Gospel of Holy Mother Sarada Devi
3rd September 1918
I was in indifferent health for a few days. When I felt better, I went to see the Holy Mother one evening. In the course of conversation the Mother began to speak of Sri Ramakrishna.
Mother: (To me) What a good time we had yesterday! Sarala read about Sri Ramakrishna. How fine his teachings were! How could we know then that things would take this turn! What a great soul was born! How many people are illumined by his words! He was the embodiment of Bliss itself: All the twenty-four hours of the day were spent in devotional music, merriment, laughter, teaching and story-telling. So far as I remember, I never saw him worried by anything. Often he would tell me nice words of advice. If I had known how to write, I would have noted them down. Well, Sarala, please read something today.
Sarala began to read from the Kathamrita, the Bengali original of the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna.
"Do you notice those words," said the Mother, "which he addressed to Rakhal's father, 'A good apple tree begets only good apples'? In this way he would satisfy him. When he would come to Dakshineswar, Sri Ramakrishna would carefully feed him with delicious things. He was afraid lest he should take his boy away. Rakhal had a stepmother. Whenever she came there, he would say to Rakhal, 'Show her everything. Take good care of her.'"
Sarala was now reading about Brinde, the maid-servant. The Mother said, "She was by no means an easy woman. A fixed number of luchis was set aside for her tiffin. She would be extremely abusive if anything was found wanting. She would say, 'Look at these sons of gentlemen! They have eaten my share also. I do not get even a little of sweets.' Sri Ramakrishna was afraid lest those words should reach the ears of the young devotees. One day, early in the morning, he came to the Nahabat and said, 'Well, I have given to others Brinde's luchis. Please prepare some for her. Otherwise she would indulge in abuses. One must avoid wicked persons.' As soon as Brinde came, I said to her, 'Well, Brinde, there is no tiffin for you today. I am just preparing luchis.' She said, 'That's all right. Please do not take the trouble. You may give me raw food-stuffs.' I gave her flour, butter, potato and other vegetables."
After finishing a chapter, Sarala went away to attend on Golap-Ma who was ill.
The Holy Mother began to speak in a low voice: "Sri Ramakrishna spoke about nothing but God. He used to tell me, 'Do you notice this human body? Today it is and tomorrow it is not. And coming to this world it suffers no end of misery and pain. Why should one worry about taking another birth? God alone is eternally true. If one can call on Him, it is good. Taking a body one has to suffer from its accompanying troubles!' The other day Bilas said to me, 'Mother, we have to be always very alert. We always tremble with fear lest we should think any unholy thought.' That is very true. A monk is like a bleached cloth, and the householder is like a black one. One does not notice the spots in a black cloth so much, but even a drop of ink looks so prominent on white linen. The monk's life is always beset with dangers. The whole world is engrossed in lust and gold. The monk must always practise renunciation and dispassion. Therefore Sri Ramakrishna used to say, 'A monk must be always alert and careful.'"
In the meantime Harihar Maharaj came to the shrine for offering food. Pointing to him, the Mother said to me, "Look at this child who has renounced the world. He has left everything behind in the name of Sri Ramakrishna. The worldly men beget children without number, as if that is their only duty in this world. Sri Ramakrishna used to say, 'One must practise self-control after the birth of one or two children.' I have heard that the Englishman begets children according to the amount of his property. After the birth of the children they want, the husband and wife live separately, each one busy with his or her own work. And look at our race!"
The Mother continued with a smile, "Yesterday a young woman came to see me. She had a lot of children, some hanging from her back and some clinging to her arms. She could hardly manage them. Can you imagine what she told me? She said, 'Mother I do not at all enjoy this worldly life.' I said, 'How is that, my child? You have got so many young ones!' She replied, 'That is the end of it. I will not have them any more.' I said, 'It would be well if you could carry out your intention.'" The Mother began to laugh.
Devotee: Well, Mother, according to our Hindu conception, the husband is our most adorable Guru. The scriptures say that by serving him one can go to heaven, and even be united with God. Now if a wife, somewhat against the will of the husband, tries to practise self-control through prayer and spiritual pursuits, is she committing a sin?
Mother: Certainly not. Whatever you do for the realization of God cannot have any sinful effect. Self-control is absolutely necessary. All the hard disciplines enjoined upon Hindu widows are meant to help them practise self-control.
All the acts of Sri Ramakrishna were directed to God alone. He once performed the Shodasi Puja, making me the object of worship. I asked him what I should do with the bangles, the clothes and other articles of worship. After a little thought he said that I could give them all away to my mother. My father was then alive. Sri Ramakrishna said to me, "When you present your mother with these articles, don't think that she is an ordinary human being. Think of her as the direct embodiment of the Divine Mother of the Universe." I acted accordingly. That was the nature of his teaching.
4th September, 1918
The Mother was seated on her meditation carpet, counting beads. The evening service was over. A sister-in-law of the Mother came there and said to her, "Please set my mind right. I am full of worries. I do not wish even to live for a day. I shall make a will and leave all my property to you. After my death, you execute my will." The Mother laughed and said, "When are you going to die?" Suddenly she became grave and reprimanded her for her foolish thoughts, which she attributed to a heated brain and idle life.
Looking at me, the Mother smiled and said: "Do you notice, my child, the inscrutable play of Sri Ramakrishna? Look at my own relatives! See the evil company I am in! One is already mad and this one also is verging on insanity. And look at the third one (Radhu)! How much care I took to train her up, but all to no effect! She does not have the slightest trace of wisdom. Look there. She is standing in the porch, leaning against the railing and wistfully looking forward to the return of her husband. She is afraid that her husband may enter the house where that music is going on. Day and night she has been trying to keep him within her sight. What an inordinate attachment! I could never dream that she would be so much attached."
The woman relative of the Mother left the place with a sorrowful air and lay down on her bed.
Mother: My child, you have been extremely fortunate in getting this human birth. Have intense devotion to God. One must work hard. How can one achieve anything without effort? One must devote some time for prayer even in the midst of one's household duties. What shall I say about myself, dear? In those days, at Dakshineswar, I used to get up at 3 0' clock in the morning and sit in meditation. Often I used to be totally absorbed in it. Once, on a moonlit night, I was performing Japa, sitting near the steps of the Nahabat. Everything was quiet. I did not even know when the Master passed that way. On other days I would hear the sound of his slippers, but on this day, I did not. I was totally absorbed in meditation. In those days I looked different. I used to put on ornaments and had a cloth with red borders. On this day the cloth had slipped off from my back owing to the breeze, but I was unconscious of it. It seems 'son Yogen' (Swami Yogananda) went that way to give the water-jug to the Master and saw me in that condition. Ah! The ecstasy of those days! On moonlit nights I would look at the moon and pray with folded hands, 'May my heart be as pure as the rays of yonder moon!' Or, 'O Lord, there is a stain even in the moon, but let there not be the least trace of stain in my mind!' If one is steady in meditation, one will clearly see the Lord in one's heart and hear His voice. The moment an idea flashes in the mind of such a one, it will be fulfilled then and there. You will be bathed in peace. Ah! What a mind I had at that time! Brinde, the maid-servant, one day dropped a metal plate in front of me, with a bang. The sound penetrated into my heart. In the fullness of one's spiritual realization, one will find that He who resides in one's heart, resides in the hearts of others as well-the oppressed, the persecuted, the untouchable and the outcast. This realization makes one truly humble.
