Swami Chetanananda Mahendra Nath Gupta (M.)

ISBN 13: 9780916356958

Mahendra Nath Gupta (M.)

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9780916356958: Mahendra Nath Gupta (M.)

What if, in the long era before cameras and recording equipment, a skilled writer with a photographic memory had followed Jesus, Muhammad or Moses, carefully noting every word he spoke, every interaction with his devotees, every event of his day? This information would be invaluable, providing unparalleled insight into a great religious figure, most of whose sayings have been lost to history. In the late 19th century just such an appealing scenario actually occurred For four and a half years, Mahendra Nath Gupta (1854-1932), a high school headmaster from Calcutta, painstakingly transcribed every one of his encounters with the remarkable Bengali saint Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Ramakrishna s inspiring teachings regarding the equal value of all religions and the transformative power of ecstatic love for God quickly spread not only through India but also throughout the Western world. This was due in no small part to the immense appeal of The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, the spiritual classic written by Mahendra Nath Gupta based on his detailed diary notes. This influential volume has rightly been hailed as one of the greatest spiritual biographies of all time. The English translation published in 1942 was edited by the legendary mythologist Joseph Campbell with assistance from Margaret Woodrow Wilson, daughter of the 28th U.S. president, and contained an introduction by famed British humanist Aldous Huxley. While The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna is universally acknowledged as a masterpiece, the man who actually wrote it remains virtually unknown. He left scarcely a trace of himself in his work, focusing instead entirely on the luminous personality of Sri Ramakrishna. This has left many readers wondering who was this M., as he styled himself, the invisible author who didn t even include his full name in his book? Thanks to Swami Chetanananda, we finally have a biography of the biographer. Mahendra Nath Gupta, the self-effacing author who craved no accolades, at last emerges from the shadows. We discover a highly intelligent Bengali schoolteacher whose dreams of studying at Oxford were undermined by poverty and bereavement. Burdened with financial obligations and continuous family discord, Gupta became nearly suicidal. Grace and desperation led him to Ramakrishna, the unconventional temple priest at Dakshineswar who became his guru. By the close of his life Gupta was recognized as a saint in his own right, his life transmuted by the spiritual master whose activities he observed so closely and reported so vividly. Swami Chetanananda has explored every available historical source for information about the humble devotee whose 177 diary entries would grow into one of the most engaging spiritual portraits ever compiled. Mahendra Nath Gupta: The Recorder of the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna also includes reminiscences by such historical figures as the poet and dramatist Dilip Kumar Roy and the world-renowned yogi Paramahamsa Yogananda. I believe Mahendra Nath Gupta would be pleased that even though this new biography is about him, in many respects its central focus remains Sri Ramakrishna, many of whose lively and inspired conversations are preserved in this volume. The transformation of an unhappy Bengali schoolmaster into a biographer and saint is only one of Ramakrishna s countless miracles. Many thanks to Swami Chetanananda for illuminating the lives of both these extraordinary men, the brilliant spiritual master and his unassuming devotee who simply and honestly wrote everything down. Linda Johnsen, author of Daughters of the Goddess: The Women Saints of India

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About the Author:

Swami Chetanananda is a monk of the Ramakrishna Order of Indai, an author, and a spiritual teacher with students all over the world. He is the minister-in-charge of the Vedanta Society of St. Louis. He has written and translated more than two dozen books about the spiritual life, and he has been teaching and writing about Vedanta in the United States for more than three of his four-plus decades as a monk. Swami Chetanananda has collaborated in his writing with Huston Smith and Christopher Isherwood. His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Review:

M. , as the author modestly styles himself, was peculiarly qualified for his task. . . . Making good use of his natural gifts and of the circumstances in which he found himself, M. produced a book unique, so far as my knowledge goes, in the literature of hagiography. No other saint has had so able and indefatigable a Boswell. --Aldous Huxley

If I had to use one single word to describe the atmosphere of the Gospel narrative, it would be the word Now. . . . The service M. has rendered us and future generations can hardly be exaggerated. Even the vainest of authors might well have been humbled, finding himself entrusted with such a task. M. was the least vain. --Christopher Isherwood

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