Gospel of Holy Mother Sarada Devi
UDBODHAN, Mother's Room
21st February, 1912
It was seven o'clock in the morning. The Holy Mother was seated on the floor near her couch. Swami Nirbhayananda, who had gone to Dwaraka1 on pilgrimage, sent the Mother some Prasada from the shrine of Dattatreya2 in the Girnar Hills. The Mother asked, "Who was Dattatreya?"
Disciple: He, like Jada Bharata3 and others, was a great sage-an Isvarakoti.
1 Dwaraka is a great place of pilgrimage in Western India, Gujarat. It is reputed to be the place where the palace of Sri Krishna, the greatest of Divine incarnations, stood.
2 A great sage of the Puranas, considered to be a Divine incarnation. Shrines dedicated to him are, however, very rare.
3 'Jada' means 'inert', idiotic. He is called so for the following reason: On account of his attachment to his pet deer, he had to be born as a deer, as explained earlier. Afterwards he again attained the human birth. Though his spiritual evolution was arrested during these births, he had not lost the memory of his glorious attainments in his birth as King Bharata. So when he was again born as man, he was endowed with Divine knowledge at the very birth, but in order to avoid complications from attachments as he got into before, he shunned all associations by pretending to be dumb and senseless. So he was called Jada Bharata. Eventually he gave proof of his great spiritual attainments.
Mother: Like some of the children of the Master?
Disciple: Well, how is it that some of the Isvarakotis among the Master's disciples are immersed in worldliness with their wives and children?
Mother: Yes, they are rotting there. Purna was forced to marry. His relatives threatened him, saying, "If you go to him (referring to Sri Ramakrishna), we will smash his carriage with stones and brick-bats when he comes to Calcutta."
Disciple: Well, they might have married. Nag Mahasaya also married. But to have children and lead a worldly life!
Mother: Perhaps they had some such desires. Let me tell you one thing. There is great complexity in this creation. The Master does one thing through one man and another thing through another person. Oh, it is so inscrutable! But even a householder can be an Isvarakoti. What is the harm?
Radhu was ill. She had pain and fever. The Mother was worried about her and said, "She cannot get well when I am alive. Who will look after her when I am gone? Will she live then?"
Disciple: What a crowd of devotees the whole day! You could not get a moment's respite.
Mother: Day and night, I say to the Master, "Please lessen this rush. Let me have a little rest." But I hardly get it. It will be like this for the few more days I am in this body. The message of the Master has spread everywhere; therefore so many people come here. There was such a massive crowd at Bangalore! As soon as I got down from the train, there was an incessant shower of flowers all the way. The road became full of flowers. Such crowds used to visit the Master also during his last days. I try to persuade people so earnestly, saying, "Have initiation from your family 'preceptor (Kulaguru). They expect something from you. I do not expect anything." But they will not leave me. They weep and it moves my heart. Well, I am nearing the end; these few days I continue to live, will be spent in this manner.
Disciple: Oh, no, Mother! Why should you say that? You are well. You have no particular ailment. Why do you, then, want to leave this world? Never say that again.
During those few days the Mother appeared very sad and indifferent about things.
Golap-Ma was having an argument with someone downstairs.Hearing that, the Mother asked, "What is going on there?"
Disciple: Golap-Ma is scolding somebody.
Mother: It is not good to be so much talkative. One only invites misery for oneself by constantly dwelling on defects in everything. Golap has lost all sense of delicacy in her obsession about speaking the truth. I, for one, cannot bring myself to do that. An unpleasant truth should never be told.
On another occasion too Golap-Ma had told a very unpleasant truth to somebody. Mother had exclaimed, "What is this, Golap? How has your nature become like this?"
During the noon time a hot-headed man had come to the Holy Mother and created a row. Referring to this, she said, "The Master did not let anybody know of my existence. He protected me always with infinite care. Now the thing has gone to the other extreme; they are advertising me as if by a beat of drum in a market-place. M. is the root of it all. People are beside themselves after reading kathatmrita (or the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna). Girish Babu enforced his demands on the Master and abused him. Now people are doing the same thing with me.
"Why should they always bother me about initiation? They are my children (referring to the direct disciples of the Master) at the Belur Math. Have they no power? Everyone is being sent here! I went so far as to tell people that they would be incurring great sin if they give up their hereditary preceptor. But still they would not leave me alone."
Disciple: You initiate the devotees because you desire to do so.
Mother: No, I do so out of compassion. They won't leave me. They weep. I feel compassion for them. Out of kindness I give them initiation. Besides, what do I gain by it? When I initiate devotees, I have to accept their sins. Then I think, "Well, this body will die anyway; let them realize the truth."
24th April, 1912
It was 1:30 p.m. I went to the Mother's room after noon-meals to bring betel-rolls. Referring to somebody, the Mother recited a verse. I asked her what it meant.
Mother: It means that a man cannot change his nature. Sri Chaitanya Deva said, "I adore him who is able to give up his past habits and worship the Lord.
Disciple: Once you had said at Jayrambati, "It would be well if one were able to change one's nature." On another occasion you had said, "There are some whose very appearance evokes feelings of love; and some there are who evoke just the contrary feelings."
Mother: You are right, my child. One's nature is what really counts. What else matters?
Disciple: Sarat Maharaj said about Golap-Ma, "If she gives even a tender-coconut, the entire household will know of it by her shoutings."
Mother: True, nowadays such indeed has become their habit. For minor things, they raise a hue and cry. Yogen (Yogin-Ma) was very calm and steady earlier. Now I find she has changed. Forbearance is a great virtue. No other quality is greater than this.
I had a severe headache. I went to the Mother's room in the afternoon and told her about it. She said, "It is probably due to the heat." She then mixed up some ghee and camphor, and making a paste of it, applied it on my forehead with a gentle massage. "Whenever the Master had headache, he would apply this medicine," she said.
I started feeling a little better after a few minutes of massage, and came downstairs. After some time, the headache really disappeared. I went and told the Mother, "The headache is no more there, Mother!"
One lady from Poland had come to India to study Vedanta. She had heard in Calcutta about the Mother, and had come to meet her. She spoke to the Mother for some time. 'Referring to the Bahai sect, she said that its teachings were similar to the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna-they too preached the harmony of all religions. From her talk it appeared that the lady herself belonged to the Bahai sect.
After she had left, I asked the Mother, "How did you find her?"
Mother: Very nice.
Disciple: These people have come from very far . . . . Now the news has spread like wild fire! Where is Poland, and where indeed is the Udbodhan Office! Mother, you are not even aware of it!
Mother: The Master had said once in a divine mood, "In course of time, I will be worshipped in every home. Innumerable indeed will be my devotees!" Nivedita once said, "Mother, we too are Hindus. As a result of our Karma, we were born in another country. But we too will become Hindus in true spirit!" This is their (of Nivedita and others) last birth.
UDBODHAN, Prayer-Hall, 7 a.m.
Sri Surendra Chakravarty had visited the Mother a few days back along with his wife. A few days later he came alone. Prostrating before the Mother, he said, "Mother, we alone have been deprived of the vision of the Master."
Mother: You will get it in due course. This is your last birth. Nivedita said, "Mother, we too are Hindus. But due to our Karma, we were born Christians." This birth is the last one for them too.
The Mother often said this birth being the last one about many people. So I decided to ask her about it that day.
Disciple: Mother, what is the meaning of the 'last birth'?' The Master spoke about the last birth of many people. You too often say it.
Mother: The last birth means that the person has not to come again and again (i.e. he does not have to take repeated births). This life marks an end of all that.
Disciple: But it is seen that many of these people are not free from desires-their family, wife and children. Unless the desires are given up, how can the repeated coming be ended?
Mother: Whatever the Master has said about anyone, will come to pass, come what may. His words cannot be falsified. Whether or not the person has desires in his present state, the Master had foreseen that in the end, all the desires will leave such a person. He had divined this regarding some people.
Disciple: Does the last birth imply the attainment of Nirvana?
Mother: Of course, it does. In some cases, it is possible, that the mind will become absolutely bereft of all desires just before death.
