Gospel of Holy Mother Sarada Devi
I went to Baghbazar one morning with a basket of flowers. I offered it to the Holy Mother. She was exceedingly happy and began to decorate the image of Sri Ramakrishna with the flowers. Some of them were blue. She took these in her hands and said, "Ah, what a pretty colour! There was a girl at Dakshineswar named Asha. One day, she came to the temple-garden and picked a red flower from a plant with dark leaves. She cried, 'Dear me! Such a red flower on a plant with dark leaves! Goodness gracious! What a strange creation of God!' Sri Ramakrishna saw her and said, 'My dear child, what is the matter with you? Why are you weeping like that?' She could hardly utter a word. She was weeping incessantly. Sri Ramakrishna at last pacified her."
The Holy Mother was in an exalted mood and said, "Look at these flowers with a blue colour! How can one decorate God without such fine flowers!" She took a handful of them and offered them to the image of Sri Ramakrishna. A few flowers dropped at her feet before they were offered. She cried, "Dear me! How they have dropped at my feet before I could offer them to the Lord!" "It is very nice," I said. Then I thought, "To you Sri Ramakrishna may be a higher being; but we do not make any distinction between you and him."
A widowed lady came into the room. I asked the Mother about her. The Mother said, "She took initiation from me about a month ago. She had accepted another Guru before. She later felt that it was a mistake and came here for initiation. I could not convince her that all teachers are one. The same power of God works through them all."
We were resting after the midday meal and the talk turned to Kamarpukur. The Holy Mother said: "While I was quite young, the Master once came to Kamarpukur with stomach trouble. During the early hours of the morning he would wake up from sleep and tell us about the dishes I should prepare for his midday meal. I would follow his directions. One day I found that I had not a particular spice with which he wanted the vegetables flavoured. My sister-in-law (Sri Ramakrishna's elder brother's wife) asked me to cook without that spice. The Master heard those words and said, 'How is it? If you have not the spice, get it from the market. It is not proper to cook the curry without the spices necessary for it. I sacrificed the rich dishes of Dakshineswar temple and came here for the flavour of that spice, and you want to deprive me of that! That won't do.' My sister-in-law felt abashed and sent for the spice."
"The Brahmani (i.e. Yogesvari, the Sannyasini who instructed Sri Ramakrishna in Tantric practices) was then with us. The Master addressed her as mother, and I therefore looked upon her as my mother-in-law. I was rather afraid of her. She was very fond of red pepper. She used to cook her own dishes-all hot stuff. Often she offered me these preparations. I would silently eat them and wipe out the tears from my eyes. When she asked me how I liked them, I said in fear, 'Very nice!' My sister-in-law, however, would remark, 'Oh! they were very hot!' I noticed that the Brahmani was displeased at such remarks. She would say, 'Why do you say so? My 'daughter' approves of these dishes. Nothing can please you. I will not give you my curries any more."
The conversation again turned to flowers. The Mother said, "One day while living at Dakshineswar, I made a big garland of seven strands with some jasmine and rangam (Ixora). I soaked the garland in water in a stone bowl and quickly the buds turned into full blossoms. I sent the garland to the Kali temple to adorn the image of the Divine Mother. The ornaments were taken off from the body of Kali and She was decorated with the garland. Sri Ramakrishna came to the temple. He at once fell into an ecstatic mood to see the beauty of Kali so much enhanced by the flowers. Again and again he said, 'Ah! These flowers are so nicely set off against the dark complexion of the Divine Mother! Who made the garland?' Someone mentioned me. He said, 'Go and bring her to the temple.' As I came near the steps, I found some of the men devotees there - Balaram Babu, Suren Babu and others. I felt extremely bashful and became anxious to hide myself. I took shelter behind the maid, Brinde, and was about to go up the temple by the back steps. Sri Ramakrishna noticed this instantly and said, 'Don't try those steps. The other day a fisherwoman was climbing those steps and slipped. She had a terrible shock, fractured her bones and died. Come by these front steps.' The devotees heard those words and made way for me. I entered the temple and found Sri Ramakrishna singing, his voice trembling with love and emotion."
A few women devotees now entered the room and the conversation stopped. It was time for me to take leave. Again the Mother began to talk about God-realization. She said, "Do you know, my child, what it is like? It is just like a candy in the hand of a child. Some people beg the child to part with it. He does not care to give it to them. But he easily hands it over to another whom he likes. A man performs severe austerities throughout his life to realize God, but he does not succeed, whereas another man gets realization practically without any effort. It depends upon the grace of God. He bestows His grace upon anyone He likes. Grace is the important thing"
That day the Holy Mother was coming to our Ballyganj home. All the necessary arrangements had been made from the previous day. A separate seat, a new set of white marble vessels, etc., had been purchased for her use. The whole night I couldn't sleep for joy at the thought of the Mother's coming. She was to come only by noon, but under the impression that her arrival was to be earlier, Sri Shokaharan had gone to her Baghbazar house early in the morning and was waiting there with the carriage. We also finished our household duties early and were ready to receive her. I spread the Holy Mother's seat, decorated all-around with flowers, sprinkled Ganges water all over the house, and made a garland of flowers. On either side of her seat two large bouquets spread their fragrance.
As the time of her arrival neared, we were on the lookout, in eager expectation. At last the blessed moment arrived. Hearing the sound of the carriage, we all went downstairs. As the carriage stopped, I beheld the Holy Mother's smiling face casting a compassionate glance on us. When she got down everyone crowded round to take the dust of her feet. Seeing us all, her eyes were filled with tears of love.
Golap-Ma, the youngest aunt, Nalini-Didi Radhu and a few monks came with her. We led her upstairs, and after seating her, bowed down at her feet. The Mother said affectionately, "Have you all finished your meal?" With these words, she touched my chin endearingly. Till now I was too busy with the arrangements for the visit to think of meals or anything else. I now hurried downstairs to arrange for lunch.
Upstairs the gramophone was playing. Finding a little respite from work, I went up. Listening to the music of the machine, the Holy Mother was immensely pleased. "What a wonderful machine is this!" she said, bubbling with joy like a small girl. It was very hot. The Mother was reclining in the verandah on a mat. Near her all others were seated. In a stone pot iced water was kept, which the Holy Mother sipped now and then. Seeing me, she called, "Hullo, take a little ice water." I drank some as her Prasad and went to the kitchen.
After dusk, the offering to the Master was arranged in the next room. The Holy Mother came and asked Golap-Ma to make the offering but she declined. "You do it please. When you are here, why should I?" she said. So the Holy Mother sat down to make the offering. "How beautifully has everything been arranged!" she remarked. She was all praise for everything she saw and made us all immensely happy. Offering was over, and the Mother and the rest sat down to partake of the Prasad. The Holy Mother finished her meal first. She sat in an easy chair in the verandah and called to me, "Hullo, give me a betel roll." I was yet busy serving Golap-Ma. Quickly I took a betel roll to her. Ashamed that she had to ask for the roll, I said to Sumati, "Could, you not wait near the door with a betel roll? You saw how busy I was." A little later the Holy Mother came down. Taking a lamp, I also went with her.
It was time for departure. The Mother did not like to travel by car, as once a dog was crushed under her vehicle. But the distance was long and unless a car was used, she would reach her destination very late. So the Mother agreed to the devotees' request to use a car. She got ready, after making repeated Pranams to the Master. Blessing us all, she got into the vehicle.
