They Lived with God


By Swami Chetanananda

How did Ramakrishna’s aptitude for inner experience translate into the lives of the ordinary man and women he inspired? Includes biographies of more than 30 devotees of Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886).

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How did Ramakrishna’s aptitude for inner experience translate into the lives of the ordinary man and women he inspired? The 31+ devotees in They Lived with God had to face addiction, abusive husbands, disobedient children, indifferent or hostile relatives, bereavements, and spiritual doubts and misgivings. Particular attention is paid to the way they faced death. Their failures and triumphs are entertaining, practical examples for anyone seeking to work and live with an awareness of God’s abiding presence. The revised second edition has been enlarged to include three new biographies; Bhavanath Chattopadhyay, Narendra Nath Mitra, and Tejchandra Mitra.


What would it be like to live with one of the greatest saints of all time? Would you be completely transformed? Or would you fight it tooth and nail? This incredibly fascinating and important book reveals how ordinary men and women, people like you and me, responded to the challenge posed by a holy man who transparently embodied pure spirit.

Linda Johnsen, author of Daughters of the Goddess:The Women Saints of India

. . . never before has the immensely vivid background to Ramakrishna’s life been so apparent as in this beautiful book, which describes in rich detail for the first time, the stories of his lay devotees.

. . . It is salutary to discover how thoroughly the lives of ordinary Indian people were – and to a considerable extent still are – permeated by the profound spirituality of Hinduism, which gave their existence dignity and a sense of real meaning. One can clearly see from the courageous examples set by these householder disciples of Sri Ramakrishna that it is essential for us to continue to live in the world as they did – but with a fresh spirit of dedication to God.

Science of Thought Review

In an age so secular that many talk of God’s death, it is important to have these detailed accounts of individuals who not only experienced God as alive, but who came to new life through that experience.

Huston Smith, author of The World’s Religions


Sri Ramakrishna (A Biographical Introduction)

  1. Rani Rasmani
  2. Mathur Nath Biswas
  3. Hridayram Mukhopadhyay
  4. Lakshmi Devi
  5. Shambhu Charan Mallik
  6. Ram Chandra Datta
  7. Manomohan Mittra
  8. Surendra Nath Mittra
  9. Balaram Basu
  10. Chunilal Basu
  11. Yogin-ma (Yogindra Mohini Biswas)
  12. Gauri-ma
  13. Pratap Chandra Hazra
  14. M. (Mahendra Nath Gupta)
  15. Nag Mahashay (Durga Charan Nag)
  16. Suresh Chandra Datta
  17. Navagopal Ghosh and Nistarini Ghosh
  18. Adhar Lal Sen
  19. Girish Chandra Ghosh
  20. Kalipada Ghosh
  21. Devendra Nath Majumdar
  22. Upendra Nath Mukhopadhyay
  23. Haramohan Mittra
  24. Gopaler-ma (Aghoremani Devi)
  25. Golap-ma (Golap Sundari Devi)
  26. Akshay Kumar Sen
  27. Manindra Krishna Gupta
  28. Bhavanath Chattopadhyay
  29. Narendra Nath Mitra (The Younger Naren)
  30. Tejchandra Mitra
  31. Purna Chandra Ghosh



M. (Mahendra Nath Gupta)

Sri Ramakrishna had asked M. to work for the Divine Mother, and he did so for fifty years. Even though his health was delicate, he never gave up working. Swami Nityatmananda wrote of a touching incident in his memoirs: ‘I was responsible for the printing of the Kathamrita [the Bengali Gospel] while it was at the printer’s, but I had many things to do and was unable to finish the proofreading in time. At one o’clock at night I saw a light in M.’s room. I entered and found he was reading the proofs of the Gospel by a kerosene lantern. He was not well at all, and moreover, as he was working at an odd hour, his eyes were watering. I was pained at this. I lovingly chastised him and he replied with affection: “People are finding peace by reading this book, the Master’s immortal message. It is inevitable that the body will meet its end, so it is better that it is used for spreading peace to others. We are in the world and have utterly experienced how much pain is there, yet I have forgotten that pain through The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. I am hurrying so that the book may come out soon.” Indeed, M. died while the last portion of the last volume was at the press. He was born to write and teach The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna.’

On June 4, 1932, M. left his body in full consciousness. He breathed his last saying this prayer, ‘Mother–Guru Deva–take me up in thy arms.’ The Mother took her child up in her arms and the curtain fell.

Nag Mahashay (Durga Charan Nag)

When a wild lion is encaged, he roars and tries his utmost to break out of the cage. Similarly, Durga Charan was desperately trying to sever the bonds of maya. His heart was crying for freedom. Once he met a holy man who told him, ‘However strong might be your faith, and intense be your love for God, unless you are initiated by a guru and practise sadhana according to his instructions, you cannot have the vision of God.’

The lives of the mystics 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 Ganga 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 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.

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Hardcover, Paperback