3. MARRIAGE

Saradamani was very young, when she was married—so young that she could not clearly remember the event. She would afterwards say: 'I was married when the dates ripen. Within ten days of the marriage, when I went to Kamar-pukur, I used to gather dates from under the trees.' Such a little girl married and Sri Rama-krishna giving consent to the marriage! To those who are very critical about it and pretend to be shocked, we may say that this kind of marriage is no more than a mere betrothal after which the girl usually returns to her parents until sufficiently grown up. And in this particular case, the bridegroom lived on such a high plane that he could give no more serious thought to the marriage than a little boy gives to his playthings.

This time Sri Ramakrishna stayed at Kamarpukur a little over two years. Before he returned to Dakshineswar he paid a short visit to his father-in-law's house in obedience to the family custom, and brought Saradamani back to Kamarpukur with him for a few days. At this time Saradamani was only seven—her mind not yet sufficiently developed even to know what marriage was.

When Sri Ramakrishna returned to Dakshineswar, divine longing again seized him in all its intensity, and he forgot all about Kamarpukur, his friends and relations, and everything. The one thought which occupied his whole mind was how to realize the Divine Mother as a constant presence. A severe spiritual storm seized him. Days and nights were spent in anguish because God was not a living reality to him: if the Divine Mother was a reality why should She not be to him as tangible as the visible objects around? He was consumed with that one longing. Sleep left him, he forgot all idea of food and drink. Worldly things or any talk about worldly affairs he dreaded and shunned as poison.

While he was passing through this state of divine discontent, smaller minds thought that he was seized with a disease, that his brain was deranged. Physicians were called in, medicines were tried, but all to no avail. The news gradually travelled to Kamarpukur that Sri Rama-krishna had gone mad. Chandramani was anxious for her beloved son. She began to pray for him and offered worship to various gods. Jayrambati being so near to Kamarpukur, the news certainly reached Jayrambati too. But his wife being so young was perhaps unconcerned about the happenings at Dakshineswar.

Saradamani's two subsequent visits to Kamarpukur were at the ages of thirteen and fourteen years, when both Sri Ramakrishna and his mother were at Dakshineswar. The next time she went there, in 1867, she was privileged to stay with Sri Ramakrishna. When he arrived at Kamarpukur in that year, his anxious relatives and friends found that with all his deep religious feeling he was quite a normal man in his ordinary dealings. That was a great relief to them. At this time Saradamani was brought to Kamarpukur from her father's house. This might be, in a sense, her first meeting with her husband.

Sri Ramakrishna lived at Kamarpukur for about seven months. During this stay he did one great thing. Though his mind would constantly soar to the transcendental level so that he was generally indifferent to anything worldly, when Saradamani came to Kamarpukur he seriously set about giving her proper training. Sri Ramakrishna was by now a sannyasin.1 When his guru, Totapuri, learnt that he had married, he remarked: 'What if you are married! The real test of love for God is that even if the wife be near, the mind will not gravitate to the thought of sense-pleasure. If one knows that all is Brahman, what difference can one make between one sex and another? One is above all these ideas.' These significant words of the Guru came to be illustrated in the case of the disciple, as Sri Rama-krishna now met Saradamani and turned his mind to the fulfillment of his educational duties to his wife.

Whatever Sri Ramakrishna would do, he would always do with perfect thoroughness. So when he took upon himself the task of training Saradamani, he brought to bear upon the work a sense of completeness. He talked to her not only of high spiritual matters but also taught her how to do ordinary household duties. Saradamani, pure as purity itself, brought up in the innocent and unsophisticated atmosphere of village life, and unsullied by any worldly thought, found in Sri Ramakrishna not a husband in the common sense of the term but one who was the embodiment of unspeakable love. Of her experiences of this period she used to say afterwards: 'I felt as if a vessel full of divine bliss was permanently installed in my heart. I cannot adequately describe the heavenly joy which filled my heart.' She obviously felt that she had the rare privilege of receiving an unearthly treasure.

With such feelings she went back to Jayrambati when Sri Ramakrishna again returned to Dakshineswar. After Sri Ramakrishna reached Dakshineswar, to all intents and purposes, he again forgot all about Saradamani. But it was different with his wife, who had received such unalloyed bliss from him. Her constant thought was centered on him. She longed to be with him at Dakshineswar. But she consoled herself with the thought that one who had shown her such tender consideration at the very first meeting could not have forgotten her altogether. There would certainly come a time when she would be called to his side. Patiently and silently she waited for that auspicious moment.

1

A person who has formally renounced the world, a monk.