Gospel of Holy Mother Sarada Devi
(RECORDED BY INDU BHUSHAN SENGUPTA)
It was in the month of Kartik (Oct-Nov) 1910, a few days before the Kalipuja, that I visited the Holy Mother for the first time at the earnest request of Sri Chandrakanta Ghosh of Shillong. Arriving at Calcutta, I went to the Udbodhan house in the company of one of my friends who had already received spiritual initiation from the Holy Mother. After waiting for a short time, I met the Holy Mother, when suddenly my friend requested her to grant me spiritual initiation. The Mother replied, " All right, he will have initiation tomorrow." Her reply startled me, for I had not even mentioned anything to her regarding my initiation. Nevertheless, I went there the next day at the appointed hour. I saluted the Holy Mother, and when I was about to offer flowers at her feet, she said, "Not now; I shall tell you when to give the offerings." My spiritual initiation over, the Mother sat on the floor with her legs stretched out and said, "Now you can offer the flowers." I offered flowers at her feet and said, "I am offering flowers not from a deep sense of devotion, but because Chandrakanta Babu taught me to do so. I only followed what he told me to do. It is Chandrakanta Babu who sent me here."
Smilingly the Holy Mother said, "Chandrakanta has shown you the right path, son," and so saying, she placed her hand on my head.
Another day I went to see the Holy Mother. In the course of conversation I said, "Mother, various worldly troubles as well as my official duties keep me busy. I am therefore unable to devote time to spiritual practices. I do not also find any improvement in the state of my mind." The Mother immediately assured me saying, "Whatever may happen to you now, the Master will have to appear at the last moment of your life to receive you. He himself said this. Can his words fail in your case? Now, do whatever you like.'"
Disciple: Mother, is it true that those who have received spiritual initiation from you will not be born again?
Mother: It is true; they will not come to earth again. Know for certain that there is One behind you.
Disciple: Mother, we have found you, so we are protected.
Mother: Why do you worry, child? The thought of you all comes to my mind very often. I do remember you all very much.
Another time when the Holy Mother was at the Koalpara Math, I said to her, "Mother,I am hardly able to do any spiritual practice."
Mother gave me courage as well as assurance saying, "You need not do anything special. I shall do the needful for you."
Astonished at this, I asked, "Shall I have to do no spiritual practice?"
Disciple: Will my future progress not depend on my own deeds henceforth?
Mother: No, what will you do? I shall do, whatever is necessary.
I was struck dumb by this unrestricted grace of the Holy Mother. The talk next drifted to the pain in her legs. I asked, Mother, I have heard that you suffer only when certain persons touch your feet."
Mother: Yes, son, the touch of some persons makes the body cool; but the touch of some others feels like the sting of a wasp. But I never give expression to this experience.
Now I began to brood whether I belonged to the group of 'wasps'. The Mother, as if she was indwelling my mind, said instantly," Son, you are not one of them."
About a month later during the holidays of the Car Festival, I visited Koalpara once again. On the day of the Car Festival I had the following conversation with the Holy Mother.
Disciple: Mother, my strength and hope spring from the grace I have received from you.
Mother: Why do you worry, child? You have found a place in my mind. Whenever I need anything, your thought comes immediately to my mind. I think, 'There are Indu and others; what's there to worry?' You will not have to do any spiritual discipline. I am doing it for you.
Disciple: Do you do the same for all, who have taken spiritual initiation from you, wherever they be?
Mother: Yes, I do it for all of them.
Disciple: You have so many children (initiated disciples), Do you remember all of them?
Mother: No, I do not remember every one of them.
Disciple: Then, how can you say that you do spiritual practices, for all?
Mother: I tell beads for all those whose names I can recall. And for those whom I cannot remember, I pray to the Master saying, "Thakur, I have so many children in various places. I cannot remember the names of many of them. You kindly look after them. Kindly look after their well-being."
(RECORDED BY AN ANONYMOUS LADY DEVOTEE)
After giving me spiritual initiation, the Holy Mother said, "Look, dear, I do not usually give initiation to a young widow. I have given it to you only because you are a noble soul. See that you do not betray me. A spiritual teacher has to suffer for the sins of his disciples. Always repeat the name of the Chosen Ideal like the ever-moving hand of a clock."
Another time when I saw her before leaving for my father-in-law's place, she said, "Don't mix with other people, don't get involved in others' affairs. Say: 'Dwell, O Mind, within yourself; enter no other's home.' The Master was fond of coconut balls. When you go back home, please prepare coconut balls and offer them to him. Increase your service to him as well as your Japa and meditation and read books about the Master."
One day the Mother and I were alone together; there was none else present. The Mother said, "Look here, don't get too close and intimate with men. You should not do so even with your father or brother; what to speak then of other men?"
She instructed me not to visit frequently the Math or other places where monks lived. She used to say, "You see, you may no doubt be going there with a good heart and with deep devotion, but if your visit affects the minds of the monks, it would cause you harm."
She asked me not to go on pilgrimage frequently or in the company of any and everyone. She told me, "Whenever you have some money in hand, feed some holy men." Pointing towards a woman devotee who was sitting in front of us, the Mother said, "Here is someone who was sorely cheated on her pilgrimage. Going on pilgrimage means courting hazards on the way; be not taken too much with it. Staying in your own home, you can achieve more than you could by wandering. It all depends upon your aptitude."
One day five women-devotees were criticizing another devotee. On hearing this, the Mother remarked, "You must have respect for her. It was she who brought you here first."
I wanted to bring up a child of another family, and asked for the Mother's permission. In reply she pointed to her own wretched condition in having to bring up Radhu and said, "Don't try that by any means. Do your duty towards everyone, but don't bear love towards anyone except God. Loving others brings much misery."
Learning that I had received spiritual initiation from the Holy Mother, our family preceptor had cursed me. I informed the Holy Mother about this. She wrote in reply, "No curse can do any harm to one who has taken refuge in the Master. Be free from all fear."
An old woman devotee told me one day, "There is no charm in the Math or other such places these days." I reported it to the Mother who sat up startled and said, "If there is any true religion, it can be found only here and in the Math."
One day Nalini-Didi1 and I were discussing the affairs of a woman devotee. We told the Mother, "We do not feel any kind of disrespect for her." The Mother replied, "That's because she calls upon the Master. To one who calls upon the Master, whoever or whatever that person be, none feels disrespect."
1 A niece of the Holy Mother.
(RECORDED BY PRAFULLA KUMAR GANGULI)
It was the year 1916. Durga Puja was being celebrated at the Math. The Holy Mother came to the Math on the Saptami-puja day, and was staying in the garden house to the north of the Math campus. On the Ashtami-puja day at about 8 a.m. she came to the Math to witness the worship of Durga. A number of householder devotees, monks, and Brahmacharins, were engaged in dressing vegetables in the hall adjoining the kitchen. On observing them, the Mother remarked, "Well, the boys seem to cut vegetables fairly well." One of the monks, Swami Jagadananda, replied, "The grace of the Divine Mother is our aim, be it through spiritual practices or by cutting vegetables!"
On this day a large number of visitors saluted the Holy Mother. Jogin-Ma, noticing that the Mother was now and then washing her feet, said, "What are you doing Mother? You will certainly catch cold."
The Mother replied, "What shall I say, Jogin? When some people touch my feet, it produces a soothing feeling, but in the case of some others, their touch is like fire on my body. Nothing short of a wash with Ganges water brings me relief."
Later, one day I asked the Holy Mother in the course of a conversation, "Once during the Pujas I heard you say that when some persons touch your feet you feel a terrible pain."
Mother: Yes, my son, it is so. It is like the sting of a wasp, but I do not give expression to my feeling.
Soon after, she cast an affectionate gaze towards us and added, "Well, dear, I do not mean any of you."
I said, " I am full of fear, Mother; for I feel I have not gained much even under your care."
The Mother said, "Why should you fear, son? Know that the Master is ever behind you. I too am with you. Why should you fear when I, your mother, am with you? The Master has assured me, saying, whoever takes refuge in you, I shall take him by the hand during his last moments and lead him along the path.' Wherever you may go, whatever you may do, the Master will have to come during your last hours to lead you to the Light. God created man's hands and feet, so it is natural that man will use them. The senses will have their sway."
Once when I was offering food to the Master, I noticed a stream of light falling on the offering. Referring to this, I asked the Mother, "Mother, is that experience of mine a mere fantasy, or is it true? If a fantasy, please do something so that I can be free from it."
The Mother thought over it a little and said, "No dear, these are all genuine."
Disciple: Do you know what I see?
Disciple: Does the Master receive the food that I offer to him? Do you, too, receive what I offer to you?
Disciple: How can I understand this?
Mother: Why? Have you not read in the Gita that God receives the fruits, flowers, water, and other things that are offered to Him with devotion?
Surprised at this reply, I said, "Then, are you God?"' On hearing this, the Mother laughed heartily. We too joined her.
(RECORDED BY AN ANONYMOUS DEVOTEE)
It was a day in Chaitra of 1321 B.S. (1915) when I went to see the Holy Mother at the Udbodhan house.
Once I had wanted to take my grandmother on a pilgrimage. But as the time was inauspicious, she refused to start. I referred the matter to the Holy Mother for her guidance. She replied, "Son, some say that a man loses the merits he has already earned, if he visits a pilgrim centre at an inauspicious time. But it is wise to perform all holy acts without much delay."
