31 May 2013
30 May 2013
9. IN THE PASSING OF EVENTS (PART-I)
DURING THE PERIOD of thirteen years that the Holy Mother spent at
Dakshineswar, there were several events in her life that had no
direct bearing on her relation with Sri Ramakrishna. It is necessary to make a
rapid survey of these events in order to complete this period of her life. In
the course of these years, she went at least seven times from Dakshineswar to
Jayrambati and back. One need not note the dates of these visits except a few
which are connected with important incidents in her life.
|Sri Sarada Devi|
Her stay at Dakshineswar on the first occasion lasted for about one year and a half. In October, 1873, nearly one
and a half
years after her first arrival at Dakshineswar, she returned to Jayrambati.
Within a few months of this, her aged father Ramachandra Mukherji died on the
26th April, 1874. His death put the family into great financial difficulty. The
income from priestly duties with which Ramachandra used to supplement his
all-too-inadequate returns of his paddy fields, was no longer available. Not
only that; even the yield of the paddy fields diminished for want of efficient
supervision. The four sons of Ramachandra, the younger brothers of the Holy
Mother, were too young, and even the eldest of them had not yet completed his
priestly education. The whole responsibility of the family, therefore, fell
upon their widowed mother Syamasundari Devi. She was, however, a very
resourceful and energetic woman, and refused to be overwhelmed by these adverse
circumstances. To supplement the meagre income of the family, she began to husk
paddy for the Banerji family of the neighbourhood, and as for the education of
her children, she sent three of them to the houses of her relatives who
undertook to teach them.
In those trying days her daughter Sarada (the Holy Mother) was a great source of strength to her. Not only did she encourage her mother by her advice and companionship, but relieved her of much heavy labour by doing herself the hard manual work of husking, by which the family now earned its precarious living.
As time went on, conditions improved a little. The eldest of the brothers, Prasanna Kumar, having completed his education, began to earn something, though small, by priestly work in Calcutta. The two other brothers next to him in age, Kali Kumar and Barada Prasad, became useful in the management of their lands, while the youngest, Abhay Charan, who was the most intelligent among them all, was sent for school education through the help of some kind friends. (Note: About the education of this brother the Holy Mother said in later days; 'My youngest brother had passed the matriculation examination. He was very well up in the school, and then he studied medicine. After Naren met him, he said of him, "I never knew that Mother had such an intelligent brother. The others are all like ordinary priests." Yogen defrayed his educational expenses, and then Yogen died. Rakhal paid forty rupees for his books.' This brother was the father of Radhu who, as we shall see, played such an important role in the latter part of the Holy Mother's life.) Eventually he qualified himself as a medical man, but, as we shall see, met with premature death. The Holy Mother took considerable interest in the fortunes of all these brothers; for, her life was inextricably connected with theirs. As the eldest girl of the family, she was their nurse in their infancy and they all grew up under her charge. Even in later life they always looked up to her for help and guidance.
The improvement in the material condition of the Holy Mother's family is also associated with the institution of Jagaddhatri Puja in their home some time after the demise of Ramachandra Mukherji. Once at the village Kali Puja conducted by one Nava Mukherji, that gentleman, owing to some quarrel with the Holy Mother's family, refused to accept the rice that Syamasundari Devi had vowed to the Deity. The poor lady was much aggrieved at it, and spent a whole night weeping. She was at a loss to decide what she should do with the rice set apart for the Deity. She was, however, relieved of her grief and worry when at night she saw in a vision the Deity as Jagaddhatri asking her to offer to Her the rice she had vowed to Kali. From that day the idea of worshipping Jagaddhatri became a passion with her. Although in straitened circumstances, she performed the worship with due eclat, meeting the expenses of it from the sale of a quantity of paddy she secured from a neighbouring house. Next year Syamasundari Devi wanted to perform the worship again and asked the Holy Mother to help her in making preparations. But the Holy Mother objected to it, saying that it had been done once and that there was no need to bother themselves again with all the heavy work involved in it.
'That night,' said the Holy Mother in later days, 'I saw in a dream that three of them arrived - Jagaddhatri and Her two companions, Jaya and Vijaya. I remember it distinctly. They said to me, "Shall we go away then?" "Who are you all" I asked. One of them said, "I am Jagaddhatri." In reply I said, "No, why should you go? Stay here. I did not ask you to go away."
From that time onwards the Jagaddhatri PuJa became an annual function in the Holy Mother's home, and she used to take a leading part in arranging for the celebration. As she said later on: 'Since that time I have been going home as far as possible every year at the time of the Jagaddhatri Puja. I am to help in polishing the utensils and look after other things. Formerly there were not many people in the family. I would go home to cleanse the pots and pans. Later Yogen (Swami Yogananda) got a set of wooden utensils. He said to me, "Mother, you do not have to scour pots and pans any more." He also secured a piece of land to provide for the expenses of the Puja.' (Note: This worship of Jagaddhatri is still continued at Jayrambati. The function is now organised and performed not by any of the members of the Holy Mother's family, but by the branch of the Ramakrishna Math established at the birthplace of the Holy Mother. In the latter days of her life, the Holy Mother purchased three acres of agricultural land for meeting the expenses of the annual worship. According to the stipulation of Swami Saradananda, this land is in the possession of the families of the Mother's brothers, but they are to contribute a fixed quantity of paddy every year for the worship.) Shortly after her father's death the Holy Mother came back to Dakshineswar about April, 1874. It was on this occasion that Shambhu Mallick built a small cottage for her. She lived in it only for about a year; for, as already said, she had to come back to the Nahabat in order to nurse Sri Ramakrishna during an attack of dysentery. The Master was soon cured, but the Holy Mother in turn suffered from an attack of the same illness. It was dysentery of a very virulent type, and only with the best medical help rendered to her by the devoted Shambhu Mallick could she get a little relief from it. When she was better, she went to Jayrambati in September, 1875. Unfortunately, after her arrival there, she had a severe relapse. Her mother and brothers treated and nursed her to the best of their capacity, but everyone doubted whether she would recover at all. Even the Master felt anxious on hearing of her condition, and remarked sorrowfully to Hriday, 'Is she born only to die? Is she not destined to gain the end of human life?'
