The place of mind in spiritual development
One should accept the Mantra from a Guru atleast for the purification of body. The Vaishnava, after initiating the disciple, says to him,” Now all depends upon your mind.” It is said, ” The human teacher utters the Mantra into the ear; but God breathes the spirit into the soul.” Everything depends upon one’s mind. Nothing can be achieved without purity of mind. It is said, ” The aspirant may have received the grace of the Guru, the Lord and the Vaishnava ; but he comes to grief without the grace of ‘ one That ‘ one ‘ is the mind. The mind of the aspirant should be gracious to him.
Continuing, the Holy Mother said, ” When the Master passed away, I also wanted to leave my body. He appeared before me and said, ‘ No, you must remain here. There are many things to be done. I myself realized later on that this was true ; I had so many things to do. The Master used to say, ‘ The people of Calcutta live like worms swarming in darkness. You will guide them.’ He said that he would live for three hundred years, in a subtle body, in the hearts of the devotees. He further said that he would have many devotees among white people.
“After the passing away of the Master, I was at first greatly frightened, for I used to put on a Sari with thin red borders and wear gold bangles on my wrist, which made me afraid of people’s criticism.1 Gradually I got rid of that fear. One day the Master appeared before me and asked me to feed him with Khichuri. I cooked the dish and offered it before Raghuvir 2 in the temple. Then I mentally fed the Master with it. .
About herself she said, ‘ Balaram Babu used to refer to me as the ‘ great ascetic, the embodiment of forbearance Can you call him a man who is devoid of compassion ? He is a veritable beast. Sometimes I forget myself in compassion. Then I do not remember who I am.”
Finally the Holy Mother said to me, ” I feel very free with you. See me in Calcutta and stay with me.”
At that time I lived in the world with my people, though I had been cherishing an intense desire to embrace the monastic life. I said to myself, ” Perhaps in future it will be possible for me, through her grace, to be a monk and live near her.”
1 Hindu widows, according to traditional custom, are required to put on a white Sari without any border and to give up all ornaments. The Mother at first wanted to follow this custom of Hindu widows, but Sri Ramakrishna appeared in a vision and told her not to do so as he was not really dead.
2 The tutelary Deity of Sri Ramakrishna’s family at Kamar-pukur.
When I was in Jayrambati, Radhu’s mother Surabala, was mentally deranged. She had taken to her father’s house all the jewelleries of her daughter Radhu. Taking advantage of her insane condition, her father snatched away those jewelleries. That made her even more distracted. On her return to Jayrambati, Radhu’s mother wept in the temple of Simhavahini, praying for the jewelleries. It was dusk. I was talking to the Holy Mother in her room when suddenly she said to me, ” My child, I must go now. That crazy sister-in-law of mine has none else to call her own but myself. She is weeping before the Deity for the jewelleries.” With these words, the Mother left the room. But I could not hear any sound of weeping, nor was it possible to do so at such a distance ; yet she had recognized the voice. She returned with Radhu’s mother. The latter said to her, ” O sister-in-law, you have put away my jewelleries. You have deprived me of them.” The Mother said, “Had these ornaments belonged to me, then I would have thrown them away at once like the filth of a crow.” Referring to Radhu’s mother, she said to me, laughing, ” Girish used to say that she was my mad companion.”
At first I used to hesitate to address the Holy Mother as Mother My own mother had died during my childhood. One morning the Holy Mother sent me to a certain person on an errand. As I was about to leave, she asked me, ” What will you say to him ? ” I said, Why ? I shall say to him, She asked me to tell you, etc. ‘ ‘ No, my child,” said the Holy Mother, ” tell him, ‘The Mother asked me to tell you. ” She emphasized the word ‘ Mother’ One morning I was reading aloud to the Mother and several devotees on the porch of her room. I was reading a life of Sri Ramakrishna entitled Ramakrishna Punthi written in verse. In the chapter on her marriage with Sri Ramakrishna, the author eulogized her greatly and referred to her as the Mother of the Universe . As I read that passage, the Mother left the porch. A few minutes earlier I had read to her some pages from the Udhodhan, in which had been published a portion of the Kathamrita by M. No one else was present then. I had been reading the following passage :
Girish : I have a desire.
Master : What is it ?
Girish : I want love of God for the sake of love.
Master: That kind of love is possible only for the Isvara-kotis. Ordinary men cannot achieve it.
I asked the Holy Mother, ‘ What does the Master mean by that ? “
Mother: The Isvarakotis have all their desires fulfilled in God (Purna-Kama). Therefore they have no worldly desires. Love for the sake of divine love is not possible so long as a man has any desire.
Disciple: Mother, do your own brothers belong to the same level as these Isvarakotis ?
I thought that as they were her brothers, they must have the same spiritual capacities as the monastic disciples of Sri Ramakrishna. At this the Mother simply looked scornfully, as if she were going to say, ” What a comparison ! What can one achieve by simply being my brother? To be the intimate disciple of the Master is quite a different thing! “
One morning, the Holy Mother was assisting in husking paddy. It was almost her daily job. I asked her, ” Mother, why should you work so hard ? ” ” My child,” said she in reply, ” I have done much more than is necessary to make my life a model.”
One night, all were asleep in the house of the Holy Mother when the husband of Nalini, a niece of the Holy Mother, arrived there unexpectedly with a bullock cart to take Nalini to his house. Nalini had returned from her husband’s place and did not want to go back. Hearing of her husband’s intention, Nalini shut the door of her room and threatened suicide if her husband forced her to go Backwith him. The Holy Mother, however, assured her that she would not have to go Backwith her husband and she opened the room. There was confusion in the family for the whole night and the Holy Mother sat through the night on the porch of Nalini’s room. She put out the lamp at dawn and repeated to herself, ” Ganga, Gita, Gayatri, Bhagavata, Bhakta, Bhagavan, Ramakrishna!”
One day the Holy Mother sent me with an old servant of the family to Pagli’s (the mad sister-in-law’s) father to persuade him either to come to Jayrambati or to return the ornaments he had taken from his daughter. After a great deal of persuasion he accompanied us but did not bring the ornaments with him. The Mother begged him to return them and thus free Pagli from her mental agony ; but the greedy Brahmin turned a deaf ear to her request.
I intended to return home on the day before the Sivaratri, as I wanted to attend the Sri Ramakrisbna’s birthday celebration at Belur Math, which came off two days after the Sivaratri. I told the Mother about it. She asked me to go to Kamarpukur first. I had left home with a great yearning to see the Holy Mother alone, and in my eagerness I had forgotten to take my umbrella or an extra piece of cloth. At the request of the Mother, I agreed to visit the birth-place of the Master. She gave me a fresh piece of cloth to put on, and asked me to take it with me.
Mother : Have you any money with you ? You will require carriage hire. Take the money from me.
Disciple : I have money with me. I have not to take it from you.
Mother : Write to me after you reach home. Ah, I could not feed my son properly. I could not prepare anything good for him. This was because at that time there was great confusion in the family on account of Nalini and Pagli.
I prostrated myself before her and set out with tears in my eyes. The Holy Mother accompanied us for some distance and then watched us till we disappeared. I could not refrain from weeping out of devotion for her till I had reached Kamarpukur.
After my arrival at Kamarpukur, I was shown the room where the Holy Mother had lived. There I saw a picture of the Mother, which made me still more restless to see her again. Next day M.1 and Prabodh Babu went to Jayrambati via Kamarpukur, halting at the latter place for a few hours. In the evening, Lalit Babu, a disciple of the Mother, arrived there, dressed in turban, trousers and long toga. He was on his way to Jayrambati. As it would be difficult for me to go from Jayrambati to Calcutta alone, some devotees suggested that I might revisit Jayrambati and go to Calcutta in the company of Lalit Babu. So I went with him to Jayrambati once again, and said to the Mother, ” I am here again.” The Mother was greatly pleased and said, That’s very good. You can go to Calcutta with Lalit.”
After the Sivaratri festival was over, the devotees sat down for their meal. They were served some Prasada on leaf-plates. I asked them what it was. They said that it was the Prasada of the Holy Mother. I also partook of it. Later on, I said to the Mother, They all enjoyed your Prasada. But you never offered it to me.” ” My child,” said the Mother, you never asked for it. How could I suggest it ? ” What great humility ! – I thought.
1 Mahendra Nath Gupta, the author of the Kathamrita or The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna.
The next day, Lalit Babu was sent in a palanquin to get Radhu’s ornaments from her grandfather Lalit posed as a Government official and carried a letter with him supposed to have been written by a high police officer of Calcutta. The Holy Mother asked M. to accompany Lalit Babu lest the latter, a young man, should use insulting language when speaking to the old Brahmin. However, he succeeded in bringing Radhu’s grandfather with the ornaments to Jayrambati in the afternoon. At about two o’clock in the morning, we heard that the Mother was spending a sleepless night. She was feeling nervous, M. and I entered the inner apartments. While all were looking for medicines, I asked the Mother the cause of her ailment. She said, ” After they had left to fetch the ornaments, I felt worried and feared that they might insult the old Brahmin. That made me nervous.” I was amazed to see the compassion of the Mother for the Brahmin who was at the root of all these troubles.
The next afternoon I left with the party for Calcutta. The Mother had told Lalit Babu about me, He is very devoted to Qod. Please take him with you.” We all prostrated ourselves before the Mother, Her eyes became filled with tears. She was moved to tears as she accompanied us to the outer gate of the house. At Vishnupur, on our way to Calcutta, M., Prabodh Babu and others visited the shrine of Mrinmayi, an aspect of the Divine Mother. But Lalit Babu and I directly went to the Railway Station and boarded the train. M. sent Prabodh Babu to request us also to visit the shrine, but we did not care to see Mrinmayi (lit. made of earth) as we had seen Chinmayi (a living Goddess). I arrived at the Belur Math and after witnessing Sri Ramakrishna’s birthday festival, returned home.