01: Recorded by Yogin-Ma
Yogindra Mohini Biswas, a disciple of the Great Master, and a life-long companion of the Holy Mother.
SOME days after I had been introduced to Sri Ramakrishna, I paid a visit to Dakshineswar. Learning that, being in a hurry, I had not taken my meal, the Master said, “Ah! You haven’t taken your food. Go to the Nahabat and take rice and curry.” There at the Nahabat I saw the Holy Mother for the first time. Rama’s mother and others had been there once or twice before. At the Nahabat they told the Mother that I had not taken my meal. The Mother promptly served me rice, curry, luchi, and whatever else she had in stock. Even at this, my first meeting with the Holy Mother, I became quite intimate with her. The next time I went to Dakshineswar I found that the Mother was going on a trip to Kamarpukur that very day to attend Ramlal-Dada’s marriage. I felt very sad at the thought that I would not see her for many days. The Mother came to salute the Master before leaving on the journey. The Master came to the northern verandah when the Mother took the dust of his feet. The Master said, “Move cautiously. See that you don’t leave behind any of your belongings in the boat or railway compartment.” I had had the desire to see them together, and that day my desire was fulfilled. The Mother left by boat. As long as it could be seen, I stood gazing at the boat. As soon as the boat was out of sight, I went to the spot in the Nahabat where the Mother used to meditate, and wept bitterly. I sat for meditation facing south on the western verandah. While passing by the Nahabat the Master heard me sobbing and sent for me. When I went to his room, he said, “Have you been deeply grieved at her departure?” Then to console me, as it were, he began to recount the spiritual disciplines he had practised at Dakshineswar. He concluded, saying, ”Don’t divulge these to anyone.” I, a mere housewife, was shy, but on that day I sat quite close to the Master and talked with him. The Mother returned to Dakshineswar after about a year and a half. The Master had written to her, “I am having difficulties regarding my food.” On her return the Master said to her, “That girl with big, beautiful eyes loves you dearly. The day you left she wept bitterly, sitting in the Nahabat.” The Mother said, “Yes, her name is Yogin.”
Whenever I went to Dakshineswar, the Mother used to tell me all that had happened. She sought my advice. I used to braid her hair. She liked so much the way I braided it that she would not undo it at the time of bathing, even after three or four days. She used to say, “No, Yogin braided my hair; f shall unbraid it on the day she comes next.” I used to visit the Master every seven or eight days. I would take Bilva leaves from Dakshineswar for worshipping Siva at home. I used to worship Siva with those leaves even when they got dried up. One day the Mother asked, “Yogin, do you worship using dried Bilva leaves?”
Yogin-Ma: Yes, Mother, but how did you know?
Mother: During my meditation this morning I saw you worshipping with dried Bilva leaves.)
One day the Mother was preparing rolls of betel leaf in the Nahabat and I was sitting by her side. I noticed that she prepared some rolls with cardamom and a few others with simply betel and lime. I asked, “Why didn’t you add cardamom to these? For whom are these meant and for whom are those?” The Mother replied, “Yogin, these (specially spiced betel rolls) are meant for the devotees; by taking good care of them I have to make them my own. And these (the ones without cardamom) are for the Master; he is already my own.”
The Mother had a good musical voice. One night she and Lakshmi-Didi were singing in a low tone. It was very resonant and reached the ear of the Master. The next day he said, “Yesterday you were singing. That’s good, very good.”
During her stay at Dakshineswar, the Mother couldn’t find even a little time for rest. For the devotees who came, she had to make Chapatis out of three to three and a half seers of coarse flour. How many rolls of betel leaves she had to prepare! Then she would boil down the milk meant for the Master; for he was fond of cream. Then soup had to be prepared for him. He used to take his food at the Nahabat as long as his mother lived. After her death, however, he used to dine in his living room. On the days male disciples were not present, the Mother would rub the Master’s body with oil before his bath. The Master asked Golap-Didi one day to bring his meals to his room. From that day Golap-Didi carried the Master’s meals everyday. Thus the Mother was deprived of her only opportunity of seeing the Master daily. Golap-Didi used to spend long hours in the evening with the Master, and some days she didn’t return to the Nahabat even by ten o’clock. The Mother had to keep an eye on Golap-Didi’s food on the verandah of the Nahabat and was, therefore, experiencing inconvenience. One day the Master heard her saying, “Let this food be eaten by a dog or a cat. I can’t look after it any more.” The next day the Master said to Golap-Didi, “You spend a long time here. That inconveniences her; for she has to keep watch over your food.” “No,” Golap-Didi said, “The Mother loves me very much and calls me by my first name, as if I were her own daughter.” Though Golap-Didi could not understand that the Mother was hurt because she was being prevented from coming to the Master, the latter could understand it.