Disciple: Mother, the Master has referred to many people as his very 'own'. What does it mean?
Mother: He used to say, "Some of them have come from this body, some from the hair, some from the hands and feet. They are my eternal companions." As for instance a king - wherever he goes all his companions follow him. If I go to Jayrambati, do not all my companions accompany me? Exactly like that, those who are one's 'own' are companions age after age.
The Master used to say, "Those belonging to the 'inner circle’ are my companions in weal and woe." Pointing to the young boys who came to him, he would say, "They are happy in my happiness, miserable in my sorrow; in weal and woe they are always with me."
Whenever he comes, all the others follow. He had brought Naren from the Saptarshi. While meditating in the Kali temple at Dakshineswar, he saw in a vision Sambhu Mallick standing behind Mother Kali. He had even seen Balaram Babu in a vision. When he met him for the first time, he could immediately recognize, "Yes! I saw him like this-with a turban, and of fair complexion."
Once the Master said, "Why did they offer the food before the photograph (of the Master) instead of offering it to the Mother Kali?" We were a little uneasy that this smelt of a bad omen. The Master, however, comforted us saying, "Don't worry. You will see, in due course, I will be worshipped in every home. I swear, it will come to pass!"1 The people nowadays are clever-they have taken his photograph! Take the case of Master Mahasaya. Is he an ordinary soul? He has noted down all the words of the Master. Which Avatara has been photographed, and whose words been recorded in this fashion?
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.
Disciple: Master Mahasaya said about the Kathamrita (or The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna) that the available material with him will make up ten or twelve volumes. Lord knows, when all of it will be published!
Mother: True. He too has become old now. Who knows, he may not live long enough to complete everything.
Disciple: Mother, didn't you tell me at Jayrambati, that the Master will come again among his white-skinned devotees?
Mother: No, I said that many white-skinned devotees will come to him. Don't you see, for instance, many Christians getting attracted towards the Master'! He had said, he will stay for a hundred years in the hearts of the devotees, and then come again. I told him, "I do not want to come again!" Lakshmi too said that she wouldn't come again, even if she were chopped into shreds like tobacco leaves! The Master smiled and said, "How can you escape? Our roots are twined together like the Kalmi plant (a kind of aquatic plant). A tug at one end will 'bring the whole lot up!"
But what do all these things matter? The Master used to say, "You have come to eat the- mangoes. What is the use of counting the leaves and branches?"
Disciple: Mother, I feel it is purposeless to live unless we have a direct vision of God. Once I asked a Mussalman Fakir, "A man sits with an angling rod on the bank of a lake or a river in the expectation of catching fish. He never does so near a mud-puddle. Have you got a glimpse of that for which you have become a religious mendicant?"
Mother: What did he say?
Disciple: What could he say?
Mother (after a little reflection): You have said the right thing. That is true. What does it avail a plan unless he gets some kind of realization? But one should continue to have faith in things spiritual.
Disciple: The other day Sarat Maharaj said as Swamiji (Swami Vivekananda) also had remarked earlier, "Suppose there is a lump of gold in the adjoining room and a thief sees it from this room. There is an intervening wall which prevents him from taking possession of this precious metal. Under that condition, can the man ever sleep? All the time he would be thinking of how he might get at that lump of gold! In the same way, if a man is firmly convinced that there is such an entity as God, can he ever indulge in worldly life?"
Mother: That is true, indeed.
Disciple: Whatever you may say, Mother, renunciation and dispassion and the chief things. Shall we ever acquire them?
Mother: Certainly, you will gain everything if you but take refuge in the Master. Renunciation alone was his splendour. We utter his name and eat and enjoy things because he renounced all. People think that his devotees also must be very great, as he was a man of such complete renunciation.
Ah me! One day he went to my room in the Nahabat. He had no spices in his small bag. He used to chew them now and then. I gave him some to chew there, and also handed over to him a few packed in paper to take to his room. He proceeded; but instead of going to his room, he went straight to the embankment of the Ganges. He did not see the way, nor was he conscious of it. He was repeating, "Mother, shall I drown myself!" I became restless with agony. The river was full to the brim. I was then a young woman and would not go out of my room. I could not see anyone about. Whom could I send to him? At last I found a Brahmana belonging to the Kali temple coming in the direction of my room. Through him I called Hriday, who was then taking his meal. He left his plate, ran to the Master, caught hold of him, and brought him back to his room. A moment more, and he would have dropped into the Ganges!
Disciple: Why did he go towards the river?
Mother: Because I put a few spices in his hand, he could not find his way. A holy man must not lay things by. His renunciation was hundred per cent complete.
Once a Vaishnava Sadhu came to the Panchavati. At first he showed a great deal of renunciation. But alas! Finally like a rat, he began to pull and gather various things-pots, cups, jars, grain, rice, pulses and so forth. The Master noticed it and said one day, "Poor thing! This time he is going to be ruined!" He was about to be entangled in the snare of Maya. The Master advised him strongly about renunciation and further asked him to leave the place. Then he went away.
A devotee came in to salute the Mother. After he had left, she said, "I was once deceived by showing Harish my affection. Therefore I do not nowadays express my feelings towards anyone."
1st May, 1912
In the forenoon I went upstairs to read letters to the Holy Mother.
Disciple: The daughter of a devotee has written from her father-in-law's place that she would like to come here to see you. She has sent you her salutations. She has further requested you to be careful so that her husband's relatives might not know about her writing to you.
Mother: Then do not write any reply to her. She wants me to conceal it from her relatives! I do not know such a game of hide and seek. At Jayrambati, Jogindra, the postman, used to write letters for me. Many complained, saying, "Does the postman see our letters?" They did not like my asking a man in humble position to write my letters for them. Why? There is no deceit in me. Anybody who likes may see my letters.
Another devotee inquired as to when the Holy Mother would return to Jayrambati. I asked her, "May I tell the devotee that you will return there in autumn at the time of the Jagaddhatri Puja?"
Mother: Oh, no, no! Can one be sure of it? As to where I shall be, that remains entirely in the hands of God. Today man is, and tomorrow he is not.
Disciple: O Mother, why should you talk like that? It is because you are alive that so many people are able to see you and get peace of mind.
Mother: Yes, that is true.
Disciple: Please do remain for our sake.
In a tender voice, choked with emotion, she said, "Alas! How fond they are of me! I am also very fond of them. "Her eyes were moist with tears. The disciple was fanning her. She said to him in a most compassionate voice, "My child, I bless you from my heart that you live long, attain devotion, and enjoy peace. Peace is the principal thing. One needs peace alone."
Disciple: Mother, one idea, crops up in my mind constantly: Why do I not get the vision of the Master? As he is our very 'own', why does he not reveal himself to us? Can't he do so by his mere will?
Mother: That is true. Who can say why he does not reveal himself when you suffer from so many miseries and sorrows? Once Balaram's wife was ill. The Master said to me, "Go to Calcutta and visit her." "How can I go?" I said, "I don't see any carriage or other conveyance here." The Master replied in an excited voice: "What! Balaram's family is in such trouble and you hesitate to go! You will walk to Calcutta. Go on foot." At last a palanquin was brought and I set out from Dakshineswar. Twice I visited her during her illness. On another occasion I went on foot at night from Shyampukur. Where, indeed, will man be if God does not protect him in his trouble?
Disciple: I know sorrows and sufferings are inevitable so long as a man lives in the physical body. I do not ask the Master to remove the sufferings. But can't he console us by revealing himself to us in the midst of our troubles and sorrows?
Mother: You are right, my child! The only son of Ram (i.e., Balaram's grandson) died the other day. Ram's wife and mother came to me for peace of mind. They were relieved of their grief to some extent. I used to speak to the Master of such things and he would say, "I have millions of them. I shall cut my goat at the tail or through the back, and then kill it. It is my sweet will."
Disciple: Does he not see our suffering?
Mother: But he has so many like you. He used to tell me, "It is the ocean of consciousness and bliss. How many waves crop up and disappear! There is no end, no limit."
