Mahendranath Gupta or M. (1854-1932)—Recorder of Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita (The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna). Used the pen-name “M.”, “Sri Ma” in Bengali, referred to himself in the book as “Mani”, “Mohinimohan”, “Master”, “a devotee”, and such other names. Perhaps the foremost lay disciple of the Master, born in parental home at Shibnarayan Das Lane in Simulia, Calcutta, on 14.7.1854. Third child of Madhusudan and Swarnamayi. The family then moved to 13/2, Guruprasad Chowdhury Lane, the present “Kathamrita Bhavan”. A brilliant student, stood 2nd in Entrance examination from Hare School, 5th and 3rd in F.A. and B.A (1874) examinations, respectively, from Presidency College. Studied Law too. Spiritually inclined from childhood, associated with Brahmo Samaj. Married Nikunja Devi (1874), daughter of Thakur Charan Sen and cousin of Keshab Chandra Sen.
Worked as headmaster in various schools. While serving at the Shyambazar branch of Vidyasagar’s Metropolitan Institution experienced acute domestic turmoil, left parental home and when contemplating ending his life, met the Master at Dakshineswar on 26.2.1882. In no time the Master reigned supreme in his thoughts. Came very close to him and received special favours. First acquaintance with Narendranath on 6.3.1882. Blessed company of the Master at Dakshineswar, at homes of devotees and other places visited by him. Started visiting Dakshineswar at every possible opportunity, even neglecting work, with occasional sojourns of a few days in the holy company of the Master, spending the whole of December 1883 with him. Dealt with Vidyasagar’s charge against him of being pre-occupied with the Paramahamsa causing his work to suffer by resigning from his post. Taught at Ripon College for five years. Rendered all-out service to the ailing Master throughout. Gave all possible financial help to Narendranath during the adverse times following his father’s death. After the demise of the Master provided financial assistance to Baranagore Math where he spent six months (1891), teaching then at three schools for an hour each. Bought Morton Institution (1905), transferred it to 50, Amherst Street and living in a room on the roof, ran the school.
All along, motivated his pupils to visit the Master, many of his monastic and lay disciples among them—Rakhal, Subodh, Baburam, Sarada, Purna, Tejachandra, Narayan and others. Till the end inspired young men to follow the Master, or to join the Order. During the Master’s lifetime had come to be known as the “kidnapper-teacher”. A perfect instrument of the Master, spoke and thought of him alone. “I am nobody, but I live beside the ocean, and I keep a few pitchers of that water with me. When a guest comes, I offer that to him” (Life of Sri Ramakrishna, pp. 492-93). Monks and young men flocked to him to hear him discourse on the Master. The fountainhead of information on the Master, has now been immortalized by his great work, considered one of the greatest books on religion, translated into every Indian language and many foreign ones, a classic that has carried the teachings of the Mater to all corners of the world, vividly portraying the Master in various moods, presenting in meticulous detail his precious words spoken in varying circumstances. His childhood habit of maintaining a diary, sharp memory, keen insight, adherence to truth, complete effacement of self, poetic nature and accurate documentation of time, place, persons and circumstances make the book a rare masterpiece, an all-time great of religious literature.
The Master’s footfalls blessed his residence on Guruprasad Chowdhury Lane, as also those of Holy Mother and monastic disciples of the Master. Mother, who had an intimate relationship with Nikunja Devi, had stayed in that house for sometime. Had imparted initiation to him. He regularly provided financial assistance to her. Having gone through the proof of the last part of the last volume and sent it to the press, he died on 4.6.1932 praying, “Mother-Gurudeva, take me in your arms.”
Some of the Master’s comments about and to him: “I recognized you on hearing you read the Chaitanya Bhagavata. You are my own. The same substance, like father and son…. Once I saw Gauranga and his devotees singing kirtan in the Panchavati. I think I saw Balaram there and you too” (The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, p. 359). “I know everything: What your Ideal is, who you are, your inside and outside, the events of your past lives and your future” (Ibid., p. 381). “As for you, you are all right. There is a little yet to be done.… God binds the Bhagavata pandit to the world with one tie; otherwise, who would remain to explain the sacred book? He keeps the pandit bound for the good of men. That is why the Divine Mother has kept you in the world” (Ibid., pp. 718-19). (In an ecstatic mood) “Why have you given him only one ‘kala’ (small part) of power? Oh, I see. That will be sufficient for your work. That will enable him to teach people” (Ibid., p. 270). “I can see from the signs of your eyes, brows and face that you are a yogi. You look like a yogi who has just left his seat of meditation” (Prabuddha Bharata, 1932, p. 395).