One day Golap-Didi said to her, “Mother, Manmohan’s mother says, ‘The Master is a man of such great renunciation and yet, the Holy Mother wears ear-rings and other ornaments. Does it look well?'”
The next morning when I visited Dakshineswar, I noticed that the Mother had only a pair of gold bracelets on her wrists and had taken off all other ornaments. Surprised at this, I asked, “Mother, what’s this?” The Mother replied, “Golap said ….”
After much persuasion I succeeded in making her put on the ear-rings and one or two other ordinary ornaments. But she never again put on all the ornaments she had taken off, because just after this the Master fell ill.
When the Mother first came to Dakshineswar she didn’t understand much about household problems, and she didn’t experience trances either. Though she devotedly practised meditation and Japa every day, we didn’t hear of her going into Samadhi. Rather, she even became very frightened and worried at the sight of the Master’s Samadhi. For, I heard from her lips that during her first visit to Dakshineswar, the Master had asked her to stay with him at night. In those days the Master and the Mother slept in the same room. The Master used to occupy the larger bed and the Mother the small cot. The Mother would say, “The Master used to pass through spiritual trances and so I couldn’t sleep. Out of fright I used to keep almost inert, wondering all the time when the night would end. One day he showed no signs of coming back to the normal state. Then I became much worried and sent for Hriday through Kali’s mother (the maid-servant). Hriday came and repeated aloud the name of the Lord; this made him regain his consciousness. The next day, the Master taught me the particular Mantra I would have to utter at each kind of spiritual trance into which he entered.”
A few days after I had become acquainted with the Mother, she said to me, “Please tell him that I would like to experience a little of spiritual ecstasy. I don’t find him alone to speak about this matter myself.’
I thought it was quite all right that, since the request was from the Mother, I should convey it to the Master. The next morning when I went to his room the Master was seated alone on his bed. After saluting him I informed him of the Mother’s request. He listened without replying and became grave. When he was in such a serious mood, no one dared utter a word. So I left the room after sitting there quietly for a while. Returning to the Nahabat, I found the Mother seated for her daily worship. I opened the door a little and peeped in and found her laughing. Now she was laughing, and now weeping. Tears were streaming from her eyes. After a while she gradually became still. I knew she was in Samadhi. So I closed the door and came away. After a long while I again went to her room. She asked me, “Are you just returning from the Master’s room?” I said, “How is it, Mother, that you say you never experience high spiritual moods?” An abashed Mother began to smile.
After that incident I began to spend occasionally the nights with her at’ Dakshineswar. Although I wanted to sleep on a separate bed, she would never allow me. She would drag me to her side. One night somebody began to play on the flute. At the sound of the flute, the Mother entered into a high spiritual mood, and she laughed every now and then. With hesitation I sat on a corner of the bed for a long time. I thought that I, being a worldly person, should not touch her at that moment. After a long while the Mother came Backto the normal state.
One day, on the roof of Balaram Bose’s house, the Mother passed into Samadhi while she was meditating. After she regained external consciousness, she said, “I found that I had travelled to a far-away country. There everybody showed me great tenderness. My appearance became exceedingly beautiful. The Master, who was present, affectionately made me sit by his side. I can’t describe the joy I felt at that time. When I regained a little body-consciousness, I noticed my body lying nearby. Then I began to wonder, ‘How can I enter into that hideous corpse?’ I didn’t feel the least inclined to get into it once again. After a long while I persuaded myself to enter into it, and I regained my body-consciousness.”