Disciple: A man in the street, whose spiritual consciousness has not been awakened at all, is quite happy. But those whose consciousness has been partially awakened and who want to realize God suffer a great deal if they do not see Him. They alone know how much they suffer!
Mother: Ah! How true it is! Ordinary people are quite happy. They eat, drink and make merry. The devotees alone know no end of suffering.
Disciple: Don't you suffer at the suffering of the devotees?
Mother: Why should I? He who has created the world looks after all.
Disciple: Don't you want to come back to this earth in a human form for the sake of the devotees?
Mother: Oh! Such suffering in a human body! No more! No more! May I not be born again! At the time of his illness, the Master expressed the desire to eat Amalaki. Durgacharan procured some after searching for them for three days without food and sleep. The Master asked him to take his meal and himself took some rice in order to turn the food into Prasada. I said to the Master, "You are taking rice quite well. Why, then, should your meal consist only of farina pudding? You should take rice rather than pudding." "No, no," said he, "I would rather take farina during these last days of my life." It was such unbearable suffering for him to eat even the farina! On some days, it would all spill out through his nose or throat!
Ah! I went to the temple of Siva at Tarakeswar, but that too proved fruitless. I lay before the Deity there for two days without food and drink, supplicating for some divine remedy for the Master's illness. On the second night, I was startled to hear a sound. It was as if some one was breaking a pile of earthen pots with one blow. I woke up and the idea flashed in my mind, "Who is a husband in this world, and of whom? Who is related to whom here? For whom am I sacrificing my life?" At a stroke all earthly ties were cut asunder, and the mind filled with renunciation! I groped my way through the darkness, and 'Sprinkled my face with the holy water in the basin behind the temple. I also drank a little of it. The throat had dried up due to the two days' fast. Then I felt refreshed. The next day I returned to Cossipore. As soon as the Master saw me, he asked in good humour, "Well, did you get anything?-nothing at all!"
The Master too saw in a dream an elephant going out to get a medicine. Just as the elephant began digging the earth for the medicine, Gopal came and woke him up. He asked me whether I had seen any such dream.
I saw Mother Kali with her neck bent to one side. I asked Her, "Mother, why do you stand like that?" She replied, "It is because of this (pointing to the Master's sore in the throat); I too have it."
The Master told me, "I am being subjected to all the sufferings that there can be; none of you need have it again. I have taken upon myself the miseries of the whole world." The Master's disease was due to taking upon himself the sins of Girish.
All our sufferings are on this earth. Is there anything elsewhere? People suffer from endless miseries on account of their egoism and at last they say, "Not I, not I; it is Thou, O God! It is Thou!"
Disciple: Will you keep us in your mind hereafter?
Mother: Perhaps not when I enjoy divine bliss after my passing away. My child, time alone is the principal thing. Who knows what will happen in course of time?
Disciple: True, Mother, everything, no doubt, happens under the dominance of time; but there is also a subduer of time.
Mother: Yes, that is true.
Disciple: Please keep yourself well; then everything will be all right.
It was eight o'clock. The Mother asked, "Is it eight o'clock? Perhaps it is. It is time for worship in the shrine room. Let me go now."
I went upstairs with her mail. One of her disciples had passed away at Banaras. The Mother heard the news and remarked, "All must die some day. Instead of dying in a pool or on the bank of a lake, he has died in Banaras!"
Her brothers had written to her asking for money and telling about their family quarrels. I said to her, "Please see that they get plenty of money. Please tell the Master about it. Let them enjoy the material life and come to satiety."
Mother: Will they ever be satiated? Nothing can satisfy them; no, not even if they have plenty. Are the worldly people ever satiated with enjoyments? They always spin out the tale of their woes. It is Kali (one of her brothers) who always wants money. Now Prasanna (another brother) imitates him. Varada (a third brother) never asks for money. He says, "Where will sister get money from?"
Disciple: What about that insane lady? Does she want money?
Mother: She won't accept it even when offered.
Disciple: Why were you born in that family?
Mother: Why not? My father and mother were very good people. My father was a great devotee of Rama. He had unswerving devotion to the ideal of a Brahmana's life. He could not accept gifts indiscriminately. He loved to smoke, and as he smoked-he was so simple and humble-he would address in a friendly way every passer-by that crossed his door and say cordially, "Come in, brother. Have a smoke."
25th June, 1912
It was morning. The Mother was seated near the bedstead in the room adjacent to the shrine. We were engaged in conversation.
Disciple: Some say that it is not good for the Sadhus (of the Ramakrishna Order) to work in the Sevashramas (Homes of Service) and dispensaries or to be pre-occupied with selling books, accounting and so forth. Did the Master ever undertake such activities? Works of this kind are thrust upon the seekers who enter the Order with a yearning for the realization of God. If anyone must do some work, it must be worship in the shrine, meditation, Japa and devotional music. Activities other than these entangle one in desires and turn one away from God.
Mother: You must pay no heed to those who talk in that manner. What will you do day and night if you are not engaged in work? Can one practise meditation and Japa for twenty-four hours? You referred to the Master. His case was different. Mathur used to supply him with proper diet. You are able to get your food because you are doing some work. Otherwise you would have to roam from door to door begging for a morsel of food. Perhaps you would fall ill. Besides, where are people today to give alms to the Sadhus? Never pay any heed to such words. Things will go on as the Master directs. The Math will be run on these lines. Those who cannot adjust themselves will go away.
One day Mani Mullick visited a Sadhu and reported to the Master. "Well," said the Master, "how did you like him?" "Yes," said Mani, "I saw the Sadhu but-." The Master asked, "But what?" "All want money," Mani Mullick replied. The Master said, "How much does a holy man want? Perhaps a pice for tobacco to smoke. That's all. You need your cups of ghee and milk, a mattress and such things; and the Sadhus want a pice for their smoke. Should they not have it?"
Disciple: Enjoyments come from desire alone. A man may live in a four-storeyed mansion; but he does not really enjoy anything if he has no desire for it. And a man may live under a tree but if he has desire, he gets all enjoyments from that alone. The Master used to say, "A person may have no relatives anywhere; but Mahamaya may cause him to keep a cat and thus make him worldly. Such is Her play!"
Mother: That's true. Everything is due to desire. What bondage is there for a man who has no desire? You see, I live with all these things, but I do not feel any attachment; no, not in the least!
Disciple: Indeed, you can have no desires. But how many insignificant desires crop up in our minds! How can we get rid of them?
Mother: In your case these are no real desires. They are nothing. They are mere fancies that appear and disappear in your mind. The more they come and go, the better for you.1
1 A Sannyasin devotee once asked the Holy Mother, "I have been practising religious disciplines. I do not relax my efforts in that direction. But it appears that the impurities of mind are not growing less." The Mother said, "You have rolled different threads on a reel-red, black and white. While unrolling you will see them all exactly in the same way". There are two kinds of desires: one that stimulates enjoyment and the other that quickens dispassion. Though externally they appear the same, their effects are different.
Disciple: Yesterday I wondered how I could fight with my mind unless God assured me of His protection. The moment one desire disappears another crops up.
Mother: So long as the ego exists, desires also undoubtedly remain. But those desires will not injure you. The Master will be your protector. It will be a heinous sin on the part of the Master if he does not protect those who have taken shelter at his feet, who have taken refuge in him renouncing all, and who want to lead a good life. You must live in a spirit of self-surrender to him. Let him do good to you if he so desires, or let him drown you if that be his will. But you are to do only what is righteous, and that also according to the power he has given you.
Disciple: Have, I, O Mother, surrendered to him to that extent? Sometimes I feel that I can depend upon him to a small extent, and the next moment it disappears. What will be the way for us if he does not protect us? Sometimes I think that because you, O Mother, are alive, we can report our dangers and difficulties to you and gain peace by a look at your face. Who will protect us when you leave us? We shall feel safe if you give us assurance.
Mother: Don't be afraid, my child. You have nothing to fear. You will not lead a worldly life with wife and children. You will have none of these. Why should you fear? And in the meantime, before I depart, you will be able to build up a secure foundation for your spiritual life.
