Sri Sarada Devi(1853–1920)is known as the Holy Mother among the devotees and admirers and was the spiritual consort of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa who is worshiped as an God incarnate all over the world. Sri Ramakrishna revealed her as an incarnation of Goddess Sarasvati who came to remove ignorance of the suffering humanity.
I went to the Udbodhan Office in the evening. The
Mother was lying in bed. Radhu also was lying by her side on another mat and
was pressing her to tell a
Sri Sarada Devi
story. The Mother requested me to tell one instead.
I was in a quandary. I did not know what to say. I knew the story of Mirabai,
the great Vaishnava saint. I narrated it. As I recited the song of Mirabai
which ends in the line, "God cannot be realized without love," the
Mother cried out in an exalted mood, "Yes, it is very true. Nothing can be
achieved without sincere love." But Radhu did not appreciate the story
very much. Sarala at last came to my rescue. She told a story from the fairy
tales. That pleased Radhu. The Holy Mother was very fond of Sarala. She had to
nurse Golap-Ma who was ill, and so left the room after a while. Then Radhu
asked me to massage her feet, but she was not pleased with my doing and
requested me to give her a harder massage. The Mother said, "Sri
Ramakrishna taught me the art of massaging by massaging my own body. Let me see
your hand." I stretched out my hand towards her. She showed me how to
massage. Radhu fell asleep very soon. The Mother said, "The mosquitoes are
biting my feet. Please pass your hand gently over them." She was quiet for
a while and then said, "This year is a very bad one for the Belur Math.
Baburam, Devavrata and Sachin have passed away."
I had heard that Swami Brahmananda had seen a
disembodied form some days before the passing away of Devavrata Maharaj. I
asked her about the incident. The Mother said, "Please talk softly, my
child; otherwise they will be frightened. Sri Ramakrishna also often saw many
such spirits. One day he had been to the garden-house of Benipal with Rakhal
(Swami Brahmananda). He was strolling in the garden when a spirit came to him
and said, 'Why did you come here? We are being scorched. We cannot endure your
presence. Leave this place at once.' How could it stand his purity and blazing
holiness? He left the place with a smile. He did not disclose this to anybody."
"Immediately after supper he asked someone to
call for a carriage, though it had been previously arranged that he would spend
the night there. A carriage was brought and he returned to Dakshineswar that
very night. I heard the sound of the wheels near the gate. I strained my ears
and heard Sri Ramakrishna speaking with Rakhal. I was startled. I thought, 'I
do not know if he has taken
his supper. If not, where can I get any food at
this dead of night?' I always used to keep something in the stores for him, at
least farina. He would ask for food at odd hours. I had been quite sure of his
not coming back that night and so my store was empty. All the gates of the
temple-garden were barred and locked. It was one o'clock in the morning. He
clapped his hands and began to repeat the names of God. The entrance gate was
opened. I was thinking anxiously what to do about his food in case he was
hungry. He shouted to me, 'Don't be anxious about my food. I have had my
supper.' Then he narrated to Rakhal the story of the ghost. Rakhal was startled
and said, 'Dear me! It was really wise of you not to have told me about it at
that time. Otherwise my teeth would have been set on edge through fear. Even
now I am seized with fear.'" The Mother ended the story with a hearty
Devotee: Mother, those spirits must have been
foolish. Instead of asking him for their liberation, they told him to go away.
Mother: They will, no doubt, be liberated. His presence
cannot be in vain. Once Naren (Swami Vivekananda) liberated a disembodied
spirit in Madras.
I narrated one of my dreams to the Mother. I said,
"Mother, I once dreamt that I was going to some place with my husband. We
came to a river, the other bank of which could not be seen. We were going by
the shady track along the river when a golden creeper so entwined my arms that
I could not free them from it. From the other side of the river came a
dark-complexioned boy with a ferry-boat. He said, 'Cut off the creeper from
your arm and then only will I take you across the river.' I cut off almost the
whole creeper but the last bit I could not get rid of. In the meantime my
husband also disappeared. In despair I said to the boy, 'I cannot get rid of
this bit. You must take me to the other side.' With these words I jumped into
the boat. It sailed and my dream vanished."