I could not satisfactorily comprehend her meaning, and so expressed my doubt to her once again. I specifically asked her what I should do in my present circumstances.
Mother: People no doubt say that pilgrimages during inauspicious times are prohibited. One can postpone a holy duty out of considerations of time, but look, death1 (Kala) takes no notice of time. Since death has no fixed hours, one should perform holy duties as soon as an opportunity comes.
1 Kala means 'time', as also the god of death. There is a pun on the word.
* * *
It was Chaitra 27, 1323 B.S. (1917). I was having a chat with the Holy Mother.
Disciple: Mother, everybody says that one who approaches the Kalpataru (wish-fulfilling tree) has to ask for something. But I wonder, for what should children ask their Mother? A mother gives to every child according to its need. As Sri Ramakrishna used to say.. "A mother serves different dishes to suit the stomachs of her different children." Now please tell me which is the correct attitude.
Mother: How much intelligence does a man possess? He is likely to ask for something other than what he really needs. He may even end up creating a monkey in place of Siva. It is wise to take refuge in Him. He will always give you whatever is necessary. However, one should pray for devotion and desirelessness; for such a prayer does no harm.
Disciple: The Master said, "Those who come here will be in their last embodiment." Again, Swamiji said, "None can have liberation without complete renunciation." What, then, will be the fate of householders?
Mother: Yes, what the Master said is true; and what Swamiji said is equally true. But householders need not renounce externally. They will automatically acquire internal renunciation. However, some need formal Sannyasa. Why should you be afraid? Surrender yourself to Him and live. And know that the Master is always behind you.
Another time when one of my friends died prematurely in a hospital in a miserable condition, I wrote a letter to the Holy Mother. I mentioned my friend's pure character and devotion to God and prayed for his liberation. In reply the Holy Mother wrote, "I bless your friend. May his soul be liberated. Let the Master emancipate him from all bonds."
(RECORDED BY AN ANONYMOUS LADY DEVOTEE)
The happiest days of my life were when the Holy Mother was alive. One day when I had gone to see the Mother, she was mixing a quantity of coarse powder of parched paddy in a bowl. She happily put two or three crumbs in her mouth and then distributed the rest in the hands of all the devotees present in the room. I said, "Ah! Mother, you hardly took anything." The Mother replied, if these girls eat, it is the same as my eating."
Another day I went to see her and found that she had an eruption of patches of nettle-rash all over her body.
Mother: What are these, my child? What's the cure?
Disciple: Mother, people say that one gets cured if he rolls two and a half times on a blanket spread on the floor of a cow-shed.
Mother: Ah! The cow-shed and the Ganges are very pure indeed! Perhaps that's why one gets cured.
One day my seven-year old sister accompanied me to see the Mother. A few days earlier, she had gone to Navadwip and there had started wearing a string of beads made of basil wood. Noticing the string on her neck, the Mother was happy and patted her on the back, saying, "Ah! When did she get this ornament?"
On that day I had left at home in Basirhat my two-month old suckling daughter. I had come by the morning train and intended to return by the night train. I was feeling that milk was about to ooze from my breast, and so I shrank in uneasiness. Observing this, the Mother asked, "Why are you behaving this way?" I told her the difficulty.
Mother: Ah, my child, why have you left behind your two-month old daughter? You could have brought her.
Disciple: Mother, I have not brought the baby lest she makes the place dirty.
Mother: What if she does? (Repeatedly to all those present) Ah look! From what a distance she has come leaving her two month old baby at home! And how much she is suffering!
When I asked her for a little earth from the temple of Simhavahini1, the Mother told her niece to give it to me and remarked, "She (Simhavahini) is a living goddess." Before taking leave, as I bowed down to her, she said, "Come, come again, my child."
1 The deity of a temple at Jayrambati. People believe that earth from the foot of the shrine can cure diseases.
(RECORDED BY AN ANONYMOUS LADY DEVOTEE)
One day I told the Mother, "Mother, the day I saw the Master for the first time, there was a lustre radiating from his body. It looked like the glow created by sun's rays falling on a piece of glass." On hearing this, the Mother said, "My child, you have seen correctly. When I used to rub oil on his body, I would occasionally see such lustre."
Another day the Mother's niece Nalini, being very angry, had fasted the whole day. All attempts of the Mother to induce her to eat failed. At long last the Mother called her and said, "Don't take me to be just your aunt. If I so wish, I can give up this body just now."
While talking about the Master, one day the Mother said to Lalit (Swami Kamaleswarananda), placing her hand on her chest "If ever I attain to the Master, you too will certainly attain to him."
(RECORDED BY AN ANONYMOUS DEVOTEE)
The day before the Jagaddhatri Puja of November 1908, I arrived at the Holy Mother's house at Jayrambati to receive initiation from her. When the news of my arrival reached her, the Mother sent word that she would initiate me the next day. Accordingly I received initiation.
Following the Mother's instruction some of us together visited Kamarpukar and then returned. Unfortunately, during this brief time I had a serious altercation with one Swami over some trifling matter. On our return to Jayrambati, Uncle Varada told the Mother all that had happened.
Elated with joy, I began to sing songs in front of the image of Jagaddhatri. After a while the Mother called me and said, "You have a joyful nature. You will spend your days in such joy. Pass your time joyfully, just as you were doing, by singing songs in front of Mother Jagaddhatri. This monk is of that nature-you should not feel sorry for his words. But you must remember these few things and carry them out in your life. The Master is very compassionate towards you. Therefore you have felt a spontaneous attraction for him from your young days. Know that one has to be careful about these three things: First, a house situated on the bank of a river; any time the river may suddenly destroy the house and sweep it away. Second, a snake; you must be very careful as soon as you see one, for there is no knowing when it will attack and bite you. Third, a monk; you don't realize that one word or thought of his may do harm to a householder. When you see a monk, you should show him respect. You should not slight him with disrespectful retorts." These valuable words of the Mother have remained a part of me all through my life.
(RECORDED BY AN ANONYMOUS LADY DEVOTEE)
One day I went to the Holy Mother's house taking my son Haricharan, who was then in a deranged state of mind. Approaching the Mother, he began to address her contemptuously in the language used for inferiors, saying, "I am hungry, give me food", etc. The Mother gave him some consecrated food to eat. While taking the food he began to throw the leavings here and there. Being annoyed at this, I remarked, "This is a shrine, and the boy is making a mess." Immediately the Mother affectionately said, '"Let him eat the food. After he has finished, you remove the leavings. "
I asked the Mother, "Mother, what's the matter with him? As soon as he sees a Brahmana or a cow he bows down." The Mother remarked, "Compassion for living beings has dawned in him."
On the Kojagari1 fullmoon day of one year, Haricharan and I fasted and went to the Udbodhan house for offering flowers at the Holy Mother's feet. After the offering, we saluted her. Then, the Mother blessed Haricharan, saying, "May you have good fortune! May you live long!"
1 The full moon day in the month of Aswin (October-November).
The Holy Mother said to me, "I find peace in meeting you all. But I feel sad when I see you, for you have lost your educated son who was maintaining you."
One day I said to the Mother, "Mother, may I have devotion to the holy feet of the Master." The Mother said, "By practising devotional disciplines you can gradually have it." Whenever I visited the Mother in the morning hours, she would feed me with rice after Radhu's noon-meal but before the offerings were made to the Master, saying, "Mourning for your dead son has dried up your heart. You shall take your meal early." I would say, "Our family already suffers from want of food. Should I take my meal before the food has been offered to the Master?" At this the Mother would observe. "You will never suffer from want of food."
One day the Mother said, "I have interviewed many a madcap to find out your lost son. I feel that your son is alive. Sarat (Swami Saradananda) too said that he is alive."
When I asked the Mother if my son would return home, she said, "He will come." After this, the Mother held a bundle of sticks1 in front of the picture of the Master. Many pieces of torn cloth were firmly wrapped around the sticks. She held the entire thing in front of the Master and said, "Please say correctly whether her son will return or not. If you do not, you will get involved in the sin of killing Brahmanas, women, and cows." In the meantime the sticks within the wrappings had become loose and they rose up. As soon as Mother touched them, they dropped down. The Mother said, "Did you see what happened, my child? It showed that your son will return. You may try this yourself at home," According to her instruction I performed the same ritual and it gave the same result.
1 'Aag tola,' which literally means 'to get the first harvest', is a ritual to ascertain the truth of a thing.
One day I escorted my mother to the Holy Mother's house with a new Sari for the Mother. I had asked someone to purchase a Sari, but he could not get a good quality cloth. In presenting the cloth to the Mother, I said, "Mother, this cloth is not good. It's not to my liking." The Mother immediately changed her Sari and eagerly put on the new one, saying, "Look, I have put on your Sari. Don't feel sorry. I shall wear this Sari for bathing in the Ganges."
One day I went to see her at Balaram Babu's residence. On that occasion, I saw a person presenting the Mother with some money, saying, "Mother, a certain person is sick. Please see that he gets cured." The Mother replied, "Take back this money. Whoever is born dies one day. What can I do?" Some days later we heard that the sick man had expired.
(RECORDED BY JITENDRA MOHAN CHOWDHURY)
In Jayrambati certain devotees asked the Mother, "When we travel by railway train or steamer, how should we do Japa?" The Mother replied, "You should do it mentally." She said further, 'Son, gradually your hands and lips will cease to work and your mind only will repeat the name. The mind will eventually turn into your Guru."
