Reminiscences of Sri Ramakrishna
Mother: Once when Sri Ramakrishna was lying ill at Cossipore, a few devotees brought some offerings for Mother Kali of Dakshineswar temple. On hearing that the Master was at Cossipore, they offered all the things they had brought before a picture of the Master , and then partook of the Prasada. On hearing about this Sri Ramakrishna remarked, ” All these things were brought for the great Mother of the Universe. And they have offered them all here (meaning himself)!” I was frightened very much at this and thought, ” He is suffering from this dangerous disease. Who knows
1 This incident happened at Dakshineswar. Some devotees brought different kinds of sweets for offering to Mother Kali. But instead of offering them to Mother Kali at the temple, they offered them before a picture of the Master.
what might happen ? ” What a calamity ! Why did they do it ? 1
The Master too was referring to this incident again and again. Afterwards at a late hour in the night he said to me, ” You will see how in course of time I will be worshipped in every house. You will see everyone accepting this (meaning himself). This is surely going to happen.” This was the only day I heard him using the first personal pronoun with reference to himself. Usually he would speak of himself not as ‘I’ or ‘me’ but as ‘case’ or as ‘ belonging to this’, pointing to his body.
After the Master’s passing there was a quarrel as to who should get possession of some of the valuable things like his woollen wrapper, shawl and other garments. After all it is the devotees who would look upon them as invaluable possessions and preserve them for all time. And it was they who finally gathered them in a box and kept them in the drawingroom of Balaram Babu’s house. But, O my daughter, who knew the Master’s will! In Balaram Babu’s house a servant stole away most of the things and either sold them or disposed of them in some other way. It was not proper to keep such things in the drawing-room of a house. They ought to have been kept in the inner apartments of the house. What was left of those garments and other things of the Master, is now being preserved at the Belur Math.
My father-in-law (i.e. Sri Ramakrishna’s father) was a pious and spirited Brahmin. He never received gifts from anyone. He even prohibited his people from accepting any gift brought to his house in his absence. But as regards my mother-in-law, if anyone made a private gift to her, she would accept it, cook it, offer it to the Deity, and then give it to others as Prasada. My father-in-law used to get angry if he happened to know it. He possessed a burning devotion. That was why the Master was born in his family.
A woman named Hari Dasi wanted to go on a pilgrimage to Navadvip. She did not, however, actually reach there, but stopped at Kamarpukur. She loved me very much. She was a woman of great faith. She kept with her some dust gathered from the Master’s birth-place and would remark, ” This is itself my Navadvip. Gauranga himself was born here. Why should I then go to Navadvip ! ” What a tremendous faith !
After the Master’s passing, a Sadhu, hailing from Orissa, was staying at Kamarpukur. I used to give him rice, pulses and other necessaries. I used to visit him both morning and evening and ask, ” Revered sir, how do you do ? ” Ah, with what great difficulty I built a thatched hut for him! Every day the sky would be overcast with clouds, and it would seem as if it were going to rain just then. I would therefore pray with folded hands, ” O Lord, wait a while, wait a while. Let me finish the cottage, and then let it rain in torrents if necessary. ” The people of the village helped me in the work by giving timber, straw and other necessary materials. Somehow the cottage was completed, but unfortunately it so happened that a few days after, the Sadhu passed away in that cottage.
Sri Ramakrishna used to say that his body had come from Gaya. When his mother passed away, he asked me to offer Pindam (funeral cakes) at Gaya. I replied I was not entitled to perform those rites when the son himself was alive. The Master replied, ” No, no, you are entitled to do it. Under no circumstances can I go to Gaya. If I go, do you think it will be possible for me to return 2 ? ” So I did not want him to go there. And later on I performed the rites at Gaya.
28th September, 1918
It was morning when I went to the Udbodhan office. The Holy Mother was peeling fruits for worship. As soon as her eyes fell on me, she said, I am so glad to see you here. It is the day of the Bodhan.1 (I had entirely forgotten about it.) Please arrange these flowers for the worship of Sri Rama-krishna, and keep the fruit tray on this side.” I obeyed her orders. I then combed her hair. While combing, a number of her hairs came out. The Mother said, ” Here they are ! Preserve these.” I felt myself really blessed. I had a strong desire for some of her hairs.
