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Mahendranath Gupta "M"

mahendra nath gupta

mahendranath gupta


Letter from Sarada Devi

Reminiscences of M recorded by Swami Nityatmananda

A reminiscence of M by Paramahansa Yogananda (from the Autobiogrpahy of a Yogi)


M. (Mahendra Nath Gupta)

Mahendra Nath was born on Friday, 14 July, 1854, 31st of Ashadha, 1261 B.Y., on the Naga Panchami day in Shiva Narayana Das Lane of Shimuliya locality of Calcutta. Mahendra Nath’s father was Madhusudan Gupta and mother Swarnamayi Devi. Madhusudan was a bhakta (a pious man) and Thakur was aware of his bhakti. Mahendra Nath was the third child of Madhusudan. It is said that Madhusudan got this son after performing mental worships of Shiva twelve times one after the other. For this reason, he had a special affection for this son and he was particularly careful that this child may not come to any harm. The boy Mahendra was extremely good -natured and had great love for his parents. Mahendra could recall many incidents of his early childhood. For example, he went with his mother to witness the Ratha festival of Mahesh when he was five. On their return journey the boat touched the Dakshineswar ghat. When everybody was busy having darshan of gods and goddesses in the temple, M. somehow got lost and found himself alone in the Nata Mandir in front of Bhavatarini shrine. And not finding his mother there he began to cry. At that moment somebody seeing him crying consoled and silenced him. Mahendra Nath used to say that this incident remained always uppermost in his mind. He would witness with his mental eye the bright radiance of the newly constructed and dedicated temple. He who came to console him was probably Thakur himself.

As a boy Mahendra Nath studied in the Hare School. He was a very bright student and always held first or second position in his class. On his way to and from the school there was the shrine of Mother Sheetla of Thanthania. This shrine can now be seen in front of the College Street Market. On his way to and from the school he would never forget to stand before the deity to pay his obeisance. By virtue of intelligence and hard work he won scholarship and honours in his Entrance, F.A. and B.A. examinations. In his Entrance examination he won the second top position. In the F.A. examination though he missed one of his Mathematics papers, he was placed fifth in the merit list. In his B.A. he stood third in the year 1874. He was a favourite student of Prof. Tony in the Presidency College. While still in the college he was married to Nikunja Devi, the daughter of Thakur Charan Sen and a cousin sister of Keshab Sen in 1874. Sri Ramakrishna and the Holy Mother had great love and affection for Nikunja Devi too.  When Nikunja Devi lost her son, she almost became mad with grief. At that time, Thakur would bring peace to her mind by stroking her body with his hand.

Before entering the education line, he served for sometime with the government and then in a merchant house. But he could not stick to them.  Thakur had already arranged a different way of life for him. He took up teaching in school and college.  In Rippon, City and Metropolitan colleges, he taught English, Psychology and Economics. When he started going to Thakur in 1882, he was the headmaster of the Shyampukur branch of Vidyasagar’s school.

Rakhal, Purna, Baburam, Vinod, Bankim, Tejachandra, Kshirode, Narayana and some other intimate devotees of Thakur were all students of his school. That is why they all called him Master Mahashay. For the same reason, he became famous in Sri Ramakrishna’s group of devotees as ‘Mahendra,’ ‘Master,’ or ‘Master Mahashay’.  Thakur also called him ‘Master’ or ‘Mahendra Master’.

Mahendra Nath was inclined towards religion since his early years. During these days Keshab Sen came up as a famous preacher and a founderthe founder of Navavidhan Brahmo Samaj. These days Mahendra Nath used to keep company with Keshab. He would take part in worship in Navavidhan Mandir, or in his house. At this time Keshab was his ideal.  Later, he said that at times during worship Keshab Sen used to pray with such moving words that he looked like a divine personality. Mahendra Nath said that later on when he met Thakur and heard him, he realized that Keshab had derived this heart charming bhava from Thakur himself.

