02: Recorded by Smt. Kshirodbala Roy
The day I came from our suburban home to Calcutta to see the Holy Mother for the first time, I was feeling unwell. I went to Baghbazar in a carriage. On the way I felt giddiness and nausea. I somehow arrived at the Mother’s house at Baghbazar and, climbing the staircase, saw the Mother at the door of the long room adjoining the staircase. She was on her way to take her bath. She was standing with one of her hands on the door frame as if waiting for me. As soon as her eyes fell on me, she smilingly said, “Where do you come from, child? Why have you come?”
I replied, “I have come to see the Holy Mother.” At once she said, “I am the Mother, my child. The Master (his picture) is in the other room. Salute the Master and take your seat there. I shall be coming after my bath.” Saying this, the Mother left the place.
I went to the door of the shrine room and saluted the Master from there, and then sat down. I had carried some sweets to offer to the Master. Nalini-Didi came and, sprinkling a little Ganges water on the packet of sweets, took the packet from my hand and kept it in the room. In the meantime the Mother hurriedly finished her bath and returned. I noticed that the worship of the Master and the offerings of fruits and sweets to him were already over and everything was still lying in the shrine room. As I was feeling giddy, I was afraid that if the Mother gave me Prasada to take, I might vomit. When she asked me, “Have you brought something for the Master?” I pointed to the packet of sweets I had brought, saying, “Yes, it has been kept there.” The Mother held the packet containing the sweets before the Master’s face and said, “O Lord, please eat.”
Then she gave me Prasada consisting of some fruits on a brass dish and a little sherbet in a glass, and said, “Take this Prasada; it will not cause any vomiting.” Taking a little Ganges water from a water-pot, she sprinkled it on my head and said, “I shall wait for you in the other room. Come there after taking the Prasada.” Strangely enough, immediately after eating it I began to feel all right. Then I went to the room where the Mother was seated. To me it appeared as if she were the Universal Mother seated on an asana like a queen. Golap-Ma, Gauri-Ma and Yogin-Ma were seated around her. Though I felt the Mother to be one of my very ‘own’, the presence of others sitting there made me somewhat hesitant. I became worried whether I would be able to tell the Mother my innermost thoughts. I said to her, “I could not see you during the last eight years in spite of my utmost efforts. Even after coming as far as Calcutta I could not see you; I had to go back.” On hearing this, Gauri-Ma remarked, “Can anybody see the Mother before the time is ripe’?” I said, “I feel that the time has come now, Mother; now I have seen you. Kindly accept me. I have come here with the desire of receiving initiation from you. I have heard that one cannot have initiation before the time is ripe. Again, I hear that you send Backsome persons on the plea that they do not belong to this place. But if you refuse me, I shall not be able to live any longer.”
Staring at me intently, the Mother said, “No, you will have initiation.” Then she asked, “Daughter, what do you take on ekadasi?” I replied, “Formerly I used to eat sago, but learning that it is adulterated with various other things,
I don’t take it now.” As soon as she heard this, the Mother said, “No, no, I say you should take sago; it will keep your body cool.” Then with deep sorrow in her voice the Mother said, “Child, you have been practising much austerity. I say, don’t do it any further. Your body has almost turned into a piece of wood. How will you perform spiritual practices if your health is spoiled, my child?”
She asked whether I used oil. I said, “I haven’t used it ever since I was widowed.” On hearing this she said, “The use of oil keeps the head cool. Therefore use oil.” I said, “As I have not used it for a long time, I have begun to hate to touch it. I shall not be able to use oil, Mother.” Golap-Ma said, “Though she is a mere child, she has spoiled her health by fasting and practising other austerities.” Gauri-Ma said, “Dear, why have you cut off your hair?” I said, “Widows in our part of the country do not grow their hair.” She replied, “Without hair one’s eyesight deteriorates. Since you have dedicated your body to Sri Krishna, how does your hair belong to you, dear?” Yogin-Ma now said, “This body is the temple of God. It is wise to keep it fine.” But the Mother said, “You have done well. Keeping one’s hair gives rise to a feeling of fashionableness to some extent; for one has to take care of it. So what you have done is right. You have overcome the craze for luxuriant locks, and you have also come here. You have now achieved that for which you lived so austerely. Now, I say, don’t indulge in such austerities any longer. You will have initiation tomorrow. Come here at eight o’clock in the morning. It will be nice to take a holy dip in the Ganges and to see Mother Kali on the day of initiation.”
I reflected that in seeing the Holy Mother I had already seen the Mother Kali, and that I had become pure by touching her holy feet. Then I saluted her and left for home.
My husband’s younger brother Satishchandra Roy, a disciple of the Holy Mother, had accompanied me to the Mother’s house. On reaching my home I requested him to come from his residence again the next morning to escort me to the Mother’s house. After my return from Baghbazar I was feeling giddy once again. Nevertheless, I prepared myself for going to the Mother’s the next morning. But Satish did not turn up at the appointed hour. I became very dejected indeed. At noon Satish came and explained, “The Holy Mother sent me word last night, saying, ‘my daughter will not have initiation tomorrow; for she is not keeping well. Bring her the day after tomorrow before ten in the morning.'” So this was the reason for his coming late. I was astonished to think of the Holy Mother’s divine foresight.
