THE DISCOVERY OF SARADAMANI

After Sri Ramakrishna had the first vision of the Divine Mother, he was consumed with a thirst to have it constantly. He was like a man who had once had access to an invaluable treasure, but which had again been closed to him. So he was burning with a desire to repeat that experience. His desire was so intense and his longing so severe that he could no longer behave like a normal man. Seeing his strange actions and behaviour many thought that he was out of his mind. The news reached his old mother, who was at their native village, Kamarpukur. She felt very anxious for her son and had him brought to her, so that by careful nursing she might cure him.

When Sri Ramakrishna came to Kamarpukur, his mother thought that marriage might bring down his mind to worldly things and he might be cured of his divine malady. So she sent emissaries here and there to negotiate with various persons but a suitable bride could not be found. Strangely enough, Sri Ramakrishna took a childlike interest in these proceedings; and finding his

mother in a great predicament about his bride, he himself suggested that there was a little girl who might be suitable—the daughter of Ram Chandra Mukhopadhyaya—at Jayrambati, only six kilometers away.

His mother, Chandramani, took up this suggestion, sent a man to Jayrambati and learnt that the girl, beaming with divine effulgence, was not only the pet child of her parents and family but also the idol of the whole village. There was something in her which even at that early age drew everybody to her. Whoever saw this little girl could not but feel a fascination for her. So Chandra Devi at once agreed to have her as her daughter-in-law. The marriage was arranged and performed with Sri Ramakrishna's own consent, in spite of the fact that his thoughts constantly soared high above the earthly region.

The name of the bride, who was afterwards known as the Holy Mother to innumerable disciples and admirers of Sri Ramakrishna, was Saradamani. Her father, Ram Chandra Mukho-padhyaya, was a very pious Brahmin; her mother, Shyamasundari Devi, was also known for her great piety. Being very poor, Ram Chandra had to struggle very hard for his livelihood and the maintenance of the family. The income from his priestly duties was too meagre for his needs, so he had to supplement it by agricultural pursuits and the making of sacred threads. Nevertheless Ram Chandra was known for his kindness and generosity. He had a very tender heart which felt distress at the suffering of others. In 1864, when a terrible famine devastated Bengal and the little village of Jayrambati and the neighbourhood did not escape the ravages of the scourge, Ram Chandra would daily feed large a number of starving people out of his surplus produce of the previous year, without caring for his own difficult circumstances. No wonder Ram Chandra was the object of great reverence and deep affection of the whole locality.