IN the following pages is published for the first time an English translation of the conversations of Sri Sarada Devi, the consort of Sri Ramakrishna, known among the thousands of devotees of the great Master as the Holy Mother. It is an almost literal translation 1 of a book published in Bengali in two volumes by Swami Arupananda, who served the Holy Mother for many years as her personal attendant. The contents consist of the diaries and reports of her disciples, with omissions of those portions which would probably be of little interest to uninitiated readers.
The translation was begun about six years ago at the request of an American student who wanted to know of the daily activities of a Hindu woman who has had a tremendous influence over the spiritual lives of hundreds of Sannyasins of the Ramakrishna Order. Gradually other students, after reading the manuscripts, began to evince the same keen interest in the unique and exalted life of Sri Sarada Devi. They, too, were impressed by the simple and artless
1 The conversations as published here are considerably abridged. Our plan of abridgement is given in the Preface to the whole book. – Publisher.
life of a woman who transformed her worldly actions into devotional worship, who saw the Divine in the drudgery of uninteresting, duties, who showed a mother’s solicitude for the welfare of all who sought her unfailing help in their inner development, and who drew all close to her by the magnet of her unsullied purity and by love that never sought reward.
The Holy Mother was created by Sri Ramakrishna as the last word in the perfection of Hindu womanhood. Born in the quiet atmosphere of a peaceful village of Bengal, and brought up among simple country folk who did not know any of the arts of modern civilization, she was recognized during her lifetime as the 1 First Lady ‘ of India. People from all strata of society visited her and felt blessed. She travelled widely and met men and women with whom the exchange of ideas through spoken words was an impossibility; yet they accepted her as the Guru, who teaches more by silent influence than by word. And she was a Guru of no ordinary type. Her daily life was an unceasing performance of duties not only towards her numerous disciples, but towards her relatives as well, who tried their utmost to make her life unpleasant. One such relative for example, was Radhu, a niece of undeveloped mind, whom, with all her failings, the Holy Mother humbly accepted as a beneficent gift of God. In the midst of all these trials and tribulations and even while being subjected to the discomforts of physical maladies, one sees her unfailingly established in a state of serenity and cheerfulness which demonstrated constant communion with an inner bliss.
During the years of her spiritual ministration, the Holy Mother could show so much naturalness and ease, strength and wisdom, because these were preceded by years of austere spiritual disciplines, both in the lifetime of Sri Ramakrishna and after his passing away. The Master was, to her, God-incarnate.
The conversations of the Holy Mother will be a revelation to readers in India and in the West alike. To the Indian woman her life will be a pointer in her present march to a higher position in society. She will learn that India has always respected woman as the manifestation of the Divine Sakti, and that the secret of her power lies in looking upon all men born of the wombs of women as her own children, whose highest homage is to recognize her divinity.
The Western woman will learn from the contemplation of the Holy Mother’s life, that to be the equal of man, or to command his respect, she does not have to imitate man’s adventure or to enter into a fierce competition with him in all fields of life. For certain pleasing qualities are innate in a woman; they are her divine heritage. Sweetness does not denote lack of courage, nor simplicity lack of wisdom. She bears a cross, as also a true man does, for the redemption of all. A man or a woman by the fulfilment of his or her respective duties attains to the highest perfection. All avenues of life open upon the infinite horizon of the Divine.
The translator is grateful to Miss Dorothy Kruger and Mrs. Elizabeth Davidson for the typing of the manuscripts and also for helping him in other ways in the preparation of this translation.
New York, U.S.A.
February 14, 1939