* * * *
I saw the Mother one night. She was lying on her bed. Another woman was near her. She at once sat up in bed so that I might bow before her. In the course of conversation she said, "At the time of creation, people were born with the quality of Sattva, light. They had wisdom from their very birth. Consequently they at once realized the unreal nature of the world. They renounced it and practised austerity. They were liberated in no time. The Creator found that the purpose of his creation was going to be frustrated. These wise men, who were thus liberated, were unfit for the continuance of the play of the world. Then he again started the work of creation and mixed the qualities of Rajas (activity) and Tamas (inertia) with, the Sattva. Thus His purpose was fulfilled." Then she cited a popular verse bearing on the theme of creation, and said, "In our young age we acquired these ideas from the country dramas. But now these have become rare."
Some of the young girls, relatives of the Holy Mother, were reading loudly from a book in another room. The Mother said, "Listen, how loudly they are reading! They have forgotten that there are many people on the ground floor."
Radhu's mother, the insane sister-in-law of the Holy Mother, entered the room and said, "Lakshmi-mani (Sri Ramakrishna's niece) is going to Navadvip on a pilgrimage. I wanted to go with her. But you have stood in my way." She left the room in a pique. The Mother said, "How can I allow her to go with Lakshmi? Lakshmi is a devotee. She would sing and dance with other devotees. She would not observe the distinction of caste and would dine with others. But Radhu's mother would not understand this. She hardly knows that the devotees need not observe caste rules among themselves. So she would come back and criticize the conduct of
Lakshmi before others. Have you met Lakshmi?"
Devotee: No, Mother.
Mother: She is in Dakshineswar. Visit her one day. Have you been to Dakshineswar?
Devotee: Yes, Mother, I have visited the place many a time. But I did not know that she had been living there.
Mother: Have you seen the Nahabat at Dakshineswar, where I used to stay?
Devotee: Yes, Mother, I have seen it from the outside.
Mother: When you visit the place another day, go inside the room. When I stayed there, my entire world consisted of that small room. Even the vessel containing fish was hung up. I had never seen water taps before. I came to Calcutta one day and entered a room where there was a tap. I opened the tap. Before the water rushed out, there came a hissing sound, like that of a snake, out of the tap. I was terror-stricken and ran from the room. I at once came to the other ladies of the house and cried, "There is a snake in that water pipe. It is hissing." They laughed and said, "There is no snake there. Do not be afraid. The hissing sound comes from the air being forced out by the rushing water." Then we laughed and laughed till our sides began to ache.
Saying this, the Holy Mother laughed heartily again. So sweet and innocent a laughter! I too could not hold back my laughter any more and thought, "So guileless is our Mother!"
Mother: Have you seen Sri Ramakrishna's birthday festival at Belur?
Devotee: No, Mother. I have never been to the monastery at Belur. I have heard that the monks who live there do not like a crowd of women in the monastery. Therefore I hesitate to go there.
Mother: Go there once and see the celebration of Sri Ramakrishna's birthday.
* * *
It was evening when I went to Baghbazar to see the Holy Mother. She was kind enough to ask me to spread her small carpet on the floor and fetch her beads. She soon became absorbed in her meditation. Across the lane there was an open space. A few labourers lived there with their families. One of the male members began to beat a woman severely, probably his wife. Slaps and fisticuffs began to be showered upon her. Then he kicked her with such force that she was thrown to a distance with a child in her arms.
Then he started kicking her again. The Mother could not proceed with her meditation any more. Though she was extremely modest and would not usually talk even loud enough to be heard by people on the ground floor, she now came to the porch of the second floor, stood by the iron railing, and cried aloud in a tone of sharp reprimand, "You rogue! Are you going to kill the girl outright? I am afraid she is already dead!" Hardly had the man looked at her than he became quiet like the snake before its charmer, and released the woman. The sympathy of the Mother made the woman burst into loud sobs. We heard that her only fault was that she had not cooked in time. Afterwards the man became his old self again and wanted to be at peace with the woman. The Holy Mother saw this and came back to her room.
Some time later, the voice of a beggar was heard in the lane. He was crying, "Radha-Govinda! Glory unto God! Please be kind to the blind." The Mother said. "This beggar passes yonder lane almost every night. At first he would cry, 'Please be kind to the poor blind.' But Golap one day rightly said to him, 'Please utter that name, Radha-Krishna-the name of God. This will serve the double purpose of uttering the holy name and also of reminding the householders of God. Otherwise you will, day and night, think of your blindness alone.' Since then, the blind man, while passing through this lane, takes the name of God. Golap gave him a piece of cloth. He also gets alms in other forms."
* * *
I went to Baghbazar one evening and heard the Holy Mother saying, "New devotees should be given the privilege of service in the shrine room. Their new zeal makes them serve the Lord carefully. The others are tired of service. Service, in the real sense of the word, is not a joke. One should be extremely careful about making His service perfectly flawless. But the truth is, God knows our foolishness and therefore He forgives us." One woman devotee was near her. I do not know if these words were directed towards her. The Mother was asking her to be careful in picking the right kind of flowers and in making sandal paste for the purpose of worship, as also in not touching any part of the body, cloth or hair while working in the shrine. "One must work in the shrine room with great attention," said she, "Offerings and the rest should be made the proper time."
It was half-past eight in the evening when I came to the place of the Holy Mother. She was absorbed in meditation in the porch to the north of the shrine room. We waited for a while in another room. The Mother came there and said with a smile, "I am glad to see you, my child."
Devotee: I have brought my sister with me, Mother. Is Aratrika1 (the evening service) over?
1 A form of worship in which the most important item is the waving of light and incense before the image.
Mother: No. You may witness it now. I shall join you presently.
The evening service soon commenced. Many ladies sat in the shrine room and began to pray. After the worship was over, we prostrated before the image and came to the adjacent room to meet the Holy Mother.' While we were at her place we were unwilling to lose sight of her even for a moment.
A few minutes later, the Mother came to the room. An old lady was learning a devotional song from another. The Mother said. "I am afraid she may not be able to teach the song correctly. Ah, what a great singer the Master was! His voice was so sweet. While singing he would be one with his song. His voice is still ringing in my ears. When I remember it, other voices appear so flat. But Naren also had a melodious voice. Before leaving this city he came to see me and sang a few songs. While taking leave of me he said, 'Mother, if I can return as a man in the true sense of the term. I shall see you again; otherwise good-bye!' what do you mean, my child?' I cried. 'Well,' he replied, 'I shall soon come back through your grace.' Girish Babu also' had a sweet voice."
Radhu came to the room and requested the Mother to lie down by her. She said, "You go and lie on the bed. These devotees have come from a distance. I should like to sit with them for a while." Radhu still insisted. I said, "Let us also go to your bedroom. You may lie there on your bed." The Mother asked us to follow her. The Mother lay on her bed and began to talk to us about various things. I was fanning her. She said after a few minutes, "It is now cool. Please do not take any more trouble." I rubbed her feet. An old lady was explaining to another about the six centres as described in Yoga. Golap-Ma forbade her to do so. But still she continued. The Mother heard her words and said to me with a smile, "Sri Ramakrishna with his own hands drew for me the picture of Kundalini and the six Yogic centres." I asked her if she still had the picture with her. The Mother replied, "No, my child. I had then no idea of the devotees coming to us. I have lost the paper."
It was eleven o'clock at night. We prostrated before her and took leave of her. The Mother sat on her bed and blessed us. She called me aside and said, "Spiritual progress becomes easier if husband and wife agree in their views regarding spiritual practices."
