Company of Sadhus Always


Morton School, 50 Amherst Street, Calcutta. It is 11 March, 1930. The day of Dolayatra,[1] Phalgun purnima will be in a few days. It was on this auspicious day that Sri Chaitanya was born.

10.30 a.m. Swamis Jitatmananda and Nityatmananda (Vinay and Jagabandhu) have come to visit M. Jagabandhu is to go to Ramakrishna Mission Vidyapith in Deoghar in a few days.

M. is seated on a chair in the staircase room on the fourth storey near the door, facing south. Many devotees have assembled. M. is in a reflective mood. He speaks after some time. He asks Jagabandhu, “Have you brought your diary of the Math? Please read it. It is like word from Vaikuntha.[2]

The sadhu reads the diary –

Belur Math. It is Thakur’s birth anniversary today – Sunday, 2 March 1930. Worship has ended, and at mid-day there is a meeting on the lawn with Anukool Babu, who is sitting in a chair. He is a judge. The speakers are Swamis Vijayananda and Vasudevananda.

Sri Mahapurusha is sitting in a cushioned easy chair in front of Swamiji’s room on the verandah on the second storey facing north. A devotee stands behind the chair and fans him with a woolen fan. Shankar, his attendant, is standing in front of the passage. He has a long vermillion holy mark on his forehead.

Swami Vasudevananda has been speaking. When he finishes, Sri Mahapurusha claps his hands and seems to enjoy himself like a child. He says, Well done, well done, Vasudevananda.”

It is about 5 o’ clock. A number of women devotees come and stand before Sri Mahapurusha, who is meditating with his eyes closed. Anukool Babu is giving a talk downstairs.

Belur Math, Monday, 3 March 1930, 7.30 a.m. Sri Mahapurusha stands on the verandah on the second storey in front of the passageway with his face toward the north. Sadhus are offering him salutations. Since they didn’t find him in his room, they have come here to meet him.

Swami Atmaprakashananda stands against the wall of the smaller window facing the Ganges. Swami Raghavananda is in front of Sri Mahapurusha, as well as Swamis Ambikananda and Deshikananda. Swami Nityatmananda is in front of the window of Swamiji’s room. Bhajhari (Swami Sarwajnananda) stands on the verandah near the window of Swamiji’s room.

After some casual talk the conversation turns to the new Math in Bag Bazaar and the Sri Ramakrishna Vedanta Math of Swami Abhedananda.

Sri Mahapurusha says, “May there be these and many more. The more, the better. (Laughing) Here (in Belur Math), where is the place for so many sadhus? It is his (Sri Ramakrishna’s) story that is being talked about in all these centres. Very good. Let there be all there. It is also His will that so many of them (institutions) are coming. This is what I think ­– it is all His will.

“Even so, those who live here will be steady in observation of our principles. Renunciation, purity, chanting, worship, and reading of the holy books – all these will be observed here. It is Swamiji’s ideal that purity, complete renunciation, a lot of study and knowledge, all these should be evident. And love. Love brings about everything. One needs to have a lot of love.

“And you should talk to them about Sri Ramakrishna, who come here. (Pointing towards God within and above with his hand and the expression of his eyes) You should talk to them of God, of Thakur.”

M.: “Ah, what a generous and elevated point of view! Look, those who preach God’s name are all one’s own. Only a knower of the Essence can possibly have such insight. Lower thought results in making and breaking groups. What beautiful words! Everybody is preaching Thakur’s name. Oh, what a great thing to say – talk of God to whosoever comes.”

The reading of the diary continues –

Belur Math. Wednesday, 5 March, 1930. The verandah on the second storey overlooking the Ganges, about 6.30 p.m. Sri Mahapurusha is reclining in an easy chair. The chair has a cushion. Trouble in his stomach has made him weak. He is an old man. The chair has been placed on the left side of the passageway today. In front of him the Ganges flows. He meditates, closing his eyes and opening his eyes, over and over again;  watching  the Ganges.

The attendant sadhu of Swamiji’s room is shutting doors and windows; he looks at Sri Mahapurusha over and over again. Sri Mahapurusha is also noticing what the attendant is doing. The venetian blinds are open, through whose chinks Sri Mahapurusha sees him and his attendant. Suddenly the door is closed noisily. Sri Mahapurusha is surprised and raises his eyes.

The attendant lights the lamp and incense in Swamiji’s room. He waves the incense toward Dakshineswar and Mother Kali, and toward Thakur and Mother Ganges. The incense is then brought to both the feet of Sri Mahapurusha that are in velvet slippers on the floor.

