The Mother Divine
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(Sri Durga Charan Nag)
Nag- Mahashaya

One of The Main Householder Disciples Of Sri Ramakrishna
by Sarat Chandra Chakravarti

IN the year 1880, the wife of Nagmahashaya came to Calcutta to live with her husband. This was the first time that she had the opportunity to serve her husband according to her desire. Of course, she had met him just after the marriage, but she was then only a girl. Now the young wife devoted all her attention to minister to the comforts of her husband and her old father-in-law. She made Dindayal happy but the mind of her husband could not be attracted. For, Nagmahashaya had no time to attend to her. He had a wide practice and the little time that was left at his disposal, was spent in meditation and study.

The description of Bhavaatavi (the Forest of Worldly Life) and the story of Jada Bharata in the Bhagavata made a great impression on the mind of Nagmahashaya. On reading the story of Jada Bharata, he understood how difficult it is for ordinary men to free themselves from the bonds of attachment, when, such a great man liberated in life, had to be reborn for his slight attachment to a deer. Reflecting on the indescribable and inconceivable power of Maya, he found no other way out but to pray to the Mother of the Universe for help. His one thought was how to be relieved from the clutches of Mahamaya, from the fetters of this bondage to the world. He was married; he was earning money. And ties became stronger and stronger every day. 'How to find the way out?' -- was the thought that troubled him day and night. When he began his career as a physician, he thought that he would relieve the distress of the poor. With untiring patience he had nursed the diseased; without the least hesitation he had given away his earnings in charity; and on many a day he had given his meal to the hungry and himself starved. But alas! Could he remove the sufferings and miseries of the world? He reflected this, 'Why did I come in to this world of misery? Ah, again this bondage of marriage! Should I care for money and women? Should I pass away my life with all these? But, what is the way to find Him out? Ah, who will show me the way?'

At this time Suresh, his intimate friend, and a few Brahmo gentlemen would meet together on the bank of the Ganges and pass a few hours in meditation, prayer and songs. Nagmahashaya also joined the party. While uttering the names of the Lord, Nagmahashaya would sometimes dance; at times he would lose himself in ecstasy and fall down while dancing. One day he fell into the Ganges. Suresh with the help of another man rescued him. Though Nagmahashaya was a little emotional by nature, he was clever in concealing his sentiments. He used to say, "The more you control your emotions, the stronger they become; and the more these are given vent to, the less they become in intensity. Suresh said that in that state of ecstasy all the signs of strong divine love for God were very conspicuously manifest on his person.

A Sadhu told him, "However strong might be your faith, and however intense be your love for God unless you practice Sadhana and meditate on Him, after being properly initiated by the Guru, you cannot have God-vision." Hearing this, Nagmahashaya became very eager to get initiation. A great spiritual discomfort came over him. Occasionally, many Sadhus and devotees used to come and live on the banks of the Ganges. Expecting that some great man amongst them might take pity on him and initiate him, Nagmahashaya would sit on the bank of the river till late at night. Many a day passed in that way. Once, while he was taking his bath in the Ganges, he saw a boat coming there. When the boat landed, he saw that the passenger in the boat was none other than his own family Guru, Kailash Chandra Bhattacharya. Nagmahashaya finished his bath in haste. After proper greetings, he asked about his unexpected arrival in Calcutta. Kailash Chandra replied that he had come there to initiate him, for he had received such a commandment from the Mother. Was it that his sincere prayers had reached the eyes of the All-Merciful Mother of the universe? He led him to his residence in Calcutta. Dindayal saw the family Guru and was beside himself with joy, for it was his earnest desire that his son should be initiated by the Kulaguru. The next day was an auspicious one. Nagmahashaya and his wife were initiated in Sakti Mantram.

After initiation Nagmahashaya earnestly began to practice Sadhana. Many nights he passed in meditation and Japam. On the new-moon day, he would go without food and pass the night in meditation on the bank of the Ganges. In his meditation he sometimes lost his consciousness. One day he was deeply absorbed in concentration; the flow-tide came high and carried him away. He had to come back to the shore swimming, after had recovered his senses. Thus he passed most of his time in prayer and meditation.

Gradually his medical practice began to fall off, and the income also dwindled. Dindayal apprehended danger. He thought that the idea of renouncing the world, which took possession of Nagmahashaya's mind after the death of his aunt, had been forgotten since his association with Suresh; but once again he was passing most his time in the thought of the Lord, without caring for the comforts of life. So Dindayal's anxiety about the young daughter-in-law increased. It was true that there was no want of food and dress. But mere food and dress could never alleviate the thirst of the heart. The husband's affection is the only thing that can give peace to a wife. But the wife knew that there was no woman on earth who could bind this man to the world. Nagmahashaya told his wife, "The relationship which exists in the physical plane, never lasts for good. He is blessed indeed who can love God with all his heart. Once we are attached to the body, it is impossible to get over it, even in the course of several births. So, do not have any attachment to this despicable cage of bone and flesh. Take shelter at the feet of the Mother and think of Her and Her alone; thus your life here and hereafter will be ennobled." The wife of the Tapasvi (ascetic) has to become a Tapasvini (a female ascetic).

