08: Recorded by Smt. Sailabala Chowdhury
On the morning of Sunday, 2nd Shravan 1311 B.S. (July, 1904) the Revered Gauri-Ma, her Durga, and I were travelling in a hackney-carriage to the most respected Holy Mother’s rented house at Baghbazar. This was the first time I was going to pay my homage at her holy feet. On the way I expressed to Gauri-Ma with much feeling and many tears my hope that the visit might bring good to me. Arriving at the Holy Mother’s house, Gauri-Ma went ahead of us to the first floor and we followed. Going upstairs, I noticed that Gauri-Ma was conversing with the Mother in a low voice. I don’t know what passed between them but I heard the Holy Mother saying to her, “You brought Suren’s wife here the other day, and now you have brought this daughter today – this seems to be your regular work.” On hearing this, Gauri-Ma said, assertively, “Oh, you will certainly give her initiation, won’t you? What else is the purpose of your existence?”
At this, the Mother quietly said, “Then come, darling, the time is auspicious now.” The Mother ushered Durga into the shrine and shut the door. Gauri-Ma and I waited on the verandah.
The initiation was soon over, and Durga came out of the room. Then I went into the shrine room and the door was closed. The Mother was already inside. Gauri-Ma and Durga stood outside on the verandah. The Mother made me sit on the asana meant for the worshipper and then had me worship the Master. Before she gave me initiation, the Mother asked, “Does your family have a Guru?” I said, “Yes.”
Mother: Do you intend to take initiation from him also?
From inside the room the Mother asked Gauri-Ma, “Gaurdasi, the Mantra of which deity shall I give her?” Then according to Gauri-Ma’s suggestion, the Mother gave me initiation: I was accustomed to doing Japa. But when the Mother asked me to do Japa, my body and mind were in such a condition then that I was unable to comply. While making me repeat the Holy Name, the Mother herself held my hand and kept count on my fingers. Then the door of the shrine was opened. Gauri-Ma entered and told me to offer flowers at the Mother’s feet. I obeyed.
When we had arrived at her house, the Mother was getting ready to go to the Ganges for her bath. But now our visit had prevented her from going. We took our noon meal and spent the whole day there.
That day the Mother was searching for a misplaced key. Noticing a key lying close to the cot, I told her, “Here is a key.” I didn’t know that the Mother was looking for that very key. I did not dare touch it. The Mother picked it up with-great joy and blessed me.
I didn’t feel like leaving the Mother. When I was saluting her at the time of taking leave, she said, “Come again, dear. Write to me now and then.”
On the Janmashtami day of Bhadra (August-September), my third sister and I had gone to Kankurgachhi Yogodyan to attend the festival there. We noticed that special arrangements were being made there for the reception of the Holy Mother. A place close to the temple had been enclosed for her to take rest in. I was feeling great joy to think that the Mother would come here and I would see her. Truly, the Mother’s arrival created great excitement.
The Mother along with Lakshmi-Didi walked along the long pathway on which a new cloth had been stretched. The conch was blown to mark the auspicious visit. Many among those assembled became anxious to see the Holy Mother. We also proceeded to meet her when we noticed her approaching solemnly, with her face partly veiled with her cloth. Seeing me, she said, “So you have come, my child!” As there had gathered a big crowd around her, I could not say anything in reply, and so I simply nodded. My Sej-Didi was much grieved at the demise of her son. She said to me, “I have never met the Holy Mother. Please ask her to bless me.” But in the midst of the large crowd, I was not getting an opportunity to speak. As soon as I found her a little free, I said, “Mother, this is the wife of my husband’s brother.” No sooner had I spoken than the Mother said affectionately, “I know everything, my child.” I couldn’t tell her anything else.
One day my Sej-Didi and I went to see the Holy Mother. After saluting her we went to the shrine room to pay our homage to the Master. On our return the Mother said, “Take your seat.” And so we sat down. After chatting for some time, in the course of conversation, I told the Mother, “Mother, you are Mahamaya; you have nicely deluded us by bestowing parents, husbands, and children on us.” The Mother immediately replied, “Don’t speak like this- that
I have kept others deluded! The sufferings of people bound in the world pain me very much. But what can I do, my child? They don’t seek liberation.”
Another day, along with my Sej-Didi I went to see the Mother. After some talk, the Sej-Didi asked her, ”Mother, where is God?” The Mother replied, “Dear, where else is God except very close to His devotees? If worldly people even visit the place used by holy men, the very atmosphere of the place can remove the dross of their mind.”
One day Sej-Didi, Na-Didi, Mani, and I had gone to see the Mother. When Sej-Didi requested the Mother to give Na-Didi and Mani initiation, she kept quiet. After a while Sej-Didi raised the topic of initiation again. Mother said somewhat gravely, ‘They have their family Guru. It will be best to take initiation from him.” A little later Sej-Didi left the room. I remained seated. Then Mother said, “Is the giving of initiation a trifling matter? One has to assume the entire responsibility for the disciple’s sins.”
I asked the Mother one day, “You have instructed me how to perform Japa of the name of the Master; but how shall do Japa of your name?” The Mother replied, “You can do it with the name ‘Radha’ or any other name that suits you. If you cannot choose any such name, then repeat simply ‘Ma’.”
