Here in these page is given a vivid and realistic pen picture of a unique
personality-unique because she was nun, wife and mother at the some time. Holy
Mother Sri Sarada Devi, the Divine yet human consort of Sri Ramakrishna, is
here presented, as nowhere else in all her rustic simplicity which breaks the
barriers of commonality by its artless naturalness inspired by a universal love
which made no distinction between friend and foe, small and great ignorant and
wise but enfolded every living being in the charming fragrance of motherliness
that her personality exuded.
The contents of this book are in the form of reminiscence s by many 'devotee-children'
of Holy Mother, comprising the reports on the contacts and conversations they
had with her, and the events they witnessed in Mother’s life at Calcutta and
the village of Jayrambati, some of them were monastic who formed her personal
attendants, and the others, devoted disciples consisting of both men and women.
The reminiscences very much in their size and value but through them all a very
vivid picture of Mother is presented to the trader.
'The Gospel of the Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi', is the full translation of
the Bengali work 'Sri Mayer Katha', parts of which have already come out in
translation under other title This Math itself had published some important
of it as early as 1940 under the title 'Conversations of the Holy Mother ',
incorporated in her biography ‘ Sri Sarada Devi the Holy Mother', The present
book however, embodies the whole of the Bengali text most of the reminiscences
and conversations of the Holy Mother, except what appears in the great work
Swami Daradeshananda, entitled’ The Mother, as I saw her', published by this
Math, are now available for the English reading public in one volume.
Recorded as it is by a large number of the devotee-children of Mother, the
present reveals to marked a great character that chose to remain outside public
notice behind the Purdah an in the obscurity of the village of Jayrambati. Even
under these conditions the lady’s greatness could not be obscured. Through the
important and recollections of a large number of men and women of various stations
life who came contents with Sri Sarada Devi. Her greatness emerges in the bright
colors of universal Motherhood, never before witnessed in so striking a manner
in any personality we know of therefore while the contents of this book are
special importance to the follower of Sri Ramakrishna, they can make an appeal
to all who appreciate the great human value of Motherliness.
The book is divided into three parts, as the translations has been done by
three persons. The reminiscences are of several people numbering 38. These recorders
are both men and women, monastic and lay and the reminiscences are of varying
length and importance. But all the recorders were to the Mother, some of them
being very intimate with her personal attendants it would have been possible
to give greater perfection to the book if were able to give a few details at
least about these recorders; but at this distance of time, it is not possible
to gather precise information about most of them, except in the case of the
few monastic who figure among them. So we have not given any biographical notes
about the recorders.
It is hoped that the book will be appreciated by the general public, and especially
by the devote of ri Ramakrishna.
As these Conversations of the Holy Mother. Now published under the title, The Gospel
of the Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi, are likely to fall into the hands of who
many who are not at all acquainted with her life, we think it is proper to add
a short biographical account of hers as an Introduction to it. For to understand
the relevancy of these conversations, to grasp how they are revelatory of a
great character through small incidents and talks that took place outside the
public gaze, a Knowledge of the facts of her life is an absolute necessity.
Hence the following short life sketch of hers is added to this book as an introduction.
Sri Sarada Devi the Holy Mother was the Divine Consort and first disciple
of Sri Ramakrishna and thus an integral part of his spiritual self and of the
saving massage he delivered unto mankind. Unlike the counterparts of the past
incarnations like Rama, Krishna and Buddha and some others, Sri Sarada Devi
was born in a poor cultured Brahma family of Bengal in the village of Jayrambati
in the Bankura District, situated about sixty miles to the west of Calcutta.
Born on 22nd December, 1853, as the eldest daughter of Ramachandra Mukherjee
and Shyamasundari Devi, here early girlhood was spent, as in the case of rural
upbringing, in various domestic chores like caring for the younger children,
looking after cattle and carrying food to her father and others engaged in work
in the field. She had absolutely no Schooling though she learnt the Bengali
alphabet and practiced a little of reading and writing in later days by herself.