Evening is approaching. Sri Mahapurusha is seated in the easy chair, his eyes closed in meditation. Ramen, his attendant, fans his head with a towel, and Mati Maharaj (Swami Shivswarupananda) fans his feet with a palm leaf fan to whisk away the mosquitoes.

Not far away, near the railing to the north, Khoka Maharaj (Swami Subodhananda) sits on a mat leaning against a pillow; he is facing south. A sadhu standing near the passageway is looking at him.

A number of water pots have been sent from Deoghar Vidyapith. They all talk about Deoghar now.

Swami Subodhananda: “Have they (Saroj and Girija) left for Deoghar?”

Ramen: “No.”

Sri Mahapurusha: “Well, has the Vidyapith got a bridge yet?”

Ramen: “Yes, sir.”

Ramen formerly worked in the Vidyapith.

Ramen: “There is a man in Deoghar who keeps a tiger. He’s kept it in a cage since it was very young. He feeds it with dogs, jackals and goats.”

Sri Mahapurusha (surprised): “Lord! Why so?”

The conch shell is sounded in Thakur’s shrine. Sri Mahapurusha immediately sits erect. All conversation ends. He meditates. Firstly, he recites the names of the gods, “Durga, Durga, Shiva Durga. Victory to the Lord, victory to the Lord, victory to the Lord! Durga, Shiva-Durga!” His back is bent like a bow. Even so, he is steadfast in this practice.

Before them, on the Ganges, a white steamer with its bow lifted shoots forth unhampered like an arrow. It’s tail light is white and its head light red.

A boat laden with brick dust is rowing speedily away from the boat-point toward the south. The boatmen are rowing. The water of the Ganges is white – the river is already in high tide. The brick-dust has been heaped in a mound. It is a beautiful sight.

To the south, at the boat-point, cargo is lying on the lawn in a number of sacks. It has come from the Calcutta market. A festival is approaching.

In spite of pain Sri Mahapurusha is absorbed in meditation.

M.: “What a nice description! As if the whole scene is happening before our eyes. He is indisposed and his body is bent like a bow. Even so, as soon as he hears the bells of the evening worship, Sri Mahapurusha begins to repeat the name of the Lord and is absorbed in meditation. This will bring great good to devotees. They will also try, in sickness or old age, to meditate on God this way. All this is an object lesson.”

The reading from diary is resumed –

Belur Math, Thursday, 6 March 1930. Sri Mahapurusha’s room. 7 in the morning. Several sadhus – Swamis Omkarananda, Atmaprakashananda, Shashwatananda, Bhaskarananda, Nityatmananda, Shailesh, and others are standing in the room having the darshan of Sri Mahapurusha.

As soon as Mr. Kadula enters, Sri Mahapurusha asks, “What is your name?” Kadula offers salutations and answers with a smile, “Mangal Chaitanya.” Sri Mahapurusha says happily, “A beautiful name. Mangal is peace? No, shanti means peace. (To all) What would you mean by mangal?” Swami Shashwatananda says, “Good.” Nityatmananda says, “Blessedness,” while Shailesh says, “Auspicious.”

The festival is today, Saturday, 8 March 1930, Belur Math. 7.30 a.m. Sri Mahapurusha is strolling north to south on the verandah on the second storey. Khoka Maharaj is seated facing south in an easy chair near the railing in front of Sri Mahapurusha’s room. Sri Mahapurusha is now near the exit door leading to the roof to the north. From there he takes a turn to the south and comes near the passageway.

Many sadhus and devotees are standing around – Vinay, Shailesh, Devananda, Nityatmananda, Bhajhari, and others. Swami Dhruveshwarananda arrives and Sri Mahapurusha says to him, “Om namo näräyaëäya.” When he does not respond, Devananda says, “You have said nothing.” Even then, Dhruveshwarananda is silent.

Sri Mahapurusha has reached the north end of the verandah by now. Turning to the south, he says with a laugh, “A very interesting thing happened a long time ago in Almora. A sadhu said, ‘Om namo näräyaëäya’ to me. I responded with ‘Narayana.’ The sadhu was very angry and said, ‘I greeted you with Om namo näräyaëäya but you simply said, “Narayana.”’ I said, ‘What should have I said?’ He said, ‘You should have said Om namo näräyaëäya.’ I then said, ‘Yes, I say that. I did not know.’ Then he was very happy.”

Sri Mahapurusha bursts into laughter moving his hands like a child.

M. came to the Math at 11 o’clock today. After offering him salutations, near Swamiji’s shrine, Antevasi forcibly takes the dust of his feet. Amulya and Sudhir are with him. Then Vinay Maharaj and Gadadhar Maharaj arrive.

