CHAPTER 13) - SECTION 1

THE MASTER IN THE GARDEN HOUSE OF KASIPUR
1

1. Kasipur

The Kasipur garden house is situated on the broad road that runs through the north of Calcutta and joins the Baghbazar quarter with Baranagar, three miles from the city. On both sides of that road from the north of Baghbazar bridge to the cross-roads, a little to the south of that garden, are seen the cottages of poor labourers and small shops full of articles necessary for their daily lives. There are a few brickworks interspersed among them — a few jute mills, the iron factory of the Dost Company, the firm of Ralli Brothers Ltd., one or two gardens or dwelling houses and the police station and the Fire Brigade station situated to the south-west of the Kasipur cross-roads. And not far to the west of it stands the famous temple of Sri Sarvamangala Devi, as if to bear witness to the terrible differences in human condition between the poor and the rich. Again, as the Sealdah railway station was improved and extended, many tin-roofed godowns etc., have now been built on the said road and have destroyed the little beauty it had a few years ago. Although this ancient road is thus not pleasing to the eye of a poet or an artist, it has some value in the eye of the historian. For, Nawab Siraj2, it is said, advanced along this road and occupied the British fort of Govindapur, and a palace of the blackhearted traitor Nawab Mirzaffar once stood on this part of the road a little more than half a mile from Baghbazar. This portion of the road from Baghbazar to the cross-roads of Kasipur is not beautiful; but the part of it extending from there to the Baranagar bazaar cannot be called unattractive. Going a little further north from the said cross-roads, one meets with the southern part of the Mati pond and, opposite to it on the eastern side of the road, with the beautiful residential home of our well-known friend, the late Mahimacharan Chakravarti. The Railway Company has now purchased the greater part of the garden surrounding this house and extended a branch of the railway to the bank of the Ganga through it, which has robbed the house of all its former beauty. Going a little further north from there, one sees on one’s left the northern side of the Mati pond and opposite to it, on the eastern side of the road, the high wall and the iron gate of the Kasipur garden. A few beautiful garden houses on the bank of the Ganga were situated on the road lying to the west of the Mati pond. Of these again, the, best and the most beautiful was Mati Lal Sil’s garden, which now, on coming under the occupation of the Calcutta Electric Company, has been shorn of all its previous serene beauty, yielding place to the din and bustle of industry. A broken residential house of the Basaks was situated on the Ganga to the north of this garden. As rows of Tamarisk trees stood on both sides of the path leading from the road to the broken house, a wonderful beauty and sound then always soothed the eyes and ears of visitors. While we were staying with the Master at the garden house of Kasipur, we very often, went to the Sil’s garden for a bath in the Ganga, and as the Master liked Gulchi flowers, we plucked them from the big trees growing by the side of the Ghat and presented them to the Master. Very often, again, we went through the path adorned with those beautiful rows of Tamarisk trees and, reaching the Basak’s uninhabited garden house, sat down on the bank of the Ganga. A little to the north of this garden lay the spacious bathing Ghat belonging to the late Prahanath Chaudhuri and to the north of it again stood the beautiful temple of Sri Gopala, belonging to Rani Katyayani, wife of the famous Lala Babu. We sometimes went to that place too for taking bath in the Ganga and paying our obeisance to Sri Gopala. The late Gopal Chandra Ghosh, son-in-law of Rani Katyayani, was the owner of the garden house of

Kasipur. The devotees hired it from him at the monthly rent of eighty rupees, at first for six months and then executed a bond for another three months. Surendranath Mitra of Simla, Calcutta, a great devotee of the Master, signed the bond and paid the whole rent.

2.    Siraj-ud-daula, the last independent Nawab of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.—Tr.

The Kasipur garden was very beautiful, though not big. It had an area of about fourteen bighas.1 That quadrangular piece of land was a little longer from east to west than from north to south and was surrounded by high walls. A row of three or four rooms almost touching the middle of the northern compound-wall were meant for the kitchen and the stores. Facing those rooms and on the other side of the garden there was a two-storeyed residential house; it had two rooms upstairs and four downstairs. Of the rooms on the ground floor, the one in the middle was a spacious hall. To the north of it there were two small rooms side by side; from the western one of these rooms a flight of wooden steps led to the first floor and the eastern one was allotted to the Holy Mother. The above-mentioned hall extending from east to west and the room to the south of it, which had a verandah to the east, were used by the devotees for sitting and sleeping in. Above the hall on the ground floor there was a square hall of equal dimensions, on the first floor. It was here that the Master lived. To the south of it there was a small portion of the terrace of the ground floor, surrounded by walls, but open above; here the Master sometimes strolled and sat. And to the north of it there were the roof of the room through which the steps led upstairs and a small square room equal in size to and situated above the room fixed for the Holy Mother. Here the Master used to take his bath etc. It was also used at night by one or two attendants.

