12: Recorded by Smt. Susheela Mazumdar
From Bhowanipur, I went in the company of my husband and son to the Udbodhan House to pay our respects to the Holy Mother. I saw the Mother standing in front of the doorsill of the middle room on the first floor and talking with someone. As I saluted her, she asked, “Where do you come from, my daughter?” She behaved as if we had been acquainted with her for a long time. I replied, “Our home is in Dacca.” Before this conversation could end, Golap-Ma summoned the Mother, saying that Ram Babu and Nitai Babu had come to see her. In the meantime, Kapil Maharaj told me, “Please wait a little. Balaram Babu’s son and nephew have come. After they have finished talking with the Mother, you can speak to her.” Nitai Babu came and stood in front of the Mother. After talking with him, the Mother gave me two Rasagollas and went to the adjoining shrine room to meet Ram Babu.
I remained waiting with two Rasagollas in my hand. After the Mother had spoken with Ram Babu, she called me to the shrine room and asked, “Why have you not eaten them? It is consecrated food. Please take them.” At that moment a certain woman devotee entered and remarked, “The Mother fed those present with all the sweets. Now what shall we eat?” Abashed as I was at her remarks-for those two Rasagollas were still in my hand-I said, “You please take these two Rasagollas.” She replied, “No, daughter, I didn’t mean you; why should I take yours?” Then the Mother said to her, “O! Please don’t say such things. It will hurt the devotees. As there are many persons, the Prasada was not sufficient, even though only two sweets were given to each. Ah, they have come from a very remote corner of the country with much difficulty.” Then, as the Mother repeatedly requested me, I ate the sweets. The Mother herself brought water for me. Later she said, “The syrup from the sweets has made the floor dirty. Please wipe it with a wet cloth and wash your hands.” After I had completed this task, the Mother sat down on the cot and began to enquire about me. Just as I was saying, “I have one son,” Ni -came there to salute the Mother. I said, ”Mother, he is my son.” Ni – left after making Pranam to the Mother. Then she asked, “Have you not yet arranged for his marriage?”
Disciple: No, he hasn’t married.
Mother: He is your only son. Why haven’t you got him married?
Disciple: He doesn’t want to marry.
Mother: Ah, these days this has become a fashion with young men! Why, can’t a married man lead a virtuous life? It is through the mind that one achieves everything. Didn’t the Master marry me? Has your son received initiation?
Disciple: Yes, he has been blessed by you.
Mother: Yes! Why should he not marry then? All right, I shall tell him. Perhaps he doesn’t want to face hardship. He, who holds on to the Lord, even when afflicted by sufferings, will certainly attain to Him. But tell me, what is your wish?
Disciple: Mother, I don’t know what will be good for him. You know what is good and bad for him. Therefore it will be as you say. I don’t have any other opinion.
Mother: You see, only those who belong to a high spiritual category can become monks and liberate themselves from all kinds of fetters. Some, again, are born just to enjoy the world. I say, it is good to finish in entirety’ enjoyments and sufferings. But it was different in the case of the companions of the Master.
Disciple: Mother, he is but your child. His good and bad depend on you entirely. Do whatever you wish to do.
Mother: I say, let him marry. Let all his enjoyments and sufferings pass off completely. Otherwise, it is difficult to foretell what kind of experience will come to him. Know it for certain, however, that since the Master has caught hold of him, he will never fall. You wait quietly with a placid mind. I have initiated him with a Mantra given by the Master. Can ill fortune ever befall him?
Then she said, “Would you take Prasada here?” As I replied in the affirmative, the Mother went out to tell the store-keeper and returned.
Mother: From whom have you taken initiation? Who told you about the Master?
Disciple: When we went to meet Nag Mahasaya at Deobhog, we heard from him the glories of Sri Ramakrishna. Observing Nag Mahasaya’s lofty mental condition, I always felt a strong desire to see Sri Ramakrishna and you. I was not fortunate enough to see Sri Ramakrishna, but through your grace I have seen your holy feet and thereby my desire to see Sri Ramakrishna also has been fulfilled. I have not had initiation directly yet.