One evening, on the roof of Nilambar Babu’s house, the Mother, Golap-Didi, and I were meditating side by side. When my meditation was over, I noticed that the Mother was still absorbed in meditation-motionless, in Samadhi. When after a long while she regained partial consciousness, she began to say, “Oh, Yogin, where are my hands, where are my feet?” So we began to press her hands and feet, saying, “Here are your feet, here are your hands.” But in spite of this, it took the Mother a long time to regain consciousness of her body,
One morning in Kalababu’s grove in Vrindaban, the Mother was meditating, when she became absorbed in Samadhi. All attempts to bring her mind down to the physical plane proved futile. I repeated the Lord’s name in her ears for a long time, but it produced no effect. At last Swami Yogananda came and repeated Sri Ramakrishna’s name, which brought her mind down to the semi-conscious plane. Then, just as the Master used to do on similar occasions, she said, “I will eat something.” Some sweets, water, and betel were placed before her, and she partook of a little of each, as the Master used to do towards the end of such periods of ecstasy. Even in taking the betel, she cut off its end in the manner of the Master. We were surprised to find that her manners, her way of taking food, and her general behaviour exactly resembled those of the Master. When she finally came down to the plane of physical consciousness, the Mother told us that the spirit of the Master had entered into her at that time. Swami Yogananda put to her some questions while she was in that mood, and she replied very much like the Master.
A few days after the passing away of the Master, the house-holder devotees like Ram Datta settled off the rent of the Cossipore Garden House and decided to give it up. The Mother was therefore taken to the residence of Balaram Babu. Soon after, the Mother went on a pilgrimage in the company of Yogen Maharaj, Kali Maharaj, Latu Maharaj, Lakshmi-Didi, and a few others. The party stopped at Varanasi, where they spent eight to ten days. Finally arriving at Vrindaban, the Mother resided at Kalababu’s grove for about a year. I had come to Vrindaban a few weeks before the demise of the Master. On meeting me at Vrindaban she clasped me to her bosom, crying in grief, “Oh, Yogin!”, and began to weep bitterly. After the death of the Master, this was my first meeting with her. At the beginning of her stay in Vrindaban, the Mother used to weep often. One day the Master appeared before her and said, “Well, why are you crying so much? Here I am. Where have I gone? It is just like going from one room to another.”
One day in Vrindaban the Mother saw a dead body being carried to the cremation ground, decked with flowers and to the accompaniment of devotional songs. On seeing the procession she said, “Look, how blessed this person is to die in holy Vrindaban! I also came here to die. Strangely enough I haven’t had the trace of even a fever. And yet how old I am! I have seen such elderly persons as my father and my husband’s elder brother!” At this we laughed and said, “Indeed, you saw your father! Who does not see one’s father?” In those days the Mother indulged in such childish talk. In Vrindaban, at first the Mother wept bitterly for the Master, but later the Master kept her always immersed in bliss. The Mother then moved about like a carefree girl. She used to go round the temples daily. One day in the temple of Radharamana it appeared to her as if Navagopal Babu’s wife was standing by the side of the image of Radharamana and fanning it. On returning home, the Mother said to me, “Yogin, Navagopal’s wife is very pure. I saw her like this.”
One day at Vrindaban the Master appeared before Mother and said, “Initiate Yogen with this Mantra.” On the first day the Mother thought it was a freak of her mind. On the second day the vision was repeated, but she paid no heed to it. On the third day when she had the vision again, she said to the Master, “I don’t even speak to him. How can I initiate him?” The Master said, “Ask daughter-Yogin to be with you at the time of initiation.”
The Mother asked Swami Yogananda, through me, if he had received initiation already. He replied, “No, Mother, the Master did not give me any Ishta Mantra. I repeat a holy Name of my own choice.” On hearing this; one day the Mother initiated him. The Mother was worshipping before a picture of the Master and the urn containing his relics. She sent for Swami Yogananda and asked him to sit by her side. While performing worship, she went into ecstasy and in that state gave him the initiation. She uttered the Mantra so loudly that I could hear it in the next room.
From Vrindaban we accompanied the Mother to Hardwar. Swami Yogananda was in the party. While travelling in the train, he contracted high fever. When I was feeding him with pomegranate juice, it appeared to the Mother, as if I were feeding the Master. Swami Yogananda, in his delirious condition, saw a hideous-looking figure which said to him, “I would have taught you a lesson, but what can I do? Paramahamsadeva (Sri Ramakrishna) has ordered me to leave this place right now. I am unable to stay here even for a moment.” Pointing to a woman wearing a red bordered sari, the figure further said, “Feed this woman with some Rasagollas.” Curiously enough, soon after this vision, Swami Yogananda was relieved of his fever. Subsequently we went to Jaipur from Hardwar. There we saw the image of Govinda and visited the various temples. While going round, Swami Yogananda suddenly noticed an image by the side of a temple and cried out, “I was asked to offer Rasagollas to this deity.” And in front, we found a shop selling Rasagollas. We purchased eight annas (fifty paise) worth of Rasagollas and offered them to the deity. On enquiry we learnt that it was an image of Sitala.
