The woes of spiritual ministry
She lay down on the bed and gave me a fan, saying, My child, please fan me a little.The whole body is burning. My salutation to your Calcutta! People come here and lay before me the catalogue of their sorrows. Again there are others who have committed many sinful acts. There are still others who have procreated twenty-five children! They weep because ten of them are dead ! Are they human beings ? No! They are veritable beasts. No self-control! No restraint! It is therefore that Sri Ramakrishna used to say, ‘ One seer of milk mixed with five seers of water ! It is so difficult to thicken such milk. My eyes have become swollen by constantly blowing the fire to keep it burning. It is such a hard job to thicken such milk ! Where are my sincere children who are ready to renounce everything for God ? Let them come to me. Let me talk to them. Otherwise life is so unbearable,’ These words are so true. Please move the fan, dear child. People have been streaming here today since four o’clock in the afternoon. I cannot bear the misery of people any more.
” The wife of Balaram also came here today. She is the sister of my Baburam. She wept bitterly for him. She said, ‘ Is he only an ordinary brother to me ? He is a veritable God “
4th August, 1918
I found the Holy Mother engaged in conversation with a widow, the sister of Dr. B – . The doctor’s sister had become widowed at an early age. There were some troubles regarding the property left by her husband. She could not secure the probate of the will. They were talking about these things, and at last the Holy Mother said to the widow; ” As you have no right to sell the property, I would advise you to place it under the care of a good mam A worldly-minded person can never be trusted in money matters.
Only a real monk can resist the temptation of money. Please do not worry so much, my child. Let the will of God be done. You have been following the right path. The Lord will never put you to any difficulty. Good-bye. Write to me now and then, and come again.”
After the widow had left, Shyamadas, the Ayurvedic physician, came to see Golap-Ma. The Holy Mother waited a while for him, but when she found that he had left the house, she lay down on her bed and looking at me said, ” Now do your duty.” I began to rub her body with the medicated oil. The Mother said, ” The sister of Girish Ghosh was very fond of me. She would always keep apart for me a little of all the articles of food she cooked at home and send them here. A Brahmin would bring them, and she would sit by me as I ate them. Her love for me was deep. She had been married in an aristocratic family and owned considerable wealth ; but her relatives had squandered away the money. Atul, the brother of Girish, started business with five thousand rupees. Besides, she had had to spend a large amount of money for her husband’s illness which lasted fora year. In her will she expressed her desire to leave a hundred rupees for me. While alive, she was ashamed to give me this amount. She thought one hundred rupees was too small an amount! After her passing, her brother came here and gave it to me. She had come to see me on the day previous to the Durga Puja. As long as she stayed, she never left me even for a second. I planned to go to Banaras immediately after the Durga Puja. I was a little busy arranging my things and was moving from room to room. At last she said, ‘ May I take my leave now ? ‘ I was a little absent-minded and said, ‘ Yes, go.’ She hurried down the stairs. As soon as she left, I said to myself, * What a foolish thing have I done! Did I say to her: Go !1 Never before did I say such a thing to anybody. And, alas, she never came back.2 I do not know why such words came out of my mouth.”
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I went to the Udbodhan Office in the evening. The Mother was lying in bed. Radhu also was lying by her side on another mat and was pressing her to tell a story. The Mother requested me to tell one instead. I was in a quandary. I did not know what to say. I knew the story of Mirabai, the great Vaishnava saint. I narrated it. As I recited the song of Mirabai which ends in the line, ” God cannot be realized without love “, the Mother cried out in an exalted mood, ” Yes, it is very true. Nothing can be achieved without sincere love.” But Radhu did not appreciate the story very much. Sarala at last came to my rescue. She told a story from the fairy tales. That pleased Radhu. The Holy Mother was very fond of Sarala. She had to nurse Golap-Ma
1 The Indian custom is that anyone taking leave should be told, ” Come again/’ It is very inauspicious to say ‘ Go ‘ to anybody.
2 She passed away that very night.
who was ill, and so left the room after a while. Then Radhu asked me to massage her feet, but she was not pleased with my doing and requested me to give her a harder massage. The Mother said, ” Sri Rama-krishna taught me the art of massaging by massaging my own body. Let me see your hand.” I stretched out my hand towards her. She showed me how to massage. Radhu fell asleep very soon. The Mother said, ” The mosquitoes are biting my feet. Please pass your hand gently over them.” She was quiet for a while and then said, ” This year is a very bad one for the Belur Math. Baburam, Devavrata and Sachin have passed away.”
I had heard that Swami Brahmananda had seen disembodied spirits in the Udbodhan Office a few days before the death of Devavrata Maharaj. I asked her about the incident. The Mother said, ” Please talk softly, my child ; otherwise they will be frightened. Sri Ramakrishna also often saw many such spirits. One day he had been to the garden house of Benipal with Rakhal (Swami Brahmananda). He was strolling in the garden when a spirit came to him and said, ‘ Why diu you come here ? We are being scorched. We cannot endure your presence. Leave this place at once.1 How could it stand his purity and blazing holiness ? He left the place with a smile. He did not disclose it to anybody.
” Immediately after supper he asked someone to call for a carriage, though it had been previously arranged that he would spend the night there. A carriage was brought and he returned to Dakshi-neswar that very night. I heard the sound of the wheels near the gate. I strained my ears and heard Sri Ramakrishna speaking with Rakhal. I was startled. I thought, ‘ I do not know if he has taken his supper. If not, where can I get any food from at this dead of night ? ‘ I always used to keep something in the store for him, at least farina. He would ask for food at odd hours. I was quite sure of his not coming back that night and so my store was empty. All the gates of the temple-garden were barred and locked. It was one o’clock in the morning. He clapped his hands and began to repeat the names of God. The entrance gate was opened. I was thinking anxiously what to do about his food in case he was hungry. He shouted to me, ‘ Don’t be anxious about my food. I have finished my supper.’ Then he narrated to Rakhal the story of the ghost. Rakhal was startled and said, 1 Dear me! It was really wise of you not to have told me about it at that time. Otherwise my teeth would have been set on edge through fear. Even now I am seized with fear.’ ” The Mother ended the story with a hearty laugh.
Devotee: Mother, those spirits must have been foolish. Instead of asking him for their liberation, they told him to go away.
Mother: They will, no doubt, be liberated. His presence cannot be in vain. Once Naren (Swami Vivekananda) liberated a disembodied spirit in Madras.
I narrated one of my dreams to the Mother. I said, ” Mother, I once dreamt that I was going to some place with my husband. We came to a river, the other bank of which could not be seen. We were going by the shady track along the river when a golden creeper so entwined my arms that I could not free them from it. From the other side of the river came a dark-complexioned boy with a ferry-boat. He said, ‘ Cut off the creeper from your arm and then only will I take you across the river/ I cut off almost the whole creeper but the last bit I could not get rid of. In the meantime my husband also disappeared. In despair I said to the boy, 1 cannot get rid of this bit. You must take me to the other side/ With these words I jumped into the boat. It sailed and my dream vanished/’