Serving the Wandering Monks
In 1843 Kshudiram died, and the entire burden of the family fell upon the shoulders of Ramkumar, his eldest son. The death of Kshudiram brought a great change in the mind of Gadadhar, who now began to feel very sad at the loss of his affectionate father as also the transient nature of earthly life. Though very young, he began to frequent the mango-grove or the cremation ground in the vicinity and pass long hours there absorbed in thought. But he did not forget his duty to his loving mother. He tried by every means to lessen the burden of his mother’s grief, and to infuse into her life whatever joy and consolation he could.
Gadadhar soon found a new source of pleasure in the company of wandering monks who used to stay for a day or two in the rest-house built by the neighbouring Laha family for wayfarers. Association with these itinerant monks and listening to their readings from the scriptures inclined the naturally emotional mind of the boy more to meditation and kindled in him the latent spirit of dispassion for all worldly concerns.
One day Chandramani was startled to find her dear boy appear before her with his whole body smeared with ashes, wearing saffron coloured cloth around his waist, carrying a long stick in one hand and Kamandalu (water-pot carried by Hindu ascetics or Sanyasis) in another, looking like a real Bala Sanyasi. His mother, instead of being amused, cried out in anxiety and fear. He began consoling his mother saying that he had not become a sanyasi (monk) but he just wanted to give her some fun and amusement. He also added that he wanted to show her how he looked in the dress of a sanyasi. However, the mother took a promise from him that neither he would take to sanyasa (monkhood) nor leave home anytime in his life, without her permission.
Ecstacy for the Second Time
Another event of this period caused Chandramani a great deal of anxiety about Gadadhar. One day, on his way with some women of Kamarpukur, to well-known temple of Goddess Vishalakshi, at Anur, about two miles to the north of Kamarpukur, he suddenly lost all external consciousness as he was singing the praise of the Goddess. Then Prasannamayi, one of the ladies in the group, repeated several times the name of Goddess Vishalakshi into Gadai’s ears which got him back to consciousness.
When Chandramani heard about this, she was alarmed. She thought that her dear son might have some physical malady. But on this occasion also Gadadhar insisted that he was in that condition, only because his mind had become merged in the Goddess, as he was contemplating on Her.
Illustrations by Smt. Hema Satagopan
- Sri Ramakrishna The Great Master by Swami Saradananda, Translated by Swami Jagadananda, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Chennai - 600 004
- The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Translated by Swami Nikhilananda (Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1974)
- The Path Divine, Sathya Sai Balvikas Magazine, Dharmakshetra, Mahakali Caves Road, Andheri (East), Mumbai - 400 093
- A Short Life of Sri Ramakrishna, published by Swami Tattwavidananda, Adhyaksha, Advaita Ashrama, Uttarkhand, Himalayas from its Publication Department, Kolkata
- The Story of Ramakrishna, Published by Swami Bodhasarananda, Advaitha Ashrama, Uttarkhand, from its Publications Department, Kolkata