Mother: Have you received it in a dream?
Disciple: Yes, Mother. I saw you in a dream and received initiation from you.
Mother: Well, do you remember the Mantra? You had better tell me.
No sooner did I utter the Bija than the Mother said, “Yes, you belong to this category. You are fortunate, indeed!”
Disciple: Mother, will you not tell me anything more?
Mother: No, perform Japa with this Bija. Know for certain that this will bring you good. With whom have you come?
Disciple: I have come with my husband.
Mother: Where does he stay? What does he do?
Disciple: He is the manager of Ram Babu’s estate.
Mother: Oh dear! You are the manager’s wife? Why didn’t you disclose this earlier? O Radhu, O Maku, come and salute the manager’s wife.
Quite amazed at the Mother’s action, I said, ”Mother, what are you saying? I am a Kayastha. They being members of a Brahmana family, how can they salute me?” But the Mother said, ‘Don’t speak like this. You are a devotee. Devotees are casteless. They will reap good if they salute you.” As soon as Radhu and Maku came, I caught hold of their feet. Then the Mother said to them, ‘Stop, stop, she won’t allow you. They are devotees, therefore they see the Lord in all beings. Well, what have you heard at Deobhog from Durga
(Nag Mahasaya alias Durgacharan Nag)? How did you happen to visit him and become acquainted with him?”
Disciple: Once my husband went there to see the saint Nag Mahasaya. On that occasion he won the heart of my husband by his unselfish affection and told him repeatedly about Sri Ramakrishna. He very kindly visited our house in order to see me. Being charmed by his attitude and love, we have been visiting him for a long time. And he has graciously made us his own and told us of the greatness of you and Sri Ramakrishna. As a result, we feel drawn towards you and the Master in our heart of hearts. He would only say, “I am nothing; Sri Ramakrishna is my every thing. If you desire good, take refuge in him heart and soul. There is no way out besides this. As luck would have it, I saw the holy feet of the Master and became blessed. I have seen Swamiji – Lord Siva Himself – and I have also seen the Divine Mother incarnate and received Her blessings. What more shall I tell you? With your whole body, mind, and soul take shelter at the holy feet of the Mother and the Master, and it will bring you good.”
Mother: Ah, what shall I tell about him? He looked upon me as the Divine Mother Herself. When he came to see me for the first time I was observing the fast enjoined on the eleventh day of the lunar fortnight (Ekadasi). In those days no male devotee was allowed in my presence. Devotees used to salute me by touching the staircase with their heads. One maid servant used to announce the name of the visitor, saying, ‘So and so (the person’s name) is saluting you, Mother,’ and I would send my blessings. On that day the maid said, ‘Mother, who is this Nag Mahasaya? He is saluting you, but by striking his head so hard against the staircase that his head is likely to bleed. Maharaj (Swami Yogananda) is standing behind him trying to persuade him to stop, but he doesn’t say a word. He seems to be unconscious. Is he a madman, Mother?’ I said, ‘Oh dear! Tell Yogen to send him here.’ Holding him, Yogen himself brought him to me. I saw that his forehead was swollen, tears were rolling down his cheeks and his steps were unsteady. Blinded by tears, he couldn’t see me. I made him sit. He was uttering only ‘Mother! Mother!’ as if insane, but otherwise he was quiet, calm and composed. I wiped away his tears. I had just sat down to eat my meal of luchi, sweets and fruit when he appeared. I partook of a little of the food and then tried to feed him with the Prasada. But he couldn’t eat-he couldn’t swallow the food; for he had no outward consciousness. He simply sat touching my feet and repeating ‘Mother, Mother’. My women companions began to say, ‘Mother your meal is spoiled. Let us tell Maharaj (Swami Yogananda) to remove him from here.’ I said, ‘Wait. Let him compose himself a little.’ As I stroked his head and body and repeated the Master’s name for sometime, he regained external consciousness. Then I began to take my meal and also to feed him. When he had finished taking food, he was taken downstairs. Before he left, he only said, ‘Not I, but Thou! Not I, but Thou!’ I told those who were near about, ‘Look, how wise he is.’ He would do anything for me. “Once he came wearing a dirty tattered cloth and carrying on his head a basket containing select mangoes from his own trees. He had in mind the desire to feed me while sitting by my side. But he wouldn’t express this. He began to walk around with the basket on his head like a destitute. Yogen sent word, ‘Tell Mother that Nag Mahasaya has brought mangoes. He doesn’t speak a word and won’t give the basket to anybody.’ I said, ‘Send him here.’ When he was sent in, he came with the basket on his head. One Brahmacharin took the basket off his head. I had not yet finished my daily worship of the Master. After saluting me, he became unconscious, as on the previous occasion. He was repeating the name of the Master and saying ‘Mother, Mother’. Tears were streaming down from His eyes. The mangoes were of a very good quality – some of them had been marked with spots of lime. Some were cut and offered to the Master. Daughter Yogin brought Prasada for me on a plate made of Sal leaves. I ate a little and told Golap, ‘Give him a leaf-plate.’
When the leaf-plate was brought I placed on it some pieces of mango from my plate and said, ‘Please eat.’ But who would eat? He had no body consciousness, and his hands were as if paralyzed. I took hold of his hand and tried to persuade him to eat, but he couldn’t. Instead, he took a piece of mango and began to rub it on his head. I sent word downstairs and they had him brought down. By repeatedly making Pranam by touching the floor with his head, his forehead had got swollen. He didn’t take his meal. I heard that after sometime he regained normal consciousness and left.”
After a while leaf-plates were arranged. Mother said, ” Come, you will have Prasada.” As I followed the Mother into the dining room, she said, “Come; sit facing me in the opposite row.”
The Mother mixed her rice with butter, ate three morsels of it and said to me, “Take this Prasada, take it on your palm.” When I stretched out my right hand, the Mother said, “Does anyone receive Prasada this way? Spread both your palms to receive it!’ I spread both my palms and the Mother placed the entire quantity of rice in them, pressing it with her hand. Then she said, “Touch your head with it and then eat.” Being surprised, I said, “Mother, I am a Kayastha; you touched me while taking your meal. How can you take food now?” The Mother said, “You are all my children; what caste discrimination can there be between you and me? You are but my children. Now take the Prasada.” Then shyly I began to eat. Very cheerfully the Mother began to take her meal. She now and then asked what I wanted.
Mother: Well, dear, is there no place of pilgrimage in your part of the country (Dacca, Bangladesh)?
Disciple: No, Mother, I don’t know of any holy place worth the name. But people take a holy dip on a certain day. It is called the Brahmaputra bath.
Mother: Yes, I have heard of it. All right, you take me there this time. I shall see your native place and make a pilgrimage too.
Disciple: Mother, will East Bengal (now Bangladesh) have this good fortune?
Mother: Why not? There are many devotees of the “Master there. Naren went there, Sarat went there, and many others also. Why should I not go to a place where people adore the Master?
The Prasada contained pulse soup, two varieties of mixed curry and a sour soup. Now the Mother said, “Serve them fish.”
Disciple: No, Mother, I am satisfied with the Prasada itself; I won’t take fish.
Mother: How is that, dear? You are a woman whose husband is living, and you won’t take fish! Why haven’t you painted your soles with lac-dye?
Disciple: In our part of the country painting of the soles with lac-dye is not in vogue. Conch-bangles on the hand and mark of vermillion on the forehead indicate that a woman’s husband is living.
Mother: It may be, but in this part of the country women wear conch-bangles and vermillion as a fancy. Here iron wristlets and lac-dye are the signs of a woman whose husband is alive.
