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Swami Abhedananda 1866-1939 Kali Prasad Chandra was a voracious reader.

He read the scriptures but was not satisfied, so he desperately searched for a spiritual teacher. He met Sri Ramakrishna in 1884 first. He asked him on that occasion, I have a desire to learn yoga. Will you kindly teach me? Sri Ramakrishna answered, It is a good sign that you have a desire to learn yoga at this young age. You were a yogi in your previous life. A little was left for perfection. This will be your last birth. Yes, I will teach you yoga. Rest tonight and come to me again tomorrow morning. The next morning when he went to him he asked him to sit on a cot in lotus posture and stick out his tongue. On the tongue he wrote a mantram and advised him to meditate on it. While doing so he gradually lost his outer consciousness, experiencing bliss in his heart. Kali carried on spiritual practices under Sri Ramakrishna's guidance and achieved many wonderful visions of gods and goddesses. He served him during his illness. When he was attending on him, he would meditate and study Eastern and Western philosophy. Seeing this Sri Ramakrishna told him, You should know that book-learning is of no value. If you want to kill yourself, a nail-cutter can serve the purpose. But if you are to kill others, you need swords, shields, and other weapons. Study is needed for that purpose. Those who will teach people are to read books. After Sri Ramakrishna's passing away Kali went on a pilgrimage with Sri Sri Sarada Devi. But no sooner had he heard about the establishment of a monastery than he returned to Baranagar Math and joined his brother disciples. Through poverty and hardship he pursued his studies there. Seeing this Swami Vivekananda said, Let one of the brothers be a scholar and I'll do the dishes myself. He would enjoy discussions on intricate problems on philosophy with Swamiji. He took sannyasa with others in 1887 and received the name Abhedananda from Swamiji. In 1896 Abhedanandaji went to England to assist Swamiji. He gave a maiden speech before the learned audience of the Christo-Theosophical Society in London. Listening this, Swamiji was highly pleased and said, Even if I perish on this plane, my message will be sounded through these disciples and the world will hear it. In July 1897 Abhedanandaji went to America to take the responsibility of the work there since Swami Saradananda was called back to India. He lectured incessantly spreading the message of Vedanta and spirituality in America. After spending almost a decade he returned to the country and spent about six months. Returning to America, Abhedanandaji was again into the thickness of business. He taught yoga and meditation to his earnest students. He trained them how to harmonize action and contemplation in life. He became known for his high intellectual ability, great oration and prolific writing. He returned to India for good in 1921. In 1922 he visited Tibet. His chief interest was to visit the Hemis Monastery there since a manuscript was kept in it, basing which N. Notovitch wrote the book The Unknown Life of Christ. Abhedanandaji later wrote about his experiences there in his famous book Journey into Kashmir and Tibet. In 1923 Abhedanandaji established the Ramakrishna Vedanta Society in Calcutta. He remained a trustee of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission all through his life.

Swami Adbhutananda Mid-nineteenth century - 1920 Rakhturam was fondly called Latu. Much is not known about his antecedents, for he was too reserved, as his wont was, about them. He lost his parents in his childhood and was brought up by his uncle. He hailed from Chapra of Bihar and poverty led him to come to Calcutta. He had to fend for himself doing chores in Dr. Ramachandra Datta's household, who was an earnest devotee of Sri Ramakrishna. His simple and guileless heart won all whom he personally knew. Once Latu heard Ramachandra repeating one significant teaching of Sri Ramakrishna saying, He who yearns for God and wants none other than God for such a man God reveals Himself. This ignited his passion for God and he became very eager to see Sri Ramakrishna. When Sri Ramakrishna saw him first he mentioned, I see some holy signs in him. Then he touched him and Latu went into an ecstasy, and tears started trickling out of his eyes because of the outburst of a spiritual emotion. Through the training of his Guru Sri Ramakrishna he rose to be an illumined soul and thereby proved that book learning and intellectual exercise is not necessary for God realization. As Sri Ramakrishna told him, One day the gems of the Vedas and Vedanta will pour forth from your lips, so it exactly happened later. That is why Swami Vivekananda said, Latu is Sri Ramakrishna's greatest miracle. Having absolutely no education he has attained the highest wisdom simply by virtue of the Master's touch. At Swamiji's behest he forthwith took sannyasa in a very unconventional and humble way. His whole life was a typical example of single minded devotion to God. He was wonderful in every way and different from all his brother disciples. Swamiji therefore gave him the monastic name Swami Adbhutananda, meaning, he who finds supreme joy in the blissful state of the Atman. Adbhutanandaji spent most of his life like an unattached wandering monk living on alms only. His wayward nature made him all the more dear to his brother disciples. When Swamiji returned from the West in 1897 he was shy and hesitant to go near him and said, I wondered whether you could remember me. Swamiji caught hold of his hand and replied, You are my same old Brother Latu, and I am your same old Brother Loren. Swamiji relaxed all norms at Belur Math for him, considering his extraordinary free nature. Adbhutanandaji was not the active type of man; he was of contemplative character. So even at the strong urging of Swamiji, he could not be made a trustee of Belur Math. His love for Swamiji was very deep. He did not go to Belur Math when Swamiji passed away. People took it otherwise. Knowing this he said: Let them talk. Will their talk heal my pain? They do not know how much my brother Vivekananda loved me! I will miss his great love for me. His love for me was second only to the Master's. Adbhutanandaji passed away in 1920 in Varanasi. According to his wish, he was given jala samadhi in the Ganges there.

