26 November 2012

LIFE OF SRI SARADA DEVI

CHAPTER-8; PART-III: IN THE SERVICE OF THE MASTER 

Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi
The feeding of the Master over, the Holy Mother would take some tiffin and sit for making betel rolls. During that time as well as afterwards, she would sing devotional songs within herself in a low humming tune, always taking care to see that no one outside heard it. At 1 p.m. she took her midday meal and rested for a while. After that till 3 p.m. she basked in the sun and dried her hair, sitting on the steps of the Nahabat. Then she would trim the lamps for the evening, have an afternoon wash, and make things ready for cooking at night. At dusk she burnt incense before the Deity and sat for meditation. Afterwards she attended to cooking, fed the Master and his mother, took her own food, and retired to bed. (Note: In addition to these daily duties, she used to do quite a number of odd jobs. For example, she said one day to a lady disciple; 'The Master used to tell me, "You must always be active. You should never be without work. For, when one is idle, all sorts of bad thoughts crop up in the mind." One day he gave me some hemp and asked me to prepare some string suspenders with it. He said he wanted them to hang the pots of sweets etc. kept for his young disciples. I made the suspenders accordingly, and with the fibre that was left, stuffed a pillow, I used to lie down on a stiff mat under which I spread some hessian, and placed that pillow under my head. Now you see all these beds and mattresses, but at that time I used to have the same sleep as now. I don't see any difference'). Besides attending to all these regular items of work, she had to receive quite a large number of visitors in later days. For all the women disciples of the Master used to call on her at the Nahabat whenever they visited Dakshineswar, and if some of them wanted to spend a night or two with her, she had to find accommodation for them.

Though her life at Dakshineswar was thus crowded with work, she felt it in no way a burden. For to be of service to the Master was her highest delight. What pained her sometimes was that she could not get sufficient opportunity to attend on him. For example, her only chance in the course of the day to stay by the Master's side was when she carried his meals to his room. Once she was unwittingly deprived of this privilege by Golap-Ma, a woman disciple of Sri Ramakrishna. Being asked by the Master to serve his food on one occasion, Golap-Ma began to do so every day afterwards, thus usurping that cherished duty of the Holy Mother and depriving her of her only opportunity of seeing the Master at close quarters. She felt very much grieved at heart for this, but kept silent, as she was never in the habit of putting forward her own claims as against those of others. For though Sri Ramakrishna was the nearest and dearest object of her heart, her pure mind was so free from any sense of monopoly over him that she recognized the equal right of everyone else to serve him. (Note: Another incident illustrating this trait of the Holy Mother was told by Golap-Ma. One day, as the Holy Mother was bringing the Master's plate of food, she saw a lady standing near the Master's room. She hurriedly came to her and wanted to be allowed to carry the Master's food that day. The Holy Mother gladly handed over the plate to her. Afterwards, when the lady had left, and the Holy Mother was fanning the Master during his meal, he told her that he found it very difficult to take that food as the woman who carried it was not pure in life. The Holy Mother admitted that she knew about it, and requested the Master to take his food somehow that day. When she was thus appealing to him, he asked her to give word that she would never hand over his food to any body else in future. At this, the Holy Mother laid aside the fan and said with folded hands, 'That I cannot; for if anyone wants something of me, I feel I must grant it. But anyway I shall try my best to carry your food myself.' Sri Ramakrishna at once understood the nobility of her outlook, and said nothing more on the subject. He continued his meal, talking joyously with her on various subjects). This sensitiveness of the Master to the feelings and difficulties of the Holy Mother, in spite of the very limited occasions of personal contact between them, is something very remarkable. It is illustrative of how true spiritual love can be thoroughly impersonal and non-physical, and yet be vigilantly operative for the welfare of the object of affection. It was perhaps with reference to these days of Golap-Ma's interference that the Holy Mother said to a disciple in later times: 'At that time I would see the Master perhaps once in two months. I used to console my mind by saying, "O mind, are you so fortunate - that you can see him every day?' " Sri Ramakrishna, however, came to understand her feeling and rectified the mistake.

