Gospel of Holy Mother Sarada Devi
(RECORDED BY AN ANONYMOUS LADY DEVOTEE)
It was the fifteenth day of Poush, 1320, of the Bengali calendar (A.D. 1914). I had been feeling a great desire to meet the Holy Mother, but I had had no opportunity of calling on her. Who would escort me to her place? I had finally resigned myself to the thought that I would see her only if she made circumstances favourable, when Kamala and Bimala came and said, "Sister, our mother is calling you." At these words it occured to me that this might lead to the fulfilment of my desire. Someone whispered into my ear, as it were, "Oh, dear! Mother is calling you."
I hurriedly' got ready and arrived at the house of Bimala at about 7 o'clock in the morning. I found that Lalit and his mother were having a chat. On seeing me Lalit's mother said, "So, here is Binu. See, my darling, how crazy she is! She got the news and came here right away." Lalit asked, "Do you wish to visit the Holy Mother, Sister? If so, I can escort you to her today." "That would be a wonderful favour!" I replied. I could hardly believe the good news that I was really going to see the Holy Mother. So I told Lalit, "Brother, please tell me, are you really going? If you are, then please hire a hackney carriage." I then asked him, "Have you yourself seen the Mother?" With great joy Lalit replied, "I went to see the Mother only once. Ah! What can I say of her kindness and deep affection towards us? The Mother asked us to call on her again."
Lalit now went out to hire a carriage. Before going he said, "I am going to bring a carriage. All of you please get ready." Shortly afterwards, Lalit's mother, Lalit's sisters, and I left for the Mother's place. Panchu too accompanied us.
Parul said to me, "Sister, are you sure that the Mother is now staying at the Udhodhan house?" I was startled; for, I really did not know whether the Mother was in Calcutta. I began to worry and to pray mentally to the Master, "O Lord! Please don't disappoint me'." Our carriage arrived at the Udbodhan Office at 10 o'clock. As soon as it stopped, I hurriedly got out and went inside without greeting the Swamis who were working in the room on one side. The world seemed to me to be rather empty and meaningless. I didn't know what I would do if I were to hear that the Mother was not there. I was very anxious. I asked everybody I came across "Is the Mother here?" But the Swamis did not give any reply. Instead they quietly went away with their heads lowered. In the meantime, Lalit had alighted from the carriage and gone straight upstairs. I was following in his footsteps, when he returned to announce, "The Mother is here." I was relieved of the cloud of anxiety which had been hanging over my mind. Now I went slowly to meet the Holy Mother. Leaving the front room on the right side, I proceeded along the balcony on the left. I found a woman standing with her face half veiled. As I noticed two or three devotees making salutations to her, I knew her to be no other than the Holy Mother. It was only to see her that I had rushed all the way from my home. 1 really don't remember what I did in those moments. On seeing me, the male devotees left the place. I rushed towards the Mother, caught hold of her feet and sat down on the floor. The Mother asked, "Where do you come from? Why have you come here?" I replied, "Mother, I really don't know why I have come. Mother, I am here because you have brought me."
By this time Lalit's mother and the others had entered the room. Standing there for a while, one of them asked, "Is she the Holy Mother?" I nodded. Everybody present made salutations to her. Then the Mother went into the shrine of Sri Ramakrishna. We followed her and made obeisance to the Master. The Mother sat on the wooden cot in front of the altar and said, "Sit down, dear, sit down." We all sat at her feet. Lalit's mother was a housewife. The Mother began to converse with her like an ordinary worldly woman.
Lalit's mother: Mother, kindly tell us a few things about Sri Ramakrishna. We are householders. Kindly give us some instructions.
Mother: I know nothing except what I directly heard from the Master. Well, my darling, read the Kathamrita (The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna) and you will find all the necessary instructions there.
After paying the carriage fare, Lalit came straight to the Mother. He prostrated himself, placing his head on her feet, and began shedding tears profusely and praying pitifully, "Be gracious, O Mother, Thou embodiment of mercy! Mother, you are here to save the world. Kindly give me shelter. I shall not leave your feet. You must grant me refuge." He went on imploring like this. The Mother was all along standing like a statue. After a while, she said, "Please don't be so impatient. Get up, child."
Lalit was a boy of fifteen or sixteen. His latent spiritual nature was beginning to unfold. He was dark-complexioned and well-built. He was full of devotion to God, and his behaviour often exhibited it. Again he began shedding tears, saying, "Kindly grant me refuge at your holy feet, Mother. Kindly say, 'Yes'. Graciously say that you have accepted me, otherwise I shall not get up."
At this moment his feet touched an earthen pot containing clarified butter. He immediately shrank in self-condemnation and said, "What a sin have I committed! Someone gave the Mother this clarified butter with great reverence and now my wretched feet have touched it. Alas! What have I done?" In this way he was lamenting when one fair-complexioned old lady who was busy working in the shrine said, "Well, son, you need not fret. What if your feet have touched that pot? Your feet are not something outside of the universe. The two legs of men are parts of creation. The legs are a part and parcel of the human body." We glanced at her. The calmness on her face and her simple and meaningful words deeply impressed us. Lalit was pacified to some extent, and regaining his composure, he saluted the Holy Mother, saying, "Mother, kindly bless me." "The Master will bless you" - saying this, the Mother placed her hand on Lalit's head. Pacified, he went downstairs.
About this time a middle-aged man appeared at the door of the Mother's room. He was holding the hand of a young woman about sixteen or seventeen years old. He said, "Mother, she is my daughter. Her baby died this morning, and she is grief-stricken. I have brought her here hoping that you will be able to console her." These words made us all apprehensive.
Mother: Come here, darling.
The young woman entered the room and sat close to the Holy Mother. As she extended her hand to touch Mother's feet in respectful salutation, the Mother moved away a little and said, "Well, should she touch me? She is now in a period of mourning." These words of the Holy Mother made the woman's face all the more pale. Feeling embarrassed, she quietly moved a little away.
As the Holy Mother looked at her face, her heart was filled with compassion. She said, "Ah, my poor girl! You have suffered much, so you have come to me for solace. And who knows how much I have hurt your feelings? Well, what does it matter if you are observing a period of mourning? Come, my dear, touch my feet" With these kind words the Mother came closer to the young woman. With her eyes full of tears the girl reverently placed her head on the Mother's feet. And the Mother blessed her by placing her hand on the girl's head. Sitting close to the girl, the Mother began to comfort her, saying, "What shall I tell you, darling? I hardly know anything. Keep a photo of the Master with you and know for certain that he .is very near you. Pour out your heart's grief by shedding tears before him. Cry and pray earnestly: 'Oh Master! Please draw me towards you. Please grant me peace.' By repeatedly doing this you will find peace of mind. Have faith in the Master and turn to him in prayer whenever you feel distraught." The Mother looked towards us and said, "Ah! She has received this shock only today. Is it possible for her to regain her peace of mind in a day?" The girl's father was all the while standing in front of the door. Now he and his daughter saluted the Holy Mother, silently offering her their mental anguish, and calmly returned home.
Then finding everything quiet in the room, I said, "Mother, I have a question to ask. If you kindly permit, I shall place it before you." Finding me hesitant, that same middle-aged lady (later I knew her to be the Revered Golap-Ma) said, "Tell her, darling. You can tell the Mother frankly your innermost thoughts. Why should you be shy before her?"
Then I said, "Mother, I only wanted to say that I saw you and the Master in a dream. You seemed to be giving me spiritual initiation, but it was not finished. Ever since that dream I have felt a strong urge to take refuge at your holy feet." Mother graciously replied, "Well, I shall give you spiritual initiation today itself. But do you have the consent of your husband?"
Disciple: I asked my husband concerning it. He said, "I have no objection, but I am not going to take initiation now. You can have it."
Mother: Where does your husband live?
Disciple: In Raipur.
