Motherhood, representing a high order of renunciation and service, holds a glorified place in the scheme of Hindu life. God with his unfailing love is worshipped by many as the Divine Mother, while all women are to be looked upon by men as the earthly counterparts of the Divine Mother. Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa raised this deal to an unprecedented height of glory, and left for the world a prefect model in the person of his immaculate spiritual consort, Sri Sarada Devi, known to the devotees as the Holy Mother.
Holy Mother was born on the 22nd December 1853 in the village of Jayarambati, about 100kms to the west of Calcutta. She was named Saradamani. She entered into Shri Ramakrishna’s life as his partner when she was aged only five and he was twenty three years of age. She joined her husband in the year 1872 at Dakshineshwar when she was eighteen years old. By that time Shri Ramakrishna had attained spiritual realization of the highest order. She told Sri Ramakrishna that her only purpose in life was to serve him and be of help in his spiritual endeavours. Shri Ramakrishna replied that to him, the Divine Mother in the temple of Kali at Dakshineshwar, the earthly mother who gave him birth and Sarada were all the same. Sri Ramakrishna as the Master took great care to help her in the development of her talents, both in the secular and spiritual fields of life. By careful education he helped her to make her a true saha dharmini ( wife ), a fellow seeker in the quest for higher values of life.
After the passing away of Sri Ramakrishna in 1886, the Holy Mother spent sometime in Kamarpukur, the birth place of Shri Ramakrishna. Her life was that of extreme poverty and this made the lay and monastic disciples of Shri Ramakrishna to bring her to Calcutta and take care of her. For sometime she stayed in a rented house and later, in the house built by the monastic disciples of Sri Ramakrishna called ” Udbodhan ” House. Slowly she was surrounded by a number of spiritual aspirants including the woman devotees of the Master. Sri Ramakrishna had left her in this world to continue and add momentum to the work of spiritual regeneration of man that he had started. She initiated several people into spiritual discipline. She practiced japa and meditation intensely till her death in 1920.
Sarada Devi was the embodiment of a mother’s love. She treated everyone alike. There is a story in her life as to how she served food to a Muslim labourer with great affection. again, she melted the hearts of a robber couple by treating them as her father and mother. Sister Nivedita, a disciple of Swami Vivekananda, became her daughter. Her method of spiritual ministry was unique in that love alone triumphed. She said ” If you want peace of mind, do not find fault with others . rather see your own faults. learn to make the world your own. No one is a stranger. ” No cast, colour, or creed could stand before the unimpeded flow of her limitless love. In her extreme solcitude for universal well-being she soared far above the hide bound social usage. She had the strength of mind, reject all that appeared to be narrow and superstitious in the social customs of the day. Thus, through her compassion and mercy, monks, householders, children, fallen women and even criminals succeeded in finding spiritual shelter at her feet.
She prayed at Holy Gaya to provide facilities for the wandering, poverty stricken disciples of Sri Ramakrishna. Later developments which culminated in the establishment of Sri Ramakrishna math at Belur were in answers to her prayers. Sri Sarada said that one should repeat the name of God in the innermost core of one’s heart with utmost sincerity and self-surrender. By doing so constantly, one will gradually attain peace of mind and become god-centered.
Holy Mother’s life demonstrated a perfect synthesis of attachment and detachment. Though a wife, she was really a nun with a purest heart fixed for ever on God. Without physically being a mother, she was in every sense the loving mother of hundreds of children. Though her God-centered mind was always aloof from the world, she appeared an ideal householder to all intents and purposes.
It is no exaggeration if it is said that she is certainly the best bridge between the ancient and modern ideals of Indian womanhood, retaining the best features of both. The mother is more alive today in our hearts than when she was in her mortal frame. She has said ” I am present in all mothers. You all are my children irrespective of from where you come.. whosoever comes to me addressing me as mother – all of them are my children. ”
— Courtesy ” Great Women of India ” published by Shri Ramakrishna Math.