The reading from the diary ends.

M.: “Very graphic. You become more competent as a writer as you write. You bring a distant occurrence alive before people’s eyes.”


The Morton School, roof on the fourth storey. 5.30 p.m. M. is seated on a chair facing north. A new devotee is sitting in front of him on a bench. He has a large powerful face and is about thirty-five years old. He has been to England. He is a principal of the Vardhaman College. After polite enquiries, they begin to talk. Vinay Maharaj and Jagabandhu Maharaj arrive. They have come from the Belur Math to consult Amrit Babu on some legal matter. One person has to give the power of attorney to another.

M. asks the two sadhus to take their seats on a cushioned double bench. He says, “Please come in and sit here. (To the Principal) Please have the darshan of these sadhus. They have given up worldly life for God. They live now at the Belur Math. They are whole-time (religious) men, not amateurs. They have embraced a serious life.”

The principal did not like these remarks.

Principal (to M.): “Please talk about Thakur. I have come to hear about him.”

M.: “Good. So you are a devotee! You want to hear about him? His first and foremost word is: the company of sadhus. The second is: the company of sadhus. And the last: the company of sadhus. If you were to sum up his instructions in one word, it is the company of sadhus.

“Did Thakur only talk? No, he made men. He would say: Musical notation has to be brought to the fingers. Merely talking about it will do nothing. It is the same with God – you have to hear about spirituality and practice it. Otherwise, you do not enjoy it. You have the experience by keeping the company of sadhus. You don’t only have to keep their company, but also serve them. Why? Because they are trying their heart and soul to bring the musical notations to their fingers. Giving everything up, they do their best to fix their minds on Him. You need to try to do what they are doing when you keep their company. This is the reason why Thakur came and made sannyasins. Without a sadhu’s help, not only is spiritual instruction impossible, but other learning is not worth the name. This is the main pillar of Indian civilization and culture. The all-renouncing rishis of yore laid the foundation of the civilization and society of this land on it. 

“Is it simple to renounce everything? You can’t do it as long as you have the desire for sense enjoyments. You can’t sacrifice even a small heap of earth. Think about it: Is it child’s play for those who have everything – knowledge, intelligence and wealth – to give them up? It is only possible when one has tried to do it for many lives.

“A rich man came to Christ and asked him, ‘Good Master, what do I need to do to inherit eternal life?’[3] Christ asked him what [spiritual discipline] he was practicing. He answered, ‘I observe the ten commandments.’ Jesus said to him, ‘You are a good man. But you lack one thing. Please do it too. Go thy way, sell whatever you have, and give it to the poor... Then take up the cross and follow me.’[4]

“By ‘take up the cross’ he meant to embrace death. Hearing these words, the devotee was downcast and sat with his face in his hands. He could not give up his wealth, he could not embrace death. He returned home. It is so difficult to give up! Without renouncing your worldly riches you cannot attain God. The Veda says, ‘Tyägenaike amåtatvamänaçuù.[5]

“So Thakur used to say, ‘The company of sadhus, the company of sadhus, the company of sadhus.’ There is no other way. Just as one becomes a lawyer by keeping company of a lawyer and helping him, similarly by keeping company of sadhus and serving them, you attain God. Sadhus are the link uniting man with God. By bypassing them, there is no religion.

“The education imparted in schools and colleges does not value too much as there is no renunciation in it – the character is not at all formed. Those who teach do not themselves know the fundamentals. What can they teach? What is the net result of so many thousand young men graduating every year? Has it led to culture? Not at all. Having a lot of information is not education. Education is the bringing into practice the perfection already in man. Isn’t real nature of man knowledge-personified? You have to manifest this knowledge in daily life. This indeed is called the knowledge of the Absolute.

“The attainment of external knowledge cannot bring happiness and peace. Only attainment of the knowledge of the Absolute can. Man’s character cannot be built on a Himalayan basis. Behind the knowledge of Brahman is the science of mind. Yoga scriptures analyze this. Next comes the knowledge of the gross, the knowledge of the various subjects of physical world. Westerners are expert in the latter, but because of their ignorance of the knowledge of the Absolute, it results in little in spite of their knowledge. Character does not get formed; there is no strength in the mind. Violence and enmity are increasing every day.

“A person who had graduated from university was asked questions on elementary geography. His answer was, ‘Geography was not my subject of study.’ He didn’t even know English. A tree is known by the fruit it bears. By seeing such a man, you get an idea of his teacher’s competency.

