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Now, an infamous town but with a special relationship with the Railways & spirituality

Hathras: Hathras in Western UP is currently infamous for the horrific gangrape and murder of a teenage Dalit woman by upper-caste men but it is also a town with four railway stations with its name and has a historic and somewhat spiritual relationship with the Railways.

More than 130 years back, a wandering penniless monk was sitting on a bench of Hathras Jn station. He was traveling partly on foot, partly by train, partly by bullock cart, as Providence would provide. Suddenly, the ASM of the station spotted this sanyasi with striking features, a sharp nose and wide eyes sitting on the bench. He went up to him and struck up a conversation.

Impressed by his knowledge and disposition, the ASM requested the monk to be his guest that night and took him to his quarters behind the station. After spending a day or two, the monk wished to bid goodbye but the ASM told him to wait; he would rush to the station, submit his resignation and leave with the monk as his disciple which he did and became the monk's first disciple.

The monk was none other than Narendranath Dutta who later became Swami Vivekananda. And the ASM of Hathras Jn was Sharat Chandra Gupta, a Bengali gentleman, who, after taking his sanyas vows, was called Swami Sadananda of the Ramakrishna Mission.

Yes, it's a fascinating story of a monk and his disciple. You can read more about them in the book, "The Life of Swami Vivekananda, by his Eastern and Western Disciples", Advaita Ashrama (1989 edition), pages 220-224. Incidentally, he was a good friend of Dr Boshi Sen, who later became a world renowned plant/agricultural scientist and lived in Almora. Sharat Chandra Gupta or Swami Sadananda, the erstwhile Assistant Station Master of Hathras Jn., though a Bengali, belonged to Jaunpur. He died in 1911.

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