This book contains reminiscences of Swami Adbhutananda, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, collected by a lay devotee, Chandrashekhar Chattopadhyay. Swami Adbhutananda, affectionately addressed as Latu Maharaj, never underwent any formal education and hence did not know how to read and write. But he was held in high respect for his spiritual achievements, pure life, simplicity and insights into spiritual life. This book is a charming account of Swami Mother Sri Sarada Devi, swami Vivekananda and other disciples, as also provides intimate glimpses of his austere life, devotion to God, dispassion towards the world and intense spiritual practices. It is a treasure-trove of spirituality and renunciation.
Swami Adbhutananda, known amongst devotees as Latu Maharaj, was austere by nature. He would often live withdrawn in mediation at the resisdence of Sri Balaram Basu, an ardent devote of SRi Ramakrishna, who lived at Baghbazar in Kolkata. At that time I used to visit him everyday desiring his company for a few years. It is impossible to express what this relationship meant for devotees like me. We would lose ourselves in the sereneness of his selfless love and forget the greatness of the person at whose feet we were sitting.
This effulgent monk’s frame and nature had some strange attractive power which could not be ignored by many a people. The learned and the illiterate, both young and old, would come to him in large numbers and feel satiated by his amicable and loving behaviour. The fund of his knowledge would be revealed when he conversed with the devotees. Through humour and mirth he would bring up various topics which gave clear expression to a catholic view of live. I began collecting some portions of all such learned conversations and anecdotes.
When Latu Maharaj stayed in Benaras, I would go there off and on. The spiritual talks that I heared as I sat at his holy feet whenever I could be present had remained enshrined in my memory till now. On one such rare occasion, when Maharaj was talking on spiritual topics with a devotee, I grew excited and desiring to take notes of the conversations, I started looking for pencil and paper. Divining my intentions, Maharaj said with a pleasant smile, ‘There is no need to write down these matters. When you attain purity of mind, all these ideas will come up of their own accord. Just ruminate on these words now and later you will get the taste. See, leading a pure life is the most essential thing. Therefore one has to observe the pure life of monks.’
Latu Maharaj never bade me to sketch a portrait of his life. Yet, forgetting my own incapacity in this task and baking on the affectionate blessings that I have received from him, I have undertaken to worship him through his own life story by straggling a garland of the various incidents of his life in this book of reminiscences.
While writing these reminiscences I have depended on these sources: first, the narrations of intimate disciples and special devotees of Sri Ramakrishna; second, the oral and written records of monks and devotees who have not seen Sri Ramakrishna in person but had come into contact with Latu Maharaj later on; and third, collection of material from various books and articles from journals that have been published on Sri Ramakrshna-Swami Vivekananda and Latu Maharaj.
I have been able to collect a lot of material on Latu Maharaj’s life authors of all those books, to the venerable monks and the householder devotees. I have acknowledged their names at the appropriate places while narrating the reminiscences and refrain from repeating them individually here, for which lapse I beg their forgiveness.
During the seven years that I have taken to ready this book, the veracity of each incident recorded here has been thoroughly verified with all those who were still living. In some cases the conversations were jotted right down in their presence and the written notes were reaffirmed by them. A major portion of the conversations of my friend, the late shashadhar Ganguly (a teacher of Maldah) and Rai Bahadur Biharilal Sarkar were thus compiled. So were the excerpts from the dairy of Sri Saratchandra Chakraborty. Therefore the language and the expressions used in this compilation are primarily of Latu Maharaj. In many sections of this book it appears as if there reverberating voice of [Latu] Maharaj is echoing forth live like in a gramophone record.
In preparation of the manuscript the aforesaid materials have been incorporated just as much as was felt necessary. A friend of mine has assiduously tried to improve the quality of this book by making corrections throughout the manuscript, sometimes with additions, wherever necessary. He has put in a lot of effort in editing this work, but always with a smile and I can think of no other recompense other than an endless shower of Sri Ramakrishna’s blessings on him. My heart will remain grateful to this noble hearted friend.
I have not compromised on the efforts and care required to produce a flawless text. Yet some errors could remain here and there, and I request the readers to graciously condone them.
Revered swami Virajananda Maharaj, the president of Ramakrishna Math has showered his grace and enhanced the worth of this book by writing a foreword. I shall remain forvever grateful to him for this blessings conferred on me and have been bound by his affection.
I gratefully acknowledge the financial help my friends provided me to publish this book. The list includes: Sri Sureshchandra Saha, Sri Akshaykumar Sil, Nagendranath Sen and Raisaheb Narendranath Sen, Sri Satishchandra Laha, Sri Narendranath Sen, Srimati Rajlakshmi Sen, DrAnurupkrishna Mukhopadhyay, Sri Khagendranath Sen, Sri Harikrishna Mukhopadhyay, Sri Khagendranath Sen, Sri Hari Charan Sil, BL, Sri Duniyalal Sil, Srimati Phoolkumari Dutta.
Sri sureshchandra Saha, a disciple of Revered Latu Maharaj feels blessed to be the publisher of the care that he took in ensuring a good print.
Sri Jitendranath Dey deserves thanks for the care that he took in ensuring a good print.
