2.19 THE DEATH OF THE MASTER’S RELATIONS
We have already acquainted the reader a little with Akshay, the son of the Master’s eldest brother Ramkumar. Akshay came to Dakshineswar and was appointed priest in the Vishnu temple in 1865, a short time after the revered Tota Puri came there. Akshay was then about seventeen years old. It is necessary to say a few words here about him. As his mother had died at the time of his birth, he became an object of special love to all his relatives. He was only three or four years old when the Master came for the first time to Calcutta in 1852. The Master, therefore, had had the occasion to take Akshay on his lap and bring him up with loving care for two or three years before he came to Calcutta. But his father Ramkumar never in his life took him on his lap. When asked the reason for it, he would say, “It will be love lost; the child will not live long.” While afterwards the Master forgot himself, forgot the world and engaged himself in spiritual practices, the beautiful child had been passing through the tender years, and he was now about to enter youth. Naturally he looked more beautiful than ever.
We were told by the Master and his relatives that Akshay was indeed a beautiful person. They said that his complexion was as bright as his features were graceful and handsome. He looked like a living form of Siva.
Akshay’s mind was very much devoted from his childhood to Sri Ramachandra. He spent a long time daily in the service of Raghuvir, his family deity. Therefore, when he took charge of the worship at the Dakshineswar temple, he was appointed to do a duty which was quite to his liking. The Master said, “While he was performing the worship of Radha-Govinda, he became so much absorbed in meditation that he had no idea of the crowds of people coming and going out of the temple and would not regain his normal consciousness before the lapse of a couple of hours.” Having finished the daily worship at the temple, he would go, we have been told by Hriday, to the Panchavati and spend a long time in worshipping Siva there. He would then cook his food with his own hands and, after taking his meal, apply his mind to the study of the Bhagavata. Besides, by a new urge of the love of God, he practised so much of Nyasa and Pranayama that his throat and palate bled and swelled now and again. Is it any wonder, therefore, that such love and devotion on his part to God endeared him to the Master?
Years passed one after another, till it was the end of B.E. 1275 (A.D. 1869). Akshay’s uncle Rameswar came to know of this trend of his mind and began to search for a bride. It was in the month of Chaitra that a suitable bride was found in the village of Kuchakol, not far from Kamarpukur, and Rameswar came to Dakshineswar to take Akshay home. Objections were raised against their starting on the ground that the month of Chaitra was held inauspicious for starting on a journey. Rameswar and Akshay did not pay any heed to it and said that the prohibition of the scriptures was not applicable in the case of home-coming from a temporary residence elsewhere. Akshay’s marriage took place shortly after he returned home in the month of Vaisakh of B.E. 1276 (A.D. 1869).
Akshay fell seriously ill when he was in his father-in-law’s house a few months after his marriage. Rameswar, on receiving news of this, had him brought to Kamarpukur, where he was placed under treatment and brought round. He was then sent to Dakshineswar. There his looks brightened and his health seemed to be improving, when suddenly he had an attack of fever. Doctors thought it was a simple fever and that he would be rid of it very soon.
When he heard that Akshay fell ill in his father-in-law’s house shortly after his marriage, the Master, we were told by Hriday, had said, “Hridu, the omens are extremely bad; he has been married to a bride of Rakshasagana; the lad will die, I see.” When the fever did not subside even after three or four days, he called Hriday to him and said, “Hridu, doctors have not been able to diagnose the disease. Akshay has a complicated, high and remittent fever. Call a good doctor and administer good treatment to your satisfaction; but the boy, it is certain, will not survive.”
Hriday said, “When I heard him say so, I took him to task saying ‘Don’t, don’t uncle, let not such words pass your lips.’ He said, ‘Do I say so of my own accord? I say things involuntarily under the divine influence; I say what Mother makes me know and say. Do I wish that Akshay should die?’ ”
Hriday was very much alarmed to hear these words of the Master. He called in good physicians and tried in various ways to cure Akshay. But the disease went on worsening. Akshay suffered for about a month. When his last moment arrived the Master went to his bedside and said, “Akshay, say ‘Ganga, Narayana, Aum Rama’.” Akshay repeated the Mantra once, twice, thrice, and passed away. We were told by Hriday that the more he wept at Akshay’s death, the more did the Master laugh in ecstasy.