Swami Advaitananda 1828-1909 Gopal Chandra Ghosh was married. He lost his wife when he was fifty-five years old. He was grief stricken and, therefore, was in search of peace. He came to Dakshineswar with his friend in 1884 first. But Sri Ramakrishna did not impress him much on his first visit. When he came to him for the second time Sri Ramakrishna lifted his mind from all worldly attachments, speaking of God. He was imbued with the idea of the impermanency of the world and keen to tread the path of renunciation to search for God. He was, as it were, possessed by Sri Ramakrishna. Gopal said later in his unsophisticated language, The Master possessed me. I would think of him day and night. The pang of separation from the Master gave me chest pain. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't forget his face. Sri Ramakrishna praised Gopal's managerial capacity in household affairs and his sweet behaviour with people. So, after his settling in Dakshineswar, Sri Ramakrishna applied him to run errands for Sri Sri Sarada Devi. Gopal was eager to have formal initiation. He approached Sri Ramakrishna with all sincerity. Holding his feet he began to cry humbly begging for it. Sri Ramakrishna lifted him with all affection and initiated him in one of his typical manners. From then onwards he became deeply absorbed in his sadhana. He was always with Sri Ramakrishna attending on his needs. He used to wash his cancerous sore daily with a decantation of margosa leaves. One day while he was doing it Sri Ramakrishna was hurt painfully. He was disheartened at this and said, Sir, What can I do? If I wash, you will get pain, so let me not do it. Withdrawing his mind from the affected spot Sri Ramakrishna replied, No, no, you go on washing. Look, I have no more pain. Gopal once had a desire of offering ochre cloths and rosaries to holy men coming to make pilgrimage to Bay of Bengal during Makar-Sankranti. Hearing about this Sri Ramakrishna told him, You will attain a thousand times more virtue if you present those ochre cloths and rosaries to my children (his disciples) rather than giving them to the monks of Jagannath Ghat. This changed his decision. He took sannyasa with other brother disciples at Baranagar Math and became Advaitananda. Leaving the monastery he went on pilgrimage, lived on alms and practised austerities. At Belur Math Advaitanandaji was entrusted with the job of making its land ready for construction, for it was badly uneven. Although he was the oldest among his brother disciples, even older than Sri Ramakrishna himself, his enthusiasm for work and duties at the Math was second to none. He was dear to all of them. Swamiji used to make fun with him saying, You are like an old bull; breaking all your horns, you have joined the young calves.

Swami Akhandananda 1864-1937 Gangadhar Gangopadhyay was handsome, orthodox and a little wayward in nature. He used to practise pranayama and visit cremation grounds regularly. The impermanence of human life would inspire him towards a life of renunciation. And his inclination to become a sannyasin multiplied when he first saw Sri Ramakrishna in samadhi at Dinanath Basu's house in 1877. Akhandanandaji had many intriguing accounts to relate regarding his interactions with Sri Ramakrishna. In 1883 he started going to Dakshineswar to have his spiritual training from him. Correcting Akhandanandaji's posture of meditation Sri Ramakrishna once said, it is not good to sit leaning forward or to hold the body too straight. He observed that his teaching was simple, obvious and interesting. One day he asked him, Do you know how to pray? Saying this he flung his hands and feet restlessly like a little child impatient for its mother. Then he cried out: Mother dear, grant me knowledge and devotion. I don't want anything else. I can't live without you. While thus teaching maharaj how to pray, he looked just like a small boy. Profuse tears rolled down his chest and he passed into deep samadhi. Even on his deathbed, Sri Ramakrishna taught his disciple. Once Akhandanandaji heard him remark to another, who said I know, Never say that. Say, 'As long as I live so long do I learn.' Akhandanandaji left for the Himalayas from Baranagar Math in February 1887 taking the ochre cloth given by Sri Ramakrishna earlier. His noble father came to see him off at the Howrah Station. He blessed his son: Go, my son. Fulfill your mission in life. This world is unreal. I bless you! May you attain unflinching devotion to God. His travel in the Himalayas indeed makes an absorbing reading in his memoirs. It was replete with adventures and challenges. He even ventured to go to Tibet via Kedarnath and Badrinarayan through Mana Pass. He learnt the Tibetan language quickly and stayed there for three months. His life was threatened many a time by the Lamas as he was doing something contrary to their profligacy, pleading for the improvement of the condition of the poor. Ultimately he had to run away from them through the Niti Pass. Next year he went to Tibet again. While he was going to Lhasa he was arrested and was subsequently released by his trader friends accompanying him. Towards the end of 1895 Akhandanandaji returned to Alambazar Math after closing his itinerant life. Akhandanandaji started the first relief work of the Ramakrishna Mission for the famine stricken people of Murshidabad district on 15 May 1897. On the way for his visit to Navadwip he was time and again confronted by the miseries of the poor people and decided to settle in order to carry on the service. With the relief work over, Akhandanandaji started an orphanage there. Swamiji was full of his praise for the example he had set by these selfless activities for the poor and the destitute. In 1934 he became the president of the Ramakrishna Order. When somebody asked him once if he had seen God, he humbly replied, Yes. His was a life full of spiritual experiences and accomplishments of the highest order.

