Thursday 11 May 2017

Swami Vivekananda in memories of Manmatha Nath Ganguli

During the Christmas holidays some scholars came from Agra. A few of them were professors. It was about nine o'clock in the morning. Inside the courtyard of the Math there were a few ordinary benches on which the visitors were seated while Swamiji took a chair near them. The college dons put their questions one by one and Swamiji answered them with due gravity. The problems were various, some philosophical and some social or political. They seemed to be quite satisfied and after a while they all went away.

I was sitting at a little distance and tried to follow the trend of the conversation. Swamiji would occasionally look at me which made me feel at home.

It was then about twelve in the noon. Suddenly the Swami asked me. "Sadhu Amulya lives at Allahabad. Do you know him? How does he do? Tell me all about him."

I said, "I know him for many years. He used to serve all without any self-interest. His courage and spirit of service endeared him to all. Once there was an epidemic of cholera and he nursed the helpless and the needy without the least fear of his life. So he was loved by the rich and the poor who considered him as a congenial friend in times of distress."

Sadhuji was the name given to Amulya who then wore white robes as do the Bramhacharins, But later on he put on gerua clothes. By some he was then called guruji. Many of his devotees were addicts to ganja, charas and bhang. They offered him these and when guruji had smoked a little, they got the prasada. By and by he began to drink, and women of questionable character also visited him. After some time he left all clothes and lived like Nagas. When I saw him last he was a fully fallen man. On hearing this sorry tale of Amulya, Swamiji kept silent for some time. Then he said, "Ah! a great soul — a great soul!" He added, "For him this life is lost. But he shall be free in his next birth. Amulya used to read with me in the college. He was a good student. He had a wide vision and was a follower of the path of knowledge.... Sadhu Amulya had no spiritual guru. When the disciple takes a wrong move and is about to fall, it is the spiritual guide who guards him and the disciple regains his balance." I could see that Swamiji was visibly moved. He was very sympathetic. Though I knew him to be a great moralist, yet his love for the fallen made me wonder at his nature which was stern from outside but very tender within. Then he addressed me, "Manmatha, this time when you go to Allahabad, go to Amulya and tell him that it is I who sent you to ask what he wants. Whatever be the things that he asks of you, make it a point to supply him with them."

Accordingly, a few days after I went to guruji and said, "Sir, Swamiji has asked me to come to you. otherwise I would not come to you at all. Please tell me what are the things that you need." He seemed not to mind my taunt and exclaimed with a beaming face. "What! Swamiji has sent you — Swamiji? What did he say of me?" I reported all that I had heard him say.

For some time he was silent with an emotion that overwhelmed him, and he tried to suppress it. Then he said, "Bring me about four seers of ghee from cow's milk, and some fruits." In a few days I brought these to him and he expressed his satisfaction. That was the last that I saw him. In a few weeks I came to know of his death. Most probably Sadhu Amulya left his life by not taking any food at all. He was a peculiar combination of a raja-yogi and an Aghori (of the Tantrika school). Perhaps he took nothing after I saw him except the little present I had made to him in the name of Swamiji.

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

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