Although the Master laughed that way to see from a high plane of spiritual consciousness the death of his dear nephew Akshay of pleasant looks, it is not as if he did not feel a great shock in his heart. Several times he spoke to us of this event long afterwards and said that although during ecstasy he regarded death as but a change of state, he felt a great void at the death of Akshay when he came down to the normal state of consciousness.1 He could never again live in the mansion of the proprietors after Akshay’s death, as it was there that he had passed away.
Rameswar, the Master’s second elder brother, was appointed to worship Radha-Govinda at Dakshineswar after Akshay’s death. But he could not always be at Dakshineswar as he was in charge of the whole management of the household at Kamarpukur. He used to place some suitable and reliable person in charge of his duty at Dakshineswar and occasionally go to his village to stay there. Ramchandra Chattopadhyaya and another person named Dinanath, we were told, officiated for him during his absence.
It was during this period that Mathur, accompanied by the Master, went to his zamindari estate and to the house of his own Guru. He did this then perhaps to relieve the feeling of want produced by Akshay’s death in the Master’s heart. For, just as, on the one hand, the highly devout Mathur regarded the Master as God Himself and followed him implicitly in all spiritual matters, so, on the other, he looked upon him as but an ignorant child to be protected by him in all worldly matters. There the Master saw the extremely miserable condition of the men and women in a village and was very much moved. He invited them all and made Mathur give each of them oil sufficient to cool their head, a full meal and a piece of new cloth. Hriday said that this event happened at a place called Kalaighat, near Ranaghat, when Mathur, accompanied by him and the Master, was on a boat trip in the Churni canal.
Hriday told us that Mathur had his own home in the village called Sonabere, near Satkshira. The villages round it were then included in Mathur’s estate, to which he took the Master. The home of Mathur’s Guru was not far from this place. There was a quarrel going on at the time among the members of the family of the preceptors over the division of their property. They asked Mathur to intercede as a mediator. The village was called Talamargo. On their way Mathur made the Master and Hriday ride on his elephant and himself went in a palanquin.2 Pleased with the loving service of the sons of Mathur’s preceptor, the Master spent a few weeks there before he returned to Dakshineswar.
Shortly after he visited the houses of Mathur and his Guru and returned to Dakshineswar, there happened a remarkable event connected with the Master at Kolutola in Calcutta. A Hari Sabha, a meeting where Hari’s name was sung, used to be in session in the house of Kalinath Datta, otherwise known as Kalinath Dhar. Being invited by the Sabha, the Master went there and in ecstasy sat on the seat reserved in the name and in honour of Sri Chaitanya, the great lord. We have given the reader a detailed description of the incident elsewhere.3 Not long afterwards, the Master had a desire to visit Navadwip, and Mathur took him to Kalna, Navadwip and some other places. We have told the reader elsewhere how he met the perfected devotee Bhagavan Das at Kalna and what a wonderful vision he had at Navadwip.4 It was perhaps in 1870 that he went to visit those holy places. He did not feel so deeply inspired while in Navadwip as when passing by the silted-up shoals in the bed of the Ganga near that place. Asked by Mathur and others the reason of it, the Master said that the old Navadwip containing the spots of Chaitanya’s divine sport, had submerged in the river. They had been situated where the shoals now stood. That was why he had deep ecstasy when he passed by them.
It will not be out of place to mention here, on Hriday’s authority, an event illustrative of Mathur’s selfless devotion, attained as the result of the whole-hearted service he had rendered to the Master continually for fourteen long years.
Once Mathur Babu became bed-ridden on account of a boil in a joint of his body. Having come to know of Mathur’s eagerness to see the Master at that time, Hriday told the Master of it. But the Master said, “What’s the use of my going? Can I cure his boil?” When Mathur found that the Master did not come, he sent messenger after messenger and informed him of his eager desire. After this supplication, the Master had to yield. Mathur’s happiness knew no bounds when the Master came to him He got up with great difficulty, sat reclining against a bolster and said, “Father, give me a little dust of your feet.”
The Master said, “Of what avail will it be to you to take the dust of my feet? Will it cure your boil?
Mathur replied, “Father, am I so mean? Do I want the dust of your feet to cure my boil? Doctors enough are there for that purpose. I want the dust of your feet in order to cross the sea of the world.”
