Gospel of Holy Mother Sarada Devi
4th June 1919
Disciple: Mother, shall I keep count while I do Japa?
Mother: If you count while you do Japa, your attention will be drawn to the counting. Do Japa without counting.
Disciple: Why doesn't my mind get absorbed while doing Japa?
Mother: You will succeed through practice. Don't give up your practice of Japa, even if your mind doesn't become steady. Do your spiritual practice ardently. Repeating His name will make your mind steadfast like the flame of a lamp protected from wind. Wind makes a flame unsteady. Similarly, desires prevent the mind from becoming concentrated. Besides, if the Mantra is not pronounced correctly, it takes more time for one to achieve any result. A woman had 'Rukmini nathaya' as her Mantra. She used to utter 'Ruku', 'Ruku', and on account of this her progress was retarded. But through the Lord's grace she later got her Mantra corrected.
12th June 1919
Disciple: I have been practising Asanas for some days to keep my body fit. It helps in digesting food and in maintaining continence.
Mother: If you practise them too much, your mind may become attached to the body, but if you give them up, you stand the risk of falling sick. Keeping this in mind, act accordingly.
Disciple: I practise them for only five to ten minutes in order to have good digestion.
Mother: Then go ahead. I was trying to impress upon you that a man's body becomes unwell when physical exercise is given up. I bless you, my boy. May you be illumined.
(RECORDED BY SWAMI SANTANANDA)
Pointing to the flag hoisted on the top of the temple of Venimadhava at Varanasi, the Mother observed, "You see me so incapacitated now, but when I visited Varansi after the demise of the Master; I climbed to the top of the temple of Venimadhava to fasten the flag. I also climbed the Chandi Hill at Hardwar and the Savitri Hill at Pushkara."
In those days a certain monk of the Ramakrishna Order had been practising hard austerities at the Manikarnika Ghat at Varanasi. When I was leaving for Calcutta he told me, "Please ask the Mother when God will bestow His grace upon me." When I conveyed this to the Mother, she became grave and said, "Write to him that there is no such rule that God's grace will fall on him simply because he is practising austerities. In olden times the ascetics practised austerities for thousands of years with their feet up and heads down, and with fires burning under them. Even then, only some of them received God's grace; others did not receive it at all. It entirely depends on His will."
At the Udbodhan house one day a young man expressed to the Holy Mother his desire to become a monk. Smiling a little, the Mother pointed to a monk standing nearby and said, "If everybody becomes a monk, who will look after them? Who will supply provisions for them?" The young man married subsequently.
Once it was proposed that I should travel to Varanasi in the company of a distinguished householder devotee of Sri Ramakrishna. He had agreed to pay my fare. On hearing of this, the Holy Mother said to me, "You are a monk. Won't you be able to procure your passage money yourself? These are householders; why should you travel with them? As you will all be travelling by the same compartment in the train, they might tell you, 'Do this, do that'. Being a monk why should you take such orders from them?"
On another occasion it was decided that I should be transferred from Calcutta to Varanasi, but I could not make up my mind on this. So I asked the Mother for guidance. She said, "Look, people at Calcutta right from the morning rush about engaged in their job or business or something else, whereas people at Varanasi keep themselves busy from early morning in bathing in the Ganges, seeing Lord Visvanath, practising Japa and meditation, and so on." I replied, "But here I am engaged in your service." The Mother said, "Yes, this too is a point that should be taken into consideration so long as this body lasts."
One day, in the course of a conversation, the Mother said, "Is the Master's hair a trifle? After his passing away, when I went to Prayag (Allahabad). I carried some of his hair to offer at the confluence of the Ganges and Jamuna. Standing in still water I was holding the hair in my hand and was thinking of immersing it in the water, when suddenly a wave rose and swept away the hair from my hand. The water, already sacred, took the hair from my hand in order to increase its sanctity."
One day I asked the Mother, "Mother, there are some who have different Gurus for their Mantra and their Sannyasa. Now, whom should they meditate upon as their Guru?" The Mother replied, "The giver of the Mantra is the real Guru, for by the repetition of this Mantra one obtains dispassion, renunciation and Sannyasa."
(RECORDED BY SURENDRANATH SIRCAR)
During the Christmas holidays of 1910, I saw the Holy Mother for the first time at Kothar. Sri Hemanta Mitra and Sri Birendra Majumdar, two devotees from Shillong, had come with me. Sri Ramakrishna Bose, Swami Dhirananda, Swami Achalananda, Swami Atmananda, and Sri Haraprasanna Mazumdar, a devotee of Nag Mahasaya, were staying at Kothar at that time.
It was about 1 p.m. when we reached the place. We had brought with us some fruits, oranges, honey, etc. for the Holy Mother. Ramakrishna Babu carried them to her. After our bath we were called for our noon meal. In the meantime we heard some of the monks whispering, "As they have come from such a long distance, they must be permitted to meet the Mother, but they should not be allowed to talk much." Biren Babu, who overheard it, passed on the message to me. I told him, "Mother willing, it will be done. What is there to worry about?" When my companions proceeded for their meals, I told Ramakrishna Babu, "I shall not take any food before I pay my respects to the Holy Mother." Ramakrishna Babu carried this message to the Mother, and he soon returned conveying her permission. On entering the inner courtyard, we saw the Holy Mother sitting in the verandah. She waited for us, covering her body with a wrapper, and her face by the end of her Sari. As I approached the Mother, Golap-Ma said, "He is a mere boy, Mother. The boy has come to pay his respects to you." At these words, she lifted up the cloth from her face. We could clearly see the face of the Holy Mother. Since that occasion the Mother never kept her face covered in my presence. I prostrated flat on the ground and uttered, "I take refuge in Thee." Touching my head, the Mother blessed me, saying, "May you have devotion."
Disciple: Mother, it is my desire to spend a few days here. But in a rich man's house like this, it is rather difficult to meet you.
Mother: I shall send for you. Now go and take your food, and have some rest.
After the noon meal we rested. In the afternoon the Revered Golap-Ma brought me a cup of pudding which had been offered to the Mother and said, "The Mother has given you this consecrated pudding." A little later someone came and announced, "The Mother is calling you." I saw her for the second time. My salutations over, I said, "Mother, I want to speak a few personal things to you, but I hesitate to do so in the presence of others." "All right," said the Mother. "Please leave this place for a while," she said to the person who had called me. The person went away.
Earlier I had seen Sri Ramakrishna as well as the Holy Mother in my dreams. Now I disclosed this to the Mother. On hearing it she said, "What you have seen is true." Mother asked me concerning the other two devotees, "Well, what do they want?"
Disciple: Mother, if you are pleased, they want spiritual initiation from you.
Mother: Well, you all see me tomorrow morning after your bath.
Disciple: Mother, your holy feet were worshipped by Sri Ramakrishna himself. We, too, wish to worship them by offering flowers.
Mother: All right, your wish will be fulfilled.
Disciple: Where shall I find flowers?
Mother: The attendants here will procure them for you. We saluted the Mother and returned to the parlour.
The Holy Mother had asked me, "What do they want?", but she did not even mention my case. After returning from the Mother, I felt worried over this omission. At last I pacified myself thinking that whatever the Mother wills would come to pass. I did not say anything.
The next day after our bath we kept ourselves in readiness with flowers and other materials necessary for spiritual initiation. The Mother said to us, "Come inside one by one." I was the first to enter. It appeared that the Mother had finished her morning worship. As I entered she said, "You will repeat the Mantra that the Master has given you. I, too, shall give you something." With these remarks, she gave me the great Mantra.
Later we worshipped the holy feet of the Mother. She accepted the offerings standing. I said, "Mother, I do not know the rituals." The Mother replied, "Offer the flowers, without any Mantra. That will do." I offered the flowers at her feet uttering 'Jai Ma' (Hail Mother). There was one stramonium flower amongst them. Pointing to it, she said, 'Don't offer this one, for this is used for the worship of Lord Siva."