Mother showed me the bathroom and said, "Go and wash your hands and feet."
Disciple: Mother, I have not taken my bath yet.
Mother: That's all right. You need not take a bath.
After washing my hands and feet in the bathroom, I went to the shrine-room and found that the Mother had already spread two asanas there. Two canoe-shaped copper vessels containing Ganges water had been arranged for worship. The Mother was sitting on one asana facing the picture of the Master. She asked me to take my seat on the asana placed on her left. Taking water from the bigger canoe-shaped vessel, she performed the ritual caned Achamana and made me also do the same. Next she asked me, "Which Deity are you devoted to?" On hearing my reply, she gave me spiritual initiation and then showed me the procedure for repeating the Mantra. That very moment a current of bliss swept over me. A gush of joy welled up within my heart and overwhelmed me. I was aware of practically nothing, but the Mother guided me in completing the initiation. When it was over, the Mother said, "Now give me the offering due to the Guru."
Disciple: Mother, I don't know anything. Please tell me what to do. I have not brought any money.
Mother got up and brought two handfuls of flowers, oranges, plums, etc. and handed them to me. Then she told me to pray: "I am offering to you whatever good or bad deeds I have done in my past or present life, knowingly, or unknowingly." I repeated this, and the Mother graciously accepted them all. Mother! Oh, the compassion you have shown me, a good-for-nothing, unworthy person-a compassion that seeks no return! My whole being was consumed by it. Ah, what an experience! What things I saw! What words I heard! I surrendered myself, my being, my whole being, to the lotus feet of the Mother and became blessed.
After saluting the Mother I came out on to the verandah and stood like one possessed, holding the railing for about an hour. I was brought back to normalcy by the cry of a girl and subsequently by the voice of the Mother, and then I went back into the room. When the Mother saw me, she said, "Take your seat, dear, take your seat." When I had sat down, she said, "She is my niece, Radharani. Ever since her mother lost her mental balance, I have been taking care of the girl." The Mother was holding her, but she was vigorously trying to free herself and flee. In various ways the Mother tried to persuade her to be quiet. The Mother braided her hair, dressed her, fed her with her own hand, and said so many affectionate words to her! I was surprised to see this sort of typical worldly behaviour on the part of the Holy Mother. About this time, I was called for taking a bath in the Ganges and so I got up and left. On my return I found the Mother offering food to the Master. Coming out of the shrine, the Mother entered the room where the food offering was made to the Master. Then she shut the door of the room and came back to where we were. After that the Swamis took their noon meal. Golap-Ma served them. When the meal was over, the Swamis left the room.
The plate containing the food which had been offered to the Master was brought into the middle room. Asanas were placed for the womenfolk and for Panchu, the five year old boy who had accompanied me, to sit on. The Holy Mother and all of us took our meal together. I had a desire to take food consecrated by the Holy Mother and so I was quietly waiting. Everyone except me began to eat. Twice or thrice the Mother requested me to eat, saying, "Please take your food," Then Golap-Ma came up to me and enquired, "What's the matter with you?" I said, "Kindly give me a little food consecrated by Holy Mother." The Mother mixed her rice, ate a little of it, and placed a portion on my plate. Ah! What can I say? What a nectar I partook on that day! The cook had prepared arahar (the pigeon-pea) pulse, curried cauliflower, and a dish of chalta (Dillenia speciosa). Golap-Ma had prepared curried fish. All the preparations were very tasty. "I must have more of this curry. I must!" cried Panchu, and began to make a fuss. My whispered rebukes had no effect on him. At that moment Golap-Ma again appeared and asked, "What has happened? Why is this boy behaving like this?"
I said, "I did not want him to accompany me, Mother. I was trying to come here unobtrusively. But when the carriage had gone some distance, Panchu, who was playing on the street, came running and jumped in. And now he is making a fuss, saying, 'I shall take more of the cauliflower curry.'" When they heard this, Golap-Ma, and the others began to laugh. Golap-Ma said, "You wanted to avoid him, but how could you hope to succeed? It was on account of his good past-deeds that he was able to meet the Holy Mother. What a great good fortune it is! It will do him good," The Mother supported the viewpoint of Golap-Ma by saying, "Yes, that's right."
After the noon meal I waited upon the Holy Mother during the entire day. I was supposed to leave for Raipur, as Parul and Kamala had insisted that I should go. But it was a far-off place, and so lest I should miss seeing the Holy Mother in the near future, I didn't go.
The Mother sat in the sun on the roof to dry her wet hair and began talking about her parental home. She said, "I brought up Radhu, who is a mentally imbalanced girl. She wouldn't take food unless she is fed by others. Besides, I am not keeping good health; I suffer from rheumatism. For treatment I went to Varanasi and Vrindaban, but it was of no avail"
After we had talked about various matters the Mother said, "You are so young, a mere child. How is it that you felt an inclination for spiritual initiation?"
Disciple: Mother, I really don't know. I don't enjoy worldly life. In my heart I really want to shun worldly life. In fact, I was feeling great restlessness. At long last I have found peace of mind today. Besides, this world is something impermanent. It is really only for a few days. Everything around me seems unreal. So how can I give my mind to it?
About this time a lady of the same age as the Holy Mother came in and sat down. As I was sitting very close to the Mother, the latter's shadow fell on my person. Noticing this, the lady rebuked me, saying, "What sort of a girl are you that you are sitting on the shadow of the Holy Mother? You will incur sin. Please sit a little away." I sat very close to the Mother, for I had taken her to be my very own. Now, feeling embarrassed, I moved away a little. The lady then asked the Mother, "Who is this girl?"
Mother: The girl has received initiation today. She is very devoted.
At these words of the Mother I felt embarrassed, and so I went to the next room where Parul and the others were gossiping. Just then Lalit came and said, "Come on, Sister. The carriage is ready. It is nearing sunset." So I went to the Holy Mother to take leave of her. The Mother said: "When will you come here next, dear?"
Disciple: I shall come to you whenever you graciously remember me. I am not able to do so by my own effort. Mother, kindly bless me. Kindly remember me, O Mother.
Mother: Please come again, dear.
I looked at her with a sorrowful heart. She gave me two betel-leaf rolls. I prostrated myself at her feet and returned with my physical body, leaving behind with the Mother my real self. With tears in her eyes the Mother stood on the top of the staircase. I was full of joy within and without. I was hearing the voice of the Mother, as it were, even when I was travelling in the carriage.
The Mother kept her word; for, two years later, on my return from Raipur, I was able to see her again during her last illness.
(RECORDED BY SMT. SAILABALA CHOWDHURY)
On the morning of Sunday, 2nd Shravan 1311 B.S. (July, 1904) the Revered Gauri-Ma, her Durga1 and I were travelling in a hackney-carriage to the most respected Holy Mother's rented house at Baghbazar. This was the first time I was going to pay my homage at her holy feet. On the way I expressed to Gauri-Ma with much feeling and many tears - my hope that the visit might bring good to me. Arriving at the Holy Mother's house, Gauri-Ma went ahead of us to the first floor and we followed. Going upstairs, I noticed that Gauri-Ma was conversing with the Mother in a low voice. I don't know what passed between them but I heard the Holy Mother saying to her, "You brought Suren's wife here the other day, and now you have brought this daughter today-this seems to be your regular work." On hearing this, Gauri-Ma said, assertively, "Oh, you will certainly give her initiation, won't you? What else is the purpose of your existence?"
1 Durga was a girl adopted by Gauri-Ma. She later became a nun.
At this, the Mother quietly said, "Then come, darling, the time is auspicious now." The Mother ushered Durga into the shrine and shut the door. Gauri-Ma and I waited on the verandah.
The initiation was soon over, and Durga came out of the room. Then I went into the shrine room and the door was closed. The Mother was already inside. Gauri-Ma and Durga stood outside on the verandah. The Mother made me sit on the asana meant for the worshipper and then had me worship the Master. Before she gave me initiation, the Mother asked, "Does your family have a Guru?" I said, "Yes."