As soon as Mathur said this, the Master was in ecstasy. Mathur placed his head on his feet and regarded himself as blessed. Tears of bliss streamed out from both his eyes. Mathur was cured of the disease in a short time on that occasion.
We were told by the Master and Hriday many things about Mathur’s devotion to and faith in the Master at that time. Mathur had the firm conviction that the Master was his only refuge and resort both here and hereafter, The Master’s grace for him was also boundless. Although the independent-minded Master felt annoyed now and then at some of Mathur’s actions, he forgot them immediately, granted all his requests and tried to do what was conducive to his welfare both in this world and in the next. What a strong and profound loving relation subsisted between the Master and Mathur, is clearly seen in the following anecdote.
Once the Master said in ecstasy, “As long, O Mathur, as you live, I shall be here (at Dakshineswar).” Mathur was startled to hear it for he knew that the Mother of the Universe Herself in the person of the Master was always protecting him and his family. Therefore, when he heard it, Mathur thought that the Master would forsake his family after his passing away. He then said very humbly to the Master, “What’s this, father? My wife and son Dwaraka are very much devoted to you.” Seeing that Mathur was distressed, the Master said, “Very well; I will be here as long as your wife and Dwari live.” In fact, it actually turned out to be so. The Master left Dakshineswar for good, shortly after the death of Jagadamba Dasi and Dwarakanath. Jagadamba Dasi died in 1881.5 The Master was at Dakshineswar for a little more than three years after this event.
On another occasion Mathur said to the Master, “How is this, father? You said your devotees would come; but why are they not coming?” The Master replied, “I don’t know how long from now Mother will bring them But Mother Herself has revealed it to me. Whatever else She made known to me has proved to be true, one by one; who knows why this has not?” So saying the Master was in a depressed mood and thought, “Was that vision of mine then a delusion?” Mathur felt sorry to see him depressed and thought within himself that it was foolish on his part to have raised that topic. In order to console the childlike Master, he then said to him, “Father, let them come or not. I am here, your devotee, always following you obediently. How then can it be said that your vision has not come true? For, I am myself a host. That is why Mother said, ‘Many devotees would come’.” The Master said, “What you say may be true; who knows?” Mathur did not proceed further on that topic but raising another, diverted the Master’s mind.
We have told the reader in the part entitled “As the Spiritual Teacher” how great changes were produced in Mathur’s ideas by his keeping the constant company of the Master. Those who render service to a liberated person become, say the scriptures, the recipients of the results of all the good actions done by him. So, is it a wonder that those who serve an incarnation of God should come to be endowed with various divine acquisitions and selfless qualities?
The ceaseless flow of time with its waves of adversity and prosperity, happiness and misery, union and separation, life and death, brought the world gradually to the year B.E. 1278 (A.D. 1871). The relationship of Mathur with the Master, deepening through the years, reached its fifteenth year. The month of Vaisakh passed, Jyaishtha came and went and a half of Ashar disappeared into the abyss of the past, when Mathur became bed-ridden with fever. Rising rapidly, the fever turned into a complicated and remittent type in a week and Mathur lost his power of speech. The Master knew beforehand that Mother was going to take Her devotee into Her affectionate bosom; Mathur’s vow of devotion was completed. Therefore, although he used to send Hriday daily to see Mathur, he never went to see him even once. The last day came and Mathur was taken to Kalighat. The Master did not send even Hriday that day, but remained in deep ecstasy in the afternoon for two or three hours. His body lay at Dakshineswar while he went in a celestial body along a path of light to Mathur, his devotee, and fulfilled the goal of his life — he personally made him ascend to the sphere attainable by a great accumulation of merit.
When the Master’s ecstasy came to an end, it was past five in the evening. He called Hriday to him and said, “Mathur got into a celestial chariot into which companions of the divine Mother lifted him affectionately and his spirit went to the sphere of the Devi”. Hriday remained silent on hearing it. When the night was far advanced, the officers of the Kali temple returned and gave Hriday the news that Mathur had passed away at five in the evening.6 We heard from the Master on a different occasion and have acquainted the reader with it elsewhere7, that the highly devout Mathuranath8 would have to return to this world, as his desire for enjoyment remained unfulfilled.