Thursday, 1 May 2014

10. Coming of Disciples

By now, Ramakrishna had completed all the various spiritual disciplines and achieved the goal of different religions. He had realisation that God can be attained through all religions. The most important criteria to reach God are sincere yearning of the heart. God is the one remedy for all the sufferings in the world. Sri Ramakrishna, out of his infinite mercy, felt that he must distribute his knowledge and realisation to all people. Now onwards, for the rest of his life, he spent for this sole purpose.

Just as during his early days of spiritual practice, he yearned for God, now he yearned for sincere seekers of God. He felt pained to be in the company of worldly people. He cannot talk to them about God or his spiritual experiences. He knew, as the Divine Mother showed to him, that many would come to him to seek spiritual solace. When the evening bells for prayer rang, he climbed the roof a building in the garden, and cried at the top of his voice, “Come, my boys! Where are you? Come, I cannot live without seeing you.” This continued for some time. Then, finally, his disciples and devotees, arrived at Dakshineswar.

The first to come to him, was the cousins, Ramachandra Datta and Manomohan Mitra. It was the year 1879. Ramachandra Datta had read about Sri Ramakrishna in a newspaper article. So, with his cousin, he came to Dakshineswar. At the very first meeting, they were charmed by the kindness, cordiality and sympathy shown by Ramakrishna. They felt that he was their own. Their visit to him increased. Soon, they also brought their family and friends to meet Sri Ramakrishna.

Ramachandra Dutta introduced his friend Surendra Nath Mitra to Sri Ramakrishna. Surendra, an aristocratic man was leading a carefree life, in drinking and frequenting brothels. However, Sri Ramakrishna, who understood the different temperament of people, did not condemn him. He assured that once the taste for enjoyment has been wiped from the mind, Surendra would seek God. The kindness of Sri Ramakrishna, slowly turned Surendra’s mind to God. By nature, he was a benevolent man. Whenever required, he spent lavishly for Ramakrishna and supplied his personal needs. Ramakrishna informed that Surendra was one of his suppliers sent by the Divine Mother.  

Balaram Bose 
In 1882, Balaram Bose came into the fold of Ramakrishna. Though he hailed from a rich aristocratic family, he surrendered to Sri Ramakrishna with humility. His house in Kolkata became a parlour to Sri Ramakrishna. He often spent his time there with the Kolkata devotees. Balaram also was another supplier sent by the Divine Mother.

Keshab Chandra Sen 
Keshab was the leader of the Brahmo Samaj, a movement which championed the reformation movement in Hinduism. The young generation of Bengal looked upon Keshab as their idol and his fame had spread even to England. Coming into contact with Sri Ramakrishna, Keshab started to appreciate the Hindu religious truth, especially the worship of the Divine Mother. He started to write about Sri Ramakrishna and to speak about him in public congregations. Through Keshab, many young, educated men came to Sri Ramakrishna.

Mahendranath Gupta 
In February 1882, Mahendranath Gupta, a school teacher came to visit the temple garden of Dakshineswar. Though it was a casual visit, Mahendranath was attracted towards Sri Ramakrishna. The very next day, he returned to Dakshineswar and completely surrendered to Sri Ramakrishna and became a disciple. For four years, Mahendranath visited Sri Ramakrishna and recorded everything in his diary. Many years later, after Sri Ramakrishna’s passing away, Mahendranath, with the pen name ‘M’ published his diary as Kathamrita in Bengali. Subsequently, this book was translated into English as "The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna". 
Girish Chandra Ghose 
Another interesting character in the life of Sri Ramakrishna was Girish Chandra Ghosh. He was a famous dramatist of that time. Girish had imbibed all the bad habits that a city like Kolkata can offer. In fact, he was even bold enough to come before Sri Ramakrishna in drunkenness and address him in abusive language. Some of the devotees and disciples were astonished and displeased with the shameless behaviour of Girish. However, Sri Ramakrishna showed him love and care because Girish had sincerity. Though he lacked any quality to lead a spiritual life, Girish had tremendous faith in Sri Ramakrishna. 

