10: Recorded by Srischandra Ghatak
It was the Bengali month of Jaistha (May-June) of 1910. A party of us started from Shillong with the object of paying our respects to the Holy Mother at Jayrambati. All of us had seen the Mother’s photo taken in her earlier days. While on the way, one of us saw the Holy Mother in a dream, just as she looked at the time. Later, on seeing her at Jayrambati, the striking resemblance of the dream image to the Mother herself brought us unbounded joy and wonder. One of us had already received spiritual initiation from a certain monk. On being told of this, the Holy Mother remarked, “The Mantra was given by a monk – you will be illumined.” Except for him, the rest of us received the great Mantra from the Holy Mother this time. Soon after the initiation, we asked for her permission to visit Kamarpukur. She said, “How is that possible? Today, my children, I should feed you sumptuously.”
We have read in the Gita, “What is action and what is inaction? Even the wise are puzzled over this question. Therefore, I shall tell you what action is. When you know that, you will be free from all impurity. You must learn what kind of work is to be done, what kind is to be avoided, and how one could reach a state of calm detachment in work. The real nature of action is hard to understand.” So I wondered what else I would have to do for gaining emancipation from the worldly ties, after I had received the Mother’s grace. I asked her, “Mother, what else have I to do?” She replied, “You have nothing more to do.”
Disciple: Shall I have to do nothing else?
Mother: Nothing, dear.
Disciple: Nothing else, really?
Mother: No, nothing else.
Thus assured by the very same reply three times, I was convinced that she, who had bestowed her grace on me, had also taken upon herself the responsibility of releasing me from the cycle of birth and death.
I had studied the palm of Aunt Bhanu and said to her, “Auntie, you will live for another twenty-five years.” Aunt Bhanu went to the Mother and said, “Mother, your son knows palmistry.” The Mother immediately called me. When I went to her, she said, “Dear, can you read the lines on my palm? Please tell me if I shall be cured of the gout in my legs?” I was struck dumb by her question, for I knew nothing of palmistry. I had simply made an intelligent guess in Aunt Bhanu’s case. I had heard that the Holy Mother’s acceptance of the sins of her disciples was responsible for the pain in her legs. I therefore said, “Since we are responsible for this suffering, can you really be free from this as long as we are with you?”
On hearing this, the Mother was deeply pained. Sinking to the floor, she murmured, “O Mother, what does he say?”
Seeing her so perplexed, I said,’ “Well, Mother, do you really want to be free from this suffering?”
Mother: Yes, of course.
Disciple: Then you will be cured.
Now, this made her glad. A little later the Mother remarked, “Do you see what kind of devotion he has! He feels that everything depends on my will.”
I went to bid the Mother farewell on the day I was to leave for home. I told her, “Mother, I cannot correctly keep count while I tell my beads. When my fingers move, my lips do not; and when my fingers and lips move, my mind fails to get fixed.” Mother replied, “In future see that your tongue and fingers (sic. lips) do not move. Perform Japa mentally.”
While taking leave, I saluted her and said, “Mother, I am going now.” Immediately the Mother interjected saying, “Dear, please say ‘I am coming’; you should not say ‘I am going.'” I corrected myself, and the Mother glanced at me with satisfaction.
Following the Durga Puja of 1912, the Holy Mother stayed for some time at Banaras. We too went to Banaras at the time of the Mother’s birthday in the month of December. On her birthday we saluted her at Lakshminivas in the morning. We worshipped her with garlands of flowers. The Mother gave each of us a garland, which had been offered to her by devotees. I partook also of sweets offered to the Holy Mother, and then went to the Advaita Ashrama where Homa was being performed after the worship. All those present were offering oblations. We too moved forward to offer our oblations, when some of those present protested, saying, “You have already taken food. Don’t offer any oblation.” As a result, everyone except me offered oblations. Just before this the Holy Mother had come to the Advaita Ashrama, and had noticed all that took place. Addressing the women devotees, the Mother said, “What they have received is my Prasada only. When did they take their food? They should offer oblations, of course.” All this I heard from the women devotees later.