The next morning I was feeling all right. Satish came at the appointed hour to escort me. Following the Mother’s instructions I arrived at her house with some fruits, sweets, flowers, Bilva leaves and a Sari with a narrow red border. The Mother’s appearance, it seemed to me, was wonderful. Wearing a yellow-coloured Sari, the Mother was standing at the door assuming; as it were, the form of my Ishta As her eyes fell on me, she said; “You are already late by five minutes. Hurry up, come to the shrine.” She herself spread an asana in front of the picture of the Master and cleaned it with her hand. I thought, “How can I sit on the asana spread by her?” Instantly the Mother pushed the asana with her right foot, saying, “Are you satisfied now? Goodness! The girl is fastidious.” While coming from home I had tied two rupees in coins in the loose end of my Sari to pay the coachman with, but I had forgotten about it at that moment. As I was about to take my seat, the Mother said, “Child, you have come to take shelter in the Master who had renounced ‘woman and gold’. There are two rupees tied in the loose end of your Sari. Take them out.” Immediately I removed the coins, kept them on the floor near the wall and took my seat on the asana.
It struck me that this Mother was not the same person I had seen the other day. At this thought I lost consciousness. Then and there the Mother caught hold of my hand and made me sit upright on the asana. Placing her hand on my head she uttered thrice in a sweet voice the assuring words, “Don’t be afraid.” She added, “Have no fear; now you have been reborn. I am assuming the fruits of all the deeds of your past lives. Now you are pure; you are free of sin.” Then I regained my normal state and the Mother gave me initiation.
I asked her, “Is there any Mantra prescribed for giving up the fruits of Japa?” The Mother said, ”Don’t say ‘Giving up the fruits of Japa’; say ‘offering the fruits of Japa.'” She placed in my hand a little Prasada of sweets and said, ‘After initiation one should not stay with one’s Guru for long. So go home today, and come tomorrow and take your noon-meal here.” I returned home after saluting her. The next day I went to the Mother’s house at noon and had Prasada. After the meal was finished I came and sat near her. She asked me, “Do you know how to read and write? Read a small portion of the Gita daily and also Kathamrita of the Master and Sri Sri Ramakrishna Punthi. Many other books about the Master have also been published. Read them.”
I said, “Mother, you certainly know that I cannot give my mind to domestic affairs at all and with what difficulty I live among worldly people. I pray to you, please don’t keep me in the midst of worldly people.” The Mother said, ”Child, what is worldly life to you? For you worldly life is as good as living under a tree. But is life in the world separate from God? He is everywhere. Besides, you are a woman; where will you go, dear? Be content with wherever and in whatever situation He places you. The goal is to call upon Him and to attain to Him. If you call upon Him, He will lead you by the hand. You will have no fear if you can depend on Him. Another point – it is not wise that a Guru and his disciple live together, for while living together a disciple observes the life and activities of his Guru and very often takes his Guru to be a mere human being. This causes harm to the disciple. It would be very good if the disciple could live in a place close to his Guru’s residence and spend some time daily in visiting his Guru, enjoying his company and receiving his instructions. However, unless there is some occasional contact between the two, the Guru may not remember his disciple always. You should come here daily.”
At these words of the Mother I could clearly perceive the direction the remaining portion of my life was to take. The thought that I was destined for worldly life and not for a life of renunciation made me weep bitterly. Seeing me thus weep, the Mother very anxiously tried to console me. She said, ”Child, I have spent my entire life in domestic situations. You are quite young. It is more dangerous to visit here and there for the sake of religion. I say, wherever and in whatever condition you may live, the dirt of the world will cause no harm to you. The Master is there; you need not be afraid, you need not worry.”
After this, I saluted the Mother and returned home. From that time I used to go to the Mother almost daily, usually in the afternoon, and return before dusk. She had given me the necessary instructions for my spiritual practices. And she had also advised me to get any doubt or question resolved by her. But the very sight of the Mother used to fill my heart with joy. I felt that I had achieved everything, that everything had been accomplished, and that I had nothing else to ask for. To me, the Mother was no other than the Universal Mother in all Her glory and my Chosen Deity who was present before me as Guru. What else could I expect to receive? This thought gave me unbounded joy. Never did I ask the Mother any questions. I was content with whatever she said on her own. One day I said to her, ”Mother, you are the In-dweller, you know everything. Still, I emphatically say that I very much detest and fear the ways of worldly people. I have no family, house or wealth, and I shall never ask you for any of these things. You are aware of my heart’s desire. Please grant me that, and keep me away from worldly people.” Saying this, I wept bitterly. In reply the Mother consoled me with simple words just as a mother comforts her small child. And I forgot my worries and floated on an ocean of joy.
At times the Mother would say, “The Master used to say, ‘Don’t jump into the ocean of Maya, for you may be eaten up by sharks and crocodiles.’ But why should you worry? You have the Master with you.”
The Holy Mother lived a life very much hidden from public view, and she made me do the same. I saw women devotees mostly; I hardly saw the monks of the Belur Math. But even by seeing the Mother alone I felt that I had seen all that was worth seeing in the universe. Now I think that she had accepted me only because I had such an attitude. The Mother used to say only this much: Be content in all circumstances and take His name.
One day Sudhira-Didi brought some girls of the Sister Nivedita Girls’ School to the Mother. One of them said to her, ‘Mother, why do you not please allow Kshirode-Didi to stay with us? She can stay there and coach the girl-students.” But I never had, even absent-mindedly, talked with them about my board and lodging. Therefore, I was irked a little and thought, ‘Why should they speak like this?’ The Mother replied, “All persons are not born for the same purpose. You will learn and teach girls in turn – this is your purpose. But Kshirode is not meant for this. No doubt teaching is a noble profession, but it is not meant for all.” After the girls had left, the Mother remarked, “Is it an easy task to teach girls?”
