Swami Adbhutananda (Latu Maharaj)

Swami Adbhutananda
Pre-monastic name :
Rakhturam, usually called Latu
Date of Birth : Not known
Place of Birth : Chapra in Bihar (India)


Speaking about Latu Maharaj, Swami Vivekananda once said, “Latu is Sri Ramakrishna’s greatest miracle. Having absolutely no education, he has attained the highest wisdom simply by virtue of the Master’s touch”. Latu was the only disciple of Sri Ramakrishna who could not even read or write. He was born of very poor parents in a village in Bihar. He lost his parents in early boyhood. Poverty forced his uncle to take him to Kolkata where Latu was employed as a houseboy in the house of Ramachandra Datta, a close devotee of Sri Ramakrishna. The Master recognized the dormant spiritual potential in the boy and asked Ram to allow Latu to stay at Dakshineswar as an attendant. Under the guidance of the Master Latu practised intense sadhana, spending whole nights in meditation, a habit which he followed all through his life.
After Sri Ramakrishna’s passing, Latu joined Baranagar Math, and was ordained a sannyasin bearing the name Adbhutananda. He, however, spent most of his time in contemplation on the bank of the Ganga or in a room in Balaram Babu’s house.
Swami Vivekananda established Ramakrishna Mission on 1897 and Belur Math in 1898. Latu Maharaj with his deep absorption in contemplative life could neither take up the service activities of the Mission nor follow the discipline and routine of the monastery. So Swami Vivekananda permitted him to follow his own way of life. After some years Adbhutananda moved to Varanasi where he lived alone, but his needs were taken care of by the Ramakrishna Home of Service. At the end of a brief ailment he passed away in a meditative state on 24 April 1920.

(Source : http://www.belurmath.org/adbhutananda.htm)




What is the use of prayer and meditation if you have no dependence on Him? Everything else is useless if you lack this.

It is a great sin to find fault with others. You will invariably find that it is such people as never do a good act themselves who easily see defects in others and energetically spread rumours.

It is better to continue calling on the Lord devotedly than to know, speak, and preach thousand and one religious cants and shibboleths.



How a Shepherd Boy Became a Saint:
Life and Teachings of Swami Adbhutananda

by Swami Chetanananda

The book presents the fascinating life of Swami Adbhutananda, the only unlettered monastic disciple of Sri Ramakrishna. About him Swami Vivekananda had said: 'Latu is Sri Ramakrishna's greatest miracle. Having absolutely no education, he has attained the highest wisdom simply by virtue of the Master’s touch.’ This is the story of his transformation from the orphan boy Latu into a sage, whose profound spirituality inspired Easterners and Westerners alike.

Paperback. 175 pages. ISBN 0916356590


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Hardback. 496 pages ISBN 81-7505-204-x
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"Adbhuta" means wonderful, and it is indeed a marvel how Sri Ramakrishna’s all encompassing love transformed Latu from his unthinking existence to that of an illumined seer, from whose lips dripped spiritual and philosophical truths with all the precise clarity of Latu’ s simple nature.
- Samvit

Latu is Ramakrishna’s greatest miracle. Having absolutely no education, he attained the highest wisdom simply by the grace of the Master’s touch.
- Swami Vivekananda

The present work...proves that beyond intellectualism, philosophy and religion there is an open door that ever awaits the mystic.
- Hinduism

Swami Adbhutananda (Latu Maharaj)
Early Years
At the Feet of Sri Ramakrishna
Memories of Sri Ramakrishna as Told by Latu Maharaj
The Passing Away of the Master as Told by Latu Maharaj
Pilgrimage to Vrindaban
At Baranagore Math
Days of Austerity
With his Brother Monks
Later Years - Calcutta and Varanasi
His Passing Away

                                         Reminiscences of Swami Adbhutananda

Ramlal Chatterjee
Sister Devamata
Kumudbandhu Sen
Swami Siddhananda
Swami Basudevananda


Teachings of Swami Adbhutananda
Removing the Covering of Ignorance

 One day Shashadhar Ganguli, a teacher from Malda, asked Latu Maharaj, "Can the Atman be an object of knowledge?"

 Latu Maharaj: "An object is something which cannot be known without the help of something else, but the Atman is self-revealing. So you cannot say the Atman is an object of knowledge."

 The teacher: "Then why should we want to know the Atman?"

 Latu Maharaj: "Listen, can anyone deviate from his real nature? If he does, it cannot be called his real nature; for it is changeable. Man’s real nature is covered by a dense cloud of ignorance, and consequently he appears to be something different, but that does not mean he has deviated from his real nature."

 The teacher: "I couldn’t follow you. Would you please explain this a little more?"

 Latu Maharaj: "All right. Suppose here is a brass pot covered with stains. Looking at it, one may think it is made of something other than brass, but that thought cannot change its nature; the brass pot still remains brass. It is like that."

 The teacher: "But Maharaj, that analogy is not suitable here. The brass pot never thinks of itself as not being brass, but man thinks of himself as being something other than the Atman."

 Latu Maharaj: "That is not so. Man does not think that he is something else. He may say, ‘my body,’ ‘my mind,’ my intellect,’ but he never says, ‘I am the body,’ or ‘I am the mind.’ He knows that what he calls ‘his’ is not the same as ‘himself.’ Man’s I-consciousness is always there, he is not devoid of it, only he cannot express it. You can feel hungry or sleepy, but can you tell me who you really are?"

The Mystery of Samadhi

Latu Maharaj: "Is samadhi merely a figure of speech? The human mind gets a little glimpse of God only after long and constant practice of concentration and meditation, and only then can one realize God’s attributes and powers. Infinite are his attributes, and infinite are his powers! Who can transcend them? One could spend millions of lives concentrating on just the glories of God, but what would he gain from it? He might comprehend God ’s glory and power, but that does not mean he has truly experienced him. Realization of God means that one becomes absorbed in him, transcending his attributes and powers. It is not an easy thing! An aspirant can reach God only if, out of his mercy, God helps him to go beyond his attributes and powers. It is God’s grace alone that enables an aspirant to stop the waves of the mind and dissolve the intellect; otherwise who can stop the functioning of his mind and intellect by his own efforts? And know for certain that one attains samadhi only after the dissolution of his mind and intellect."

A devotee: "Maharaj, do you mean to say that an aspirant cannot attain samadhi through self-effort? We have heard that one attains samadhi by practicing concentration and meditation."

Latu Maharaj: "What you have heard is true. The samadhi achieved through concentration and meditation is termed by Sri Ramakrishna ‘chetan samadhi.’ In this samadhi there is an interplay of ecstasy and power. But the Master also used to speak of another kind of samadhi in which the mind dissolves and the ego disappears. I am telling you the truth, no one can attain that samadhi without divine grace."