Author: Srimat Swami Tapasyanandaji Maharaj, late Vice-President of Ramakrishna Order.
29 May 2013
28 May 2013
27 May 2013
26 May 2013
25 May 2013
24 May 2013
23 May 2013
1st August, 1918
Today I found the Mother alone and therefore had a long talk with her. Our conversation drifted mainly to the monastic disciples of Sri Ramakrishna (see picture). Perhaps, on account of the passing away of Swami Premananda ,
the Mother had been continually thinking of these monks. Referring to them, the Holy Mother said, "Sri Ramakrishna accepted his disciples only after thoroughly examining them. What an austere life they led at the Baranagore monastery after his passing away! Niranjan (Swami Niranjanananda) and others often starved themselves. They spent all their, time in, meditation and prayer. One day these young monks were talking among themselves: 'We have renounced everything in the name of Sri Ramakrishna. Let us see if he would supply us with food if we simply depend upon him. We will not tell anybody about our wants. We will not go out for alms!' They covered their bodies with sheets of cloth and sat down for meditation. The whole day passed. It was late at night. They heard somebody knocking at the door. Naren left the seat and asked one of his brother monks, 'Please open the door and see who is there. First of all, notice if he has anything in his hand.' What a miracle! As soon as the door was opened, it was found that a man was standing there. He had brought some delicious food from the temple of Gopala, on the bank of the Ganges. They were exceedingly happy and felt convinced of the protecting hand of Sri Ramakrishna, They offered that food to Sri Ramakrishna at that late hour of the night and partook of the Prasada. Such things happened many a time. . . . Now the monks do not experience any such difficulty. Alas! What hardship Naren (Swami Vivekananda) and Baburam (Swami Premananda) passed through! Even my Rakhal (Swami Brahmananda), who is now the President of the Ramakrishna Mission, had to cleanse the pots and kettles, many a day. At one time Naren was travelling as an itinerant monk towards Gaya and Varanasi. He did not get any food for two days and was lying down under a tree. He found a man standing near with delicious food and a jar of water in his hands. The man said, 'Here is the Prasada of Rama. Please accept it.' Naren said, 'You do not know me, my good friend. You have made a mistake. Perhaps you have brought these articles for someone else.' The man said with the utmost humility, 'No, revered sir. I have brought this food solely for you. I was enjoying a little nap at noontime when I saw a man in dream. He said: Get up quickly; a holy man is lying under yonder tree; give him some food. I dismissed the whole thing as a mere dream. Therefore I turned on my side and again fell asleep. Then I again dreamt of the man, who said, giving me a push: I am asking you to get up and still you are sleeping! Carry out my order without any more delay. Then I thought that it was not an illusory dream. It was the command of Rama. Therefore in obedience to His command I brought these articles for you; sir.' Naren realized that it was all due to the grace of Sri Ramakrishna, and cheerfully accepted the food."
"A similar incident happened another day. Naren was travelling in the Himalayas for three days without any food. He was about to faint when a Mussulman Fakir gave him a cucumber. It saved his life that time. After his return from America, Naren was one day addressing a meeting at Almora. He saw that Mussulman seated in a corner. Naren at once went to him, took him by the hand, and made him sit in the centre of the gathering. The audience was surprised. Naren said, 'This gentleman saved my life once.' He then narrated the whole incident. He also gave the Fakir some money. But at first he refused to accept the gift. He said, 'What have I done that you are so anxious to make me a gift?' Naren did not yield and pressed some money into his pocket."
"Naren took me to the Belur Math at the time of the first Durga Puja festival, and through me gave twenty-five rupees to the priest as his fee. They spent fourteen hundred rupees on that auspicious occasion. The place became crowded with people. The monks worked hard. Naren came to me and said, 'Mother, please make me lie down with fever.' No sooner had he said this than he was down with a severe attack of fever. I thought, 'Goodness gracious! What is this? How will he be cured?' 'Do not be anxious, Mother,' said Naren, 'I have myself begged for this fever. My reason is this. These boys are working hard. But if I see the slightest mistake, I shall fly into a rage and abuse them. I may even give them slaps. It will be painful to them as well as to me. Therefore I thought it would be better to lie down with fever for some time.' When the day's function was over, I came to him and said, 'Dear child, the work is over now. Please get up.' Naren said that he was all right and got up from bed."
"Naren brought also his own mother to the Math at the time of the Durga Puja. She roamed from one garden to another and picked chilies, egg-plants, etc. She felt a little proud thinking that it was all due to her son, Naren. Naren came to her and said, 'What are you doing there? Why do you not go and meet the Holy Mother? You are simply picking up these vegetables. May be, you are thinking that your son has done all this work. No, mother. You are mistaken. It is He who has done all this. Naren is nothing.' Naren meant that the Math was founded through the grace of Sri Ramakrishna. What great devotion! . . . . My Baburam is dead! Alas! who will look after the Durga Puja this year? "