I presented her with a rupee and a Sari that I had brought for her. At this the Mother said, "You are in financial difficulties already. Why do you give money?" Strange enough, although there was no talk about the wants in my household, the Mother seemed to know everything about it. I said, "It belongs to you, and it is only being presented to you. If a small fraction of what we earn is used for your service, we shall consider ourselves fortunate." At this the Mother observed, "Ah! What devotion, my dear!" I said, "Mother, devotees call you Kali, Adyasakti, Bhagavati, etc. In the Gita it is mentioned that the saints Asita, Devala, Vyasa, and others called Sri Krishna as Narayana Himself. Sri Krishna himself told this to Arjuna. By mentioning it himself in the Gita, the idea has been still more emphasized. I believe everything that I have heard about you. Still, if you will please speak of it yourself, my doubts will be dispelled. I want to hear from you directly whether these things are true." "Yes, true they are," said the Mother. After this I never asked the Mother any question relating to her real nature.
I said, "Mother, I want this much-I want to see my Chosen Ideal, touch Him, talk with Him as vividly as I now see you and talk with you. Kindly bless me."
Mother: Well, your wish will be fulfilled.
The next day when I saluted the Holy Mother before taking leave of her, I saw her smiling face and her very graceful appearance. Golap-Ma strongly suggested to me, "Why not visit Puri before going back home?" I replied, "What more would I see? The holy feet of the Mother are a million times more holy to me. I need nothing more." When the Mother heard this, she intervened, "Well, leave it. You need not go there."
I saw the Holy Mother for the second time at the Udbodhan house in May 1912. This time the wife of Rajendra Mukhopadhyaya and my wife received spiritual initiation from her. On this occasion I could not have any significant talk with the Mother on account of Radhu's illness. My mother, grandmother, and two sons, who had accompanied me, were blessed by seeing the Mother and touching her feet.
I saw the Mother next at Jayrambati in 1913. It was three or four days before the marriage of Bhudev, the Mother's nephew. Arriving at the Koalpara Monastery, I heard that one devotee, Dwarakanath Mazumdar, had passed away at Koalpara on his return journey after meeting the Holy Mother. Swami Keshavananda observed, "Mother has prohibited all from going to Jayrambati now. There is a spell of drought there. None should go there before the rains set in." Naturally I became a little worried. I had already covered such a long distance; but then how could I disregard the Holy Mother's instruction and proceed to her place? I took rest after the noon meal. Strangely enough, by the grace of the Mother there came a good shower of rain. The next morning I went to Jayrambati and paid my respects to the Holy Mother. After exchange of a few preliminaries, the Mother said, "My son, we had a nice shower of rain yesterday. It is rather cool today." Referring to the devotee who had recently died, the Mother said, "He died the death of a holy man. I can see him, as it were, even now. But I feel sorry for his bereaved old father." With these words the Mother started weeping.
At that time, Brahmachari Devendranath arrived at Jayrambati, from Varanasi. He used to say that he could know the details of his past life. He had told me four or five years earlier that I was his spiritual preceptor in my previous birth. But I knew nothing about it. I used to laugh away these talks as a mad man's prattle. As soon as both of us presented ourselves before the Mother, she herself said, "Earlier you two were at the same place, and now you have come together once again." Hearing this, Devendra whispered to me, "Look, now do you see that all I told you was true?" I replied, "It may be, but I know nothing of it."
After leaving the Mother, Devendra pleaded with me, "I have come to receive initiation into Sannyasa from the Mother, but my desire won't be fulfilled unless you make a formal request to her. It is owing to the Master's will that I am here now. The Master has brought you too here, because my prayer will not be granted without your consent. At Varanasi I saw Sri Ramakrishna and the Holy Mother in a vision and talked with them." I replied, "I am not going to tell her anything on my own initiative. Let me see what happens." Devendra said, "I say, it won't do."
We had been staying at Jayrambati for seven or eight days. In the meantime Devendra was found to have become quite restless, which struck me as something unusual. However, one morning I saw the Holy Mother all alone and said, "Mother, can I say something?" Smilingly the Mother replied, "Well, please come a little later when I prepare the vegetables."
After a while the Mother began dressing vegetables. As soon as I went up to her, she said, "You can now tell me what you wanted to say."
I said, "Mother, you are quite aware that the Master appeared before Devendra in a vision. You too blessed him similarly. Now he wishes to take the vow of Sannyasa. He is not going to continue in the worldly life. Then why not please grant him his prayer?" When the Mother heard this, she said smilingly, "If he takes the vow of Sannyasa, will it cause any suffering to others?" I replied, "His parents are already dead. He has one elder brother who has embraced Brahmoism, but he is an earning man. I don't think his Sannyasa will cause suffering to anyone." Then the Mother said, "All right, his prayer will be fulfilled. Get a new cloth dyed ochre from the Koalpara monastery. He will be given Sannyasa tomorrow itself." I disclosed everything to Devendra, who was extremely delighted. All the preparations were made. The next morning the Holy Mother performed the worship in front of the picture of Sri Ramakrishna and handed over to Devendra the new ochre cloth and loin cloth. She asked Devendra to see her after changing into the new clothes. I was then sitting near the Holy Mother brooding over my situation. Just then the Mother, as if understanding my feelings, said tenderly, "Son, will you take the sugar syrup offered to the Master?" "Yes, Mother, give me," I replied.
The Mother herself drank a little of it and lovingly handed over the glass of syrup to me. In drinking the syrup which the Mother also had taken, I considered myself blessed. I thought, "Compared to this good fortune, what is there in Sannyasa? This is not even within the reach of gods!" My heart was filled with a wondrous feeling.
When Devendra entered the room with ochre clothes on and saluted the Holy Mother, she said to me, "Do you see? He is a new man, as it were. He is no more that old self of his."
Uncle Kali, the Mother's second brother, who was also Bhudev's father, began to persuade me to accompany the party in connection with the marriage of his son Bhudev, but I wanted to stay with the Mother. Mother appreciated my attitude and intervened, saying, "No, he need not go. Let him stay here."
Brahmin cooks were busy cooking for the marriage feast. Devendra and I were watching them from a distance. Observing us, the Mother said, "You make fun of them because they do not wear the sacred thread. But who can equal them in cooking?"
As part of the marriage festivities, one of a group of athletes broke into pieces a stone placed on his chest. While he was pounding the stone to pieces, the Mother was constantly praying, "Master, protect him." When the performance was over, the Mother asked me, "My son, do they know some Mantra (esoteric incantation)?" I replied, "No, Mother, there is no such thing behind this display of strength. He has gradually mastered this feat by practice. I once heard a story. An American cowboy used to carry a calf in his arms every day to a far off grazing field. The calf gradually grew into an ox. Still he could carry the ox and used to surprise others by his great strength. All this is the outcome of practice." The Mother observed, "Well, do you see how effective is the power of practice? In the same way, man achieves the highest goal through the practice of Japa. Japa leads to success. Yes, Japa leads to success!"
In the biography of Nag Mahasaya it is mentioned that once the Holy Mother herself fed Nag Mahasaya with some food after herself tasting a bit of it, thus converting it into her Prasada, Overwhelmed by this benevolent gesture of the Mother, Nag Mahasaya said, "Mother is kinder than Father, Mother is kinder than Father!" When I read this portion of the biography, it struck me, "Will the Mother ever feed me in that fashion? But I shall never express this desire to the Mother. Let it happen only if she chooses to do so." Strange enough, one day she fed me with consecrated food in that very way!
At that time a monk, who did not belong to the Ramakrishna Order, but was known to the Holy Mother, came to Jayrambati. One morning I was taking food. The new Swami too was sitting there a little away from me. The Mother said to me, "My son, do you think accepting ochre robes is as simple as that?" Then pointing to the monk, the Mother said, "Just see what he has done." To me she said further, "What's the necessity of the ochre robe? You will have everything even without it."
I had brought a pair of Saris for the Holy Mother. As I presented them to her, I said, "I hear that you distribute presented clothes to others, Mother. But I shall be greatly delighted if you will kindly use these clothes yourself." When the Mother heard this, she said nothing, but smiled a little. When I went to see her the next day, she said, "Look, my son, I have put on the cloth you had brought."
