Sarada Seva Sangha : A Public Charitable Trust For Women & Children

Sri Sarada Devi (Holy Mother)

Holy Mother Sarada DeviSri Sarada Devi was born on 22nd December,1853 at Joyrambati in West Bengal. Her father, Ramachandra Mukherjee and mother Shyamsundari Devi were poor Brahmins, but respected in their village for being pious, virtuous and generous. She grew up imbibed with religious fervor, love and compassion for all, which made her dear to others. In a pre-ordained divine alliance, she was married when she was only five years old to Gadadhar (as Shri Ramakrishna was earlier known), seventeen years older than her. Strangely enough, while the search for a bride was on, Gadadhar had indicated that the anointed bride Sarada would be found at Joyrambati. She came back to resume life with her parents, while Gadadhar proceeded to Dakshineswar to continue with his austere spiritual practices.

During her formative years, Sarada rarely met Gadadhar. She continued to live through the normal routine of rural life with all the essence of purity, sympathy and sharing in the miseries of others. As she grew older, she heard from local gossip that Gadadhar had gone insane. People unused to the pervading God-intoxicating state of divine communion in which Gadadhar was immersed, misread this as a state of lunacy. Sarada was distressed and naturally went to Dakshineswar to see with her own eyes. She found him a normal person who was loving, caring and respectful. She saw the tough regime of spiritual sadhana of Shri Ramakrishna and his frequent forays into states of divine ecstasy leading to Samadhi. She valued the privilege of being able to serve him and to stand by him in the path of his spiritual life.

The formal seeds of religious education were sown. A marriage, untarnished by worldly desires, was planted on a platonic plane and found realization in a spiritual union with the Providence. Her husband turned into her Guru to unfurl the intricate nuances of religious precepts. He realized the unfathomable reservoir of spiritual potential in her and looked upon her as a form of the blissful Holy Mother, his deity Kali.

At Dakshineswar, she stayed in a very small quarter at the Nahabat. Apart from cooking meals for Shri Ramakrishna and his devotees, she had an arduous daily routine of household work. She would start her day at 3 a.m. in the morning with a bath in the holy river Ganges. Away from public gaze, she spent long hours in silent and contemplative meditation, japa and other spiritual practices. She had woven her life into a long and silent prayer to God spun around austerity, simplicity and piety. She once said that she would pray, "Oh Lord! Even the Moon has tarnish. But let my mind be free from any blemish." She tells the world, "If one is steadfast in meditation, one will clearly see the Lord in one's heart and be able to hear His voice."

Towards the later part of Shri Ramakrishna's life, he came to be acknowledged as a great religious teacher. During this period, a good number of the educated Calcutta's cream came under his spiritual guidance. A group of educated, dedicated, selfless and spiritually introspective young men, who later blossomed into the Ramakrishna Order, were being spiritually groomed by the Master for the broader job of spiritual dissemination. Shri Sarada Devi took care of the Master during his days of terminal illness. Gradually she became a mother to this young band. Her motherly feelings encompassed humanity. Her boundless love and compassion would offer solace to troubled hearts, would forgive and would inspire them to detach from worldly life and surrender at the feet of God for eternal peace and liberation. One of her direct disciples said she would also take upon herself their sins, inequities and sufferings. A glance from her was enough to awaken spiritual consciousness. This motherly affection of her was universal cutting across religious and caste barriers, --- no mean feature in an orthodox Hindu society in those days. She asked, "How can the devotees really have any caste? Children are all equal." Sister Nivedita, a European lady, as well as Amjad, a poor Muslim labourer who was convicted on and off on charges of theft and robbery, were drenched in this sea of motherly love along with so many others. Holy Mother said "Shri Ramakrishna left me behind to manifest the Motherhood of God to the world." And indeed so, when she says, "I shall not be able to turn away anybody if he addresses me as Mother. I cannot contain myself when one draws near me and calls me Mother." or, "If my son wallows in the dust or mud, it is I who have to wipe all the dirt off his body and take him to my lap." Mother's best message of hope to humanity is evinced in "I am the mother of the wicked, as I am the mother of the virtuous. Whenever, you are in distress, just say to yourself 'I have a mother'."

She lived thirty four years after the passing away of Shri Ramakrishna. She lived through, practiced and preached the ideals set by the Master. She was a stalwart of a religious leader in her own right and continued to inspire her disciples and the ordinary people. She provided the guiding spirit to the Ramakrishna Order during its formative years - the monks looked upon her as a manifestation of the Divine Mother. Her wish and her advice became a sacred command for the Order.

All along she was involved in a family life with all its rituals. To this extent, she was different from the Master, who kept away from the cross-currents of family life. Some of her relatives and associates were not among the ideal in terms of character, but she loved them all. She lived a family life, but renounced anything worldly in it. She had complete faith in the Provider, for she never sought aid, even in the face of starvation, from those who were too willing to provide her the comforts of life. She advised, " One should desire of God desirelessness. For desire alone is the root of all suffering. But one may pray for devotion and detachment. These cannot be classed as desires." Her life was a perfect synthesis of Karma, Bhakti and Jnana Yoga --- a living example of the religious precepts expounded by Shri Ramakrishna. She was so very simple and human, yet so very divine. Her thoughts, deeds and words were one with God. Her love and affection, her sympathy and compassion for all, her sharing in the sorrows of others and being pained, her dispassion towards worldly life, her deep realization of religious precepts and of God all make up the saint in her.