Mahendra Nath met Thakur in Dakshineswar on February 26, 1882. As Thakur saw M., he recognized him as a right person eligible for divine knowledge. At the end of the first meeting when M. was leaving, Thakur said to him, ‘Come again.’ He felt sad when he came to know that M. was married and had children. But he also told him that there were very good (yogi like) signs on his forehead and eyes. At that time Mahendra Nath liked to meditate on the formless Brahman. He did not like to worship Bhagavan, or the deity in clay images.

M. was very well read in Western pPhilosophy, Literature, History, Science, Economics and so on.  He also had mastery on the Puranas, Sanskrit scriptures and epics. He knew by heart verses from Kumarsambhava, Shakuntala, Bhattikavya, Uttar Ramacharita etc. He had also studied Buddhist and Jain philosophies. He had digested the Bible, particularly the New Testament, very well. As a result of all this Mahendra Nath considered himself a scholar.

However, during his first meeting with Thakur this pride of his received a blow. Thakur showed him the insignificance of the knowledge he had acquired. He made him realize that real knowledge is only to know God and all the rest is ignorance. A couple of blows received by him from Thakur’s words silenced Mahendra Nath. As Thakur would say, ‘A big frog is silenced forever after a croak or two when it falls a prey to a king cobra..’ So it happened with M.

In his very first meeting Thakur taught M. how to keep both sides — of this world and the other world during one’s journey through the world. This is called ‘sannyasa in the household’. The essence of it can be summed up in this: Do all your work but keep your mind in God. Live with your wife, son, father, mother and others. Serve them taking them to be your very own but know in your mind that none of them is yours.

Just as a the ‘mother of the pearl’ swimming on water receives a drop of rain of Swati (nakshatra, a conjunction of stars) and then dives deep into the sea and lies there rearing the pearl, M. followed this instruction of Thakur, and began to practise sadhana in the mind, in the forest, or in some solitary corner. He understood that the aim of human life is God-realization. He began his sadhana in a lonely place and whenever found time, he went and sat at Thakur’s feet. Lest he should fall into the whirlpool of household later on, Thakur put him to test from time to time and he would ask him the reason if he did not come to him for long.

Thakur knew from the very beginning that M. would  speak out Bhagavata to the people and teach it to them. Should he fall into the whirlpool of avidya (ignorance), Thakur’s desire would not be fulfilled through him. So with a keen sight he would keep observing whether some knot was not forming within M. When he made sure that M. had become efficient, Thakur said to him in January, 1884, ‘Now go and live at home. Let them know as if you are their own but be sure in your mind that you are not theirs, nor they are yours.’ Throughout his life Mahendra Nath practised this mantra of sannyasa in household. Thakur would always say, ‘Be in the world but not of the world.’ Thakur said to him, ‘Your eyes and forehead show as if a yogi has come here while practising austerity, as if you are an intimate companion of Chaitanya Deva.’

"I recognised you from your reading of Chaitanya Bhagavata."

"You belong to the class of the perfect by nature."

"Do you know what you are! Narada began transmitting Brahmajnana to all (to Sanat, Sanatan and others). So Brahma bound him in maya by a curse."

"You will be able to recognise all people."

"You are my intimate companion. Had it not been so, how could your mind have been so much on this side even when lacked nothing worldly."

"Mother, do grant Your darshan to him again and again. Otherwise, how will attend to both sides? Let him keep both. What is the need of renouncing all at once? Yet may Thy Your wish prevail. You may make him renounce all later on if that is Thy Your will."

"Mother, awaken him. Otherwise how would he awake others? Why have you put him in worldly life? What would have been lost if it had not been so and the same had continued?"

"Narendra and Rakhal would keep away from women. You too will. You will also not be able to go after women."

"He is a deep soul like the Falgu river, he has real spirituality within."

"Your bhava is that of Prahlada — ‘I am That’ and ‘I am God’s servant.’

"The Master (M.) is very pure."

"He has no pride."

"You are my own, of the same class substance like father and son."

"You are the inner as well as the outer pillar of Nata Mandir."

