Wednesday 10 May 2017

Swami Vivekananda in memories of Manmatha Nath Ganguli

Shortly after, I returned to Allahabad. But soon I availed an opportunity to go to Calcutta and proceeded to Belur in the hope of seeing the Swami. To my utter disappointment he had gone elsewhere for the time.

Next to Swamiji, Raja Maharaj or Rakhal Maharaj was the head of the Order. I was well known to him; yet I felt him at the time to be rather distant and aloof from me. He was often absorbed in his own spiritual moods and was not very accessible to easy conversation. I had heard about his great spiritual attainments. He often had samadhi, and he was beyond the reach of my understanding.

I sat near him while he remained quiet for some time after we exchanged a few casual words of greeting. I was thinking of a few problems that I wanted to solve through his help. But I did not speak, thinking if he was a great divine soul he would know them without my telling him. Suddenly Rakhal Maharaj said to me. "Come with me, let us have a walk." It was not yet dusk. The path led to one of the gates of the Math on one side and the river Ganga on the other. The temples were not built then. There were a few buildings only. Most of the place was open. There were a few shrubs and trees and we went up to the gate that led to the jetty and then turned back. Thus we strolled for a little while and Rakhal Maharaj did all the talking and to my great wonder he touched all the three problems of mine, one by one, and they were solved to my satisfaction. Then Rakhal Maharaj took me to the ghat of the Ganga just facing the Math on one side and he took his seat on one of the steps and asked me to sit beside him. I also sat on a step near his feet. I was at that moment overwhelmed with an emotion akin to devotion and wished to surrender myself to him completely. So I entreated him to give me initiation formally. He kept quiet for some time. Then he spoke slowly. "Your guru is Vivekananda, not I." It extinguished my hopes of ever being initiated as I knew that Swamiji had initiated very few persons, and to be one among his disciples was a dream to me, never to be realized. So, I was absolutely disappointed and returned to Allahabad in a few days.

Next time when I went to Belur, Swamiji's health seemed to be a little improved and he was in good cheer. One day I had gone to Belur in the morning. Some one told me that Swamiji was in the puja (worship) room of Shri Thakur. I went up the stairs and saw Swamiji in a divine ecstasy. He was pacing from one end to the other inside the covered verandah just in front of the worship room. His hands were sometimes swinging and sometimes crossed above his breast as was his wont. He paced rapidly and his gait was in jerk-like motion. His face seemed red with an intense emotion which he was trying to suppress....I heard him constantly muttering very audibly: Ganguli Then, all his mind was turned inwards and he was very restless as if he was keeping a watch before his ideal Shri Rama-Janaki, as Mahavira. He seemed to be a completely dedicated soul to Shri Ramakrishna, but his will was full of explosive possibilities and he was determined to do even the impossible for the sake of the service of the Lord.

That afternoon some young men had come to see Swamiji. They were about ten or twelve and most of them might be college students. They had assembled on the verandah facing the Ganga on the first floor before Swamiji's room. Swamiji came out after a short time and talked with them very freely. He was so jovial that he himself looked like them — quite young and enthusiastic. He talked to one, touched another on his back. or mildly slapped some other at the shoulder. It was a pleasing sight to see him in this mood for most often that I had seen him he was full of gravity and seriousness.

There was a solid gold chain, around his neck. attached to a gold watch in his pocket, and it matched very nicely with his fair complexion. One of the young men touched the chain with his fingers and said, "It is very beautiful." At once Swamiji took the watch out of his pocket and put the chain with the gold watch in the hand of that youth who in amazement had then cupped his palms. He said, "You like it! Then it is yours. But my boy. do not sell it. Keep it with you as a souvenir" Needless to say that the young man was extremely happy. I marvelled at the ease with which Swamiji could part with such a valuable thing; not only for its cost but the present was also invaluable for its association. Once he had said before me, "Sacrifice means the sacrifice of something you possess. A man who has everything in his possession and yet is indifferent to them is a truly detached soul. The man who has nothing is only poor — what can he give?"

To be continued...(Memoirs of Mrs. Manmatha Nath Ganguli)

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