is the greatest miracle of Sri Ramakrishna," Swamiji once said
with reference to Swami Adbhutananda. "Having absolutely no
education, he has attained to the highest wisdom simply at the touch
of the Master." Yes Latu Maharaj, by which name Swami Adbhutananda
was popularly known, was the peer of the Master in this respect
that he was entirely innocent of the knowledge of the three R's.
Nay, he even surpassed of the Master in this ignorance; for whereas
the Master could somehow manage to read and write, with Latu Maharaj
any reading or writing was out of the question.
Sri Ramakrishna attempted to teach young Latu how to read and write.
But inspite of repeated attempts Latu pronounced the Bengali alphabet
in such a distorted way that the Master, out of sheer despair gave
up the attempt to educate Latu. It did not matter, however, that
Latu had no book-learning. Books supply us knowledge by proxy, as
it were. Latu had direct access to the Fountain-head of Knowledge.
The result was that great scholars and philosophers would sit dumb
at his feet to hear the words of wisdom that dropped from his lips.
Sri Ramakrishna used to say that when a ray of light comes from
the Great Source of all light, all book learning loses its value.
His own life bore testimony to this fact. And to some extent this
could be witnessed even in the life of Swami Adbhutananda, his disciple.
The early name of Swami Adbhutananda was Rakhturam, which was shortened
service to the Guru leads to God realisation is exemplified in the
life of Latu Maharaj. He was to Sri Ramakrishna what Hanuman was
to Sri Ramachandra. He did not care for anything in the world, his
only concern in life was how to serve the Master faithfully. A mere
wish of the Master was more than a law - a sacred injunction with
Latu. Latu was once found sleeping in the evening. Perhaps he was
over-tired by the day's work. The Master mildly reproved Latu for
sleeping at such a time, when will you meditate?" That was
enough, and Latu gave up sleeping at night. For the rest of his
life, he would have a short nap in the day time, and the whole night
he would pass awake, a living illustration of the verse in the Gita:
"What is night to the ordinary people is day to the Yogi."
as Latu was, he had this great advantage: he would spend all his
energy in action and waste no time in vain discussions. Modern minds,
the sad outcome of the education they receive, will doubt everything
they hear, and therefore discuss, reason, and examine to see if
that be true or right. Thus so much energy is lost in arriving at
the truth that nothing is left for action. It was just the opposite
with Latu. As soon as he heard a word from the Master he rushed
headlong to put it into practice. Afterwards he would rebuke devotees,
who came to him for instruction, by saying," You will simply
talk and talk and do nothing. What's the use of mere discussions?"
Of course Latu was fortunate in having a Guru in whose words there
was no room for any doubt or discussion and whom it was blessedness
to obey and the more implicit that obedience, the greater was the
benefit that could be reaped. And Latu was a fit disciple to take
the fullest advantage of this rare privilege.
Latu Maharaj was stern and at times he would not reply though asked
questions repeatedly. But when in a mood to talk and mix with people,
he was amazingly free and sociable. He had not the least trace of
egotism in him. Beneath the rough exterior he hid a very soft heart.
Those who were fortunate in having access to that found in him a
friend, philosopher, and guide. Even little boys were very free
with him. They played with him, scrambled over his shoulders, and
found in him, a delightful companion. Persons who were lowly and
despised found a sympathetic response from his kindly heart. Once
asked how he could associate himself with them, he replied, "They
are at least more sincere."
a man, tipsy with drink, came to him at midnight with some articles
of food and requested that Latu Maharaj must accept them, for after
that he himself could partake of them as sacramental food. A stern
ascetic like Latu Maharaj quietly submitted to the importunities
of this vicious character, and the man went away satisfied, all
the way singing merry songs. When asked how he could stand that
situation, Latu Maharaj said, "They want a little sympathy.
Why should one grudge that?"
the last period of his life, he would not like very much to mix
with people. But if he would talk, he would talk only of higher
things. He would grow warm with enthusiasm while talking about the
Master and Swamiji.
spiritual practices and total indifference to bodily needs told
upon his once strong health. The last two or three years of his
life he suffered from dyspepsia and various other accompanying ailments.
Still he remained as negligent about his health as ever, and one
would very often hear him say, "It is a great botheration to
have a body."
is said that when Latu Maharaj passed away, Hindus, Mohammedans
- all, irrespective of caste or creed-rushed to pay homage to that
great soul. Such was his influence!
Extract from: The Apostles of Sri Ramakrishna;
Compiled and Edited by Swami Gambhirananada;
Advaita Ashrama; Mayavati; June 1995
An introduction |
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