Let my sister-in-law, who complains of mental worry, do likewise. Let her get up from bed at 3 o'clock in the morning and sit in the porch adjoining my room for meditation. Let me see whether she can still have any worry of mind. She will not, however, do that, but only talk about her troubles! What is her suffering? I never knew my child, what mental worry was. But now I have been suffering day and night because or my relatives. It was an unlucky time when this sister-in-law came to our family; all my sufferings are due to my efforts to bring up her daughter Radhu. Let them all go away. I do not want anybody. Just look at these girls. They never listen to me. Such disobedient women!
Golap-Ma: Just see how they decorate their bodies! They think that is how they will get the love of their husbands.
Mother: Ah! How kindly Sri Ramakrishna treated me! Not even one day did he utter a word to wound my feelings. He would tell me, "One should always be active. One should never be without work. For when one is idle, all sorts of bad thoughts crop up in one's mind." One day he gave me some hemp and asked me to prepare some string suspenders with it. He said he wanted them to hang the pots of some sweets etc. for his young disciples. I made the suspenders accordingly, and with the fibre that was left, stuffed a pillow. I used to lie down on a stiff mat under which I spread some hessian, and placed that pillow under my head. Now you see all these beds and mattresses, but even at that time I used to sleep as well as I do now. I don't feel any difference, dear. People call me 'goddess,' and I too am led to think so. Or how could you explain all the strange things that have happened in my life? Yogin and Golap know much of this. I should but think, 'Let this happen' or 'I shall eat this', the Lord somehow fulfils these.
Ah, my dear! Those were unforgettable days in Dakshineswar! Sri Ramakrishna would sing and I would stand for hours together and watch the scene through the hole in the screen of plaited bamboo chips that surrounded the verandah of the Nahabat. I would salute him with folded hands from afar. Those days were indeed full of bliss! People streamed in throughout the day, and religious talks went on continuously.
My child, this mind is just like a wild elephant. It races with the wind. Therefore one should discriminate all the time. One should work hard for the realization of God. What a wonderful mind I had at that time! Somebody used to play on the flute at Dakshineswar. As I listened to the sound, my mind would be extremely eager for the realization of God. I thought the sound was coming directly from God, and I would enter into Samadhi. I experienced the same ecstasy at Belur also. The place was then very peaceful and I was constantly in a mood of meditation. Therefore Naren (Swami Vivekananda) intended to build a house there for me. The land on which this house stands was given by Kedar Das. But now the price of land has soared high; it is impossible to purchase a place now. All this has been done through the grace of God.
Just at that time, Maku, her niece, entered the room, with her child in her arms, and left the boy there, saying, "Mother, what shall I do? He does not sleep at all." The Mother said, "The child has the quality of Sattva, therefore he does not sleep."
The Mother had been suffering terribly from the pain caused by nettle-rash. At her bidding I rubbed her with medicated oil.
One day the Mother was sitting in the northern verandah. A young man was speaking with her. He bowed low before the Mother and placing his head on her feet, said, "Mother, I have suffered much in the world. You are my Guru, you are my Ishta (Chosen Ideal)-and I do not care for anything else. Really, Mother, I feel too ashamed to speak to you about all the evil deeds I have committed. Yet, it is only your grace that has saved me." The Mother lovingly placed her hand on his head and said, "A son is always a son to the mother." The boy replied, "True, Mother. But because I have received so much of your grace, may I never imagine that your grace can be so easily available."
19th September 1918
It was nearly 8.30 p.m. A mat had been spread on the floor near the Mother's bed, and she was about to lie down. No sooner did I enter the room, she said, "Come dear, come. Sit near me. Sarala, give her some refreshments. After a whole day's toil, my child has come here." I protested, but the Mother insisted saying, "One should take proper care of one's health." Then she mentioned her nettle-rash and said, "What to make of this, dear? People suffer from it and become well again; but once I catch it, it doesn't leave me. Sri Ramakrishna used to say that all sorts of people would come with their ailments, afflictions, sins and troubles and touch him, and all those things would take refuge in his body. It is true, my child; it may be the same case with me." The conversation then turned to Sri Ramakrishna.
Mother: Once when Sri Ramakrishna was lying ill at Cossipore, a few devotees brought some offerings for Mother Kali of Dakshineswar temple. On hearing that the Master was at Cossipore, they offered all the things they had brought before a picture of the Master, and then partook of the Prasada. On hearing about this Sri Ramakrishna remarked, "All these things were brought for the great Mother of the Universe. And they have offered them all here (meaning himself)!" I was frightened very much at this and thought, "He is suffering from this dangerous disease, who knows what might happen?" What a calamity! Why did they do it?1 The Master too was referring to this incident again and again. Afterwards at a late hour in the night he said to me, "You will see how in course of time I will be worshipped in every house. You will see everyone accepting this (meaning himself). This is surely going to happen." This was the only day I heard him using the first personal pronoun with reference to himself. Usually he would speak of himself not as 'I' or 'me', but as the 'case belonging to this', pointing to his body.
1 It is sacrilegious to offer to a man the gifts that are meant for the Deity, and hence this fear that it may bring about some misfortune. Sri Ramakrishna also seems to show this feeling at first in his mood as a humble devotee, but the subsequent part of the conversation would show that worship of him is not improper if one understands his Divine aspect. It is indicative of the alternating moods of a devotee and of the Divinity that used to be on him.
After the Master's passing, there was a quarrel as to who should get possession of some of the valuable things like his woollen wrapper, shawl and other garments. After all, it is the devotees who would look upon them as invaluable possessions and preserve them for all time. And it was they who finally gathered them in a box and kept them in the drawing room of Balaram Babu's house. But, O my daughter, who knew the Master's will! In Balaram Babu's house a servant stole away most of the things, and either sold them or disposed of them in some other way. It was not proper to keep such things in the drawing-room of a house. They ought to have been kept in the inner apartments of the house. What was left of those garments and other things of the Master is now being preserved at the Belur Math.
My father-in-law (i.e. Sri Ramakrishna's father) was a pious and spirited Brahmana. He never received gifts from anyone. He even prohibited his people from accepting any gift brought to his house in his absence. But as regards my mother-in-law, if anyone made a private gift to her she would accept it, cook it, offer it to the Deity, and then give it to others as Prasada. My father-in-law used to get angry if he happened to know of it. He possessed a burning devotion. That was why the Master was born in his family.
A woman named Hari Dasi wanted to go on a pilgrimage to Navadvip. She did not, however, actually reach there, but stopped at Kamarpukur. She loved me very much. She was a woman of great faith. She kept with her some dust gathered from the Master's birth-place and would remark, "This itself is my Navadvip. Gauranga himself was born here. Why should I then go to Navadvip?" What a tremendous faith!
After the Master's passing a Sadhu, hailing from Orissa, was staying at Kamarpukur. I used to give him rice, pulses and other necessaries. I used to visit him both morning and evening and ask, "Revered sir, how do you do?" Ah, with what great difficulty I built a thatched hut for him! Every day the sky would be overcast with clouds, and it would seem as if it were going to rain just then. I would therefore pray with folded hands, "O Lord, wait a while, wait a while. Let me finish the cottage, and then let it rain in torrents if necessary." The people of the village helped me in the work by giving timber, straw and other necessary materials. Somehow the cottage was completed, but unfortunately it so happened that a few days after, the Sadhu passed away in that cottage.
