Surendra Nath Mitra was probably born in 1850, and met Sri Ramakrishna for the first time when he was about thirty.
Surendra’s early life was that of a Bohemian – open-minded, care-free and indifferent to religion. He was promiscuous and often got drunk. But this gave him no peace and he even wanted to end his life. Finally, urged by Ramchandra Datta who was his neighbour, Surendra went to Dakshineswar in the company of Ram and Manomohan to meet Sri Ramakrishna, probably in 1880. Sri Ramakrishna was speaking about self-surrender. His words gave Surendra solace and strength. The Master accepted him with all his blemishes. Surendra was deeply devoted to Mother Kali and set up a shrine to her at his home. He worshipped her with much love and devotion. One day the Master said to Surendra, “Well, Suresh, why don’t you first offer the wine you drink to Mother Kali, and then drink it as her Prasad?” When he started practising this, the action, curiously enough, filled him with devotion.
Surendra was large-hearted by nature, and used to make arrangements for the food and bedding for those devotees who spent nights with the Master at Dakshineswar to serve him. It was Surendra who commissioned the famous oil painting in which Sri Ramakrishna points out to Keshab Chandra Sen the harmony of religions.
After Sri Ramakrishna’s Maha Samadhi, Surendra paid the rent of the house at Baranagore that housed the first monastery of the disciples of the Master. Thus, Surendra’s devotion and sacrifice made it possible for those earnest souls to renounce the world for the realization of God.
Surendra passed away on 25 May 1890 at the age of forty. When Belur Math was built, the marble flooring for the original shrine-room was done with some money that Surendra had set part for the Math.