But the domestic environment of a pious Brahmana family supplemented by the
holy associations she had in later days imparted to her to one with such high
nature endowments as she-an education that was far more enlightening than instruction
in the three R’s
She entered into Ramakrishna’s life as his partner in it when she aged only
five. The strange marriage of Gadadhar of twenty three years of age with Sarada
of five was part of a divine dispensation, and took place in a way that can
only be described as providential. When Gadadhar, as Sri Ramakrishna the Great
Master used to be know in those days, was passing through the early phase of
his spiritual adventure, his near and dear ones though that marriage would have
a resettling and stabilizing effect on his mind, which had lost all interest
in worldly affairs. But there search for a suitable bride met with failure every
time failure every time they started on it, until Gaadadhar himself come to
there rescue. The relatives had kept their plans unknown to Gadadhar as they
feared a vehement protest from him but upsetting all there worldly wise calculations
Gadadhar himself come to the rescue of his disconcerted relative in an ecstatic
mood he declared: &amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;Why are you searching for a bride here and there? She
who is 'marked' for me is awaiting at the house of Ramachandra Mukherjee at
Jayrambati.” And that 'marked one' they found was none other then Sarada Devi,
the five year old daughter of Ramachandra Mukherjee and Shyama sundari Devi
There is a trading of as incident of as earlier day indicative of the divinely
ordained nature of this alliance. If was the occasion of a temple festival in
the neighborhood where quite a number of family from Kamarpukar and Jayrambati
had Jayrambati had gathered Among them were young Gadadhar and infant Sarada.
Some women folk on such occasions indulge in the pastime of pre-planning possible
marriage alliances for the future. It seems when infant Sarada was asked whom
she would marry, she pointed to the boy Gadadhar.
After the marriage, Sarada had occasion, when she was seven and again at thirteen
and fourteen, to meet Gadadhar and be with him for a few days each time. Though
on these occasions she had the happy experience of serving him, a really meaningful
meeting between them took place only later when she went to Dakshineswar to
meet him under strange circumstances. Hearing the rampant rumor that the village
gossips bandied about regarding Sri Ramakrishna mental condition, young Sarada
now eighteen, felt much upset, and a sense of duty to be by her husband’s side
him in his ailment began to dominate her mind. So under the guise of a pilgrimage
to the holy Ganga she went with her father to Dakshineswar Temple at Calcutta
where the Master was then staying. Trudging most of the sixty miles to Calcutta,
she arrived unannounced at Dakshineswar one in March 1872, stricken with fever
on the way, to boot.
The Mother at Dakshineswar
It was in every way a very strange meeting. Sri Ramakrishna had been passing
through a mood of intense longing for God and his spirit of renunciation of
what he called 'Women and Gold' was raging in his mind with the tempo of a whirl-wide.
An ascetic in that mood is the last men one can expect to meet a situation of
this type with composure. We expect him to flee the place or put on a very rude
and cruel attitude of disregard. But the Master’s response now was as unexpected
as when the proposal for marriage was made. He extended a very welcome to his
wife, made arrangements for her stay and medical treatment and in every way
behaved toward her as a devoted husband should do.
This great event took place in march, 1872.from now onward, with break of
intervals for visits to her to her mother at Jayrambat,i Sarada Devi was by
the side of Sri Ramakrishna at Dakshineswar and later at conspire till 1886
when death separated them in a physical sense. It was a period of training and
discipleship, during which the Mother in her became more and more manifest making
her ready to take up the leadership of the spiritual movement that the Master
inaugurated. She become the first and foremost of his disciples. This transformations
was effected through her service of the Master and the proactive of devotional
disciplines he prescribed for her; It was a silent and profound process about
the details of which the world Know so little. The type of personality into
which she was shaped through that training was one characterized by inexhaustible
patience and peace, extreme simplicity combined with dignity, a non turbulent
but compelling spiritual fervor, a loving temperament that knew no distinction
between friend and foe, and a maternal attitude of spontaneous type towards
all, that charmed and brought under her influence everyone who come near her.