Once in Varanasi the Holy Mother's birthday was being celebrated. On that day Swami Keshavananda's mother was shedding tears on remembering the death of one of her relations. At this the Mother said, "For shame! To weep on this day! It is a day of joy."
On the Rathayatra day at Koalpara, one of my Gurubhais told the Mother, "Mother, my mind is very restless. I can't make it steady by any means." In reply the Mother said, "As a storm blows away clouds, so does His holy name disperse the cloud of worldliness."
On that day I confided to the Mother my mental weaknesses. She said in reply, "Do you think one can get rid of lust altogether? It will be there in some form or other as long as the body lasts. But then, I tell you, it will be reduced to a state comparable to a charmed snake."
The Mother once said, "Why fear? Always remember, there is one person behind you." She further said, "So long as this body (meaning her body) lasts, pass your days in joy."
Once during a conversation the Mother said, "Except for grass and bamboo, everybody will have to come here." Its implication, as I have understood, is that only those who have no substance in them will be excluded, otherwise everybody else will accept the ideas of Sri Ramakrishna. The Mother communicated similar ideas to Swami Keshavananda and Swami Vidyananda also.
A woman devotee asked the Mother, "Mother, many persons perform the worship of Siva. Can we also perform this worship?" In reply the Mother said, "The worship of Durga, Kali, and others can be done with the Mantra I have given you. But if anyone so wishes, he can learn the specific worships and perform them. You needn't do them; they would be a burden for you."
Regarding offerings to be made to Sri Ramakrishna, somebody once said to the Holy Mother, "Mother, I know nothing of the Mantras prescribed for making offerings." At this, the Mother said, "There is no need for so much formality in worship. Everything can be done with the Ishta Mantra."
(RECORDED BY LALITMOHAN SAHA)
One day in 1915 I went to see the Holy Mother at the Udbodban house. When I stood up after saluting her, she said, "How firm was the Master's adherence to truth! How far can we follow his example'! The Master used to say, 'Truthfulness alone is the austerity of the Kali Yuga. One attains to God by holding to truth.'"
The following year at Jayrambati the Mother was once discussing a letter from a monastic disciple in which he had expressed his despondency. Suddenly the Mother began to say gravely and emphatically, "How is it, my dear? Is the Master's name a trifle that it will come to nothing? The uttering of his name can never be futile. Those who have come here remembering the Master will certainly have the vision of their Chosen Ideal. Even if one does not have it during his lifetime, he will assuredly have it at least just before his death."
One Sunday in 1918 I suffered from a mental tribulation which made me feel offended with the Master and the Holy Mother and I resolved that I wouldn't visit the Mother any more. But my friends persuaded me to go to the Udbodhan house. There I found a large number of devotees waiting to salute the Mother. They bowed down before her one after another. The Mother didn't speak a word to anyone. But when I made Pranam last of all, the Mother affectionately asked, "Are you keeping well?" I answered emotionally, "Yes, Mother, I am keeping very fine." At this, the Mother smiled at me and said, "How is it, my child? This is the mind's nature. Simply because of it, should you behave this way?"
Another day, when I was studying law, I made Pranam to her and asked, "Mother, you see, this is the condition of my mind. And besides this, I am going to practise law. What will be my fate?" The Mother said with assurance, "Why do you fear, my child? It is nothing more than an occupation."
(RECORDED BY SWAMI MAHESWARANANDA)
Once on her birthday at Jayrambati, the Mother had been feeling unwell since early morning. She intended to avoid bathing, but lest her attendants should worry on hearing this, she finally decided to take her bath. In the evening, however, she was found running a high temperature. When I went to see her, she said, "My child, obey the dictates of the mind first. The mind is the first Guru. Just see, this morning as I woke up it occurred to me 'that I should not bathe today, for I was not feeling well. Nevertheless considering various factors, I finally took my bath. And now I am suffering."
In another context the Mother remarked, one day, "The Master used to say, quoting a proverb: 'Eat warm food and lie on a soft bed.'"
One day at the Koalpara monastery, as a distinguished devotee went to salute the Mother, he said to me, "Since touching her feet in salutation causes much suffering to the Mother, we should rather avoid it." The Mother heard this and said, "No, my child, we are here for this purpose only. If we do not accept others' sins and sorrows and digest them, who else will? Who else will bear the responsibility for sinners and sufferers? When some noble devotee touches my feet, I feel no pain. But there are persons whose touch brings an acute burning sensation in my feet. Of course, my child, you will salute me by touching my feet."
(RECORDED BY SARAYUBALA SEN)
One morning as the Holy Mother and Golap-Ma were getting ready to go for a bath in the Ganges, Golap-Ma said, "Mother, please rub oil on your body," The Mother said, "No, I won't use oil." When Golap-Ma continued to urge her, the Mother said, "One should not bathe in the Ganges with oil on one's body. If I use oil, all others will use it."
One day a certain woman came to the Mother with a repentant heart and said, "Mother, what is the way out for us'?" The Mother became a little annoyed at this and said, "You bear children every year; you haven't even a little self-control. What is the good of coming to me and saying, 'What is the way out?'
After the Holy Mother's return from Rameswar, I asked her one day, "Mother, won't you please tell us what you saw?" The Mother said, "Many people came to see me. The women there are fairly educated. They asked me to make a speech. I told them I cannot make speeches. Had Gaurdasi come, she could have given a talk.'"
One day the Mother remarked, "A great soul is unique. He is of a kind by himself. Gaurdasi is one such soul."
Another day I found the Mother putting an amulet on Radhu for the cure of her illness and keeping aside some money for the guardian deity, I asked, "Mother, why are you doing this? Everything happens by your will." The Mother replied, "During one's illness if one promises an offering to the guardian deity, one becomes free of danger. Besides, everybody should be given what is his due."
Once Gauri-Ma was lying seriously ill with smallpox in the house of a devotee at Maniktala. The devotee's mother and others nursed her at the risk of their own lives. On hearing this, the Holy Mother said, 'The mother of A….. will be liberated in this very birth. Not only she, but even anybody who had trimmed the wick of the lamp during Gaurdasi's illness will be liberated."
(RECORDED BY PRIYABALA DEVI)
On 12 Pous (December) 1916 I first bowed down at the lotus feet of the Holy Mother and was blessed with initiation by her. As I climbed the stairs to the first floor of the Mother's house along with a sister disciple, I was trembling in excitement. Yogin-Ma embraced me and escorted me to the Mother, saying, "Look Mother! Here is another daughter of yours-how her eyes and face look!" The Mother, who was pealing fruits at the time, said, "Yes, dear, I know her. She is Rama's1 daughter." I was surprised at this and wondered how the Mother had come to know about me.
1 Ramakrishna Bose, son of Balaram Bose.
The Mother called me to the shrine room and made me sit on an asana by her side. When my sister disciple invited me to go for a bath in the Ganges, the Mother remarked, "She does not need to have a bath in the Ganges." She sprinkled Ganges water on my body and then gave me initiation. After telling me a word of the Mantra she remarked, "The Master left for me this part of the Mantra." When I was about to offer flowers and leaves at her feet, the Mother said, "Put the basil and Vilva leaves in my hands but offer the flowers at my feet."
One day while speaking with the Mother, the sister disciple mentioned above said about me, "It will be nice if she is admitted into Nivedita's boarding school." The Mother replied, "No, she need not stay there, but it would be fine if she could stay with me." But I never had the good fortune for this to happen.
One day I asked the Mother, "What shall I do for my spiritual progress? I know nothing at all." The Mother said, "What else shall you do? Do what you are doing now. Repeat His name everyday in the morning and the evening."
On hearing from a woman devotee that widows in our part of the country are very austere regarding their food, etc., the Mother said to me, "In the night you should take chapatis and such other things after offering them to the Master. One should observe the local customs."
SECTION - III
Translated by Others
(RECORDED BY PRAVRAJIKA BHARATIPRANA)1
When I met the Holy Mother for the first time, I was a student of Sister Nivedita's school, at 17, Bosepara lane. One day after the school, Sister Sudhira took four or five of us to the Holy Mother's house. The Mother was sitting in the shrine room. Sister Kusum was reading some book. When we bowed down to her, the Mother said, "Sit down, my dear girl." And she said to Sister Sudhira, "Are you well, my dear? Is your school over just now? Do these girls study in your school?"
1 Originally a student of the Nivedita Girls' school, Saralabala Devi became later a disciple-attendant of the Holy Mother, and it was she who nursed the Mother in her last illness. When the Sarada Math and the Monastic Order for women was founded in 1953, she became a Sannyasini under the name Pravrajika Bharatiprana and the first Head of the Order. These reminiscences were recorded by her in her pre-monastic days.
Sister Sudhira: Yes Mother, these girls study in our school.
Mother: They are good girls. (Indicating me), Where does, this girl come from? She seems to be a very good girl.
Sister Sudhira: She is of Brahmana parentage. Her house is nearby only.
After this conversation, the Holy Mother said, "Kusum, you read. These people will listen." Reading began. I think the book was 'Krishna Charita'. Hearing the description of Sri Krishna drinking all the curds and milk through various strategems, the Holy Mother and all others began to laugh very much. She said, "What a mischievous boy!" Soon after, our vehicle arrived. The Mother enquired, 'Will you go just now? Could you not stay a little longer?" Hearing Sister Sudhira's reply, she said, "Then come in the morning, my dear." After receiving Prasad, we bowed down to the Holy Mother and took leave of her. She said "Come, my dear, come again."