We had plenty of flowers at our Ballygunj home. The Holy Mother was always pleased with flowers. One day I gathered a large quantity of them and came to see her. I found her just ready for the worship. I arranged the flowers, and she sat on the carpet before the image. I forgot to keep aside some flowers for worshipping the feet of the Holy Mother. So I was sorry to think that it would not be possible for me to worship her that day. But I soon found out that she had anticipated my secret desire. She herself had separated some flowers on the tray. After the worship was over, she said to me, "Now, my dear child, I have kept those flowers in the tray for you. Bring them here." Just then a devotee came to see the Mother with a large quantity of fruits. She was very pleased to see him. She put a mark of sandal paste on his forehead and stroked him by touching the chin. I had never seen her express her affection for any man devotee in such a manner. Next she asked me to hand over a few flowers to him. He accepted them. I found his whole body trembling with devotional fervour. With great joy he offered those flowers at her feet and left after accepting the Prasada. She sat on the cot and invited me very tenderly to come to her. I worshipped her feet. With great love, she placed her hand on my head and kissed me. I was deeply touched by her blessings.
After a while I found her on the roof drying her hair. She invited me to come near her and said, "Take off the cloth from your head and dry your hair, otherwise it may affect your health." Golap-Ma came to the roof and requested the Mother to make an offering of food in the shrine room. The Mother came down from the roof. I also followed her after a while to the shrine room. Like a bashful young bride, she was saying to Sri Ramakrishna in a soft voice, "Come now; your meal is ready." Then she came to the image of Gopala and said, "O my Gopala, come for your meal." I was just behind her. Suddenly she looked at me and said with a smile, "I am inviting them all to their noonday meal." With these words, the Holy Mother entered the room where the food was offered. Her earnestness and devotion made me feel that the Deities, as it were, listened to her words and followed her to the offering room. I was pinned to the ground with wonder!
After the offering was over, we all sat together for our meal. Then the Mother asked me to rest for a while. A man came with a basket of fruits. The fruits were meant for offering. He asked the monks what he should do with the basket. They told him to throw it out in the lane. The Mother got up and went to the porch. She looked at the lane and said to me, "Look there. They have asked him to throw away such a nice basket! It does not matter for them in the least. They are all monks and totally unattached. But we cannot allow such a waste. We could have utilized the basket at least for keeping the peelings of the vegetables." She asked someone to fetch the basket and wash it. The basket was kept for some future use. I learnt a lesson from her words. But we are so slow to learn.
After some time a beggar came to the house and shouted for some alms. The monks felt annoyed and said rudely, "Go away now. Don't disturb us." At these words the Holy Mother said, "Did you hear their remarks? They have driven away the poor man. They could not shake off their idleness and give something to the beggar. He only wanted a handful of rice. And they could not take the trouble to do this bit of work. Is it proper to deprive a man of what is his due? Even to the cow we owe these peelings of the vegetables. We should hold these near her mouth."
I went to see the Holy Mother in the evening. I had been residing at our Baghbazar house at that time and I visited her almost every day. Finding her alone I narrated to her a dream and said, "Mother, one night I saw Sri Ramakrishna in a dream. You had been living then at Jayrambati. I saluted him and asked, 'Where is the Mother?' He said, 'Follow that lane and you will find a thatched cottage. She is seated in the front porch.'" The Holy Mother was on her bed. With great enthusiasm she sat up and said, "You are quite right. Your dream is true." "Is it, then, true?" I said in surprise, "I had the idea that your home at Jayrambati is a brick building. But in the dream I saw the earthen floor, thatched roof, etc., and therefore concluded that it was all illusory."
In the course of conversation regarding austerity for the realization of God, she said, "Golap-Ma and Yogin-Ma devoted a great deal of their time to meditation and the repetition of God's name. Yogin-Ma practised the greatest austerities. At one time she lived only on milk and fruits. Even now she spends much of her time in spiritual practices. The mind of Golap-Ma is hardly affected .by external things. She does not even hesitate to eat cooked vegetables purchased from the market, which a Brahmin widow would never touch. "
It was arranged to have devotional songs on the Goddess Kali sung that evening at the house of the Holy Mother. The monks of the Belur Math would take part in it. The music commenced at half-past eight in the evening. Many of the women devotees sat on the verandah to hear the music. I was rubbing oil on the Mother's feet and could hear the songs from the room. I had heard them many a time before. But that day those songs, coming from the mouth of the devotees, had a novel charm. They were full of power and thrill. My eyes became moist. They were singing now and then those songs which Sri Ramakrishna had himself sung. At such times the Holy Mother would cry out with enthusiasm, "Yes, Sri Ramakrishna would sing this song!" They commenced the song whose first line runs thus: "The bee of my mind has become fascinated with the blue lotus of the Divine Mother's feet!," The Holy Mother could not lie down any more. A few tear-drops trickled down her cheeks. She said, "Come, darling. Let us go to the verandah." After the singing was over, I saluted the Mother and returned home.
22nd July, 1918
It was half past seven in the evening when I arrived at the house of the Holy Mother. Only two months back she had returned from her village home, emaciated by a protracted attack of malaria. She greeted me with her usual smile and said, "It is a very warm day. Take a little rest and refresh yourself. What about your sister? Has she reached home?"
Devotee: Yes, Motber. I started after she had reached home.
Mother: Take this fan from Radhu,and rub this medicated oil on my back. There are heat-blisters all over my body.
As I started rubbing the oil, the bell rang for evening worship. The Holy Mother sat on her bed and saluted God with folded hands. Other devotees went to the shrine room to witness the worship.
The Mother said, "Everybody says regretfully, 'There is so much misery in the world. We have prayed so much to God, but still there is no end of misery.' But misery is only the gift of God. It is the symbol of His compassion."
That day my mind had been greatly troubled. Did she really know it and therefore address those words to me? The Mother continued, "Who has not suffered from misery in this world? Brinde, the woman devotee of Krishna, said to him, 'Who says that you are compassionate? In your incarnation as Rama you made Sita weep for you all through her life. And in this incarnation of Krishna, Radha has been weeping on your account. Your parents suffered extreme agony in the prison of Kamsa and cried day and night uttering your name. Then why do I repeat your name? It is because your name removes all fear of death.' "
Referring to a woman, the Holy Mother said, "People of that appearance are generally devoid of Bhakti, devotion to God. I have heard it from Sri Ramakrishna."
Devotee: 'Yes, Mother, I have read in the Kathamrita1 that he used to say that people who are not frank cannot make real spiritual progress.
1 A book on Sri Ramakrishna's teachings in Bengali. Its English translation is known as the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna.
Mother: Oh, you are referring to that. He said those words in the house of a devotee named Narayana. A man had a mistress. She once came to Sri Ramakrishna and said with repentance, "That man ruined me. Then he robbed me of my money and jewels."
Sri Ramakrishna was aware of the innermost contents of people's minds. But still he would like to hear about things from their own mouth. He said to that woman, "Is it true? But he used to give us tall talks about devotion." Then he described those traits which stand in the way of spirituality. In the end the woman confessed to him all her sins and was thus released from their evil effects.
Nalini: How is it possible, Mother? How can one be absolved from sin by simply expressing it in words? Is it possible to wash away sin in this manner?
Mother: Why not, my dear child? Sri Ramakrishna was a perfect soul. Certainly one can be free from sin by confessing it to one like him. And one thing more, if at a certain place people talk of virtue and vice, those present there must take a share of those qualities.