Mother: Do you intend to take initiation from him also?
From inside the room the Mother asked Gauri-Ma, "Gaurdasi, the Mantra of which deity shall I give her?" Then according to Gauri-Ma's suggestion, the Mother gave me initiation: I was accustomed to doing Japa. But when the Mother asked me to do Japa, my body and mind were in such a condition then that I was unable to comply. While making me repeat the Holy Name, the Mother herself held my hand and kept count on my fingers. Then the door of the shrine was opened. Gauri-Ma entered and told me to offer flowers at the Mother's feet. I obeyed.
When we had arrived at her house, the Mother was getting ready to go to the Ganges for her bath. But now our visit had prevented her from going. We took our noon meal and spent the whole day there.
That day the Mother was searching for a misplaced key. Noticing a key lying close to the cot, I told her, "Here is a key." I didn't know that the Mother was looking for that very key. I did not dare touch it. The Mother picked it up with-great joy and blessed me.
I didn't feel like leaving the Mother. When I was saluting her at the time of taking leave, she said, "Come again, dear. Write to me now and then."
On the Janmashtami day of Bhadra (August-September), my third sister and I had gone to Kankurgachhi Yogodyan to attend the festival there.1 We noticed that special arrangements were being made there for the reception of the Holy Mother. A place close to the temple had been enclosed for her to take rest in. I was feeling great joy to think that the Mother would come here and I would see her. Truly, the Mother's arrival created great excitement. The Mother along with Lakshmi-Didi walked along the long pathway on which a new cloth had been stretched. The conch was blown to mark the auspicious visit. Many among those assembled became anxious to see the Holy Mother. We also proceeded to meet her when we noticed her approaching solemnly, with her face partly veiled with her cloth. Seeing me, she said, "So you have come, my child!" As there had gathered a big crowd around her, I could not say anything in reply, and so I simply nodded. My Sej-Didi2 was much grieved at the demise of her son. She said to me, "I have never met the Holy Mother. Please ask her to bless me." But in the midst of the large crowd, I was not getting an opportunity to speak. As soon as I found her a little free, I said, "Mother, this is the wife of my husband's brother." No sooner had I spoken than the Mother said affectionately, "I know everything, my child." I couldn't tell her anything else.
1 A part of the sacred remains of Sri Ramakrishna were interred at Ramachandra Dutta's garden house at Kankurgachhi on the Janmashtami day (23rd August, 1886). Since then, that day is celebrated ceremonially every year
2 It literally means the third elder sister. Here it means the writer's third sister-in-law.
One day my Sej-Didi and I went to see the Holy Mother. After saluting her we went to the shrine room to pay our homage to the Master. On our return the Mother said, "Take your seat." And so we sat down. After chatting for some time, in the course of conversation, I told the Mother, "Mother, you are Mahamaya; you have nicely deluded us by bestowing parents, husbands, and children on us." The Mother immediately replied, "Don't speak like this-that I have kept others deluded! The sufferings of people bound in the world pain me very much. But what can I do, my child? They don't seek liberation"
Another day, along with my Sej-Didi I went to see the Mother. After some talk, the Sej-Didi asked her, "Mother, where is God?" The Mother replied, "Dear, where else is God except very close to His devotees? If worldly people even visit the place used by holy men, the very atmosphere of the place can remove the dross of their mind."
One day Sej-Didi, Na-Didi, Mani, and I had gone to see the Mother. When Sej-Didi requested the Mother to give Na-Didi and Mani initiation, she kept quiet. After a while Sej-Didi raised the topic of initiation again. Mother said somewhat gravely, "They have their family Guru. It will be best to take initiation from him." A little later Sej-Didi left the room. I remained seated. Then Mother said, "Is the giving of initiation a trifling matter? One has to assume the entire responsibility for the disciple's sins."
I asked the Mother one day, "You have instructed me how to perform Japa of the name of the Master; but how shall do Japa of your name?" The Mother replied, "You can do it with the name 'Radha' or any other name that suits you. If you cannot choose any such name, then repeat simply 'Ma'."
One day after our noon meal Sej-Didi and I went to see the Holy Mother. On arriving we found the doors of her room closed and learned that she was taking rest. After some time the door was opened and we went in and saluted the Mother and sat down. The Mother asked, "When did you arrive, my children?" We replied, "We came a while ago. As you were taking rest, we waited outside your room." After some talk I said, "Mother, people are blessed with various visions, but I have not had any." The Mother said, "These experiences belong to a lower realm." These words raised high hopes in me. It struck me that I would have something higher than these visions. Then I said, "Mother, shall I not attain anything?" She replied, "Of course you will, my child."
One day I asked the Mother about worshipping the Master. She replied, "You are involved in worldly life. You would not be able to manage the formalities of worship."
Whenever the Holy Mother was asked to give some instructions, she would say, "Call upon the Master. He will do everything for you. Uncle Moon is the uncle of all"
One day my mother and I were on our way to visit the Holy Mother. As we were proceeding we came across Sudhira-Didi who was returning after visiting the Holy Mother. When we raised the topic of Sudhira-Didi before the Mother, the latter remarked, "What a fine girl she is! She isn't married. How she stands on her own and moves about in a carriage alone!"
Another day my mother and I went to the Mother's house. After saluting her I said, "We have been trying to come here for a long while but were delayed on account of the carriage," The Mother said, "You come here to see the Deity. Why should you waste money by engaging a carriage? Come on foot."
One noon my mother and I had gone to see the Holy Mother". Golap-Ma became annoyed at our visit at such an inconvenient hour and said, "It is not really visiting Mother, it is only vexing her. Now the cooking is over. If you had intended to come at such an odd time, you should have informed us in the morning. Now, how can the others take their food without sharing it with you?" Golap-Ma said to the Holy Mother, "You are a fine person indeed! You entertain anybody who approaches you and calls you 'Mother.' "The Mother said in reply, "What can I do, Golap? If someone comes here and calls me 'Mother', I can't neglect him."
Whenever I used to go along with my mother to see the Holy Mother, we would be late in reaching there; for my mother could go only after attending to her household duties. On the way to the Mother's house, I would be afraid lest we should come across Golap-Ma, who was likely to scold us for coming late. One day the Holy Mother told her, "What else can they do? They can come only after attending to all their duties." When we were about to take leave of the Holy Mother after saluting her, she said, "Why do you go without taking your meal?" We replied, 'Our meal is ready at home. We shall leave now." The Mother wanted very much to have us for lunch. At last she remarked, "All right, my children, come again; Golap gets annoyed." The Mother gave us a little quantity of consecrated food in a cocoanut shell which we carried home.
One day my mother and I took flowers, Bilva leaves and basil leaves to the Mother's house with a view to offering them at her feet. At the very sight of us Golap-Ma was vexed, and so we stood quiet. After a while I told the Mother, "Mother, we have brought these flowers to offer at your feet." The Mother said, "Yes, you may offer them." I said, "Mother, where shall I get a little water?" The Mother said, "It is there. Take it." I sprinkled a little water on her feet and was about to offer the flowers and other articles, when she said, "Don't offer the basil or Bilva leaves. Offer the flowers only." After offering the flowers at her feet, I saluted her and asked, "What shall I do with these flowers?" The Mother replied, "Take them home."
I sent to the Holy Mother through a devotee a rosary which I had previously used when repeating the name of Lord Hari1 and also a new rosary of Rudraksha beads. The Mother performed Japa using the new rosary, but as regards the old one she objected, saying, "This is an old rosary." Nevertheless, as a devotee requested her, she performed Japa using that rosary also. When I saw the Mother next, I asked her, "What Mantra shall I use with the Rudraksha beads?" The Mother repeated it to me. When I asked her, "Should I utter this Mantra also while using the rosary meant for repeating the name of Lord Hari?", she replied, "That rosary is only for remembering Lord Hari." It usually takes much time to count the beads of a rosary meant for repeating the name of Lord Hari but it would take a shorter time to count with the Rudraksha beads. And so I again asked the Mother what I should do with the old rosary. The Mother guessed my intention and said, "All right, use the string of Rudraksha beads. Then you can do the Japa quickly."