Disciple: What will Japa and austerities avail us if God does not cast His benign look upon us? We shall be protected, only if He protects us.
Mother: You have nothing to fear. The Master will certainly protect you. Don't worry.
UDBODHAN 7th July, 1912
Disciple: Mother, was it not arranged that you would visit Puri at the time of the Car Festival (Ratha-yatra)j?
Mother: Is it good to go there when there is such a rush of people? Perhaps there will be an epidemic of cholera then. Lakshmikanta, the priest, said, "All the rooms and houses have already been rented. There is no place now to stay in. Even the small rooms have been rented for ten rupees each. Please come during the winter."
Disciple: Whose image is worshipped there?
Mother: In a dream, I saw that it was really the image of Siva!
Disciple: Did you not see the image of Jagannath there?
Mother: No, I saw only the image of Siva. The Lord Jagannath Siva was seated on the altar made of a lakh of Salagrams (an emblem of Vishnu). Is it without any reason that thousands of devotees visit the temple? There is also the image of goddess Vimala. A special offering is made to her on the Mahashtami night. Vimala Devi is another form of Sri Durga. So is it not natural that Siva too will be present there?
Disciple: Some are of the opinion that this was originally a Buddhist temple, and the image of Buddha was installed there. When the temple fell into the hands of the followers of Sankaracharya, the image was converted into the emblem of Siva, and still later, when the Vaishnavas got control, they converted it into the image of Sri Jagannath-Vishnu.
Mother: I do not know all this. But I saw the image of Siva!
Disciple: How many temples, how many images of gods and goddesses the Mussalmans have destroyed! They have cut off the noses of some of the images and the ears of others.
Mother: The image of Sri Govindaji of Vrindaban was taken to Jaipur in fear of these Muslim invaders. The priests became upset and insisted that the Deity be brought back. At last they heard a Divine Oracle: "The image has gone, not I! Prepare another image and I shall stay in it!"
Disciple: There is the temple of Somanath in Gujarat. The priests, in former times, used to bathe the Deity daily with water from Gangotri. Every day people used to carry water from the Himalayas in pots on their heads. Sultan Mohammed demolished the image and carried away the temple doors that were made of sandal wood. Why should that happen?
Mother: The wicked do not feel the Divine presence in the image. The Deity disappears, as it were, before them. He can do whatever He likes by His mere Will. This also is a sport of God.
Disciple: Can the effect of Karma be made null and void? The Scriptures say that knowledge alone can destroy Karma. Still one must reap the result of Prarabdha Karma.
Mother: Karma alone is responsible for our misery and happiness. Even the Master had to suffer from the effect of Karma. Once his elder brother was drinking water while delirious. The Master snatched the glass out of his hand after he had drunk just a little. The brother became angry and said, "You have stopped me from drinking water. You will also suffer likewise. You will also feel such pain in your throat." The Master said, "Brother, I did not mean to injure you. You are ill. Water will harm you. That is why I have taken the glass away. Why have you, then, cursed me in this manner?" The brother said, weeping, "I do not know, brother. These words have come from my mouth. They cannot but bear fruit." At the time of his illness the Master told me, "I have got this ulcer in my throat because of that curse. None of you need suffer in future. I have taken all your sufferings." I said to him in reply, "How can an ordinary man possibly live if such a thing as this can happen to you?" The Master remarked, "My brother was a righteous man. His words must come true. Can the words of anyone and everyone be thus fulfilled?"
The result of Karma is inevitable. But by repeating the Name of God, you can lessen its intensity. If you were destined to have a wound as wide as a ploughshare, you will get a pin-prick at least. The effect of Karma can be counteracted to a great extent by Japa and austerities. This was the case with king Suratha. He had worshipped the Goddess by slaughtering a lakh of goats. Later on, these hundred thousand goats killed the king with one stroke of the sword; he did not have to be born a hundred thousand times. That was because he had worshipped the Divine Mother. Chanting God's holy Name lessens the intensity of Karmic effects.
Disciple: If that be so, then the law of Karma is supreme in this world. Then why should one believe in God? The Buddhists accept the law of Karma but not God.
Mother: Do you mean to say that there are no Deities like Kali, Krishna, Durga and the like?
Disciple: Is the effect of Karma destroyed by austerities and Japa?
Mother: Why not? It is good to do the right kind of work. One feels happy in doing good and one suffers by doing evil.
Disciple: Mother, sometimes I see you reading the Ramayana. When did you learn to read?
Mother: Sometimes I used to accompany the other children to the village school. There I learnt a little. Later on Lakshmi and I used to read the Bengali Primer at Kamarpukur. My nephew Hriday snatched the book away from me. He said, "Women should not learn to read and write. Are you preparing yourself in this way to read novels and dramas later on?' But Lakshmi did not give up the book. She belonged to the family; therefore she held on to her book. I too secretly had a copy bought for one anna. Lakshmi used to attend the village school. On returning home she would teach me. But I really improved my capacity to read only long after, at Dakshineswar. The Master was staying then at Syampukur for treatment. I was all alone. A girl belonging to the family of Bhava Mukherji used to come to the temple garden to bathe in the Ganga. Now and then she would spend a long time with me. She used to give me lessons and afterwards examine me. And in return, I would give her a large quantity of greens, vegetables and other articles of food that were sent to me from the temple-garden.
Disciple: Mother, did the Master visit Jayrambati often or just once or twice?
Mother: He visited many times. Sometimes he even stayed there for ten or twelve days. Whenever he would visit Kamarpukur, he also visited Jayrambati, Sihar and other places. He once fed the village cowherd boys at Sihar.
Disciple: When was this? During the period of his Sadhana or later on?
Mother: It was later on. During the period of Sadhana, he was filled, as it were, with a terrible divine madness. Had he visited his father-in-law's place then, all would have stamped him as insane.
When Siva visited his father-in-law's house, all began lamenting, "Oh! Dear Uma, great indeed has been your misfortune! You have at last fallen into the company of this hemp-addict!" Ah! In those days (after the marriage), the things they spoke about the Master!-"Alas! A mad son-in-law! What will happen now?" and so on.
Disciple: Yesterday Sri Manindra Gupta came. I had not met him earlier.
Mother: He did come once before. As a young boy, he used to visit the Master.
Disciple: The younger Naren too never comes here.
Mother: No, he doesn't. At Dakshineswar, he used to go to the Master. He was dark and slim, with face covered with pox marks. The Master had great affection for him.
Disciple: Paltu Babu came here only once. Tarak Babu (of Belgharia) comes occasionally.
Mother: Paltu too visits now and then. He gives me a rupee every month. He is very poor himself. If I am in Jayrambati, he sends the money there.
Paltu and Manindra visited the Master as kids merely ten or eleven years old! At Cossipore, on the day of the Dol-Yatra, all were out celebrating the festival, sprinkling abir (a kind of red perfumed powder) over one another with great joy. These two boys did not go. Both were fanning the Master, changing hands frequently. They were too young to manage it single-handed! They massaged the Master's feet. The Master was suffering from severe headache due to cough. So constant fanning was necessary.
The Master told them, "Go, go out and play with abir. See, all are out enjoying!" Paltu said, "No, sir, we will not go. We will remain here. Is it possible for us to leave you here all by yourself?" No amount of persuasion made them go out to participate in the festive occasion. The Master wept as he said later, "These are indeed my Ramlala come to take care of me. So tender in age, yet the festivities outside could not make them leave me and go!" Saying this, the Master's eyes were full of tears.
Disciple: Many devotees used to visit the Master. Where are they now? None of them comes to see you.
Mother: Oh, they are all leading happy Jives!
Disciple: What? Happy!
Mother: You are right. How can a man be happy in this world with his wife and children? They have forgotten themselves in 'woman and gold'. Everything in the world results in suffering, after all.
Disciple: Besides, the mind has outgoing propensities.
Mother: Kali, the Mother of the universe, is the Mother of all. It is She alone who has begotten both good and evil. Everything has come out of Her womb. There are different kinds of perfect souls-perfect from very birth (Svatah-siddha), perfect through spiritual disciplines (Sadhana-siddha), perfect through the grace of the teacher (krpa-siddha), and made perfect all of a sudden (hathat-siddha).