Sri Ramakrishna used to say that his body had come from Gaya. When his mother passed away, he asked me to offer Pindam (funeral cakes) at Gaya. I replied I was not entitled to perform those rites when the son himself was alive. The Master replied, "No, no, you are entitled to do it. Under no circumstances can I go to Gaya. If I go, do you think it will be possible for me to return?"1 So I did not want him to go there. And later on I performed the rites at Gaya.
1 Tradition has it that the birth of Sri Ramakrishna was heralded by the vision his father had at Gaya of the Deity, who announced that He would be born as his son. Hence the spiritual association he had with Gaya was likely to overwhelm him if he went to that place.
28th September 1918
It was morning when I went to the Udbodhan office. The Holy Mother was peeling fruits for worship. As soon as her eyes fell on me, she said, "I am so glad to see you here. It is the day of the Bodhan.2 (I had entirely forgotten about it). Please arrange these flowers for the worship of Sri Ramakrishna, and keep the fruit tray on this side." I obeyed her orders. I then combed her hair. While combing, a number of her hairs came out. The Mother said, "Here they are! Preserve these." I felt myself really blessed. I had a strong desire for some of her hair.
2 The day previous to the commencement of the Hindu festival of the Durga Puja.
Shyamadas Kaviraj, the celebrated physician, came to examine Radhu. When the examination was over, the Mother asked Radhu to bow before the physician. Radhu did as she was asked. After the physician had left the place, someone inquired, "Is the physician a Brahmana?"
Mother: No, he is a Vaidya.
Devotee: Why, then, did you ask Radhu to bow down before him?
Mother: Why should I not do so? The physician is so full of wisdom. He is equal to a Brahmana. To whom should one bow down if not to him? What do you say, my child?
30th September 1918
It was the sacred day of the Mahashtami.1 My sister and I arrived at the Udbodhan Office early in the morning. After a while, a few women devotees brought some flowers. They worshipped the Holy Mother and went to the Ganges for their bath. The Mother asked me, "Will you stay here today? It is the day of the Mahashtami." I answered in the affirmative. A few moments later, Revered Sarat Maharaj (Swami Saradananda) came there to salute the Mother. We retired into the next room. The Mother was seated on her bed, with her feet resting on the ground. Many devotees came and bowed before her.
1 The second day of the Durga Puja which is considered very auspicious by the Hindus.
Later on, we went to take our bath in the Ganges in the company of Maku and other women devotees. The Mother said she would finish her bath at home, as rheumatism prevented her from bathing in the Ganges every day. After returning we saw many women devotees worshipping the Holy Mother. Many of them brought new clothes as offerings. After the worship they wrapped the body of the Mother with the clothes, as they do for the image of Kali at Kalighat. Then she laid the clothes aside, one by one. To some devotees the Mother would say, "It is a nice piece of cloth."
A Brahmacharin came to the room and said that the men devotees would come now to bow down before the Mother. What an impressive sight! With flowers, full-blown lotuses and Bel leaves in their hands, they came there one by one, and after worship and salutation, went away. Some time passed in this manner. The members of Balaram's family came and worshipped the Holy Mother.
I was the last to go to her. After the worship I wrapped her body with a cloth, when she said suddenly, "I will wear this cloth, as today I must put on a new one." She at once put on the cloth given by me. This brought tears in my eyes. After all it was an ordinary piece of cloth. There were so many costly clothes around her. I was the poor daughter of the Mother. Her excessive affection for me made me bashful. The Mother said, "What a fine border this cloth has!"
A woman dressed in ochre robe worshipped Mother and placed two rupees near her feet. The Mother said, "Goodness! Why should you do that? You have put on the ochre robe. You have Rudraksha beads on your arm." The Mother asked her about her spiritual teacher. In reply the woman said that she had not been initiated. "Without initiation," said the Mother, "and without any spiritual realization, you have put on this sacred robe. This is not proper for you. The robe you have put on is very holy. I was about to salute you with folded hands. All will bow down at your feet. You must acquire the power to assimilate the honour." The woman said, "I have a desire to be initiated by you."
Mother: How is it possible?
But the woman insisted. Golap-Ma supported her. The Mother seemed to yield a little. She said, "We shall think about it."
Gauri-Ma came with the girls of her Ashrama. They all worshipped the Mother, took Prasada, and went away.
After finishing the worship in the shrine room, Bilas Maharaj came there and whispered to the Holy Mother, "I do not know, Mother, if Sri Ramakrishna has accepted the food-offering to-day. An impure leaf, carried by the wind, dropped on the food. Why was it so? Many devotees brought offerings from home. I do not know what has happened." The Mother asked if he had sprinkled the water of the Ganges over the food. He answered in the affirmative and went away.' I felt troubled in mind to hear this.
The worship of the Holy Mother went on in the same way. No sooner had one heap of flowers and Bel leaves been removed, than a fresh pile was formed near her feet.
It was the time of the noonday worship, when a party of three men and three women from a distant part of the country came to pay their respects to the Holy Mother. They were very poor, all their possessions consisting of one piece of cloth each. They had begged their passage to Calcutta. One of the party-man, devotee, was having a private talk with the Mother. There seemed to be no end to the conversation. The time for the noonday worship was passing, and the Mother must perform it. The inmates of the Udbodhan Office became annoyed. One of them said to the devotee in unmistakable language, "If you have anything more to say, you had better come downstairs and talk to the monks." But the Mother declared with some firmness, "It does not matter if it gets late. I must hear what they have to say." She continued to listen to him with great patience. In a whisper she gave him some instructions. Then she sent for his wife as well. We inferred that they must have experienced something in dream. Later on we came to learn that they had received some sacred Mantra in dream. After about an hour they took leave of the Mother. The Mother said, "Alas, they are very poor! They have come here with great hardship."
After the noonday worship, we had our meal. The Holy Mother now wanted to have a little rest, and we retired into the adjoining room.
It was four o'clock in the afternoon. After the worship in the shrine, Rashbehari Maharaj said, "A European lady has come to pay her respects to you. She has been waiting for a long time." The Mother asked him to bring the lady to her. As she bowed down before the Mother, the latter clasped her hand as one does in shaking hands. The words of the Mother, that one should behave according to time and circumstance, were verified in this instance. Then she caressed the lady by touching the chin. The latter knew Bengali and said, "I hope I have not inconvenienced you by this visit. I have been waiting for a long time downstairs to see you. I am in great difficulty. My only daughter, a very good girl, is dangerously ill; so I have come here to crave your favour and blessings. Please be gracious to her, so that she may be cured. She is such a nice girl. I praise her because one seldom finds nowadays a good woman among us. I can vouch that many of them are wicked and evil-minded; but my daughter is of quite a different nature. Please be kind to her."
Mother: I shall pray for your daughter. She will be cured.
