07: Recorded by an Anonymous Lady Devotee
It was the fifteenth day of Poush, 1320, of the Bengali calendar (A.D. 1914). I had been feeling a great desire to meet the Holy Mother, but I had had no opportunity of calling on her. Who would escort me to her place? I had finally resigned myself to the thought that I would see her only if she made circumstances favourable, when Kamala and Bimala came and said, “Sister, our mother is calling you.” At these words it occurred to me that this might lead to the fulfilment of my desire. Someone whispered into my ear, as it were, “Oh, dear! Mother is calling you.”
I hurriedly’ got ready and arrived at the house of Bimala at about 7 o’clock in the morning. I found that Lalit and his mother were having a chat. On seeing me Lalit’s mother said, “So, here is Binu. See, my darling, how crazy she is! She got the news and came here right away.” Lalit asked, “Do you wish to visit the Holy Mother, Sister? If so, I can escort you to her today.” “That would be a wonderful favour!” I replied. I could hardly believe the good news that I was really going to see the Holy Mother. So I told Lalit, “Brother, please tell me, are you really going? If you are, then please hire a hackney carriage.” I then asked him, “Have you yourself seen the Mother?” With great joy Lalit replied, “I went to see the Mother only once. Ah! What can I say of her kindness and deep affection towards us? The Mother asked us to call on her again.”
Lalit now went out to hire a carriage. Before going he said, “I am going to bring a carriage. All of you please get ready.” Shortly afterwards, Lalit’s mother, Lalit’s sisters, and I left for the Mother’s place. Panchu too accompanied us.
Parul said to me, “Sister, are you sure that the Mother is now staying at the Udhodhan house?” I was startled; for, I really did not know whether the Mother was in Calcutta. I began to worry and to pray mentally to the Master, “O Lord! Please don’t disappoint me’.” Our carriage arrived at the Udbodhan Office at 10 o’clock. As soon as it stopped, I hurriedly got out and went inside without greeting the Swamis who were working in the room on one side. The world seemed to me to be rather empty and meaningless. I didn’t know what I would do if I were to hear that the Mother was not there. I was very anxious. I asked everybody I came across “Is the Mother here?” But the Swamis did not give any reply. Instead they quietly went away with their heads lowered. In the meantime, Lalit had alighted from the carriage and gone straight upstairs. I was following in his footsteps, when he returned to announce, “The Mother is here.” I was relieved of the cloud of anxiety which had been hanging over my mind. Now I went slowly to meet the Holy Mother. Leaving the front room on the right side, I proceeded along the balcony on the left. I found a woman standing with her face half veiled. As I noticed two or three devotees making salutations to her, I knew her to be no other than the Holy Mother. It was only to see her that I had rushed all the way from my home. I really don’t remember what I did in those moments.
On seeing me, the male devotees left the place. I rushed towards the Mother, caught hold of her feet and sat down on the floor. The Mother asked, “Where do you come from? Why have you come here?” I replied, “Mother, I really don’t know why I have come. Mother, I am here because you have brought me.”
By this time Lalit’s mother and the others had entered the room. Standing there for a while, one of them asked, “Is she the Holy Mother?” I nodded. Everybody present made salutations to her. Then the Mother went into the shrine of Sri Ramakrishna. We followed her and made obeisance to the Master. The Mother sat on the wooden cot in front of the altar and said, “Sit down, dear, sit down.” We all sat at her feet. Lalit’s mother was a housewife. The Mother began to converse with her like an ordinary worldly woman.
Lalit’s mother: Mother, kindly tell us a few things about Sri Ramakrishna. We are householders. Kindly give us some instructions.
Mother: I know nothing except what I directly heard from the Master. Well, my darling, read the Kathamrita (The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna) and you will find all the necessary instructions there.
After paying the carriage fare, Lalit came straight to the Mother. He prostrated himself, placing his head on her feet, and began shedding tears profusely and praying pitifully, “Be gracious, O Mother, Thou embodiment of mercy! Mother, you are here to save the world. Kindly give me shelter. I shall not leave your feet. You must grant me refuge.” He went on imploring like this. The Mother was all along standing like a statue. After a while, she said, “Please don’t be so impatient. Get up, child.”
Lalit was a boy of fifteen or sixteen. His latent spiritual nature was beginning to unfold. He was dark-complexioned and well-built. He was full of devotion to God, and his behaviour often exhibited it. Again he began shedding tears, saying, “Kindly grant me refuge at your holy feet, Mother. Kindly say, ‘Yes’. Graciously say that you have accepted me, otherwise I shall not get up.”
At this moment his feet touched an earthen pot containing clarified butter.
He immediately shrank in self-condemnation and said, “What a sin have I committed! Someone gave the Mother this clarified butter with great reverence and now my wretched feet have touched it. Alas! What have I done?” In this way he was lamenting when one fair-complexioned old lady who was busy working in the shrine said, “Well, son, you need not fret.