The Mother said, "The boy whom you have seen is
none other than Mahamaya, the great cosmic Illusionist. She took you across the
waters of the world in that form. Everything, husband, wife, or even the body,
is only illusory. These are all shackles of illusion. Unless you can free
yourself from these bondages, you will never be able to go to the other shore
of the world. Even this attachment to the body, the identification of the self
with the body, must go. What is this body, my darling? It is nothing but three
pounds of ashes when it is cremated. Why so much vanity about it? However
strong or beautiful this body may be, its culmination is in those three pounds
of ashes. And still people are so attached to it. Glory be to God!"
"Once I spent a couple of months at Kailwar in
the district of Arrah. It is a very healthy place. Golap-Ma, Baburam's mother,
Balaram's wife and others were with me. The country abounded in deer. A herd of
them would roam about in the form of a triangle. No sooner had we seen them
than they fled away like birds. I had never before seen anything running so
swiftly. Sri Ramakrishna would say, 'Musk forms in the navel of the deer. Being
fascinated with its smell, the deer run hither and thither. They do not know
where the fragrance comes from. Likewise God resides in the human body, and man
does not know it. Therefore he searches everywhere for bliss, not knowing that
it is already in him' God alone is real. All else is false. What do you say, my
The Holy Mother had nettle-rash all over her body.
She said, "I have been suffering from this ailment for the last three
years. I do not know for whose sins I have been suffering in this body.
Otherwise how is it possible for me to get any disease?"
I went to see the Mother one evening and found that
a number of girls from the Nivedita School had come. Among them were two girls
from South India.
Present Sister Nivedita School
When Mother learnt that they knew English, she said,
"Let me see. Come on, translate this into English-'I shall now go
home.'" One of them did it. Mother said again, "'What will you eat at
home?'-how will that be in English?" Hearing the translation, Mother
laughed heartily with joy. She asked them, "Can you sing?" When they
answered in the affirmative, she asked them to sing a South Indian song. They
began singing and Mother was delighted.
"Prayer and meditation, or pilgrimage, or even earning money, all these
should be done during the earlier part of one's life. ... In old age one's
physical and mental strength are weakened. Is that the time for any struggle?
Sri Sarada Devi
our boys here now, they have turned their minds to God in their youth.
This is right, this is the proper time. My son, your prayers and meditations
must be accomplished now, in your youth. Do you think you will be able to do
anything later? Whatever you may want to do, this is the time for it."
Disciple: "It is my desire to spend
some time in spiritual exercises in the solitude of a garden."
right. This is the proper time to do so. This is just the proper age for you to
undergo these disciplines. You must practise them, but be careful about your
food. Swami Yogananda practised great austerity and as a result suffered much
and passed away early in life.
"The room may contain different kinds of food-stuff, but one must cook
them. He who cooks earlier gets his meal earlier too. Some eat in the morning,
some others in the evening, and there are yet others who fast because they are
too lazy to cook. . .. The more intensely a person practises spiritual
disciplines, the more quickly he attains God. But even if he does not practise
any spiritual disciplines, he will attain Him in the end surely he will. Only,
he who spends his time idly, without practising prayer and meditation, will
take a long time to attain Him."
"Everything, no doubt, happens by God's will, yet man must work because
God expresses His will through man's action. Do not relax your spiritual
Disciple: "Mother, how can I have a
perfectly pure heart and love for God?"
Mother: "All in
good time. Now that you have taken refuge with the Master, everything will come
to pass. You must pray to the Master."