“Did Christ know how to read and write? Was Thakur literate? We ourselves have seen so many world-renowned scholars coming and sitting at his feet with folded hands. And what about Christ? It was the same with him. Big doctors, that is, learned men, would hesitate to speak before him out of fear. And they were astonished, ‘Is this not the carpenter’s son?’[6] ‘He knoweth no letters, but never man spake like this one. He taught them as one that had authority.’[7]

“That is why the company of sadhus is necessary. By being in their company, one understands one’s worth. Then one attains correct knowledge. Education alone does not help. It gives contrary results. Neither does one get peace and happiness, nor does it help others to find it. On the other hand, the path to destruction becomes even wider.

“That’s why the rishis kept God and salvation as their goal – in other words, knowing that attainment of liberation is the highest goal of man’s life – and used to impart instruction in various ways in the brahmacharya ashrama.

“Two typical cases are mentioned in the Vedas. One is of the most learned chancellor Shaunaka, the other Narada. Though learned in every branch of knowledge, they had no peace of mind. Then they went to Brahman-realized rishis to acquire the knowledge of the Absolute from them, and this brought them peace. Only then did they become real benefactors of society and of themselves. Shaunaka was the chancellor of Naimishyaranya University. He was called the mahäçäla, one who has ten thousand pupils under him. After attaining brahma-jnäna, they [Shaunaka and Narada] attained real peace.

“Only one who excels in the knowledge of Brahman as well as knowledge of the physical world can be a real teacher. Is it easy to excel in worldly knowledge? One who picks up a branch of knowledge has to think, to contemplate upon it deeply. It is only by doing this and identifying oneself with it that its knowledge is attained. Those who invent or make a discovery need such a deep concentration. A teacher has to know a hundred times more before he can teach others.

“Christ had no worldly knowledge. Yet St. Paul Cathedral, a monument to him, has been created with so much knowledge. What does it signify? Physical knowledge is a slave of the knowledge of Brahman; it lies at the latter’s feet.”

The principal takes leave to depart.

M. (to a sannyasin): “He is the principal of a college, so I said a few fundamental things to him. Thakur says, ‘When one’s guru defecates, the pupil must also pass gas.’ That is why the education imparted in schools and colleges these days is in such a bad plight.”

After dusk, M. goes to the staircase room and sits on a chair that is located toward the east of the room. Several devotees have assembled. During the conversation, they ask about karma – what kind of work brings the vision of God.

M.: “You have to work as your guru directs. Other work binds you. You should try to do what your guru says without any expectation of reward. To work for God is selfless work. But selfless work is very difficult. So the Lord gave this reassurance in the Gita – svalpamapyasya dharmasya träyate mahato bhayät.[8] A little is enough to succeed. You gain victory over death. In other words, the Lord knows that the  embodied being is feeble, and yet if he is courageous and attempts a little selfless work, God is happy with him and grants him liberation. This is the great assurance.

“Not only does selfless work purify your mind, but it brings you jnana. And it benefits others. The work should be the one that is directed by one’s guru. The work done by your own accord is of no help. You should work only after taking refuge in the guru.

“Teaching to mankind is a very difficult task. It can only be done if the Lord wishes it. Teaching others cannot be undertaken by man’s own will. Thakur said to Pundit Shashadhar, ‘Have you received a commandment[9]  to teach others? Without it, nobody will listen to you.’ Capaòäsa means commission. When you have attained His vision, received His command or commission to teach, then alone will you have the power to do it. The world is amazed when such a person speaks.”


Calcutta, Bechu Chatterji Street, main road. Two sadhus are proceeding toward Amherst Street. They are going to visit M. and are coming from Belur Math. One of them washes his hands at the tap to the left of the eastern path, opposite the Hare Press. There used to be a hut with a pantile shed here. Sri Ramakrishna lived here at one time. These residential quarters used to be called Jhamapukur. Sri Ramakrishna worked as a priest of the family deity in the house of Raja Digambar Mitra for some time. Pundit Ram Kumar Chatterji, his elder brother, had a Sanskrit School in another hut with a pantile shed where Jhamapukur lane turns on the same road.

The two sadhus are Vinay and Jagabandhu. They have received M.’s grace for a long time. Jagabandhu will soon go to work at Sri Ramakrishna Mission Vidyapith in Vaidyanath, place of pilgrimage. He has come to M. today to pay his homage.

It is the full moon day of Phalgun, the day of Dolayatra. It is also the birth anniversary of Sri Chaitanya Deva. The sadhu is going to salute M. He is quite excited about paying homage at M.’s feet on this holy day.