From there, the Mother returned to Calcutta, and after a few days stay at Balaram Babu’s house, she left for Kamarpukur. After about a year at Kamarpukur, the Mother went to stay at Nilambar Babu’s house at Belur, rented for her by the devotees. There in 1888 she stayed for about six months. She left the rented house in Kartik (October-November) and spent a few days at Balaram Babu’s house at Calcutta. Shortly afterward she went on a pilgrimage to Puri. From Calcutta she travelled to Chandbali, where she boarded the Cuttack Canal steamer, and from Cuttack she went to Puri in a bullock cart. Sarat (Swami Saradananda), Rakhal Maharaj (Swami Brahmananda), Swami Yogananda, and others accompanied the Mother to Puri. She was accommodated in a house called ‘Kshetrabasi’, which belonged to Balaram Babu’s family. There she stayed from Agrahayana (November-December) to Falgun (February-March). The Mother lived in a room with a porch in the front. Since the Master had not visited the temple of Jagannath, the Mother one day took his photograph to the temple concealed under her wrapper and uncovered it before the image of Jagannath.
After visiting the temple of Jagannath, the Mother remarked, “I saw Jagannath to be like a lion among men seated on his precious alter and I was attending on him as his handmaiden.” On her return to Calcutta from Puri, the Mother stayed at the house of Master Mahasaya (Mahendranath Gupta) for three to four weeks and then went to Antpur (birthplace of Swami Premananda) together with Baburam (Swami Premananda), Naren (Swami Vivekananda), Master Mahasaya, Sannyal (Vaikunthanath Sannyal), and a few others. After about a week’s stay there she travelled by bullock cart to Kamarpukur via Tarakeswar in the company of Master Mahasaya and some others, and there she lived for about a year. Then she went to Calcutta before the Dol-festival and stayed with Master Mahasaya’s family at Combulitola for about a month. Thereafter she lived in Balaram Babu’s house during the latter’s last illness and continued there till his death. Next she lived in a rented house at Ghusuri near the cremation ground of Belur from Jaistha (May-June) to Bhadra (August-September) of 1890. As she had an attack of blood dysentery there, she was removed to a rented house at Baranagar belonging to Sourindramohan Tagore for her medical treatment. Following a short stay there, the Mother moved to Balaram Babu’s house, from where she returned to Jayrambati after the Durga Puja.
The Mother again came to Nilambar Babu’s rented house at Belur in Ashadha (June-July, 1893). Then she spent the month of Falgun at Kailwar (Bihar), and from there she visited Varanasi and Vrindaban a second time, together with her mother and brothers. Coming Backto Calcutta, she lived with Master Mahasaya at his Colootola residence for about a month and then returned to her native village. The next time when she came to Calcutta, the Mother lived for five or six months in a house attached to a godown on the bank of the Ganga at Baghbazar. It was at this house that Nag Mahasaya (Durgacharan Nag) saw the Mother. Then she again went to her native village and lived there for a year and a half. On coming Backto Calcutta she stayed in a house in front of Girish Babu’s. In this house Nivedita lived with the Mother for three weeks. Her next residence was at 16, Bosepara Lane, close to Girish Babu’s house. It was here that Nivedita first organized her school. Next, the Mother lived in a house in front of Ramakrishna Lane on Baghbazar Street. Sarat too stayed there. From there the Mother moved back to her native place.
Again she came Backto Calcutta on the occasion of Durga Puja at Girish Babu’s house and stayed at Balaram Babu’s house. At that time she was very much reduced owing to an attack of malaria. Then, following still another stay in her native village, she came to live in the new ‘Udbodhan’ house soon after it was constructed. She next visited Kothar (in Orissa), Madras, Bangalore, Rameswar, and other places; and then returned to the ‘Udbodhan’ house. Two days later the Mother went to her native village where she gave away Radhu in marriage. This time she returned from Jayrambati to Calcutta after about a year, and from there she went to Varanasi in Kartik (October-November) 1912. After staying there for about three weeks she returned to Calcutta.
In her younger days Mother had to cook often. Whenever her mother was unable to cook for some reason or other, she had to do the cooking herself. The Mother said, “I used to cook and my father would lift the rice pot from the fire.” Later the Mother spent much of her time in attending to her relations and devotees.