A struggle kept raging in Mahendra Nath’s mind while he was with Thakur, ‘Why have I not embraced sannyasa?’ Had it been so, his mind could have soared like a free bird in chidakasha (in the firmament of divine consciousness). Thakur would assure him from time to time and said, "He who has renounced from the mind is a renouncee. Nobody who comes here is a householder."

"The householder bhaktas of Chaitanya Deva also lived with their family unattached."

"When you take up a work, you lessen the involvement of worldly intellect in it."

Just as a weak child holds his mother with full force having embraced her tightly when overwhelmed with fear knowing her to be the chief and sure shelter, Mahendra Nath also kept holding Thakur in the fear of weaknesses born of family life, so much so that he absorbed himself throughout his life in Thakur’s bhava. He talked of nothing but Thakur. He thought of Thakur as his only refuge, his most desirable goal and the only one attainable. He had become one with Thakur.  Thakur alone was his supreme attainment —

Yam labdhva chaparam manyate nadhikah tatah,

Yasmin sthito na dukhena guruna api vichalyate.

— Gita 6:22

[And having gained which, he thinks that there is no greater gain than that, wherein established he is not shaken even by the heaviest affliction.]

Day and night M. would proclaim the tact to save oneself in this age of Kali: ‘Keep company of the holy, practise of spiritual discipline in solitude for some days and faith in the words of Guru.’ They who saw him in his old age felt that here was a yogi, a rishi who was living in the ashrama soliciting the human beings to shower the love of Sri Ramakrishna on them. Morning, afternoon or evening whenever one went to him, one would see him in the company of devotees talking of love of God. It was the story of the Lord which flowed continuously from the Vedas, the Puranas, the Bible, the Quran, the holy book of the Buddhists, the Gita, the Bhagavata, the Adhyatma (Ramayana). No weariness, no pause — unceasing talk of Thakur, the embodiment of all faiths and spiritual practices. What an extraordinary way of serving Thakur! He had dedicated his body, mind and wealth all to his work. Does this constitute what is called the ‘servant I,’ the way of Hanuman?

Who does not and would not like to be fortunate enough to be the servant of Ramakrishna Deva? And then his intimate disciples were, of course, his servants. M. too was a marked servant of Sri Ramakrishna. ‘You are my own, the same substance like father and son’ — these holy words of Thakur indicate this. That Narendra Nath would carry out the mission of Thakur had been written by Thakur while referring to him. That Mahendra Nath too would do Thakur’s work was hinted by him so often. We can find it in the Kathamrita at several places, ‘Mother, I can say no more. Please grant power to Rama, Mahendra, Vijay and others that they may carry out Your work from now onwards.’

"Mother, why have You given him (M.) one kala Shakti (one sixteenth of Your power)?  O, I understand, it will be enough for Your work. One day Thakur said to Master Mahashay, ‘The Mother has kept the Bhagavata Pundit (the preacher of the divine word) in the world tying him with one bond.  Otherwise, who will speak out Bhagavata?’ And so on. Thus we see that just as Narendra Nath had come for Thakur’s work and Thakur too gave him the badge of authority of his power; similarly, Mahendra Nath was also not deprived of his share in his inheritance — he too got power and bhakti from Thakur. To make him competent to work for welfare of mankind, Sri Ramakrishna made him undergo austerities from time to time. For more than a month, from 14 December, 1883 to almost the middle of January, 1884 he practised continuous sadhana under the benign care of Thakur in Dakshineswar. While living with Thakur not only M.’s heart had opened out but his pride had also vanished. Thakur used to say, ‘His pride has gone.’ Had he retained his pride, M. could not have accomplished the task assigned by Thakur to him. This task was to speak out Thakur’s words to others. In the five volumes of ‘Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita,’ having kept himself hidden, M. has proclaimed fully the glory of Sri Ramakrishna Deva. He gave himself a number of pseudo names — ‘Mani,’ ‘Mohini Mohan,’ ‘A Particular Bhakta,’ ‘M.,’ ‘Englishman’ and so on. The writer’s personality, however, manifests nowhere at all. Only at some places one comes across his reflections. Bbut even they are based on what Thakur had said and are merely an effort to proclaim Thakur’s glory. These thoughts and reflections are nothing but just the image of Sri Ramakrishna on the pure expanse of the heart of a servant. This is how he erased and hid himself. That is why Swami Vivekananda on reading the Gospel in 1897 wrote, ‘I now understand why none of us attempted his life before. It has been reserved for you, this great work. Socratic dialogues are Plato all over. You are entirely hidden.’