Another evening Sister Sudhira took me to the Holy Mother's house. The Mother was lying on a mat spread on a plain cot. Seeing us, she said, "Sit down, my dear." We made Pranam and sat down.
Mother: Is your school over? What is the time now?
Sister Sudhira: Today our school was over in the morning itself. Now it is half past three. And so I came, bringing them with me.
Mother: You have done well.
Later the topic of our conversation turned to a girl. The Holy Mother said, "Just see, my dear. She will not go to her father-in-Iaw's place. She has come to me. She does not like the son-in-law because he is dark. Should she reject him simply because he is dark? He is her husband. What kind of girls these are, I do not know. And I hear that his nature is not good. On that account also she does not wish to go. Even if it were so, he has not neglected her. All said and done, he is her husband. I do not know, my dear, what kind of girls these are! If people come to know of this, what will they think? Let her do as she pleases." Saying this, she went to wash her clothes. At the time of taking leave, we made Pranam and said, "Mother, we are going." She corrected me, saying, "You should not say 'I am going'. You should say' I shall come'.1 Come again when you get time, dear."
1 In the Hindu tradition it is inauspicious to say 'go' at the time of leave-taking.
One Saturday evening Sister Sudhira took a few of us to Dakshineswar and on the way back we went to the Holy Mother's house. The Mother was then lying on her cot. Seeing us, Yogin-Ma said, "Where are you coming from at this time of night?" The Mother enquired, "Who has come?" "It is Sudhira", replied Yogin-Ma. Hearing that, the Holy Mother sat up. All of us made Pranam to her and sat down.
Mother: Where are you coming from at this time of night?
Sister Sudhira: I took these girls to Dakshineswar. After seeing Arati, as we were returning, it was dark. I thought, having come so close, should I just go away? And so I came over here.
"You have done well," said the Mother and lay down again. Sister Sudhira began shampooing her feet. I stood nearby fanning the Mother. Sister Sudhira was speaking with her about Dakshineswar.
Mother: You have seen the Nahabat. Have you not? I used to stay in the lower room of that Nahabat. Under the stairs I cooked.
Sister Sudhira: Yes, Mother, I know that. Even now, the stairs on the front side are walled over with matting. Under the stairs there is a hearth. And the baskets of the fisherwomen are left there in that same verandah of yours. I told these girls about you, how you stayed in that room. Well, Mother, how could you live in that room? Did you not have problems?
Mother: The problem was only regarding the morning ablutions and bath. The want of proper toilet arrangements was another. It affected my health. And those fisherwomen were my companions. They came to bathe in the Ganga, and keeping their baskets in the verandah, would get into the water. How much they used to chat with me! And at the time of going, they would pick up their baskets and leave. I used to hear the fishermen sing while catching fish at night. How many devotees used to come to the Master! How much singing! I used to hear it all and think, 'were I one among those devotees, I too could have stayed very near the Master like them and how much more could I have listened to!' Yogin and Golap know everything. They would come to me and sometimes stay with me.
The Holy Mother looked at Yogin-Ma and said, "How blissful it was then, Yogin!" Saying this, she became a little absent-minded. Yogin-Ma now remarked, "What an intense bliss it was-can it be described in words? The soul is thrilled to think of it even today." The Holy Mother turned to us and said, "It is night. Won't they at home scold you for being late?"
Sister Sudhira: Yes, they will get a little scolding today. Their people at home are quite angry with the folk here. If they hear that these girls have been to this place, they will bite their heads off.
Mother: That is so, my dear. Poor children, how much scolding they will get! How many kinds of people there are-who can say? For those who live in society, there is no end to their fear. Dear ones, you take leave now. Ah! How much scolding they will get!
Sister Sudhira: If they cannot endure a little, what are they good for? By your blessing they will have nothing to fear.
Mother: By the grace of the Master everything will become easy. If they scold, do not say anything in return. In the world so many kinds of people are there. We have to put up with all of them. The Master used to say: sa, sa, sa meaning, he who 'endures' alone will live.1
1 Three consonants (s,s, s) of the Bengali alphabet, having similar sounds. In this context they stand for the Bengali word sahya, 'forbearance'. Thus the expression means 'forbear, forbear, forbear'.
For our sake she folded her hands before the Master and said, "Lord, give us protection." We bowed down to her and took leave.
During the holidays, one day at noon, Sister Sudhira and three of us went to the Holy Mother's house. The Mother saw us and said, "Sit in the shrine. I shall come after making the offering to the Master." A little later, when she returned, we bowed down to her. After enquiring about our welfare, she asked, "That day, did they scold you at home?" "Not much," we replied. "We did not even feel it."
At the end of the meal the Holy Mother gave cooked Prasada to Sister Sudhira. Among us two were widows. Seeing that they were hesitating to take it, the Mother said, "You eat, my dear, there is no objection to taking Prasada."
The Holy Mother rested a little thereafter, asking us to lie down on the floor, spreading a mat. In the evening the Mother gave us some Prasada, and sat in the verandah, talking with Sister Sudhira. One young lady handed over a picture of Gopal in lace knitting to the Holy Mother, made Pranam and sat down. The Mother looked at it and said, "My dear, did you make this?" "Yes, Mother," replied the young lady. "Ah, it is well done. What a beautiful expression in the face! See how well she has done!" remarked the Mother. Saying so, the Holy Mother showed it to all of us and continued, "It is well done, is it not?" We all agreed. She looked at the picture again, touched it to her head and asked it to be hung up. Later she enquired after the welfare of the lady's family and gave Prasada to her.
The Holy Mother showed the lace-work to Golap-Ma as soon as she came and said, "See how beautiful it is!" Pointing to the lady, she explained, "This young lady has done it." Golap-Ma looked at it and said, "Everything is quite well done. Only the left arm has become a little too thick." We began to laugh. The Mother also laughed and said, "Golap has come and showed up the blemish. Their taste is different, my dear. Golap is the master of many arts and is therefore critical. Her work is always neat. Besides she has many kinds of skills. All the personal requirements of the Master used to be made by her. She makes all kinds of things-mosquito curtains, pillows, pillow cases etc. She is never idle."
A little before dusk, the lady made Pranam to the Holy Mother and was taking her leave. The Mother said, "Come again, my dear." Yogin-Ma came and bowed down to the Holy Mother and sat. After a little conversation the Holy Mother showed her also the picture and said, "See how beautifully it is done! What a beautiful expression in the face!" "Well done indeed! Who has done it? It has come out quite excellently!" exclaimed Yogin-Ma. The Holy Mother told her about the lady and said, "Golap says that the left hand is a little stout." Yogin-Ma replied, "O, don't mind her words."
When it was dusk the Holy Mother made Pranam, saying, "Haribol, Haribol, Gurudev, Guru's grace" etc., and bowed down in the direction of the Ganges. She spread her seat in the room and sat down, took a little Ganges water and started doing her Japa. The Arati now started. The room was full of people, of whom many were doing Japa. What a wonderful sight!
On the day of Akshay Tritiya two of my friends took initiation. Unluckily, I could not have it at that time, as I was not then in Calcutta. A little after this, one evening, I went with Sister Sudhira to the Holy Mother's house. The Mother was to have gone to her village but the journey had been put off.
The Holy Mother replied to some questions put by Sister Sudhira and then said, "My youngest sister-in-law has become quite abnormal. She will be better as soon as she goes to the village. And there is Radhu's marriage. Because of all this, I have to go soon. Everything was fixed up for my journey that day. But it was postponed, as the day was not quite auspicious." After Arati, the Holy Mother lay down a little. Sister Sudhira was massaging her feet. The Mother said, "Press a little harder, my dear. Tomorrow is full moon day, and so the rheumatism in the leg is aggravated. Just see, this disease has taken such a hold that there is no sign of its abatement. It started quite long ago, when I was still staying at Dakshineswar."
Gaining a little relief through the massage, the Holy Mother fell into a nap. Our vehicle arrived. We made Pranam to the Master and were leaving, when the Holy Mother woke up and said, "Are you going? Come again." Yogin-Ma told her about my initiation. "Come tomorrow morning," she replied.
Next day morning when I reached the Holy Mother's house, she had finished the Master's worship and was getting ready to go for her bath in the Ganges. Seeing me, she said, "Come, my dear, I shall initiate you quickly and then go for bath." After the initiation was over she said, "Offer these flowers at my feet" I was wondering what I should say while offering. The Holy Mother gave me some flowers and continued, "'Whatever that is mine, I offer unto you' -saying this, offer these flowers at my feet." I complied. Showing me the Master's picture, she said, "He is your all in all. Call upon Him and everything will be yours."
I applied oil upon her feet at her bidding. After the Mother finished her bath, Sister Sudhira said that we should now be leaving. "How can you go away now, my dear?" objected the Holy Mother. "Have your Prasad and go in the evening." When Yogin-Ma came upstairs, the Holy Mother told her, "these people want to go home:' Yogin-Ma said: "They should take Prasad, and then go. I have just told the cook about their food."