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On the eighth day of the fortnight in the month of Magha (January, 1913), I brought my wife and widowed sister to the Holy Mother in expectation of her benign grace. The Mother was kind enough to grant both of them spiritual initiation. My wife said to the Holy Mother, “Mother, I feel like performing Siva Puja.” The Mother replied, “You are too young; you will not be able to do it correctly. Later, at the proper time, you will learn how to worship Siva. Now you should rather devote time to the service of your elders at home.” The Mother praised my sister, saying, “Her mind is quite pure.” We had taken with us some mangoes. Mangoes were quite costly in those days. When the Mother saw the heap of mangoes, she observed, “Why have you purchased mangoes at such a high price? Besides, these mangoes are not ready for eating yet – they taste sour.”
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During the Janmashtami holidays of 1913, a number of us, fellow disciples, went to Jayrambati. It was already dusk when we reached the Math at Koalpara. As our holiday was short, we did not halt at the Math for the night, but proceeded towards Jayrambati. On the way we were caught in a heavy shower of rain. The night too was pitch-dark. The village paths were muddy and inundated at places. We braved all these hardships and finally reached Jayrambati. But as the night was quite advanced, the Holy Mother was not informed of our arrival. The next morning we saluted the Mother and told her of our ordeals. On hearing about them she said, “Oh dear, the Master must have protected you. How many snakes you must have trampled upon while traversing the muddy road in the dark! I am much pained to hear of your toils. It is not good to go about recklessly.”
We said, “Mother, we were pining to see you, and the period of our leave is short. That’s why we were in a hurry.”
Mother: It is natural for you to have such yearning, but it causes me anxiety.
Srimati Sudhira, the former Superintendent of the Nivedita Girls’ School, was then staying at Jayrambati. At noon that day the Mother sent for me and said, “Look, Sudhira will travel along with you up to Vishnupur. Please move cautiously. The bullock cart carrying her should be placed in between those of your party. You are all my own, my children.”
Disciple: Certainly we shall escort her. And we shall strictly follow your instruction.
While we were taking our night meal, the Mother sat nearby and began to chat. Someone raised the topic of initiation of a boy who was about seven years old. The Mother said, “How can he have initiation? He is still quite young. He has perhaps not even learned how to bathe or wash himself! The boy is a devotee; let him live long. Let him be a servant of the Lord’s devotees. “
As the conversation proceeded, I asked her, “Mother, we take food from anybody and everybody-will this be spiritually harmful to us?”
Mother: The Master emphatically objected to one’s partaking of food of the sraddha ceremony; for it affects the devotion of the person. Although in all such ceremonies Narayana, the Lord of Yajna is worshipped, he prohibited the taking of the food offered at a sraddha ceremony.
Disciple: Then what should we do in the case of sraddha ceremonies of our near relations?
Mother: Well, how can you avoid it in the case of your near relations? You can’t.
The next day I went to see her at about 2 p.m. The Mother was seated on the floor in an absent-minded mood. A few days earlier a devastating flood from the Damodar River had caused havoc. I told her all that I had learnt from newspapers and hearsay. She listened patiently and then said in a voice full of pathos, “My son, do good to the world.” Hearing these words from her lips, I mentally prayed to her to grant me the opportunity of serving the Lord manifested as the universe. As I saluted her before coming out of the house,
I heard her murmur, “Only money !money! money!” Hearing these words, I got alarmed. I presumed that Mother was perhaps commenting on my excessive attachment to money. Immediately she looked at me and observed, “No, child, money too is a necessity. Look here, Kali runs after money only.”