Advice to a discouraged aspirant: "You must not think in this way. Are
visions everyday things? The Master used to say, 'You may cast your line daily,
but can you catch a large fish every day? If you wait intently day after day
with all your paraphernalia, you may catch a fish some day, or you may not. But
don't give up waiting.' Pray longer. ... Cling to what you have found. Say to
yourself, 'Even if I have no one else, I have a Mother.' "
Disciple: "Mother, why do I not see the
to pray without losing heart. Everything will happen in time. See how quite a
number of munis and rishis could not find Him even after ages of searching, and
you want to have Him for the mere asking! ... Is God-vision such an easy thing?
But fortunately the Master has chalked out an easier path this time; therefore it
will be possible for all to realize God."
When a disciple complained about making no spiritual progress, the Mother said
to him, "Suppose you are asleep in Calcutta and someone is removing you
with your couch to Banaras. Will you at that time know that you are on your way
to Banaras? When you wake up you will be
surprised to see where you have come."
Mother: "One has to sit by the riverside
and call on Him. He will ferry across at the proper time."
everything occurs at the proper time, then where is the place for His
Mother: "Even so,
don't you have to throw your line and wait for the fish when you go
Disciple: "If God is our own, why then
should one sit and wait?"
Mother: "That is
true. It may happen even out of season."
this extremity, the Holy Mother decided on a bold measure. Since all human
remedies had failed, she would now try the chance of obtaining some divine aid.
In the neighbourhood of her home there was the temple of the Divine
Her aspect as Simhavahini. She decided to go there and perform the rite of
Hatya, according to which one was to lie before the Deity giving up food and drink,
with the determination to starve to death if no divine remedy was revealed. Her
condition was now desperate. In consequence of the dysentery, her whole body
was swollen. Her nose and eyes were running, and by constant loss of tears she
was practically blind, even a full moon night being, as she said, absolutely
dark to her. In that condition, unknown to her mother and brothers, she went
into the temple with the help of a friend and laid herself down before the
Deity in a mood of supplication. We have it on her own authority that within a
short time the Goddess revealed two medicines - one to her mother for the
dysentery and the other to herself for the trouble in the eye.(Note: As regards
the medicine revealed to her she said, 'I heard the Goddess say to me,
"Press out the juice of the gourd flower, mix it with salt, and apply it
drop by drop to your eye"). '
Both the medicines were tried. As a result she got back her eyesight that very
day while her other ailments disappeared in a short time. (Note: Since
that time Simhavahini of Jayrambati has become a living Goddess. People have a
strong faith that great power is manifested through the Deity in that temple.
Before the cure of the Holy Mother very few used to visit the temple, but now
many people hailing even from distant parts go there on the special days of the
week. Pilgrims carry earth from the foot of the shrine, thus causing a pit of
considerable size to be formed. This earth is supposed to possess great
curative power. Members of the Holy Mother's family officiate in this temple.)
year the Holy Mother again fell ill, this time of malaria with enlargement of
the spleen. Her mother took her for treatment to a quack in the neighbouring
village of Koyapat. This man's peculiar way of treatment consisted in branding
the region of the spleen with burning plum wood, keeping a kind of green leaf
over the surface to be branded. He also introduced a religious element into his
system of spleen therapeutics, as he administered his treatment within the precincts
of the Siva temple of Badanganj in the name of the Deity. The Holy Mother was
subjected to this operation. We do not know what curative effect it had on her,
but it is known that she bore the painful operation calmly and did not require
anyone to hold fast her limbs, as it had always to be done in the case of the
other patients of this physician.
