Ramchandra Datta (1851-1899)—Eminent lay disciple of the Master, founded the Kankurgachhi Yogodyan. Born at Narikeldanga in suburban Calcutta on 3.10.1851 to Nrisimhaprasad and Tulsimani. Passed Entrance examination from General Assembly’s Institution and passed medical examinations from Campbell Medical School (1874). As a student lived at Viswanath Datta’s residence (3, Gourmohan Mukherjee Street) and later in the house of Raghumani Devi (7, Ramtanu Bose Lane), his cousin and maternal grandmother of Narendranath. Subsequently built a house on Madhu Rai Lane. Called “Ramdada” by Narendranath and his brothers and sisters. Discovered “Kurchicina” medicine from the bark of the Kurchi plant. Held a senior post at Calcutta Medical College. An atheist and hardened rationalist in his youth, was transformed into an ardent devotee after his first visit to the Master at Dakshineswar on 13.11.1874 in the company of cousin Manomohan Mitra and friend Gopalchandra Mita—the Master’s first lay devotees (The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, p. 49). Consoled by the Master upon the death of elder daughter (1881) and rebuked by him for doubting “mantra-diksha” received from him by Ramchandra in a dream, followed by bestowal of grace. Said to have taken Narendranath to the Master at this time (Ibid., pp. 984-85).
Ramchandra often took the Master to his house where the Master’s presence was celebrated with due festivity. Numerous devotees would congregate there on such occasions. The Master praised his generosity and hospitality and some of his disciples lived in Ram’s house as members of his household (Ibid., p. 226). Latu had been a servant there before going over to Dakshineswar. As advised by the Master he set up the Yogodyan at Kankurgachhi, his greatest achievement, where he later interred a portion of the Master’s ashes. The Master had blessed the place by visiting it on 26.12.83. On 6.11.85, the night of Kali Puja, it was Ramchandra who triggered the move to offer flowers etc. at the feet of the Master and worship the Divine Mother in him. Bore part of the expenses at Cossipore and was one of those who received the Master’s grace on 1.1.1886, the term “Kalpataru” having been conceived by him. One of the first to believe the Master to be a divine incarnation, he wrote two books based on the Master’s life and teachings, publishing them during the lifetime of the Master with the help of Manomohan Mitra. In the books and a monthly journal, Tattwamanjari, run by him, he propagated the Master’s teachings and his conviction that the Master was a divine incarnation. Another book, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsadeber Jiban Brittanta, published in 1890. A compilation of Ramchandra’s talks on the Master at the Star, City and Minerva theatre halls (1893-97) dealing with the subject of the Master’s divine incarnation also published. Ramchandra spent his twilight days at the Yogodyan where a temple had been built, leading a most humble, self-effacing lowly life and died on 17.1.1899. Said to have given the Master spiritual power of attorney.