Once I went to my native place and while returning I brought a pair of conch bangles for Radharani. But when I tried to put them on her wrists, I found that they were too small. Radhu couldn’t wear them at all, and she broke into tears. It brought tears to my eyes too. I thought: With so much hope I brought them, but Radhu can’t wear them. Nalini-Didi, Sarala-Didi, Radhu and I were discussing the matter quietly, when the Mother, who was then in the shrine room, called Radhu and said, “All of you come here.” When we went to her, she asked, “What’s the matter?’ Radhu said weeping, “This sister has brought for me such a beautiful pair of conch bangles, but I am unable to wear them; they are too small.” Instantly the Mother said, “What do you say! My daughter has brought the conch bangles, and they do not fit you! You should have come to me first. Come; let me see why they don’t fit.” Saying this, the Mother put them on Radhu’s wrists in five minutes. This made us all surprised. Radhu, her eyes still brimming with tears, now broke into a smile. The Mother said to her, “Now you have a beautiful pair of conch bangles.
Go and make Pranam to the Master, to me and also to my daughter.” As she uttered this, I felt my heart palpitating. I thought, ”Mother has never asked me about the locality of my home, my caste or my relatives.” I said,
”Mother, I belong to the Kayastha caste. Why should Radhu make Pranam to me?” The Mother bit her tongue and said, ”Don’t say this. Don’t I know whether you are a Brahmana or a Kayastha woman? You have stayed here so long – are you a Kayastha, still?” Saying this, she told Radhu, “Go and salute your elder sister.” Immediately Radhu made Pranam to Sri Ramakrishna, to the Holy Mother and then to me. I returned her salutation. The Mother laughed heartily and said, “So, you returned the salute?” But the situation made me feel uncomfortable and so I remained speechless.
One day Radhu, Nalini-Didi and the others anxiously got hold of me. I was to tell them where my home was, what my caste was, and also about my near and dear ones. But I was reluctant to disclose any such thing. That day the Mother called them and said, “Why are you teasing my daughter so much? Come here to me; I shall tell you everything.” All of them rushed to the Mother. I too followed them. I thought: “The Mother never asked me about these personal details. Today I shall hear what she says.” They all began to tell the Mother, “Kshirode Didi has been here so long but she has never disclosed her native place, her caste or who her relations are. Today we requested her so endearingly but she won’t disclose anything.” The Mother said, “I can tell you everything. She was born in the land where oranges are grown. Her father-in-law lives in another district and he is a very close relation of Chandrakanta. She has no one, not even her mother. But she has a brother.” Saying this, the Mother asked me, “Have I said correctly, my daughter?” As she mentioned the name of my mother, I heaved a deep sigh. The Mother being the In-dweller, she could grasp the innermost thoughts and feelings of others. She understood that my sigh was a sign of grief. Immediately she said, “Ah! When I mentioned your mother, you were overcome with sorrow, weren’t you? But even if she had been alive, what could she do for you? She would have been a helpless spectator of your miseries. Do you still feel bereft of your mother even after having a mother like me?” On hearing these words, I began to shed tears of joy. The Mother asked Nalini-Didi and the others, “What more do you want to know?” They said, “What’s her caste?” The Mother replied, “I shall not disclose this – they are devotees, they belong to one caste.” The Mother’s words made me beside myself with joy; I couldn’t utter anything.
On a Kalipuja day I went to see the Holy Mother in the evening. The Mother’s house was very crowded on that day. On my way I bought five champak flowers for fifty paise. With much difficulty I could offer those flowers at the holy feet of the Mother. She said, “Today there is a big crowd. You need not stay here. See Sudhira and then go to Gourdasi’s place and talk with her before you return home.” I was quite surprised at these words of the Mother. Never before had I received such instructions from her. I asked, “Should I go in a carriage or should I go on foot? Should anyone accompany me or should I go alone?” The Mother said, “Walk the distance and go alone. Will you remain a minor for ever? Now go, and come again later.”
Then taking the Mother’s name I went out at once without any further consideration. Inquiring of passers-by, I reached easily the school, of which Sudhira-Didi was the headmistress. She was quite surprised to see me and asked, “How could you come here in the dark? Why have you come?” I replied, “I don’t know the purpose of my visit. I have come because the Mother asked me.” On hearing this, Sudhira-Didi called the resident girls of her school, saying, “Stop your studies and come here. Kshirode-Didi has come from Mother’s place. Come and see her.”
All the girls came and surrounded me. But I wanted to leave and so I said, “As the Mother has directed, I must leave for the Saradeswari Ashrama just now.” Sudhira-Didi asked, “Should you go alone?” I replied, “The Mother’s direction was that I should go alone.”
I set out. As soon as I started walking, a gentleman came out from a room to the rear of the girls’ boarding house and followed me. That an unfamiliar man was accompanying me made my heart palpitate. Gauri-Ma was of such a strict nature that she was likely to scold me on seeing an unknown man with me. But I didn’t speak with him. On arriving at the gate of the Saradeswari Ashrama I said to the gateman, “Call Ma-ji. Tell her that a woman from the Mother’s house at Baghbazar has come to see her.”
A little later Gauri-Ma came down with a ghee lamp in one hand and an incense pot containing burning resin in another. As I went to salute her, she said, “Can I accept your Pranam today?” She stubbornly refused to accept my Pranam. I was amazed at Gauri-Ma’s waving of light in front of my face, as if she was performing an Arati. Soon after, the said gentleman moved forward to salute Gauri-Ma. Instantly her appearance changed. She asked, “Where do you come from? Where do you live? Why have you come here?” Pointing at me, he said, “She had gone to Sudhira Basu’s and had mentioned that she was coming to this place. I thought that since I had never met you, I would be able to see you if I accompanied her. That’s why I have come.”