went to Dakshineswar for the third time in January, 1877. Chandra Devi,
mother-in-law, who had been residing at Dakshineswar, had passed away in
fourth visit to Dakshineswar took place in February, 1881. Unfortunately the
occasion was marred by the insolent conduct of Hriday towards the Holy Mother
and her party. The respect which everyone in the temple showed him, and the
consciousness that even Sri Ramakrishna was under his control, had of late
brought about a transformation in Hriday. His greed had increased, and he had
begun to bid openly for people's respect by posing as a saint. Proud, haughty
and overbearing, he got into the habit of insulting everyone he came in contact
with, including even Sri Ramakrishna. In the blindness and folly of this new
mood, he lost his old love for the Master, and even seemed to entertain a
grudge against him for his rejection of Lakshminarayan's offer of ten thousand
rupees. As a consequence he began to oppress and tease him in various ways. Sri
Ramakrishna, however, put up with all his overweening behaviour, considering
the great services he had rendered him in the past.
was in the days when Hriday was on the war path that the fourth visit of the
Holy Mother to Dakshineswar took place. To narrate the events in her own words:
'I came to Dakshineswar for the fourth time with mother, Lakshmi and several
other women. I had vowed an offering to Siva of Tarakeswar during my
Tarakeswar Shiva Temple
illness. I redeemed that vow on our way to Dakshineswar. We spent the first
night in Calcutta. It was spring time. The next day we came to Dakshineswar. At
the sight of us, Hriday said, "Why have you come here? What's your
business?" He was discourteous to us. Hriday and my mother hailed from the
same village; so he showed her scant respect. Displeased at his behaviour, my
mother said, "Let us go back. With whom shall I leave my daughter?"
The Master, afraid of Hriday, did not say "yes" or "no,"
though he heard and saw every thing."(Note: The Master's conduct on this occasion is a
little puzzling. Perhaps he maintained this attitude, knowing full well that it
would lead to endless quarrels and insults if they were asked to stay there
against Hriday's will. And, perhaps he also foresaw that Hriday's days at
Dakshineswar were fast coming to a close.) All of us started back for
Jayrambati that same day. While leaving the place I said to myself, addressing
Mother Kali in the temple, "O Mother, I shall come here again if You deign
to bring me back." Shortly after, Hriday was sent away from the Kaii
temple, because he worshipped the daughter of 'Trailokya (son of Mathur Babu),
placing flowers at her feet.(Note: Trailokya, the proprietor of the temple,
belonged to a lower caste. It is believed that if a Brahmin worshipped a girl
of lower caste in that way, she would become a widow. Hence the proprietor was
angry with Hriday and dismissed him immediately from his position as the priest
of Kali, with the order that he should never enter the precincts of the temple.
It is to be noted that this misfortune befell Hriday soon after his insulting
the Holy Mother. It was in fact a direct consequence of it. Hriday's life
afterwards was miserable, compared with his earlier days, and he himself came
to repent of his conduct. In this connection may be remembered the Master's
words, quoted earlier, that one might insult him (the Master) with impunity,
but dire consequences would befall one who insulted the Holy Mother.) Ramlal, the Master's nephew, became the
permanent priest of the Kali Temple. That turned his head! He began to neglect
the Master. The Master would be lying down somewhere, in an ecstatic mood, and
his food would dry up. There was no one else in the Kali Temple to look after
him. So whenever anyone came to our part of the country from Dakshineswar, the
Master would request me through Lakshman of Kamarpukur, "I am in
difficulty here. Ramlal, since becoming a priest, has joined the other priests
of the temple. He does not look after me much. Please be sure to come. Take a
litter, a palanquin, or any other conveyance. I shall bear the cost whatever it
is - be it ten rupees or twenty rupees - or more." At last I came to
Dakshineswar in February, 1882, after an absence of about a year.'
When I went to-day to see the Holy Mother, I found
her in the porch, absorbed
Sri Sarada devi
in meditation. Some time after, five or six women
devotees came to her to pay their respects. They prostrated themselves before
the image of Sri Ramakrishna in the shrine room. The Mother asked them about
themselves. Nalini introduced them. One of them had come to Calcutta for
treatment. The doctor had diagnosed her trouble as tumour in the abdomen. He
had asked her to be operated. She was extremely nervous about the operation.