Disciple: What is the meaning of 'made perfect all of a sudden'?
Mother: It is like becoming wealthy suddenly by inheriting the riches of another.
Just then Nalini, the Mother's niece, entered the room after a bath in the Ganges. Finding the water-closet a little dirty, she had washed it with a few pots of water, and hence had taken bath in the Ganges for purification. The disciple and the Mother opined that she need have bathed under the tap alone.
Nalini: How is that enough? A water-closet!
Mother: I too had to purify myself for coming into contact with filth on several occasions. But I only chanted the Name of Govinda1 a few times and felt pure. The mind is everything. It is in the mind alone that one feels pure and impure. A man, first of all, must make his own mind guilty and then alone he can see another man's guilt. Does anything ever happen to another if you enumerate his faults? It only injures you. This has been my attitude from my childhood. Hence I can't see anybody's faults. If a man does a trifle for me, I try to remember him even for that. To see the faults of others! One should never do it. I never do so. Forgiveness is Tapasya (austerity).
1 A name of God.
Disciple: Swamiji (Swami Vivekananda) used to say, "Suppose a thief entered the house and stole something. The idea of a thief would flash in your mind. But a baby has no such idea. Therefore it would not see anyone as a thief."
Mother: That's true, indeed. He who has a pure mind sees everything pure. . . . . .
One could be born with a pure mind if one had performed many austerities and spiritual practices in a previous birth.
Disciple: Mother, my mind does not feel joy in doing Japa or spiritual practices.
Mother: (smiling) Why? Not a little even?
Disciple: Oh, I do a little rather half-heartedly. The next moment I think, "What is the use of mumbling? Let me rather try meditation."
Mother: Can you meditate?
Disciple: No, I cannot do even that. I understand everything but I cannot practise it at all and get peace. One may know the road to Dakshineswar very well, but can one walk all the way?
Lalit Babu entered the room and saluted the Mother. They became engaged in conversation, the disciple joining in it now and then.
Mother: The Master used to say, "The way is extremely difficult, like the sharp edge of a razor." (After a little pause) But he has kept you in His arms. He is looking after you.
Lalit: The Master will take us in his arms after death; is there anything great in that? If he would only do so while we are in this body!
Mother: He is holding you in his arms even in this body. He is above your head. Truly he is holding you.
Disciple: Does he really hold us? Are you telling the truth?
Mother: (firmly) Yes, really, truly.
The Mother finished the morning worship and distributed Prasada in Sal leaves to the devotees. Then she swept the room. As she took the dirt in her hand, a pin entered her little finger. The finger bled and the Mother suffered terribly from pain. As soon as the disciple heard about it he ran upstairs. Someone asked him to apply hot lime. That greatly relieved the pain. The Mother said affectionately, "My child, you are my own. Truly you all are my very own."
16th August, 1912 (Evening)
Mother: When I was thirteen it was time for me to go to Kamarpukur and I went there. The Master was then at Dakshineswar. After a stay of a month or so at Kamarpukur, I returned to Jayrambati. Five or six months later, I again went to Kamarpukur and stayed for nearly six weeks. The Master was still at Dakshineswar, but his elder brother, my sister-in-law and others were then at Kamarpukur. When the Master came to Kamarpukur with the Bhairavi Brahmani (in the year 1867), he sent for me. I went to Kamarpukur, and this time stayed for nearly three months. The Brahmani went to see Jayrambati, Sihar and other places. One day she had a tiff with Hriday over a matter concerning the removal of the leaf-plate of Chinu (Srinivas) Sankhari.
Disciple: Was Chinu Sankhari alive then?
Mother: Yes. He was alive, but had become disabled due to old age.
Disciple: In some books one gets the impression that Chinu had died during the Master's boyhood itself.
Mother: He passed away much later. The Brahmani said, "Chinu is a devotee of the Lord. What harm is there in my cleaning the place where he has taken food?" Hriday was annoyed at this, and said,' "What? Will you really do such a thing? Then we won't allow you to remain inside the house." The Brahmani was not the person to yield to threats. She replied, "What harm if you don't? Manasa1 will go to bed in Sitala's2 room!" Hriday rejoined, "Well, let us see how Manasa will sleep in Sitala's room!"
1 Manasa-goddess of snakes. The Brahmani thus compared herself to the angry snake.
2 The temple in which Sitala, a goddess, was installed.
All this raked up a great quarrel between the two. Hriday hurled something at her which struck her on the ears which started bleeding. The Brahmani began to weep. The.Master said, "O Hridu! What have you done? She is a holy person, a devotee of God. Your quarrel may attract all the 'people around and a scandal may ensue!"
Then one day, the Brahmani saw the Master in an ecstatic mood and curiously enough, some sort of fear seized her. Looking up, she began saying, "Oh, Where shall I go? What shall I do? Shall I go to Puri or Vrindaban?" and so on. She disappeared some days later without anybody's knowledge. None could know where' she had gone. She did not return.
Before her departure, one day the Brahmani made garlands of various flowers, smeared them with sandal-paste, and adorned the Master as Sri Gauranga. The Master entered into an ecstasy. She then sent for me. No sooner had I come, than the Master asked, "How does it look?" I somehow managed to say, "Fine", and came away after a hurried prostration. His state of divine inebriation had frightened me.
After this I returned to Jayrambati. The village people were saying all sorts of things about the Master-that he was insane, had gone fully mad, was wandering about naked, and so on. None could, understand then the state of his mind. When all people talked thus, I told myself, 'Let me go and see him'. An opportunity soon came. Many women of the neighborhood were going to Calcutta for the holy dip in the Ganga on an auspicious day which was near at hand.1 I told a friend, "I shall go to Dakshineswar to see him," and she communicated everything to my father. I, of course, could not speak of this to my father, because of fear and bashfulness.
1 According to some, the occasion was Dol Purnima which fell on 25th March, 1872. According to others, it was Caitra-sankranti which came a month later.
My father said, "Does she want to go? Very good". He too accompanied us. On the way, I fell ill. I was lying unconscious owing to fever. Just then I saw a woman, jet black in complexion, sitting by my side, and stroking my head. She said, "I come from Dakshineswar." I said, "I too am going to Dakshineswar. But how are you related to us?" She replied, "I am your sister. Don't you worry! You will recover soon."
The very next day, the fever left me. My father got me a palanquin. We reached Dakshineswar at about 9 p.m. I went straight to the Master's room, while the others went to the Nahabat where my mother-in-law stayed. The Master said to me, "Ah! You have come'!" And he asked someone to spread a mat on the floor. Then he added, "Alas! Would that my Mathur were alive now! By his death, my right hand, as it were, is broken!" Mathur had died a few months before. Akshay (the son of the Master's elder brother) had also passed away.
Disciple: Oh! Wasn't Mathur Babu there?
Mother: No. He had passed away about 7 or 8 months earlier. Had Mathur been alive, would I have been put up in that tiny inconvenient room (in the Nahabat)? He would have built a mansion for me!
After seeing the Master, I wanted to go to the Nahabat. But the Master said, "No, no. Stay here. It would be inconvenient for the doctor to see you there." I spent the night in his room. A woman companion slept beside me. Hriday gave us two or three baskets of puffed rice, for all had finished their supper when we arrived.
The next day, a doctor came and examined me. After a few days I became well, and went to stay in the Nahabat. My mother-in-law too was then staying there. Before that she had been living in a room in the bungalow used by the owners of the temple garden. Akshay had breathed his last there. Therefore she had come away from that place, saying, "I shall not stay there any longer. I shall live in the Nahabat, and pass my days looking at the Ganga. I do not need the bungalow any more."
The Master performed the Shodasi Puja about a month and a half after my arrival at Dakshineswar (probably on the night of the Phalaharini Kali Puja, June, 1872). I had then commenced my sixteenth1 year. At about nine at night, he sent for me. Hriday had made all the necessary arrangements for the worship. The Master asked me to be seated. I sat on the stool facing the jar of Ganga water which used to be kept at the north-western corner of the room. The Master sat near the western door and was facing eastward. All the doors were closed. The articles for worship were on my right.