Sri Keshab Gupta wrote, "Repression of the temptation of being a literary figure is the veracity of ‘Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita.’ Like tuberoses spreading its their perfume while keeping themselves hidden is the great beauty of this spiritual book.’’

The tests to which Thakur used to subject him have also been mentioned in the Kathamrita — 9 November, 1884. In this way, it appears that this work (the recording of the Kathamrita) had been reserved for him. Mahendra Nath had annotated these nectar- like immortal words of Thakur while living in his company in his diary with year, date, day of the week and the lunar date. Taking these notes as foundation the ‘Gospel’ and the five volumes of ‘Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita’ have been produced. This work is unique in history — the life of a divine personality, avatara, has never been recorded in this way anywhere. This is a new genre. N. Ghosh said rightly about ‘Sri Sri Kathamrita’ in the ‘Indian Nation’: ‘"They take us straight to the truth and not through metaphysical maze. The style is Biblical in simplicity. What a treasure would it have been to the world, if all the sayings of Sri Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, Nanak, Chaitanya could have been preserved thus."

Can anybody and everybody accomplish such a work? Even if one does, it cannot be with such a pure bhava. It was possible only by the grace and desire of Thakur. That is why, Thakur first rid the writer of his pride. This is the reason why Mahendra Nath hid himself by taking up a number of pseudonyms. They are found in the Kathamrita.

It is obvious from the words coming out of the lips of Mahendra Nath and also from his bhava that he lived with Thakur in the perfect state of mind of a servant while making a sannyasi of himself. He would often quote: ‘We ought to have the only aim. To be as perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect[170].’

After the demise of Thakur, he used to visit Barahnagar Math now and then to live with his brother disciples, so that the ideal of their seva (service) and sadhana, renunciation and hard life may get  firmly rooted in him.

With the aim of cultivating the spirit of complete dependence on God he would, at times, spend nights in front of the Senate Hall like the indigent.    

At times he would go to Uttar Pradesh to live in a hut[171] and practise austerities like sadhus.

Sometimes he would go to the Howrah Station to see people coming back from their pilgrimage and would pay his obeisance to them. He would ask for prasad from them, take it himself and also give it to his companions, if there was were any, saying ‘Tthe prasad brings you in contact with Bhagavan Himself.’

Whenever he found time or opportunity, Mahendra Nath would seek the company of Thakur in Dakshineswar, or in the house of some devotee.  He would be with Thakur even during the recess time in his school whenever Thakur came to a devotee’s house. Once the result of the Shyampukur school was rather low because of his frequent visits to Thakur.  Vidyasagar Mahashay said to him rather sarcastically, ‘Master (M.) is busy with the Paramahansa.  He has no time to think of the schools affairs.’  As this remark involved his guru’s name, he immediately resigned his job.  When Thakur came to know of it, he said, ‘You have done the right thing.  The Mother will arrange all for you.’

Whenever Thakur was in need of anything, he would tell Mahendra Nath, adding at the same time, ‘I cannot accept from all.’

Mahendra Nath was very popular with Sri Ramakrishna’s group of devotees for his goodness and simplicity of heart.  When Narendra Nath was in straightened circumstances after the death of his father and was very anxious to carry out sadhana, Mahendra Nath arranged for his family expenses for three months, thus enabling him to attend to his spiritual pursuit with a free mind as directed by Thakur.  At times Mahendra Nath would also go to Narendra Nath’s mother and give render some help secretly.