The European lady was much encouraged by this assurance from the Holy Mother and said, "When you say that she will be cured, she shall be cured. There is no doubt about it." She spoke these words thrice with great faith and emphasis. The Mother, with a kindly look, said to Golap-Ma, "Please give her a flower from the altar. Bring a lotus." Golap-Ma brought a lotus with a sacred Bel leaf. The Mother took the lotus in her hand and closed her eyes for a few moments. Then she looked wistfully at the image of Sri Ramakrishna and gave the flower to the lady, saying, "Please touch your daughter's head with it." She accepted the flower with folded hands and bowed down before the Mother. "What shall I do with the flower after that?" she asked.
Golap-Ma: When it is dried, throw it into the Ganges.
Lady: No, no! This belongs to God. I cannot throw it away. I shall make a bag out of a new piece of cloth and preserve the flower in it. I shall touch my daughter's head and body every day with it.
Mother: Very well, do that.
Lady: God is the supreme Reality. He exists. I want to tell you something. A few days ago, my baby was bed-ridden with fever in the house. With great fervour I prayed to God, "O Lord! I believe in Your existence, but I want an actual demonstration." I wept and laid my handkerchief on the table. After a long time I was surprised to find three sticks in its folds. I gently touched the body of the baby thrice with the three sticks. Soon it was cured of the fever.
As she narrated the incident, tears trickled down her checks. She said, "I have taken much of your valuable time. Please forgive me." "No," said the Mother, "I am greatly pleased to talk to you. Come here again on Tuesday." The lady bowed down and took leave of her.
When I went to the Mother a few days after, I learnt that the European lady went to see her on Tuesday. The Mother had shown her special favour and initiated her. Her daughter too was cured of her illness.
24th March 1920
The Holy Mother had been staying in her country home at Jayrambati. After about a year she returned in spring to Calcutta. She was extremely unwell, having been in the grip of malarial fever for a long time. I prostrated myself before her and she blessed me by placing her hand on my head. She asked me how I was. I offered her a little money and she accepted it. At the sight of her emaciated body, I lost all power of speech. I looked at her face wistfully and thought, "Alas, how pale and weak her body is!" My sister's maidservant was with me. She was about to touch the Mother's feet in salutation, but she said to her, "You may bow from a distance." The maid bowed from near the door-step and went away.
The Mother was so weak that she felt it painful even to utter a word. I was seated on the floor. In the meantime, Rashbehari Maharaj came up and requested the Mother not to strain herself by talking; but the Mother now and then asked me about various things. I gave her very short replies. Then Radhu came with her child. I took him in my arms and gave him some cash as a present. Radhu insisted on his not accepting it. The Mother said, "What is this, Radhu? She is your sister. Why should you not accept the present when she gives it with so much love?" The Mother accepted the money herself. She felt so sorry for the sufferings of the child caused by his mother's and grandmother's negligence. Radhu protested in bitter words. The Mother said, "There is no use talking to her," and kept quiet. After a while Sarala and a few women devotees came there to see the Mother. She was lying in bed. She began talking with them.
30th March, 1920
I went to pay my respects to the Holy Mother after five or six days. She had had no fever for the previous two or three days, but she was much worried on account of Radhu and her incapacity to look after her little child. Moreover, today Radhu's hand had bumped against an iron railing and with the swollen hand dressed in a dirty linen soaked in castor oil, she came to the Mother's room to consult Dr. Kanjilal who had come to examine the Mother.
After Radhu's hand was properly dressed, the Mother lay down on her bed and asked me to rub her feet. While rubbing I asked her whether I could question her about something and if it would inconvenience her.
The Mother said, "No, not at all. Speak what you have to." I spoke to her about some experience I had, and at this the Mother remarked, "Ah, my daughter, can one experience such delight every day? Everything is real. Nothing is untrue. The Master is all-He is Prakriti, He is Purusha. Through Him you will achieve everything."
Disciple: Mother, one day while doing Japa with great concentration, a long period of time passed quite unobserved. I had therefore to get up for attending to my household duties without carrying out the other items of spiritual practices that you had instructed me to do. Was it wrong on my part to have done so?
Mother: No, no. There is nothing wrong in it.
Disciple: Someone told me that while meditating at the dead of night, he hears a mystic sound. Generally he experiences it as coming from the right side of the body; sometimes, (when the mind comes to a slightly lower plane), it comes also from the left side.
Mother: (after thinking a while) Indeed, the sound comes from the right side. Only when there is body-consciousness it comes from the left side. Such things happen when the power of the Kundalini is awakened. The sound that comes from the right side is the real one. In time the mind itself becomes the Guru. If one is able to pray to God and meditate on Him for even two minutes with full concentration it is very good.
I did not feel inclined to question the Mother on the significance of 'body-consciousness', for the Mother was not doing well.
I was about to take leave. Instantly the Mother raised her head from the pillow and said, "Well, my daughter, I have raised my head." She did so, because it is not the custom for a devotee to bow down to one lying. When I bowed down, she said, "Come again. Come a little earlier in the evening. Can't you finish your household duties a little earlier and come?"
Then taking the name of Durga as a prayer for my safety, she bade me adieu. Even after I had come to the verandah
I heard her uttering the name of Durga in a compassionate tone. What an unbounded love! So long as we were by her side, we forgot all the sorrows and sufferings of worldly life.
* * *
The Mother's illness showed no signs of abatement. Her body was getting weaker and weaker. I went to see her one afternoon. She was about to go for her evening wash. She asked me to help her to get up. She said, "I am getting fever very often and the body has become very weak."
* * *
Another day, when I visited the Mother, I heard the monks telling her, "Mother, after your recovery this time, we will not allow anyone to receive initiation from you. You have to undergo a lot of suffering by taking upon yourself the sins of your disciples." The Mother smiled softly and said, "Why, my dear children? Did Sri Ramakrishna come only to eat rasagollas?" That silenced all. O Mother! How much indeed did you express in those few words: ignorant that we are, how little could we understand!
This reminded me of another episode. A woman from a respectable family had fallen on evil ways. But perhaps due to some merit of previous life, she fortunately came in contact with a holy man. Under his guidance, she realized her mistake and became repentant. He advised her to visit the Holy Mother.
One day she came to meet the Mother at the Udbodhan Office. She felt shy to enter the prayer-hall. So standing near the doorstep, she confessed to the Mother all her dark past, and said, "O Mother, what will be my fate? I am not even fit to enter this holy shrine to meet you." The Mother herself went forward and embracing the woman, told her lovingly, "Come, child, come inside. You have understood what is sin, and you are also repentant of your deeds. Come, I shall initiate you. Surrender everything at the feet of Sri Ramakrishna. Why should you fear?"
Accepting the sins and afflictions of mankind on her own shoulders and raising the 'fallen', it is only the all-compassionate Mother, who can smilingly say, "Why! Did Sri Ramakrishna come only to eat rasagollas?"
14th April 1920
The evening Aratrika (vesper service) in the shrine was over. The Mother had fever. Rashbehari Maharaj was rubbing her hands and Brahmachari Varada her feet. They were taking her temperature, and the Mother was lying with her eyes closed. I stood by her side. Once the Mother asked, "Who is there?" Rashbehari Maharaj replied to her in a low voice. I heard that the temperature was 100.1 degrees.