On my humble supplication the Holy Mother gave me one of her old Saris. While handing it over to me, she said, "It is quite unclean. Please wash it." I said: "No, Mother, I want to preserve it exactly in the condition in which you have presented it to me. I don't want to send it to a laundry." "Well, as you please," replied the Mother.
One day, Devendra and I presented ourselves before the Mother while she was taking her food. The Mother asked, "Would you like to have Prasada?" Both of us extended our hands to receive it. After she had partaken of a small quantity of the food, the Mother gave a good amount of it to each of us. Lest it should fall from our hands, she pressed it placing it on our palms. The Mother belonged to an orthodox Brahmin family and I to a Kayastha. With an utter disregard of the caste rules she touched my hand and began taking her food. Indeed, she looked upon us as her own children.
Whenever I went to see the Holy Mother, I brought fruits or some other articles I could procure. I had heard that the Mother could not offer to Sri Ramakrishna things brought by anybody and everybody, and so I sometimes felt an apprehension whether the Mother would accept our presents because of our not being very pure souls. But I used to feel reassured on the Mother telling, "My son, I presented to the Master the article you had brought. It was quite good, very sweet. I too have partaken of it."
One day I asked her, "Mother, does not the practice of repeating God's name gradually reduce the accumulated effects of a man's past actions?" "Everyone must experience the consequence of his past actions," the Mother replied. "Nevertheless, the remembrance of God's name helps one this much-instead of losing a leg one may suffer merely from a thorn entering one's foot."
I said, "Mother, I can hardly perform spiritual practices, and I don't think I shall ever be able to." The Mother assured me saying, "What else will you do? Do what you are doing now. Remember that the Master is behind every one of you. I too am behind you."
One day the Mother observed that Radhu was feeling restless owing to illness. She said to me, "O my son, please see what's the trouble with Radhu." I did not know how to feel the pulse. However, to satisfy the Mother I felt Radhu's pulse and said, "There is nothing serious. She is somewhat weak. Please give her some milk to drink." The Mother, who was of a childlike nature, immediately began feeding Radhu with milk. After a while Radhu's mother came and seated herself close to Radhu. This made the latter excited; she did not like the idea that her mother should stay nearby. Pushing her a little with her hand, Radhu said, "Please move away." The Holy Mother's hand accidentally touched the feet of Radhu's mother. Being already very much perturbed, she cried out, "Why have you touched my feet? What will become of me now?" The Mother had a hearty laugh at the behaviour of Radhu's mother. Rashbehari-Da, who was standing nearby, said, "Mother, you see how this madcap of a woman speaks ill of you always and even tries to hurt you? But now she seems to be frightened because your hand has touched her feet!"
The Mother said, "In spite of his knowing that Rama was but Narayana, the infinite Brahman, and that Sita was the primordial energy, the Mother of the universe, Ravana nevertheless created so much trouble. Does not the mad woman know who I am? She knows everything; yet she creates all this fun."
Referring to the rheumatic pain in her leg, I told her, "Mother, I hear that your accepting the sins of others is responsible for this illness of yours. I have one earnest prayer to you-kindly do not suffer on my account. Kindly allow me to undergo sufferings for my past deeds." The Mother replied, "How is that possible? Let all be happy, and I shall suffer for them." Ah! What an unfathomable manifestation of compassion I saw in her!
Prior to leaving Jayrambati, as I prostrated before the Mother, she placed her hand on my head and mentally repeated the name of the Lord. Then she said affectionately, "Ah! They feel like staying with me. But what can they do? They have so much of household work to look after!" Expressing her solicitude like the mother of a man bound for a far off country, the Mother walked with me some distance from her house and stood gazing with her eyes full of tears.
Once I stayed in Calcutta for three weeks. I went to the Holy Mother's house at Baghbazar. After making obeisance at her feet, I said, "Mother, I shall be in Calcutta for a few days. A rule has been introduced here permitting people to see you only twice a week. If you kindly permit me, I shall come to see you now and then." The Mother replied, "Certainly. Come whenever you can and inform me."
During this period, one day I approached her, and said, "Mother, I do not find peace of mind. My mind remains agitated all the time. I am not free from desires." On hearing this, the Mother looked intently at me for a long time, but did not utter a word. Her look of distress brought me remorse. I wondered why I should have told her these things. Taking the dust of her feet, I bade her farewell and went to Master Mahasaya's residence in Guruprasad Chowdhury Lane. I saluted him and said, "You massaged the Master's feet many a time. Kindly stroke my head a little; for I feel greatly agitated." Master Mahasaya replied, "What's this? You are the Mother's son; she loves you dearly. Why should you seek consolation from me? Didn't the Mother cast her benign glance upon you?" "Oh yes, she looked at me for a while," I replied. Thereupon Master Mahasaya said: "What more do you need? 'If Shyama casts her glance on a man, he swims in Eternal Bliss.'" He emphatically repeated this saying three times. Now I realized the significance of the Mother's looking at me for a while. I became quiet. It now appeared to me that the Mother had sent me to Master Mahasaya just to enable me to understand the meaning of her gracious glance.
Early one morning I went to see the Holy Mother. My wife and one of my daughters accompanied me. I told her, "Mother, my wife and daughter cannot see you often. Permit them to stay with you for the whole day. I shall come in the afternoon to take them home." The Mother agreed. My wife had not put on her forehead the vermilion mark of married women. One of the lady devotees then asked her, "Well, why do you not have a vermilion mark on your forehead?" When the Mother heard this, she said, "What does it matter, if she has not? She has such a noble husband. What if she hasn't worn the mark?" Saying so, the Mother herself put a vermilion mark on my wife's forehead. My wife was thinking, "If the Mother permits, I shall massage her feet." Strangely enough, the Mother called her after a while and said, "Daughter, please rub some oil on my head and body." While my wife was combing the Mother's hair after putting oil on it, the thought came to her, "Mother permitting, I shall take these hair-strands home." The Mother smiled, and on her own took out the hair-strands from the comb and presented them to my wife saying, "Take these."
A woman devotee asked the Mother, "Who is this daughter?" The Mother replied, "She is the wife of Suren who lives in Ranchi. Suren has great faith in the Master."
That day the Mother took my wife to the Ganges when she went for her bath. The Brahmacharins had mixed up the Sari and towel we had brought for Mother with a few other clothes. But the Mother picked up our Sari and towel when she went for her bath. After the holy bath in the Ganga, the Mother paid one paise to the 'priest at the ghat'1 saying, "Put a sandal paste mark on the forehead of this daughter."
1 A Brahmin priest who attends to the orthodox rituals after a holy bath
While taking her meal the Mother gave my wife Prasada from her own plate. After the meal, she asked my wife to massage her feet. My young daughter, who was lying on a piece of blanket, soiled it. My wife was about to wash it when the Mother took it from her and washed it herself. My wife asked, "Well, Mother" why should you wash it?" The Mother replied, "Why should I not, dear? Is not the child my own?"
In the afternoon I went to the Udbodhan Office and found that Upen Babu was the only visitor there. I learned that all the others had gone to attend the celebrations at the Vivekananda Society. I went upstairs straight to the Mother and saluted her. She said, "Look, there is no male attendant here today. Devotees will be coming to see me. Today you will serve as the usher and also distribute Prasada to the devotees." A little later I showed some devotees into the Mother's drawing-room, and after they saluted her, gave them Prasada. Gradually the devotees thinned out, and finally all left.
Mother: Today you have served as a member of this household; you showed the devotees in and gave them Prasada.
Disciple: Why! Don't I belong to your household?
Mother: Yes, that's right. You are my own son.
Saying this, the Mother continued, speaking to my wife, "Yes, dear, all are my children, no doubt. But some of them are specially related. He bears a special relationship with me. Don't you see how he frequents this place? He is close to me."
Then the Mother gave us Prasada and betel leaf. Touching my chin endearingly, she said, "You need have no fear hereafter. Feel quite at ease. This is your last birth."