Yogin-Ma was going home. She bowed down at the Holy Mother's feet. The Holy Mother placed her hand on her head and blessed her and said, 'It is quite late in the day. Why don't you take your food here? To cook again after reaching home will be difficult:' "No, Mother. My mother is there. She would have made all arrangements. I shall have only just to cook," replied Yogin-Ma. So the Holy Mother hurried her on the journey, saying, "Then don't make any more delay, my dear. The sun is hot and you have to go quite a long distance."
After that, Lalit Babu's wife came, made Pranam and sat down. Her daughters had passed away recently and she was grief-stricken. The Holy Mother consoled her in various ways. Said she, "Ah, all the three passed away! Could not at least one survive? Added to that, Lalit is ill. May he recover by the Master's grace. It will be a great solace if Lalit is saved." She gave her Prasad and continued, "Eat, my dear. How thin you have become!" Taking leave, Sister Sudhira now said to the Holy Mother, "After how many days hence could I hope to have your Darsan?" "I shall return soon," replied the Holy Mother. "Why don't you come to attend Radhu's marriage?" Sister Sudhira did not say anything in reply to this, but said, "For the present I shall take leave, Mother." The Holy Mother gave her blessings and said, "Come again after my return."
After the Holy Mother came back from the village, Sister Sudhira and I went to the Mother's house one evening and paid our respects to her. Sister Sudhira remarked, "Mother, you have become very dark and lean." "Our village is in open fields, you know," the Mother replied, "and so the complexion becomes dark. In addition, I had to work hard too."
Sister Nivedita now came in, bowed down to the Holy Mother and took her seat. The Holy Mother enquired after her welfare, and gave her a woollen fan made by herself, saying, "I kept this for you." The Sister was very happy to receive it. She put it on her head, touched it to her heart and said, "How beautiful, how wonderful!"
She showed it to us and said, "Just see how beautifully it is made!" The Holy Mother said appreciatively, "Do you notice her happiness upon receiving some small present! Ah, what simple faith! As if she was a Goddess! How much devotion she has for Naren! Because he is born in this country, she left her all and has come to do his work with her heart and soul. What a devotion to the Guru! What love for this country!"
The Sister was going to Darjeeling. She told the Holy Mother about it. When Radhu came in, the Holy Mother told her, "Radhu, bow down to your sisters." Sister Sudhira protested, saying, "No, no; let her not do so. Why should she salute us?" But the Holy Mother persisted, saying, "You are all her elder sisters. Should she not salute you?" One Brahmacharin now came in and informed the Holy Mother of men devotees waiting to make Pranam to her. "Let them come," she said and sat covering herself with a shawl. Some time later we returned home after receiving the Mother's blessing.
One day Sister Nivedita told us that the Holy Mother would visit our School, and that we should all be full of joy on the occasion. The Holy Mother's carriage arrived only in the evening instead of in the morning. Radhu, Golap Ma and others were with her. As soon as she got down from the vehicle, Sister Nivedita made Sashtanga Pranam (full prostration) to her and led her to the prayer hall. She gave us all flowers to be offered at the Holy Mother's feet. As the girls offered flowers, Sister Nivedita introduced them one by one to the Holy Mother. The Mother asked the girls to sing a little. They did so and recited a poem. The Holy Mother listened to it and appreciated the poem. Then she directed some Prasad to be given to us. A little later Sister Nivedita took her around and showed her the whole house, the handicrafts of the girls, etc. On seeing all that, the Mother was much pleased and remarked, "The girls have indeed got good training." Later on Sister Nivedita took the Mother to her own room for rest.
At the time of Sister Nivedita's passing away, Sister Sudhira too was quite ill. How much the Holy Mother worried for her sake! She would cry, saying, "Oh Master has Sudhira got to go? How much work she has still to do!"
To the 'aunt at Syampukur' the Holy Mother said, "Could you bring me news of Sister Sudhira, my dear? Ah, how ill she is!" When she agreed, the Holy Mother gave her the Master's Charanamrita, pomegranate etc. and said, "Give these to her, and let me know how she is. I am offering Tulasi leaves to the Master for her sake."
After Sister Sudhira recovered her health, she, I and Sister Christine went to the Holy Mother's house one evening. After Arati we made Pranam to her and seated ourselves before her. "Have you got well, my dear'?" enquired the Holy Mother. Sister Sudhira replied that she was much better but that she had still to be careful. "I was greatly worried about you," said the Holy Mother. "You have, however, recovered by the Master's grace. Just now Nivedita passed away and you fell ill right after that-hearing it I wondered, if Sudhira too goes, who will run the school? (Refering to Sister Christine) Ah, they were together all the time. Now how much more difficult it will be for her to be alone! Even our hearts are afflicted by her demise, what then to speak of your grief! What a personality she was! How many people weep for her today!" Speaking thus, the Holy Mother began to weep. Later she asked Sister Christine many questions about the school.
Sister Sudhira was to go to Kasi for a change. I was to accompany her. Hearing that from us, the Holy Mother made detailed enquiries about our plan and said, "Start soon, my dear. The body is to be cared for, is it not?"
It was many days later that I went to the Holy Mother next. Mrs- was with me. As Sister Sudhira was not with me that time, I was greatly worried whether the Holy Mother would be able to recognise me. We went to the shrine and saw that the Mother had got up after finishing the Puja. Seeing me, she said, "Oh! my dear, you have come at last? It is many days since your last visit is it not? How much I thought of you! Where were you?" As I made Pranam she put her hand on my head and blessed me and enquired about Sister Sudhira. I said that she had come to Calcutta and that I came with her. My soul was filled with bliss at the thought that the Holy Mother could recognise me.
That day there was an invitation from Balaram Babu's house and all were going there. Radhu was not well. So the Holy Mother said referring to me, "She won't go anyhow, not being an invitee Radhu and she shall remain here."
The vehicle to take the Holy Mother arrived. Before leaving the Mother told us, "You two amuse yourselves. I shall return quickly." Then she said to Radhu, "Play with your sister, my dear. I shall return shortly."
The Holy Mother came back after four. I, together with others, was to go by the same vehicle. The Mother hastily gave me some Prasad and said, "Ah, my dear, we have just arrived and you are going away immediately. What can be done? You have come with them, and it is proper for you to return with them."
Radhu: Why not let the sister stay?
Mother: How can she stay, my dear?
Radhu: No, let her stay. Let the others go away.
Mother: She (Radhu) is senseless, for sure. If she stays, how can the others go? No, my dear. You get ready quickly; they are calling you from below.
I bowed down to the Holy Mother and took leave of her. She blessed me and said, "How many days you have to stay like this, the Master alone knows. Come again, my dear." She came with me upto the stairs. What a deep compassion of hers I experienced that day, I cannot describe in words. She gave me much instruction, saying, "Do this, do that etc."
During the holidays of the month of Paush (February), Sister Sudhira wished to be with the Holy-Mother and went to Kasi, taking along a few of us with her. When we met the Holy Mother, after some talk, she enquired about Yogin-Ma and said, "Ah, my dear, Yogin could not come. She was quite ill. The Master and the Divine Mother saved her. I was much worried over Yogin." After a little conversation, Sister Sudhira and others went to see the house hired for our stay.
The Holy Mother fell asleep a little. The house was almost silent with everybody resting. In that silence a song was heard from the verandah:
Where has my Mother gone?
For many days have I not seen you; Mother, take me in the lap.
What sort of a Mother art Thou, so stony-hearted towards the child!
Grant Thy vision, Mother, and make me weep no more.
The song was sung in such a gentle tone that I felt as though some one was weeping at quite a distance. Suddenly the Holy Mother woke up and said, "Who is singing? Let us go, my dear, to the verandah and see." We went and what I saw struck me dumb with astonishment. One girl was singing the song and her chest was bathed in tears as she sang. As the Holy Mother sat there, the girl bowed down to her and said, "Mother, my heart's desire of many days is fulfilled today. I cannot express the joy that is flooding me today, Mother." The Holy Mother blessed her and asked her about herself.
Girl: I am only a beggar girl, Mother.
Mother: Where do you stay?
Girl: I stay at the gate of Annapurna, near the Behari Baba's temple at the Dasasvamedh Ghat.
Mother: You are well off by taking alms, I hope?
Girl: By your blessing everything goes on well, Mother. There is no worry about daily needs. By the grace of Annapurna, no one has to go without food here, Mother. I am worried about how to get a little Bhakti.
Mother: That will certainly come about, my dear. You stay in such a sacred place. Here Lord Viswanath and Mother Annapurna are reigning actually. By Their grace everything will come about.
The Holy Mother asked her to sing another song. She began to sing:
Mother, may thou be pleased to
keep me as a child!
Let me not grow,
leaving behind the beauty of childhood.
A beautiful simple soul,
unaware of honour and infamy;
It does not know cruelty,
nor censure nor shame nor contempt.
Mother: What a beautiful song!
Girl: I had a great desire for many days to see you. Hearing that you are here, I often think of coming but feel afraid that someone would object.
Mother: None will say anything. Come whenever you like.
The Holy Mother asked Prasad to be given to her. After receiving Prasad the girl was taking leave. The Holy Mother told her, "Come again, my dear." Later she told us, "The girl has great devotion."