One day, Girish came to Sri Ramakrishna and expressed his weakness and inability to practice any spiritual discipline due to his carefree lifestyle. Sri Ramakrishna tried to persuade him to do simple things, like remembering God’s name at least at the time of eating. Girish could not even promise that. Finally, Sri Ramakrishna said, “Then, give me your power of attorney. I  shall  take your responsibility.” Girish happily agreed to this. However, soon, Girish realized that after giving away his power of attorney to Sri Ramakrishna, he had lost all power to take any decision about himself. At every step, he had to think of Sri Ramakrishna and surrender to God’s will. After a few years, it became apparent to everyone that Sri Ramakrishna had transformed Girish into a great devotee. 

Future Monks 
Along with married people, some sincere unmarried youths also gathered around Sri Ramakrishna. Though at this time, Ramakrishna was in his fifties, he attracted the youths by his purity, love, simplicity and catholicity of views. Often, he would joke and laugh with the boys. His sweet singing of devotional songs also captured the hearts of all. He made all feel that God is a living presence which anyone can experience. Ramakrishna instilled into their hearts that God can be attained by those who forsook everything for His sake. He saw in them the bearers of his message to posterity. He trained each one of them according to their inherent tendencies and capacities. 

Sri Ramakrishna, once saw in a vision a boy dancing with Sri Krishna in Vrindavan. One day, he saw the same boy coming in a boat to Dakshineswar. His name was Rakhal. Since the first meeting, Rakhal looked upon Sri Ramakrishna as his mother. Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Sarada Devi treated Rakhal as their spiritual son. Rakhal soon left his family and started to live with Sri Ramakrishna. Later, he became Swami Brahmananda, the first president of Ramakrishna Mission.

Latu, was a servant boy in the house Ramachandra Datta. Sometimes, Ramachandra would take Latu to Dakshineswar. At home, Ramachandra also would speak about Sri Ramakrishna to his friends and family. This was sufficient to stir the innate spiritual tendency in Latu. He longed to be with Sri Ramakrishna and serve him. Once, Sri Ramakrishna had gone to Kamarpukur for some months. Latu could not bear the pain of separation. Often, he would be crying. When questioned, he would not speak his mind. Somehow, understanding the boy’s feelings, Ramachandra gave him a photograph of Sri Ramakrishna. When Sri Ramakrishna returned to Dakshineswar, he requested Ramachandra to send Latu to Dakshineswar. Unable to believe his luck, Latu came to live in Dakshineswar and serve his guru, Sri Ramakrishna. Later, Latu became Swami Adbhutananda.

Nitya Niranjan Ghosh, was another disciple of Sri Ramakrishna who later became a monk. During his boyhood, he had clairvoyant powers and he was used as a medium by spiritualists. Reproving this, Sri Ramakrishna said to Niranjan: “My boy, if your mind constantly dwells 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?”   

In November 1881, Surendra invited Sri Ramakrishna to his house and arranged a musical performance. Narendranath Datta, an accomplished singer and musician, sang on that day. He was then, a college student. Soon, Narendra came to Dakshineswar and asked Sri Ramakrishna: “Sir, have you seen God?” Sri Ramakrishna, who had already recognised Narendra as his own, replied, “Yes, I have seen God. I am seeing God more clearly than I see you now. Moreover, if you want, you too can see God.” This sincere, bold reply captivated Narendra. He became Swami Vivekananda, the foremost disciple of Sri Ramakrishna. 

When more disciples and devotees gathered, naturally, it will create a joyful atmosphere. Soon, the room where Sri Ramakrishna stayed became a mart of joy. Day and night, devotional songs were sung to the accompaniment of musical instruments. Ramakrishna spoke to them about God and filled their minds with peace and joy. During the nights, Sri Ramakrishna taught his disciples to meditate on God, and he himself would be in deep communion with God. At times, Ramakrishna visited the houses of the devotees and also other places with them performing Sankirtan and discoursing about God. 

Other youngsters who came to Sri Ramakrishna were Baburam, Shashi, Sharat, Tarak, Subodh, Yogin, Sarada, Hari Prasanna, Hari and Kali. After Sri Ramakrishna attained Mahasamadhi, they renounced the world and became monks.

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