Disciple: Certainly, your grace makes everything easy.
My wife brought for the Mother an asana1 which she herself had made. It pleased her very much. Showing it to everyone, she said, "Ah! Look at it. What a beautiful asana my daughter has made." Even a trifling thing from a devotee used to gladden her so much!
1 A small carpet on which one person can sit.
Another time I proceeded for Jayrambati in the company of four devotees. We left the monastery at Koalpara early enough to arrive at the house of the Holy Mother before sunset. But we were delayed. Though we had with us a local porter, and though I too was familiar with the place, we took a wrong road when we were close to the Mother's house. We found it difficult to ascertain the road leading to our destination. The local porter too got confused and could not help us. Dusk passed into night and the surroundings were scarcely visible. My companions got bewildered. Finding no other alternative, I spread a blanket in a bamboo grove and sat down. I was overcome with the thought, "Mother, how is it that we alone should search for you and you yourself should do nothing whatsoever?" Soon after, we noticed Rashbehari-Dada2 and Hemendra3 coming, with a lantern in hand. We were amazed at their appearance at such an odd hour. They explained, "We had no plan to come by this road. But luckily we just happened to take this route!"
2 Swami Arupananda, an attendant of the Holy Mother.
3 Brahmachari Hemendra was another attendant.
When we met the Mother and saluted her, she asked, "Well, sons, you have wandered a lot, haven't you?"
Disciple: Yes, Mother, we took a wrong road.
At that time the Mother's new house was being constructed and the two Brahmacharins just mentioned were terribly busy with the work. Two devotees from Sylhet had come. Of the two, one was a devotee of Swami Dayananda of Arunachal. The latter had declared this disciple of his to be an incarnation of Prahlada. I escorted them to the Mother. After they saluted her, I said, "Mother, in Arunachal there is a monk by the name of Dayananda. He proclaims himself to be an incarnation of God. This gentleman is a disciple of his. Dayananda says he is Prahlada." The Mother laughed and said, "An Incarnation indeed!"
The Mother gave those two devotees spiritual initiation this time. Referring to the monk, I told the Mother that he was giving spiritual initiation to many persons. The Mother said, "They belong more or less to the class of commerical monks. Still, even they bring some good to people. Men normally do not do any spiritual practice. But following the advice of these monks, they will at least do some practice. If one is sincere he will finally come here. Don't you see how the holy name of Tarak Brahma1 is spreading? Those who have worth in them cannot help but come under its influence."
1 The Supreme Lord.
The Mother initiated all the four companions of mine. One of them was rather young. When his initiation was over, the Mother told him, "Repeat the Mantra one hundred and eight times." But this did not satisfy him. He wanted to chant the holy name one hundred million times a day. Smiling a little, the Mother observed, "Now you are thinking like this. But because of your multifarious duties you can't do that much. Well, it would be fine if you can do more."
One day I procured some lotuses for worshipping the Mother. She said, "Go and offer some to Simhavahini and keep the rest here." One devotee said, "I want to worship you with all the flowers I have brought." To him the Mother replied: "Well, it may be done! But don't you see these old feet of mine? Why would you worship them?"
A number of devotees were near about when I told her, "Mother Sri Ramakrishna used to say, 'Pure devotion is the essence of all.' You kindly bless me so that I can have that kind of devotion." The Mother kept quiet. The people present gradually left the place. Then the Mother quietly said, "Is it possible for anybody and everybody to have that? But you will have it."
The Mother told Radhu, "Radhu, he is your elder brother. Salute him." I wondered, "How's that! I belong to a Kayastha1 family. Won't it cause me harm if she, a Brahmana girl, salutes me?" At last both of us saluted each other.
1 Originally a class of warriors. It is the second in the hierarchy of the Hindu caste system.
One day I had a great desire to take panthabhat2 and asked the Mother for it. She said, "Wait for a while. I'll fry hot chillies and pulse-cake in oil. People in your part of the country are very fond of chillies." The Mother mimicked the tune of a traditional gramaphone record, saying, 'I shan't give you even one less than thirty-two chillies.'3 Saying this, she began to laugh heartily.
2 Boiled rice kept in water overnight-a common dish in rural Bengal.
3 The people of East Bengal are fond of hot chillies and the people of West Bengal make fun of it.
Another day at Jayrambati, the Mother said, "I have to face much hardship, you see, all through the day. Devotees come every minute, one batch following another. There is no end to this. This body of mine is almost at the breaking point. Praying to the Master I have somehow fixed my mind on Radhu and thus kept it on the "worldly plane." It struck me that this was parallel to Sri Ramakrishna's keeping his lofty mind on the worldly plane by clinging to such desires as "I shall drink water" or "I shall smoke." Was not the Mother bearing so much trouble for the good of the many?
While taking leave of the Mother, I said, "Mother, you have millions of children like me, but I have not another Mother like you." On hearing this, the Mother with tears in her eyes endearingly fondled me, touching my chin with her hand.4
4 The way Indian mothers show affection for their grown-up children.
Once I went to Jayrambati to request the Mother to go to Ranchi for a change of climate after her illness. It was the month of Chaitra (March-April). When she heard this proposal, the Mother remarked, "One should not go out in the month of Chaitra. Even Sarat (Swami Saradananda) came here to escort me to Calcutta and stayed here a long time awaiting my convenience. Calcutta should therefore have my preference."
About that time one of the sisters of Swami Keshavananda died. Referring to this, I observed, "Mother, it is a pity that Swami Keshavananda's mother should suffer bereavement in her old age." The Mother replied, "Bereavement will not upset her peace of mind." On my return journey I met the old lady at Koalpara and found that she had no trace of grief at all. She was all smiles as usual. I wondered, "Even a great sage like Vasishtha experienced bereavement. But here I find the contrary."
Once I called upon the Mother at the Udbodhan house in the company of Sri Rajendra Mukhopadhyaya. When we saluted the Mother, she prayed to Sri Ramakrishna with folded palms, "Master, kindly fulfil all their desires." Thereupon I asked, "How's that Mother? We shall be ruined if all our desires are fulfilled. How many bad desires are there in the heart?"
The Mother laughed and said, "You need not be afraid of that. The Master will grant only those desires which you really need and which will bring you good. Continue to practise what you are doing now. Why fear? We are with you."
Very early one morning a calf was pitifully crying in the outer courtyard of the Mother's house at Jayrambati. The calf was kept separated from its mother for the purpose of milking the cow. On hearing its cry the Mother rushed out, saying, "I am coming, child, I am coming. I shall release you just now." Coming to the courtyard, she freed the calf. I was wonderstruck on seeing this revelation of the compassion of the Divine Mother towards all beings. Alas! Only such an anguished cry can bring about the release of the soul.
I do not have the language to give expression to the Holy Mother's boundless affection, infinite compassion and limitless kindness. We are all blessed by seeing her lotus feet, touching them, and receiving her grace. Our families have been made holy and our mothers have been blessed. Hundreds of devotees have been turned into gold by this touchstone.
(RECORDED BY BRAHMACHARI ASHOKAKRISHNA)
One morning during her last illness I went to see the Holy Mother. There was no one else in her room at the time. She was staying in the southernmost room. During daytime the Mother's bed used to be spread on the floor of that room. She had been keeping better health for the past few days.
It was the first week of the month of Chaitra (third week of March). As soon as I made salutations to the Mother, she began to enquire about the other members of my family. Seeing her very lean and thin, I said, "Mother, your health has very much deteriorated. I have never seen you so weak before."
The Mother said, "Yes, my son, the body has become quite emaciated. It seems that whatever the Master had wanted to get done through this body has already been accomplished. Now my mind is constantly directed towards him. Nothing else brings happiness to the mind. Look, how dearly I loved Radhu, how much care I took in looking after her. But now all this is changed. Now when Radhu approaches me, I feel uneasy. I feel, why should she try to drag my mind down? For the sake of his work, the Master kept my mind tied down to the world through these aids. Otherwise, would it have been possible for me to continue in this world after he passed away?"