1 A name of Lord Vishnu.
One night in a dream Sej-Didi had received instructions to present the Mother with a red-bordered Sari. So she purchased one and went to the Mother's house along with me. After saluting the Mother, Sej-Didi told her about her dream, and placed the Sari at her feet. The Mother smilingly took the Sari in her hand and wrapped it round herself. After a short while she removed it and said, "How can I wear it, my child? People would say, 'The wife of the Paramahamsa (Sri Ramakrishna) is using a red-bordered Sari.' But since you have brought it I shall use it for taking my bath." Learning that the Mother would soon leave for Orissa, we came away that day.
When the Mother returned to Calcutta, Sej-Didi and I went to Baghbazar to see her holy person. The Mother talked much about Puri. Thereafter Sej-Didi enquired if the Mother had used the Sari. The Mother replied, "Yes, my child, I used it. But after a few days of use, I gave it to someone,"
On another occasion, Sej-Didi and I went to see the Holy Mother. After conversing on various topics, we asked her, "What will happen to us?" The Mother replied, "Call on the Master." Sej-Didi said, "But we haven't seen the Master; we know only you." Then the Mother said, "Do you want me to drown myself like the Guru of the story? Once a disciple, uttering 'Jai Guru' with great faith, crossed a river. Observing this, the Guru mused, 'So my name has so much power!' Then uttering 'I, I', the Guru went into the water-and was drowned!"
(RECORDED BY AN ANONYMOUS DEVOTEE)
The Holy Mother was living in Kothar, Orissa. My second brother, who was staying at Sashi Niketan in Puri, wrote to one of his friends in our native village, "The Holy Mother is now living in Kothar. You can go there to pay your respects." Till that time I had only a vague idea regarding the Holy Mother and Sri Ramakrishna. I had not read any book on them, nor did I know anything in particular about them. None the less I had felt a yearning to see her ever since I had heard about her. After being continuously seized for a few days by such an urge, I left for Kothar. It was almost past midday when I reached the place. But strange to say, my yearning had by now waned, and it was not so strong. The devotees were invited for their midday meal, and I accompanied them. The meal over, we seated ourselves in the parlour along with Revered Krishnalal Maharaj and Kedar Baba (Swami Achalananda), when Ram Babu, the only son of the late Balaram Bose, came and told Krishnalal Maharaj, "The Mother has sent for the boy who has come from Cuttack. He should go to salute her now." Krishnalal Maharaj replied, "I have asked him to see the Holy Mother in the afternoon." Ram Babu said, "No, that won't do; the Mother is waiting for him. Only after the boy meets her will she go for her meal." I accompanied Ram Babu and bowed down to the Mother. I had no talk with her then. The next day I came back home.
On my return home, I experienced a similar yearning once again, and so I went to Kothar. After a few days' stay there I went to the Holy Mother one morning and said, "Mother, I shall leave for home tomorrow morning." The Mother replied, "Well, stay here tomorrow and leave for home the next day." I came out of the room. After a while a monk came to tell me, "The Holy Mother is going to favour you. Keep yourself ready for it after your bath tomorrow morning;" I wondered what the favour might be. I could make nothing of it and kept silent. Early next morning I made myself ready after my morning bath, when Radhu-Didi announced, "Who is Vaikuntha Babu? The Mother has sent for him."
I said, "My name is Vaikuntha. Am I to go to the Mother?" She nodded and I followed her to meet the Holy Mother. On seeing me, the Mother said, "Come, come inside the room." She asked, "Will you take Mantra?" I replied, "If you are pleased, kindly give me. I know nothing about it." The Mother said, "Well, be seated here." Then she asked, "The Mantra of which deity would you like to have?" I replied, "I know nothing about these things." Thereupon the Mother said,"Well this Mantra will suit you."
The Mother initiated me with the Mantra that very day. It was the seventh lunar day of Magh of 1317 (January-February 1911). One day while on a visit I asked her, "Mother, can I have another spiritual guide for my lessons on Yoga?" In reply she said, "You may have guides for learning various other things, but should have no other person for spiritual guidance."
Ram Babu woke me up at about midnight prior to the morning I was to leave Kothar. He handed over a packet of sweets to me and said, "Vaikuntha, the Mother presents you with these sweets. Carry them with you. The Mother advised you not to take food from any wayside shop."
* * *
Another time I went alone to see the Holy Mother. She had then come from Jayrambati to Kamarpukur for a few days. This was my first visit to Kamarpukur. The revered Ramlal-Dada and Lakshmi-Didi were staying there too. On the first day Ramlal-Dada and I were seated on the verandah for dinner. The Mother herself was serving us food. While serving, she told me several times, "Vaikuntha, take everything, don't leave anything on the leaf." Every time she served, she gave me more and more food. Ramlal-Dada too pressed, me saying, "Eat more; don't be shy." By that time I had already eaten so much that I was unable to take anything more. But I hesitated to say so. Now on hearing Ramlal-Dada's words, the Mother intervened saying, "Look here, he is a whimsical boy. He has taken enough. Please do not insist on his taking more." She said to me, "Vaikuntha, remove the leaf-plate and glass from here. One should not leave them behind in his Master's1 house."
1 Here the Mother is referring to Sri Ramakrishna. Although she was herself the Guru of the devotees, she normally did not allow them to remove the leavings after their meal. She used to do it herself or get it done by servants or attendants. Though a spiritual Master, she was, above all, the Mother. Lest the wind should blow away the used dining leaves, the devotees would sometimes remove them themselves.
On the second day, as I went to salute her, she asked, "When will you be returning home?" I replied, "Mother, I have not seen Belur Math yet. I want to visit the Belur Math and then go home from there." The Mother said, "You need not go to the Math now. You leave for home today." I said, "Mother, I, have come here from so distant a place. I do not intend to go back home without visiting the Belur Math."
The Mother, now firmly, said, "No, you go home. You must, not disobey your Guru." After this I made no further protests. But I thought that I would contrive to visit the Math after leaving this place, thinking that the Mother would not come to know of it. About this time, two devotees, a man and a woman, had come from Allahabad. The Mother gave them spiriual initiation that very day. The Mother sent for me and said, "You please go along with them." However, I was told that my accompanying them would cause them inconvenience, and so I dropped the idea. The Mother had come to the main entrance to see them off. A little earlier I had put my money bag in a niche in the parlour. Noticing it, the Mother had kept it in the living room. Subsequently she enquired of me through Lakshmi-Didi, "Where has Vaikuntha kept his money bag?" I looked for the bag in the parlour but could not find it. Lakshmi-Didi reported everything to the Mother. The Mother called me and said, "How can you afford to be so careless? He who does not have even this much alertness, how will he look after his house-hold? Your money bag is with me. Well, why did you not go with that party?" When I explained, she was evidently displeased with them. I assured the Mother, saying, "Why are you so anxious on that account? I shall fix up a person to accompany me and leave tomorrow." On hearing this, the Mother moved towards her room.
That afternoon she called me into the inner courtyard. She said, "Read out these letters; let me hear what news they are bringing." I read them out. I still remember the contents of one of them. The letter was from Baghbazar, Calcutta. It said that the ailing Sashi Maharaj wanted to see the Holy Mother once and that he promised to follow the course of treatment that the Mother might suggest for him. On hearing the contents of the letter, the Mother remarked, "What more can I say about medical treatment? Sarat, Rakhal, and Baburam are there. Let them consult among themselves and take the best available decision. If I decide to go to that house, the patient will have to be removed from there.1 Will that be good for him? Should such an acutely suffering patient be shifted? No, I shall not go. If something adverse happens to Sashi, shall I be able to stay there? You please write him a letter explaining why I do not intend to go now."