1 Actually nineteenth.
Disciple: How did he worship?
Mother: I soon became semi-conscious due to spiritual fervour. Hence I do not know how exactly the worship proceeded.2
2 I heard later from Lakshmi-didi that the Mother had told her: "First he painted my feet with alta (liquid lac-dye), and put vermilion on my forehead. Then he clad me in a new cloth. He also fed me with sweets and betel-roll." Lakshmi-didi asked her smilingly, "You are so shy, dear. How did he put the cloth on you?" The Mother replied, "I was in an altogther different state of semi absorption then." The Mother had related this incident to Jnanananda also. He too had asked her, "Mother, did you not feel any hesitation or shyness when the Master offered flowers at your feet and. fed you with sweets with his own hands?" The Mother had told him, "No, I saw him, no doubt, doing all this, but I had no inclination to utter a word even."
Disciple: What did you do when you became conscious?
Mother: I saluted the Master mentally and came away.
Disciple: It was the night of the (Phalaharini) Kali Puja. There must have been many people present. Did none come to know about the worship?
Mother: Did I not say that the doors were all closed? The Kali Temple was full of festivities that night. All were busy with that. And besides, what business had they with the Master? Nothing beyond seeing him and saluting him!
Disciple: Was anyone else present at the time of worship?
Mother: A boy named Dinu, from Mukundapur, a distant nephew of the Master used to stay with him. The Master loved the boy very much. He had picked the flowers and the Bilva leaves for the worship. Hriday had made all the other arrangements. There was nobody except the Master when the actual worship began. At the close of it, Hriday came in.
Ram Babu has mentioned in his book1 that the Shodasi Puja took place at Jayrambati. Ah me! People in that part of the country are so gossipy. As it is, they used to comment, "To whom have you given the girl in marriage? A crazy, insane man!" Now imagine what would have been the consequences of worshipping a woman there!
1 The biography of Sri Ramakrishna in Bengali, written by Sri Ramachandra Datta.
After the worship, I continued to stay at Dakshineswar for a year. Then I fell ill and returned to Jayrambati. At Dakshineswar, Sambhu Babu (Sambhunath Mallick) had arranged for my treatment by the physician Prasad Babu.
Disciple: .Were you at Dakshineswar when the Master's mother passed away (27th February, 1875)?
Mother: No, I was ill at Jayrambati then. I had returned after suffering for a year at Dakshineswar. For treatment of the spleen trouble, I went to the Siva temple at Badanganj where it was singed.2 After I had visited Dakshineswar twice or thrice, Captain (Viswanath Upadhyay) gave Sal wood. Sambhu Babu constructed a cottage for me near the place where now Ramlal stays. At night, a high tide in the Ganga carried away one of the logs. Hriday scolded me saying, "You are ill-starred!", and so on. The Captain, unmindful of the loss, sent another log.
2 Badanganj is about 4 miles off Jayrambati. This process of scorching was a painful remedy of those days. After ablution, the patient was made to lie on the ground and held down by three or four persons, so that he might not run away because of the unbearable pain. Then a person would take in hand a burning piece of jujube wood and rub it on a plantain leaf laid over the region of the spleen. The skin would get burnt, and the patient would shriek and scream. When the Mother came for the treatment after ablutions, some persons came forward to hold her down. But she said. "Nobody need hold me; I shall myself lie down quietly." And in fact she went through that ordeal in silence. The people in those regions believed that this treatment cured malaria. It is said that the Master too had once submitted to this remedy.
I stayed in that cottage for some days. During the monsoon, once the Master came to this cottage. It rained so heavily that he was unable to return to his room that night. He finished his meal there and laid himself down for the night. He said to me jokingly, "This is as though I have come home, like any other priest of the Kali Temple going home at night!"
An aged woman from Banaras at last persuaded me to come to the room in the Nahabat. The Master was suffering then from a severe attack of dysentery. I began attending on him. I searched in vain for this woman when I visited Banaras.1 The next time my mother, Lakshmi, myself and some others, went to Dakshineswar. I made a votive offering of my hair and nails at Tarakeswar for recovery from my last ailment. As (my brother) Prasanna was with us, we first went to his rented house in Calcutta. It was perhaps in the month of March (Year 1881). Next day we all went to Dakshineswar. No sooner were we there than Hriday, for reasons best known to him, began saying, "Why have they come? What have they got to do here?" He was discourteous to them. My mother kept silent. Hriday hailed from the village Sihar, and my mother too was born and brought up there. So he utterly ignored my mother. She said, "Come, let us go back home. With whom shall I leave my daughter here?" For fear of Hriday, the Master kept mum all through. We all left that very day. Ramlal called a boat for crossing the river.
1 Yogin-Ma once told me that due to shyness, the Mother had always remained veiled before the Master. It was this woman from Banaras who took the Mother one night to the Master's room, and in his presence removed her veil The Master in an ecstatic mood went on discoursing on divine topics, which kept them spellbound. None of them was even aware that the whole night had elapsed and it was dawn when he stopped!
At the time of departure, 'I mentally prayed to the Mother Kali, "Mother, I shall come here again only if You deign to bring me back." Hriday had to leave the Kali Temple for worshipping the daughter of Trailokya (son of Mathurbabu) placing flowers at her feet (June, 1881).1 Ramlal became the permanent priest of the Kali Temple. That turned his head! He was elated with the thought, "How grand! I am now the priest of Mother Kali!", and began to neglect the Master. The Master would be lying down somewhere in an ecstatic mood, and -, his food would remain uneaten. It would finally become stale and dry up. There was no one else at the Kali Temple to look after him, so the Master suffered much. He began to send word for me through people coming to those parts, to rejoin him at Dakshineswar.
1 It is usual to adore little Brahmana girls as symbols of the Divine Mother. Trailokya. a non-brahmana, feared that the worship of his daughter by a Brahmana would spell ruin; so he dismissed Hriday immediately from his position as the priest of the Kali temple, with the warning that he should never again enter the precincts of the Temple.
Through Lakshman Pyne of Kamarpukur, he sent the message, "I am suffering here. After becoming a priest, Ramlal has joined the group of other priests of the Temple. He does not now look after me much. You must come. Take a litter or a palanquin. I shall bear the cost-be it ten rupees or twenty." Hearing this earnest call, at last I came to Dakshineswar (in February or March, 1882). I was coming after a lapse of a year.
Disciple: Where was the Master when Rani Rasmani passed away?
Mother: He was at Dakshineswar then. I heard from him, as also from some others, that at the time of Rasmani's death, suddenly the lamps in the Kali Temple at the Kalighat got blown out and the Mother revealed Herself to Rasmani. All her relatives too passed away at the Kalighat residence, with the exception of Mathur Babu, who breathed his last at Janbazar.
16th October, 1912, (Wednesday)
It was the time of the Durga Puja. That day was the day of Bodhan.2 The Mother was expected at the Math in the evening. Evening was advancing and yet there was no sign of her coming. At this delay, Baburam Maharaj (Swami Premananda) became restless. At the gate he saw that the plantain trees and sacred pitchers had not been arranged as yet, and he said, "These things have not been done as yet; how can the Mother come?"
2 The ceremonial awakening of Goddess Durga on the sixth lunar day on the eve of Her autumnal worship. The actual worship takes place on the three succeeding days, and the image is immersed on the tenth lunar day.
No sooner was the Bodhan ceremony concluded, than the Mother's carriage reached Belur Math. When the carriage stopped, Golap-Ma carefully helped the Mother out of it. The Mother then looked around with beaming eyes and said, "Everything is arranged spick and span. It is as though we ourselves have come attired like the goddess Durga!"
The Mother and the women devotees were accommodated in a bungalow north of the Math premises. The Mother stayed in the southern room of that bungalow. On the day of the Mahashtami, more than three hundred devotees bowed down before the Mother, one by one. She was sitting on her cot facing west. Three or four persons were initiated by her that day.