“What’s your name?” asked Gauri-Ma. On disclosing his identity, I recognized him, for I had heard his name. Gauri-Ma said, “I have heard of you. You belong to Sylhet (now in Bangladesh). Since Gauri-Ma does not live in purdah, you could have met her anywhere. If you want to see monks, go to the Belur Math. What is there in seeing a nun?” The gentleman said,
“If I come here on Sunday, I can talk with you, I hope.” Gauri-Ma replied, “No, no, my daughters are staying here. I can’t meet you here.” Hearing this, the gentleman saluted Gauri-Ma and left.
Then Gauri-Ma turned towards me and said, “What do you think of the Holy Mother? She is none other than the Empress of Kailash. None should think of her as a human being. The Mother is the Guru of the world, the Mother of the Universe. Since you have accepted her as your Guru, what is there to worry about?” Then Gauri-Ma talked about the Holy Mother and Sri Ramakrishna for about two hours. I remained standing at the door-step just as when I had come. She too was standing while talking. All of a sudden she caught hold of me and said, “Let’s go; we shall worship the Mother.” I said, “I didn’t have any instruction to go to Baghbazar today once again. Besides, it has become rather late, how shall I return home afterwards?” She said, “Come, I shall tell the Mother.” So I went with Gauri-Ma. She also took two young girls, one of them carrying flowers and Bilva leaves and another carrying fruits and sweets. She herself was carrying a Kamandalu (water pot with a handle). People in the street looked at us amazed. As we arrived at the door of the Mother’s house, I heard Mother say, “Now Gaurdasi has come making a spectacle in the street!” After going there I realized that Gauri-Ma was the last one to worship the Mother that day; all others had finished their worship. Gauri-Ma worshipped the Mother for a long time as one does in the Kali Puja. The worship was worth seeing indeed. Afterwards everyone present partook of Prasada. Gauri-Ma said to the Mother, “I have brought Kshirode here again. She told me that this wasn’t your instruction. But I said to her that I would mention it to you.” The Mother replied approvingly,
“You have done very well.” I spent the night at the Mother’s house. I shall never forget in this life the joy I experienced on that night.
A year prior to my becoming a widow, I had one day cut and dressed a number of papayas and prepared a curry with them. The juice of the papayas caused an itching sensation on my fingers which became very much swollen, and the skin of my fingers cracked within a few hours. This created such a bad sore on my hand that various kinds of medical treatment failed to cure it. I suffered from it for twelve years. I had to use a spoon for taking my food. At times the condition would subside. But when it became aggravated, the contact of my hands with water made the sore septic. Though I had been in close association with the Holy Mother for the last one year, I had never shown my hands to her. I had decided never to say anything to her about this impermanent physical body of mine. And I had kept this chronic disease a secret from her lest it should somehow infect her too. I avoided visiting her when the disease became aggravated. One day, however, I went to see her when the sore was rather bad. On reaching her place I avoided making Pranam to her lest she should notice the sore while I touched her feet. But this thought made me quite restless. Just then I saw that a widow took the dust of Mother’s feet, wrapping her hand with the loose end of her Sari. This gladdened my heart. And so I too took the dust of her feet, wrapping my hand with the end of my Sari. No sooner did I salute her than the Mother asked in surprise, “Daughter, why did you take the dust of my feet wrapping your hand with your cloth? Is there anything wrong with your hand?”
I was now in a fix, and my heart began to quiver. I thought, “Mother could have questioned the other woman. But instead of asking her, she has asked me, ‘Why did you take the dust of my feet in this way?'” So I replied, “I have a disease on my hand.” She then said, “Let me see.” On seeing my hand, she lamented so deeply that I was astounded. She said, “Ah! Dear, you are here so long and your hand is in such a condition! Though I am your mother, I wasn’t aware of it. I feel so sorry, my dear.” Then she asked me how long I was suffering and how I had contracted the disease. I had to disclose everything now.
Then the Mother said, “Dear, I am in such a state that I remain absorbed within myself. So I failed to observe you. You perform Puja with this hand; that’s why the disease is lingering. Well, come with me. The flowers and leaves offered to the Master and the Charanamrita (holy water of worship) will be removed and thrown into the Ganges. Come quickly.” I followed her to the other room. She said, “Look, the Kamandalu contains the Charanamrita as well as flowers and leaves. Dip your hand up to the wrist into it.”
I did accordingly. Then she added, “Your hand will be free from the disease. But avoid handling fish, meat, onion and garlic as far as practicable. You cannot completely keep away from them. When you handle them, there may appear some eruptions on your hand. Perform the Master’s worship daily. As soon as you notice some eruptions, apply the Master’s Charanamrita on them. It will cure you. Had you trimmed your finger nails on the day you cut the papayas?” I replied, “I don’t remember.” She said, “You must have pared your nails and then come into contact with the papaya juice. These two together are responsible for your trouble.”
In the afternoon the Mother said to the other women, “None of you, including your husbands and children, should cut your nails with the nail-cutters of barbers; for it may lead to many bad infectious diseases. My daughter here has contracted such a disease on her hand. But by the will of the Master it will not linger.” On that occasion, the Mother spoke of the various dangers involved in eating together with others from the same plate, in lying on the same bed with another, and in using somebody else’s cloth and bath-towel. She also told us how a person’s good or bad physical condition is transferred to the body of another.