After Sri Thakur’s maha samadhi, his devotees established a math in Barahnagar.  In earlier stages Suresh Mitra, Balaram Bose, M. and others rendered financial help to them.  At that time Mahendra Nath was teaching in two schools.  He used to donate his income from one school to the Math.  From 1890 to 1893 Narendra Nath lived the life of a wandering monk.  Inspired by his example some of his brother disciples went to Himalayas, or Uttarkhanda to carry out tapasya there. During this period Mahendra Nath kept himself absorbed in his diaries day and night, meditated on Thakur and took refuge at the feet of the Holy Mother.  Whenever a conflict arose in his mind, he would give himself up completely to the Holy Mother.  He would also bring her to his house at times and serve her.  The Holy Mother would stay in Mahendra Nath’s house sometimes for more than a fortnight and sometimes for more than a month.  As directed by Thakur in her dream, the Holy Mother went to the house of Mahendra Nath and installed the holy water vessel with her own hands and arranged puja.  In this shrine the hHoly mMother carried out a lot of puja, japa and meditation. 

Since 1889 M. used to send some money for the service of the Holy Mother every month regularly.  Whenever the Holy Mother was in need of anything, she too informed Mahendra Nath.  When a piece of land was to be bought for Jagadhatri puja, she directed Mahendra Nath to send money.  On reading the letter, he sent Rs. 320/-. When once he was asked to send some money for digging a well in her village, in times of at the time of water scarcity, Mahendra Nath sent Rs. 100/-. M. also used to send money to the sadhus of the Math who went to the hills or distant places for sadhan and bhajan.

M. had already received a number of requests to publish this book.  And later, when more and more requests started pouring in, M. one day read it out to the Holy Mother at her instance.  She was extremely pleased to hear it.  Blessing M. she said, ‘On hearing it from your lips I felt as if Thakur himself is talking all this.’ And she directed M. to publish the book.

The first edition of ‘The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna’ (According to M., a son of the Lord and Disciple) was published by Mahendra Nath in English in 1897.

Thus Gospel began to be known in English. Sri Ramachandra Dutta wrote in the Tattva Manjari published from Yogodyan, in the month of Agrahayana, 1304 B.Y. (November-December, 1897).

   "Revered Mahendra Nath Gupta… who has so much faith in the Lord that he is making a humanly effort of spreading His words by recording it in a book for the good of the ordinary man… We request Gupta Mahashay that instead of bringing these teachings in parts he may publish them in the form of a big volume.  . It would be of greater service to the common man.

"Our second request is that he may not give up writing in Bengali language because the deep essence of the narratives get somewhat changed at several places while translating into English — we need not tell it to Master Mahashay.  The common man of this region would find it difficult to understand it (in English)." And this is how it happened later. Bearing the name of ‘Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita’ by Sri M., it began to appear in Tattva Manjari, Banga Darshan, Udbodhan, Hindu Patrika and some other monthly magazines of the time.  Then they were collected and published as Volume I through the Udbodhan Press by Swami Trigunatitananda.  The second volume appeared in 1904, the third in 1908, the fourth in 1910 and the fifth in 1932. This work has been translated in so many Indian and foreign languages.  Everybody began to say, "An invaluable gem is being added to the Bengali literature."

"The Nava Bharat wrote: Except for M. nobody possesses this gem.

"The Sanjivani wrote: ‘Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita’ is truly the treasure of nectar. Romain Rolland, the savant, wrote: The exactitude is almost stenographic.

With the publication of the Kathamrita new and still new devotees began to visit the Math and the Holy Mother’s house.  More and more sannyasis began to read the Kathamrita.  The Ganga of peace began to flow in theis world of trials and tribulations.

Swami Premananda wrote: Thousands and thousands of people are getting new life from the Kathamrita, thousands are receiving bliss from it.  Bent under the weight of trials and sufferings of the worldly life so many thousands of people are gaining peace in their family life of sorrow and attachment.