Nalini: How is this possible?
Mother: Let me explain. Imagine a man confessed to you his virtue or vice. Whenever you think of that man you will remember his virtuous or sinful acts. And they will thus leave an impression upon your mind. Is it not true, my child?
Again the talk turned to human misery, affliction and worry. The Mother said, "Many people come to me and confide their worries. They say, 'We have not realized God. How can we attain to peace?' Thereupon the thought would flash in my mind; 'Why do they say so? Am I then a superhuman being? I never knew what worry was. And the vision of God, it lies, as it were in the palm of my hand. Whenever I like it, I can have it.'"
I had read of the Holy Mother's dacoit father. Wishing to hear of it from her, I said: "Mother, I read' about an episode in the book. You were once coming to Dakshineswar. Lakshi-Didi and others were with you. You could not walk as fast as they. Seeing that night was approaching, you told them to go ahead and you were lagging far behind. At this time you met those who have come to be known as your dacoit father and mother."
Mother: It is not true that I was altogether alone. There were two other old women.1 The three of us fell behind. Then seeing that man with silver wrist bands, shaggy hair, dark complexion, and a long stick in hand, I was terribly frightened. In those days dacoities used to take place in that area. The man understood that, we were frightened and asked, "Hullo, where are you going?" I said, "To the east." The man responded, saying, "This is not the road, your path lies that way." Seeing that I did not proceed even then, he said, "Don't be afraid. There is a woman with me. She has fallen behind," Then I called him 'father', and took refuge in him. Was I like this in those days? How strong, I was! I walked for three days at a stretch. I had walked around Brindavan and never felt tired.
1 It is true that there were two other women with the Mother at the beginning. But the more accepted version says that when she was actually confronted by the dacoit, she was alone.
Later the Holy Mother said: "Did you see the Nahabat at Dakshineswar? I used to stay there. The room was so low that at first I would knock my head against the upper frame of the door. One day, I got a cut on the head. Then I became accustomed to it. The head bent of itself as soon as I approached the door. Many stout aristocratic women of Calcutta frequently came there. They never entered the room. They would stand at the door and lean forward holding the jambs. And peeping in they would remark, addressing me, 'Ah, what a tiny room for our good girl! She is, as it were, in exile, like Sita.'" Turning to her nieces she continued, "You won't be able to stay in such a room even for a day." "True, aunt!" they ejaculated, "everything is different with you."
Devotee: I read in Gurudas Burman's book that finally they built at Dakshineswar a thatched house for you. The Master came there once, and because of heavy rain could not return to his own room.
Mother: What thatched house! It was just a small shed. All that is properly written in Sarat's book.1 M's book also is good. He has recorded the Master's own words. What sweet words! I heard that there is so much material that there could be four or five parts more. He has now become old; would he be able to do all that? Selling the book, he seems to have got much money. I heard that he has kept aside all that money. For my house at Jayrambati, he gave nearly a thousand rupees (for the house Rs. 400 and for expenses Rs. 500). And every month he gives me ten rupees. If I stay here sometimes he gives twenty or twenty-five rupees. Earlier, when he was working as a teacher he used to give monthly two rupees.
1 Sri Sri Ramakrishna Lila-prasanga, (Bengali) the authentic study of the life of Sri Ramakrishna; translated in English as Sri Ramakrishna the Great Master.
Devotee: Is it Girish Babu who gave much money to the Math?
Mother: Not a large amount. It is Suresh (Surendra Nath) Mitra who gave regularly. But Girish, too, did give something. And he bore all my expenses at Nilambar Babu's house for a year and a half. He has not given any large sum to the Math. And wherefrom could he give? He never had so much money. Earlier he was a wretch and used to move in bad company, running a theatre. He was a man of great faith and so obtained the Master's grace. The Master gave him salvation. In each Incarnation He liberates one wretch, like Jagai and Madhai in the Incarnation of Sri Chaitanya. The Master once said this also, that Girish was an aspect of Siva. What is there in money, my dear? The Master could not even touch money. His hand used to curl back when any metal contacted him. He used to say, "The world is an illusion. Ah, Ramlal, if I felt that the world was real, I would have covered your Kamarpukur with gold. But I know that it is all illusion. God alone is real"
Maku, her niece, said sorrowfully, "I could not settle myself at one place!" The Mother replied, "How is that? Wherever you live, you must feel quite at home. You think that you will be happy at your husband's place. How is that possible? He gets a small salary. How can you manage with such a pittance? You are staying with me. It is just like your father's place. Married girls sometimes live with their parents, don't they? Can't you practise renunciation a little?"
I requested the Mother to tell me something more about Sri Ramakrishna. "What the books say is not always correct", Mother said, "Ram's1 book does not give a correct description of the Shodasi Puja, when the Master worshipped me."
1 Ramachandra Datta, a householder disciple of Sri Ramakrishna.
She described the incident and said, "It was not at home, it was at Dakshineswar, in the Master's room, near the circular verandah, where the huge pitcher of Ganga water now stands. Hriday had made all the arrangements."
Yogin-Ma was then standing by the window, and was about to say something. The Mother said, "Come in. I seldom see you now-a-days." Yogin-Ma laughed and entered the room. Her foot touched my body. As she was about to salute me with folded hands, I interrupted her and prostrated myself before her. "What is this, Yogin-Ma?" said I, "I am not even fit to take the dust of your feet. Why should you salute me if your foot touched my body?" In reply Yogin-Ma said, "Why not? A snake, whether big or small, is a snake all the same. You are all devotees and therefore worthy of our respect." I looked at the Mother. The same compassionate smile lit her face. I took leave of her late at night.
28th July, 1918
It was evening when I visited the Holy Mother at her Baghbazar home. Just before evening service an elderly widow came and saluted the Mother by placing her head on the feet of the Mother. The Mother was greatly annoyed and said, "Why do you touch the feet with the head? I am not doing well at all. This sort of thing makes me worse." The Holy Mother washed her feet after the widow had left the place.
Later, while I was rubbing the Mother's body with medicated oil, the conversation drifted to Lalit Babu, a great householder devotee. I said, "He was at one time fatally ill. But I heard that he recovered through your grace."
Mother: He had many unfulfilled desires. He was very seriously ill with dropsy and was on the point of death. He said to me in a very plaintive voice. "Mother, I have a great desire to build temples and hospitals at Kamarpukur and Jayrambati; but this great desire is not going to be fulfilled." Ah, Sri Ramakrishna saved his life that time. Now he wants to carry out his plans. Let him try. He has bought a tank for me.
30th July, 1918
Swami Premananda, a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, passed away in the evening. I went to see the Mother at dusk. The Mother said, "Come in, my child. Take your seat. Today my Baburam (Swami Premananda) has passed away. I have been weeping since morning." She again burst into tears. Continuing she said, "Baburam was dearest to my heart. The strength, devotion, rationality and all the great virtues were embodied in him. He was the very light of the Belur Math. His mother came from a family without any male heirs. So she inherited her father's property. She became a little proud of it. She herself confessed it to me and said, 'I had some gold ornaments and I thought of the world as a mere mud-puddle.' She left behind four children. The fifth one she lost before her own death."
After a while I saw the Holy Mother placing her head at the feet of the picture of Sri Ramakrishna hung on the southern wall of the room and uttering in a heart-rending voice! "Lord, you have taken away my Baburam!" I could hardly restrain my tears.