During the few days we were in Kasi, we used to go to the Holy Mother everyday, morning and evening, One evening, when we went there the Mother was going to the Ramakrishna Advaita Ashrama to attend a Bhagavata discourse. Seeing us, she said, "We are going to hear the Bhagavata at the Math. Some Pandit recites. Will you come? Why not you come with us?" We went with her. The talk lasted two hours. After the talk was over, the Holy Mother gave a Rupee, bowed down and returned. In the course of a conversation she said, "Ah, what a wonderful recitation! The pandit has done very well."
One day after dusk Sister Sudhira and I were sitting near the Holy Mother. The Mother then said, "Anyone who has once called on the Master, with sincere faith and devotion has nothing more to fear. As one calls on Him, by His grace one gets Prema-bhakti, loving devotion. This love is to be cherished in utmost privacy, my dear. The Gopis of Vraja had this Prema-bhakti. They did not know anything except Krishna. It is said in Nilakantha's song: 'This treasure of Prema must be preserved with the greatest effort.'" Saying this, the Holy Mother sang the song. In what a sweet voice did she sing that day! It is even today resounding in my ears. At the end of the song, she said, "Ah, how excellent is this song of Nilakantha! The Master liked it immensely. While the Master was at Dakshineswar, Nilakantha would come to him now and then and sing songs. How blissful it was! How many kinds of people came to him! It was as if a mart of joy was set up at Dakshineswar."
I went to the Holy Mother's house another day. The Mother was sitting in the verandah and talking with two ladies. The beggar girl mentioned earlier came and bowed down to the Holy Mother. In her hand was a pear. She offered it to the Mother and said, "Mother, I got it as alms today, and so I have brought it for you. But Mother, I cannot muster the courage to offer it to you." "You have done well," assured the Holy Mother. "Ah! give it to me, my dear." Saying this, she took the pear, touched it to her head and said, "The things given as alms are very pure. The Master loved them very much. It is quite a good pear too. I shall eat it now." The girl was deeply touched and said, "I am only a beggar girl, what compassion are you bestowing upon me!" Tears trickled down her cheeks as she said this. The Holy Mother continued, "Your songs are so sweet. Now do sing a song for me." The girl sang:
Gopal, I shall deck you now.
Do dance thus and thus, wheel and turn about.
I shall fix up your anklets, my dear,
They would sound well jingling.
A golden cloth I shall wrap around your waist.
Gopal, my dear, I shall feed you,
And give you two pairs of golden wristlets.
Concluding the song, she added, "Mother, if this song is sung, the Behari Baba Sadhu of Dasasvamedha Ghat would keep dancing just like GopaI. His nature is exactly like that of a boy."
The Holy Mother said, "Quite a good song, won't you sing another?" She sang another song. The Holy Mother asked Prasad to be given her. Taking the Prasad, she bowed down to the Mother saying, "I shall take leave for the day, Mother."
"Come again, my dear, come whenever you like," said the Holy Mother.
One day at about three, the Holy Mother picked us up on her way to the Old Women's Ashrama. When we got down there, a young woman came and took the Holy Mother upstairs. All the old ladies began to offer flowers at her feet and bow down at her feet.
Mother: What is this? These are all dwellers of Kasi. Why then do they make Pranam?
Young Woman: Should they not, Mother? They are all maintained by your food.
Mother: My dear, Lord Viswanath and Mother Annapurna are there. I take it that you are the care-taker of these people?
Young Women: Yes, mother, as you make me do.
Mother: Ah, that is good. If these helpless old ladies are served, Narayana's service is done. Ah, what wonderful work these children are doing!
After that the Holy Mother made their acquaintance, visited their rooms and returned.
One day after dusk we returned from Sarnath and went to the Holy Mother's house. The Mother was lying down. Radhu was lying by her side. Hearing the description of Sarnath, she asked, "Mother, will you go once to see the place?" "How can that be, my dear?" responded the Holy Mother. "Do I have legs to go round and see? Just look, my dear, I cannot go and have Darsan of Viswanath even. Seeing all these people go, I too get a desire to go and see Lord Viswanath. But I cannot walk. How to go? I cannot do anything. When my legs were in good condition, I walked from my village to Dakshineswar. What a distance could I walk then! After the Master's passing away, I went to Vrindaban. I used to walk from place to place and have Darsan."
Another day one woman and her daughter of ten or eleven years were seated near the Holy Mother. The woman was very poor.
Mother: Where is your husband?
Women: He became a Bairagi some time back. He went away when this girl was quite young.
Mother: All these days how have you managed without work?
Woman: I did some work and managed with whatever was got. Now this won't do any longer, Mother, I am in great difficulty. If only you could tell them and arrange something. Mother!
Mother: I could put in a word. But they collect by begging. How many people they help that way! They will do as they think fit, surely.
The Holy Mother gave her a rupee and a cloth and said, "Take food here today." The Mother was sitting on the roof. Below, the cooking was going on. The woman said, "Mother, the girl says 'what a fine smell of cooking is coming!'" The Holy Mother said reprovingly. "What is this? Should one say such things? The food is intended for the Master's offering." At the time of taking Prasad the Holy Mother told the cook to serve a large helping of fish curry etc, to the girl. After food, the woman said, "I had a hearty meal, Mother; the girl does not want even to get up." "That's good," said the Holy Mother. "Now that the meal is over, go below and rinse your mouth." When the woman went away the Holy Mother said, "What poverty! What greed! The girl ate and ate until she was about to vomit! Such a big girl and no sense at all. Nothing will benefit these people. Prosperity will never attend on them."
When they returned upstairs, the Holy Mother gave them betel rolls and bade them goodbye. After they had gone away, the Mother lay down on the cot and was chatting with us. "So many kinds of people live in Kasi," she said. "How many of them come to me and say 'Please tell your children to help us a little.' What could I reply? You just see, they built a home for helpless old women. How hard they have worked for it, and how much service they are doing! A hospital for the sick is there. Their activities for the relief of the poor seem endless. How much the poor children toil! It is all His will, my dear. What He is making us do from where, He alone knows."
One evening when I went to the Holy Mother, she was sitting in the verandah talking with a few widows. One among them was wearing an ochre cloth. She sang a song for the Holy Mother:
'Just you wait, Oh Java, you the beauty of the forest!
Flower of the wild you are, blossoming in the wild.
When I see you on the bosom of Siva,
I think I see the crimson feet of the Divine Mother,' etc.
Golap-Ma: Ah, what an excellent song! Do sing another.
The girl sang another song.
Mother: Have you seen the Sevashrama?
Sister Sudhira: No, we have not seen.
Mother: Then go with Golap and see.
Another evening the Holy Mother was talking of Devavrata Maharaj and Sachin. They went away suddenly because of the Government's objection to their presence on account of their political antecedents.
Mother: Ah, Devavrata went away today. The Company (the East India Company, the old name for the British Govt. in India) offered some help in connection with the acquisition of the land proximate to the Sevashrama. But they raised objection against the stay of these two. So Rakhal told them to go away. Do you know, my dear, they are innocent, but yet a detective is ever after them. Ah, the boys did not even take food before going.
Sister Sudhira: Brother (i.e. Devavrata Maharaj) and Sachin had food with us.
Mother: Ah, my dear, did they have their meal? That is good. I was worried about it.
Sister Sudhira: Wherever brother goes, they keep track of him. So he says 'my father-in-law's people have come. I will go, have a look and return.'
Mother: Father-in-law's people indeed! It was very long ago that they caught him in connection with the Swadeshi Movement. Still they are on his trail. Just see, the whole day my mind was troubled thinking that the boys had had no food. I am, however, at peace now, after learning that they took food at your place.
It was the day of the Jagaddhatri Puja. Devotees had been arriving from early morning. The Puja was at Yogin-Ma's house. She came in the morning and went back, asking the Holy Mother to go to her house. One devotee came, bowed down, and said, "Mother, be so gracious as to sanctify the house of your worthless son by bestowing in it the dust of your lotus feet." "Well, let me see if I can go in the evening. You come again in the evening. I shall come, if I find it convenient," responded the Holy Mother.
That noon the Holy Mother and some of us went to Yogin-Ma's house, had the Darsan of the Deity and returned. The Holy Mother fasted the whole day, as there was Puja in her house. At about four when the Puja was over, she took a little Prasad and rested.
That devotee came to take the Holy Mother. The Holy Mother heard of it and said, 'He pressed me so much in the morning. I'll go for a little while.' Their home was not far away. It was in the Rajvallabhpara. As the Holy Mother got down from the vehicle, they washed her feet and preserved the water. The house was small, and dilapidated. We made Pranam to the Deity and went inside. They spread a seat for the Holy Mother to sit. She spread her seat near the door and said, "I'll rather sit here."
One old lady began to talk with the Mother.
Old Lady: Mother, please bless my boy. He had a great desire to perform the Puja, but we have no house or other facilities. Yet somehow the Mother's worship has been done. He alone did everything.
Mother: Ah! he did well. When Mother has come, then house and everything else will come. Your boy is very good. He has much devotion.
A little later Prasad was brought and the Holy Mother put a little in her mouth and got up to leave. She put a rupee before the Deity, made Pranam and said, "The image is very beautiful. Mother's expression is wonderful; this is because the worship has been done by a devotee!" Returning home, Nalini began, "What a house, oh Mother! There is no place to sit even. Oh dear, how could he perform the worship in that house." The Holy Mother said, "What can he do? He is a poor man, but very devoted. Ah, he brought the Divine Mother. Out of compassion the Divine Mother came to his house."
