by Jayanti (Pamela Hoye)
Sri Ramakrishna passed the torch of his divine light and inspiration to Sri Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda in very certain ways. Numerous references point to the Master’s expectations following his mahasamadhi. It may be interesting to explore how his two chief disciples regarded each other.
Swamiji was reluctant to take a step without Holy Mother’s approval. He sought her blessing before traveling to America and her approval upon his return. Having set off as a humble monk in search of aid for his home country, he returned as a world figure. He had felt the divine power of Shakti guiding him, but still wanted Mother’s assurance. “The Master is always with you. You have many more things to accomplish for the welfare of the world,” she assured him. “The Master is not different from the one whom he called ‘Mother.’ It was the Master who accomplished all this work through you. You are his chosen child and disciple. How dearly he loved you! He foretold that you would teach men.”
Like Sri Ramakrishna, he accepted her guidance without question when she saw fit to alter his intention. Thus, when his overflowing compassion prompted him to use money raised toward the establishment of Belur Math to help those suffering from famine, Mother was able to dissuade him with assurances that an organization that seeks to preserve and share Sri Ramakrishna’s teachings would serve countless more in the future. When he had first envisioned the Math, Holy Mother had told him: “Do not worry. What you are doing now and what you will do in the future will be permanent. You are born just to accomplish this work. Thousands of people will hail you as a world teacher, a bestower of divine knowledge. I can assure you that the Master will fulfill your desire in no time. You will soon see that the work you want to undertake will be accomplished.”
Each of Ramakrishna’s disciples held the Holy Mother in awe. Yet Swamiji’s understanding seems to have surpassed this. As he wrote to his monastic brothers:
“You have not yet understood the wonderful significance of Mother’s life—none of you. But gradually you will know. Without Shakti (Power) there is no regeneration for the world. Mother was born to revive that wonderful Shakti in India and making her the nucleus, once more will Gargis and Maitreyis be born into the world.”
To Swami Vivekananda, Holy Mother was none other than the Shakti power that he felt driving his actions—the Divine Mother herself. “Her grace upon me is one hundred thousand times greater than that of the Master.”
Holy Mother, in turn, made frequent references to Swami Vivekananda’s uniqueness. “He is in a class apart,” she would observe, “. . .like an unsheathed sword.” In recalling the following, she praises Swamiji’s renunciation and devotion:
Naren brought his own mother to the Math at the time of the Durga Puja. She roamed from one garden to another and picked chillies, eggplants, etc. She felt a little proud, thinking that it was all due to her son, Naren. Naren came to her and said, “What are you doing there? Why do you not go and meet the Holy Mother? You are simply picking up these vegetables. Maybe you are thinking that your son has done all this work. No, mother. You are mistaken. It is He who has done all this. Naren is nothing.” Naren meant that the Math was founded through the grace of Sri Ramakrishna. What great devotion!
When Swami Vivekananda sent word from America urging his monastic brothers to renounce everything in the service of God in man, it was Mother who quelled their doubts: “Naren is an instrument of the Master. It is the Master who writes through Naren about the future duties of his children and devotees for the good of the world. What he has written is all correct. You will see it bearing fruit in the course of time.” Again, she observed of Swamiji: “Though fully imbued with the spirit of renunciation and an all-embracing love, and immersed in the eternal joy of communion with the Infinite, he has been suffering for the good of others. . . .He gave his life blood to the service of others. . . .He was specially brought by the Master. . .for preaching his lofty ideals, for the elevating of the masses and for the good of humanity.”
Sri Ramakrishna said that Naren had accompanied him to earth as an incarnation of the sage Narada. Sri Sarada Devi, he said, “. . .is Sarada, Saraswati. She has come to impart knowledge. She has descended by covering up her beauty this time. . .She is full of wisdom. Is she of the common run? She is my Shakti.” As each grew in spiritual realization, Holy Mother and Swamiji mirrored Sri Ramakrishna’s declarations with their own unequivocal awareness of the identity of the other.