1 Swami Ramakrishnananda was suffering from tuberculosis. As Mother used to move with a number of devotees and family members, the party needed spacious accommodation.
The next day after the noon meal I went inside the house to take leave of the Holy Mother. I found her sitting on the verandah and preparing betel leaves. She asked me, "Have you made salutations at the temple of Raghuvira?" I said, "No, Mother."
Mother: Whoever visits this holy place should make some contribution there. Offer some money when you make obeisance to Raghuvira. If you do not have money; take some from me.
Disciple: No, Mother, I have money.
I went to the temple of Raghuvira to make my obeisance. On my return as I saluted the Holy Mother, she suddenly exclaimed, "Vaikuntha, take my name." But the very next moment, she added, "Call on the Master. Calling on the Master will alone serve everything." Lakshmi-Didi who was standing nearby intervened saying, "Mother, what is this? This is quite improper. What will your children do if you confuse them in this way?"
Mother: Well, what have I done?
Lakshmi-Didi: Mother, you said a moment earlier 'Call on me' and now you are saying 'Call on the Master'.
Mother: Everything is achieved when one calls on the Master.
Lakshmi-Didi came forward and said, "Mother, it is not proper for you to bewilder your children." Then she emphatically added, "Look, Vaikuntha, today for the first time I have heard the Mother saying, 'Call on me.' You must not miss this point. Who else is the Mother? You call on the Mother alone. Very fortunate are you to be given the advice by the Mother herself. You call on none but the Mother." Turning towards the Mother, she said, "Well, Mother, this is explained. I believe." The Mother, through her silence, lent her support indirectly to the words of Lakshmi-Didi.
When I was taking leave of her, the Mother said once again, "Go straight home from here. It would not be wise for you to go to the Math or elsewhere now. Go home and look after your parents. Now you should serve your father." Then she gave me four betel leaves and bade me farewell. I gave up my previous plan, following the Mother's instruction, and returned home via Koalpara. When I had left home for Jayrambati, I had seen my father hale and hearty. Now on coming back home I found him seriously ill; and, in fact, my father passed away six or seven days after my arrival.
On a later occasion, while going to Kamarpukur, I brought with me a letter addressed to the Mother, from one of my fellow disciples. When I was about to hand over the letter to the Mother, she asked me to read it out. It contained these two questions: (1) "I am going to take up such and such an employment. Will I get entangled in Maya if I join there?" On hearing this, the Mother remarked, "Why should he get entangled in Maya if he simply takes service?" (2) To the question as to whether marriage will bring him good, the Mother did not give any definite reply. On the other hand, the Mother asked me, "My son, are you married?"
Disciple: No, Mother, I have not married.
Mother: Very well, do not marry. Marriage invites many complications.
Once during my stay at Kamarpukur I asked the Mother: "What is the harm in taking fish and meat?"
The Mother replied, "This is the land of fish; you can take fish".
It was during one of these days that I once requested her to give me a print of her feet. The Mother replied, "This cannot be done here now. Everybody here does not look upon me in the way you do. Some members of Laha Babu's family frequently visit this place. If I give you my footprint, the red paint will linger on my feet and I shall have to hide myself from them."
Another time I had gone to Jayrambati in the company of a few fellow disciples from my native district. On arriving there it occurred to me several times, "I have come from such a distant place. I have not achieved anything worth mentioning till now. I would consider myself blessed if I could serve the Holy Mother."
One day my fellow disciples went to Kamarpukur while I stayed back. In the afternoon I went to see the Mother. She was sitting on the porch of the new house in front of the kitchen store. When the Mother saw me, she said, "My child, bring the pitcher of wheat flour from the store." I did as directed. She took out some quantity of flour, mixed it with water, and asked me to knead the dough. I finished the work and shortly after came back to the parlour. I went to her again in the evening when she was resting on the portico in front of her living room. There I sat quietly for sometime. After a while the Mother said, "Vaikuntha, my son, please stroke my legs a little." While I was doing so, the Mother said, "Why have my sons not returned from Kamarpukur yet? Have they taken the wrong road?" Saying this, she became quite anxious and sent for Brahmachari Jnan. When Jnan came, she said, "Jnan, see why they are so late in returning from Kamarpukur." Brahmachari Jnan walked quite some distance to trace their whereabouts and finally met them. They had indeed taken a wrong path! Had Brahmachari Jnan not gone to look for them, they would have taken much longer to reach Jayrambati.
At night we slept on the portico of the Mother's main house. In the early hours, at about 4 o'clock, we woke up. One of us said, "Ah, if only we could see Mother at this auspicious juncture of night and day!" and then began singing, "O gracious Mother, get up and open the door," etc. As soon as the song was over, we were surprised to see the Mother opening the door and standing in front of it. At this sudden and unexpected appearance of the Mother we were extremely happy. All of us saluted her in turn. Then she quietly went inside and locked the door.
On another occasion, during the worship of Vasanti1, a few of us went to Jayrambati. Finding white lotuses in a pond on our way, we collected some of them. As we were preparing ourselves to offer those white lotuses at the feet of the Holy Mother, she sent word, saying, "White flowers cannot be used for the worship of the Goddess." On hearing this we procured some red lotuses and joyously offered them at her feet.
1 Goddess Durga is worshipped as Vasanti, the goddess of Spring, in January every year.
One day I heard her say to someone in the course of a conversation, "Don't tease me much, for if I admonish you, losing my temper, no one can give you protection."
On that occasion I asked her, "Mother, the Government is putting young men behind bars these days. What do you think will be its outcome?" "Yes, this is very improper," the Mother, replied. "However, a solution will soon be found. You will not have to wait for long. Certainly it will bring good ultimately."
One day I told her, "Mother, kindly do something for me." To this she replied, "There are Sarat, Rakhal, and others. Why do you worry?" Then I said, "Mother, I greatly desire to live in the Math for some days." But Mother did not give her consent. She said, "You need not go to the Math now. Live in your own home."
This time the Holy Mother kindly initiated Kshirode Mukhopadhyaya of our native village. I learnt from Kshirode Babu that the Mother said at the time of his spiritual initiation: "All your sins committed in this life as well as in earlier ones are gone."
One day I made obeisance to the Holy Mother at her residence in. Baghbazar, Calcutta. I was standing by her side, when she asked, "Have you saluted Master Mahasaya?' "No, Mother, I said, "I do not know him."
She then advised me: "Go downstairs. You will find him there. He is a noble soul. Please go and salute him." She deputed Golap- Ma to escort me and introduce me to Master Mahasaya. I went below, bowed to him, and came back upstairs. Just then two persons were going downstairs after saluting the Holy Mother, who was sitting on her cot in the shrine room. I heard her whisper, "The indiscriminate touch of people has caused me stinging pain!"
Once I had a quarrel with my brother regarding some worldly matters. I wanted to inform the Holy Mother of my intention of staying somewhere other than my own house, and I also wanted her permission to do so. After my salutation I was standing nearby. Addressing Golap-Ma, the Mother said, "O Golap, have you heard that Vaikuntha has come here to complain about his brother's slapping him on the cheek? Do not householders sometimes kick up a row? But then why should one go too far?" Now turning to me, she said, "Go home, my son. It is quite common to have occasional hitches in family life."
A fellow disciple of mine, who had forgotten his gayatri1 Mantra, asked me to teach it to him. I wrote to the Mother in a letter, "Should one disclose a Mantra to someone else?" The Mother was then on a pilgrimage to the South and was staying in Madras. She wrote in reply, "A Mantra should not be disclosed to anyone. You can, however, tell it to a fellow disciple. There is no harm in that."