What if your feet have touched that pot? Your feet are not something outside of the universe. The two legs of men are parts of creation. The legs are a part and parcel of the human body.” We glanced at her. The calmness on her face and her simple and meaningful words deeply impressed us. Lalit was pacified to some extent, and regaining his composure, he saluted the Holy Mother, saying, “Mother, kindly bless me.” “The Master will bless you” – saying this the Mother placed her hand on Lalit’s head. Pacified, he went downstairs.
About this time a middle-aged man appeared at the door of the Mother’s room. He was holding the hand of a young woman about sixteen or seventeen years old. He said, “Mother, she is my daughter. Her baby died this morning, and she is grief-stricken. I have brought her here hoping that you will be able to console her.” These words made us all apprehensive.
Mother: Come here, darling.
The young woman entered the room and sat close to the Holy Mother. As she extended her hand to touch Mother’s feet in respectful salutation, the Mother moved away a little and said, “Well, should she touch me? She is now in a period of mourning.” These words of the Holy Mother made the woman’s face all the more pale. Feeling embarrassed, she quietly moved a little away. As the Holy Mother looked at her face, her heart was filled with compassion. She said, “Ah, my poor girl! You have suffered much, so you have come to me for solace. And who knows how much I have hurt your feelings? Well, what does it matter if you are observing a period of mourning? Come, my dear, touch my feet” With these kind words the Mother came closer to the young woman. With her eyes full of tears the girl reverently placed her head on the Mother’s feet. And the Mother blessed her by placing her hand on the girl’s head. Sitting close to the girl, the Mother began to comfort her, saying, “What shall I tell you, darling? I hardly know anything. Keep a photo of the Master with you and know for certain that he .is very near you. Pour out your heart’s grief by shedding tears before him. Cry and pray earnestly: ‘Oh Master! Please draw me towards you. Please grant me peace.’ By repeatedly doing this you will find peace of mind. Have faith in the Master and turn to him in prayer whenever you feel distraught.” The Mother looked towards us and said, “Ah! She has received this shock only today. Is it possible for her to regain her peace of mind in a day?” The girl’s father was all the while standing in front of the door. Now he and his daughter saluted the Holy Mother, silently offering her their mental anguish, and calmly returned home.
Then finding everything quiet in the room, I said, “Mother, I have a question to ask. If you kindly permit, I shall place it before you.” Finding me hesitant, that same middle-aged lady (later I knew her to be the Revered Golap-Ma) said, “Tell her, darling. You can tell the Mother frankly your innermost thoughts. Why should you be shy before her?”
Then I said, “Mother, I only wanted to say that I saw you and the Master in a dream. You seemed to be giving me spiritual initiation, but it was not finished. Ever since that dream I have felt a strong urge to take refuge at your holy feet.” Mother graciously replied, “Well, I shall give you spiritual initiation today itself. But do you have the consent of your husband?”
Disciple: I asked my husband concerning it. He said, “I have no objection, but I am not going to take initiation now. You can have it.”
Mother: Where does your husband live?
Disciple: In Raipur.
Mother showed me the bathroom and said, “Go and wash your hands and feet.”
Disciple: Mother, I have not taken my bath yet.
Mother: That’s all right. You need not take a bath.
After washing my hands and feet in the bathroom, I went to the shrine-room and found that the Mother had already spread two asanas there. Two canoeshaped copper vessels containing Ganges water had been arranged for worship. The Mother was sitting on one asana facing the picture of the Master. She asked me to take my seat on the asana placed on her left. Taking water from the bigger canoe-shaped vessel, she performed the ritual called Achamana and made me also do the same. Next she asked me, “Which Deity are you devoted to?” On hearing my reply, she gave me spiritual initiation and then showed me the procedure for repeating the Mantra. That very moment a current of bliss swept over me. A gush of joy welled up within my heart and overwhelmed me. I was aware of practically nothing, but the Mother guided me in completing the initiation. When it was over, the Mother said, “Now give me the offering due to the Guru.”
Disciple: Mother, I don’t know anything. Please tell me what to do. I have not brought any money.
Mother got up and brought two handfuls of flowers, oranges, plums, etc. and handed them to me. Then she told me to pray: “I am offering to you whatever good or bad deeds I have done in my past or present life, knowingly, or unknowingly.” I repeated this, and the Mother graciously accepted them all. Mother! Oh, the compassion you have shown me, a good-for-nothing, unworthy person – a compassion that seeks no return! My whole being was consumed by it. Ah, what an experience! What things I saw! What words I heard! I surrendered myself, my being, my whole being, to the lotus feet of the Mother and became blessed.