Sister Sudhira was giving a treat to the girls of the Nivedita School, as it was the (Bengali) New Year's day. So Sarala, the disciple who was attending on the Mother, had gone to the school. The Mother asked Brahmachari Varada to bring Sarala from there; for, she had to feed Radhu's child. It was not yet time to feed the child but as he was weeping, Radhu wanted to feed him just then. The Mother tried to dissuade her. This only enraged Radhu who began to abuse the Mother. She said, "May you die, and I shall light your funeral pyre!" We were deeply pained to hear this. The Mother was so badly ill, and Radhu was abusing her in such a fashion at that time! Radhu however went on shouting out many more abusive words. Such conduct on her part had become quite frequent. The Mother, who had unbounded patience, would put up with such behaviour on all occasions. But this time, due to her protracted illness she too got annoyed and remarked, "You will realize the consequences of this afterwards! What a sad plight you will be in after my death, you will understand! I do not know how many kicks and thrashings with broom-stick are in store for you!"
At this Radhu became still more irritated and abusive. After a time Sarala arrived and fed the child. The experience of that day cast a gloom over my mind. The Mother asked me to rub her feet.
Just then Rashbehari Maharaj entered the room and began to fix up the mosquito netting. So I took leave of her and the Mother said by way of bidding farewell, "Come." This was the last command and the last word that I heard from her.
I had to return to my Kalighat residence. Afterwards for several days I could get no opportunity to visit her, due to the illness of many at home and other difficulties. I used to get regular information about her health, and came to know that she was sinking day by day. At the earliest opportunity I went to see her, my heart filled with the fear that we were to lose our most precious possession in life very soon. I was, however, still hoping against hope.
CONVERSATIONS: SECOND SERIES
(RECORDED BY SWAMI ARUPANANDA)
1st February,1907, 8-30a.m.
Uncle Varada said to me "The Mother has sent for you."
I went inside the inner apartment and found the Holy Mother standing at the door of her room waiting for me. As I saluted her, she asked, "Where do you come from?" I told her the name of the district of my native village.
Mother: I suppose you are now reading the teachings of the Master.
I did not reply to these words. She spoke to me as if we had known each other for a long time. I still remember her tender and affectionate look.
Mother: Do you belong to the Kayastha caste?
Mother: How many brothers have you?
Mother: Sit down and take some refreshments.
With these words the Mother spread a small carpet on the floor of the verandah and gave me some luchis and sweets that had been offered in the shrine on the previous night.
I told the Mother that I had walked all the way from Tarakeswar on the previous day, spending the night in the village of Deshra, to the northwest of Jayrambati, in the house of a young man whom I had met at the railway station of Haripal. The Mother listened to all this and said to me, after I had finished my refreshments, 'Don't bathe now; you have walked a great deal.' Then she gave me a betel leaf to chew.
She sent for me again after the noonday worship. After the offerings were over, she first of all served me food. She served it with her own hands, on a Sal leaf on the porch of her room. "Eat well, and, remember, don't feel shy!" she said to me as I was enjoying the meal. Afterwards she gave me a betel leaf.
I went to the Holy Mother again at three or four o'clock in the afternoon and found her kneading dough for bread. She was seated on the floor, facing the east, her legs stretched out in front of her. The oven stood near her. Casting a benign glance upon me, she said, "What do you want?"
Disciple: I want to talk to you.
Mother: What do you want to talk about? Sit down here. She gave me a seat.
Disciple: Mother, people say that our Master is God Eternal and Absolute; what do you say?
Mother: Yes, he is God Eternal and Absolute to me.
As she had said 'to me', I went on, "It is true that to every woman her husband is God Eternal and Absolute. I am not asking the question in that sense:"
Mother: Yes, he is God Eternal and Absolute to me as my husband, and in a general way as well.
Then I thought that if Sri Ramakrishna were God Eternal, then she, the Holy Mother, must be the Divine Power, the Mother of the Universe. She must be identical with His Divine consort. She and he are like Sita and Rama, Radha and Krishna. I had come to the Holy Mother, cherishing this faith in my heart. I asked her, "If that be the case, then why do I see you preparing bread like an ordinary woman? It is Maya, I suppose, is it not?"
Mother: It is Maya, indeed! Otherwise, why should I fall into such a state? But God loves to sport as a human being. Sri Krishna was born as a cowherd boy and Rama as the child of Dasaratha.
Disciple: Do you ever remember your real nature?
Mother: Yes, I recall it now and then. At that time I say to myself, "What is this that I am doing? What is all this about?" Then I remember the house, buildings and children (pointing with the palm of her hand to the houses) and forget my real self.
I used to visit the Mother almost daily in her room. She would lie down on her bed and talk to me, with Radhu lying asleep by her side. An oil-lamp would cast a dim light in the room. On some days a maidservant rubbed her feet with medicated oil for rheumatism.
One day she said to me in the course of conversation, "Whenever the thought of a disciple comes to my mind and I yearn to see him, then he either comes here or writes a letter to me. You must have come here prompted by a certain feeling. Perhaps you have in your mind the thought of the Divine Mother of the Universe."
Disciple: Are you the Mother of all?
Disciple: Even of these birds and animals?
Mother: Yes, of these also.
Disciple: Then why should they suffer so much?
Mother: In this birth they must have these experiences.
One evening I had the following conversation with the Holy Mother in her room.
Mother: You all have come to me, because you are my own.
Disciple: Am I your 'own'?
Mother: Yes, my 'own'. Is there any doubt about it? If a man is the very 'own' of another, they remain inseparably connected in the successive cycles of time.
Disciple: All address you as Apani,1 but I could not do so. The word Tumi comes spontaneously and naturally.
Mother: That is good, indeed. It denotes an intimate relationship.
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.
In the course of our talk I said to her, "You must have taken the responsibilities of those whom you have initiated with the sacred Mantra. Then why do you say when we request you to fulfil a desire, 'I will speak to the Master about it?' Can't you take our responsibility?" I had as yet not felt the urge to be initiated. Hence this question.
Mother: I have, indeed, taken your responsibility.
Disciple: Please bless me, O Mother, that I may have purity of mind and attachment to God. Mother, I had a classmate in school. I would have been happy if I could bestow upon Sri Ramakrishna a fourth of the love which I cherished for my chum.
Mother: Ah me! That is true, indeed! Well, I shall speak to the Master about it.
Disciple: Why do you only say that you will speak to the Master? Are you different from him? My desire will certainly be fulfilled by your blessings alone.
Mother: My child, if you can get perfect knowledge through my blessings then I bless you with all my heart and soul. Is it ever possible for a man to free himself unaided, from the clutches of Maya? It was for this that the Master performed spiritual austerities to the utmost extent and gave the results thereof for the redemption of mankind.
Disciple: How can one love Sri Ramakrishna without seeing him?
Mother: Yes, that's true. Can one ever have intimate relationship with a mere airy being!
Disciple: When shall I have the vision of the Master?
Mother: You shall certainly see him. You shall see the Master at the right time.
One day the Mother lay on her bed while Kamini, the maid, was rubbing her knee with some medicated oil for rheumatism. The Mother said to me, "The body is one thing and the soul another. The soul pervades the whole body; therefore I have been feeling the pain in my leg. If I should withdraw my mind from the knee, then I would not feel any pain there."
