Sri Ramakrishna had twelve direct monastic disciples. One of them the most famous of them , everyone knows him is Swami Vivekananda. The other 11 are gigantic masters, but since their role in the world stage was different not many people barring a few know about these spiritual masters. The monk I am writing about today, he is probably the least known ,well, there is no particular reason why I chose to write about him, except for the fact that a stray thought prompted me to write about him. Wanted to share a little bit about him, I enjoy reading about people who have attained the ultimate truth. It’s inspiring, and I hope you all enjoy reading this blog as well.
Swami Adhbutananda, he was known as Latu Maharaj , or Leto and even Plato as Vivekananda lovingly called him. Most of Sri Ramakrishna’s disciples were educated. But not Latu, he was a simple servant boy from Chapra. There is not much known about his family because they were poor and his parents had died young. It was with an uncle he reached Calcutta to work in the household of Dr.Dutta. And it was here he was introduced to the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna even before he met him. Because Dr.Dutta was a devotee. It is said that Latu had already started on his sadhana before he met Sri Ramakrishna.
Latu was taken to Dakhineshwar and Sri Ramakrishna seeing him for the first time recognized his potential. Even though Thakur (Ramakrishna) seemed to ignore Latu and kept talking to Dr, Dutta, he kept glancing at him. While the young Latu bowed down to him. Thakur was talking about the jive muktis(or the ones eternally free) and then he suddenly touched Latu. The boy was overwhelmed with emotions, he lost all consciousness. The boy stood in a trance, his hair was standing up and his voice was incoherent. Dr. Dutta was in a daze. He then turned towards Thakur and asked him if the boy would continue being in that state. Thakur then touched him again and in a twinkling of an eye the boy came around. This was his first meeting with his master.
It is said one day after Thakur’s mind returned from Samadhi he said ” Leto my child one day there will come a day when from your illiterate mouth will gush out the truth of the Vedas and Vedanta”.
Here after his training started. Swami Vivekenanda used to often say, Leto, or even Plato, achieved what he did simply because he was a child at heart. He didn’t have knowledge of the books like the others did. Latu Maharaj was extremely fond of Swamiji. He couldn’t pronounce Noren ( Swami Vivekananda’s name) And would instead call him Loren. There was great love between the brother disciples. There is a story, Swami Vivekananda, after he established the Belur Math had implemented some strict rules. Rules to help monastics joining the order, to help with sadhana. One such rule was they had to wake up at 4 am and no later. And even exercise with dumbbells. On hearing this rule Latu Maharaj quietly started walking out of the math. He didn’t want to disrupt any rule and he felt he would break them. It was better to leave the Math. Somebody ran and informed Vivekananda.
He immediately ran out to stop him. And asked him why he was leaving, the innocent Latu, turned around and said he will not be able to abide by such strict rules. Loren then embraced him and said, the rules were for the novices, after all what rule would Latu need, he had already attained everything through the masters grace. I want to add in here, I have read other accounts where other devotees and his brother disciples have mentioned Latu Maharaj would not sleep. Yes, he pretended to sleep, but he never slept. He spent his entire day in sadhana. He had given up on sleep.
The stories are endless. And everything that I have read about Latu Maharaj cannot be summarized in one blog. He always professed the path of devotion yet he was also a Jnani. Once when a disciple asked him about sadhana he spoke about it. I wanted to share it with all of you, because very seldom have I come across someone trying to explain it from this perspective.
“To you mukti means freedom from bondage, but in sadhana it means merging. Just as the river merges in the ocean, the individual Atman merges it self in the Parmatma. But do you think there the matter ends? The Lords sport is so wonderous, that there is no release in even losing oneself. After losing there is a start for re finding, re-finding in an ampler space, with plentitude in and around. Once the sadhika loses himself into the Lord, the Lord then, if he pleases finds him out and puts him on the way to re-find himself. This game of losing and re-finding is never ending. It never gets stale, it never tires the sadhika. Sadhana therefore is unending. But whose sadhana? Whose are the powers? The Atman of course.”
The disciple then asked him what was the use then of sadhana, of losing ones self and again re-finding.
“It goes on like this, it’s the divine sport. There is no logic to it. He himself is playing this sport”.
He gave up his body in Benares. The last account of his final days was a wire informing his guru brothers about his passing. It is said the last few days he was very withdrawn. His eyes would always be fixed between the eyebrows. Yet he was alert. On the last day his temperature was high, yet there was no heart beat and no external movement. When the charanamrita of Vishwanath was offered he took it. His face was bright and calm. His body was then seated in a sitting posture.. His face was so beautiful it cannot be expressed. Then he was taken to Manikarnika Ghat and his body was taken to the middle of the Ganga where it was immersed.
Swami Vivekananda said ” Each disciple of Sri Ramakrishna is original or nothing”.
Swami Adhbutananda was indeed one of his miracles.
At the end of the day all divine spiritual beings are the one and same. And so I hope as I share this little story Latu Maharaj’s grace falls on all of you.