Disciple: Mother, such words from you are very painful to us. If you leave us, what will happen to us? We don't practise austerities. We have hardly any renunciation. If you don't maintain your body for our sake, how shall we get the strength to survive in this realm of Mahamaya? Whenever any weakness would assail my mind, I used to tell you everything and find a way out every time. But where shall we go now? We shall all be helpless.
Mother: What! Why should you be helpless? Does not the Master guide you through good and bad? Why should you be so worried? I have deposited you at his holy feet. You will have to move about within that circle; you can't go beyond it. He is always protecting you.
Disciple: Even though I remember the mercifulness of the Master, I fail to understand it all the time. Though I often have faith in it, I am haunted by doubts at times. But I can see you directly. I tell you everything, and you instruct me on how to follow the best course for my own good. This has instilled in me the conviction that I am under your protection.
Mother: Always remember that the Master is the only protector. If you forget this, you will have trouble. Do you know why I enquired about your family so much? I first heard from Ganen that you had lost your father. So I asked him about the close relations of your mother, whether she has means to maintain herself and whether she can manage her affairs without you. When I heard that she can pull on even without you, I felt relieved and thought, "Well, the boy has taken a good resolve, and now by the grace of the Master he will not face any serious trouble."
She continued, "Everyone should serve his mother, particularly those of you who have come together here to serve all people. Had your father not left behind some wealth, I would have asked you to earn money with which to serve your mother. It is by the will of the Master that you are not burdened by any such trouble. It will be enough if you can make some arrangement, so that the family property is not squandered while under the management of a woman. As for yourself, you are in a very advantageous position. Men can hardly earn money through honest means, and even this contaminates their mind very much. That's why I advise you to settle these monetary affairs as early as possible. Money is such a thing that one develops an attachment for it, if one is associated with it for long! You may think that you have no attachment for it, that since you have renounced it once for all you will not get attached to it, that you will be able to be free from it whenever you wish. Oh, no! Never harbour such an idea in your mind. Money will find its way somehow to grip you unawares by the neck, as it were. I am telling this particularly to you who belong to Calcutta-you are free with money, aren't you? Settle your family affairs as early as possible and leave Calcutta. And if you can take your mother to some place of pilgrimage, both of you will be able to call upon God, forgetting the mother-and-son relationship. It will be nice if you can arrange it now while your mother is mourning. She is already aged. Try to explain your intention to her. Discuss this with her.
"You will play the true role of a son only if you can help her acquire the means for her higher evolution in the hereafter. Don't forget that you have grown up by sucking the milk of her breasts. Remember with what difficulty she tended you. To serve her is your highest religion. It would be different, of course, if she stands in the way of your progress towards God. Please bring your mother here once. I want to see what she is like. If I find her helpful to you, I shall give her some advice. But beware; don't engage yourself in worldly affairs under the cover of serving your mother. The real issue is to provide board and lodging for her because she is a widow. Is a big amount of money necessary for this? Try your utmost to quickly settle these affairs, even if there be some monetary loss. The Master could not touch money at all. Since you have renounced everything to realize the Master's ideal, always remember his words. Money is at the root of all evil in this world. At your tender age, your mind will easily feel tempted if you possess some money. Beware!"
Disciple: I thought of bringing my mother to you one day. But considering the present condition of your health, I don't dare to bring her here.
Mother: No, no, bring her one day. Many people are coming. The condition of this body will deteriorate day by day. Bring her once very soon. I don't feel too bad in the mornings. Can you not bring her in the morning one day? Don't be too late in the day, otherwise the attendant may not permit her to see me.
Disciple: Mother, your words are very painful to me. Your repeated mention of your health suggests that you don't desire to keep your body any more.
Mother: The continuation of this body is not under my control; it all depends on His will. Why are you all so impatient? How long do you really stay near me? You stay at the Math (Belur Math) sometimes, or somewhere else at other times. How many of you find an opportunity to speak to me or stay near me? You don't even care to inform me of your whereabouts.
Disciple: Yes, it is true that there is hardly any scope for our staying with you, but we know in our heart of hearts that you are here. Whenever any weakness assails us, we rush to you, and we are relieved.
Mother: Suppose the Master lets this body of mine perish-do you think I can be free even then so long as a single person of whom I have taken charge remains in bondage? I shall have to be with them all. I have taken the responsibility for their well-being. Giving initiation is no joke. One has to bear on one's shoulders such a big burden, you see! How much I have to worry over them. Just see, when your father expired, I felt very sad. I thought, the Master has again put this young man, to the test. I worried as to how you would manage in this situation. That was why I talked with you so long. Do you really understand everything? If you could, the burden of my worries would have diminished. The Master is sporting with different people in different ways. And now, you see, I have to bear the brunt of it all! Surely, I cannot leave those whom I have accepted as my own.
Disciple: Mother, I become frightened whenever I wonder what will happen to us when you are gone. Whom shall we approach in your place?
Mother: My son Rakhal (Swami Brahmananda) and others are there. Are they any the less worthy? You dearly love Rakhal also. You can seek his help. Besides, what else have you got to ask? To question too much is not good. It is difficult to properly assimilate even one thought. Now why should you trouble your mind by harbouring ten thoughts? Dive deep with the noble idea that you have received. Repeat the holy Name, meditate upon it, keep good company, and subdue the ego by all means. Do you see the child-like nature of Rakhal, as if he is still a young boy? Don't you see Sarat (Swami Saradananda), who does so much work, bearing all tribulations silently? Being a monk, he has no need for all these troubles. These monks can fix their minds on God all the time if they so wish. They bring their minds down only for your welfare. Keep them before you as an ideal and serve them. And make it a point to remember always whose child you are, who has granted refuge to you. Whenever any evil thought haunts you, tell your mind: 'Being her child, can I stoop so low as to indulge in any such activity?' You will find that you gain strength and peace of mind.
(RECORDED BY PRABODH BABU AND MANINDRA)
I first saw the Holy Mother in 1907. It was during the rainy season of 1908 that I saw her for the second time. This time I arrived at Jayrambati at about 11.30 a.m. After I saluted her, the Mother asked, "Are you a pupil of Master Mahasay?"
Disciple: No, Mother, but I visit him frequently.
Mother: How is he? Have you seen him recently?
Disciple: He is keeping fine. I met him only eight days back.
While I was taking my noon meal, I asked the Mother, "Will you be going to Calcutta now?"
Mother: I wish to visit Calcutta during the Durga Puja holidays. Then whatever the Divine Mother wills. . . . Do you get paddy from your landed property?
Disciple: Yes, Mother.
Mother: Good. We don't get good quality paddy in this part of the country. Do you grow Kalai pulse?
Disciple: Yes, Mother.
Mother: That's fine. While I was taking my night meal, the Holy Mother asked, "Do you stay at home now?"
Disciple: Yes, Mother, I am living at home now. I am in grave danger. I had a serious illness, and it has been followed by my marriage.
Mother: How old is the bride?
Disciple: She is about thirteen.
Mother: What has happened is for good, certainly. What can you do?
Disciple: Master Mahasaya asked me not to marry.
Mother: Ah! He himself has suffered much. That's why he says, "None of you should marry."
Disciple: Worldly life is a great impediment. Engrossed in worldly life, one loses one's manliness.
Mother: Surely. There is only one cry-money, money, money.
Disciple: It is very painful.
Mother: The Master has householder devotees too. Why do you worry?
In spite of these words I was still worried. After a while the Mother said, "My brothers too are married."
Disciple: Did they marry with your consent?
Mother: What is to be done? The Master used to say, "The worms seen in excreta thrive well there, but if kept in a pot of rice, they will simply die." These days nieces do not serve, their uncles as sincerely as we used to do.
Disciple: Things are changing gradually.