Referring to initiation by Mantra, I said to her, "Mother, what's the need of taking the Mantra from a teacher? Suppose a man does not repeat his Mantra will it not do for him if he simply repeats, 'Mother Kali, Mother Kali'?"
Mother: The Mantra purifies the body. Man becomes pure by repeating the Mantra of God. Listen to a story. One day Narada went to Vaikuntha to see the Lord and had a long conversation with Him. Narada had not, at that time, been initiated. After Narada left the place, the Lord said to Lakshmi, "Purify the place with cow-dung." "Why, Lord?" asked Lakshmi. "Narada is your great devotee. Why, then, do you say this?" The Lord said, "Narada has not, as yet, received his initiation. The body cannot be pure without initiation."
One should accept the Mantra from a Guru at least for the purification of the body. The Vaishnava, after initiating the disciple, says to him, "Now all depends upon your mind." It is said, "The human teacher utters the Mantra into the ear; but God breathes the spirit into the soul." Everything depends upon one's mind. Nothing can be achieved without purity of mind. It is said, "The aspirant may have received the grace of the Guru, the Lord and the Vaishnava; but he comes to grief without the grace of 'one'". That 'one' is the mind. The mind of the aspirant should be gracious to him.
Talking of her mother, the Holy Mother said, "My mother used to be highly pleased when anyone of the devotees came to our place. She would exclaim, 'Ah! My grandchild has come!' She would look after them with great attention. She looked upon this family of devotees as her own flesh and blood."
Continuing, the Holy Mother said, "When the Master passed away, I also wanted to leave my body. He appeared before me and said, 'No, you must remain here. There are many things to be done.' I myself realized later on that this was true; I had so many things to do. The Master used to say, 'The people of Calcutta live like worms squirming in darkness. You will guide them.' He said that he would live for three hundred years in a subtle body, in the hearts of the devotees. He further said that he would have many devotees among white people.
"After the passing away of the Master, I was at first greatly frightened, for I used to put on a Sari with thin red borders and wear gold bangles on my wrist, which made me afraid of people's criticism.1 I was then at Kamarpukur. Sri Ramakrishna started appearing often before me. Then I gradually got rid of that fear. One day the Master appeared before me and asked me to feed him with Khichuri. I cooked the dish and offered it before Raghuvir2 in the temple. Then I mentally fed the Master with it.
1 Hindu widows, according to traditional custom, are required to put on a white Sari without any border and to give up all ornaments. The Mother at first wanted to follow this custom of Hindu widows, but Sri Ramakrishna appeared in a vision and told her not to do so, as he was not really dead.
2 The tutelary Deity of Sri Ramakrishna's family at Kamarpukur.
"Harish was then staying at Kamarpukur for a few days. One day, when I was entering the house after visiting a neighbour, he began to chase me. He was then in a distracted state of mind. He had lost his senses on account of his wife. There was then no one else in the house. I did not know where to go, and ran quickly behind the barn. He would not, however, leave me. I ran and ran round it seven times till I got exhausted. Then my true self came out. I threw him to the ground, pressed my knee on his chest, drew out his tongue and slapped him hard on the cheeks ntil my fingers became red with slapping. He began to gasp for breath."1
1 Harish was a devotee of Sri Ramakrishna who used to frequently visit the Baranagore monastery of the Ramakrishna Brotherhood at its early inception. It is said that his wife, afraid of his tendency towards a life of renunciation, sought to deter him from it with drugs and charms, which eventually made his mind deranged. In this deranged condition he once visited Kamarpukur, and the Mother, coming to know his condition, wrote to the Math, asking that some one should come and take him away. Accordingly Swamis Saradananda and Niranjanananda started for this purpose. It was just before their arrival that the above mentioned incident took place. The Mother's words, "Then my true nature came out," is given a mystical meaning by many. They believe that the Mother, being a manifestation of the Divine Devi, could take any form she wanted. In this instance, the consciousness of Bagala, one of the Mahavidyas, must have been on her, as Bagala is said to have killed an Asura in the same manner as the Mother now punished Harish. This punishment had a salutary effect on Harish. He fled to Vrindavan, and gradually his mental equilibrium was restored. Apart from these mystical implications, this incident, together with that of the 'dacoit father', reveal certain most unsuspected features of the Mother's human character and personality also.
The talk turned to Yogen Maharaj (Swami Yogananda).
Mother: None loved me as did my Yogen. Should anyone give him some money, he would keep it aside, saying, "It will be useful for Mother when she goes on pilgrimage." He would be always near me. The other monks would sometimes tease him for staying in this household full of women. He would ask me to address him as Yoga. Before passing away, he said, "Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, and Sri Ramakrishna-they have all come, Mother, to take me."
About herself she said, "Balaram Babu used to refer to me as the 'great ascetic, the embodiment of forbearance.' Can you call him a man, who is devoid of compassion? He is a veritable beast. Sometimes I forget myself in compassion. Then I do not remember who I am."
Finally the Holy Mother said to me, "I feel very free with you. See me in Calcutta and stay with me."
At that time I lived with my people, though I had been cherishing an intense desire to embrace the monastic life. I said to myself, "Perhaps in future it will be possible for me, through her grace, to be a monk and live near her."
When I was in Jayrambati, Radhu's mother, Surabala, was mentally deranged. She had taken to her father's house all the jewellery of her daughter Radhu. Taking advantage of her insane condition, her father snatched away all the jewellery. That made her even more distracted. On her return to Jayrambati, Radhu's mother wept in the temple of Simhavahini, praying for the jewellery. It was dusk. I was talking to the Holy Mother in her room when suddenly she said to me, "My child, I must go now. That crazy sister-in-law of mine has none else to call her own but me. She is weeping before the Deity for the jewellery." With these words, the Mother left the room. But I could not hear any sound of weeping, nor was it possible to do so at such a distance; yet she had recognized the voice. She returned with Radhu's mother. The latter said to her, "O sister-in-law, you have put away my jewellery. You have deprived me of it." The Mother said, "Had these ornaments belonged to me, then I would have thrown them away at once like the filth of a crow." Referring to Radhu's mother, she said to me, laughing, "Girish used to say that she was my mad companion."
At first I used to hesitate to address the Holy Mother as "Mother". My own mother had died during my childhood. One morning the Holy Mother sent me to a certain person on an errand. As I was about to leave, she asked me, "What will you say to him?" I said, "Why? I shall say to him, 'She asked me to tell you, etc.'" "No, my child," said the Holy Mother, "tell him, 'The Mother asked me to tell you.'" She emphasized the word 'Mother'.
One morning I was reading aloud to the Mother and a few devotees on the porch of her room. I was reading a life of Sri Ramakrishna entitled Ramakrishna Punthi written in verse. In the chapter on her marriage with Sri Ramakrishna, the author eulogized her greatly and referred to her as the 'Mother of the Universe.' As I read that passage, the Mother left the porch. A few minutes earlier I had read to her some pages from the Udbodhan, in which had been published a portion of the Kathamrita by M.1 No one else was present then. I had been reading the following passage:
1 Mahendra Nath Gupta, the author of the Kathamrita, translated into English as The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna.
Girish: I have a desire.
Master: What is it?
Girish: I want love of God for the sake of love.