All recognized that Sri Ramakrishna, avatara of the age, has incarnated for the good of humanity.  And man will attain peace and gain fearlessness only by taking shelter at his feet.

Presiding at the birth anniversary of M. in 1955, Sri Hemendra Prasad Ghosh said: M. has presented Sri Ramakrishna to the world through his Kathamrita and that too in a very short time.  Had he not written the Kathamrita, it would have taken long for the world to know Thakur.  God can be realized even while living in household — the truth taught by Sri Ramakrishna is clearly manifest in M.

Many western devotees also used to meet M. at M.’s  his house. M. would talk only of his Guru Sri Ramakrishna for days, months and years continuously. 

He said, ‘I am an insignificant person.  But I live by the side of an ocean and I keep with me a few pitchers of sea water.  When a visitor comes, I entertain him with that.  What else can I speak of but his words.’

He would speak in such a touching manner and and so full of affection that it appeared to the visitors that they were listening these words sitting close to Thakur himself.  A bridge as if was built between the spot where he used to sit and talk of Thakur and the spots of Thakur’s leela.  His narratives became real. Paul Brunton met Mahendra Nath and he narrated this meeting in his book ‘Search in Secret India’.  While describing his first meeting with M., he writes, ‘A venerable patriarch has stepped out from the pages of Bible and a figure from Mosaic times has turned to flesh.’

Swami Yogananda in his book ‘Autobiography of a Yogi,’ recorded how he was inspired by Mahendra Nath in his earlier years while entering his future spiritual life.

Mahendra Nath was a sannyasi in household.  His life is a bright illustration of renunciation. ‘Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita’ by M. is not only an excellent piece of literature, it isbut also the immortal words of divine life.

Many a young man embraced sannyasa by coming in contact with Mahendra Nath and found new inspiration in their religious life. They who saw him even once can never forget his yogi like figure, his humbleness and his simplicity.

When the translation of some chapters of Kathamrita appeared as Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Volume II and was also published in the Morn Star without M.’s permission and consultation, how hurt M. felt within is evident from his letter: Dear Ayukta Babaji. My love and salutations to you all. The translation of the Gospel in the Morn Star is, I regret to say, not satisfying to me. Being an eyewitness I naturally want the spirit to be kept up in the translation. Moreover, the report of a meeting should not appear in a mutilated form. The translation should be done by myself. You may do the work after my passing away which is by no means a distant contingency.  I am 76 and my health is not at all good. It is painful to see the Gospel presented in this way. I do not approve the translation which has appeared as Volume II from Madras…

Mahendra Nath never made disciples and he never initiated anybody with a mantra.  He tried to literally follow each and every word of Thakur.  He was not fanatic.  In all religions he saw the ‘harmonizing image’ of Sri Ramakrishna.  He spent his whole life in spreading the nectarine words of Thakur, as if it was his life long vow.

Mahendra Nath Dutta in his book ‘Master Moshayer Anudhyan’ wrote —

   "He (M.) believed that the Guru and the ideal deity are one — the Guru is the deity and the deity is Guru, they are one and the same.  By discussing and meditating on Sri Ramakrishna, thinking upon him, recollecting him and continuous talking of him made M. inwardly filled with Ramakrishna, though outwardly he was Mahendra Nath Gupta. He tried to be one with Sri Ramakrishna by giving up his own individuality and independent thinking. He retained no other thought, no bhava of his own.  That which is called in English as fiery independent spirit or self assertion, he retained none.  From within he was all Ramakrishna.  It seems as if his main objective in life was to live as a reflection of Sri Ramakrishna.  So, I say that having given up his independent thinking, his own individuality, or personal views he became one with his Guru.  The instructions of the Guru, his word and his talks were the only subjects of his thought.  Of course, while attending to worldly work, or teaching in the school, that is to say works of lower plane, he did retain his individuality and independent thinking.  When he attended to his household work, or managed his school he had his personal views (these are matters of lower plane.) But even on such work the impact of Sri Ramakrishna and his views were quite evident.  So, I say that Master Mahashay was Sri Ramakrishna within and Mahendra Nath Gupta without.’’

