Hridayram Mukherjee (1840-99)—Third son of the Master’s cousin Hemangini Devi and Krishnachandra of Shihar village, about 5 miles northwest of Kamarpukur. Possessed the unique distinction of having taken care of Sri Ramakrishna for more than 25 years at a stretch at Dakshineswar. Played vital role in the Master’s early days as a spiritual aspirant at Dakshineswar when but for the care taken by him the Master might not have survived. Grandson of the Master’s paternal aunt, had three other brothers named Ramraghav, Rajaram and Ramtaran. In their boyhood Hriday and the Master knew each other well and the Master being at Dakshineswar (1855), Hriday went there in search of employment. The Master at first reluctant to serve at the temple, agreed later to serve as the dresser of the Divine Mother on condition Hriday took charge of Her jewellery. A year later the Master was the priest at the Kali temple and Hriday at the Radhakanta temple. However, the Master’s ecstatic fervour reached a stage when he could no longer attend to ritualistic worship and at his request Hriday was appointed priest at the shrine of Kali. Hriday, a handsome, energetic man, took good care of the Master. Escorted him almost everywhere and accompanied him on pilgrimages. It was Hriday who went with him to Belgharia in March 1875 and introduced the Master to Keshab Chandra Sen. He was a worldly man in whom close association with the Master fostered spiritual inclinations, which, however, did not endure. Celebrated Durga Puja in his house at Shihar (1868). Pressed the Master to attend his puja but the Master, unable to leave Dakshineswar then, was present there in his subtle body (Sri Ramakrishna, the Great Master, Vol. 1, p. 319) to comfort Hriday.
Towards the end of his stay at Dakshineswar, Hriday, earlier affectionate and genuinely concerned about the Master’s welfare, changed perceptibly due to greed and also pride in the power he had over the Master. In March 1881 the Holy Mother arrived at Dakshineswar with her mother but left the same day due to Hriday’s rude behaviour. His own stay ended abruptly when he was evicted from the temple complex by Mathur Babu’s son Trailokya for having worshipped his daughter in the Kali temple. The Master, though sorry for him, did not agree to Hriday’s proposal to accompany him. Hriday lived for some time in Jadu Mallick’s garden nearby. Thereafter Ramchandra Datta appointed him priest at the Kankurgachhi Yogodyan for worship of the Master but disgusted with his conduct sent him away. Also sold cloth from door to door. Used to visit Alambazar Math and sometimes Dakshineswar. Everywhere he recalled his days with the Master and bitterly regretted his own fate. Ultimately returned to Shihar where he died in 1899.
Being an eye-witness to the Master’s 12 years of sadhana, Hriday provided Swami Saradananda with invaluable information for writing the second volume of Sri Ramakrishna, the Great Master. Had assisted the Master in replanting a new Panchavati, the old one having been destroyed (Sri Ramakrishna, the Great Master, Vol. 1, p. 184). Once, noticing his spiritual efforts the Master had said that he, a part of the Master himself, had no need for these, having been born to be of service to the Master. Else, he could not have served the Master at all (Sri Ramakrishna Charit, 2nd ed., p. 106).