By Swami Harshananda
Svāmi Adbhutānanda lived in A. D. 1920. Svāmi Vivekānanda once declared that Lātu was the greatest miracle of Rāmakṛṣṇa. If an orphan servant-boy who had absolutely no knowledge of even the alphabets could rise to such a state of sainthood that scholars of great learning would sit at his feet and listen spellbound to his words of wisdom, it was nothing short of a miracle that Rāmakṛṣṇa brought about. Hence he was promptly named as adbhuta which means wonder.
The early life of the Svāmi is shrouded in mystery. Born in a remote village of Bihar and orphaned at a tender age. The boy was later brought to Calcutta by his uncle. Good fortune favored him by getting him as a job of servant in the house of Rāmcandra Datta, a great devotee of Rāmakṛṣṇa. The holy atmosphere in the house helped unfold his religious temperament.
The frequent errands to Dakṣiṇeśvar brought him into close contact with Rāmakṛṣṇa who graciously accepted him as a disciple. Later on, as Rāmakṛṣṇa felt the need for an attendant, Lāṭu started living with him and serving him. Since the guru was all-in-all for him, his service was exceptionally devoted. After the demise of the Master, Lāṭu embraced monastic life and became ‘Svāmi Adbhutānanda’.
Though he lived as mendicant’s life, he seldom moved away from Dakṣiṇeśvar, his holiest place of pilgrimage. Through hard austerity and long bouts of meditation, he was able to live constantly in God. He lived for an unusually long period of nine years at the house of Balarām Bose, another great devotee of Rāmakṛṣṇa. It was during this period that many earnest seekers would meet him and get their doubts resolved. He spent his last days at Varaṇasi where he breathed his last on April 24, 1920.
- Lātu is the pre-monastic name of Svāmi Adbhutānanda.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore