31st July, 1918
The monastic disciples of Sri Ramakrishna
Today I found the Mother alone and therefore had a long talk with her. Our conversation mainly drifted to the monastic disciples of Sri Rama-krishna. 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 after thoroughly examining them. What an austere life they led at the Baranagore monastery after his passing away! Niranjan (Swami Niranja-nananda) 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 begging! ‘ 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 in Northern India. He did not get any food for two days and was lying down under a tree. He found a man standing near him, with delicious food and a jar of water in his hands. The man said, 1 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 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 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 Mussalman 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 Mussalman 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 laid 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. The 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 chillies, 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. Maybe, 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 ? “
8th June, 1918
When I went to-day to see the Holy Mother, I found her in the porch, absorbed in meditation. Some time after, five or six women devotees came to her to pay their respects. They prostrated themselves before the image of Sri Ramakrishna in the shrine room. The Mother asked them about themselves. Nalini introduced them. One of them had come to Calcutta for treatment. The doctor had diagnosed her trouble as tumour in the abdomen. He had asked her to be operated. She was extremely nervous about the operation. The Holy Mother did not allow any of them to touch her feet. I do not know the reason. They begged her again and again to let them take the dust of her feet. The Mother firmly asked them to bow to her from a distance. They pointed to the sick girl and said, ” Please bless her so that she may be cured. May she be able to pay her respects to you again,’ The Mother answered them, saying, Bow down before Sri Ramakrishna and pray to Him sincerely. He is everything,” The Holy Mother appeared to be restive and said to them, Good-bye, my children. It is getting late for you.”
After they had left, the Mother said, Please sweep the room and sprinkle it with Ganges water. It is now time for food-offering for the Lord.” Her order was at once carried out.