A letter came from Jayrambati saying that the worship of Mother Jagaddhatri concluded successfully and that many people had Prasad. The Holy Mother said, "By the grace of the Mother, the worship was concluded auspiciously. I was much worried about how they would manage. Jnan was there, so the Mother's worship was done well."
One day after dusk the Holy Mother was sitting near Radhu, giving her fomentation. Radhu had a pain under her ribs. Now one woman devotee made Pranam to the Mother and sat down.
Mother: Come my dear. How are you?
Devotee: I am well, Mother. What has happened to Radhu?
Mother: Radhu has the same sickness. Just see, the child is exhausted. The wretched pain-wherefrom has it come? So many doctors are attending, and I am making vows of offerings to so many Deities, but all to no effect.
Devotee: She will get well, Mother, why fear?
Mother: Do bless her.
She took Prasad and left after a little chat. I asked the Holy Mother, "How surprising, Mother? How she has changed! It is beyond my understanding."
Mother: How can you understand, my dear? When sin enters, is there a way to protect oneself? She is forbidden to come to my place. And so she comes stealthily at night.
Disciple: I saw her earlier staying with you.
Mother: Yes, earlier she used to be with me in day time and go home at night. How much she served Radhu! Her star turned a little and she has become like this. Coming to me is completely stopped. She has done nothing in this birth, all flow from the past birth only.
Another evening the Holy Mother was sitting in the room. The Master's disciple Purna Babu was quite ill. There was no hope of his survival. His mother came. Seeing her come, the Holy Mother said, "There she comes. How she troubles me coming every day, saying, 'Mother, please bless. Please make Purna well'. I know that Purna will not survive. Still for their sake I have to say, 'He will get well.'" Purna Babu's mother came, made Pranam to Holy Mother and said, 'Mother, make your child well,' and began to weep.
Mother: What can I do, mother? Appeal to the Master. He will set everything right.
Purna Babu's Mother: You can, if only you wish, Mother.
Mother: I for my part can only let the Master know of it. Later the Holy Mother told us, "The Master had said, 'If you marry him off, he will not live long'. She did not listen then. In haste, lest he should become a Sannyasin, she got him married."
A few days later, the Holy Mother, Yogin-Ma, etc., were lying down after evening Arati. The Mother was drowsing a little. Suddenly she got up, saying, "Is Purna dead, Yogin?" Yogin-Ma was amazed to hear this query and asked, "Who told you this, Mother?" The Holy Mother replied, "I was sleeping. Suddenly I heard some one saying 'Purna is dead'. Yogin-Ma confessed then, "Yes, Mother. Today evening that calamity occured. I did not tell you, Mother." That night the Holy Mother would speak only of Purna Babu. She was quite sorry for his sake.
In Dakshineswar at the time of the Master's illness, the Holy Mother was serving him. Later the devotees took him to Calcutta for treatment. During that time Golap-Ma said to Yogin-Ma in the course of conversation, "Look, Yogin-Ma perhaps the Master was angry with the Holy Mother and went away to Calcutta."
The Holy Mother heard this from Yogin-Ma, and hiring a carriage went to Calcutta. Weeping, she asked the Master, "You have come away, being angry with me. Haven't you?" "No, no, who told you this story?" the Master asked in surprise.
"Golap said," replied the Holy Mother. The Master was enraged to hear this and said, "Is that so? Did she speak thus and make you weep? Does she not know who you are? Where is Golap? Let her come, I'll teach her to desist from telling such stories." The Holy Mother was thus pacified and returned to Dakshineswar. Later when Golap-Ma came to the Master, he scolded her severely and said, "What did you tell her to make her weep? Do you not know who she is? Go this moment and seek her forgiveness." Immediately Golap-Ma walked all the way to Dakshineswar and said to the Holy Mother, weeping, "Oh Mother, the Master was terribly angry with me. I did not realise the seriousness of what I said, and merely blurted out those words." The Holy Mother did not say anything except, "Oh Golap! Oh Golap!" She patted her thrice on the back, smiling. All the grief of Golap vanished that moment, and her mind was restored to peace. This incident was narrated to us by Golap-Ma herself.
Revered Baburam Maharaj was performing Durga Puja at Belur Math and he took the Holy Mother there. The Holy Mother stayed in the garden house north of the Math. One lady devotee suddenly presented herself to the Holy Mother one night. Seeing her intense desire to see her, the Holy Mother said, "Look, if this kind of yearning is not there, can one get Him?"
In the year 1918 Golap-Ma was seriously ill. In that crisis, the Holy Mother was praying to the Master, "O Lord, please heal Golap. If Golap and Yogin are not here, I cannot stay here any longer. With them gone, how can I stay here?" She then said, "Yogin and Golap know all the stages of my life. Ah, Golap has no kind of shortcoming. She does not know anything of pride. And look, Yogin also is like that. In those days Yogin used to meditate with such concentration that even if mosquitoes sat on her eyes, she was unaware of them. Ah, those will be blessed who speak of them."
One day Yogin-Ma complained to the Holy Mother of the licentious behaviour of a devotee and said, "Mother, please warn him a little. Otherwise he will be spoiled." The Holy Mother replied, "My telling won't do, Yogin. If I tell him anything, he would not be able to listen. I am his Guru. If he cannot respect my words, then it would be inauspicious for him." Yogin-Ma did not say anythmg more.
One evening, after talking about diverse matters, the Holy Mother said, "Look, I suppose everybody says that I am restless with the thought of Radhu, that I am inordinately attached to her. If this little attachment were not there, do you know, this body could not have survived after the Master's passing away. It is for his work that he has generated this attachment for Radhu and detained this body. When my mind withdraws from her, this body will not remain anymore."
In the year 1918 the Holy Mother was once quite unwell at Koalpara. At that time Yogin-Ma and revered Sarat Maharaj were with her. Radhu saw the serious condition of the Holy Mother and yet went away to her father-in-law's place. The Holy Mother did not want her to go. She said to Yogin-Ma, "Look here Yogin! Radhu has deserted me and gone away." Yogin-Ma replied, "Why won't she go, Mother? Did you not walk all the way to Dakshineswar to be with the Master? Do you not remember?" The Holy Mother smiled a little and said, "That is true, Yogin." The Mother recovered from this illness and came back to Calcutta.
At the Udbodhan, she said one day, "Look, when Radhu broke her attachment for me and went away, I thought perhaps this time I would pass away. But I see that still there is more of the Master's work to be done."
Once Yogin-Ma got a doubt: "The Master was a man of such renunciation, and I see the Holy Mother so deeply engrossed in this wretched world, with all her brothers and brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law. I cannot understand this." One day while meditating on the Ganges Ghat, Yogin-Ma saw the Master. He was saying, "Look at that object floating on the Ganges." Yogin-Ma saw a new born baby tangled in entrails and filth, floating past in the Ganges. The Master now asked, "Can the Ganges be polluted by it? Can anything sully its purity? Know her to be like that. Do not doubt her. Know her (the Mother) and this (showing his own body) to be one." Returning from the Ganges, Yogin-Ma bowed down to the Holy Mother and said, "Mother, forgive me." "Why, Yogin? What happened?" the Holy Mother enquired. Yogin-Ma then narrated the incident and said, "I was unfaithful to you. So the Master made it clear to me today." The Mother smiled a little and said, "What of that? Doubts will arise and again faith will come. This way alone faith is strengthened. Gradually, after many such attempts, firm faith will come."
One lady devotee used to come to the Holy Mother at the Udbodhan. The Mother was quite fond of her. She was not of a good character. So among the monks, many used to wish that she did not come there. When the Holy Mother was apprised of this, she said, "On the Ganges so many impure things float by. Does the Ganges ever become impure thereby?"
One devotee asked some questions of the Holy Mother and left. Later the Mother herself said, "Look, my dear, you must surrender and await His pleasure. Then alone will His grace descend."
Once I asked her with regard to Japa, "How shall I do Japa?" The Holy Mother replied, "With whatever thought you do Japa, that thought will take hold of the mind. Think that the Master is always yours." Later she demonstrated the way of doing Japa on the fingers.
While talking of her days in Vrindaban, after the passing away of the Master, the Holy Mother said one day at the Udbodhan, "Look, my dear, I prayed to Lord Radharamana, 'Lord, take away my fault-finding nature. May it be that I never can see anyone's fault.'"
The Holy Mother used to say, "Man is bound to make mistakes. One should not notice them. If one does not follow this rule, it harms oneself alone. By constantly observing the faults of others, in the end one will become a mere fault-finder." Once she said to Yogin-Ma, "Yogin, never notice anyone's faults; else, you will end up as a fault-finder only."
