Diagnosed with Clergyman’s Soar Throat
During the sultry months of the year 1885, Sri Ramakrishna suffered a great deal from the terrible heat. The suffering escalated also with the ice that he took every day that the devotees got him. The frequent use of ice produced a pain in the throat which was at first so trifling as to pass unnoticed. In a month, it aggravated that the disciples were alarmed and called in a specialist. Not with standing the prescription of various remedies, his condition did not show any sign of improvement. On days of the full and the new moon, the pain became acute that it was impossible for Sri Ramakrishna to eat solid food. The doctors diagnosed the disease as ‘Clergyman’s sore throat’.
Sri Ramakrishna carried out the doctors’ injunctions faithfully, except on two points, namely checking the divine ecstasies and giving rest to the vocal organs. As soon as he spoke of God, he lost all consciousness of the body and transcended into Samadhi. Nor would he stop speaking to people who, afflicted by the world, came to him for solace.
Under the care of Holy Mother at Shyampukur
The disease proved more and more obstinate. A house was soon engaged at Shyampukur in Calcutta, and in the beginning of October 1885, Sri Ramakrishna was moved to the new premises to provide better facilities for medical care. Dr. Mahendra Lal Sarkar, the then veteran homeopath and founder of the Association for the Cultivation of Science, was entrusted with the task of treating Sri Ramakrishna. When Dr. Sarkar learnt that the devotees who had brought the Master to Calcutta for treatment were defraying all expenses, he offered his services free as a labour of love.
The devotees now keenly felt the necessity of securing able hands to prepare Sri Ramakrishna’s food and to nurse him day and night. It could be done only through the combined efforts of the Holy Mother and the young devotees. News was accordingly sent to the Holy Mother at Dakshineswar. When the question of preparing the diet was settled, attention was given to the matter of night duty. Narendra Nath took this charge upon himself and began to pass the night at Shyampukur. Fired by his example, a few sturdy youth lent their support. Narendra’s sacrifice for the sake of the Master, his inspiring talks and association with them made an indelible impression upon their minds; and banishing all selfishness, they resolved to consecrate their lives to the noble ideal of service to the Guru and realization of God. It is interesting to note that though only four or five were attracted to this service of love at its initial stage at Shyampakur, the number of such workers almost quadrupled towards the last.
The guardians of the boys, seeing them neglect their studies and stay with the Master, grew alarmed and took to various means to bring them back to their homes. But the boys, with the glorious example of Narendra Nath before them, stood firm as rocks. The selfless enthusiasm of the devotees centred their adoration for the Master, immediately binding them together; and the Ramakrishna Brotherhood. Though it had its origin at Dakshineswar, the movement owed most of its growth to the holy associations of Shyampukur and the Cossipore garden.
Dr. Mahendra Lal Sarkar took up in right earnest the task of treating the Master. After the examination was over he would spend hours with Sri Ramakrishna in various religious discourses. Thus, Dr. Sarkar became more attached to the Master. As a result of this intimate relationship established between the Master and Dr. Sarkar, the latter’s admiration for the former soon ripened into a kind of worship.
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