Strange enough, I had never told the Mother how I passed my days, and that I was compelled to cook fish and meat also. But she said, “You will not be able to avoid them. Whenever you handle meat and fish, you will have eruptions on your hand, but as soon as the Master’s Charanamrita is applied, you will get cured.” It was a matter of pleasant surprise that the day on which I dipped my hand in the Charanamrita – from the very next day I got permanently cured. Whenever I touched fish, meat or such other food, I got eruptions on my hand, but they disappeared in an hour’s time after applying Charanamrita on them. When I had become cured of this disease, I said to her, “Mother, I haven’t come to you to get my bodily ailments cured. You can’t get rid of me as easily as this!” The Mother laughed and said, “Child, your body is also my body. I suffer if you do not keep good health.”
It was my resolve that I would never ask verbally or even mentally for any physical comfort or monetary or other material gain. I was afraid that the Mother might appease me by bestowing those things. Whenever I complained that I could not get any result from my worship, the Mother used to say, “I am your Guru; I know whether you are making progress or not. How can you understand it? You’ll achieve everything, you’ll achieve everything. Most obstacles in worship are not external; they are internal. They will gradually fall off one after another by taking the Master’s name and by meditation. Do your duty. Don’t pay attention to whether the blemishes of the mind are persisting or not.” She also used to say, “The branch of a cocoanut tree drops off by itself at the proper time, but one has to exert much to tear off the branch before the proper time arrives. Likewise, everything will come about at the proper time.” Then I asked her as to why I could not become absorbed in japa and meditation. She said, “You are doing all that is necessary; everything is going all right. My child, it is a great good fortune for you to have come here a widow at a tender age. You won’t have to do much. All that you have to do is to pay obeisance to God at the end of the day. If a man firmly takes hold of one idea, he doesn’t have to perform any other discipline. You will achieve everything spontaneously.”
I was married when I was ten, and became a widow at fifteen. Taking refuge at the holy feet of the Mother, I had said to her, “Mother, I am surrendering myself at your holy feet. Kindly protect me.” The Mother had assured me, saying, “There is nothing to fear. The Master will lead you by the hand.” Not a single word which came from her lips proved to be untrue. Now I am nearing sixty. The Mother’s holy hand has touched my head, and my head and hands have touched her holy feet – thus I have become blessed. Holding to her words, “There is nothing to fear. The Master will lead you by the hand,” I have lived this long life, without ever being haunted by the desire for enjoyment. I have experienced only bliss, nothing but bliss. Except on the day the Mother gave me initiation, she never instructed me as to what I should do. She used to say that the Master would do everything. We may not understand this, but her words are true. Even if one does not call on the Master and the Mother all the time, they protect their children from dangers and misfortunes. I have firmly realized that without their grace none can conquer worldly attachment by simply displaying bravado.
The Mother had said, “One should not go to see a deity empty-handed.” Therefore I used to carry something or other when I went to see her daily. One day she said, “You have no money; why do you bring these things every day, my child? It will be enough if you bring a myrobalan. I eat through the mouths of all of you, dear! Your eating is as good as my taking food. How much I have eaten since coming to the circle of the Master!”
My second brother, who was seriously ill, came to Calcutta for medical treatment. He was to be operated upon by Dr. Sarbadhikari. All the members of our family had come to Calcutta. I had come to understand that the surgeon was not sure of the survival of a patient after this kind of surgical operation. I took my brother to see the Mother. It was a Sunday. The male devotees used to make Pranam to her in the afternoon. While on the way, my brother purchased a garland of flowers to offer at the Mother’s feet. It had escaped my notice. On reaching there, I began to brood that my brother would salute the Mother along with a crowd of people and I would not be able to stay nearby. Would the Mother notice him at all? While Pranams were being made, I remained within the room. When the Pranam-making was completed, the Mother called Radhu and the rest of us. She removed a large quantity of flowers and garlands which had been offered at her feet. Taking out a garland of tuberoses from among them, she presented it to Radhu, saying, “My daughter’s brother has given it to me.” Then she said to me, “I have noticed your brother.” I was surprised, for my brother had not come there earlier. I began to wonder whether my brother had brought that garland of tuberoses. Among the many garlands I could see only one of that kind.
I said to her, “Mother, it is because of him that I wish to keep myself away from worldly life. I wept bitterly in your presence only with the prayer of shunning their company. If he dies, I shall have to bear the burden of his family. Mother, because I am in the midst of worldly people, I am not likely to survive, even though I have taken refuge at your feet. Now what will happen to me? Please tell me what I am to do.”
The Mother replied, “Even if your brother survives this operation, he will die one day, will he not? And if he survives, what good will he bring to you? So why should you worry so much?” I thought, then perhaps my brother’s life would not be spared this time. But that very moment the Mother said, “Don’t be afraid; the Master is there. Keep a photo of the Master in the operation theatre where your brother will be operated on. He will protect him. “
After hearing her say this, I returned home and disclosed it to all the family members. Then all began to say, “No more fear. He has touched the living Goddess Kali. There’s no reason to fear.” My brother came round by the grace of the Holy Mother and returned to his native place. When my uncle and elder brother, who had seen the Holy Mother, were told that in seeing the Mother they had actually seen Mother Kali Herself, they accepted the idea and began to express the view that they had seen and touched the feet of Mother Kali who was worshipped by Sri Ramakrishna himself, and that they would not have to go elsewhere for their spiritual welfare. I was the first among our family members to go to the Mother. Now, by her grace, almost everyone in our family has taken refuge at the holy feet of Sri Ramakrishna.