Swami Brahmananda 1863-1922 Sri Ramakrishna prayed to Divine Mother for a boy with sincere love for God. Accordingly, Mother showed him a boy in a vision. A few days later he had another vision, about which he himself said, I saw Mother putting a child into my lap saying, 'This is your son.' I shuddered at the thought and asked her in surprise, 'What do you mean? I too have a son?' Then she explained with a smile that it would be a spiritual child, and I was comforted. Shortly after this vision Rakhal came and I at once recognized him as the boy presented by the Divine Mother. Rakhal Chandra Ghosh (Swami Brahmananda) had a very close friendship with Narendranath who persuaded him to embrace Brahmo creed. But everything changed for him when he came in contact with Sri Ramakrishna in the middle of 1881. As he lost his own mother in his childhood Sri Ramakrishna's pure affection like a real mother won him forever. He was an ishwarakoti (a godlike soul) and by nature devotional and contemplative. Hence he achieved an astounding spiritual progress under Sri Ramakrishna's guidance. He practised severe austerity and made arduous pilgrimage afterward. Initially, Swami Vivekananda was the general president and Swami Brahmananda was the president of the Calcutta centre of the Ramakrishna Mission. Both of them had a wonderful understanding among themselves. While Swamiji stepped aside from all offices the mantle fell on his shoulders. He became the president of the Ramakrishna Order. He had to face numerous problems after Swamiji's demise, which he bore with perfect equanimity and took the activities of the Mission forward smoothly. Although he lived a God-intoxicated life he was, nevertheless, very particular about the responsibility laid on him. He was, therefore, most of the time busy founding centres and training monks in different parts of the country, remaining away from Belur Math. He gave spiritual initiation in a very selective manner, for he considered the union between the guru and his disciple is most sacred. Swami Brahmananda used to experience samadhi. From his condition one could perhaps imagine the spiritual condition of Sri Ramakrishna to some extent. His contribution to Ramakrishna Movement is immeasurable. It is he who, as the leader after Swami Vivekananda, held the rein with the expertise of a benevolent king to organize the task of doing good to humanity. So he was fondly called Raja by his brother disciples.

Swami Niranjanananda 1862-1904 Nityaniranjan Ghosh was interested in spiritualism in his youth. When he heard about Sri Ramakrishna he came to Dakshineswar with his associates, with the intention of mesmerising him. Seeing Niranjan, Sri Ramakrishna immediately recognized him to be different from others and said, This boy is very good extremely guileless. However hard they tried they could not cast any charm on him and remarked, Sir, you are a great soul with a strong mind. We are incapable of mesmerising you.