During the lifetime of Sri Ramakrishna, Mahendra Nath was first among the bhaktas to visit the native village of his guru.  For him it became the holiest place of pilgrimage. Taking every spot there as holy he offered obeisance lying prostrate on the ground.  And he brought some dust from this place knowing it to be sacred. Hearing this Thakur said, ‘Nobody asked and you did it of your own…!’ He shed tears of joy and moving his hand on his head and body, he blessed him and said, ‘Bringing dust shows bhakti.’

Mahendra Nath felt unspeakable joy by touching the idol of Jagannath in Puri and Tarakanath in Tarkeshwar as desired by Thakur.  Hearing of it Sri Ramakrishna touched Mahendra Nath’s hand and said, ‘You are pure.’

Whenever M. started writing Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita in a book form, he would take to holy acts of one meal a day and that too havishya (boiled sunned rice with clarified butter.)  And till the completion of printing and publication of the book he would keep up this vow. 

At the time of publication of the fifth volume, he left his mortal frame.

Thakur used to say, ‘Bhagavata[172], bhakta and Bhagavan — all the three are one.’  That is why, whenever the character of Mahendra Nath, the bhakta, is discussed mostly it is related to Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita. The recorder of Bhagavata lives forever along with the Bhagavata.  Thus Mahendra Nath has also attained immortality. So long as the name of Sri Ramakrishna remains alive in this world, his Bhagavata — ‘Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita’ will also live and with it will live M.

It was the night of the 20th Jaishtha when Mahendra Nath fell ill after completing the writing of ‘Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita’ — V.  In the following morning at 6 o’clock on Saturday repeating the name of Sri Thakur and Mother, and with this last prayer on his lips, — ‘O Gurudeva, Mother, take me in your lap’ — this highest of the yogis, left his body at the age of 78.  It was the departure of a great yogi, as if he was just asleep.

In the cremation ground at Cossipore, the last rites on the holy body of Sri M. were performed to the right of the spot where Sri Thakur’s body was cremated.  Mahendra Nath was ever a servant of Thakur and at the end he found a place close to him.  Many intimate devotees of Sri Ramakrishna had left this world of maya before the demise of Mahendra Nath but this precious point was as if reserved by Thakur for this beloved servant-- disciple of his.

At that time the place of Thakur’s samadhi was like a platform of white marble. While planning M.’s samadhi his two worthy sons — Prabhas Chandra Gupta and Charu Chandra Gupta — bore almost all the expenses for the construction of canopy of both Sri Thakur and Master Mahashay.


Bengali Publisher


  1. Chetanananda, Swami. Ramakrishna As We Saw Him. Chapter 18. M. (Mahendra Nath Gupta). St.Louis: Vedanta Society of St. Louis, 1990.


  2. Srima Darshan: Swami Nityatmananda from 1923 to 1932. These conversations were published in Bengali in sixteen volumes.

  3. Chetanananda, Swami. They Lived with God: Life stories of some devotees of Sri Ramakrishna. Chapter 14. M. (Mahendra Nath Gupta). St.Louis: Vedanta Society of St. Louis, 1989.

  4. Gupta, Dharm Pal. A Short Life of M.: the writer of the gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. Chandigarh: Sri Ma Trust, 1989.

  5. Lata, Prem. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Chapter 9. Visitors and Disciples - Some Prominent Devotees - Mahendranath Gupta (pp. 176-182). New Delhi: Sumit, 1991.

  6. Life of Sri Ramakrishna: Compiled from various authentic sources. Chapter on "Mahendra Nath Gupta" (pp. 296-301). Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1924.

  7. Lokeswarananda, Swami. The way to God as taught by Sri Ramakrishna. Chapter 1. M and the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. (See also pp. 173 f.) Calcutta: The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, 1992 (Revised, 1997).