One afternoon I was at the Mother’s house when a widow with a rosary of basil beads around her neck and wearing a cloth printed with the names of God, arrived to see the Mother. Before her arrival, the Mother had assumed a solemn attitude. When the widow advanced to salute her, the Mother said, “Don’t touch my feet; salute me by touching the floor.” But she ignored these words and saluted the Mother touching her feet. The widow was amazed to see the photo of Sri Ramakrishna and other things, and said to me, “Do you see? How beautiful it is!” “What do you show her?” the Mother asked. “Know that she worships him whose photo you are pointing to.”
Next, pointing at me, the widow asked the Mother, “Is she your daughter?” The Mother replied, “Yes, my child.” The widow asked next, “How many children have you?” The Mother said, “Beings all over the universe are my children.” Then the woman asked. “How many children you have given birth to?” The Mother replied. “My husband was a man of renunciation.” Unable to understand its import, the woman pestered the Mother further with questions. I, too, was about to lose patience. The Mother said to me, “You explain these matters to her; I can’t do it any further.” Then I went on, “You know nothing about the Mother, I see. Why then, have you come to see her? Those who come to the Mother do not simply see and salute her. There is much to know about the Mother. There are so many books about her. You can know all about her from many devotees too. Had you known a little about her, you would not have dared to ask her so many questions. You had better tell me what you have got to say. Please don’t disturb the Mother.”
Still the woman continued, “My daughter visits this place. She brought big radishes here the other day.” The Mother said, “Many persons present a lot of things. Can I take a note of all of them? I don’t know your daughter.” Thereafter the widow left and the Mother said to me, ”Bring a little water and wash my feet. Fan me a little.” I obeyed her.
One of my cousins was suffering from lachrymal fistula, and to get it operated by an eye-surgeon, he along with his parents and many other members of our family had come to Calcutta. I took him to the Mother before his operation. Earlier I had told the Mother about it. Approaching the Mother I saluted her and pointing to the boy, said, ”Mother, this boy’s eye is to be operated on.” The Mother said, “Let me see his eye.” Taking a look at his eye, the Mother observed, “Now-a-days, my child, we see various kinds of diseases and also physicians specializing in them. Formerly people did not suffer from so many ailments; nor did they know of so many kinds of medical treatment. Take, for example, the case of Radhu. She had so many ailments and had to pass through various kinds of treatment. Besides, I made promise of offerings to various deities for her cure, and yet she does not keep well. The Master alone knows what is in his mind.” On hearing her, I laughed a little and reflected within myself: “How ignorant we are about the Mother! From her words it would appear that Radhu is her all. Thus she keeps her real nature hidden.” None could understand her from her movements. Only he could recognize her to whom the Mother had revealed herself. Regarding the boy, the Mother did not say anything after seeing his eyes. We left after saluting her. Anyway the eye operation was successful.
Later, my aunt, before her return to her native place, came to visit the Mother one morning along with her children. Sitting with her legs stretched, the Mother was then cutting fruits for offering to the Master. They went straight to the Mother and saluted her. The Mother said to my aunt, “Are they all your children?” My aunt replied, “Yes, Mother, they are mine.” The Mother said, “Very well. Oh, how devoted they are! All of them have prostrated themselves! My daughter knows everything about this place; still she has brought them here at this inconvenient time. It is now time for worship of the Deity. I have no time now to talk with you even for a while.” My aunt said, “She (Kshirode) objected to our coming here at this time. But as we have no other time, we have come to you now. Mother, we want to take Kshirode along with us to our native place for some days. I seek your approval.” The Mother said, “What harm is there in taking her to your native place? But it will be nice if you bear her travelling expenses when sending her back.” “We shall certainly do so,” said my aunt. She, along with others, then got into their carriage.
One girl, known to me, had never seen the Mother. Her husband did not like such visits. But one day after her husband had left for his office, she pressed me to take her to the Mother and bring her Backbefore her husband’s return.
I said, “The Mother takes rest at this hour of the day. You cannot see her now.” She said, “Let’s go, no matter what happens.” As soon as I entered the Mother’s house along with her, I saw Golap-Ma having her meal. I went to her with the idea that we would see Mother after she awoke. On seeing me, Golap-Ma burst out, “How queer are your ways! Why have you brought her at this time of the day? Aren’t you aware that this is the time when the Mother takes rest?” I said, “Why are you scolding me? Am I so foolish as to go to the Mother, before she wakes up from sleep?” After a while I heard Mother calling me, saying, “Come here, daughter.” Approaching near, I saw her standing by the side of her bed. She asked, “Who is this girl, dear? Did Golap scold you because you have come at this hour? Well, it is the Master’s kingdom! No rules and regulations are valid here. Here the door is open to all. Whenever one gets the opportunity one may call on me. Don’t take the scolding seriously, my child.” We paid obeisance to the Mother and left. I told Golap-Ma, “Have you noticed with what a longing heart people come to see the Mother. Why only the Mother, people want to see you, too. But the door-keepers of the Mother’s house as you are, you want to push them out. Mother does not belong to one or two persons, she is the Mother of all,” Laughing, Golap-Ma said, “Well, you have won.” The affection Golap-Ma, Gauri-Ma, Lakshmi-Didi, etc., had for us is indescribable.
Lady doctor Pramoda Dutta of Calcutta, a relation of mine, hailed from the same place as myself. Her husband, too, was a doctor. They were Brahmos. One day Dr. Pramoda Dutta expressed her desire to see the Holy Mother.
She very much pleaded with me to escort her to the Mother’s house. So, one day we were ready for the visit. Instead of wearing her professional robe, she put on a Sari with red border. She did not even wear shoes. She sprinkled a little Ganges water on her head before she started for the Mother’s house.