One day Sri Ramakrishna touched Niranjan. As a result he did not get one wink of sleep continuously for three days and three nights. He had the perpetual vision of a mysterious light and kept repeating the Lord's name. Sri Ramakrishna humourously said to him, Now, my boy, another ghost the Holy Ghost is upon you. However much you try, you will not be able to dismiss Him. Sri Ramakrishna's personal teachings varied from person to person, depending on his nature. Niranjan's anger was detrimental to his character. So Sri Ramakrishna was particular to mend it up. On an occasion he impressed upon Niranjan: Anger is a deadly sin. You ought never to let it carry you away. The seeming anger of a good man is something different. It's no more than a mark made on water. It vanishes as soon as it's made. Niranjan's devotion to God increased overwhelmingly when he heard Sri Ramakrishna say, Look here, my boy, if you do ninety-nine good deeds for a person and one bad, he will remember the bad one and won't care for you anymore. On the other hand, if you commit sins ninety-nine times but do one thing to God's satisfaction, He will forgive all your wrongdoings. This is the difference between love of man and the love of God. Remember this. Niranjanananda took sannyasa with his brother disciples at Baranagar Math in 1887 and received the name Niranjanananda from Swami Vivekananda. He was healthy, courageous and hard working. He led a very austere life at the monastery. He had often starved himself there. His selfless service to anyone in need was extraordinary. In Varanasi Niranjananandaji encouraged a group of young men in the ideal of service and spirituality. He inspired them to sacrifice their life for the good of many and the welfare of all. This group later founded the Ramakrishna Mission Home of Service there. A few of them became monks receiving the vows of sannyasa from Swami Vivekananda himself. Niranjananandaji was a mixture of tenderness and sternness. His love for truth was uncompromising. Swamiji would say, Niranjan has a militant disposition, but he has great devotion for Mother (Sri Sri Sarada Devi). So I can easily put up with all his vagaries. Lastly, he lived in a rented house at Hardwar, spending his time in intense sadhana. Though he was suffering from chronic dysentery which reduced his health miserably, his zeal for renunciation had never grown feeble. He would never accept any personal service, even at the moment of his utter physical debility. He died at the age of 41 years only. Swami Premananda 1861-1918 Sri Ramakrishna accepted Baburam Ghose as his attendant because of his absolute purity. His mother was Sri Ramakrishna's earnest devotee. On asking, she gladly gave her son to live with him. In return he granted her two wishes: one is that she should have unflinching devotion for God and the other is that none of her children should die before her. Baburam visited Sri Ramakrishna with Rakhal (Swami Brahmananda) first on 8 April, 1882 when he was in an inebriated mood. Gaining normal consciousness he examined him thoroughly and became sure of his excellent spiritual ability. He recognized through his yogic vision that Baburam was a part of Radha. He could bear his

touch during samadhi since touch of any impure soul was too painful to him in such condition. After Sri Ramakrishna's passing away Baburam took sannyasa in the same manner as Swamiji did and adopted the name Swami Premananda. He travelled much as a wandering monk and observed severe austerities. In Etawah he heard that Swamiji was returning from the West. He was given to do the daily worship in the shrine of Sri Ramakrishna at Belur Math which he performed with utmost sincerity. One day Swamiji told him, Brother all these days you have been worshipping the Lord with flowers and sandal paste; now start worshipping the living gods. Immediately he started serving the sick and poor in the neighbourhood and said, When I was serving them, I felt I was actually serving the Master (Sri Ramakrishna) through living gods. Swamiji instructed Premanandaji to remain as the manager of Belur Math. So, apart from the regular worship service, he trained the monks, entertained the devotees and visitors, supervised the kitchen, dairy and garden, took care of the sick monks, collected money for the maintenance of the monastery, and sometimes went on lecture tours. He taught more by setting examples himself. His love and affection was unconditioned. He would, therefore, attract people from all walks of life. Sri Ramakrishna was always palpable to him at Belur Math. Hence he would carry out the worship services to Him with all dexterity. Because he was so loving to all, he was often referred to as Mother of the Math. He was nevertheless strict on monastic principles. He said in a public meeting, We Hindus and Muslims are like two brothers. If we sincerely worship our respective gods without keeping any hatred for each other, our divine sight will open. Only then shall we realize all are one. He was renunciation and affection incarnate. He showed by his own life how these two opposite traits could be harboured in unison in one's personality. His contributions in the early days of Ramakrishna Movement are legendary. Swami Ramakrishnananda 1863-1911 Shashi Bhushan Chakrabarty was a seeker of spiritual knowledge. He was not able to find it from the Bible, Hindu scriptures and Sufi poets. He joined Brahmo Samaj and heard Keshab Chandra Sen's praise about Sri Ramakrishna. So, one day in October 1883 he came to him in Dakshineswar. The books in which he was looking for such knowledge, he knew after meeting him, were worthless. The more he heard Sri Ramakrishna dilating on God the more his doubts were receding from his mind. Then, finally when he once heard him saying, Whom you are looking for, he is here here here, he realized that Sri Ramakrishna was the Pole Star of his life. He served him with his heart. His sincerity overwhelmed Sri Ramakrishna. At Baranagar Math Sashi made a shrine of the relics of Sri Ramakrishna and carried out services regularly with extraordinary devotion and dexterity, making everyone feel the presence of his Master. How in the midst of poverty and hunger he was particular in his duties at Baranagar Math was legendary. Swami Vivekananda later remarked: Oh, what a steadfastness to the ideal did we ever find in Sashi! He was a mother to us. It was he who managed our food.