Golap-Ma was also seriously ill with blood dysentery. She was almost on her death-bed.
31st July, 1918
It was half past seven in the evening. The Holy Mother was seated in the shrine room. This day, too, her conversation turned on the late Swami Premananda. She said, "My child, in the body of Baburam there was neither flesh nor blood after his last illness. It was a mere skeleton." Chandra Babu came to the room and joined in our talk. He told the Mother that some devotees gave sandal-wood, butter, flowers, incense, etc., worth four or five hundred rupees for the cremation of the Swami's body. The Mother remarked, "Their money is, indeed, blessed. They have spent it for a devotee of God. God has given them abundantly and will give them more." Chandra Babu left the room.
"Listen, my child," she continued, "however spiritual a man may be, he must pay the tax for the use of the body to the last farthing.1 But the difference between a great soul and an ordinary man is this: The latter weeps while leaving this body, whereas the former laughs. Death seems to him a mere play.
1 i.e undergo suffering and death incidental to the embodied state
"Ah, my dear Baburam came to Sri Ramakrishna while he was a mere boy. Sri Ramakrishna used to make great fun with the boys. Naren (Swami Vivekananda) and Baburam would roll on the ground with side-splitting laughter. While living in the Cossipore garden, I was once climbing the steps, carrying a pitcher with five pounds of milk. I felt giddy and the milk spilt on the ground. My heels were dislocated. Naren and Baburam came running there and took care of me. There was a great inflammation of the feet. Sri Ramakrishna heard of the accident and said to Baburam, 'Well, Baburam, it is a nice mess I am now in. Who will cook my food? Who will feed me now?' He was then ill with cancer in the throat and lived only on farina pudding. I used to make it and feed him in his room in the upper storey of the house. I had, then, a ring on my nose. Sri Ramakrishna touched his nose and made the sign of the ring by describing a circle with his finger, in order to indicate me. He then said, 'Baburam, can you put her (making the sign) in a basket and carry her on your shoulder to this room?' Naren and Baburam were convulsed with side-splitting laughter. Thus he used to cut jokes with them. After three days the swelling subsided. Then they helped me to go upstairs with his meals.
"Baburam used to tell his mother, 'How little you love me! Do you love me as Sri Ramakrishna does?' 'How foolish!' she would reply, 'I am your mother, and I do not love you! What do you mean?' Such was the depth of Sri Ramakrishna's love. While four years old, Baburam would say, 'I will not marry, or else I will die.' When Sri Ramakrishna was suffering from cancer in the throat and could not swallow his food, he said one day, 'I shall eat later on in my subtle body through a million mouths.' Baburam, replying, said 'I do not care for your million mouths or your subtle body. What I want is that you should eat through this mouth and that I should see this gross body.' "
Golap-Ma had been suffering from an attack of blood dysentery. She was slightly better today. The doctor observed that it would take three months to be cured completely. The Holy Mother said, "Blood dysentery is not a simple disease. Sri Ramakrishna would often be down with that disease. It happened frequently during the rainy season. At one time he was rather seriously ill. I used to attend on him. A woman from Banaras had come to Dakshineswar. She suggested a remedy. I followed her directions and the Master was soon cured. The woman could not be seen any more. I never met her again. She had really helped me a great deal. I inquired about her at Banaras but could not find her. We have often seen that whenever Sri Ramakrishna felt the need, people would come of themselves to Dakshineswar and then disappear just as suddenly."
"I also suffered from dysentery, my child. The body became a mere skeleton. I would lay myself down near the tank. One day I saw my reflection in the water and noticed that all that remained of my body was only a few bones. I thought, 'Dear me! What is the use of this body? Let me give it up. Let me leave it here.' A woman came and said, 'Hallo, Mother! Why are you here? Come, let us, go home.' She took me home."
Late at night, I took leave of the Holy Mother.
1st August, 1918
Today I found the Mother alone and therefore had a long talk with her. Our conversation drifted mainly to the monastic disciples of Sri Ramakrishna. Perhaps, on account of the passing away of Swami Premananda, the Mother had been continually thinking of these monks. Referring to them, the Holy Mother said, "Sri Ramakrishna accepted his disciples only after thoroughly examining them. What an austere life they led at the Baranagore monastery after his passing away! Niranjan (Swami Niranjanananda) and others often starved themselves. They spent all their, time in, meditation and prayer. One day these young monks were talking among themselves: 'We have renounced everything in the name of Sri Ramakrishna. Let us see if he would supply us with food if we simply depend upon him. We will not tell anybody about our wants. We will not go out for alms!' They covered their bodies with sheets of cloth and sat down for meditation. The whole day passed. It was late at night. They heard somebody knocking at the door. Naren left the seat and asked one of his brother monks, 'Please open the door and see who is there. First of all, notice if he has anything in his hand.' What a miracle! As soon as the door was opened, it was found that a man was standing there. He had brought some delicious food from the temple of Gopala, on the bank of the Ganges. They were exceedingly happy and felt convinced of the protecting hand of Sri Ramakrishna, They offered that food to Sri Ramakrishna at that late hour of the night and partook of the Prasada. Such things happened many a time. . . . Now the monks do not experience any such difficulty. Alas! What hardship Naren (Swami Vivekananda) and Baburam (Swami Premananda) passed through! Even my Rakhal (Swami Brahmananda), who is now the President of the Ramakrishna Mission, had to cleanse the pots and kettles, many a day. At one time Naren was travelling as an itinerant monk towards Gaya and Varanasi. He did not get any food for two days and was lying down under a tree. He found a man standing near with delicious food and a jar of water in his hands. The man said, 'Here is the Prasada of Rama. Please accept it.' Naren said, 'You do not know me, my good friend. You have made a mistake. Perhaps you have brought these articles for someone else.' The man said with the utmost humility, 'No, revered sir. I have brought this food solely for you. I was enjoying a little nap at noontime when I saw a man in dream. He said: Get up quickly; a holy man is lying under yonder tree; give him some food. I dismissed the whole thing as a mere dream. Therefore I turned on my side and again fell asleep. Then I again dreamt of the man, who said, giving me a push: I am asking you to get up and still you are sleeping! Carry out my order without any more delay. Then I thought that it was not an illusory dream. It was the command of Rama. Therefore in obedience to His command I brought these articles for you; sir.' Naren realized that it was all due to the grace of Sri Ramakrishna, and cheerfully accepted the food."
"A similar incident happened another day. Naren was travelling in the Himalayas for three days without any food. He was about to faint when a Mussulman Fakir gave him a cucumber. It saved his life that time. After his return from America, Naren was one day addressing a meeting at Almora. He saw that Mussulman seated in a corner. Naren at once went to him, took him by the hand, and made him sit in the centre of the gathering. The audience was surprised. Naren said, 'This gentleman saved my life once.' He then narrated the whole incident. He also gave the Fakir some money. But at first he refused to accept the gift. He said, 'What have I done that you are so anxious to make me a gift?' Naren did not yield and pressed some money into his pocket."
