by Sravani Bhattacharjee
After Belur Math was established in 1897, Holy Mother occasionally resided nearby in a bungalow, commonly known as Nilambar Mukherjee’s garden house. Once during her stay there Swami Virajananda came to her to convey a message from the Math. Swami Virajananda, who would later become the sixth president of the Ramakrishna Order, was only a young monk then. Mother affectionately called him Kalikrishna, his premonastic name. Finding Mother by herself, engaged in household chores, her face covered with the end of her sari, Kalikrishna spontaneously revealed a deep regret in his heart by saying, “Mother, in spite of having so many opportunities to see the Master when he was alive, I failed to do so. I am so unfortunate.”
He told the Mother that he was fourteen years old when the Master left the body. He had grown up in a neighborhood that the Master often visited and members of his family had enjoyed the Master’s holy company. But alas, he had never joined them. Hearing this, Mother remained silent. So Kalikrishna uttered these same words again. Mother was still silent. Seeing Mother’s seeming indifference he asked, “Mother, don’t you listen to your son’s agony?”
At this, the Mother threw the veil from her face and looking into his eyes replied, “Why are you cursing yourself, my child? You are seeing him.”
This left him speechless; his mind withdrew inward in an effort to fathom the meaning of those powerful words.Leaving the garden house after finishing his assigned duties, he thought to himself: Did Mother mean seeing her is the same as seeing the Master? Just then his eyes fell on the porch, where Mother stood raising her hands, as if in a sign of approval. Kalikrishna’s heart was filled with a great peace.
Holy Mother expressed her unique identity with the Master on other occasions also. Understanding this identity opens new doors to our spiritual awareness. However, when we try to absorb this more deeply, many doubts arise. Holy Mother as the Master’s wife served him with undivided attention during the nine years she spent in his presence. After the Master’s passing, she carried forward his spiritual mission. In unassuming ways she silently but steadily guided, nurtured, and established the spiritual ideals the Master wanted to disseminate. And yet they were so different in their looks, ways, and expressions. How then, can seeing the Mother be the same as seeing the Master? To fathom its true meaning let us leave the boundaries of our limited thoughts and sense perceptions and dive into deeper realms of awareness. What does “seeing the Master” really mean? Swami Vivekananda describes the Master as one seeing whom, delusion vanishes. In Sri Ramakrishna Shatakam, Swamiji elaborates on the sublimity of the Master’s being. Translated from Sanskrit the verse reads:
That Eternal and Universal, which is pure knowledge, infinite bliss, the cause of the entire universe, an ocean of compassion, beginningless, endless, and beyond nature, has appeared in this world in the form of Sri Ramakrishna.
The finite form of the Master is a vivid representation of the formless Absolute. Can this be equally true with Holy Mother? An incident from their lives may help us find an answer to this.
On an auspicious night during the summer of 1872, the Master summoned Holy Mother to his room and worshippedher, following the injunctions of the scriptures, as the Divine Mother of the Universe. At the end of the worship, he consecrated the fruits of his intense austerities, his spiritual realizations, and himself at the feet of Holy Mother. Such an act is unheard of in the spiritual history of mankind. Toward the end of this intensely powerful worship, both the Master and the Mother were immersed in a deep state of samadhi. In that transcendental union of the Spirit, the worshipper and the worshipped realized their identity as actually being Existence, Knowledge, and Bliss Absolute.
By the performance of that great rite, the Master invoked in Holy Mother the same spiritual consciousness and power that was manifesting itself through his own personality. He made her a participant in all his austerities and spiritual attainments and a vivid manifestation of that Absolute Consciousness that he himself represented.
Holy Mother’s future actions were all, therefore, devoid of any personal object, but meant to fulfill the great mission that was being worked out through the Master. She carried herself like any other woman of those days, abiding by the social customs. Her tremendous power was concealed behind a veil, a veil which our ordinary, mundane awareness cannot penetrate. But to a real seeker of Truth, she removed that veil and showed her true nature, a nature that is one with the Absolute Consciousness in a very real sense. Looking at her face, when we can see that reality, would itself be true spiritual attainment.