Sashi Maharaj never left the Math while his brother disciples were travelling as wandering monks. He had sannyasa like them and received the name Ramakrishnananda from Swamiji. Since Sri Ramakrishna was real to him he would never be away leaving his worship. He believed that Devotion can accomplish anything. As he was extremely orthodox Swamiji one day told him, I want you to put your love for me to the test. Can you buy for me a piece of English bread from a Muslim shop at the corner of Chitpore Road? Ramakrishnanandaji immediately obeyed the order of his beloved brother monk. Swamiji asked him to go to Madras and found a monastery there in the name of Sri Ramakrishna. He did it in April 1897, and it was for him a challenging task. He first set up a shrine putting a picture of Sri Ramakrishna which he carried from Calcutta. Along with the daily worship in it, he started giving classes to devotees on the Upanisads, the Gita and the Bhagavata. But sometimes he would have to go through utter privations and hardships. On the night of 4th July 1902, Ramakrishnanandaji had a dream in which he saw Swamiji was saying to him, Look here, Sashi, I threw away this body like spitting out spittle. The next morning he received a telegram from Belur Math with the message of Swamiji's passing away. Within a few years Ramakrishnanandaji gave a perfect shape to the Madras work of the Ramakrishna Movement, establishing the centre in its new house. He travelled all over South India, preaching religion and philosophy alongwith the messages of Sri Ramakrishna. Although he used to derive immense joy in ritualistic worship he would nevertheless say: To see God everywhere is the highest worship; the second best is the meditation; the third prayer and japam; and the last external worship. Swami Saradananda 1865-1927 Sarat Chandra Chakraborty was a member of the Brahmo Samaj. He was extremely courageous, polite, loving and unselfish. Sri Ramakrishna saw him in a vision among the followers of Jesus Christ. Sarat first came to know about him reading an article by Keshav Chandra Sen in the Indian Mirror. When he went to Dakshineswar to see him, Sri Ramakrishna set the fire of renunciation in his mind. He was destined to bear the heavy responsibility of the young Ramakrishna Movement. That is why, perhaps, Sri Ramakrishna once sat on his lap in an ecstatic mood and said, I was testing how much weight he could bear. Following Sri Ramakrishna's demise Saradanandaji immersed in intense sadhana. He went on difficult pilgrimages living on alms. In response to Swami Vivekananda's call from the West to assist him there, he went to England and America in 1896. At Swamiji's behest he gave classes on scriptures and supplied materials about the life of Sri Ramakrishna to Professor Max Muller who was to write a book on him. Saradanandaji's gentle personality and his masterly expertise on the Vedanta philosophy proved attractive in America. Swamiji gave him the charge of the Vedanta Society of New York and he was discharging his responsibility with all dexterity. But in 1898 he had to return to India as Swamiji wanted him to assist in the Indian work. He had sound judgement and a tender heart. He was acquainted with the methods of organization. Hence, Swamiji made him the general secretary of the Ramakrishna Mission and Math. He served the Order in this capacity for three decades continuously. He had a free access to Holy Mother Sri Sri

Sarada Devi. He was her faithful sevak (care taker). He used to live with her in the same house in Calcutta and was always at her beck and call. And he would, therefore, call himself the Mother's doorkeeper and he was truly proud of this status. In 1909 Saradanandaji started writing his magnum opus Sri Sri Ramakrishna Lilaprasanga in Bengali. It is an authentic, interpretive work on Sri Ramakrishna's life. He was also the editor of the Bengali monthly organ Udbodhan. His life was very disciplined and he worked like a Karmayogi. As general secretary of the Organization he had to face many challenges. Some revolutionary freedom fighters of the country then came to join the Order. Saradanandaji accepted them, observing their sincerity for spiritual quest and dealt with the police and the British Government boldly. The secrets of his great success in his active life were his humility and his respect for human dignity of others. Service to man is service to God was his motto. Beginning with Holy Mother's passing away, he had to undergo bereavements of many, inclusive of a few of his dear brother disciples. After the demise of Swami Brahmananda he was elected the president of the Ramakrishna Order. But he declined to accept it saying, Swamiji appointed me the secretary. I shall never give up that post. Swami Shivananda 1854-1934 Taraknath Ghosal, as Swami Shivananda was known before becoming a sannyasin, worked for some time for the railways, first in Gaziabad and then in Mughalsarai. Even if he was married, he was able to lead a guileless chaste life. So, later he was popularly known as Mahapurush. His deep inclination for a spiritual life and samadhi led him to take the membership of Brahmo Samaj. But it could not satisfy his hunger for God realization. In 1880 Tarak first saw Sri Ramakrishna in ecstatic mood in a devotee's house. He went to him at Dakshineswar after a month. While doing pranam he put his head in Sri Ramakrishna's lap and he had a unique feeling. He said in his reminiscence: At once I felt a deep attachment for the Master. I felt as if I had known him a long time. My heart became filled with joy. I saw in him my tender, loving mother waiting for me.From then on I looked upon the Master as my mother. One day Sri Ramakrishna touched him in an ecstatic mood which made him lose his outer consciousness, sending him to deep meditation with the realization of the Atman. Sri Ramakrishna initiated him writing the mantra on his tongue. Swami Shivananda was a very austere sadhu. He would walk hundreds of miles during his parivrajaka days. Returning to Alambazar Math in 1896, he subsequently went to Madurai and received Swami Vivekananda there on his way back to Calcutta from America in January, 1897. After the formation of Ramakrishna Mission he was vigorously involved in various activities. In 1901 Swamiji made him one of the trustees of Ramakrishna Math and Mission, and in 1910 he had become the vice-president. After Swami Brahmananda's demise in 1922, Shivanandaji was elected the president of the Ramakrishna Order. Most of the time he had now lived in Belur Math, but occasionally visited other centres to inspire monks and devotees. In 1926 he came to the Ramakrishna Mission Vidyapith, Deoghar. On 28 January he opened the new school building and