1 Gayatri is a sacred Mantra of the Vedas that has become the holiest common prayer of the Hindus.
One day, being depressed, I went to see the Holy Mother at the Udbodhan house in Baghbazar. I bowed to her and said, "Mother, I am here to tell you something."
Mother: What's that? Come on, tell me.
Disciple: When will you bestow your grace on this unfortunate child of yours?
Mother: Child, remember the Master. He will certainly bless you. Keep only holy company and do your spiritual practices. Everything will be achieved if the Master is remembered.
Disciple: I have tried, Mother, but nothing has happened. I have not seen the Master, how can I remember him? I have received your blessings. Now that you are saying thus, you yourself kindly tell the Master about this unfortunate child of yours.
Mother: How can you achieve the goal without practising Japa and meditation? One must practise these disciplines.
Disciple: I don't feel like doing japa, etc. any more; for nothing whatsoever is of any avail. Desire, anger, delusion-these still hold sway over my mind exactly as they did before. The impurities of my mind have not decreased yet.
Mother: Child, the repetition of the name of God will gradually remove impurities. How can you expect results without such disciplines? Don't be foolish and neglect them. Whenever you find time, repeat the holy name of God. And pray to the Master.
Disciple: No, Mother, I do not have that capacity. Whenever I try to repeat the name, I find my mind agitated. Either you make my mind concentrated on God so that no evil thought assails me, or you take back the holy name! I do not want to be a cause of suffering to you; for I have heard that a spiritual preceptor suffers if his disciples do not repeat the sacred name.
Mother: Well, what is this? My worries about you have made me restless. The Master has blessed you already.
These words brought tears to the Mother's eyes. With great feeling she said, "Well, you will not have to repeat the Mantra any more." This implied that she herself would do whatever was necessary on my behalf. But I failed to grasp the import of her words, and fear and apprehension gripped me. Thinking that my connections with the Mother were going to be snapped, I passionately said, "Mother, are you snatching away everything that I possessed? What shall I do now? Well, Mother, am I now doomed to annihilation?"
On hearing these words she said emphatically, "What! You being my child, can you be doomed? Those who have come here, those who are my children, have already achieved liberation. Even God can do no harm to my children!"
Disciple: Well, Mother, what should I do now?
Mother: Take refuge in me and keep quiet. And always remember that there is behind all of you one who in time will lead you to the abode of eternity.'
Disciple: Mother, so long as I am here, I feel happy. No worldly thought disturbs me. But as soon as I return home various bad thoughts haunt me. I again get mixed up with unholy companions and commit evil deeds. However hard I try, I cannot get rid of bad thoughts.
Mother: All this is owing to the impressions gathered in your previous births. Can anyone forcibly get rid of them in a trice? Live in holy company. Try to be pure. And everything will be achieved gradually. Pray to the Master. I am with you. Know that you have already achieved liberation in this very birth. Why do you fear? In time he will do everything for you.
(RECORDED BY SRISCHANDRA GHATAK)
It was the Bengali month of Jaistha (May-June) of 1910. A party of us started from Shillong with the object of paying our respects to the Holy Mother at Jayrambati. All of us had seen the Mother's photo taken in her earlier days. While on the way, one of us saw the Holy Mother in a dream, just as she looked at the time. Later, on seeing her at Jayrambati, the striking resemblance of the dream image to the Mother herself brought us unbounded joy and wonder. One of us had already received spiritual initiation from a certain monk. On being told of this, the Holy Mother remarked,
"The Mantra was given by a monk-you will be illumined." Except for him, the rest of us received the great Mantra from the Holy Mother this time. Soon after the initiation, we asked for her permission to visit Kamarpukur. She said, "How is that possible? Today, my children, I should feed you sumptuously."
We have read in the Gita, "What is action and what is inaction? Even the wise are puzzled over this question. Therefore, I shall tell you what action is. When you know that, you will be free from all impurity. You must learn what kind of work is to be done, what kind is to be avoided, and how one could reach a state of calm detachment in work. The real nature of action is hard to understand." So I wondered what else I would have to do for gaining emancipation from the worldly ties, after I had received the Mother's grace. I asked her, "Mother, what else have I to do?" She replied, "You have nothing more to do."
Disciple: Shall I have to do nothing else?
Mother: Nothing, dear.
Disciple: Nothing else, really?
Mother: No, nothing else.
Thus assured by the very same reply three times, I was convinced that she, who had bestowed her grace on me, had also taken upon herself the responsibility of releasing me from the cycle of birth and death.
I had studied the palm of Aunt Bhanu and said to her, "Auntie, you will live for another twenty-five years." Aunt Bhanu went to the Mother and said, "Mother, your son knows palmistry." The Mother immediately called me. When I went to her, she said, "Dear, can you read the lines on my palm? Please tell me if I shall be cured of the gout in my legs?" I was struck dumb by her question, for I knew nothing of palmistry. I had simply made an intelligent guess in Aunt Bhanu's case. I had heard that the Holy Mother's acceptance of the sins of her disciples was responsible for the pain in her legs. I therefore said, "Since we are responsible for this suffering, can you really be free from this as long as we are with you?"
On hearing this, the Mother was deeply pained. Sinking to the floor, she murmured, "O Mother, what does he say?"
Seeing her so perplexed, I said,' "Well, Mother, do you really want to be free from this suffering?"
Mother: Yes, of course.
Disciple: Then you will be cured.
Now, this made her glad. A little later the Mother remarked, "Do you see what kind of devotion he has! He feels that everything depends on my will."
I went to bid the Mother farewell on the day I was to leave for home. I told her, "Mother, I cannot correctly keep count while I tell my beads. When my fingers move, my lips do not; and when my fingers and lips move, my mind fails to get fixed." Mother replied, "In future see that your tongue and fingers (sic. lips) do not move. Perform Japa mentally."
While taking leave, I saluted her and said, "Mother, I am going now." Immediately the Mother interjected saying, "Dear, please say 'I am coming'; you should not say 'I am going.'" I corrected myself, and the Mother glanced at me with satisfaction.
Following the Durga Puja of 1912, the Holy Mother stayed for some time at Banaras. We too went to Banaras at the time of the Mother's birthday in the month of December. On her birthday we saluted her at Lakshminivas in the morning. We worshipped her with garlands of flowers. The Mother gave each of us a garland, which had been offered to her by devotees. I partook also of sweets offered to the Holy Mother, and then went to the Advaita Ashrama where Homa was being performed after the worship. All those present were offering oblations. We too moved forward to offer our oblations, when some of those present protested, saying, "You have already taken food. Don't offer any oblation." As a result, everyone except me offered oblations. Just before this the Holy Mother had come to the Advaita Ashrama, and had noticed all that took place. Addressing the women devotees, the Mother said, "What they have received is my Prasada only. When did they take their food? They should offer oblations, of course." All this I heard from the women devotees later.
* * *
On the eighth day of the fortnight in the month of Magha (January, 1913), I brought my wife and widowed sister to the Holy Mother in expectation of her benign grace. The Mother was kind enough to grant both of them spiritual initiation. My wife said to the Holy Mother, "Mother, I feel like performing Siva Puja." The Mother replied, "You are too young; you will not be able to do it correctly. Later, at the proper time, you will learn how to worship Siva. Now you should rather devote time to the service of your elders at home." The Mother praised my sister, saying, "Her mind is quite pure." We had taken with us some mangoes. Mangoes were quite costly in those days. When the Mother saw the heap of mangoes, she observed, "Why have you purchased mangoes at such a high price? Besides, these mangoes are not ready for eating yet-they taste sour."
