On the death of Paramahansa Rama Tirtha, many of his friends and acquaintances published their impressions of his association with them.
These are valuable because they serve to give a view of the life of the saint before his ultimate illumination.
Every man can make himself a suitable candidate for spiritual illumination.
There is no part of the natural inheritance which cannot be modified and improved.
One of the greatest joys in life is to refine this inheritance under the influence of culture and religion,
to evoke the hidden faculties of self-government, right living and inspiration.
The name of the writer of the following article which is here translated is unknown.
When Swami Rama Tirtha was a student at the University of Lahore, I happened to live in the same boarding house. He became very kind and informal, sometimes speaking with intimacy.
He was well acquainted with ay religious convictions and liked to instruct me in the highprinciples which animated his soul.
When I respectfully differed from him, he quietly pointed out my error and helped me to re-form my opinions.
The father of Rama Tirtha, a simple man who knew Hindi and some Sanskrit, often visited his son in this boarding house. One day, he told me he was a priest to many families scattered far and wide in that district of the Punjab. Sometimes Goswainji, as Rama Tirthaji was at that time known, visited Ms native village for a few days. Even then, he was so detached that it was difficult to see how he could remain a householder.
In his B.A. examination, Goswainji topped the list of successful candidates. He won scholarships amounting to R.60a month. Most of this money was given to Ms family and to needy students, the little he retained for himself being spent on books. The government offered a scholarship to a suitable candidate for study in England. friends induced Goswainji to apply for this, knowing that he had expressed a wish to come to this country. The other applicant, who was eventually successful, possessed the sole advantage of being the son of the secretary to the director of instruction. When the awardwas announced, Goswainji neither complained nor expressed his disappointment.
While preparing for his M.A., he took a post as tutor to the heir of a wealthy man in Lahore.Though living in a suite of luxurious rooms in a palatial residence,he maintained, his habit of simplicity. He lived almost wholly on milk, taking in addition some fruit and vegetables cooked in the Hindu way. His dress, too, was the simplest in style. Coring the summer and in the rainy season, he wore a shirt of homespun cotton and a plain dhoti, adding a muslin coat when outside.
When he attended important meetings at the University, it was proposed that he should dress in a long robe and European shoes. He was reluctant to do so, but as such dress was compulsory, he borrowed it for the occasion.
Aftertaking his M.A. degree, he was appointed to the Chair of Mathematics at the College where he had been a student. He rented a large house and brought his wife and children to live with him.
His income as a professor and examiner was considerable, yet his life was still simple. He retained for himself only one room, where he slept on a straw bed.
He used a stool as a table on which to keep his ink and paper.
He slept no more than four hours.
Apart from his Mathematics lectures, Goswainji spoke on the doctrine of the Hindu religion to the local Sanatan Dharma Sabha.
Many people wished to become disciples, but Goswainji preferred to call them brother or son.
All through his life, Goswainji endured difficulties and misfortunes with patience, being grateful to God even for unpleasant occurrences. One afternoon I saw him in a state of grief, word having come that the sisterwho had brought him up had suddenly died. He went to the quiet bank of the river Eavi, his favourite haunt and there prayed for the spirit of his beloved sisterand for courage and patience in his loss.
He was devoted to prayer and meditation and aroused in his pupils a desire for devotion and spiritual study. He often read to them poems in Sanskrit, Persian or English. One of his sayings was; “The mindis mercurial; it should all the time be kept under control, otherwise it will work mischief”.
He was often seen telling his rosary in solitude or with eyes closed, chanting OM, OM, OM.
Once I said to him: “Goswainji, there are movements for the good of our country. What do you advise us to do?
In reply, he said: “Establish a group of people, pure in heart and devoted to God. Pray for your own upliftment, for the good of your country and of the whole world. Eave a temple in which prayer may be continued day and night by relays of devotees. This is the best way to help your country, Those who take part in these prayers should drop a few coins for charity into a suitable kosha”.
On one occasion when I asked Goswainji whether he had any ambition apart from his teaching, he replied:
This is my temporary vocation. When I am able to support say family I will resign and devote my time to preaching Vedanta.I will go from city to city without ostentation.
I will give some lessons to earn enough to buy lay milk.I shall not need anything else. To instruct people in the spiritual truth is the highest aimIhave?
Goswainji gave me a copy of the two books which were favourites of his: “The Story of English Literature”, by a learned British woman, and “The Light of Asia”, by Sir Edwin Arnold, then I recall all these incidents in my associationship with the Mahatma, andshed tears of woe over my imperfect understanding of his personality. I thought he was a friend and a learned Professor; now I know he was God himself, unrecognised by me. I did not love, revere and serve him adequately; now it is too late, alas!