installed the picture of Sri Ramakrishna. He remarked, Eventually this school will grow immensely. I see clearly that many wonderful things will happen here. Swami Shivananda managed the Ramakrishna Order through his magnanimous personality and spiritual strength. He started initiating people in 1922, but he never claimed that he was a guru. On 13 March, 1929, the birthday of Sri Ramakrishna Shivanandaji laid the foundation stone of Ramakrishna Temple at Belur Math. He would often remain absorbed in God during his old age and elevate others to a spiritual plane by his mere presence. Innumerable people drew peace and tranquility in his proximity. Swami Subodhananda 1867-1932 Subodh Chandra Ghosh was one of the most unassuming disciples of Sri Ramakrishna. His guileless childlike nature won everyone's heart. From childhood he was simple, calm and sweet, yet he was outspoken. He read about Sri Ramakrishna in Brahmo journals. One day he came across the book Sri Sri Ramakrishna Paramhanser Ukti (the sayings of Sri Sri Ramakrishna) compiled by Suresh Chandra Datta. He became deeply impressed and had a desire to meet Sri Ramakrishna. In 1885 Subodh came to Dakshineswar. On first meeting Sri Ramakrishna asked him, Do you not belong to the family of Sankar Ghosh? He was surprised and said, Yes, sir, but how do you know it? Sri Ramakrishna told, When I was staying at Jhamapukur, I often visited your home as well as your Kali Temple at Thanthania. That was before you were born. I knew you would come. Well, the Divine Mother sends here those who will attain spirituality. Subsequently, Sri Ramakrishna initiated him, writing the mantram in his tongue. After doing so, he stroked his body from the navel to the throat saying, Awake, Mother, awake! Then he told him to meditate. No sooner had he began meditation than his body started trembling. He felt a current rushing along his spinal column to his brain. An ineffable joy overwhelmed him with the vision of light containing the forms of numerous gods and goddesses. Thus Sri Ramakrishna's touch awakened Subodh's latent spiritual power. Although Subodh did not live with Sri Ramakrishna all the time he served him whenever opportunities brought him the occasions for it. The fire of renunciation enkindled in his heart with the passing away of his guru. He joined the Baranagar Math and took sannyasa in 1887 along with his brother disciples. Swami Vivekananda gave him the name Subodhananda. Since he was one of the youngest among Sri Ramakrishna's disciples, he was known as Khoka Maharaj. He took to the life of a wandering monk and made many arduous pilgrimages, practising severe austerity. Swami Vivekananda wanted all his brother disciples to lecture. So he trained them accordingly. But Subodhanandaji was too shy and averse to it. Swamij, however, compelled him to give a lecture demonstration in the monastery. The moment he opened his mouth to speak than the building began to rock and trees crashed down outside. That was the devastating earthquake of 1897. Swamiji humourously said, Well, Khoka, you have made an earth-shaking speech. Subodhanandaji was appointed a trustee of Belur Math in 1901. Afterwards, he was elected the treasurer of Ramakrishna Math and Mission. His love for Swamiji was boundless. Swamiji's affection for him was also immense. So Khoka Maharaj had a free

