life-story has been excerpted from the book 'They
Lived With God' by Swami
by the Vedanta Society of St. Lois. To read the entire studied
and lives of 27 Householder disciples, please read this book. (Swami
Chetananda has also published a book on all 16 the Monastic Disciples
of Sri Ramakrishna 'God Lived With Them')
details of his life story
is a saying, 'Gurus are available by the thousands, but real disciples
are very few.' A real disciple is one who translates the teachings
of his guru into the actions of his life. Durga Charan Nag was one
such rare soul. Once he overheard Sri Ramakrishna say, 'It is very
difficult for doctors, lawyers, and brokers to advance on the path
to God'. Referring to doctors in particular he said, 'If the mind
dwells on tiny drops of medicine, how can it conceive of the Infinite?'
Durga Charan was then practicing homeopathic medicine. He noticed
that most of the time his mind was reflecting on them faces of his
patients, and this disturbed his meditation. He therefore thought
that the advice was meant for him. Immediately he resolved, 'I will
not make my living from that procession which is an obstacle to
the realization of God'. He returned home and that very day threw
his medicine box and medical books into the Ganga.
to Vedantic tradition, the life of a householder is based on spirituality.
He should follow the path of truth and dedicate the results of all
his actions to the Supreme Being. It is not an easy path. 'He is
true hero', said Sri Ramakrishna, 'who can perform all the duties
of the world with his mind fixed on god. None but a very strong
man could stop to admire a bridal procession moving by while carrying
a load of two maunds[164 pounds] on his head'.
was because of his extraordinary personality that Durga Charan Nag
came to be known as Nag Mahashay.
Vivekananda once said about him, 'I have traveled many places in
the world, but nowhere have I come across such a great soul as Nag
began studies in the Campbell Medical School but, for some unknown
reason, discontinued them after a year and a half. Later he studied
homeopathy under Dr. Behari Lal Bhaduri, a renowned physician of
Calcutta. His success in his profession was immediate. He had a
rare intuition in diagnosis and even as a student performed some
remarkable cures. He refused to set any fixed fee for his services.
Whatever people offered he accepted, than what he considered just.
He treated poor patients free of charge, sometimes even giving money
to them for food and medicine. Some unscrupulous people took advantage
of his kindness, but he did not mind. He served men as God.
lives of the mystic prove that when intense longing for god dawns
in a soul, God responds and makes everything favourable for the
devotee. One morning Durga Charan was seated on the bank of the
Ganges when his family guru arrived there, unexpectedly, on a boat.
When he was asked the reason for his coming to Calcutta, the guru
replied, ` I have come at the special command of the Divine Mother
to initiate you,'. However, the initiation only created in him more
hunger for God. He was carried away by the divine intoxication and
often lost outward consciousness. Once, while he was meditating
on the bank of the Ganga, the flood tide rose and swept him into
the river. It was several moments before full consciousness returned
to him and he was able to swim ashore.
read about God, talk about God, hear about God, but how many really
want to experience him directly? This desire completely possessed
Durga Charan. One day his friend Suresh came to him with news about
Sri Ramakrishna, the saint of Dakshineswar. They both decided to
immediately to Dakshineswar and see him. They arrived there about
two in the afternoon and inquired about the Master. Pratap Hazra,
a strange devotee, informed them that Sri Ramakrishna had gone to
Chandannagore and asked them to come back another day. They were
terribly disappointed and about to leave when they noticed someone
inside a room beckoning them to enter. It was Sri Ramakrishna.
Master received them cordially and asked them about themselves.
During the course of the conversation he advised: ` Live world like
a mudfish. The fish lives in the mud but its skin is always bright
and shiny. Similarly, remain at home unattached and the skin of
worldliness will not touch your mind'. He asked them to mediate
into the Panchavati grove for some time, and then he took them too
see the different temples. As they were leaving, Sri Ramakrishna
said to them: `Come again. A relationship grows through frequent
was a few months after his first meeting with Sri Ramakrishna that
Durga Charan gave up his medical practice.
