11. The Mother’s Way of Life
In the course of conversations, we have heard from Bhanupisi that the Mother liked Chhola-Patali, a sweet made with molasses and gram, in the winter. Like Amrul Shak (a kind of spinach) she liked Gandal (the leaf of a creeper), too. The Master had a weak stomach and so the Mother would often make Gandal soup and Dalna (a sort of curry) for him. On Tuesdays the Master used to take some ‘baked’ preparations.
When we start an establishment or an Ashrama for serving the masses, we procure all kinds of equipment, furniture etc., and try to create some stir to attract people. But the Holy Mother’s way of life was such that her place fulfilled the purposes of worship, a school, an Ashrama for looking after the needy and the destitute, and a hospital for the sick, all in one. Those who were fortunate to be near the Mother to have her Darsan and talk to her, were strongly impressed by the Mother’s constant remembrance of the Lord, her entire dependence on Him under all circumstances, and her unique faith and devotion to Him There was no special room or chapel for the Master wherever the Mother was. He would be there with her. At Jayrambati, his place was in a niche in the mud wall. Getting up from her sleep, she would have the Darsan of the Master, have her morning ablutions and then sit for Japa and Dhyana. She would then perform her daily chores of the household – cut the vegetables for cooking, have her bath and worship, arrange for the cooking, prepare the betel rolls, offer ‘Bhoga’ to the Master, see that the Prasada was distributed as lunch to the inmates, and then take her share of it as food. She then had some rest. In the afternoon she would receive the devotees and others collected there and talk to them, and enquire about the welfare of the neighbours. At dusk she would offer light and incense to the Master and meditate for some time. Then at night she would offer Bhoga, take the Prasada and then go to sleep. Over and above these, she would serve the guests, relations, Sadhus and devotees. She showed no aversion or negligence towards any work of the household. Everything was for the Master. The household was entirely the Master’s own and so everything was done for him. She was living only through his direction. He was the Lord and she was just a maid-servant in his household. The only aim of her living in her body was to serve him and please him
From Sadhus of the highest spiritual eminence, to people steeped in worldliness and entangled in all kinds of worldly situations – all came to her with their questions and problems. Among them were the erudite and the ignorant, men and women, the rich and the poor, and the young and the old. The Mother would listen to everybody with the same minute attention, and would answer each one of them in such a simple and straightforward way, that each would be perfectly satisfied and all doubts would disappear. Knotty problems like the truths about Brahman, about spiritual practices, about household affairs, about conditions of the health of the body and the mind, would all be brought to her by seekers from various walks of life. As their very mother she would bestow loving attention on them and guide each one of them along the right path. The Mother was always approachable to the poor and the lowly, to the sick and the destitute, and they invariably got help and consolation from her. Though it was not possible for her to remove all their worldly wants, still the Mother brought a glow of joy and hope into their sorrowful countenance. The sweet words that came out of her lips, the loving glance of her eyes, and the sympathy that flowed from the very core of her heart, would remove the sorrow of the sufferer. Along with the handful of food, the Mother would give to the needy very valuable advice too. She advised them to keep their faith and devotion intact under all conditions. They were instructed to bear all sufferings as the outcome of their own Karma. She gave them the hope that they would get peace and happiness by the grace of the Lord. Thus, in her company a ray of hope dawned in the heart of the hopeless. Many of her devotees would present to her many things like fruits, sweets, clothes, medicines etc. The Mother would distribute them unstintedly amongst the needy as the occasion demanded. Thus it was that, along with her neighbours, there would be found at her door needy people even from distant lands.
We have already mentioned that the Mother considered the cooks, the bearers, the cartmen etc., as her own sons and treated them with great love, never failing to give them snacks whenever they came to her. The poor women of the locality often had no oil to apply on their head and so their hair would be stiff as hemp. If perchance they came to the mother’s house for some purpose, the Mother would give a good quantity of oil for them to take an oil bath and a heavy snack of puffed rice and molasses.
Was the Mother’s running of her household in this way the same as what the Master described as entering into the life of the world with the knowledge of
Advaita tied to the hem of one’s cloth?
Anybody who had the good fortune of being with the Mother for any length of time, would have witnessed how she did all her work untiringly and lived in the world without any self-centredness and external compulsions. The only compulsion she felt was the desire to relieve the sufferings of all. We have already narrated many instances depicting the Mother as an ideal Karma Yogin. We shall cite a few more incidents revealing this aspect of her character.