"Naren took me to the Belur Math at the time of the first Durga Puja festival, and through me gave twenty-five rupees to the priest as his fee. They spent fourteen hundred rupees on that auspicious occasion. The place became crowded with people. The monks worked hard. Naren came to me and said, 'Mother, please make me lie down with fever.' No sooner had he said this than he was down with a severe attack of fever. I thought, 'Goodness gracious! What is this? How will he be cured?' 'Do not be anxious, Mother,' said Naren, 'I have myself begged for this fever. My reason is this. These boys are working hard. But if I see the slightest mistake, I shall fly into a rage and abuse them. I may even give them slaps. It will be painful to them as well as to me. Therefore I thought it would be better to lie down with fever for some time.' When the day's function was over, I came to him and said, 'Dear child, the work is over now. Please get up.' Naren said that he was all right and got up from bed."
"Naren brought also his own mother to the Math at the time of the Durga Puja. She roamed from one garden to another and picked chillies, egg-plants, etc. She felt a little proud thinking that it was all due to her son, Naren. Naren came to her and said, 'What are you doing there? Why do you not go and meet the Holy Mother? You are simply picking up these vegetables. May be, you are thinking that your son has done all this work. No, mother. You are mistaken. It is He who has done all this. Naren is nothing.' Naren meant that the Math was founded through the grace of Sri Ramakrishna. What great devotion! . . . . My Baburam is dead! Alas! who will look after the Durga Puja this year? "
6th August, 1918
When I went to-day to see the Holy Mother, I found her in the porch, absorbed in meditation. Some time after, five or six women devotees came to her to pay their respects. They prostrated themselves before the image of Sri Ramakrishna in the shrine room. The Mother asked them about themselves. Nalini introduced them. One of them had come to Calcutta for treatment. The doctor had diagnosed her trouble as tumour in the abdomen. He had asked her to be operated. She was extremely nervous about the operation. The Holy Mother did not allow any of them to touch her feet. I do not know the reason. They begged her again and again to let them take the dust of her feet. The Mother firmly asked them to bow to her from a distance. They pointed to the sick girl and said. "Please bless her so that she may be cured. May she be able to pay her respects to you again." The Mother answered them, saying, "Bow down before Sri Ramakrishna and pray to him sincerely. He is everything." The Holy Mother appeared to be restive and said to them. "Good-bye, my children. It is getting late for you."
After they had left, the Mother said, "Please sweep the room and sprinkle it with Ganges water. It is now time for food-offering for the Lord." Her order was at once carried out.
She lay down on the bed and gave me a fan, saying, "My child, please fan me a little. The whole body is burning. My salutations to your Calcutta! People come here and lay before me the catalogue of their sorrows. Again there are others who have committed many sinful acts. There are still others who have procreated twenty-five children! They weep because ten of them are dead! Are they human beings? No! They are veritable beasts. No self-control! No restraint! It is therefore that Sri Ramakrishna used to say, 'One seer of milk mixed with five seers of water! It is so difficult to thicken such milk. My eyes have become swollen by constantly blowing the fire to keep it burning. It is such a hard job to thicken such milk! Where are my sincere children who are ready to renounce everything for God? Let them come to me. Let me talk to them. Otherwise life is so unbearable.' These words are so true. Fan me dear. People have been streaming here today since four o'clock in the afternoon. I cannot bear the misery of people any more."
"The wife of Balaram also came here today. She is the sister of my Baburam. She wept bitterly for him. She said, 'Is he just an ordinary brother?' True, he was like a god."
14th August, 1918
I found the Holy Mother engaged in conversation with a widow, the sister of Dr. Durgapada Babu. The doctor's sister had become widowed at an early age. There was some trouble regarding the property left by her husband. She could not secure the probate of the will. They were talking about these things, and at last the Holy Mother said to the widow, "As you have no right to sell the property, I would advise you to place it under the care of a good man. A worldly-minded person can never be trusted in money matters. Only a real monk can resist the temptation of money.
Please do not worry so much, my child. Let the will of God be done. You have been following the right path. The Lord will never put you to any difficulty. You want to leave now? All right but write now and then, and come again."
After the widow had left, Shyamadas, the Ayurvedic physician, came to see Golap-Ma. The Holy Mother waited a while for him, but when she found that he had left, she lay down on her bed and, looking at me, said, "Now do your duty." I began to rub her body with the medicated oil. The Mother said, "The sister of Girish Ghosh was very fond of me. She would always keep apart for me a little of all the articles of food she cooked at home and send them here. A Brahmana would bring them, and she would sit by me as I ate them. Her love for me was deep. She had been married in an aristocratic family and owned considerable wealth; but her relatives had squandered away the money. Atul, the brother of Girish, started business with five thousand rupees. Besides, she had had to spend a large amount of money for her husband's illness which lasted for a year. In her will she expressed her desire to leave a hundred rupees for me. While alive she was ashamed to give me this amount. She thought one hundred rupees was too small an amount! After her passing, her brother came here and gave it to me. She had come to see me on the day previous to the Durga Puja. As long as she stayed, she never left me even for a second. I had planned to go to Banaras immediately after the Durga Puja. I was a little busy arranging my things and was moving from room to room. At last she said, 'May I take your leave now?' I was a little absent-minded and said, 'Yes, go.' She hurried down the stairs. As soon as she left, I said to myself, 'What a foolish thing have I done! Did I say to her: Go!1 Never before did I say such a thing to anybody.' And, alas, she never came back.2 I do not know why such words came out of my mouth."
1 The Indian custom is that anyone taking leave should be told, "Come again." It is very inauspicious to say 'Go' to anybody.
2 She passed away that very night.
* * *
I went to the Udbodhan Office in the evening. The Mother was lying in bed. Radhu also was lying by her side on another mat and was pressing her to tell a story. The Mother requested me to tell one instead. I was in a quandary. I did not know what to say. I knew the story of Mirabai, the great Vaishnava saint. I narrated it. As I recited the song of Mirabai which ends in the line, "God cannot be realized without love," the Mother cried out in an exalted mood, "Yes, it is very true. Nothing can be achieved without sincere love." But Radhu did not appreciate the story very much. Sarala at last came to my rescue. She told a story from the fairy tales. That pleased Radhu. The Holy Mother was very fond of Sarala. She had to nurse Golap-Ma who was ill, and so left the room after a while. Then Radhu asked me to massage her feet, but she was not pleased with my doing and requested me to give her a harder massage. The Mother said, "Sri Ramakrishna taught me the art of massaging by massaging my own body. Let me see your hand." I stretched out my hand towards her. She showed me how to massage. Radhu fell asleep very soon. The Mother said, "The mosquitoes are biting my feet. Please pass your hand gently over them." She was quiet for a while and then said, "This year is a very bad one for the Belur Math. Baburam, Devavrata and Sachin have passed away."
I had heard that Swami Brahmananda had seen a disembodied form some days before the passing away of Devavrata Maharaj. I asked her about the incident. The Mother said, "Please talk softly, my child; otherwise they will be frightened. Sri Ramakrishna also often saw many such spirits. One day he had been to the garden-house of Benipal with Rakhal (Swami Brahmananda). He was strolling in the garden when a spirit came to him and said, 'Why did you come here? We are being scorched. We cannot endure your presence. Leave this place at once.' How could it stand his purity and blazing holiness? He left the place with a smile. He did not disclose this to anybody."