  8. Nityatmananda, Swami. "A Biographical Sketch of Acharya 'M'" M. - The Apostle and the Evangelist - Vol. 1. Civil Lines - Rohtak, India: Sri Ramakrishna Ma Prakashan, 1967.

  9. Prabhananda, Swami. First meetings with Sri Ramakrishna. Chapter on Mahendranath Gupta, 26 Feb '82. (pp. 200-209). Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1987.

  10. Vividishananda, Swami. A Man of God (Glimpses into the life and work of Swami Shivananda, a great disciple of Sri Ramakrishna). Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1957.

    Mahendra Nath Gupta, better known as M, author of the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, left his mortal body on Saturday, June 4, 1932. [Shivananda Vani, II] He was seventy-eight years old when he died. The news moved Mahapurushji [Swami Shivananda] very much and he sat silent for a while. Unable to control his feelings any longer he then gently remarked to those who were close by: " The Master placed me in such a position that I could not even go and see M (when he was sick). One by one the Master is taking away his devotees . . . Ah! M lived in Calcutta, illumining the entire city, as it were. How many devotees visited him and heard from him the Master's words and thus were filled with peace! This loss will never be made good. M had nothing else to discuss but the words of Sri Ramakrishna; his life was filled with the Master. How dearly the Master loved him!

    "At one time M spent many days in succession at Dakshineswar. He was very simple as regards his food, living mostly on milk and rice. The Master himself arranged for a pint of good milk that he needed every day. M had a very strong body, that's why he could do so much of the Master's work. Whatever he heard from the Master he would note down in his diary after going home. From those notes he wrote that wonderful Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. He had a prodigious memory. He merely jotted down meagre notes, and from those notes, by exercising his memory through meditation, he compiled the Gospel. He belonged to the group of Sri Ramakrishna's intimate disciples. The Master, as it were, brought M with him for that particular work. M was accustomed to visit the Master every Saturday or Sunday or on any holiday. He also saw him when the Master came to Calcutta or wherever else he might be visiting. On such occasions, interesting subjects were sure to be discussed, with a big crowd present. All of a sudden Sri Ramakrishna would turn to M and ask: ' M, did you understand? Note that point well.' Sometimes the Master would repeat certain points. We did not realize then why he spoke to M in that way.

    "The Master's words were so impressive and instructive that I too felt tempted to make notes. One day at Dakshineswar I was listening to him, looking intently at his face. He was explaining many beautiful things. Noticing my keen interest, suddenly the Master said: 'Look here! Why are you listening so attentively?' I was taken by surprise. . He then added: 'You don't have to do that. Your life is different.' I felt as if the Master had divined my intention to keep notes and did not approve of it, and that was why he had spoken in that way. From that time on I gave up the idea of making notes of his conversations, and whatever notes I already had I threw into Ganga."

    The next morning some devotees who had associated with and served him devotedly for a long time came to the monastery from Calcutta. They seemed to be grief-stricken over M's passing away. Upon hearing from them the details of M's death, Mahapurushji affectionately said: " Ah! It is a great blow to you. This bereavement is fresh; words will not assuage this grief What is to be done? No one has any control over this. Sri Ramakrishna himself is taking away his devotees. But we know that the relationship of M with us and with the Master is eternal. Never think for a moment that M passed away for good and that there has been an end of everything."

    Talking in this vein, Mahapurushji tried to console the devotees, and while bidding them good-bye said: " What is there to fear, my children? The Master is living (in a spiritual sense)! We are still in the flesh. Whenever you find time, come to the monastery ".

    When the devotees had left, Mahapurushji said, " Ah! M was like a refuge to the devotees-a haven of peace. Particularly after Swami Saradananda's death many devotees used to go to M, and he would gladden their hearts by speaking to them about the Master. This loss cannot be replaced! He was indeed a holy soul. What great work of the Master he accomplished! Even if he had written only one volume of the Gospel (there are five such volumes in Bengali), it would have immortalized him. His work is imperishable." [pages 318-321]

  11. Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. Chapter 9. "The blissful devotee and his cosmic romance (Master Mahasaya)." Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1946.



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