this point he tells us that the Master used to snatch the rosaries out of the hands of his disciples, flinging them away as an unnecessary accessory. As far as we know, this is the only record of this story about Sri Ramakrishna.
It was my heart's desire for long to write the life story of Paramahamsadev. Round about six years ago I did write a small and condensed biography, but it never saw the light of day. Renowned traveller Sri Sri Krishnaprasanna Sen of Benares had taken the book from the present author with a view to get it printed from there, but for reasons unknown to me that too did not come off either, and as a result I took the manuscript back two years later. It had been lying as it was until recently. When spurred on by srijukta Babu Apurbachandra Chowdhury, a resident of Barijhati, we have set ourselves to carry through the project, leaving its success at the mercy of God's.
Albeit a hard task, writing a biography is not something that cannot be accomplished, because the object could be fulfilled by setting up the events in the right order. But this pattern, as simply as that, does not fit in with the life of Paramahamsadev. Be it a saint or a devil, truthful or lying through one's teeth, deceitful or simple, or a mixture of more than one kind of these traits, everyone lives a lift a life following a set of rules. But Paramahamsadev led a life that was unlike any one of those classification. His acts and deeds were singularly peculiar one could not get a hint of what he really was, either by a simple analysis of his character, or by putting in efforts for studying his life. Whatever side of his life we might glance over, we are left with wonder. Lacking in nothing in his resourceful personality, he had always been of help to the seekers whoever they might be and played his roles as varied as a Guru of Profound knowledge, a ministering angel whom one held as one's very own ideal, a sadhu of Scientific disposition, a wise friend and well wisher, a loving mother, or again as a father who was a stickler for justice.
Having seen his multifarious aspects, and ever with misgivings in our minds, we could not resolve the mystery, try as we did. How could we do?having pledged our mind and soul to him, we were without the right to act on our own.
That we might be deceived was an anxiety I certainly harboured in my mind. Like all others, I too had worked out for myself the duties of a man. I was not without an idea of religion, said to be born of beliefs filtered through science and philosophy. I knew the do's and the don'ts, but not what I was supposed to do. I believed there was no God, and save for the Nature, it did not matter if someone put his faith in something else or not. Paramahamsadev changed my outlook altogether, our knowledge and cleverness beat a retreat, preconceived theories proved to be totally wrong; I told him what were not fit to be told to him.
Such a biography is hard to write: reading it is just as hard going. My dear readers, it is not like an ordinary biography you are used to reading what we thought about Paramahamsadev at the outset underwent a sea change afterwards, and, I am afraid, your experience will be likewise. Nowadays no one expects to come across a biography as of Paramahamsadev, and even if it is at hand, no one is ready to believe the account and even if it is at hand, no one is ready to believe the account put in it. And so are the writers more or less guided by the trend of the market they think it as worthwhile if the book gets running into editions, one after another. But our object is quite unlike that, and our readers should not expect us to fall in line with the trend either.
One cannot write a biography, and at the same time be mindful of everyone else's likes and dislikes. As a departure from the truth is a serious offence, we have brought many a confidential fact to light.
Whatever has been written in this book is either of our direct experiences or partly from what we heard the Master speak of himself. As for the particulars of his taking birth we felt compelled to put it down in keeping with the information Sri Hridayaram Mukhopadhyaya, one of Paramahamsadev's relations, had sent us in writing. With a view to determine the veracity of this information srijukta Manomohan Mitra had gone to visit the village the master was born in and after knowing all the facts from the local inhabitants, he found it correct what Hridayaram had reported.
I strongly desired to relate the acts and deeds of paramahamsadev as they came to happen one after the other, but I could not do that. The details of his spiritual practice were known to him only and even Hridaya, in spite of living together with him, is not much knowledge about that. I have tried asking the old of Dakshineswar, but they too could not of the dates, months or years, and so I have maintained the sequence of this sadhanas just as he had told us.
He had told us great many a word, which cannot all be included in a small book such as this. Moreover, it will be useless to take about those matters of deepest significance publicly. Bepending on the circumstances in the future, not one but a multitude of books we desire to write on him.
We would like to ask a small favour from our readers. While going through this biography of Sri Ramakrishna, if there arises any query or misgivings in your minds about a point in the topics discussed in this book, you may bring it to our notice; it will be a pleasure for us to explain to the best of our capacity any point that might be raised by you.
Brahma Sutras (79)
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