Then I said, "Swamiji, you are also in the maya. Your activities of the Math, schools, daridra-narayanaseva (service of God in the poor), hospitals, the Mission — everything is maya. What is the need of all this? You yourself are within the meshes of maya."
At this he smiled and kept quiet for some time. It was through his grace that I considered myself as one with the maya. And now again I entered the little shell of my own self. I saw the Math, the Swami, and everything once again in its true perspective, i.e. the one I was used to have before this experience. A little time before I had spoken with a high pitched voice and that in a piquant manner, and now I was ashamed of having done so. Swamiji and myself were not of the same substance any more and I felt the vast difference.
Swamiji must have known that now I was normal once again. Then, he said. "Yes; you have said aright. I am playing with maya. If you do not like this play of maya, you can go to a deep cave of the Himalayas. There you can get yourself lost in, tapasya (spiritual effort)."
It was high time for lunch and everyone was kept waiting. Swamiji stood up and I fell prostrate at his feel. He was Shiva in person, and I touched his feet.
It was then that I had the desire to have prasada from Swamiji. But I said nothing. Swamiji was pacing in front of the open verandah before the store-room. He went to the room and took an apple and asked for a knife from a Bramhacharin. Slowly he peeled the apple and then cut a slice. He came near me and offered the slice to me. I was gratified. Then he took a piece himself. Then I wished to have anna-prasada from Swamiji. A little later when we were all seated for the midday lunch. Swamiji asked a Bramhacharin to come to him and he said. "Take this cooked rice to Manmatha." It had been offered to Shri Ramakrishna.
When the midday meal was over everyone retired to his respective room and Swamiji also went to his own room. But he had little rest even then. He was very busy in framing the rules and regulations of the Math. Somehow he was apprehensive of his approaching death and he wanted to lay down the principles for the future guidance of the Sannyasins of the Order.
I stayed at the Math that day and also the night. Next morning I went to Swamiji to offer my obeisance. He was standing near the door of his room while I bowed down before him. He said, "Go to the Ganga and have a dip. Then come soon to me." His face was beaming with kind benediction, and I knew at once that he was in a mood to shower his grace. My heart beat fast as I understood this to be his permission to be initiated. I was as happy as a teen-aged boy and literally ran to have a dip, so impatient was I. Unless Swamiji was filled with gurubhava (attitude of the teacher) which they called the mood of Shri Ramakrishna himself, he would not initiate any one. When I returned I found him lying on his back on a sofa. He let fall his right hand loosely and said, "Hold my hand." I sat down on the floor and held him at the wrist. His body had emaciated, yet his wrist was broad and in spite of my grip there remained a gap of about half a finger. Swamiji closed his eyes and lay motionless. Time passed and I held him as a young child. It seemed to me that his personality engulfed me. but I tried to retain my consciousness. For a fraction of a second it seemed to have vanished completely. Then he sat up.
To be continued...(Memoirs of Manmatha Nath Ganguli)
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