On the eastern and the western side of the residential part of the house were two flights of stairs leading to the hall on the ground floor, which was surrounded by a brick-built circular garden-path. In the south-west corner of the garden and joined to its western wall there was a small room for the gate-keeper and to the north of it was the iron gate. A semi-circular garden-path broad enough for carriages went north-east and joined the circular road round the residential house. There was a small pool to the west of the residential quarters. Opposite to the western stairs leading to the hall and on the other side of the garden-path there was a flight of steps leading down to the said pool. In the north-east corner of the garden there was a pond four or five times bigger than the said pool, having two or three one-storeyed rooms to the north-west of it. Besides, there was a stable in the north-west corner of the garden, to the west of the above-mentioned pool, and situated side by side there were two dilapidated, brick-built rooms for the gardeners near the middle of the southern wall of the garden. Everywhere else in the graden were mango, jack, lichee and other fruit-bearing trees. The garden-paths were adorned with flower plants on both sides. Much of the land near the pool and the pond was used for growing greens and vegetables for the kitchen. Again, spread at intervals among trees, there were lawns covered with green grass adding much to the beauty of the garden.

3.    The Master came and started training his boy devotees

The Master came to this garden on the 11th of December, A.D. 1885. As the disease gradually worsened during these eight months and as his tall, strong body was reduced to a mere skeleton, his mind, perfect in self-control, increasingly went on disregarding its fury and the pain arising from it.

He appeared to all observing eyes to have girded up his loins to complete the work already begun, of teaching and training up the order of his devotees by imparting necessary instructions without a break or pause both individually and collectively to them. Moreover, we were constantly witnessing the fulfilment of his prophecy about himself, so often mentioned to the devotees at Dakshineswar. He had said on various occasions: “Before I pass away, I’ll cast the whole secret to the winds; (that is, I’ll divulge my nature as a God-man)”; “When many come to know (my divine glory) and whisper about it, this case (my body) will cease to be, it will go to pieces by my Mother’s dispensation”; “It will be ascertained at that time (during my illness) which amongst the devotees belong to the inner circle and which to the outer”, and so on. It was here that we could understand the truth of his predictions about Narendranath and other devotees, such as, “Mother has perforce brought you (Narendra) down to the world to do Her work; you cannot but follow me; where else will you go?”; “They all (the boy-devotees) are like the young ones of the Homa bird, that rises very high up in the air where it lays eggs, which start falling towards the earth with great accelerated speed. One is afraid that they will all be shattered to pieces when they reach the ground; but that does not happen. Out of the eggs are hatched young ones, which are fledged and, before touching the ground, they spread their wings and fly up again into the air to reach their parents, who wait for their coming up. Similarly, they (the boy-devotees) also will renounce the world and go forward towards God before they are chained to the world.” Besides, it was here that he moulded the life of Narendranath and placed the circle of devotees, particularly the boy-devotees, in his charge and gave him detailed instructions how to guide them It needs no mention, therefore, that the work the Master accomplished at Kasipur was fraught with the weightiest significance.

4. The garden house carrying these memories should be acquired by the Ramakrishna Mission

A very strong desire rises naturally in the minds of all, that the said place where the Master accomplished those grave and profound actions of his life, may be associated with the Ramakrishna Mission1 to serve as a permanent memorial to those blessed deeds of the Master, so that generations of human beings might derive pure joy serene at the holy remembrance. But alas, a very great obstacle to its fulfilment has arisen. The Railway Company, we are told, is trying to acquire it. It is, therefore, superfluous to say that this place of the Master’s divine sport will soon assume a different form and be converted perhaps into jute godowns or some such ugly object. But, if that be the will of Providence, what can we, weak mortals, do? Let us, therefore, helplessly console ourselves with the thought: “What exists in the mind of Providence, unavoidably comes true.”

Footnote

1.    Written by the author and published in the monthly Bengali magazine Udbodhan, but not included in the first edition of the book during his lifetime.

2.    The garden house of Kasipur

1. Roughly equivalent to 4 2/3 acres.—Tr.

1. The Master’s joy at the beauty and spaciousness of the garden house