Shyamadas Kaviraj, the celebrated physician, came to examine Radhu. When the examination was over, the Mother asked Radhu to bow before the physician. Radhu did as she was asked. After the physician had left the place, someone inquired, ” Is the physician a Brahmin ? “
Mother: No, he is a Vaidya.
Devotee: Why, then, did you ask Radhu to bow down before him ?
Mother: Why should I not do so ? The physician is so full of wisdom. He is equal to a Brahmin. To whom should one bow down if not before him ? What do you say, my child ?
30th September, 1918
It was the sacred day of the Mahashtami.2 My sister and I arrived at the Udbodhan Office early in the morning. After a while, a few women devotees brought some flowers. They worshipped the Holy
1 The day previous to the commencement of the Hindu festival, the Durga Puja.
2 The second day of the Durga Puja which is considered very auspicious by the Hindus.
Mother and went to the Ganges for their bath. The Mother asked me, ” Will you stay here today ? It is the day of the Mahashtami, the second day of the Durga Puja.” I answered in the affirmative. A few moments later, revered Sarat Maharaj (Swami Sara-dananda) came there to salute the Mother. We retired into the next room. The Mother was seated on her bed, with her feet resting on the ground. Many devotees came and bowed before her.
Later on, we went to take our bath in the Ganges in the company of Maku and other women devotees. The Mother said she would finish her bath at homer as rheumatism prevented her from bathing in the Ganges every day. Afcer returning we saw many women devotees worshipping the Holy Mother. Many of them brought new cloths as offerings. After the worship, they wrapped the body of the Mother with the cloths, as they do with the image of Kali at Kalighat. Then she laid the cloths aside, one by one. To some devotees the Mother would say, “It is a nice piece of cloth.”
A Brahmacharin came to the room and said that the men devotees would come now to bow down before the Mother. What an impressive sight! With flowers, full-blown lotuses and bel leaves in their hands, they came there one by one, and after worship and salutation, went away. Some time passed in this manner. The members of Balaram’s family came and worshipped the Holy Mother. I was the last to go to her. After the worship I wrapped her body with a cloth, when she said suddenly, ” I will wear this cloth, as today I must put on a new one.” She at once put on the cloth given by me. This brought tears in my eyes. After all, it was an ordinary piece of cloth. There were so many costly cloths around her. I was the poor daughter of the Mother. Her excessive affection for me made me bashful. The Mother said, ” What a fine border this cloth has ! “
A woman dressed in an ochre robe worshipped Mother and placed two rupees near her feet. The Mother said, ” Goodness ! Why should you do that ? You have just put on the ochre robe. You have Rudraksha beads on your arm.” The Mother asked her about her spiritual teacher. In reply the woman said that she had not been initiated. ” Without initiation,” said the Mother, ” and without any spiritual realization, you have put on this sacred robe. This is not proper for you. The robe you have put on is very holy. I was about to salute you with folded hands. All will bow down at your feet. You must acquire the power to assimilate the honour.” The woman said, ” I have a desire to be initiated by you.”
Mother: How is it possible !
But the woman insisted. Golap-Ma supported her. The Mother seemed to yield a little. She said, ” We shall think about it.”
Gauri-Ma came with the girls of her Ashrama. They all worshipped the Mother, took Prasada, and went away.
After finishing the worship in the shrine room, Bilas Maharaj came there and whispered to the Holy Mother, ” I do not know, Mother, if Sri Rama-krishna has accepted the food-offering to-day. An impure leaf, carried by the wind, dropped on the food. Why was it so? Many devotees brought offerings from home. I do not know what has happened.” The Mother asked if he had sprinkled the water of the Ganges over the food. He answered in the affirmative and went away. I felt troubled in mind to hear of this.
The worship of the Holy Mother went on in the same way. No sooner had one heap of flowers and bel leaves been removed, than a fresh pile was formed near her feet.