Going to the first floor in the Mother’s house, one could see in the room adjoining the stairs, a photo of the Holy Mother in meditation posture. As her eyes fell on this picture, Pramoda Devi inquired, “Whose photo is this?”
I said, “It is the Mother’s.” She gazed at it for long and remarked, “She’s Radha herself.” I felt inclined to laugh, for being a Brahmo how could she utter this! On the first floor she met the Mother and saluted her. After a while the Mother asked Sarala-Didi “Bring that boy and get him examined by her.” Now I do not remember whose child it was. As the Mother uttered these words, Pramoda Devi quietly asked me, “How could she guess that I was a doctor?” The child was brought before her. At 4 p.m. sweets were offered to the Deity and the Mother distributed the Prasada to all except Pramoda Devi. I could not but feel embarrassed at this. Now, Pramoda Devi was repeatedly telling me, “She gave Prasada to all, but why not to me?” I said to her, “Why don’t you ask the Mother?” I did not dare to give her the Prasada that was in my hand. Later Pramoda Devi said to the Mother, “Mother, you distributed Prasada among all; but why didn’t you let me have a little of it?” The Mother said, “You are a Brahmo, dear. How can I give you Prasada unless you ask for it?” Pramoda Devi said, “Give me a little Prasada.” The Mother too had kept apart one Rasagolla, and she now gave it to Pramoda Devi. The latter tied the Prasada at the loose end of her Sari, saluted the Mother, and returned home. She said to her husband, “Look, the place where I had gone today is a heavenly abode. The person I saw and whose feet I touched there is verily Radha. I have brought a little Prasada for you. I shall give you only if you accept it respectfully.” Dr. Dutta said,
“What does it matter to the Universal Mother if an insignificant person like me does not eat Her Prasada?” Saying this, he took the Prasada in his palm, touched it by his head, and ate. Pramoda Devi, too, described to him her experience in detail, and said repeatedly, “Today I visited Vrindaban and saw the holy feet of Radharani. I have been blessed.”
When my aunt and others left for their native place, I did not accompany them. Backat the native place, my uncle wrote me a letter, saying, “I feel very sorry that you have not come. It fills my heart with great joy when I think that you have dedicated yourself to the feet of the Divine Mother. If you ever happen to come to your native place, do so after surrendering at the feet of the Mother your mind which is at the root of all troubles. Only then will you be free from all worry.” I read out the letter to the Mother. On hearing its contents the Mother said, “Is the mind the cause of troubles only? Even when you try to attain to Brahman, you shall have to carry with you the mind, too. When you attain to It, none of them will be there. At the present stage the assistance of the mind is very necessary. It is the pure mind which shows man the path.” I wrote to my uncle these words of the Mother.
On this occasion the Holy Mother said this also, “As you turn the direction of the wicked mind, that mind itself will be able to grasp the Chosen Deity. However, you have nothing to worry. The Master is holding you by the hand. In every circumstance he is always with you.” I deeply felt many a time in my life the immense strength behind those words of the Mother.
One afternoon there came some women, one of whom asked the Mother, “Mother, many people say that Gauranga Mahaprabhu is not an Incarnation of God. Is it true?” The Mother said, “People may say so, for it is not easy to comprehend a human being as an Incarnation of God. In brief, if everybody could comprehend him as an Incarnation of God, he would not have had to preach divine love at the cost of being beaten up.” While saying this, tears rolled down her cheeks. Soon after, she added, “Can everybody recognize an Incarnation? One or two persons only can recognize him. How much suffering do they undergo for the liberation of human beings! Even when the Master used to vomit blood, he never stopped speaking. He was all the while worried about the well-being of people.”
There is a statement of Gauranga Mahaprabhu, “Come, repeat the name of Hari, and you shall have delicious soup of magur fish and the embrace of a young woman.” The Mother explained the context of this statement, also what people took it for, and its real purport. At length she said, “What do you need an Incarnation for? To anyone, his own Guru is far superior to even an Incarnation of God. Try to understand this and keep steady.”
The Mother used to keep a close watch over the conduct of women who lived with her at Baghbazar. She used to express her annoyance even if a metal pot or a bowl fell from somebody’s hand. None of them was permitted to talk without some plausible reason. One day Radharani, with her tinkling anklets on, was going down the steps hurriedly. On hearing the jingling of the anklets, the Mother stared hard upward in such a manner that I became apprehensive. As soon as Radharani appeared, the Mother said, “Radhi, are you not ashamed? My Sannyasin children are staying downstairs, and you are running along the stairs with anklets on. Tell me, what they will think of you. Take off the anklets right now. Men and women who are here have not assembled for fun. Every one of them is doing spiritual practice. Do you know the consequences, if their practices are disturbed?” As the Mother said these words, Radhu took off the anklets and threw them towards the Mother. Fearless though she was, we all became frightened. Another day Radhu after her bath was combing her hair and making some design by pressing her hair
with a towel. Seeing this, the Mother said, “What are you doing? You think you look very beautiful by such means. Far from it; all this seems ugly to me. I never braided my hair myself. Gaurdasi used to come from time to time and braid my hair. Then again, I could not retain the braid for long and undid it soon. These days I find you behaving otherwise.” Golap-Ma, who was nearby, said, ”Mother, you are muktakesi, indeed! Therefore what will you do but keep your hair unbraided?”
One day the wife of a Munsiff (a judicial officer) came to the Mother. The women present there were discussing the World War. The Munsiff’s wife asked the Mother, ‘Everybody says that the war is going to extend over here. If so, what will happen to us, Mother?” The Mother replied, ‘These are but rumours. Why should the war spread up to this place? The warfare is not as intense there even as it should have been. Why should it then extend over here?” Many others present spoke variously on this subject. The Mother sat quietly, seemingly disinterested.