The Mother was served with milk, a mango and a sweet. She mixed them, ate a little and said, “I am leaving the remaining portion for your son.” When the meal was over, I was about to remove the leaf-plate when Lakshmi- Didi hurriedly came and caught hold of it. I was not willing to part with the plate, but neither would Lakshmi-Didi leave it. At last the Mother stood up and said, “Allow Lakshmi to carry it. Among them you are the oldest; since they are here, why should you carry it?” Thus I was compelled to leave the plate. Then I accompanied the Mother to the washing place. The Mother filled a pot with water from the bucket and gave it to me, saying, “Wash your mouth and hands.” I felt very awkward. I said, “Mother, I can’t obey you.” The Mother said, “Why not? It will bring you good if you do what I say. Come, hurry up and wash; there are others waiting behind you. Well, touch the water-pot with your forehead.” Having no other course left open, I obeyed her command. After this, as I was moving away, the Mother said, “What’s this? Why did you not wash your feet?” I said, “I shall wash them later.” The Mother said, “No, no, come. I shall pour the water.” Then I went up behind the Mother and said, “Mother, I can’t do this.” The Mother replied, “What’s the matter? First sprinkle some water on your head. If you listen to my words, it will be for your good.” And so with no other course open, I did as she told me, and at her directive I followed her to her room.
Entering the room, the Mother stood as if taken aback, and after a moment cried out, “O, what have you done? What will my son take?” I noticed that a certain woman devotee was saying to herself, “Everything will be eaten by her children, and we shall die of starvation!” and was merrily eating the Prasada the Mother had kept for Ni-. Seeing this, I laughed heartily. Lakshmi-Didi and the other woman present also finally began to laugh too. I could hardly control my laughter, but the Mother appeared very concerned and stood there quietly. Then the Mother sent some one to enquire whether the cook had closed the kitchen, and if not what food had been left behind. Learning that there were some rice, pulse and curry, the Mother said, “Well, ask the cook to bring a small quantity of each of them.” When the cook brought them on a plate, the Mother mixed them together, ate a little from it and left the remaining portion covered, saying, “This is for my son.”
Standing behind her, I was wondering how the Mother could eat rice twice. I was also musing how I could offer a small personal service to the Mother. I had used water given by her for cleaning my mouth and washing my feet, but I could give no service to her. I was walking behind the Mother. When she had entered the shrine room she said to me, “My towel is hanging on the panel of the door; please bring it and wipe my feet” Hearing this, I was overwhelmed with joy. I brought the towel, and then the Mother said, “Well, let me sit on the cot. Please wipe the soles of my feet nicely.” While I wiped her feet, I touched them with my head several times. Smiling a little, the Mother said, “All right, stop now.”
Lakshmi-Didi brought a betel leaf and said, smiling, “Fortunate you are; the Mother showed a favour on you unasked for. Now take a betel roll.” But blinded by tears, I couldn’t see it. The Mother took the betel roll and gave it to me, saying, “Now spread that mat on the floor and cover it with that carpet, and place those three pillows.” When the bed was prepared, the Mother lay down. Sitting close to her I began to massage her feet, when she said, “Now lie down by my side.” Seeing my hesitation, the Mother said,
“Lie down placing your head on my pillow.” I said, “No, Mother, when I fall asleep my feet may touch your body, so I won’t lie down.” The Mother replied, “How is that, dear? I’m telling you, lie down.” I was in a fix. I had to follow her order. The Mother said, “I found much joy in meeting you, just as a mother feels joy at the home-coming of her daughter from her father-inlaw’s house after a long time. Well, when will you return home?” I said, “I shall leave this evening. Mother, kindly remember me, your beggar daughter.” Saying this, I began to weep. The Mother said, “Oh, dear, dear! Why do you speak thus? You are my princess. I myself have initiated you. You have nothing to feel sad about. You needn’t worry; I shall look after everything for you, in all conditions.”