She spent nearly the whole of the Dakshineswar period of her life of thirteen
years, expending from 1872 to 1885, except when she went to Jayrambati periodically,
in a room in the northern side of the temple compound, called the Nahabat from
where she could get a view of the room in which the master lived.
The ground flower of the Nahabat or Concert House was a small low octagonal
room of less then 50sq. feet in area, with a verandah four and a quarter wide
surrounding it. Besides being four and a quarter feet wide surrounding it Besides
being her living served as her provision store, kitchen and reception room too-a
surprising combination of functions for such a small enclosure But so patient
and long-suffering she was that what would have been impossible for other, was
no problem to her several aristocratic women of Calcutta, fat and plumpy would
stand at the door of the Nahabat, and leaning forward, holding the door frame,
would say: “Ah! What a tiny room for our good girl! She is as it were in exile,
like Sita.” In later days the Holy Mother would, while recounting the experiences
of her early days, tell her nieces, “while recounting the experiences of her
early days, tell her niece , “You won’t be able to live in such a room even
for a day.
Appreciating the extreme inadequacy of her accommodation, a devote by name
smashup Malice built in April 1874 a small house on a plot very near the temple
for her to stay. She stayed there for about one year, but left it for the Nahabat
when the Great Master fell ill with dysentery, as she wanted to be by his side
for nursing him. After that, however, she never went back to that house.
Her life began every day at three a.m., being a strict observer of the Purdah,
she finished her ablution in the Ganges long before daybreak when people began
moving about. Till it was broad daylight, she spent her time in meditation and
Japa. She never come out till about one p.m., when there would be no one round
about. She would then sit out drying her long and luxuriant locks in the sun.
In fact she lived so quietly and unobserved there that the Temple Manager said
once, &amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;We have heard that she lives here, but we have never seen her.”
The Master appreciated her extreme reserve, but none the less felt anxious for
her health, as continuous in that small room carried with it grave health hazards.
The verandah round the room was also screened for making the place fit for a
strict Purdah lady to live in. She used to stand behind the screen on the damp
floor of her house and watch through holes in the screen holes in the screen
the Master singing and dancing in ecstasy beyond the open northern door of the
room. All this brought rheumatic pain in her legs. Afterword, On the Masters
advice, she began to go out of the room and meet the ladies of some Know houses
in the neighborhood.
During the day much of her time was taken up with cooking for the master and
devotes. Sri Ramakrishna’s stomach was very delicate and could not stand the
Temple food. So Sri Sarada Devi prepared the diet for him and personally seved
it to him, coaxing him to take sufficient quantities of it. She also did the
other personal service for the Master like cleaning his room, washing clothes
etc. The master’s mother was also staying at Dakshineswar in her last days.
And Sarada Devi attended on her as well with meticulous care. Although in the
earlier her cooking work was limited, it gradually swelled to enormous proportions,
as the number of the Master’s devotes herein to increase. Many of the number
of them stayed overnight or sometime for a whole day with him. They had to be
fed, and the Mother took upon herself that duty too. It is said that daily she
made chapattis out of seven pounds of wheat flour and prepared the condiments
required for them Besides, Betel rolls for the Master and devote were required,
and countless were the rolls she prepared every day.
All through the day quite a large number of women devotes who come to see
thaw Master, made the Nhabat their first place of halt and spent much time in
conversation. Some of them also stayed overnight with her in that small room.
Besides attending to her household duties duties also spent hours in watching
from the Nahabat the scenes of devotional fervor that went on in the master’s
room. During night she spent long hours in Meditation. Her whole time was thus
occupied with acts of service of the Master and his devotes and with the proactive
of devotional disciplines. It was an ideal way living in which work and worship
went hand in hand, and led to a harmonious development of personality.
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