* * *
During the Janmashtami holidays of 1913, a number of us, fellow disciples, went to Jayrambati. It was already dusk when we reached the Math at Koalpara. As our holiday was short, we did not halt at the Math for the night, but proceeded towards Jayrambati. On the way we were caught in a heavy shower of rain. The night too was pitch-dark. The village paths were muddy and inundated at places. We braved all these hardships and finally reached Jayrambati. But as the night was quite advanced, the Holy Mother was not informed of our arrival. The next morning we saluted the Mother and told her of our ordeals. On hearing about them she said, "Oh dear, the Master must have protected you. How many snakes you must have trampled upon while traversing the muddy road in the dark! I am much pained to hear of your toils. It is not good to go about recklessly."
We said, "Mother, we were pining to see you, and the period of our leave is short. That's why we were in a hurry."
Mother: It is natural for you to have such yearning, but it causes me anxiety.
Srimati Sudhira, the former Superintendent of the Nivedita Girls' School, was then staying at Jayrambati. At noon that day the Mother sent for me and said, "Look, Sudhira will travel along with you up to Vishnupur. Please move cautiously. The bullock cart carrying her should be placed in between those of your party. You are all my own, my children."
Disciple: Certainly we shall escort her. And we shall strictly follow your instruction.
While we were taking our night meal, the Mother sat nearby and begin to chat. Someone raised the topic of initiation of a boy who was about seven years old. The Mother said, "How can he have initiation? He is still quite young. He has perhaps not even learned how to bathe or wash himself! The boy is a devotee; let him live long. Let him be a servant of the Lord's devotees."
As the conversation proceeded, I asked her, "Mother, we take food from anybody and everybody-will this be spiritually harmful to us?"
Mother: The Master emphatically objected to one's partaking of food of the sraddha ceremony1; for it affects the devotion of the person. Although in all such ceremonies Narayana, the Lord of Yajna is worshipped, he prohibited the taking of the food offered at a sraddha ceremony.
1 The annual death anniversary rites in the name of ancestors.
Disciple: Then what should we do in the case of sraddha ceremonies of our near relations?
Mother: Well, how can you avoid it in the case of your near relations? You can't.
The next day I went to see her at about 2 p.m. The Mother was seated on the floor in an absent-minded mood. A few days earlier a devastating flood from the Damodar river had caused havoc. I told her all that I had learnt from newspapers and hearsay. She listened patiently and then said in a voice full of pathos, "My son, do good to the world." Hearing these words from her lips, I mentally prayed to her to grant me the opportunity of serving the Lord manifested as the universe. As I saluted her before coming out of the house, I heard her murmur, "Only money! Money! Money!" Hearing these words, I got alarmed. I presumed that Mother was perhaps commenting on my excessive attachment to money. Immediately she looked at me and observed, "No, child, money too is a necessity. Look here, Kali1 runs after money only."
1 Kali or Kalikumar was the third brother of the Holy Mother.
On 24th December, 1915, I went with my family to see the Mother at the Udbodhan house. My wife was carrying in her hand some sweets. Revered Golap-Ma was putting them aside with the idea of offering them to the Master some other day, when the Mother objected, saying, "Well, don't do that. Please offer now to the Master whatever my daughter-in-law has brought. This will bring good to her." The next morning my wife went to see the Mother. On returning home in the evening she told me, "Today the Mother showered her grace so abundantly on me that its memory will give me joy forever. At about nine or ten in the morning the Mother had puffed rice and fried peas purchased for three Paise. Placing them on her apron and taking her seat on the floor, she began to leisurely partake of the snack. She now and then offered me a handful, saying, "Dear, take it please." Compared to various delicacies I had previously taken, the joy in eating this puffed rice was something unique. At noon the Holy Mother asked me to massage her feet. She also asked me to air her bedding in the sun. She thereby greatly favoured me by accepting my humble services. Besides, I had the following conversation with her.
Disciple: Mother, can I offer cooked food to the Master?
Mother: Yes, you can offer cooked food. The Master was fond of Sukta (a quasi-bitter preparation).
Disciple: Can I offer him preparations of fish?
Mother: Yes, you can. While offering them, you have to utter the prescribed Mantras.
Then-the Mother asked, "Does my son (thereby meaning the lady's husband) take fish?"
Disciple: Yes, he does.
Mother: Yes, he should take as much as he likes.
In the course of conversation I remarked, "Mother, poverty is stalking the whole country as an offshoot of the World War. How much the people are suffering! Food and clothings have become very costly!"
Mother: In spite of these sufferings, people do not become sensible.
Disciple: Mother, will this War bring us good?
Mother: When the Lord descends, such thing happens. How many more will come to pass. . . .
When I went to take leave of her in the afternoon, the Mother recalled our trip to Jayrambati on the rainy night of Janmashtami, and rebuked me, saying, "To go about without any thought of possible risks is no good."
Disciple: I shall never do so again.
The Mother apparently understood me as saying that I intended not to go to Jayrambati henceforth. So she immediately rejoined. "Certainly you should come here, my son; but even a thorn in your foot affects me as an arrow in the chest!" Glancing at my wife, she said, "Daughter, you keep a watch on him; he should not move about in that way."
* * *
During the Puja vacation of 1917 I went with Jatin, one of my fellow disciples, to the Udbodhan house to pay our respects to the Holy Mother. We had taken two Saris for her. We placed the Saris at her holy feet and bowed down. She blessed us, saying, "Dear, you are not well off; why do you present cloths in this way?" Both of us felt a little hurt and said, "Mother, your well-to-do disciples present you with costly cloths. Now, your not-so-well-off disciples have brought these coarse ones. Kindly accept them and fulfil their hearts' desire."
Gladdened at heart, the Holy Mother now said, "My child, this is silk to me, this is my everything! These mean so much to me!" With these words, she endearingly took the two Saris in her hands. At that time the Mother was suffering from acute tooth ache. Referring to it she said, "My son, the Master used to say, 'He who never had a tooth ache cannot appreciate its intensity.'"
In the year 1917, I wrote to her a letter praying for her blessings for the successful accomplishment of Sri Ramakrishna's birthday celebrations at Ranchi. The Mother replied, "It is difficult to express in writing how delighted I was to receive your letter. You are all the children of the Master. In all such noble endeavours he himself will stand by you. Why do you worry on that account?"
In the month of Jaistha, 1919, I asked the Mother at Jayrambati "Mother, does the Master listen to the prayers mentally offered to him? And should we direct our prayers to him instead of telling you?" In reply the Mother said in an agitated voice, "If the Master truly exists he definitely listens to all prayers."
While bowing down at her feet at the time of leaving Jayrambati, I told her, "Mother, if I do not find a bullock cart in the daytime, I shall walk on foot from Kotulpur to Vishnupur."
Mother: My son, why should you tax your body so much? Why should you exhaust yourself in this way? You will certainly find a cart.
The Mother's prophecy proved true. I got a cart. This was my last meeting with the Mother in a physical sense.
(RECORDED BY SWAMI RITANANDA)
On that day the Mother was very busy with the Jagaddhatri1 Puja at her village home in Jayrambati. Now and then she would say, "How will the Mother's worship be performed?" Today she was performing the daily worship of the Master very early. A large quantity of fruits, sweets, etc. was offered. At the time of offering them, she said to the Master, "Look, the Divine Mother's worship will be held today. Please take your food quickly, for I shall have to go to the place of worship." Then she uttered something inaudible. It seemed to me as if she was talking with a living person. When the Puja was over, she went to the place where- Jagaddhatri was being worshipped and sat through the entire Puja, all the time looking intently at the image with adoring eyes.
1 An aspect of the Divine Mother. In this form She is represented as riding a lion while subduing a demon in the form of an elephant
One day I did the marketing at Koalpara. Then I collected flowers for the Mother to use in worshipping the Master, and went to Jayrambati. When I arrived there the Mother said, "I was thinking you would come just now and I would then go for bathing." She took the articles and then gave me puffed rice to eat. Then wearing a bathing cloth, the Mother began to rub her body with oil, all the while speaking about us, the inmates of the Koalpara monastery. All on a sudden she said, "I am your mother. Why should you feel embarrassed?" Then she finished her bath and went to perform the worship of the Master.