On 24th December, 1915, I went with my family to see the Mother at the Udbodhan house. My wife was carrying in her hand some sweets. Revered Golap-Ma was putting them aside with the idea of offering them to the Master some other day, when the Mother objected, saying, “Well, don’t do that. Please offer now to the Master whatever my daughter-in-law has brought. This will bring good to her.” The next morning my wife went to see the Mother. On returning home in the evening she told me, “Today the Mother showered her grace so abundantly on me that its memory will give me joy forever. At about nine or ten in the morning the Mother had puffed rice and fried peas purchased for three Paise. Placing them on her apron and taking her seat on the floor, she began to leisurely partake of the snack. She now and then offered me a handful, saying, “Dear, take it please.” Compared to various delicacies I had previously taken, the joy in eating this puffed rice was something unique. At noon the Holy Mother asked me to massage her feet. She also asked me to air her bedding in the sun. She thereby greatly favoured me by accepting my humble services. Besides, I had the following conversation with her.
Disciple: Mother, can I offer cooked food to the Master? Mother: Yes, you can offer cooked food. The Master was fond of Sukta (a quasi-bitter preparation).
Disciple: Can I offer him preparations of fish?
Mother: Yes, you can. While offering them, you have to utter the prescribed Mantras.
Then the Mother asked, “Does my son (thereby meaning the lady’s husband) take fish?”
Disciple: Yes, he does.
Mother: Yes, he should take as much as he likes.
In the course of conversation I remarked, “Mother, poverty is stalking the whole country as an offshoot of the World War. How much the people are suffering! Food and clothings have become very costly!”
Mother: In spite of these sufferings, people do not become sensible.
Disciple: Mother, will this War bring us good?
Mother: When the Lord descends, such thing happens. How many more will come to pass. . . .
When I went to take leave of her in the afternoon, the Mother recalled our trip to Jayrambati on the rainy night of Janmashtami, and rebuked me, saying, “To go about without any thought of possible risks is no good.”
Disciple: I shall never do so again.
The Mother apparently understood me as saying that I intended not to go to Jayrambati henceforth. So she immediately rejoined. “Certainly you should come here, my son; but even a thorn in your foot affects me as an arrow in the chest!” Glancing at my wife, she said, “Daughter, you keep a watch on him; he should not move about in that way.”
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During the Puja vacation of 1917 I went with Jatin, one of my fellow disciples, to the Udbodhan house to pay our respects to the Holy Mother. We had taken two Saris for her. We placed the Saris at her holy feet and bowed down. She blessed us, saying, “Dear, you are not well off; why do you present cloths in this way?” Both of us felt a little hurt and said, “Mother, your well-to-do disciples present you with costly cloths. Now, your not-so-well-off disciples have brought these coarse ones. Kindly accept them and fulfil their hearts’ desire.”
Gladdened at heart, the Holy Mother now said, “My child, this is silk to me, this is my everything! These mean so much to me!” With these words, she endearingly took the two Saris in her hands. At that time the Mother was suffering from acute tooth ache. Referring to it she said, “My son, the Master used to say, ‘He who never had a tooth ache cannot appreciate its intensity.'”
In the year 1917, I wrote to her a letter praying for her blessings for the successful accomplishment of Sri Ramakrishna’s birthday celebrations at Ranchi. The Mother replied, “It is difficult to express in writing how delighted I was to receive your letter. You are all the children of the Master. In all such noble endeavours he himself will stand by you. Why do you worry on that account?”
In the month of Jaistha, 1919, I asked the Mother at Jayrambati “Mother, does the Master listen to the prayers mentally offered to him? And should we direct our prayers to him instead of telling you?”
In reply the Mother said in an agitated voice, “If the Master truly exists he definitely listens to all prayers.”
While bowing down at her feet at the time of leaving Jayrambati, I told her, “Mother, if I do not find a bullock cart in the daytime, I shall walk on foot from Kotulpur to Vishnupur.”
Mother: My son, why should you tax your body so much? Why should you exhaust yourself in this way? You will certainly find a cart.
The Mother’s prophecy proved true. I got a cart. This was my last meeting with the Mother in a physical sense.