Radhu returned from her school at four o’clock. After she had taken snacks, the Mother said to her, “Come, I shall braid your hair.” Radhu replied, “No, I shall do it myself.” As the Mother took a comb to braid her hair, Radhu began to hit the Mother with it. The Mother remarked, “Mad girl! What shall I do with her?” Then Yogin-Ma came and made Pranam to the Mother. Finding Radhu hitting the Mother, she said, “What is this! Why should Radhu hit our Mother? I’ll punish her.” But Radhu would not stop. Then the Mother said, “I shall call Sarat; I can’t tolerate any more pain.” Yogin-Ma told Revered Sarat Maharaj, who came out from his room on the ground floor and shouted, “Oh Radhu, don’t hurt the Mother.” On hearing his voice Radhu was quick to retreat. Kusum-Didi said, “Come, I shall braid your hair.” Just like a well-behaved girl, Radhu quietly went up to her and sat very close. At that moment, Radhu’s mother came to announce, “Just see, one of your disciples has come with something in hand. If it is a piece of cloth, I shall use it for the top of my mosquito net.” Truly, Ni- had come with some fruits, sweets and a cloth. As soon as he saluted the Mother, the latter said, “Ah! The cloth is fine. And the sweets and fruits are very good too. O Golap, take them and keep them ready. When the shrine opens they should be offered to the Master. Ah! My son’s face looks dry. Now wash your hands and face and then have some Prasad. May you live long, my son, and may you have devotion. But you shall have to marry.” Ni-saluted the Mother and went downstairs. Golap-Ma followed him, carrying the dish containing the Prasad. Then Radhu’s mother began to make an importunate demand, saying, “Give me those two Saris. I shall make the top of my mosquito net with them.” The Mother said, “How can it be? My son will feel hurt.” A little later the Mother said to Kusum- Didi, “Please bring a Sari for me.” Yogin-Ma observed, “See how fortunate they are. Who are they, I wonder? In just one day they-have received so much of compassion from the Mother. Blessed girl you are! I feel like saluting you.” Hearing this I shrank – what is she saying! Then the Mother remarked, “They belong to East Bengal. They have great faith. It is beneficial even to see such people.”
Once again I wiped the Mother’s feet with a towel. The Mother put on a fresh Sari, sat on the asana for the worship, and began to pray to the Master, “O Lord, look after their welfare. They love you even more than their own lives and so they have come to me from a far away land encountering many difficulties.” Later, the Mother called me and asked, “Have you any questions to ask?”
Disciple: Mother, I have been surprised to find young widows here taking fish. In our part of the country it is prohibited by society.
Mother: Do you know what this is? This is but local and regional custom. In our part, young widows are allowed to take fish and wear bordered saris and jewellery. They naturally harbour these desires. If they are restricted from eating fish, they will take it stealthily. When they become convinced that they are doing something against social injunction, they will give it up.
Disciple: Mother, can the desire for enjoyment be given up?
Mother: No, dear, what you say is true. But when people grow up, they see the behaviour of others and feel ashamed of their own conduct. Besides, at the time of quarrels, they have to suffer caustic comments, and so they restrain themselves of their own accord.
Disciple: Well, Mother, you being a Brahmana lady, how could you take rice twice?
Mother: What do you mean, dear? When did I eat rice twice?
Disciple: At the time when you gave Prasad to my son.
Mother: I can do everything for the welfare of my children.
There is no harm in it. Besides, in the case of Prasad it is not objectionable to eat even five times! Consecrated food is not like ordinary food. Don’t let your mind be disturbed over these trifles. It will make you forget the Lord. Whatever people may say, remember the Master and do what you consider to be correct. The Master used to say, “Look upon people as worms.” By this he did not mean all kinds of men. He was referring only to fault-finders and people of mean tendencies.
It was now time for me to depart. A carriage was waiting for me. With tears in her eyes the Mother stroked my head and said, “Come again.” I could not bear the idea of departing. I caught hold of the Mother’s feet and began to weep. The Mother said, “Don’t weep, dear; I am already your own. Come again.”
This was my first and the last meeting with the Holy Mother. Her blessings and loving words of consolation are the treasures of my life.