"Immediately after supper he asked someone to call for a carriage, though it had been previously arranged that he would spend the night there. A carriage was brought and he returned to Dakshineswar that very night. I heard the sound of the wheels near the gate. I strained my ears and heard Sri Ramakrishna speaking with Rakhal. I was startled. I thought, 'I do not know if he has taken his supper. If not, where can I get any food at this dead of night?' I always used to keep something in the stores for him, at least farina. He would ask for food at odd hours. I had been quite sure of his not coming back that night and so my store was empty. All the gates of the temple-garden were barred and locked. It was one o'clock in the morning. He clapped his hands and began to repeat the names of God. The entrance gate was opened. I was thinking anxiously what to do about his food in case he was hungry. He shouted to me, 'Don't be anxious about my food. I have had my supper.' Then he narrated to Rakhal the story of the ghost. Rakhal was startled and said, 'Dear me! It was really wise of you not to have told me about it at that time. Otherwise my teeth would have been set on edge through fear. Even now I am seized with fear.'" The Mother ended the story with a hearty laugh.
Devotee: Mother, those spirits must have been foolish. Instead of asking him for their liberation, they told him to go away.
Mother: They will, no doubt, be liberated. His presence cannot be in vain. Once Naren (Swami Vivekananda) liberated a disembodied spirit in Madras.
I narrated one of my dreams to the Mother. I said, "Mother, I once dreamt that I was going to some place with my husband. We came to a river, the other bank of which could not be seen. We were going by the shady track along the river when a golden creeper so entwined my arms that I could not free them from it. From the other side of the river came a dark-complexioned boy with a ferry-boat. He said, 'Cut off the creeper from your arm and then only will I take you across the river.' I cut off almost the whole creeper but the last bit I could not get rid of. In the meantime my husband also disappeared. In despair I said to the boy, 'I cannot get rid of this bit. You must take me to the other side.' With these words I jumped into the boat. It sailed and my dream vanished."
The Mother said, "The boy whom you have seen is none other than Mahamaya, the great cosmic Illusionist. She took you across the waters of the world in that form. Everything, husband, wife, or even the body, is only illusory. These are all shackles of illusion. Unless you can free yourself from these bondages, you will never be able to go to the other shore of the world. Even this attachment to the body, the identification of the self with the body, must go. What is this body, my darling? It is nothing but three pounds of ashes when it is cremated. Why so much vanity about it? However strong or beautiful this body may be, its culmination is in those three pounds of ashes. And still people are so attached to it. Glory be to God!"
"Once I spent a couple of months at Kailwar in the district of Arrah. It is a very healthy place. Golap-Ma, Baburam's mother, Balaram's wife and others were with me. The country abounded in deer. A herd of them would roam about in the form of a triangle. No sooner had we seen them than they fled away like birds. I had never before seen anything running so swiftly. Sri Ramakrishna would say, 'Musk forms in the navel of the deer. Being fascinated with its smell, the deer run hither and thither. They do not know where the fragrance comes from. Likewise God resides in the human body, and man does not know it. Therefore he searches everywhere for bliss, not knowing that it is already in him' God alone is real. All else is false. What do you say, my child?"
The Holy Mother had nettle-rash all over her body. She said, "I have been suffering from this ailment for the last three years. I do not know for whose sins I have been suffering in this body. Otherwise how is it possible for me to get any disease?"
I went to see the Mother one evening and found that a number of girls from the Nivedita School had come. Among them were two girls from South India. When Mother learnt that they knew English, she said, "Let me see. Come on, translate this into English-'I shall now go home.'" One of them did it. Mother said again, "'What will you eat at home?'-how will that be in English?" Hearing the translation, Mother laughed heartily with joy. She asked them, "Can you sing?" When they answered in the affirmative, she asked them to sing a South Indian song. They began singing and Mother was delighted.
22nd August 1918
It was evening when I went to see the Holy Mother. She was lying on a mat on the floor near her couch. I prostrated myself before her and asked her in the course of our conversation, "Mother, it is a long time since I had been to our home at Kalighat. Should I go there now?"
Mother: Why don't you stay here for a few days more? Once you go to Kalighat you will not be able to come here so frequently. If you fail to come for one day, I become very anxious. You were not here yesterday. I was worried to think that you might be unwell. If you had failed to come today, I would have sent someone to inquire about you. But if your husband be ailing, if you think that he wants your presence there, then you will have to go to Kalighat.
When I told her that there was no such difficulty, and that all I feared was popular criticism for staying too long with my sister, she asked me not to mind it and advised me to stay on at Calcutta for a month more.
A Brahmacharin came up and said to the Mother that a certain woman devotee wanted to see her. The Mother was very tired and lay on her bed. She was evidently annoyed and said, "Dear me! I am to see another person! I shall die!" She sat on her bed. A little later, a well-dressed lady entered the room and bowed down to her, touching the Mother's feet with her head.
"You could salute from a distance," said the Mother. "Why do you touch the feet?" The Mother asked her about her welfare.
Devotee: You know Mother that my husband has been ailing for some time past.
Mother: Yes, I have heard of that. How is he now? What is the trouble with him? Who is treating him?
Devotee: He has been suffering from diabetes. His feet have swollen. The doctors say that it is a dangerous disease. But I do not care for their opinions. You must cure him, Mother. Please say that he will be cured.
Mother: I do not know anything, my child. The Master is everything. If he wills, your husband will be all right. I shall pray to the Master for him.
Devotee: I am now very happy, Mother. Sri Ramakrishna can never disregard your prayer.
She began to weep, putting her head on the feet of the Holy Mother.
The Mother consoled her and said, "Pray to the Master. He will cure your husband. What is his diet now?"
Devotee: He takes Luchi and such other things as are prescribed by the physician.
She soon took leave of the Holy Mother and went to see Swami Saradananda.
"I am burning day and night with the pain and misery of others," said the Mother, and took off the cloth from her body. I was about to rub her body with the medicated oil when a relative of the lady devotee who had just left, entered the room to salute her. She had to get up again. No sooner had she left the room than the Holy Mother lay down again and said, "Let anybody come. Whoever he may be, I am not going to get up again. What a trouble it is, my child, to get up again and again with my aching feet! Besides, I feel the burning sensation on my whole back due to the rashes. Please rub the oil well"
As I was rubbing the oil, the talk turned on the lady who had left. The Mother said, "Her husband is so dangerously ill. She has come here to pray to God for his recovery. Instead of being prayerful and penitent, she has covered herself with perfumes. Does this become one who comes to a shrine? Ah! Such is the nature of your modern people!"
As I was going to take leave of her, the Mother asked someone to give me Prasada.
23rd August 1918
I went to see the Mother in the evening. Referring to a woman devotee, she was saying, "She imposes very strict discipline upon her daughter-in-law. She should not go to such excess. Though she has to keep an eye upon her, she should also give her a little freedom. She is only a young girl. Naturally she likes to enjoy some nice things. If the lady becomes over-strict, she may go away from her or even commit suicide. What can she do then?"
Looking at me, she said, "She had painted her feet a little. Is it a crime to do so? Alas! She cannot even see her husband. The husband has become a monk. I saw my husband with my own eyes, nursed him, cooked for him and went near him whenever he permitted me. At other times, I have even stayed in the Nahabat for two months at a stretch without moving out. I bowed down to him from afar. He used to say, 'Her name is Sarada. She is Saraswati (Goddess of Learning). That is why she loves to adorn herself.1 He had told Hriday, 'See how much money is there in your box. Have a pair of nice gold armlets made for her.' He was ill then; still he arranged to get the ornaments made for me for Rs. 300. And mind you, he himself could not touch money."
1 On another occasion, Sri Ramakrishna had told Golap-Ma: "She (Holy Mother) is Sarada-Saraswati. She is born to bestow knowledge on others. She has hidden her beauty lest people should look upon her with impure eyes and thus commit sin."