Mother: That's true. Don't you see? Formerly I couldn't kill even an ant, but these days I sometimes beat a cat! The Master used to say, "Tuhu, Tuhu"-"Thou, Thou!" He meant that only after terrible sufferings does a man resort finally to "Thou, Thou (Lord, Lord)." Selfishness-well, it persists as long as a person is self-assertive, but not when that is overcome. Why entertain any fear? All conditions can turn favourable by the will of the Master. Perhaps your wife has some good deeds to her credit. The Master used to say, "Avidya is more powerful than vidya." That is why avidya maya1 has kept the world enchanted.
1 Avidya maya or the 'Maya of ignorance' which entangles man in worldliness. Vidya maya leads one to liberation. These are the two aspects of maya or ignorance obscuring the vision of God.
It was Sunday, 20 April 1919. The Holy Mother was staying at Jagadamba Ashrama at Koalpara in the district of Bankura. At about ten in the morning Manindra, Satu, Narayana Iyengar and others had come to salute the Holy Mother. The Mother had been staying here for more than a month. The male devotees were staying and taking their meals at the Koalpara monastery.
The son of the Holy Mother's niece Maku was seriously ill at Jayrambati; he was suffering from Diphtheria. The child was under the treatment of Vaikuntha Maharaj (Swami Mahadevananda). The Mother was terribly worried as to what might happen to the child. This topic came up for discussion as soon as the devotees took their seats after saluting the Mother. Narayana Iyengar said, "Mother, the child will be cured through your blessings." The Mother folded her palms and pointing to the picture of the Master inside the room said, "He is superintending everything."
Satu: He (Narayana Iyengar) has done a lot for Maku's child. He sent a messenger to Calcutta to bring injections for Diphtheria as well as other things.
Mother: Yes, he is a noble soul. He has spent money to send Kalo to Calcutta. Who would have done all this, had he not been here?
Narayana Iyengar: I am the machine and the Master is the engineer. He is driving me like a machine.
Mother: The Master used to say, "He who possesses food and money may distribute them to the poor. He who does not have should give himself to repeating the name of the Lord."
Narayana Iyengar: Is it necessary to wash oneself before doing Japam?
Mother: Yes, washing is necessary when Japa is practised at home. But it will be sufficient just to repeat the holy Name during journeys or walks.
Narayana Iyengar: Only the repetition of the holy Name? Not even the repetition of the Mantra?
Mother: Yes, you should certainly repeat the Mantra also. However, calling upon God with one's mind steadfast is equivalent to a million repetitions of the Mantra. What is the good in doing Japa for a whole day if there is no concentration of mind? Collectedness of one's mind is essential, then only His grace descends.
Narayana Iyengar: Whatever I am doing, is it sufficient or do I need to do something more?
Mother: Continue to practise what you are doing. You are already a recipient of His grace.
Narayana Ivengar: One can have a vision of God if one earnestly calls upon Him for two or three days at a stretch. I am calling upon Him for so long. Why do I not have His vision?
Mother: Yes, you will have it. The utterances of lord Siva and the words of the Master-they cannot be untrue. The Master told Surendra Mitra, "He who has wealth should distribute it, and he, who has not, should do Japa,"
Drawing the attention of all present, the Mother said further, "If you can't do even that, then take refuge in the Master. Remember this much: 'I have someone to look after me. There is certainly a Mother or Father.'"
Narayana lyengar: Since you are telling this, we cannot but accept it and have faith in it.
Radhu had given birth to a child. Since the birth of the baby, Radhu was lying ill. It was time to feed Radhu. The Mother got up and said, "Now I shall go to feed Radhu." The devotees finished prostrating at the Holy Mother's feet. Narayana Iyengar saluted the Holy Mother touching her feet. The Mother blessed him by touching his head.
When Manindra bowed at her feet, the Mother said, "What a strong faith your mother has! When asked to visit Varanasi, she remarked, 'This is my Varanasi, I shall not go anywhere else.'"
Manindra's mother, who used to live with the Holy Mother, had died more than a year earlier. She had served the Holy Mother very devotedly. The Mother had told her, "None except Kedar's mother and you could stay here for long."
As dusk approached, news reached that the condition of Maku's son had become precarious. This made the Holy Mother very anxious. She told Brahmachari Varada, "Keep the palanquin ready. If the boy survives the night, I shall go to see him tomorrow morning. But how shall we get news of the child early tomorrow morning?"
Manindra: Satu and I shall bring the news early tomorrow morning.
After a while Vaikuntha Maharaj returned from Jayrambati. On hearing this, the Mother started and asked, "Is not the child alive?" Finding all silent, the Mother asked once again, "When did he pass away?"
Vaikuntha Maharaj: At half past five.
Mother: Can I see him if I go there now?
Vaikuntha Maharaj: No, Mother, the dead body has been removed.
Mother began to cry profusely. If she stopped crying for a while, she would begin again all the more. When Swami Kesavananda tried to pacify her, she cried out, "O Kedar, I cannot forget the child."
Once when the boy and his mother Maku were about to start for Jayrambati, he collected a few wild roses and placed them at the Mother's feet saying, "Look, Auntie! How beautiful they look!" Then the boy bowed down and took the dust of the Mother's feet. Afterwards he picked up the flowers, put them into his pocket, and left for Jayrambati. Sarat Maharaj (Swami Saradananda) dearly loved the boy. During his illness, the boy called out, "Red Uncle! Red Uncle!" referring to the Swami's saffron cloth. Now, the Mother observed, "May be, some devotee had been reborn as he. But this must have been his last birth. Otherwise, how could you explain the kind of intelligence the boy showed or the way he used to perform his Puja at the age of three? I brought him up and hence the "loss is so terrible to me." The weeping and wailing continued until late in the night. At the dead of night the Mother asked the women if they had taken their night meal. When she heard that they had not taken any food, because she had not taken, she took a little milk and two luchis. The next day during the evening hours Manindra and Prabhakar went to see the Mother. She was very gloomy on account of the premature death of Maku's child. Now the conversation turned to that topic.
Mother: The child once asked me, "Who created red flowers?" I replied, "The Master has made them." He then asked, "Why?" I told him, "Because he wanted to wear them." The death of the child will cause deep sorrow to Sarat. Sarat used to place the child on his lap without caring about the pain in his leg. Once while seated on Sarat's lap, the boy asked him, "Where is your Mother?" Pointing to Maku, Sarat said, "Here is my mother." Then the boy said, "No, your mother has gone to the school building." About that time, the Holy Mother lived along with the ailing Radhu in the boarding house of Nivedita's school; for Radhu could not stand the noise of the Udbodhan House.
Manindra: The Master too suffered terribly on the death of Akshay.
Mother: The Master said, "The pang in my heart was like the wringing of a towel" One of my nephews named Dinu used to worship in the Vishnu temple. Hriday used to worship in the Kali temple. Dinu would entertain the Master by singing "Yasoda used to rock you by calling you Nilamani"1 and such other songs. Then, Akshay had an attack of cholera.
1 Part of a song in adoration of Gopala or the baby Krishna.
Manindra: Were you then living at Dakshineswar?
Mother: Yes, I was staying in the Nahabat. The dust of the Master's feet, the dust of my own feet, and the water with which the image of Mother Kali had been bathed were offered to Akshay but to no avail. He didn't survive. The Master suffered much anguish.
"My youngest brother passed the Entrance Examination creditably. Afterwards he was studying medical science and was doing fairly well. When he went to see Naren, the latter asked, 'Well, does the Mother have such a person as her brother? Almost all of them are priests, earning a living through that profession:' He further said to him, 'You will have to operate on abscesses in the stomach.' Naren said to Yogen (Swami Yogananda), 'You will have to meet his (the Mother's brother's) educational expenses.' However, Yogen died. Rakhal (Swami Brahmananda) bought books worth forty rupees for my brother. Rakhal and Sarat used to play cards with him. But that brother of mine passed away early.
"The world is a fetter of Maya. . . (In a pitiful voice) Ah! Maku had a child who was so helpless that he couldn't even turn from one side to another by himself. Just imagine! How painful it was!