Sri Ramakrishna passed away on August 16, 1886, Nag Mahashay quit
eating and remained in bed. Hearing about this, Swami Vivekananda
went to his house along with two of his brother disciples. After
repeated requests he got up from bed, and Swami Vivekananda told
him that they had come there for lunch. Immediately Durga Charan
went to the market, brought back groceries, and cooked for them,
but he would not eat anything himself. When they urged him to eat,
he said, 'Alas, how can I offer food to this wretched body which
has not yet been blessed with god-realization?' It was with great
difficulty that Swami Vivekananda finally persuaded him to take
is a common belief among the Hindus that those who bathe in the
holy river Ganga during Ardhodaya Yoga (An auspicious day which
comes once every fifteen years) become free from impurities and
ignorance, and go to heaven. Three or four days before that auspicious
occasion Nag Mahashay left Calcutta, which is on the bank of the
Ganga, to return to his village. His father was furious and said
to him, 'People are selling everything they own to go and bathe
in the Ganga on this holy occasion, and you have come back home,
leaving the Ganga! I really don't understand your attitude towards
religious life! Still a few days are left. Take me to Calcutta.'
Nag Mahashay humbly said: If a man has true devotion, Mother Ganga
reveals herself in his house. It is needless for him to go any place'.
the day of Ardhodaya Yoga, several of Nag Mahashay's devotees came
to visit him. Suddenly one of the women noticed a stream of water
gushing out of the southeast corner of the courtyard. The devotees
gathered around it in amazement and watched as it formed a flowing
stream. Nag Mahashay was in his room when he heard the excitement
of the devotees. He came out and, seeing the stream, bowed down
to it reverently. Then, sprinkling a little water on his head, he
prayed: 'Victory to Mother Ganga! Mother, purify us'.
of the mysterious water spread throughout the village, and on that
auspicious day devotees and villagers alike were blessed by bathing
in that miraculous stream. Hearing of this episode some time later,
Swami Vivekananda commented: 'The wish of a great soul like Nag
Mahashay can make the impossible possible. Their infallible will
power can even liberate people'.
Mahashay did not wear the ochre cloth of a monk, but he was true
a yogi. To him all women were the veritable manifestation of the
Divine Mother. 'I have never touched a woman in my life, so I have
nothing to do with this world', he said to his father when the latter
scolded him about his unmindfulness of the household. His purity
was almost tangible. Desire for progeny, wealth, and name and fame
simply could not appear in his mind. But as he himself observed:
'A man can overcome the temptation of gold and diamonds through
renunciation, but he needs the grace of God to overcome lust. Where
there is lust, there God is not; and where God is, therefore cannot
be lust. As long as your body is not burned into ashes, do not be
proud of your chastity. No one can escape Maya unless the Divine
Mother allows one to pass'. Without having taken any monastic vows,
he was a true monk.
Girish Chandra Ghosh presented a Nag Mahashay with a blanket, even
though he knew he did not accept gifts. Out of his deep respect
for Girish, Nag Mahashay accepted the blanket by putting it on his
head and went home. Later a devotee went to visit him and found
him seated with the blanket on his head. Hearing of this, Girish
found a tactful way of taking it back so that Nag Mahashay might
not suffer any further discomfort.
this type of behaviour seems very strange to ordinary people, it
is called in devotional scriptures urjhita bhakti, or exuberant
devotion. When this type of devotion awakens in the heart of an
aspirant his behaviour becomes erratic. For no outwardly discernable
reason he may smile, cry, dance, sing, or even remain motionless
like a log. The least remainder of the beloved puts him into ecstasy.
years later after the passing away of his father, Nag Mahashay became
seriously ill with colic and dysentery. He said to his wife: 'My
prarabdha karma (action performed in a past life, the fruit of which
is being reaped in the present life) has almost come to an end -
only a little is left. Don't worry about this cage of flesh and
December 27, 1989, the auspicious time of his final departure came.
Nag Mahashay was in bhava samadhi. Sharat Babu began to chant the
name of Sri Ramakrishna in his ear and, placing the picture of the
Master in front of him, and said 'This is the picture of your Master,
in whose name you have renounced everything'. Nag Mahashay opened
his eyes and saw the face of his beloved Master. With folded hands
he saluted him and murmured, 'Grace, grace-you blessed me out of
your boundless mercy'. He then slowly merged into mahasamadhi.