One day I thought I would ask the Mother how I should do my spiritual practices. In the afternoon she was doing Japa with her rosary while sitting on the verandah. But when I approached her, I forgot all that I wanted to ask. I didn't feel like asking her any question. Simply saying, "Mother, kindly take my responsibility," I broke into tears. Then the Mother comforted me saying, "Don't weep. I have already taken up your responsibility long ago. And the Master too has taken up your responsibility long ago. Why do you worry?"
One day I dreamt that the Mother was telling me, "Take the vow of Brahmacharya." When I narrated it to revered Hari Maharaj (Swami Turiyananda), he said, "Go and tell this to the Mother." Some days later I told about this to the Mother at Koalpara. On hearing me, she smiled and said, "All right, come to see me with a new cloth tomorrow when I perform the worship. Let the visit be private." The next day I went to the Mother and found that she had finished the worship and was sitting on the verandah rubbing her teeth with gul.1 No sooner had she seen me than she lolled out her tongue and said, "See, the worship is finished; I simply forgot. Nevertheless, I am coming after washing my mouth. Go and be seated in the shrine room." Entering the shrine room, the Mother said, "Shut the door. They (women members of the family) are there." Then she told me, "Take off your shirt." Taking water from the copper Puja vessel, the Mother sprinkled it over my body. Then with her hand she touched my navel, chest, and head, and uttered something mysterious. Taking the new cloth, she said, "Just see, the Master is here. Say: 'I am giving Thee my entire responsibility today.'" Next she gave me the cloth, saying, "Today I have given Sannyasa to your very soul." So elated had I become at that time that I even forgot to salute the Mother. This mood of mine persisted for a few days.
1 Remains of tobacco-cake after it has been smoked.
The Mother was living at Koalpara along with Radhu. Radhu, who was almost insane, was expecting a baby. The Mother was all the time worried as to how Radhu would come out safe through this ordeal, and with this end in view she was vowing offerings to various Deities and anxiously praying to them.
During these days the Mother told me once, "Look, it seems that the Hanuman-charit can predict the good or bad future of a person. Well, why don't you find out if it can forecast the fate of Radhu." I procured a copy of the book and glancing through it, found a chequered table. One has to put his finger on any of the squares. Mother placed her finger on one square and I read out the results for the same. It said that Radhu has a good future. Very happy at this, the Mother said, "Then Radhu will certainly be all right. Since it is his (Hanuman's) word, she will definitely come round."
At one time the head of the Koalpara monastery had some difference of opinion with his colleagues. The Mother was then staying at Jayrambati. We often purchased provisions for her in Koalpara and carried them to Jayrambati. The Mother used to ask me in detail about the members of the monastery. She was well posted about everything that happened there. One day when her niece asked me about this disagreement, the Mother said to her, "Why are you inquisitive about it?" After she left, the Mother said, "You see, you have to adjust yourself to, all conditions. The Master used to say sha, sha, sha1 - exercise patience in every thing. The Master is looking after everything."
1 Three consonants (s,s, s) of the Bengali alphabet, having similar sounds. In this context they stand for the Bengali word sahya, 'forbearance'. Thus the expression means 'forbear, forbear, forbear'.
Later when the Mother was staying at Koalpara, the Head of the monastery told her, "Mother, the monastic workers do not want to stay here. Please tell them that they will not get protection in any other monastery and that every one of them will have to perform his own work. They want to go elsewhere. If you order them, they won't go anywhere else." No sooner did Mother hear this than she said with some annoyance, "How dare you ask me to speak to them that way? Do you mean to say I should tell them that they won't get shelter anywhere else? They are my children and they have taken shelter in the Master. Wherever they go, the Master will look after them. And you want me to say that they will not find shelter at any other place! I can never utter this." The Mother was then speaking in a loud voice. Everyone became frightened. At once the Head of the monastery fell at her feet and said, weeping, "Mother, please forgive me and protect me." The Mother immediately became quite calm.
One day a devotee from East Bengal came to receive initiation from the Holy Mother, who was staying at Koalpara. When the Mother was informed of this, she said, "No, he won't have initiation." On hearing this, the devotee became despondent. The next day without telling anyone, he sat in the sun, outside the house where the Mother was staying, and began weeping. Learning of this situation the Mother said, "Why is he crying in this way? Ask him to go away." I went towards him to convey the Mother's command but seeing his pitiable condition, I could not speak out. In the meantime I noticed that the Mother had partly opened the main door and glanced at the devotee. As I entered the house, the Mother said to me, "Tell him he will have initiation tomorrow." On hearing this, the devotee began to weep even more bitterly. He had his initiation the next day.
One educated devotee, Krishnaprasanna by name, stayed at the Koalpara monastery for some days. One day the Mother told us, "Look, in course of time many devotees will come from abroad. You should learn English from Krishnaprasanna." Accordingly we began to take lessons. But it was discontinued some days later when Krishnaprasanna left.
A certain woman devotee had with her a footprint of the Holy Mother, which was found missing one day. It led to a quarrel among the women. The Mother, who was staying at Koalpara then, laughed at this and said, "Why do you make so much fuss over this? I am here. Take as many footprints as you like!" Afterwards she brought some pieces of cloth and liquid lac-dye and gave a good number of her footprints. This settled the quarrel too!
One day at the residence of uncle Prasanna, the Mother said in the course of a conversation, "Before Radhu was born, she used to move about in front of me in the form of a shadow. Pointing to it, the Master said, 'Take her as a support to live.' Do you see how much attached I am to Radhu? How nicely Gourdasi has brought up her adopted daughter, and I have created a monkey!"
At the Koalpara monastery in those days, we used to take parboiled rice. Scarcity of money prevented us from getting enough vegetables. Such poor food resulted in the deterioration of the health of all the members of the monastery. Learning of this, the Mother said, "Why don't you eat fish? What's the good of spoiling your health by not eating fish? I am telling you, there is no harm in it. Take fish." Afterwards the Mother repeatedly told this to the Head of the monastery and persuaded him to introduce fish in the diet of the monastery.
One day at Jayrambati a certain Swami approached the Mother with a paper, a pen and an inkpot, and said, "Mother, we are getting very little milk from our only cow; it is not sufficient to meet our needs. So I am thinking of buying another cow. If you kindly permit, I shall write to some devotees for money" The Mother replied, "Very well, write. You are taking me for an instrument; aren't you? You think that if you write to devotees, money will be forthcoming don't you?"
After he left, the Mother smilingly said, "See, what desire he cherishes! Once when Baburam was suffering from stomach trouble, I gave him sugar-candy syrup to drink. The Master noticed it and said one day, "What did you give Baburam to drink?" I replied, "Sugar-candy syrup." On hearing this he remarked, "They will have to be (all-renouncing) monks. What ill-habits are you helping them to form?"
One day I asked the Mother, "How shall I perform spiritual practices?" She replied, "You will attain everything by calling upon the Master." As I was not satisfied with this, I asked her once again. Annoyed, the Mother said emphatically, "I don't know anything else. You will get whatever you ask him for."
A certain devotee had gone to the Mother for initiation. She asked him, "What is the Mantra of your family?" The devotee replied, "I don't know." The Mother remained quiet for a while and then saying, "This is the Mantra of your family", she initiated him. Subsequent enquiry revealed that the Mother was correct.
One day at Koalpara a mentally deranged man began to play the lunatic in front of the Mother's house. Seeing his eccentric behaviour, the Mother remarked, "Just see, it is but a congregation of mad persons! As we have come, all crazy people are assembling here. Look, Radhu is insane, her mother is insane - such persons constitute my family." Saying this, she kept silent for a while. Then she uttered a verse, "The goddess Chandi will come to my home; I shall listen to the holy Chandi; there will assemble many dandi sannyasins1, Yogis and holy men with matted hair."
1 Sannyasins who always carry a staff with them.