Master: That kind of love is possible only for the Isvarakotis. Ordinary men cannot achieve it.
I asked the Holy Mother, "What does the Master mean by that?"
Mother: The Isvarakotis have all their desires fulfilled in God (purna-kama). Therefore they have no worldly desires. Love for the sake of divine love is not possible so long as a man has any desire.
Disciple: Mother, do your own brothers belong to the same level as these Isvarakotis?
I thought that as they were her brothers, they must have the same spiritual capacities as the monastic disciples of Sri Ramakrishna. At this the Mother simply looked scornfully, as if she were going to say, "What a comparison! What can one achieve by simply being my brother! To be the intimate disciple of the Master is quite a different thing!"
One morning the Holy Mother was assisting in husking paddy. It was almost her daily job. I asked her, "Mother, why should you work so hard?" "My child," said she in reply, "I have done much more than is necessary to make my life a model."
One night, all were asleep in the house of the Holy Mother when the husband of Nalini, a niece of the Holy Mother, arrived unexpectedly with a bullock cart to take Nalini to his house. Nalini had returned from her husband's place and did not want to go back. Hearing of her husband's intention, Nalini shut the door of her room and threatened suicide if her husband forced her to go back with him. The Holy Mother, however, assured her that she would not have to go back with her husband and she opened the room. There was confusion in the family for the whole night and the Holy Mother sat through the night on the porch of Nalini's room. She put out the lamp at dawn and repeated to herself, "Ganga, Gita, Gayatri, Bhagavata, Bhakta, Bhagavan, Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Ramakrishna!"
One day the Holy Mother sent me with an old servant of the family to Pagli's (the mad sister-in-law's) father to persuade him either to come to Jayrambati or to return the ornaments he had taken from his daughter. After a great deal of persuasion, he accompanied us but did not bring the ornaments with him. The Mother begged him to return them and thus free Pagli from her mental agony but the greedy Brahmana turned a deaf ear to her request.
I intended to return home on the day before the Sivaratri, as I wanted to attend Sri Ramakrishna's birthday celebration at Belur Math, which came off two days after the Sivaratri. I told the Mother about it. She asked me to go to Kamarpukur first. I had left home with a great yearning to see the Holy Mother alone, and in my eagerness I had forgotten to take my umbrella or an extra piece of cloth. At the request of the Mother, I agreed to visit the birthplace of the Master. She gave me a fresh piece of cloth to put on, and asked me to take it with me.
Mother: Have you any money with you? You will require carriage hire. Take the money from me.
Disciple: I have money with me. I have not to take it from you.
Mother: Write to me after you reach home. Ah, I could not feed my son properly. I could not prepare anything good for him. This was because this time there was great confusion in the family on account of Nalini and Pagli.
I prostrated myself before her and set out with tears in my eyes. The Holy Mother accompanied us for some distance and then watched us till we were out of sight. I could not refrain from weeping out of devotion for her, till I had reached Kamarpukur.
After my arrival at Kamarpukur, I was shown the room where the Holy Mother had lived. There I saw a picture of the Mother, which made me still more restless to see her again. Next day M. and Prabodh Babu went to Jayrambati via Kamarpukur, halting at the latter place for a few hours. In the evening, Lalit Babu, a disciple of the Mother, arrived there, dressed in turban, trousers and long toga. He was on his way to Jayrambati. As it would be difficult for me to go from Kamarpukur to Calcutta alone, some devotee suggested that I might revisit Jayrambati and go to Calcutta in the company of Lalit Babu. So I went with him to Jayrambati once again, and said to the Mother, "I am here again." The Mother was greatly pleased and said, "That's very good. You can go to Calcutta with Lalit."
After the Sivaratri festival was over, the devotees sat down for their meal. They were served some Prasada on leaf-plates. J asked them what it was. They said that it was the Prasada of the Holy Mother. I also partook of it. Later on, I said to the Mother, "They all enjoyed your Prasada. But you never offered it to me." "My child," said the Mother, "you never asked for it. How could I suggest it?" What great humility!
The next day, Lalit Babu was sent in a palanquin to get Radhu's ornaments from her grandfather. Lalit posed as a Government official and carried a letter with him supposed to have been written by a high police officer of Calcutta. The Holy Mother asked M. to accompany Lalit Babu lest the latter, a young man, should use insulting language when speaking to the old Brahmana. However, he succeeded in bringing Radhu's grandfather with the ornaments to Jayrambati in the afternoon. At about two o'clock in the morning, we heard that the Mother was spending a sleepless night. She was feeling nervous. M. and I entered the inner apartments. While all were looking for medicines, I asked Mother the cause of her ailment. She said, "After they had left to fetch the ornaments, I felt worried and feared that they might insult the old Brahmana. That made me nervous." I was amazed to see the compassion of the Mother for the Brahmana who was at the root of all these troubles.
The next afternoon I left with the party for Calcutta. The Mother had told Lalit Babu about me, "He is very devoted to God. Please take him with you." We all prostrated ourselves before the Mother. Her eyes became filled with tears. She was moved to tears as she accompanied us to the outer gate of the house. At Vishnupur, on our way to Calcutta, M., Prabodh Babu and others visited the shrine of Mrinmayi, an aspect of the Divine Mother. But Lalit Babu and I directly went to the Railway Station and boarded the train. M. sent Prabodh Babu to request us also to visit the shrine, but we did not care to see Mrinmayi (lit. made of earth) as we had seen Chinmayi (a living Goddess). I arrived at the Belur Math and after witnessing Sri Ramakrishna's birthday festival, returned home.
UDBODHAN OFFICE, CALCUTTA
Next winter I came to Calcutta to pay my respects to the Holy Mother. On the first day I went to see her, she was still staying at the house of Balaram Base, but by the time of my second visit, she had shifted to her newly constructed house in Calcutta (i.e., the Udbodhan Office). On entering the house, I saw Doctor Kanjilal reading a newspaper. In answer to my query he said, "The Mother had an attack of pox. She has not yet completely recovered. You may see her after two weeks." I had not been aware of her illness. Swami Saradananda said to me, "Come tomorrow, you may see her then. Also take your meal here." When I went the next day, the Mother showed me the pox marks. Most of them had disappeared. Through her blessings and the arrangement made by Swami Saradananda, I was staying at the Belur Math. On being informed of this, the Holy Mother remarked, "That's good. He has fallen a victim to the influence of monastic life. Live in the Belur Math. May you get love for the Master! You have my blessings. "
I used to take milk for the Mother now and then from the Belur Math. That would also give me the opportunity to pay my respects to her. One day, while entering her house with milk, I saw her preparing betel-rolls assisted by Nalini, her niece. Seeing me, Nalini was about to leave the room. The Mother checked her and said. "Don't go away. He is my child. Sit here." In the course of conversation, she referred to the relatives of Maku's husband (Maku was another niece), and said, "I have to take special care of them, otherwise they feel offended. But you are my children. You are satisfied with whatever I do for you. You do not mind if I cannot always show you attention. But those relatives feel very much offended if I do not give them the best of everything, or if I fail in the least in attending to them." After a while I asked her, "Mother, how does one get purity of mind and yearning for God?"
Mother: Oh! You will certainly have these. As you have taken refuge in the Master, you will achieve all. Pray to him sincerely.
