26 March 2014
LIFE OF SRI SARADA DEVI
10. THE MASTER'S DEMISE AND AFTER (PART-II)
In spite of the best medical aid and the careful nursing by his young disciples and the Holy Mother, the Master's illness showed no signs of improvement. When all treatment had failed, the Holy Mother decided to invoke divine aid. She went to the temple of Siva at Tarakeswar and lay before the Deity for two days without food and drink, supplicating for some divine remedy for the Master's illness. 'During the night of the second day,' she said, referring to this incident, 'I was startled to hear a sound. It was as if someone was breaking a pile of earthen pots with one blow. I woke from my torpor and the idea flashed in my mind. "Who is husband and who is wife? Who is my relative in this world? Why am I about to kill myself?" All my attachment for the Master disappeared. My mind was filled with utter renunciation. I groped through darkness and sprinkled my face with holy water from the pit at the back of the temple. I also drank a little water as my throat was parched with thirst. I felt refreshed. The next morning I came to the Cossipore garden. No sooner had the Master seen me than he asked, "Well, did you get anything? Well, everything is unreal. Isn't it?" 'At about the same time,' she said, 'the Master saw in a dream that an elephant had gone out to bring medicine for him. The animal was digging the earth to procure it, when he woke up. The Master asked me whether I had seen any such dream. I had seen in a dream that the neck of the image of Mother Kali was bent to one side. I asked Her, "Mother, why do you stand like that?" And the Deity replied, "It is because of this (pointing to the cancer in the throat of the Master). I also have it in my throat"'
Such experiences must have gradually prepared her mind for the coming end. To confirm this impression, as it were, the Master one day called the Holy Mother to his side and said: 'I do not know why the thoughts of Brahman are stirring my mind.' It was a hint that his consciousness was getting identified with Brahman. He took final leave of her on the 15th of August, when the Mother was standing by his emaciated body with her niece Lakshmi. All had thought that the power of speech had left him, but he whispered to the Mother: 'Look here! It seems I am going somewhere - all through water to a far-off place. You need have no anxiety. You will be just as you have been so long. Naren and others will look after you and do for you as much as they have done for me. Do have an eye on dear Lakshmi.'
The Master left his mortal body in the early hours of Monday, the 16th August, 1886, creating in the minds of the Holy Mother and the devotees a void that could never be filled by anything else on earth. But men never die in an absolute sense, much less great souls of the type of the Master. This was borne out by the following incident. After his cremation, the Holy Mother was removing her ornaments, as a Hindu widow does on her husband's death. When she was about to put off her bracelets, she had a vision of Sri Ramakrishna appearing before her (Note: Such experiences were repeated in her life as we shall see later on) and saying to this effect: 'What are you doing? I have not gone away. I have only passed from one room to another.' A vision of this kind must have been very reassuring to her grief-stricken heart.
Shortly after, Balaram Babu purchased a white cloth without borders, the widow's garment, for the Holy Mother, and requested Golap-Ma to hand it over to her. Golap-Ma, thinking of the sudden reaction it may have on the Holy Mother, remarked, 'O my God! Who can give this white borderless cloth to her now?' But when she went to the Holy Mother with the cloth, she found that she had already torn off the greater part of the wide red borders of her Sari. From that time onward she always used to wear a cloth with thin borders in recognition of the Master's assurance that there was no death for him and therefore no widowhood for her.
Several of the householder devotees of the Master wanted to break up the establishment at Cossipore garden immediately after the Master's passing away. But Narendra Nath (later Swami Vivekananda) and other young disciples protested against this, as it would be a great shock to the Holy Mother to be asked to leave that place so soon. They wanted that she should be allowed to stay there for a few days more, and even offered to beg food for her, if necessary. So the establishment was retained for some days and the Master's earthly relics were worshipped in that house with food offerings. On the 21st of August, the Holy Mother and Lakshmi Didi, the Master's niece, were conducted to the house of Balaram Bose. Along with them was also brought the urn containing the major part of the Master's relics. For, a dispute had in the meantime arisen regarding its disposal between some of the householder devotees headed by Ramachandra Datta and the young Sannyasin disciples. The Sannyasins wanted the relics to be in their possession, but the other party desired to install them permanently in a garden belonging to Ramachandra Datta. It was finally, decided to hand over the pitcher containing the relics to Ramachandra, but the Sannyasins in the meantime had taken away the main portion and put it in the urn referred to above. When the Holy Mother heard of this dispute, she remarked to Golap-Ma, 'Such a unique personality has passed away. But, see, dear Golap, how they are quarreling over his ashes!'