24. The Mother’s Universal Love – Seventh Instance, of the Boy Govinda
In this connection, I am reminded of the destitute boy Govinda, who was engaged at the Mother’s place to look after the cows. After the new house of the Mother was built, a devotee’s attention was drawn to the scarcity of milk for the Mother’s needs. With the money contributed by the devotee, Sri Surendranath Gupta (Brahmachari Jnanananda) bought a couple of good milch cows for the purpose. Though living in the world, the Mother was a Sannvasini at heart and was averse to increasing her wants. She never even wanted that a new house should be built for her, and was content to live in the houses of her brothers. In the beginning, when she came to her native place, she used to stay at the house of Prasanna Mukherji, the eldest of her brothers. It was here that the worship of the Goddess Jagaddhatri used to be performed. We have heard that when
Swami Brahmananda came to see the Mother, he stayed in that house, and had sung and danced there in great joy. The brothers of the Mother, all called ‘Mamas’ or ‘Uncles’ by devotees, decided later to live in separate houses. Kali-Mama, a younger brother of the Holy Mother, got a nice house with a Baithak-khana (drawing room) built for himself with the Mother’s help. From that time, it was there that the Jagaddhatri Puja came to be celebrated, and the householder devotees and guests accommodated. The number of these devotee children of hers was increasing, and it was therefore becoming more and more inconvenient for the Mother to live with the eldest brother Prasanna. So, with the approval of Swami Saradananda and with the permission and blessing of the Mother herself, the devotees built a new house of four rooms for her on a small plot of land donated by her brothers. It was a cottage with mud walls and a thatched roof The expenses were borne mainly by ‘M’ (Mahendra Nath Gupta), the author of the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. Sri Bibhuti Babu supervised the construction But as he lived in Bankura and was in service, it was not possible for him to be always present there. So the construction work was not proceeding satisfactorily for want of supervision.
In the meantime Rashbehari Maharaj and Hemendra Maharaj came
from Calcutta with the various things required for the celebration of the Mother’s birthday. It was through the untiring zeal of these two that the construction of the house was completed. The plan of the house was made by the Head of the Koalpara. Ashrama, Sri Kedarnath, who was a faithful and experienced child of the Mother. The house-warming ceremony was performed with great enthusiasm The devotees had taken care to equip it with everything needed to make the Mother’s life comfortable. But still she did not like to leave uncle Prasanna’s house, probably because it was at a solitary spot far away in the interior of the lane, unlike the new house facing the public road. But soon she changed her mind and in deference to the prayers of the devotees and due to certain other circumstances, shifted her residence to the new house.
It was now time for Rashbehari Maharaj to go Backto Calcutta. So the problem arose as to who would look after the Mother in his absence. Jnanananda now came handily to their rescue. He used to come often to Jayrambati, carrying things required by the Mother from Nabasan. In those days the police suspected that some of the circle of the Mother’s young devotees had connections with the revolutionary party. Jnanananda, being one such under suspicion, was taken into police custody, and he was no longer able to serve the Mother. So long as Jnanananda was available, he used to take great care of the cows, and the Mother had no worry on that account. With the help of Suren Babu,* he had made arrangements for the care of the cows even when he had to be away from the place. He had also built a shed for the cows. Now his absence after he was taken into police custody caused much worry to the Mother on account of the cows, and she would sometimes say, “Jnan has added to our problems by bringing in the cows.”
It was under these circumstances that the aforesaid boy Govinda was engaged to look after the cows. He did the work well, and the Mother had much
relief. Being an orphan from childhood, the boy had to grow up under very difficult circumstances. His emaciated form bore ample evidence of it all. Through the offices of a distant relative of his, he now got employed as a cowboy in the Mother’s household. Though his pay was small, he was well fed and clothed. Besides, he got some chances of education too in the night school organised in the village for the benefit of illiterate people, both young and old. The boy, however, did not show much interest in these efforts to educate him, but liked his work of cow-keeping, and did it very well. He was about ten years old and lived very happily, enjoying the affection of the Mother and all others in the household. He was now affected by some kind of persistent itch Though given medical treatment, his condition did not show any improvement. Still he continued to attend to his work.
As itch is not considered a major ailment, neither the boy nor the others then paid much attention to it, beyond trying the common traditional recipes. But it took a serious turn one night. It became so painful that Govinda began to cry aloud at night. The itch had also affected his private parts, a fact he had not revealed to any one till now because of bashfulness. The intensity of pain made him absolutely disconsolate. Very early in the morning it was found that the Mother had summoned him to her house and taken steps to alleviate his pain She herself made a paste of margosa leaves and turmeric, both of which are antiseptics, and gave that paste for application little by little to Govinda’s hands. She taught him how to apply it to his affected parts. The boy’s face began to beam at this act of loving kindness on the part of the Mother. The Mother had spent a sleepless night hearing the piteous cries of this child of hers, and so made it her first duty in the morning to do something to give him relief. The application and the Mother’s kindness brought much relief to the boy. Looking at their faces and hearing their conversation, none could feel that they were not mother and son. “Seeing everywhere, everything, as one’s own Atman”; “To make others one’s very own” – it was to teach these lessons that Thou took embodiment, O Mother!