Once while walking home from his office in Dharamtala, at Genratala he saw the Master locked in an embrace with a Muslim fakir in front of a mosque (142, Chittaranjan Avenue, Calcutta 7), in response to a call from the latter. The Master had been returning from a visit to Kalighat (Udbodhan, 57.1.617-8). In his youth once sailed down the Ganga to Panihati with his companions. Landing at the temple ghat of Dakshineswar and being hungry, had sought food from the Master. This was repeated several times. Later, on seeing him the Master would at once arrange for plenty of food saying, “He feels very hungry.”
Ramakrishna as We Saw Him – Manmatha Nath Ghosh
Manmatha Nath Ghosh was a householder devotee of Ramakrishna.
My family lived in Calcutta on Beadon Street. In those days small concert groups that performed instrumental music were in vogue. Being just a youth, I had no inclination for study, but I did have an aptitude for music, so I joined a neighbourhood concert group of which many of my friends were members.
One morning our group started for Panihati by boat on the Ganges, singing as we went along. Presently we came to the Kali temple of Rani Rasmani, and we asked the boatman to stop there. When the boat reached the landing ghat, one of my friends said: “I am very hungry. I have heard that there is a Paramahamsa at this temple who will give food to whoever goes to him.”
A discussion then began as to who would represent our group. At last I said: “Why are you hesitating so much about going to the Paramahamsa? I will go and bring back some food.” I stepped out of the boat onto the ghat, and, after finding out where Sri Ramakrishna lived, soon reached his room. When he saw me he asked with a smile, “Hello, what do you want?”
I simply said: “Our concert group is from Calcutta and we are on our way to Panihati. We left home early this morning without any food, so we are hungry. Please give us something to eat.”
The Master looked at me intently. Then he rose from his seat and gave me some fruits and sweets on a leaf plate.
“What shall I do with this small amount?” I asked. “There are about a dozen people in our group. This small quantity is only enough for me. Sir, you have plenty in your basket. Give us more.”
At this, the Master covered the basket with his hand like a small boy, lest I should take it away from him. Then he said indignantly: “Go away, go away! Be satisfied with what I have given you. ‘He who has nothing to spare must not even keep a dog.’ You are hungry, so you eat. Why are you demanding food for your whole group?”
“Sir,” I said, “I don’t care to eat without my friends. Please take back your food.” Having said this, I was about to leave.
Then he called me back sweetly and said, “Take more, my child, but don’t be greedy.” And he gave me some more food.
“But, sir, this is still not sufficient. We are all terribly hungry. You have plenty and you are purposely not giving us enough!”
At this, the Master laughed. “Well,” he said, “why should I give food for all of them? Can’t they come here? Who has asked you to plead for them?”
I replied: “Sir, if you don’t believe me, please come to our boat and see whether we are a dozen or not. If we weren’t hungry, then why should we have come to you?”
The Master then called someone and asked him to give me a basket full of fruits and sweets. I carried the basket back to my friends and told them, “Look, you didn’t come with me, but I have brought all these things for you.” This was my first visit to Sri Ramakrishna.
Later I used to visit Dakshineswar now and then. The very sight of Sri Ramakrishna captivated me. I would see him surrounded by well-known visitors like Keshab Sen, Vijay Krishna Goswami, and many other scholars, so I did not dare talk to him. Whenever he saw me, he would say to his attendant: “Give that boy some good food. He is very hungry.” I would feel ashamed.
After I was married I could not visit the Master, as I had to go here and there looking for a job. At last I secured a position with Rally Brothers, but my monthly salary was so small that I could not afford to hire a carriage to go to the office. I had to walk back and forth from our house on Beadon Street to the office in Dharmatala via Geratala.
One evening as I was passing by the Geratala mosque, I heard the loud prayer of a Muslim fakir [holy man]: “O my Beloved, please come! Please come, O my Beloved!” He was repeating this prayer with love and longing as tears rolled down his cheeks.
Suddenly I saw Sri Ramakrishna climb down from a hired carriage and rush up to the fakir. The two embraced each other. This incident happened when the Master was returning from Kalighat after visiting the Divine Mother there. What a wonderful sight it was! Two other people were in the carriage. One of them was Ramlal, a nephew of Sri Ramakrishna, who used to give me prasad at the Master’s command at Dakshineswar.
That picture of the Master still lives vividly in my memory. At that time very few people knew the Master, and how many even tried to know him? Now, in my old age, I regret that, although I met the merciful Lord, I did not understand him. There is the element of time. Now I lament that I lost a precious thing because of youthful interests.
[From: Udbodhan (Udbodhan Office: Calcutta, 1955), vol. 57, no. 11]