As days went on, the health of Dindayal broke down. Nagmahashaya wanted that his old father should now resign his service at Messrs. Pals' and devote his whole time to the practice of devotion. After much entreaty, he made Dindayal agree to go and live at their native village. His wife also left Calcutta with the father-in-law to serve him in his old age.

Suresh, as usual, would often come to Nagmahashaya and they passed their time in talking about religious subjects. But mere words could satisfy him no longer, and Nagmahashaya one day said, "Time is wasted in mere talk; unless something is perceived directly, there is no use in living." Just at this time one day, Suresh went to Keshab Babu's Brahmo Samaj and there he learnt that a saint was living at Dakshineswar -- a saint who was a man of great renunciation, who remained always absorbed in God-consciousness and often fell into Bhava Samadhi. Suresh wanted to go over there and pay a visit to the saint with his friend, Nagmahashaya. But for various reasons the topic was not raised before him. Two months passed away after that, when Suresh told Nagmahashaya about the Saint of Dakshineswar. As soon as he heard of him, he wanted to go and see him. Nagmahashaya could not bear to wait any longer. Accordingly, both of them started after their morning meal. Dakshineswar is to the north of Calcutta and so they proceeded in that direction. It was the month of April. The sun was very hot. But neither of them did mind the heat; and both went on as if being dragged on by some unseen force. After proceeding a long distance they made enquiries of a passer-by, who in reply said that they had passed the village of Dakshineswar. He directed them back. They reached the temple garden of Rani Rasmani at about 2 p.m.

The temple is situated in a garden full of shady trees and fragrant flowering plants. At the time of Nagmahashaya's visit, Dakshineswar appeared to all the visitors as the veritable abode of gods. They saw the pond with its cool and refreshing water, the temple with its high pinnacles and the trees with their fresh leaves. To Nagmahashaya's mind, the rustling of the leaves in the trees seemed to speak in a gentle voice, 'Come, come O ye afflicted travelers of this world of misery! This is the place where you can have your rest.'

They came as far as the door of the room where Sri Ramakrishna used to live. A man with a long beard was sitting by the side of the door. Nagmahashaya asked him, 'Sir, will you please tell me where the saint of Dakshineswar lives?" "Yes," replied the gentleman, "here he lives, but today he is gone to Chandernagore. Please come on some other day."

This information produced a great dejection in the minds of both. But there was no help for it. They were about take leave of the gentleman, when Nagmahashaya saw somebody from within the room beckoning them to come inside. Was he the saint of Dakshineswar? Surely, he must be the man whom they had come to meet after walking in the sun a long distance! Not paying heed to the words of the bearded gentleman any more, they entered the room.

The bearded gentleman was Pratap Chandra Hazra. Nagmahashaya used to say, "What a wonderful Maya of the Lord it is! Although he had lived in close contact with the Master for twelve long years, Sri Hazra could not know his real nature! Who can know him, if he does not want to be known? Though he may pass a hundred years in prayer and meditation, he cannot know God unless He reveals Himself out of His grace."

It was indeed very curious that Hazra disliked anybody coming to Sri Ramakrishna. But when God's grace descends on anybody, no human power can stand in the way; on the other hand, even if God be standing by one's side, one cannot know Him if He does not like to be known. This reminds us of an incident in Sri Ramakrishna's life illustrating this truth.

One day Sri Ramakrishna went to Kalighat with his nephew, Hriday Mukherjee. On the northern side of the pond near the temple, there was at that time a bush of many Kachoo plants. Sri Ramakrishna saw there the Mother of the universe in the form of a virgin playing with a few maids. She was catching the grass-hoppers. She had a red-bordered cloth on Her person. Seeing Her the Master cried out, "Mother, Oh Mother!" and lost all his external consciousness. After that state of higher consciousness had passed Sri Ramakrishna went inside the temple, and found on the image of the Mother in the temple the same cloth which adorned the person of the virgin girl. Hearing of it from Sri Ramakrishna, Hriday said, "Dear uncle, why did you not tell me then and there. I would have run and caught hold of Her." The Master smilingly replied, "Ah, my boy, that cannot be; unless She wants it, what power have you to catch Her? None can see Her without Her grace, though She is present everywhere and before all."