After saluting the Mother I came out on to the verandah and stood like one possessed, holding the railing for about an hour. I was brought Backto normalcy by the cry of a girl and subsequently by the voice of the Mother, and then I went Backinto the room. When the Mother saw me, she said, “Take your seat, dear, take your seat.” When I had sat down, she said, “She is my niece, Radharani. Ever since her mother lost her mental balance, I have been taking care of the girl.” The Mother was holding her, but she was vigorously trying to free herself and flee. In various ways the Mother tried to persuade her to be quiet. The Mother braided her hair, dressed her, fed her with her own hand, and said so many affectionate words to her! I was surprised to see this sort of typical worldly behaviour on the part of the Holy Mother. About this time, I was called for taking a bath in the Ganges and so I got up and left. On my return I found the Mother offering food to the
Master. Coming out of the shrine, the Mother entered the room where the food offering was made to the Master. Then she shut the door of the room and came Backto where we were. After that the Swamis took their noon meal. Golap-Ma served them. When the meal was over, the Swamis left the room.
The plate containing the food which had been offered to the Master was brought into the middle room. Asanas were placed for the womenfolk and for Panchu, the five year old boy who had accompanied me, to sit on. The Holy Mother and all of us took our meal together. I had a desire to take food consecrated by the Holy Mother and so I was quietly waiting. Everyone except me began to eat. Twice or thrice the Mother requested me to eat, saying, “Please take your food,” Then Golap-Ma came up to me and enquired, “What’s the matter with you?” I said, “Kindly give me a little food consecrated by Holy Mother.” The Mother mixed her rice, ate a little of it, and placed a portion on my plate. Ah! What can I say? What a nectar I partook on that day! The cook had prepared arahar (the pigeon-pea) pulse, curried cauliflower, and a dish of chalta (Dillenia speciosa). Golap-Ma had prepared curried fish. All the preparations were very tasty. “I must have more of this curry. I must!” cried Panchu, and began to make a fuss. My whispered rebukes had no effect on him. At that moment Golap-Ma again appeared and asked, “What has happened? Why is this boy behaving like this?”
I said, “I did not want him to accompany me, Mother. I was trying to come here unobtrusively. But when the carriage had gone some distance, Panchu, who was playing on the street, came running and jumped in. And now he is making a fuss, saying, ‘I shall take more of the cauliflower curry.’ “When they heard this, Golap-Ma, and the others began to laugh. Golap-Ma said, “You wanted to avoid him, but how could you hope to succeed? It was on account of his good past-deeds that he was able to meet the Holy Mother. What a great good fortune it is! It will do him good.” The Mother supported the viewpoint of Golap-Ma by saying, “Yes, that’s right.”
After the noon meal I waited upon the Holy Mother during the entire day. I was supposed to leave for Raipur, as Parul and Kamala had insisted that I should go. But it was a far-off place, and so lest I should miss seeing the Holy Mother in the near future, I didn’t go.
The Mother sat in the sun on the roof to dry her wet hair and began talking about her parental home. She said, “I brought up Radhu, who is a mentally imbalanced girl. She wouldn’t take food unless she is fed by others. Besides, I am not keeping good health; I suffer from rheumatism. For treatment I went to Varanasi and Vrindaban, but it was of no avail”
After we had talked about various matters the Mother said, “You are so young, a mere child. How is it that you felt an inclination for spiritual initiation?”
Disciple: Mother, I really don’t know. I don’t enjoy worldly life. In my heart I really want to shun worldly life. In fact, I was feeling great restlessness. At long last I have found peace of mind today. Besides, this world is something impermanent. It is really only for a few days. Everything around me seems unreal. So how can I give my mind to it?
About this time a lady of the same age as the Holy Mother came in and sat down. As I was sitting very close to the Mother, the latter’s shadow fell on my person. Noticing this, the lady rebuked me, saying, “What sort of a girl are you that you are sitting on the shadow of the Holy Mother? You will incur sin. Please sit a little away.” I sat very close to the Mother, for I had taken her to be my very own. Now, feeling embarrassed, I moved away a little. The lady then asked the Mother, “Who is this girl?”
Mother: The girl has received initiation today. She is very devoted.
At these words of the Mother I felt embarrassed, and so I went to the next room where Parul and the others were gossiping. Just then Lalit came and said, “Come on, Sister. The carriage is ready. It is nearing sunset.” So I went to the Holy Mother to take leave of her. The Mother said: ” When will you come here next, dear?”
Disciple: I shall come to you whenever you graciously remember me. I am not able to do so by my own effort. Mother, kindly bless me. Kindly remember me, O Mother.
Mother: Please come again, dear.
I looked at her with a sorrowful heart. She gave me two betel-leaf rolls. I prostrated myself at her feet and returned with my physical body, leaving behind with the Mother my real self. With tears in her eyes the Mother stood on the top of the staircase. I was full of joy within and without. I was hearing the voice of the Mother, as it were, even when I was travelling in the carriage.
The Mother kept her word; for, two years later, on my return from Raipur, I was able to see her again during her last illness.