Disciple: I can't do it. Please do pray for me.
Mother: I always pray to Sri Ramakrishna to make your mind pure and holy.
Disciple: Yes, Mother, I shall have everything if you but pray for me.
After a few months I was sent to Ghatal, not very far from Jayrambati, to give relief to the flood-stricken people of that place. I took leave for three days and visited the Holy Mother at Jayrambati on the occasion of the Jagaddhatri Puja. Atul was with me. This was his first visit to the Mother.We went to Jayrambati via Kamarpukur and as soon as we reached her house, Ashu Maharaj, an attendant of the Holy Mother, said, "It is nice that you have come. The Mother has been sad because of not seeing any devotee for some time past." The Mother asked us to stay for meal and fed us sumptuously. Early next morning we had to return to the relief work. While taking leave of the Mother, I said to her, "I shall come again." Atul said, like a school-boy, "Please remember."
16th December 1909
After finishing the relief work at Ghatal, I again returned to Jayrambati. On reaching the house of the Holy Mother in the evening, I found her seated on the porch applying medicine to her leg. She was suffering from rheumatic pain in her knees.
Disciple: What is this medicine?
Mother: Someone suggested this leaf. Have you been starving the whole day?
Disciple: No, but I have not taken any food on the way.
Mother: Why did you not buy some refreshments? There are stores on the way.
I had with me only a rupee which I had saved for my return journey to Belur Math. However, I did not tell her about it. She served me with a hot meal which I ate heartily. The Mother said to me, "The Master will get a great deal of his work done through you. You went to Ghatal, distributed so many things and a great number of people were benefited. When the work is over, at the right time, the Master will gather his child back to his bosom."
Disciple: Mother, why do I not see him?
Mother: You will see him, son, you will see him at the right time. Lalit (a disciple of the Mother) would never ask: 'Why do I not see him?' He firmly believed that since the Master was his very own, sooner or later, he was certain to see him.
Disciple: Mother, please look after my welfare. Please bless me that I may develop pure devotion.
Mother: Yes, dear child, you will be endowed with pure devotion.
She gave me a blanket and asked me to use it during the night. I asked her, "Whose is this blanket?" She said, "It is mine. I use it myself."
18th December 1909
Mother was preparing betel-rolls in the verandah of her room. It was nearly 9 a.m. I was eating puffed rice. I said to her, "Mother please do not detain me this time for long."
Mother: If you don't want to stay, you can come with me. When the time comes (i.e. death), all have to go.
Disciple: Please remember your promise, Mother.
Mother: I have already said, I will come and carry you along with me.
Disciple: Please take me with you this time. Next time I will accompany the Master when he comes.
Mother laughed and said, "Well, I am not coming again!"
Disciple: Whether you decide to come or not, I will certainly come back to this world. I have a desire to come.
Mother: Most probably, you wouldn't want to return when the time comes. What is there in this world, my child? Tell me at least one thing that is worth-while! That is why Sri Ramakrishna was satisfied with the most ordinary dishes. Whenever I would offer him Sandesh (a kind of sweetmeat), he would say, "What is so special in it? It is just the same as a lump of clay."
Disciple: Why do you cite the example Sri Ramakrishna? He is beyond all comparison.
Mother: Exactly so. Will there ever be anyone really like him?
At this point, Uncle Varada came to read the letters to her. One of the letters was from my brother, requesting the Mother to persuade me to return home. Though short, the letter was written in a good style and contained beautiful sentiments. The Mother said, "Ah! what a nice letter!" Then she said, addressing me, "Why don't you return home? Live in the world, earn money and bring up a family." She was testing me. "But, Mother," said I, "please do not say that."
Mother: So many people are leading worldly lives. If you do not feel inclined, you need not do it.
I began to weep. The Mother then said to me with great tenderness, "My child, please do not weep. You are a living God. Who is able to renounce all for His sake? Even the injunctions of Destiny are cancelled if one takes refuge in God. Destiny strikes off with her own hand what she has written about such a person. What does a man become by realizing God? Does he get two horns? No. What happens is, he develops discrimination between the real and the unreal, gets spiritual illumination and goes beyond life and death. God is realized in spirit. How else can one see God? Has God talked to anybody devoid of ecstatic fervour? One sees God in spiritual vision, talks to Him, and establishes relationship with Him in Spirit."
Disciple: No, Mother. There is something else besides. One gets a direct vision of the Atman.
Mother: That Naren (Swami Vivekananda) alone had. The Master kept with himself the key to Naren's liberation. What else is spiritual life besides praying to the Master, repeating his Name, and contemplating on him? (With a smile) And the Master? What is there after all in him? He is our own eternally!
Disciple: Mother, please see that I realize the right thing — Just that Sri Ramakrishna is our own!
Mother: Must I repeat it? (Firmly) You will certainly realize it. Certainly.
* * * *
19th December 1909
I was talking to the Mother in her room. She was lying on her bed. The conversation drifted to the Vedanta. I said to her, "Nothing exists in the world except name and form. It cannot be proved that matter exists. Therefore the conclusion is that God and such other things do not exist."
My idea was that such things as the Master and the Holy Mother were also illusory. She at once understood my thought and said, "Narendra once said to me, 'Mother, the knowledge that disregards the lotus feet of the Guru is nothing but ignorance. What is the validity of knowledge if it proves that the Guru is naught? Give up this dry discussion, this hodgepodge of philosophy: Who has been able to know God by reasoning? Even Siva and sages like Suka and Vyasa are like big ants at the most."1
1 The reference is to an illustration given by Sri Ramakrishna: "Men often think they have understood Brahman fully. Once an ant went to a hill of sugar. One grain filled its stomach. Taking another grain in its mouth, it started homeward. On its way it thought, 'Next time I shall carry home the whole hill.' That is the way shallow minds think. They don't know that Brahman is beyond one's words and thought. However great a man may be, how much can he know of Brahman? Sukadeva and sages like him may have been big ants; but even they could carry at the utmost eight or ten grains of sugar!" — The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, (Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1980) Vol. I, p.102.
Disciple: I want to know. I understand a little too. How can one stop reasoning?
Mother: Reasoning does not disappear as long as one has not attained to perfect knowledge.
I asked her about Japa and other spiritual practices. The Mother said, "Through these spiritual disciplines the ties of past Karma are cut asunder. But realization of God cannot be achieved without ecstatic love (Prema Bhakti) for Him. Do you know the significance of Japa and other spiritual practices? By these, the dominance of the sense organs is subdued."
Referring to Lalit Chatterjee who had been dangerously ill, the Mother said, "Lalit used to give me great financial help. He would take me out in his carriage. He gives much for the Divine service in the shrines at Dakshineswar and Kamarpukur. My Lalit has a heart worth a million rupees! There are many who are miserly in spite of their wealth. The rich should serve God and His devotees with money, and the poor worship God by repeating His Name."
Referring to ecstatic love, the Mother said, "Did the cowherd boys of Brindavan get Sri Krishna as their 'own' through Japa or meditation? They realized Him through ecstatic love. They used to say to Him, as to an intimate friend, 'Come here, O Krishna! Eat this! Take this!'"
Disciple: How can one yearn for God without seeing the manifestation of His love?
Mother: Yes, it is possible. There lies the grace of God.