Mahendranath Gupta

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Fast Facts
Other Names and Nicknames: 
Master Mahasaya
Ramakrishna Mission, Kundalini, Advaita,
Main Countries of Activity: 
Date of Birth: 
March 12, 1854
Place of Birth: 
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
Date Left His/Her Body: 
June 4, 1932
Ancestor Gurus: 


Mahendranath Gupta (Bengali: মহেন্দ্রনাথ গুপ্ত) who wrote under the pen name 'M' (Bengali: শ্রীম), was a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna and the author of The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna (Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita). He was also a teacher to Paramahansa Yogananda, who wrote a chapter about Mahendranath in his Autobiography of a Yogi.

Mahendranath was born to Madhusudan Gupta and Swarnamayi Devi in the Shimuliya section of Calcutta (now Kolkata, in the Indian state of West Bengal). After elementary education at the Hare School, he attended Presidency College, receiving his B.A. in 1874. That year he was married to Nikunja Devi, daughter of Thakur Charan Sen and a relative of Keshub Chunder Sen. After some time working for the government and a merchant house, he began teaching English, Psychology, and Economics at various colleges. Eventually he became headmaster of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar's high school, where he was called "Master Mahashay"—just as he was often addressed in Ramakrishna's circle and later by Yogananda.

Life with Ramakrishna

Mahendranath related that he may have met Ramakrishna for the first time when he was four years old and became separated from his mother while visiting the Dakshineswar Kali Temple. He began crying, and a man came up and consoled him. He believed it to be Ramakrishna, who was then a priest at the Kali temple. As an adult, Mahendranath, like some of the other disciples of Ramakrishna, was connected with the Brahmo Samaj for several years. In 1882, he was introduced to Ramakrishna during an extremely difficult period in his family life. He paid frequent visits to Ramakrishna at the Dakshineswar Kali Temple until Ramakrishna's death in 1886. He later stated that meeting Ramakrishna was the greatest event in his life.

Returning home after visiting Ramakrishna, he would note down in his personal diary the conversations and sayings of Ramakrishna, spending as long as a week to record one day's events. These notes were compiled into the book The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna — a unique book in spiritual literature because it recorded everything that was said and done by Ramakrishna and his disciples and visitors in their daily interactions—from casual talk to deep spiritual discourse. Both Ramakrishna's wife, Sarada Devi, and Swami Vivekananda later testified to Mahendranath's faithfulness to Ramakrishna's words.

Due to frequent absences from his headmaster duties to visit Ramakrishna, Mahendranath wasn't able to give proper attention to his work at Vidyasagar's school. As a result, the students test scores suffered. As Mahendranath explained:

Vidyasagar was displeased with this and said to me, "You are visiting Sri Ramakrishna too much, so the results of the examinations were not good." I immediately resigned my job and informed the Master. He said three times, "You did the right thing." He knew that I did not have any savings and that I might have to starve but still he said that I had done the right thing. Whatever one does for God is the right thing to do.

Soon after, he began teaching as a professor at Surendranath College in Calcutta, a position he held for five years. Mahendranath was widely respected by the other followers of Ramakrishna for his goodness and simplicity of heart. When Swami Vivekananda's family was in need of financial help, Mahendranath supported them. After the death of Ramakrishna, Mahendranath gave financial support to Sarada Devi.

Teacher to Paramahansa Yogananda -
Chapter from Autobiography of a Yogi about Mahendranath Gupta

Mahendranath moved to 50 Amherst Street in Calcutta, where he ran a small boys' high school. It was also formerly Paramahansa Yogananda's family home—a site especially poignant to Yogananda because it was the site of his mother's passing. In his Autobiography of a Yogi, Yogananda dedicated an entire chapter to describing his friendship with Mahendranath, which was along spiritual rather than academic lines. Yogananda described Mahendranath as having a "silky white beard and large lustrous eyes" and described his personality thus:

His role in the world was humble, as befitted the greatest man of humility I ever knew. In this Amherst Street house, Master Mahasaya conducted a small high school for boys. No words of chastisement passed his lips; no rule and ferule maintained his discipline. Higher mathematics indeed were taught in these modest classrooms, and a chemistry of love absent from the textbooks. He spread his wisdom by spiritual contagion rather than impermeable precept. Consumed by an unsophisticated passion for the Divine Mother, the saint no more demanded the outward forms of respect than a child.

Yogananda went on to describe several seemingly miraculous experiences with Mahendranath. Later, Yogananda said about him that "I would roll on the ground where he’d walked, so great was my love for him. I felt that even that ground had been sanctified."


Shortly after completing the fifth book of The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Mahendranath died at his home, now called Kathamrita Bhavan, located near the Thanthania Kali Temple in Calcutta. Kathamrita Bhavan is a pilgrimage place for followers of Ramakrishna due to numerous visits there by Ramakrishna and Sarada Devi, and several relics associated with their lives.



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