Famine was raging throughout the country. The Ramakrishna Mission was rendering much relief to the famine-stricken people. One day the Mother narrated the famine conditions very vividly. She spoke of the distress of people at various places, the amount of money the Mission was spending to redress their sufferings and the way the monastic members of the Order were working. It seemed to me that she was feeling in her heart of hearts all the sufferings of the world.
Off and on I used to call upon Lakshmi-Didi at Dakshineswar. She often spoke to me in confidence, “Tell the Mother that I do not like to stay here. The nieces who attend upon me here don’t like any devotee to come to me. But I cannot stay at a place where there are no devotees. Tell the Mother that I shall go to Vrindaban and that I shall take you along with me.” I told Mother everything. The Mother said, “See, daughter, Lakshmi goes mad at the sight of devotees. That’s why those two girls (nieces of Lakshmi-Didi) feel annoyed at the coming of devotees there. They should not be blamed, dear. Tell Lakshmi, I shall go to her one day. Besides, you should not go to any place in her company. If she comes across a devotee on her way, she would stay there for a week. Someone has to be always with her to guard her. She wants to stay in Vrindaban. People are so pestered with monkeys there. Will she be able to stay there?” I passed on to Lakshmi-Didi everything the Mother had said. I further added, “You are now in such a mental state that if you are to be sent anywhere, some special arrangements are to be made for you. I hear you too have the same experience as the Master.” No sooner did I utter this, than Lakshmi-Didi began to rebuke me, saying, “Does it happen to a human being what happened to the Master? I am the victim of a disease; that’s why I cannot move out from here.” These days Lakshmi-Didi behaved like a child.
One day a woman vendor came to sell blankets. Nalini-Didi was trying to settle the price of a blanket. The vendor demanded one rupee and twenty-five paise, but Nalini-Didi was trying to settle it at one rupee. The Mother heard their talk from a distance. She called Nalini-Didi and said, “What are you haggling with her for?” Nalini-Didi said, “I want to pay one rupee for a blanket but she is asking for a quarter of a rupee more.” Being a little displeased at this, the Mother said, “How is it that you are haggling with her so long just to save one quarter of a rupee? Fie upon you! She moves from door to door, carrying blankets on her head, for earning some money. And you have detained her for saving a few coins. Moreover, what do you want a blanket for? You have everything, still you want to purchase one more blanket.”
Then pointing at me, the Mother said, “It would rather be nice if you could give one blanket to my daughter. She doesn’t use anything except a blanket. But she possesses only one blanket. She passes the winter days with this. Still, she does not ask anyone for another piece of blanket. She has perhaps never used more than two Saris at a time throughout her life. In spite of this she is quite happy. You don’t see the bright side of others.” I was simply stupefied. I wondered how the Mother was posted with so much information about me, although I never mentioned to her anything about my blanket or Sari. How many times she made me understand that she was truly our Mother! Discarding her physical body the Mother is now bestowing her blessings much more. Whoever calls upon her, the Indwelling Mother approaches him and settles all his problems. Formerly one had to make various arrangements to see her. Now, sitting at a place if someone sincerely applies one’s heart, one can find the Mother. When her disciples are in trouble, she comes on her own and protects them. I have heard many such anecdotes.
Once I came from my native place to Calcutta on the Saptami Puja day (the first day of Durga puja). I was keeping rather poor health and was running a temperature. Intending to worship Mother with the temperature on, I went to her carrying some select flowers. A few days ago Revered Swami
Premananda Maharaj had passed away. That year Durga Puja was suspended at the Belur Math. Durga Puja was, however, being held at the monastery at Varanasi. I approached the Mother and worshipped her. As her eyes fell on me, she lamented, saying, “Ah” you look very much pulled down, my child!” She then mourned for Premananda Maharaj, too. She continued,
“You should leave for Varanasi this very night. Some Sannyasins and Brahmacharins of this place are going to Varanasi. Your health is very much run down. Stay at Varanasi for about a month.” I said, “What’s the use of going there? I love to stay here.” The Mother said, “What do you say? Varanasi is the abode of Lord Viswanath.” I said, “This is the abode of Annapurna.” The Mother laughed and said, ”Nevertheless, you will come round, if you stay there for some days.”
I had brought with me some pickle of tamarind from my native place for presenting to the Mother. Seeing a big crowd at the Mother’s house, I wondered where I should place it and whether it could be of any use to the Mother. The Mother, the Indwelling Spirit of my being, called Golap-Ma and said, “Keep this pickle with care. I shall take it later. Give my daughter some fruits for her consumption during her journey.” I received them. We left for Varanasi.
Varanasi was in the grip of a virulent kind of influenza at the time. As soon as the monks there saw me, they said to me, “Now the attack of influenza is so devastating here that you, instead of regaining your health, are very likely to contract influenza and suffer.” I kept quiet thinking, come what may, I shall stay here; for I have come on the advice of the Mother. Nalini-Didi and a few others, who had accompanied me, left Varanasi just after the Puja, but I continued to stay there. I stayed in the Rana Mahal. Some days later I contracted influenza. Then the monks helped me much by sending a physician for me and providing medicines. One day I saw the Mother appear before me in a dream. She said, ”There’s nothing to fear. I am here. I shall take care of you.” Next day my illness took a turn for the better, and I came round in a few days’ time. As soon as I had completed one month in Varanasi, I returned to Calcutta. On seeing me, the Mother said smilingly, “It’s a relief to me, dear. I sent you to Varanasi for your good, but the illness you contracted there was about to harm you.”