Golap-Ma
Here are a few more illustrations of this fact from this period of the Holy Mother's life. Once Golap-Ma, of whom we spoke before, took to the habit of spending long hours with the Master in the evenings. Sometimes she would be with him till ten O' clock, and the Holy Mother had to watch over her food till then at the Nahabat. That was very inconvenient to her. One day Sri Ramakrishna heard her saying, 'Let the cat or dog spoil her food; I cannot keep guard over it any more.' Next day he told Golap-Ma how she was inconveniencing the Holy Mother by this habit, but she replied innocently, 'No, the Mother loves me dearly. She calls me by my first name, as if I were her own daughter.' Sri Ramakrishna, however, corrected her.

Gauri-Ma
   Speaking on this point, Gauri-Ma, another woman disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, said: 'These two beings, residing only at a distance of about fifty yards, would not meet each other for long stretches of time, but in spite of it, there was much warmth between them. Once I saw how, when the Mother had a headache, Sri Ramakrishna was very anxious and frequently asked Ramlal, "O Ramlal, why has she got headache?' "

Once in the course of a conversation about the Master, the Holy Mother said, 'He was a man of perfect renunciation, but still he had his worry about me. One day he asked me, "How much money do you need for your expenses in a month?" I said, "Just five or six rupees will suffice." Next he asked me, "How many Chapatis do you eat in the evening?" I almost died of shame. How could I answer that? But as he asked me again and again, I had to reply, "Five or six." ' On the basis of this, he calculated that she would require a capital of six hundred rupees for her bare maintenance, and deposited that amount with Balaram Babu, a lay disciple. Balaram invested it in his estate, and used to make a remittance of rupees thirty half-yearly to the Holy Mother as the proceeds of this investment.

Mathur Babu
The Master's solicitude for her was not confined merely to her physical welfare. For, in spite of his being an ascetic, he did everything in his power to bestow on her that subtle satisfaction which a woman feels on her husband showing special consideration for her personal tastes and inclinations. It is interesting to note how he came to divine the Holy Mother's liking for ornaments and thought it his duty to satisfy the same. To quote the Holy Mother's own words on the point, 'He used to say, "Her name is Sarada. She is the incarnation of Saraswati. (Sri Ramakrishna once said to Golap-Ma regarding the Holy Mother; 'She is the incarnation of Saraswati (the wisdom aspect of the Divine Mother). She is born to bestow knowledge on others. She has hidden her physical beauty lest people should look upon her with impure eyes and thus commit sin.'). Therefore she likes to put on some ornaments." Once he said to Hriday, his nephew, "See how much money there is in your box. (Mathur Babu had made an arrangement by which Sri Ramakrishna used to get a monthly pension of rupees seven from the temple funds. This used to be kept in a box). Have some nice gold ornaments made for her." The Master was then ill; still he spent three hundred rupees on those ornaments. (Note:There is a tradition according to which Sri Ramakrishna had a vision of Sita at the Panchavati. He found that she was wearing bracelets with many tiny facets like those of a diamond. It was in imitation of these that he had the golden bracelets made for the Holy Mother. Concerning the Holy Mother's decor in those early days Yogin-Ma says: 'At that time the Mother lived in the Nahabat like the most revered Sita. She wore a piece of cloth with broad red borders and put vermilion at the parting of her hair. Her thick tresses almost touched her knees. She wore a gold necklace, a big nose-ring, earrings and bracelets - those which Mathur Babu had given the Master when he practised spiritual discipline assuming the role of a handmaid of the Divine Mother). And mind you, he himself could not touch money.' Referring to this, he would sometimes jocularly remark, 'Oh! I have this much of relation with her!'

SOURCE: saradadevi.info