The Holy Mother did not allow any of them to touch her feet. I do not know the
reason. They begged her again and again to let them take the dust of her feet.
The Mother firmly asked them to bow to her from a distance. They pointed to the
sick girl and said. " Please bless her so that she may be cured. May she
be able to pay her respects to you again." The Mother answered them,
saying, "Bow down before Sri Ramakrishna and pray to him sincerely. He is
everything." The Holy Mother appeared to be restive and said to them.
" Good-bye, my children. It is getting late for you."
had left, the Mother said, "Please sweep the room and sprinkle it with
Ganges water. It is now time for food-offering for the Lord." Her order was
at once carried out.
down on the bed and gave me a fan, saying, "My child, please fan me a
little. The whole body is burning. My salutations to your Calcutta! People come
here and lay before me the catalogue of their sorrows. Again there are others
who have committed many sinful acts. There are still others who have procreated
twenty-five children! They weep because ten of them are dead! Are they human
beings? No! They are veritable beasts. No self-control! No restraint! It is
therefore that Sri Ramakrishna used to say, 'One seer of milk mixed with five
seers of water! It is so difficult to thicken such milk. My eyes have become
swollen by constantly blowing the fire to keep it burning. It is such a hard
job to thicken such milk! Where are my sincere children who are ready to
renounce everything for God? Let them come to me. Let me talk to them.
Otherwise life is so unbearable.' These words are so true. Fan me dear. People
have been streaming here today since four o'clock in the afternoon. I cannot
bear the misery of people any more."
wife of Balaram also came here today. She is the sister of my Baburam. She wept
bitterly for him. She said, 'Is he just an ordinary brother?' True, he was like
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14th August, 1918
I found the
Holy Mother engaged in conversation with a widow, the sister of Dr. Durgapada
Babu. The doctor's sister had become widowed at an early age. There was some
trouble regarding the property left by her husband. She could not secure the
probate of the will. They were talking about these things, and at last the Holy
Mother said to the widow, "As you have no right to sell the property, I
would advise you to place it under the care of a good man. A worldly-minded
person can never be trusted in money matters. Only a real monk can resist the
temptation of money.
not worry so much, my child. Let the will of God be done. You have been
following the right path. The Lord will never put you to any difficulty. You
want to leave now? All right but write now and then, and come again."
widow had left, Shyamadas, the Ayurvedic physician, came to see Golap-Ma. The
Holy Mother waited a while for him, but when she found that he had left, she
lay down on her bed and, looking at me, said, "Now do your duty." I
began to rub her body with the medicated oil. The Mother said, "The sister
of Girish Ghosh was very fond of me. She would always keep apart for me a
little of all the articles of food she cooked at home and send them here. A
Brahmana would bring them, and she would sit by me as I ate them. Her love for
me was deep. She had been married in an aristocratic family and owned
considerable wealth; but her relatives had squandered away the money. Atul, the
brother of Girish, started business with five thousand rupees. Besides, she had
had to spend a large amount of money for her husband's illness which lasted for
a year. In her will she expressed her desire to leave a hundred rupees for me.
While alive she was ashamed to give me this amount. She thought one hundred
rupees was too small an amount! After her passing, her brother came here and
gave it to me. She had come to see me on the day previous to the Durga Puja. As
long as she stayed, she never left me even for a second. I had planned to go to
Banaras immediately after the Durga Puja. I was a little busy arranging my
things and was moving from room to room. At last she said, 'May I take your
leave now?' I was a little absent-minded and said, 'Yes, go.' She hurried down
the stairs. As soon as she left, I said to myself, 'What a foolish thing have I
done! Did I say to her: Go! ( The Indian custom is that anyone taking leave should be told,
"Come again." It is very inauspicious to say 'Go' to anybody).
Never before did I say such a thing to anybody.' And, alas, she never came back (She passed away that very night). I do
not know why such words came out of my mouth."