He washes his hands at the tap. As he turns to the east, he sees M. standing behind him with a face full of joy. M. goes ahead with Sukhendu. It is half-past seven.

As soon as he sees the sadhus, M. says happily, “Please go and sit in the open on the roof of the Morton School and enjoy the breeze. We will return from Thakur Bari soon.”

The sadhus sit with devotees on the roof. M. returns at 9 p.m. He takes his seat on a chair facing west on the eastern corner of the verandah on the second storey. Some devotees are  sitting there. He says to one of his attendants, “There are sadhus from the Math on the roof. Please bring them here.”

The sadhus come down and sit close to M., who gives them some sandesh with his own hands. They hold the sandesh in their hands and are keen to hear M. talk. M. says, “Eat it. Prasad, prāptimātreṇa bhakṣayet.[10] That is, lest there is an obstacle later on in eating something precious. Prasad is that which the Lord gives happily [by His grace], so one should ask for it. Other things are not to be asked for. But prasad is different. One should ask for it with humility. It is for one’s own good as it liberates the individual soul.”

Jagabandhu: “I am going to the Vidyapith at Vaidyanath Dham the day after tomorrow. Surapati is taking me with him. He is the head of the Pith these days.”

M.: “Which Surapati?”

Jagabandhu: “He is called Bodhatmananda here. Before he embraced sannyasa, he used to come here from Bow Bazaar. He came yesterday and stayed for a long time.”

M. (beaming, a smile reflecting in his eyes): “Surapati said to me, ‘Talk to me about Thakur.’ (Laughter.) I said, ‘Wait. I will talk about him in awhile. I told to him about one instance. It was the eve of the Holi festival, in the Cossipore Garden. Thakur said to Narendra, putting his hand on his heart and pointing around with his finger, ‘Tell me, what have I said?’ He answered, ‘That the entire universe, in fact everything, has emerged out of you.’ He was very happy and said to Rakhal, ‘See, how well he understands these days.’ Narendra did not use to believe in the incarnation of God. Now he understood it. Thakur was very happy.

“The Lord also says in the Gita –

Mattaù parataraà nänyatkiïcidasti dhanaïjaya,

Mayi sarvamidaà protaà sütre maëigaëä iva.[11]

M. (to the devotees): “You may read a thousand commentaries, annotations and criticisms, you may read any number of holy books, but God is a different entity altogether. You will find the meaning of various things in the scriptures, but he says. ‘If somebody receives a ray of light from Him, Goddess Saraswati herself begins to talk through his mouth.’

“He said, ‘If one can gain even a particle of the love of the gopis, it creates a riot within.’ The mind and intellect cannot enter there – they just return. So the Veda says – yato väco nivarttante apräpya manasä saha.[12]

“That very Brahman who is so difficult to attain came in a human form. He comes in every age. This time It came in the form of Sri Ramakrishna. Does one believe something by merely being told? That’s why he was so happy when Narendra said that the universe had emerged out of him.

“It does not come about by understanding intellectually; you do not realize it intellectually. Why? Because our vessel is small. Unless He makes you comprehend, you cannot. He made Narendra realize it; that’s why he spoke that way.”

Abhay Babu, a devotee of Vijaykrishna Goswami, arrives. He is a devotee and also suffers from dyspepsia. He has come on his way back from the office. He is still dressed in cogä-capakana.[13] He has brought some prasad in his hand.

All the four directions are lit up with moonlight. M. says, “It is already nine past. (To the sadhus) You may now rise, you have to go very far.”

The sadhus offer their salutations and stand up. Just then Lalit and the Younger Amulya arrive. Standing on Amherst Street, they say goodbye to the sadhus. Both offer two rupees at their feet.


Belur Math,

Friday, 14 March, 1930.




[1]. Holi festivity.

[2]. The realm of Vishnu.

[3]. St. Mark 10:17.

[4]. St. Mark 10:21.

[5]. By renunciation alone some (rare ones) attained Immortality. Kaivalyopaniat 3.

[6]. St. Matthews 13:55.

[7]. St. Mark 1:2.

[8]. The practice of even a little of this dharma saves one from this great fear. – Bhagavad Gita 2:40.

[9]. Capaòäsa.

[10]. Eat the moment you get it.

[11]. Beyond Me, O Dhanaïjaya, there is nothing whatsoever. All this is strung on Me, as rows of jewels on a string. – Bhagavad Gita 7:7.

[12]. Taittiriya Upanishad II.iv.1 and II.ix.1

[13]. Formal dress of Bengali babus.