One night at Jayrambati, the Holy Mother was lying down. As usual, I was then massaging her feet. In the course of conversation, she began to tell how she first gave initiation, "Look, my dear," she said, I was at Vrindaban after the Master's passing away. Every one was distraught with grief over his loss. One night the Master said, 'Why are you weeping so much? Where have I gone-except from this room to that?' One day the Master spoke of giving initiation to the boy Yogen. Hearing that, I felt a little afraid and also shy. Seeing him the first day I thought, 'what is this? And what will people think? Everyone will say that the Mother has already started making disciples.' But the Master repeated this instruction on three days in succession: 'I have not given him Mantra Diksha (initiation). You do it.' He told me which Mantra was to be given as well. In those days, I was not in the habit of speaking directly to the boy Yogen. The Master said that I should speak to him through Yogin-Ma. I then said the same thing to Yogin. She asked the boy Yogen and discovered that the Master had not initiated him. The Master appeared to the boy Yogen also and asked him to be initiated by me. Yogen did not have the courage to speak of it to me. When I saw that the Master told both of us the same thing, I gave initiation to Yogen. With Yogen's initiation my period of imparting initiations began. He served me unstintedly. No one else could have served as he did. Only Sarat could. And Sarat is serving only after the boy Yogen's demise. To carry my burden is very hard, my dear. Except Sarat, no one can bear my responsibility. Golap and Yogin-if they were not there, it would not have been possible for me to stay at Calcutta."
While the Holy Mother was at Jayrambati, one devotee came to her from Ranchi and said, "I have come to take you to Ranchi for a few days. Accommodation etc. have all been arranged." "Does Sarat know about this?" asked the Holy Mother. "No," was the reply. The Holy Mother continued, "Then I cannot come. Sarat came here and returned. I shall first go to Calcutta.
If he approves, then we shall see." The devotee persisted saying, "Mother, we have made all arrangements!" But the Holy Mother was firm. "Why did you do so without letting us know of it first?" she asked.
The devotee left. Later the Holy Mother remarked, "Look, my dear, they think that to take me is very easy. They are led away by popular excitement. Another time in Dacca, they printed pamphlets that I would be going there. Yet I knew nothing of it. Anyone can serve for two or three days. Is it easy to carry my whole responsibility? I have not seen that anyone is capable of it except Sarat. He is my Vasuki. With a thousand hoods he is engaged in so much work. Wherever a little water drips he will hold an umbrella there."
One day a woman devotee told the Mother about her strained relations with one of her friends. Thereupon the Mother said, "Look, my dear, if one loves a human being one has to endure grief and sorrow. If one can love God, one is indeed blessed; one has no more grief or sorrow."
Another day one woman devotee wished to learn the rituals connected with the Master's Puja from the Holy Mother. The Mother replied, "Look, you are in the world. You will not be able to do so much. You have received His name; let me see how much you can do with it. If you could do that properly, everything will be all right."
Once, the Holy Mother gave me a silk cloth. Some one objected and said, "Why are you giving the cloth to her only, Mother? There are five more people waiting." The Holy Mother replied, "If I do not give it to her, who else will give? Tell me who else is there for her?"
Because of Radhu's illness the Holy Mother was staying at the rented boarding house of Nivedita's school in Bosepara. I was there to serve her. One day she asked me to make food offering to the Master. I did not know the Mantras etc., for offering food. So I told the Mother, "But, Mother, I do not know how to offer food to the Master." The Holy Mother then explained, "Look, my dear, think of the Master as your own and say, 'Please come, please sit down, please take, please eat,' and you must think that he has come, he has sat down, and he is taking food. Do you need Mantras etc., for your own near and dear ones? All ceremonies and forms are like the honour and respect shown to relatives when they come. With your own people you won't need all that. With whatever attitude you give him, with the same attitude he will take." After that the Holy Mother taught me a Mantra for making food offering to the Master.
The Holy Mother once said to a disciple, "Look, my dear, it is not that you will not face difficulties. They will arise. But they will not remain. You will see that they pass away like water under one's feet."
One devotee asked the Holy Mother, "I have done so much Japa and austerity, yet nothing has happened." In reply she said, "What you seek-is it any greens or fish that you could buy it by paying so much price?"
In Jayrambati the Holy Mother's close relatives used to harass her in various ways. One day she became so much vexed that she said, "Look here, do not trouble me too much. If the one who is within me once raises his hood, there is none among Brahma, Vishnu or Maheswara that can save you."
In the year 1919 the Holy Mother was at Koalpara. On the day of the Dassera festival some devotees worshipped her holy feet with lotus flowers and left. Later she asked me, "What is the matter today, that all those boys offered flowers at my feet?" "Today is Dassera," I replied. "That is why they did so." The Holy Mother smiled a little and said, "Oh dear, am I Goddess Manasa, then?" And folding her hand in the direction of the Master, she continued, "He alone is Manasa, Ganga and everybody else."
Radhu was like a madcap during her stay at Jayrambati because of her neurosis. Many times the Holy Mother used to feed her. Often, she would take food in her mouth and spit it out on the Mother's body. One day the Holy Mother was annoyed and said to me, "Look, my dear, know this body (showing her own) to be a divine body. How much more defilement and insult could it endure? If it is not a divine body, can any human being endure so much? The Master never struck me even with a flower. He never addressed me as tui but always as tumi. How much he was distressed because once he addressed me as tui mistaking me for Lakshmi! Biting his tongue he said, Oh dear, is it you? Please do not take it amiss. I thought you were Lakshmi and so addressed you as tui 1 ' But see how these people take the life out of me, my dear. This time if the Master somehow cures Radhu, I will have nothing more to do with them. Look, my dear, as long as I live, none of these can know me. Later they will understand everything."
1 Apani-There are three words in Bengali by which one can address another. Apani is used when a person addresses his superior entitled to respect. Tumi is used to address an equal and is a term of intimacy and endearment. Tui is used to address inferiors, servants, etc.
At the Udbodhan, during the Mother's last illness a certain monk came to see her. The Mother was then sleeping. The monk began to massage her feet. There was no veil over the Holy Mother's head at the time. After the monk went away, the Mother rebuked me, saying, "There was no veil over my head. Why did you not arrange it? Am I dead? Even now you are doing like this!"
At this time the Holy Mother had practically no taste for any food, and could not eat anything. Her food therefore was very meagre. One day while she was taking food, Dr. Kanjilal arrived there. He thought the quantity of the Holy Mother's food was a little too much, and said to me in front of the Holy Mother, "You will not be able to serve the Mother. Tomorrow I will bring two nurses for her service. You need not do anything." The Holy Mother heard these words of the doctor and said later, "Ha! Does he think that I will be served by those booted ladies? That I cannot do. You will attend upon me as you have done. Why does Kanjilal make so much fuss over my eating rice? Am I able to consume rice? He does not know!"
A few days after this her rice diet was completely stopped. One day the Holy Mother said, "Look, that day Kanjilal was annoyed at my taking rice. From that time on I could not eat any rice at all."
During those days the Mother's nature became like that of a five year old girl. One night at twelve when I went to feed her, she became stubborn. "I will not eat. You know only to say, 'Mother, eat,' and to put that stick (the thermometer) under the arm." Seeing that the Holy Mother was refusing to take food, I said, "Then, Mother, shall I call Maharaj?" Often she would eat at the mention of Maharaj's name. But this time she was totally unwilling. She said, "Call Sarat. I will not eat from your hand." As soon as Sarat Maharaj heard of it, he hastened to the Holy Mother. She made him sit and said, "Just pass your hand over me a little, my son." Then taking both his hands in hers, she continued, "Just see, my son, how they are troubling me! Her constant utterance is 'Eat, eat,' and she knows also to put that stick under my arm. You ask her not to trouble me." Maharaj replied, "No, Mother, they will not trouble you anymore." Pacifying her thus, he later enquired, "Mother, will you now take something?" The Holy Mother replied, "Give me." Maharaj asked me to bring food. The Holy Mother heard this and said, "No, you feed me, I will not eat from her hand." I poured milk in a cup and gave it to Maharaj. He somehow fed a little of it to the Holy Mother and said, "Mother, rest a little and eat." Hearing this, the Holy Mother said, "Look now, what sweet words these are-'Mother, rest a little and then take food!' Do they not know how to say these words? But see, what trouble they have given the poor boy at this time of night! Go, my dear, go and sleep." Saying this, she stroked his body. Later Sarat Maharaj arranged her mosquito curtain and said, "Mother, I shall go now." The Holy Mother said, "Come, my dear, what a trouble we have given this poor boy."
For the last few days before her passing, the Holy Mother would not ask for any news of Radhu. One day she told her, "Look, you go away to Jayrambati. Do not stay here any more." She told me, "Tell Sarat to send them away to Jayrambati." I asked, "Why is she asking them to be sent away? Can she do without Radhu?" "Certainly I can," said the Holy Mother. "I have taken away my mind from her." I repeated these words of the Mother to Yogin-Ma and Sarat Maharaj. Yogin-Ma then came to the Holy Mother and asked, "Why, Mother, do you want them to be sent away?" The Holy Mother said in reply, "Yogin, hereafter they have to stay there only. H….. is going; send them with him. I have taken away my mind from them. I do not want them any more." Yogin-Ma protested, saying, "Do not say that, Mother. If you thus take away your mind, how can we live?"
The Holy Mother replied, "Yogin, I have cut off my attachment; now no more of it." Yogin-Ma said nothing and informed Sarat Maharaj of all that took place. He said, "Then we may not be able to keep the Mother any more amidst us. There is no more hope, now that she has taken away her mind from Radhu." I was standing there. The Maharaj told me, "Look, all of you are with the Holy Mother for long hours. Try and see if you could turn the Mother's mind a little towards Radhu." But all our efforts were in vain. One day she said quite forcefully, "The mind which I have withdrawn will never come back. Know it for certain."
Two or three days before passing away the Holy Mother called Sarat Maharaj and said, "Sarat, I am going. Yogin, Golap and others are here. You look after them."