"After the Master's passing away, I was at Kamarpukur. I was to come here to Calcutta, but many people began to object, 'Oh dear, will you go and stay among those youthful boys!' But I made up my mind that I would stay here only. Still one has to respect what society says. So I asked many people. Some began to say, 'Certainly you can go. They are all your disciples.' I merely listened. There was an old widow (Prasannamayi of the Lahas) in our village. People used to respect her as a wise and pious person. Later I went and asked her opinion. She replied, 'Why, you may certainly go. They are your disciples, like your own children. What is there in this to ask? Of course you can go.' Hearing that all approved of my moving to Calcutta. And so I came. Ah, for my sake, out of devotion for their Guru, they cherish even a cat from Jayrambati."
"My mother used to lament, 'Oh, I gave my daughter in marriage to such a mad son-in-law. She could not set up a household, nor have children. She could not even hear herself called 'mother'.' One day the Master heard this and said, 'Oh mother! Don't grieve on that account. You will see that your daughter will have so many children that she would be tired of hearing the cries of 'mother, mother' from them.' What he said has literally come to pass, my dear."
A little later, as night approached, I took leave of her and came away.
Another evening it was raining heavily. I had a rain-coat on but still my clothes got wet at the edges. When I went to the Holy Mother, she burst out laughing at the strange appearance I presented in the rain-coat. But when she felt my wet clothes as I made Pranam, she was immediately anxious. "Oh, you have got wet. Change your clothes quickly. Take Radhu's clothes," she said. "There is no need to change clothes, Mother. I am not at all wet. Just see!" I assured her. The Holy Mother examined me closely and was satisfied.
The topic of conversation now turned to Jayrambati.
Mother: At one time a terrible famine devastated Jayrambati.1 People without number would come to our house for food. We had a store of rice from the previous year's produce. My father made Khichuri, cooking that rice and pulse together. The Khichuri used to be kept in a number of pots. All the members of the family would take only that Khichuri. The starving people would also eat the same. My father would however say, "A little plain rice of good variety shall be cooked for my daughter Sarada (the Holy Mother). She will eat that." Sometimes the starving people would come in such large numbers that the food would not be sufficient for them. Then new Khichuri would be cooked, and when the hot stuff was poured in large earthen pots, I would fan and make it cool. People with hungry stomachs would be waiting for it. One day a low class girl came there. She had shaggy hair and blood-shot eyes like those of a lunatic. She saw the rice polishings soaking in a tub for the cattle and at once started eating it. We said to her, "There is Khichuri inside the house, go and eat it". But she was too impatient to wait. Is it a joke to bear the agony of an empty stomach? As soon as one takes a body, one takes on hunger and thirst also. This time at home when I was ill, one night I was so hungry! Sarala and all others were sleeping. Ah! They had toiled so long and slept. Could I wake them again? Never. So, lying down I felt all around. There was some parched rice in a dish and a few biscuits near the pillow. I was immensely happy. I ate that and drank water which was nearby in a pot. I was so hungry that I was not at all aware of what I ate.
1 In the year 1864. The Holy Mother was eleven years old then.
Saying this she began to laugh and continued, "I had high fever that time. What severe illness did I have at Koalpara! I was unconscious; calls of nature had to be answered in bed only. That time Sarala and others served me in a spirit of dedication. (In a weeping voice) So I wonder if I have to suffer like that again! That time I was cured by Dr. Kanjilal's medicine. Oh! What a burning sensation all over the body! Sarat also came to serve me."
A little later I asked her, "Mother, why did you write to us from Jayrambati not to mix with that lady devotee?" "Her path is different," she replied, "She is not of this (The Master's) path."
Next day when I went to the Holy Mother, she was sitting in the verandah telling her beads. The Mother welcomed me, finished her Japa and touching the rosary to her forehead, put it away. At that time the area in front of Mother's house was vacant. Some labourers were living in huts towards the west of it. Referring to them she said, "They have laboured the whole day and are now sitting free from worry. The poor are indeed blessed." The words of Christ in the Bible occurred to me. Today I heard the same words from the Holy Mother also. A little later we came back to the room. The Mother laid herself down on her bed. Earlier in the morning, I had sent her some powder for her prickly heat. The Mother said, "I applied the powder you sent. The prickles are much less now. In this place it is more. Please apply there. Itching also is much reduced. Sarat also is suffering from severe prickly heat. Ah! If only some one would apply the powder on him also!" I said, "Oh, no, who will dare tell him of this matter? These things are used by fashionable people!" Hearing this, the Holy Mother began to laugh.
The rheumatism in the Mother's knee had increased. Yesterday a devotee's two children had given her electric treatment, which benefited her. They came today too. The younger aunt said, "My rheumatism also has increased from yesterday. I also will apply the battery." The Holy Mother heard it and said laughing, "Give it to her by all means." The two mischievous fellows quickly arranged their instruments and touched her feet with the wires. And what a shout it brought from the younger aunt! "Oh God, I am dead," she exclaimed, "My whole body is in jitters. Let me go, let me go." Everybody laughed hearing her cries.
Another day I had been to the Holy Mother's place, when a monk came and prostrated before her. He said, "Mother, why does the mind become so restless every now and then? Why can't I constantly meditate on you? Many worthless thoughts disturb my mind. Useless things we can easily obtain if we simply want them. Shall I never realize the Lord? Mother, please tell me how I can attain peace. Nowadays seldom have I visions. What is the use of this life if I cannot realize. Him? It is better to die than to lead such a worthless life."
Mother: What are you talking of, my child? Do not even think of such things. Can one have the vision of God every day? Sri Ramakrishna used to say, "Does an angler catch a big carp every day the moment he sits with his rod? Arranging everything about him, he sits with the rod and concentrates. Once in a while a big carp swallows the hook. Many a time he is disappointed. Don't relax the practices for that reason. Do more Japa.
Yogin-Ma: Yes, that is true. The Name is identical with Brahman. Even if the mind be not concentrated at the outset, you will succeed ultimately.
Monk: Please tell me, Mother, how many times I should repeat the Name. That may help me to get concentration.
Mother: Ten thousand times, or even twenty thousand times or as many times as you can.
Monk: One day, Mother, I was kneeling in the shrine and weeping, when I suddenly saw you standing by my side. You said to me; "What do you want?" "I want your grace, Mother," I replied, "as you bestowed it on king Suratha."1 Then I added, "No, Mother, that was done by, you as Durga. I do not care for that form. I want to see you as you are at present." With a smile you disappeared. My mind became all the more restless. Now nothing satisfies me. Often I think, "If I cannot realize Her, then what is the use of this life?"
1 The reference is to the story contained in the Devimahatmya, a great devotional text of the Mother cult, in which a king named Suratha and a merchant named Samadhi, both exiles from home and country worship the Divine Mother and receive Her grace.
Mother: Why are you so restless, my child? Why don't you stick on to what you have got? Always remember, "I have at least a Mother, if none else." Do you remember those words of Sri Ramakrishna? He said he would reveal himself to all that take shelter under him, reveal himself at least on their last day. He will draw all unto Him.
Monk: I have been staying with a householder who is a great devotee. His wife comes from a very aristocratic family. She spends much money for me.
Mother: Ask her not to spend much money for you. The money of the devoted householders is for the benefit of the monks. Their money enables the monks to stay at a place for four months together during the rainy season. It is very inconvenient for the monks to go out (at that time) for begging.
The monk prostrated himself before the Mother and left the room.