All the additional materials that we collected when the book was in print have been included in the Appendix.
This book is only a portion of the priceless teachings of a saint who chose to remain incognito. After all, how much do we know of his austere life! The secrets of the lives of realized souls are revealed more often in their casual talks. This publication will attain its fulfillment if the readers grasp the essence of the saints words, and be satiated by what they imbibe without bothering about the language in which it is clothed. Everything happens according to the will of Sri Ramakrishna. I conclude with salutations to his holy feet.
I am much gratified by reading this attractive life-story of Sri Latu Maharaj. The great soul as he was spent the larger part of his life alone and out of the view of the public. That is why the continuity of the religious life of this wonderful pious character usually remains unknown to the devotees. Having come in close contact with Latu Maharaj for a few years, the present author had kept written some part of his sweet memory, and has collected the rest from different other sources at a great labour. Many incidents have been cited in this book, which even the old sadhus and sannyasis of the Math are not aware of; these would have been lost for ever had they not found mention in this book.
Of the sannyasis disciples of Bhagavan Ramakrishnadeva, Latu Maharaj was of a special kind for many reasons. During my life spent at the monasteries of Baranagore and Alambazar, where I stayed together with him, I had had the good fortune of witnessing his burning zeal of renunciation and earnest meditative self. At the outset, outwardly and on many an occasion, he seemed to me to be a laid-back and gruff person who was unlike others. But on scrutinizing his life-style closely, it become evident how intensely his heart was detached from this world, and how it remained in unbroken communication with God. He would have none of unnecessary conversation or debate, and if there were any, he would leave the place for a solitary one, or waqlk about on his own. Long afterwards, it was during his stay at the house of Balaram Babu at Baghbazar, and at some other places, that he had shed his exclusiveness to some extent and begun to mix with the devotees and others who came on spiritual quest, but even then he behaved with all of his serenely grave personality intact. It was not in his nature to indulge in levity or laughing and making fun boisterously, but neither was he seemed to be moving about in a world made of super-sensuous perceptions.
But lurking beneath the surface of this hardened shell of a man, who was indeed aloof of whatever was going round him, was a soft and loving heart- there was no doubt about it. Those who got a little closer to him could easily realize that, and felt attracted to him. Remarkably simple and straightforward, and as guileless as a boy, he ever remained the unsophisticated one. Whatever matter or whoever the person he had to deal with, he never felt shy of saying what he thought fit to be said, without the least care. It was not always that everbody took this very kindly, but those who were familiar with him and knew what a heart this man did have, would neither mind nor get cross with him.
This sadhu, firm in non-attachment and with a boyish disposition, used to be looked upon by his brother disciples with kindly love. After his return from America, Swami Vivekananda always kept Latu Maharaj by his side, and when, accompanied by his western disciples, Swamiji went on a travel over many parts of the northern India, he took Latu Maharaj along with him. What a loving relationship between them we have seen! Notwithstanding his heartfelt love for the Sri Ramankrishna Sangha founded by Swamiji, and the nourishment he provided to the religious lives of the sadhus and devotees of this Sangha by his own divinity aflame with knowledge, non-attachment and love, he never joined the service-work initiated by Vivekananda. He spent his whole life in his own way in company of the seekers of God, who were pure, and devoid of rajas and tamas. Even after the Belur Math got founded, he would never agree to spend nights there, insists as much as his brother disciples did. He used to say, ‘Of what use are these land, buildings and wealth for us sadhus? Good heavens! I’m not the one to live in such affluence.’ This was his very own way of thinking, just as there were of the other disciples of Sri Ramakrishna-each having his special invidual inclination of mind. In his single self, dispositions and ways of thinking found expression in Sri Sri Thakur in infinite number, of which one or the other noticeably came to be predominant in each of his close companions. Yet, all are one with homogeneity and harmony. That the combination of these qualities has in this age produced as never before a unique spiritually cohesive atmosphere is a living example before our very eyes. Even the small incidents in the lives of the disciples of Sri Ramakrishna are but the same reminders of that great assimilation of thought-currents. That is why the more we discuss about them the more the world gets benefited, and the easier it becomes for us to catch a hold, to get a touch of that great infinite ocean of consciousness that is Sri Ramakrishna.
I have seen Latu Maharaj closely on many occasions, big or small. Some of those are distant memories now, some again are not fit to be made public, but I do remember again and again having witnessed his spiritual greatness and unique personality shine clearly in all those circumstances.
Having published this memoir in a lucid and artistic language, the author has earned the gratitude of the seekers of religion of Bengal, especially those who are the admirers of Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananada. The author is contemplative, as well as capable of thinking deeply. For about fifty years from his days of youth, he has got to mix with many intimate sannyasis and householder devotees of Sri Ramakrishnadeva, and been blessed by them. He is considering himself fortunate for being able to deliver the bgook to the public and offer his tribute at the feet of his deity in the person of this great soul, at nearing the end of his life which is but so prone to breaking down. It is my earnest prayer that the meritorious may taste the unblemished love of God by reading and contemplating over the life and teachings of Sri Sri Latu Maharaj.
Your email address will not be published *
Send as free online greeting card
Email a Friend