Swami Sadananda (Gupta Maharaj, 1865-1911)
Pre-monastic name Sharatchandra Gupta. Born in the Garpar area of Calcutta on 6.1.1865, brought up at Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh where his father, Jadunath, migrated with his family (1968). Elder brother Adharchandra renounced the world and embraced monastic life. During his tenure as Assistant Station Master at Hathras, Sharatchandra’s chance meeting with Swamiji, then a wandering monk, drew him to the latter irresistibly and he took him to his house. Determined never to part from him, resigned his post and accompanied him as his disciple (perhaps Swamiji’s first) in ochre cloth. At Hrishikesh Swamiji imparted monastic vows to him with the name Swami Sadananda. Travelled with his guru in the Himalaya and later joined the Baranagore Math (1891) where he came to be called “Gupta Maharaj”. Introduced the practise of addressing monks as “Maharaj”.
Nursed the ailing Swami Abhedananda at Varanasi and accompanied him to Jhusi at Allahabad where the latter taught him Vedanta and Sanskrit grammar (1890). Having gone to Madras to welcome Swamiji on his return from America (January 1897) was spotted by him in the midst of the surging crowd. He called out to him and had him seated beside him. Returned to Madras (March 1897) as Swami Ramakrishnananda’s assistant. Joined Swamiji in his tour of Almora and Northern India (1897). Also accompanied him to Almora with Sister Nivedita and others (1898). In Calcutta took care of Sister Nivedita. During the plague epidemic in Calcutta headed the committee in charge of relief work with Sister Nivedita as Secretary. Would personally clean filth from streets and slums, attend to plague victims. Inspired by his example many young men volunteered for plague-relief work. Accompanied Swamiji to East Bengal and Assam (1901). His health broke down due to overwork but continued to serve wherever needed. After Swamiji’s demise did not undertake any major work. Helped Sister Nivedita to nurse Gopaler Ma in December 1903. A great source of strength, and also inspiration, to her, accompanying her on her tours of South and Western India (September and December 1902). Took the boys of Sister Nivedita’s Vivekananda Home for students on an excursion to Pindari Glacier (April 1903). Travelled to Japan (1903) with Br. Amulya (later Swami Shankarananda). Visited Patna, Lucknow, Varanasi and Bodha Gaya with Sister Nivedita in early 1904. Member of delegation to Bodha Gaya led by her (October 1904). Lived in Vishnupur for some time (1907/8) and developed intimacy with the Sen family, devotees of Holy Mother. His health failing, passed the last two years of his life in a house rented by Sister Nivedita near her own house, looked after by a group of devoted young admirers who called themselves “Sadananda’s dogs”. The Holy Mother visited him there on 25.11.1910 and upon his insistence blessed him by touching his head with her feet. Died on 18.2.1911 uttering the name of Swamiji, his gaze fixed on Swamiji’s picture on the wall. At the end assumed the mood of complete self-surrender, telling Sister Nivedita, “I have dissociated myself from the body.” Will always be remembered for his unique devotion to his Master (Monastic Disciples, 2003).