In the evening, during the course of a conversation, the topic of Girish Babu's sister came up. She had all of a sudden passed away on the night of the Bodhan. The Mother said, "Human being-today he is, tomorrow he is not. No one will accompany a person after his death. Only his actions - good and bad - follow him even after death."
A boy had received from the Master the sacred Mantra in a dream. He had approached the Mother for guidance. Referring to him, the Mother said, "The Master took that Brahmin boy on his lap and gave him the Mantra."
Disciple: Did you give him a Mantra again?
Mother: No. I told him, "You are favoured by the grace of the Lord Himself. You will attain everything by the repetition of that Mantra," I did not even ask him what the Mantra was. I merely explained to him the technique of repetition.
On the day of the Vijaya Dasami, when the image was being taken away on a boat for immersion in the Ganga, Dr.Kanjilal had danced, gesticulated, and made faces at the image like a child that had sent all roaring with laughter. One Brahmacharin, who held puritanical views, was much annoyed at those gestures and postures. The Mother was watching the whole scene from her residence and enjoying it. Later I told the Mother about the critical reaction of the Brahmacharin. She said, "No, no! It is perfectly all right. The Goddess has to be entertained in every way through music, fun and frolic."
The Mother returned to the Udbodhan on the next day, and after staying for a few days there, she left for Banaras.
5th November 1912 (Tuesday)
The Mother arrived at the Ramakrishna Advaita Ashrama at Banaras around 1 p.m. After sometime she went to the new residence of Kiran Babu which was very near the Ashrama. The wide verandah of the house pleased the Mother arid she remarked, "We are indeed fortunate. A narrow place makes the mind narrow, while a commodious place expands it."
The Mother stayed on the first floor with Golap-Ma, Master Mahasaya's wife and some women devotees. Swami Prajnananda and all of us stayed below.
The very next day, the Mother went in a palanquin to the shrines of Viswanath and Annapurna. On the day following Kali Puja (November 9), she visited the Ramakrishna Mission Home of Service, also known as the Sevashrama. Swami Brahmananda, Swami Turiyananda, Charu Babu (Swami Shubhananda), Dr. Kanjilal and others were present. Kedar Baba (Swami Achalananda) accompanied her palanquin and showed her round the wards of the hospital
When she had seen every department, she sat down and expressed to Kedar Baba her delight at all the buildings and gardens she had seen and the good management she had noticed. She further added, "The Master himself is present here, and the Mother Lakshmi is here in all Her splendour!"
She was curious to know how the institution had taken shape and with whom the idea had first originated. Kedar Baba referred to the zealous efforts and perseverance of Charu Babu and others. Swami Brahmananda told her about the efforts, enthusiasm and the hard work of Kedar Baba for this institution. The Mother was much pleased. She remarked, "The place is so beautiful; I feel like staying on in Banaras."
Soon after she had reached her residence, a devotee came to the Sevashrama with a ten-rupee note and handing it over to the Head, said, "Kindly accept these ten rupees as the Mother's donation to the Sevashrama"1. On December 14th, the Mother visited the shrines of various gods and goddesses of Banaras. After her visit to the Temple of Vaidyanath and Tilabhandeswar, she said that the Siva image there was Svayambhu2. A little after dusk, she visited the Kedarnath Temple, and attended the evening service there, after having a look at the holy Ganga. About Kedarnath, she said, "This Kedar and the Kedar in the Himalayas are identical-they are connected. If you see this, it is as good as seeing that. The Deity here is a living Presence!"
1 That note is still treasured at the Sevashrama as an invaluable asset and the blessing of the Holy Mother.
2 Those that are not man-made, but found in natural surroundings, springing from the earth.
One day the Mother visited Sarnath. When she saw some foreigners observing with evident astonishment the Buddhist ruins there, she said, "These are the very people who built these things in their previous birth. Now they have come again, and are amazed at their own doings!"
At the time of returning, Swami Brahmananda sent the Holy Mother in his own carriage. The Mother could not be persuaded at first. She said, "No, no. Rakhal and others came in that one, and they will ride back in it. I have no difficulty in travelling in this one." But she complied at last. No sooner was her carriage out of sight, than the horse of the carriage in which the Swami was travelling, ran amuck and landed in a road-side ditch along with the carriage. The Swami was seriously injured.
On hearing of this incident, the Mother said, "The accident was really in store for me, but Rakhal quietly diverted it upon himself. Otherwise with so many young ones (Radhu, Bhudev and others) in my carriage, who knows what would have happened to them?"
The Mother visited two holy men this time at Banaras-one of them was a follower of Guru Nanak, and the other was Chameli Puri When Golap-Ma inquired of Chameli Puri, "Who arranges for your food?", the grand old monk replied with great faith and earnestness, "It is the Mother Durga alone who does. Who else would?" This reply pleased the Mother immensely.
Returning home in the evening, she said to us, "Ah! The old man's face comes to my mind-it is just like a child's!" The next day she sent him some oranges, sweets and a blanket. When on a subsequent day: I asked her if she would visit some more holy men, she said, "What, more holy men have I to see? I have seen that holy man. Which other holy man is here?"
One day some local women-folk came to visit the Mother. They found her very busy with Radhu, Bhudev and other children, and asking Golap-Ma to mend her torn cloth. One of them could not help blurting out, "Mother, I see you terribly entangled in Maya!" The Mother replied in an undertone, "What to do, dear, for I myself am Maya!"1 Another day there came three or four women to meet her. The Mother was then seated on one side of the verandah, while Golap-Ma and others sat on the other. Seeing Golap-Ma, who appeared older and possessed an imposing personality, one of the visitors mistook her for the Holy Mother and saluted her. As she was about to say something, Golap-Ma saw the mistake and said, "There sits the Holy Mother." Seeing the simple appearance of the Holy Mother, she thought that the "Holy Mother" (actually Golap-Ma) was just making fun. But when Golap-Ma repeated what she had said, the woman went towards the Holy Mother to salute her. The Mother too smilingly said, "No, no. She indeed is the Holy Mother!"'
1 Maya may mean delusion, as also the Universal Divine Mother who is its source. The latter is often called Mahamaya, the Great Maya.
The woman was now in a fix! Golap- Ma and the Mother, both were pointing to each other saying-"There! She is the Holy Mother!" We were watching all this fun. Finally, the woman adjudged Golap-Ma to be the 'real' Holy Mother, and again advanced towards her. Now Golap-Ma rebuked her, saying, "Have you no sense of judgement at all? Don't you notice the difference between a human face and a divine face? Does any human being appear like that?"
The Mother indeed possessed something unique in her simple and gracious appearance which truly made one feel her uncommon nature.
BANARAS, Kiran Babu's House, Morning
Disciple: All the pilgrims touch the image of Visvanatha (Siva). Therefore it is bathed in the evening. Afterwards the priests worship the Deity and give the food-offering.
Mother: The priests allow people to touch the image out of greed for money. Why should they do so? It is enough to see the image from a distance. Otherwise people of immoral character would touch the image.
There are some people whose very touch creates a burning sensation in the body. It is so painful. Therefore I wash my hands and feet after they touch me. Fortunately the rush of people here is less than in Calcutta.
Disciple: One can see you here only after obtaining the permission of the senior Swamis. This arrangement has been made in order to lessen the rush.
Mother: Who cares to hold court, as it were, at different places?
Her lunatic sister-in-law tormented her even in Banaras. Referring to this she said: "Perhaps I worshipped Siva with Bilva leaves having thorns. Therefore I have this thorn in my life in the shape of this sister-in-law."
Disciple: How is that? What's the harm in offering thorny Bilva leaves to Siva unknowingly?
Mother: No, no. It is extremely difficult to worship Siva. It harms a person even if he makes a mistake unconsciously. But the fact is that those who are having their last birth suffer from the effects of past Karma in this one.1 I do not remember having committed any sin since my very birth. I touched the Master at the age of five. I might not have understood him at that time, but he undoubtedly touched me. Why should I suffer so much? By touching him others are being freed from Maya; why should I alone have so much entanglement? Day and night, my mind wants to soar high. I force it down out of compassion for people. And yet I am so tormented!