"In bringing up this girl Radhu, I have had to endure so much pain. Well, one cannot escape it. When Radhu was born to Surabala (Chota Bau) my mother said, 'Chota-Bau's mother wants to take her (Surabala) home. Why not let her do so?' Then at the time of my morning worship in Calcutta I had a vision which appeared to me in the way a drop-scene appears at a theatrical performance (making a gesture with both her hands). I saw the mother of Radhu in distress at her village home. I saw Radhu lying in the courtyard and picking up from a mass of straw and dust strewn all around, a few grains of puffed rice given to her by her mother and eating them. Radhu's mother had her arms wound with red and blue threads, just as a mad woman could have. The other children of the family, I noticed, were taking puffed rice and other things along with sweets. Seeing this I almost started gasping. I felt choked like a person forcibly kept under water. Then I realized that Radhu's condition would be like what I saw if I left her in the hands of her rmother."
The Holy Mother dearly loved her youngest brother Abhay. She had brought her brothers up. On his death bed Abhay had said, "Sister, I am leaving behind everything. Please look after them." Radhu was then in her mother's womb. After her confinement, Radhu's mother came to Calcutta along with the Holy Mother. Subsequently she turned insane and was sent to Jayrambati. Radhu had to endure so much of tribulations there. One morning when the Holy.Mother was performing her worship in her rented house in Baghbazar, she had that vision of Radhu. Remembering the last words of Abhay, she returned to Jayrambati in a few days' time. The Mother used to say, "Through this girl I have been caught in the snares of Maya." At some other time the Holy Mother was lying seriously ill at Koalpara. One day all on a sudden Radhu left for Jayrambati with the idea of visiting her father-in-law's house. Before leaving, she said to the Mother, "You have so many devotees to look after you but who have I except my husband?" Referring to this incident, the Mother said, "The way Radhu threw away the bondage of my attachment yesterday and went to her husband's home worried me. I said to myself that perhaps the Master does not want me to live any longer." The Mother further said, "My constant doting on Radhu uttering 'Radhi, Radhi' is nothing but a form of Maya with which I am bound."
The twilight of dusk was advancing towards the darkness of night. Manindra and Prabhakar were getting ready to take leave of the Mother. They wanted to reach Arambagh that very night. The Mother said: "You take some food and go."
Prabhakar: We have come here after taking our food.
Mother: Won't you please take at least some little refreshment? Dear, please bring some sweets for them.
She later told us, "You should take food and some rest before you leave."
Manindra: Yes, Mother.
Mother: Have you hired a cart?
When we saluted her while taking leave, she blessed us saying, "May your mind be inclined towards God."
Mahindra: May our bond of Maya break asunder.
On hearing this, the Mother cast an approving glance.
23rd April 1919.
When the devotees went to prostrate at the feet of the Holy Mother, Narayana Iyengar told her, "Mother, your mind is now disturbed because of the premature death of Maku's son. I am therefore thinking of leaving this place soon."
Mother: Joy and sorrow, where will they go? They are our companions. Why should you worry about it? Stay here. You may leave this place on the 4th or 5th of Jaistha (May).
Monday, 12 Jaistha (May-June)
Swami Santananda and Swami Harananda had come from Varanasi. Manindra, too, had come again. In the morning Swami Santananda and Manindra went to salute the Holy Mother. The devotees were put up in the Koalpara monastery and the Mother was staying in the Jagadamba Ashrama.
Santananda: How is your health, Mother?
Mother: I am keeping all right.
One young man, released from internment,1 had come there the previous day. Anticipating trouble from the police, the devotees tried to send him away then and there. When the Mother was asked about it, she said, "Keep him here for the day. He will go away tomorrow." Swami Kesavananda, instead of keeping the young man in the monastery, placed him somewhere else; for the village policeman used to visit the monastery every evening and record the names and addresses of new arrivals. The next day the Mother enquired about the young man. "Where is that young man? Has he already left?" she asked.
1 In connection with the Freedom Movement.
Manindra: He hasn't left. He will go after his noon meal.
Mother (to Swami Santananda): Where did he spend the night?
Santananda: I don't know, Mother. He didn't tell me.
Mother: Do you have rain in Varanasi also, when the monsoon sets in here?
Santananda: No, Mother. There the rainy season begins in the month of Sravan (July-August). But in some years storms take place in the month of Vaisakh (March-April) and destroy the mango and other crops. The old women who, go to Varanasi with the desire of dying there suffer terribly. Sometimes the remittance from home is stopped. Besides, they have to live in damp dark rooms on the ground floor.
Mother: Yes, I myself saw the extent of their suffering when I stayed in the house of Bansi Dutta at Varanasi. I saw them taking a small quantity of rice procured by begging and soaked in water. They didn't cook.
Santananda: Many old women live long, although they go there to die early.
Mother: They earn remission of their sins by seeing and touching Lord Visvanath, and thereby they live long. In Vrindavan, people take consecrated food and sprinkle holy water from a conch1 on their body; so they live long.
1 Water contained in a conch is offered to the Deity at the time of the evening service
Mother then turned the conversation to the topic of Radhu. She said, "I wish Radhu would overcome her physical weakness now and get up. Her bedroom still serves as her bathroom. I don't know what the Master will do-how long he will keep me like this!" Then she began telling Swami Santananda about Maku's son. "Nothing else overwhelms a man like mourning. Sarat too suffered much on account of Maku's son. Kalo was sent to Calcutta to bring medicine for him. These people here advised him not to meet Sarat. I intervened, saying, 'How can it be that he will go to Calcutta and not meet Sarat?'"
Manindra: Yes, Sarat Maharaj wrote, "Let Kalo come straight to me." Mother was dressing vegetables. Pointing to the chelo (a local vegetable) Swami Santananda observed, "This vegetable is not found in Calcutta."
Mother: It can be prepared as a curry fried in a little oil and also as a sauce. It is a good vegetable, as it is cooling to the system. (Turning to Manindra) Is it available in Jehanabad?
Manindra: Yes, Mother.
Swami Santananda raised the topic of the people's suffering. He said, "I hear that six million people have died of influenza. Paddy and rice are costly-people are suffering much."
Mother: Yes, my son. People don't have enough to eat. Those who have children suffer all the more. In fact, this is only the beginning of their suffering. It will end only if there is an abundant paddy crop after a good rain. I heard that some European officer had come to Calcutta. He wanted to ban the movement of paddy and rice from one place to another. He has left, I am told.
Manindra: That attempt is still being made.
Swami Santananda: The suffering of the people is on the increase. Is this the outcome of men's Karma, Mother?
Mother: How can this be the Karma of so many people? It seems something is wrong.
Swami Santananda: World War I is over. Why then are goods not sold at a cheaper price?
Mother: How is it that people are saying the War has begun once again?
Swami Santananda: They mean in Kabul. So much of suffering, fighting, and killing! Will this usher in a new age, Mother?
Mother (smiling): How can I say? How can I know what will happen by His will? The sin of a king brings ruin to his kingdom. Malice, deceit, killing of holy men-these are all sins. These lead to the suffering of the people and cause providential disturbances like war, earthquake, and famine. War ceases as soon as all the parties calm down a little.
"Ah, how nice was Queen Victoria, the Empress of India! How happily and comfortably people lived then! Now, even a boy of five realizes the pang of suffering; for he complains of having no clothes to wear. Well, how much rice has already been distributed by Sarat?"
Manindra: I can't say exactly how much rice has been distributed. But rice worth thirty-four rupees is distributed every week among the distressed.
Mother: How much rice does every person receive?
Manindra: Everybody receives one quarter of a seer (equivalent to 0.930 kilogram).
Mother: How much does a family get?
Manindra: Six, seven or eight seers according to the size of the family.
Mother: How many people have received the dole?
Manindra: I don't know exactly. But the Muslim women constitute the largest number..
Mother: Yes, the Mohammedans are poorer here. Well where else is Sarat distributing relief?
Manindra: At Bankura, Indpur, and Manbhum. Relief is being given wherever there is famine.
Mother: Are my sons working there?
Swami Santananda: Yes, they are going from the Math.
Manmdra: Indpur is the place where satu was expected to go.
Mother: Satu's sister has been married to a man of Shihar.