One day after our noon meal Sej-Didi and I went to see the Holy Mother. On arriving we found the doors of her room closed and learned that she was taking rest. After some time the door was opened and we went in and saluted the Mother and sat down. The Mother asked, “When did you arrive, my children?” We replied, “We came a while ago. As you were taking rest, we waited outside your room.” After some talk I said, ”Mother, people are blessed with various visions, but I have not had any.” The Mother said, ”These experiences belong to a lower realm.” These words raised high hopes in me. It struck me that I would have something higher than these visions. Then I said, ”Mother, shall I not attain anything?” She replied, “Of course you will, my child.”
One day I asked the Mother about worshipping the Master. She replied,
“You are involved in worldly life. You would not be able to manage the formalities of worship.”
Whenever the Holy Mother was asked to give some instructions, she would say, “Call upon the Master. He will do everything for you. Uncle Moon is the uncle of all”
One day my mother and I were on our way to visit the Holy Mother. As we were proceeding we came across Sudhira-Didi who was returning after visiting the Holy Mother. When we raised the topic of Sudhira-Didi before the Mother, the latter remarked, “What a fine girl she is! She isn’t married. How she stands on her own and moves about in a carriage alone!”
Another day my mother and I went to the Mother’s house. After saluting her I said, “We have been trying to come here for a long while but were delayed on account of the carriage,” The Mother said, “You come here to see the Deity. Why should you waste money by engaging a carriage? Come on foot.”
One noon my mother and I had gone to see the Holy Mother. Golap-Ma became annoyed at our visit at such an inconvenient hour and said, “It is not really visiting Mother, it is only vexing her. Now the cooking is over. If you had intended to come at such an odd time, you should have informed us in the morning. Now, how can the others take their food without sharing it with you?” Golap-Ma said to the Holy Mother, “You are a fine person indeed! You entertain anybody who approaches you and calls you ‘Mother.’ “The Mother said in reply, “What can I do, Golap? If someone comes here and calls me ‘Mother’, I can’t neglect him.”
Whenever I used to go along with my mother to see the Holy Mother, we would be late in reaching there; for my mother could go only after attending to her household duties. On the way to the Mother’s house, I would be afraid lest we should come across Golap-Ma, who was likely to scold us for coming late. One day the Holy Mother told her, “What else can they do? They can come only after attending to all their duties.” When we were about to take leave of the Holy Mother after saluting her, she said, “Why do you go without taking your meal?” We replied, ‘Our meal is ready at home. We shall leave now.” The Mother wanted very much to have us for lunch. At last she remarked, “All right, my children, come again; Golap gets annoyed.”
The Mother gave us a little quantity of consecrated food in a cocoanut shell which we carried home.
One day my mother and I took flowers, Bilva leaves and basil leaves to the Mother’s house with a view to offering them at her feet. At the very sight of us Golap-Ma was vexed, and so we stood quiet. After a while I told the Mother, “Mother, we have brought these flowers to offer at your feet.” The Mother said, “Yes, you may offer them.” I said, “Mother, where shall I get a little water?” The Mother said, “It is there. Take it.” I sprinkled a little water on her feet and was about to offer the flowers and other articles, when she said, “Don’t offer the basil or Bilva leaves. Offer the flowers only.” After offering the flowers at her feet, I saluted her and asked, “What shall I do with these flowers?” The Mother replied, “Take them home.”
I sent to the Holy Mother through a devotee a rosary which I had previously used when repeating the name of Lord Hari and also a new rosary of Rudraksha beads. The Mother performed Japa using the new rosary, but as regards the old one she objected, saying, “This is an old rosary.” Nevertheless, as a devotee requested her, she performed Japa using that rosary also. When I saw the Mother next, I asked her, “What Mantra shall I use with the Rudraksha beads?” The Mother repeated it to me. When I asked her, “Should I utter this Mantra also while using the rosary meant for repeating the name of Lord Hari?”, she replied, “That rosary is only for remembering Lord Hari.” It usually takes much time to count the beads of a rosary meant for repeating the name of Lord Hari but it would take a shorter time to count with the Rudraksha beads. And so I again asked the Mother what I should do with the old rosary. The Mother guessed my intention and said, “All right, use the string of Rudraksha beads. Then you can do the Japa quickly.”
One night in a dream Sej-Didi had received instructions to present the Mother with a red-bordered Sari. So she purchased one and went to the Mother’s house along with me. After saluting the Mother, Sej-Didi told her about her dream, and placed the Sari at her feet. The Mother smilingly took the Sari in her hand and wrapped it round herself. After a short while she removed it and said, “How can I wear it, my child? People would say, ‘The wife of the Paramahamsa (Sri Ramakrishna) is using a red-bordered Sari.’ But since you have brought it I shall use it for taking my bath.” Learning that the Mother would soon leave for Orissa, we came away that day.
When the Mother returned to Calcutta, Sej-Didi and I went to Baghbazar to see her holy person. The Mother talked much about Puri. Thereafter Sej-Didi enquired if the Mother had used the Sari. The Mother replied, “Yes, my child, I used it. But after a few days of use, I gave it to someone.”
On another occasion, Sej-Didi and I went to see the Holy Mother. After conversing on various topics, we asked her, “What will happen to us?” The Mother replied, “Call on the Master.” Sej-Didi said, “But we haven’t seen the Master; we know only you.” Then the Mother said, “Do you want me to drown myself like the Guru of the story? Once a disciple, uttering ‘Jai Guru’ with great faith, crossed a river. Observing this, the Guru mused, ‘So my name has so much power!’ Then uttering ‘I, I’, the Guru went into the water-and was drowned!”