Seeing good even in evil
Just in the open square in front of the Holy Mother’s house, there lived some people belonging to some parts of India outside Bengal. They
earned their livelihood by hard manual labour. One of them had a mistress. They lived together. Once the mistress was seriously ill. Referring to her illness the Holy Mother said, ” He nursed her with such great devotion! I have never before seen anything like it. He has shown real spirit of service.” She began to speak highly of the devotion of this man.
The idea of a mistress would certainly have made us turn up our noses in disgust. Ah, how often we fail to recognize goodness when veiled in an evil garb!
A poor up-country woman from the house across the street came to the Holy Mother, carrying a sick child in her arms. She solicited her blessings. The Mother was gracious to that child. She said that the child would soon recover, and blessed it. Two big pomegranates and some grapes had been offered in the shrine. She handed over all these fruits to the poor woman, saying, ” Give these to your sick child.” The woman was overjoyed at this generosity of the Mother and repeatedly bowed down before her.
11th February, 1912
The moment I met the Holy Mother today and sat down after saluting her, she began to say with great sorrow, ” Alas ! Girish Babu is dead. Today is the fourth day. His relatives came here to invite me to go to their house. Is it possible for me to go there any more ? What devotion and faith Girish had in Sri Ramakrishna! Have you heard this incident ? He begged Sri Ramakrishna to be born as his son. Sri Ramakrishna said in reply, ‘ Why should I care to be born as your son ! ‘ But who knows, my child, the inscrutable ways of the Lord! A son was born to Girish some time after the passing away of Sri Ramakrishna. A strange boy, indeed ! Even when he was four years old, he would not exchange a word with anybody. People would know his mind only from his gestures. His parents looked upon him as Sri Ramakrishna himself. They kept apart everything belonging to him – his dress, plate, cup, glass, etc. Nobody would use those things! . . .
” One day the boy became extremely restive to see me. My picture was in the upper floor of the house. He dragged the whole household there, and uttering a cry, pointed out the picture to them. At first they did not understand it. Then they brought him to me. Though he was but a young child of four, he prostrated himself before me. Then he went to the first floor and began to pull his father by his cloth. He wanted that his father also should see me. Girish wept bitterly and said, ‘ I cannot, my darling, see the Holy Mother. I am a great sinner ! ‘ But the boy was inexorable. So Girish had to yield. He took the boy in his arm. With his whole body trembling and tears trickling down his cheeks, he came up and prostrated on the ground before me. He said, Mother, this boy has made me see your holy feet! ‘ But the boy passed away when he was four years old.
” Once Girish and his wife were airing themselves on the roof of their house. I had been staying there at the house of Balaram. The houses were near each other. I also went to the roof that day. I did not notice that Girish could see me from the roof of his house. His wife said to him,’ Look there, the Holy Mother is pacing on the roof of that house.’ Girish at once turned his Backon me and said to his wife, No, no, I cannot thus stealthily look at the Holy Mother. My eyes are vicious ! ‘ He at once came down from the roof. I heard this from his wife.”
15th June, 1912
The Holy Mother was seated with a number of women devotees. I was acquainted with some of them. The Mother was very cheerful in their company. She welcomed me with a smile. I requested Gauri-Ma to bring from the library two books on the life of Sister Nivedita and the Indian lectures of Swami Vivekananda. I wished to read something from the life of Sister Nivedita. The Mother agreed and said, ” Please read Nivedita’s life. I also received a copy of the book the other day. But I have not yet looked into it.” I felt a little shy of reading the book in the presence of so many people. At the same time I was eager to read to the Mother the beautiful biography of the Sister written by Sarala-bala. So I obeyed her order. The Mother as well as the other devotees began to listen with rapt attention. Their eyes became moist on hearing of the wonderful devotion of Nivedita. Tears trickled down the cheeks of the Mother. Referring to Nivedita, she said, ” What sincere devotion Nivedita had ! She never considered anything too much that she might do for me. She would often come to see me at night. Seeing that light struck my eyes, she put a shade of paper around the lamp. She would prostrate herself before me and, with great tenderness, take the dust of my feet with her handkerchief. I felt that she even hesitated to touch my feet.” The thought of Nivedita opened the flood-gate of her mind and she suddenly became grave.
Those present began to give their reminiscences of Sister Nivedita. Durga-didi said, ” It is the misfortune of India that she passed away at such an early age.” Another lady said, ” She looked upon India as her motherland. She herself said that many a time. On the day of the Sarasvati Puja she would walk bare-footed, putting on her forehead the mark of the sacred ash of the sacrificial fire.” I finished reading. The Mother now and then expressed her feelings towards the Sister. She said at last, ” The inner soul feels for a sincere devotee.”
It was the hour for afternoon worship. The Mother changed her clothes and sat on the carpet before the image of Sri Ramakrishna. She had made some flower garlands with her own hands to decorate the image. Rash Behari, a young Brahmacharin, had kept near the garland some sweets for offering. Ants gathered around the sweets. Some ants were seen also in the garlands. Mother said with a laugh, ” See what Rash Behari has done ! Sri Ramakrishna will be bitten by these ants.” She removed the ants and tenderly decorated the image with the garlands. Seeing her thus decorate the picture of her husband with flowers before others, Surabala, her sister-in-law,1 laughed. Later the Prasada was distributed to all.
1. This is the crazy sister-in-law who figures so often in these conversations. She was the mother of Radhu. The biographical section contains references to her.