access to him. He would only dare to go near Swamiji when Swamiji would have an angry mood. Before his passing away, Subodhanandaji said, My last prayer is that the blessings of the Master be always on the Order. Swami Trigunatitananda 1865 -1915 Sarada Prasanna Mittra was a student of Metropolitan Institute of Calcutta where the chronicler of the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Mahendra Nath Gupta was the Headmaster. He was taken to Dakshineswar by him first in 1884. He hailed from a very rich family. Sri Ramakrishna broke his aristocratic pride and induced him into the spirit of service. Although he trained Sarada he did not initiate him. Sarada received formal initiation from Sri Sri Sarada Devi. Sarada's frequent visits to Sri Ramakrishna alarmed his parents, and they arranged his marriage to divert his attention. But it was of no use. He ran away from home. His faith in God and his urge for renunciation were strong. He took sannyasa before the picture of Sri Ramakrishna like others and the name Trigunatitananda was given to him by Swami Vivekananda. He did intense spiritual practices and austerity at Baranagar Math. As he would be able to go without food for days together so also he could eat enormously. Trigunatitanandaji had great desire for tantric rituals. Once while he was preparing to leave at midnight for the purpose, he heard Swamiji calling out, Where are you going? He became disappointed and stopped. Swamiji said again, Sri Ramakrishna appeared to me in sleep and told me where you were going. He said that you should not go, that he has done all these things for us, and that it is quite sufficient for us to keep our minds fixed on him. This ended his tantric sadhana. He took arduous pilgrimages with much hardship and determination, going upto Mount Kailash and Manas Sarovar. He had miraculous experiences in their courses. He started three centres in Calcutta and the Bengali organ Udbodhan which he carried forward as editor and manager with much struggle. He was attendant to Sri Sri Sarada Devi after Swami Yogananda's passing away. His love and faith in her was phenomenal. When Swami Turiyananda returned he had to go to America to take over the charges of work there. And it was a tireless effort that he applied to expand the activities of the mission initiated by Swamiji. He built the first Hindu Temple in America which he planed combining ideas from a Hindu Temple, a Christian Church, a Muslim mosque, and an American residence. Trigunatitanandaji was an uncompromising ascetic. He taught his students through personal example. He believed that through discipline one can form a strong character which is absolutely necessary for the foundation of a spiritual life. Trugunatitanandaji had an unfortunate end of life. While he was lecturing from the podium a bomb was thrown to him by a lunatic. He was severely injured which led him to his demise. But he had not a single word of condemnation for the perpetrator, besides the murmur of sympathy for him. One of his nurses said, I have never seen such a calm, uncomplaining, and enduring patient in my life.

Swami Turiyananda 1863-1922 Harinath Chattopadhyaya lost his mother when he was three years old. He was brought up by his sister-in law. From his early boyhood he was drawn towards the ideal of asceticism. He was too orthodox as well as austere and in nature bent upon the nondualistic philosophy. Harinath saw Sri Ramakrishna first when he was thirteen or fourteen years old. But he, being a committed monist was not attracted to him initially since he found in him a devotee of Divine Mother. Perhaps in 1880, he met him first at Dakshineswar while Sri Ramakrishna had observed some auspicious signs in him. Acquaintances growing a little closer, Harinath one day asked Sri Ramakrishna, Sir, how can you become free from lust completely? His reply was, Why should it go, my boy? Give it a turn in another direction. What is lust? It is the desire to get. So desire to get God and strengthen the desire greatly. This multiplied Harinath's urgency for realization of God. Harinath came to know other young disciples of Sri Ramakrishna by and by. He became close to Narendranath (Vivekananda), for the latter appreciated his renunciation, scriptural knowledge and steadfastness to brahminic ideal. In the early part of 1887, he took sannyasa at Baranagar Math under the leadership of Swamiji and had the name Turiyananda from him. He travelled extensively as a wondering monk and practised sadhana alone at Rjpur, on the Mussoorie Hill. He met Swamiji in Bombay sometime before his departure for America. At Vrindavan he had a vision in which he saw he was separate from his body and was expanding until he covered everything, signifying the fact that he was all pervading Atman. Turiyananadaji returned to the Math in the end of 1896. He decided to pass his days in quiet spiritual practices. But it was not to be so. Swamiji asked him to help him in his Western Mission. So he travelled to America with Swamiji during his second visit there. On the way they stopped over England. Reaching America, when the time came for him to deliver lectures he was averse to the trait. Swamiji inspired him saying, Whatever you say will do good to the people. Show them what spirituality is. He lived the life and others picked up lessons from it. While walking on the streets of New York he would sometimes shout to his student: Be a free lion! Be a lion! Break the cage and be free! His zeal for Vedantic mukti was extraordinary. He used to carry its air wherever he went. Swamiji asked him to go to California saying, Go and establish the ashrama in California. Hoist the flag of Vedanta there. He started the ashrama in utterly adverse condition. The ordeal and hardship was too much. But his intimate students did not lose enthusiasm observing his pure dedication. Turiyanandaji named it Shanti Ashrama. His tremendous faith in God led him to do wonders in America after Swamiji's departure. While returning to India Turiyanandaji came to know about Swamiji's death on the way. He instantaneously decided not to go back to America again. The shock was terrible for him. His love for Swamiji was fathomless. He threw away his Western clothes and wrist watch into the ocean. To recover from its blow was very difficult for him. He mellowed down in his old days and remained away from worldly affairs. Turiyanandaji justified his name which means transcendental bliss.