1 A Sannyasin disciple had once asked her, "Mother, why do we suffer so much due to various ailments?" The Mother had replied, "This is your last birth. So you are exhausting the fruits of all your Karmas of previous lives."
Disciple: Let them do whatever they like. Please bear with us all. A person cannot be angry so long as he is conscious of himself.
Mother: Right you are, my child. There is no other virtue higher than forbearance. This is a body of flesh and blood. Sometimes I may say something in a fit of anger.
Then the Mother added, saying to herself, "He who warns in time is a true friend. What's the use of saying 'Ah!', when the right time has passed?"
11th December, 1912
The Holy Mother, while in Banaras, used to listen to the reading of the Kasi Khanda1 One evening, after the reading of the book, she was engaged in conversation with the disciple.
1 A canto of the Skanda Purana (a Hindu religious scripture), relating specially to Banaras.
Disciple: Do all that die in Banaras gain liberation?
Mother: The Scriptures say, "Yes."
Disciple: What is your direct experience? The Master saw that Siva Himself whispers the holy Mantra (Taraka-Brahma) into the ears of the dead.
Mother: I don't know about it, my child; I have not seen anything of this kind.
Disciple: I cannot believe unless I hear something from you on this point.
Mother: Well, I shall tell the Master, R -does not want to believe. Please show me something about it."
I referred to the destruction of temples in many places in India during the Mussalman rule and said, "There was so much oppression. What did God do to prevent it?"
Mother: God has infinite patience. People worship Siva by pouring water in jugs over His head day and night. Does it affect Him in the least? Or they worship Him, covering the image with dry clothes. Does it trouble Him at all? God's patience knows no limit.
The following morning the Holy Mother said to Khagen Maharaj, "Yesterday night I lay awake on my bed when I suddenly saw the image of Narayana of the Seth's temple of Brindavan standing by my side. The garland of flowers round the neck of the Deity hung up to the feet. The Master stood with folded hands in front of the image. I thought, 'How could the Master come here? 'I said, 'R-does not want to believe.' The Master said, 'He must. This is all true.' He meant that one dying in Banaras does gain liberation. That Narayana image told me two things. One was: 'Can one ever get the knowledge of Reality unless one knows the truth about God?' The other thing I do not recall."
Khagen Maharaj:. Why did the Master stand with folded hands before the image of Narayana?
Mother: That was his characteristic attitude. He was humble before all.
I called on the Mother in the morning and asked her, referring to the conversation of the previous day: "Please tell me if one dying in Banaras gains liberation. What have you seen?"
Mother: The Scriptures say so. Besides, so many people come here with this faith. What else can happen to him who has taken refuge in the Lord?
Disciple: It is, of course, true that he who has taken refuge in God will be liberated. But take the case of those who have not surrendered themselves to God, who are not His devotees, or who belong to other faiths,-will they also get liberation by dying at Banaras?
Mother: Yes, they too. Banaras is permeated with the spirit of God. All living beings of this place, even the moths and insects, are filled with divine consciousness. Any being that dies here-be it a devotee, an atheist, one belonging to another religion, or even an insect or moth-will surely be liberated.
Disciple: Are you speaking the truth?
Mother: Yes, it is true, indeed. Otherwise how can you explain the glory of the holy place?
Nearby there were some sweets that had been offered to the Lord. A fly, buzzing about, sat on my arm. Pointing to it, I said, "Even this fly?"
Mother: Yes, even that fly. All living beings of this place are filled with the spirit of God. Bhudev wanted to take home two young pigeons that had been caught in the niche over the staircase. I said to him. "No, no; you must not take them away. They are inhabitants of Banaras." The women coming from East Bengal live in the Bangalitola. Have they no love for their homes and properties, friends and relatives? But they all have settled down here in order to breathe their last in Banaras. They have such wisdom. They are without attachment.
Disciple: You see, how spiritual are the people of East Bengal!
Mother: Yes, that's true. People of our district are devoid of spiritual wisdom. Take the case of the father-in-law of Radhu. His family owns a house in Banaras. Still the members of the family are frightened at-the very mention of Banaras. They fancy that they will not die if they cling to their native village. Death, however, moves with us as our shadow.
Disciple: Are you really speaking the truth when you say that one dying here gains liberation?
Mother: (sharply) I cannot swear before you thrice. Swearing once is bad enough. Swearing three times! And that, too, in Banaras!
Disciple: (smiling) Please see that I do not die in Banaras! In that case where shall I be and where will you be? We shall not see each other!
Mother: (smiling) How stupid! He says that he does not want to die in Banaras!
Disciple: Mother, seeing is believing. One believes in a statement when it can be corroborated by direct perception.
Mother: What else shall you do if you do not believe in the words of high-souled men? Is there any other way except the one trodden by sages and seers and other holy men?
Disciple: None, indeed! What else can I do but listen to the seers who have had direct perception? That is why I have put the question to you. I shall let you go only when you have given me a direct reply!
Mother: Does it matter in the least to God whether you believe or not? Even the sage Suka Deva was to Him like a big ant at the most. Infinite is He. How much can you understand of Him? Our Master was a man of direct perception. He saw everything; he knew everything. His words are the words of the Veda. What will you do if you do not believe in his words?
Disciple: The Scriptures differ. Some Scriptures say 'this' and others 'that'. Which shall we accept? That is why I am bothering you.
Mother: That's true, indeed. The almanac makes a forecast of rain. But you do not get a drop by squeezing its pages. Besides, the Scriptures are filled with many useless things also. One cannot observe to the letter the injunctions of the Scriptures. The Master used to say, "The Bhakti hedged round by the Scriptural injunctions hardly justifies the name."
While staying at Kamarpukur after my return from Brindavan, I took off my bracelets for fear of public criticism. In fact, people were already talking about it. I also wished to go for bath in the Ganga, for which I have always had a special devotion. But the river is far away from Kamarpukur.
Now one day I saw, to my great surprise, that the Master was coming towards the house from the direction of Bhuti's canal. He was followed by Naren, Baburam, Rakhal and many other devotees. Further I saw that from his feet sprang a stream of water which flowed in front of him in waves. I said to myself, 'I see he is everything. The Ganges has sprung from his lotus feet!' Quickly I plucked flowers from the side of the Raghuvir temple and offered handfuls of them into the stream. The Master than said to me, "Don't take off the bracelets. Do you know the Vaishnava Tantras?" I said "What are they? I do not know anything about them." Thereupon he said, "Gaurimani (Gauri-Ma) will come here this afternoon. She will tell you about them." That very afternoon Gaurdasi arrived, and learned from her that to a woman her husband is Chinmaya (Pure Spirit).1 In this Kali Yuga one attains to God if one simply sticks to truth. The Master used to say, "He who speaks nothing but truth is resting on the lap of God!" During the Master's illness at Dakshineswar, I used to boil and condense milk for him and take to him two pounds of milk saying that it was one. I would not tell him the correct quantity. One day he came to know about it and said, "What is this? Stick to truth. You see, I have bowel complaints on account of my taking a large quantity of milk." Surprisingly enough, that very day he suffered from disorder of the bowels. He had all powers, but it is not so with us.
1 Later when Yogin-Ma visited Kamarpukur, the Mother while describing this incident to her, added, "The Master then stood at the foot of yonder peepul tree. I saw at last the Master disappearing in the body of Naren. Take the dust of this place and bow down!" When this news travelled from mouth to mouth and reached Swami Vivekananda, he said that it would have been better for him not to have heard of the entry of the Master into his body.
Disciple: My asking you all these questions or talking in this manner is not really meant for me. I do not worry about myself, I have a different feeling about it. What I want to know is this: I address you as my mother. Are you really my mother?
Mother: Who else am I? Yes, I am your own mother.
Disciple: You may say so. But I do not clearly see this. Naturally and spontaneously I know the mother who gave birth to my body as my own mother. But can I think of you likewise?
Mother: Alas, it is true indeed!
A few moments later, she added, "My child, He alone is our father and mother. He alone has become our father and mother."