Manindra: Yes, Mother. As Satu did not go to the marriage festival, his parents. . . . . .
Mother: Yes, they are sorry. That is natural. But how can a monk participate in a marriage ceremony? He will go there at some other time. It will be nice if Prabhakar's son turns out to be good. The Master used to say, "Everything in the world is jugglery. Though a jugglery, it is unfortunate that men are not aware of it."
In the afternoon of the 16th of Ashada (June-July) Manindra, Prabhakar, and Prabodh Babu of Shyambazar (Fului Shyambazar) came to see the Mother. As soon as Prabhakar saluted her, she asked, "Is your son all right? I heard that he was ill."
Prabhakar: He is all right.
Mother: When did you arrive here? Have you - taken your lunch?
Manindra and Prabodh Babu wanted to get their daughters admitted into the Nivedita School. Prabodh Babu raised the topic, asking for the Mother's approval.
Mother: That's right. Write to Sarat.
Prabodh Babu: We have written to him already.
A woman devotee: Will they be able to stay there? They are too young.
Mother: Certainly they will. Girls of six or seven from East Bengal live there. They don't like to leave their hostel even when their parents come.
Prabodh Babu: I went to see the conditions in my native village today. The sufferings of the people are terrible. Men and women don't have even clothes to wear-they couldn't present themselves before us. Thatching can hardly be found on their house-tops.
Mother: Have you (i.e. the Panchayat Board of which he was the President) distributed rice to those people?
Prabodh Babu: It was distributed yesterday.
Mother: Do you distribute clothes?
Prabodh Babu: We distribute clothes selectively. Mother, I hear that you had seen in a dream a woman standing with a pitcher and a broomstick.
Mother: Yes, I saw a woman standing with a pitcher and a broomstick in her hands. I asked her, "Who are you?" She, said, "I shall sweep off everything." Then I asked, "What will happen next?" She replied, "I shall sprinkle the contents of this pitcher of nectar." It seems that this vision is coming true. I heard from my mother that when famine sets in, it continues for three consecutive years. Has it continued for two years now?
Manindra: War has been going on for a long time.
Mother: There has been war for the last four or five years. That's something different. Has the famine continued for two years? If so, it may last for one year more.
The Mother then asked, "What's the price of paddy?" She was told the price in terms of the local rate.
Mother: Is it so costly? And everything else-cloth, oil, and all such things-must also be expensive. Those who have these things are also likely to be worried. This time "I shall eat your skin, and you will eat mine."1 One has to gracefully accept the sorrows and miseries that God is bestowing. Whatever He wills comes to pass.
1 The Mother was quoting a village proverb.
Prabodh Babu: Mother, since even you have to suffer so much, what hope is there for others?
Mother: It's as if I have been put in a cage. I can't move about; there is no way for me to escape.
Praboqh Babu: Problems have again cropped up regarding the plot of land owned by the Master's family at Kamarpukur.2
2 To erect a temple on the birth-spot of Sri Ramakrishna, his ancestral home had been purchased. This refers to some litigation problems regarding the plot of land.
Mother: Who is creating the problems? Is it Mahim Babu?
Prabodh Babu: No, Fakir Babu and Hem Babu.
Mother: What's the point in these trifles? Will the shifting of the boundary fence solve the problem?
Prabodh Babu: I have already fixed posts at the four corners of the plot. The area goes up to the road. Mahim Babu is rather pleased with the arrangement. We would have done better to fix the boundary posts, a little further ahead. Then in the event of their raising objections, these could be moved back gradually. When one has to deal with such a businessman; one has to apply the same kind of intelligence.
On hearing this strange solution to the problem, the Mother laughed heartily.
Prabodh Babu: I have written to Sarat Maharaj. We shall do whatever he advises.
Mother: Formerly a day-labourer used to earn four paise a day. I still remember when people used to write letters on large pieces of paper and send them to Calcutta by messengers who walked the whole distance. There was no postal arrangement.
Prabodh Babu: Now the postal system has made things convenient, Mother.
Mother: That's true. I am only narrating some details about the olden days. One could get a large quantity of oil for one rupee. Now a handful of paddy sells for one rupee. People are disposing of their stock of paddy, for it fetches them a good amount of money. Even the small quantity of paddy that is left cannot be stored for very long, for they have to use it for their own consumption. They have to appease their hunger. Prasanna sold paddy worth four to five hundred rupees. A portion of his remaining stock was pilfered. Raj Ghosh too has sold out his large stock of paddy. He received a letter saying, "There will be a robbery in your house unless you pay a certain amount." He produced the letter before the police. Perhaps some local ruffian played this trick.
When Manindra and Prabodh Babu went to salute the Holy Mother, Prabodh Babu asked her, "Mother, should anyone leave the worldly life forcibly?"
Mother (smiling): Some persons are actually doing so, my dear.
Prabodh Babu: One perhaps runs into difficulty if one renounces the world whimsically without obtaining the grace of Mahamaya.
Mother: Such a person returns to the world.
* * *
Manindra: Swamiji (Swami Vivekananda) also suffered terribly. But he was able to overcome his suffering and his physique could withstand the tribulations.
Mother: No, he too had to suffer much from urinary trouble (diabetes). He had a burning sensation all over his body. In spite of his bad health, he 'spilt his blood' in hard work.
Manindra: Did he actually lose blood?
Mother: No, he didn't. But he worked so hard that he almost bled.
Prabodh Babu: I have heard that once at Darjeeling, Swamiji put his arm around the neck of Hari Maharaj and shed tears, saying, "Brother, are you all to concern yourselves just with religious practices? See, I alone am working myself to death."
Mother: Yes, my son, he shed his blood for the sake of others. It is Naren who on his return from abroad did all this. That is how these young men have come to find a shelter. Four of them are now preaching in foreign lands?
Prabodh Babu: Yes, Swami Abhedananda, Swami Prakashananda, Swami Paramananda, and Swami Bodhananda.
Mother: What's the Sannyasa name of Kali?
Manindra: Swami Abhedananda.
Mother: Vasanta (Swami Paramananda) writes letters to people here and sends them money. He delivers lectures there. . . . Yogen (Swami Yogananda) practised much austerity. At places of pilgrimage he used to store dried crumbs of bread. He took a small quantity of this daily along with water held in his cupped palms. As a result of this he had some serious stomach trouble. It resulted in his premature death. . . . Is there happiness in the world? There is and again, there isn't. The world is like a tree of poison. Poison permeates the whole of worldly life. But those who have plunged into worldly life-what else can they do now? Even if they understand the implications of worldly life, they can't act otherwise.
After saluting the Holy Mother the devotees returned to the Koalpara monastery. Manindra and Prabodh Babu went to the Holy Mother again in the afternoon.
Prabodh Babu: Sarat Maharaj has replied to my letter. Should I read it out?
Mother: Yes, read it.
Prabodh Babu read it out. Among other things he had written, "What can be done even if I agree? As regards keeping Prabodh Babu's daughter Bina here, (i.e. at the Nivedita Girls' school) the Master's will is otherwise."
Mother: Well, why has Sarat written in this way? He has closed the topic entirely. It must be that Sudhira did not agree. Sudhira told me, "Mother, I can't pull on any more. I am suffering very heavily." What an amount of trouble she takes for the girls. When she fails to meet the expenditure of the girls, she earns forty or fifty rupees per month by giving music lessons to the girls of well-to-do families. She has taught the girls of her school sewing, dress-making, and other skills. The institution earned three hundred rupees the other year and utilized it for the girls' travelling expenses during the Puja vacation. Sudhira is the sister of Debabrata (Swami Prajnananda). Keeping himself in the background, he taught his sister how to purchase a ticket in a railway station, how to board a train without anybody's help, and so on. In the Nivedita School there are two unmarried girls from Madras between twenty and twenty-two years old. Ah! How nicely they have learnt to do various kinds of jobs. And then, just think of our girls! Here in this wretched part of the country, people insist on a girl getting married as soon as, or even before, she is eight years old. Ah! Radhu would not have been in such a miserable plight had she not been married!