Swami Vijnanananda 1868-1938 Hari Prasanna Chattopadhyaya saw Sri Ramakrishna first in 1875 when he was only seven years old. He had many interesting incidents to relate about his meetings with him. Once Sri Ramakrishna asked him, Can you wrestle? Come, let me see how well you wrestle. Thus while they were engaged in a duel Hari Prasanna found that his 'touch' sent an electric current into his body and made him helpless. He said later, I went into ecstasy, and the hair of my body stood on end. The Master had not won physically but his spiritual power had completely subdued me. Vijnananandaji told about his initiation: As I approached the Master, he asked me to stick out my tongue. When I did, he drew a figure on it with his finger. My whole body began to tremble, and I felt an unspeakable bliss within. He was intelligent, academically sharp and spiritually inclined since his early boyhood. In his youth he read the philosophies of Kant, Hegel and other western thinkers. But he came to learn from Sri Ramakrishna that book learning is of no use for God realization. And his bent of mind was for deep meditation which he quickly ripened into full maturity under his Guru's intimate care. He was a civil engineer with brilliant result. Since his father died early he was supposed to support his family financially, which he did for some time. But when the pressure from his relatives was mounting for marriage, he decided to be away from a worldly life and joined the Alambazar Math in 1896. Returning from the West, Swamiji discussed the architecture of the future Ramakrishna Temple with him. Accordingly, he drew its sketch and showed to Swamiji. On 9 May, 1899 he formally took sannyasa performing Viraja Homa before Sri Ramkrishna's shrine. He would say that Swamiji wanted his brother disciples to be as great as himself; nay, even greater than himself; his love was incomparable. Vijnananandaji was given to carry out the construction work of Belur Math. Afterward he was asked by Swamiji to start a centre at Allahabad. His one pointed devotion to spiritual practices endowed him with many extraordinary mystical visions there. He was a man of few words. Preaching was against his nature. But his life was exemplary. He was an ideal monk who followed his Guru's advice without compromise. He traveled extensively on pilgrimage. Vijnananandaji supervised the construction work of Vivekananda Temple at Belur Math. He became the president of Ramakrishna Order in 1937. The Ramakrishna Temple was consecrated by him in 1938. His health was then broken but his zeal was much. Doing it he said, I am relieved of the responsibility that Swamiji entrusted to me. He was a perfect Karma Yogi. His relentless service to the Mission earned him the boundless affection of his brother disciples. His simplicity, his steadfastness and commitment took the Ramakrishna Movement forward inspite of many constraints.

Swami Yogananda 1861-1899 Jogindra Nath Roy Choudhury was born into a well-to-do family at Dakshineswar. Sri Ramakrishna used to visit his house. Though Yogin heard about him he could never recognize him while he met him first in the Dakshineswar Temple garden. He took him to be the gardener there and, interestingly, requested him to collect some flowers for him. He later in his youth read about him in a Brahmo journal Sulabh Samachar and was, eventually, attracted towards Sri Ramakrishna. Coming to him, Jogin was surprised to find that it was the same person whom he saw earlier and who was so humble to assist him then. The words which he heard from Sri Ramakrishna on this occasion impressed him deeply, for he was, from the beginning, of the religious nature. His urgency to realize God became manifold since his acquaintance with Sri Ramakrishna. Jogin was married. But he did not have the company of his wife. Yet he was hesitant that he would not be accepted by Sri Ramakrishna. Understanding this, one day Sri Ramakrishna told Jogin in an ecstatic mood, What if you are married? Haven't I too been married? What is there to be afraid of in that? If you have the grace of this place (meaning himself), even a hundred thousand marriages will be powerless to affect you. Jogin tested him by day and by night and observed that Sri Ramakrishna was a perfect sadhu whose words and thoughts were in absolute accordance. Sri Ramakrishna knew that Jogin was softhearted. Hence he specially instructed him to be firm. He taught him to defend truth. Once while Jogin was returning to Dakshineswar from Calcutta by boat one of his co-passengers was unnecessarily vilifying Sri Ramakrishna. Knowing this Sri Ramakrishna told Jogin, That man abused me for nothing and you kept silent! Do you know what the scriptures say? You must cut off the head of him who speaks ill of your guru or at least leave his presence at once. And you did not even protest against these false accusations? Jogin was formally initiated by Holy Mother Sri Sri Sarada Devi. Sri Ramakrishna appeared before her after his demise and asked her to do so. He became her personal attendant and was able to draw her deep affection by his devoted service to her. He witnessed Holy Mother's various spiritual moods in her ecstasies, in which she behaved as Guru identically with Sri Ramakrishna. He went on pilgrimage with Mother. Returning to Baranagar Math he took sannyasa and became Swami Yogananda. He organized celebrations of Sri Ramakrishna's birth anniversary from 1895 to 1897 at Dakshineswar. After establishing Ramakrishna Mission in 1897 Swamiji made Yoganandaji its vice-president. But he was doubtful if it was the will of Sri Ramakrishna that the work should be done in the manner as Swamiji was envisaging. His misgivings disappeared when Swamiji cleared to him the idea behind the Mission. Yoganandaji did not live long. He passed away when he was only thirty-eight years old. Holy Mother was shocked at his untimely demise and remarked, A brick has slipped from the structure; now the whole thing will come down.