Sunday 14 April 2024

Nava-Ratri Special : Devi Sarada - 4


As the worship proceeded, Sarada and Sri Ramakrishna lost outer consciousness and were united in the transcendental unity of samadhi. Both realized their identity with the Absolute. Long after midnight, regaining some awareness of the outer world, Sri Ramakrishna offered himself to the Divine Mother, now manifest in the form of Sarada. He surrendered himself, along with his japamala and the results of all his sadhana, at her feet and then recited a sloka from the Chandi: 'O Consort of Shiva ings! O , the most auspicious of all auspicious be- Doer of all actions! O Refuge of all! O three-eyed goddess of golden complexion! O Power of Narayana, I salute You again and again' (352).

Ordinarily one performs the worship of Tripurasundari, the Shodashi Puja, with some intent of personal gain or a desired result. What was Sri Ramakrishna's motive? We can certainly rule out personal gain. The Bhairavi Brahmani had already declared at the end of Sri Ramakrishna's Tantric sadhana that he was established in divyabhava, a state of consciousness in which he experienced the whole universe as the Divine Mother10. We find his own vivid description of that exalted mood in his account of his experience in the Kali temple when he saw everything as consciousness. We can rule out personal gain as his reason for performing the Shodashi Puja, but was there another result that he wished to bring about? For him the puja was the culmination of twelve long years of sadhana, an act of complete self-surrender to the Divine Mother. At the same time, it was the means to awaken Sarada to the great spiritual power that was potential in her. With this worship Ramakrishna
acknowledged her as a partner in his earthly mission. No other divine consort, not even Sita or Radha. has played such an active role in spreading the avatara's message11." As his shakti, Sarada Devi was Sri Ramakrishna's spiritual equal, destined to become the guiding and protecting force of the monastic order that would some day be established in his name. For these and other reasons, the significance of the Shodashi Puja cannot be overestimated; yet even after this defining moment in her earthly life, Sarada Devi remained to outward eyes the simple, devoted, hard-working wife of the holy man of Dakshineswar.

Since everything Sri Ramakrishna did was guided by the Divine Mother, so was this Shodashi Puja. He did not divulge the details of it to anyone, not even to Hriday and Dinu, who had assisted with the preparations. They had no idea that he would evoke the Mother in the form of Tripurasundari, which was a total break with precedent on the new- moon night of the Phalaharini Kali Puja12. The shastras enjoin that Tripurasundari, or Shodashi, be worshipped on the night of the full moon. Different times are auspicious for the worship of different aspects of the Divine Mother. Kali, during Maharatri (cosmic dissolution), is in her nirguna state; it is then that mind, form, and all other attributes dissolve into 'no-thingness' (not nothingness, but a positive state devoid of all qualities), leaving only infinite, self-luminous consciousness. Tripurasundari is just the opposite. Rather than revealing 'no-thingness, she manifests purnatva, the divine fullness of beauty, grace, and all other virtues. In invoking Tripurasundari, Sri Ramakrishna revealed Sarada Devi as the power of divine fullness and universal motherhood (28-9). That explains why when Holy Mother was once asked if she were the mother of all, she replied, 'Yes.' When pressed further with the question, 'Even of these birds and animals?' her reply was, 'Yes, of these also'.13

References :

10. Pravrajika Vedantaprana, 'Sarada Shodashi', in Eternal Mother, 32-3.

11. Pravrajika Bhavaniprana, "The Fulfilment of Sri Ramakrishna's Mission', in Eternal Mother, 78.
12. 'Sarada Shodashi', 23-4-

13. Her Devotee-children, The Gospel of the Holy Mother (Chennai: Ramakrishna Math, 2000), 75.

-by Devadatta Kali (courtesy : Prabuddha Bharat 2007 April)

To be continued ...


--
कथा : विवेकानन्द केन्द्र { Katha : Vivekananda Kendra }
Vivekananda Rock Memorial & Vivekananda Kendra : http://www.vivekanandakendra.org
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मुक्तसंग्ङोऽनहंवादी धृत्युत्साहसमन्वित:।
सिद्ध‌‌यसिद्धयोर्निर्विकार: कर्ता सात्त्विक उच्यते ॥१८.२६॥

Freed from attachment, non-egoistic, endowed with courage and enthusiasm and unperturbed by success or failure, the worker is known as a pure (Sattvika) one. Four outstanding and essential qualities of a worker. - Bhagwad Gita : XVIII-26

Saturday 13 April 2024

Nava-Ratri Special : Devi Sarada - 3


Although we speak of her all-embracing love, it will be instructive to remember that throughout the long span of Indian religious history, and even back in prehistoric times, the Divine Mother has been known to have two faces, the gentle (saumya) and the fierce (ugra). Neolithic images portray her as life-giving, nurturing, and benevolent or, alternatively, as hooded, grim-faced, and presiding over death. It is easy to imagine these figurines as the antecedents of the benevolent Lakshmi and Saraswati or of the sometimes frightening Durga and Kali. Because Indian religion has always portrayed the Mother in gracious and formidable forms, the obvious conclusion is that both aspects represent an underlying spiritual reality. That reality is the all-encompassing nature of the Divine Mother, in whose supreme oneness all the opposing characteristics of duality are reconciled and resolved. That sublime truth is patently manifest in the powerful iconography of Kali.

Naturally reticent, Sarada Devi was reluctant to reveal her true nature, but occasionally a hint of it would slip out from behind her veil of humility. Many incidents in her life afford a brief glimpse of one of her Devi aspects, most often a saumya manifestation, but occasionally an ugra form as well. From the time of her early childhood and continuing through every phase of her life, she would give signs to suggest that she was an earthly manifestation of Lakshmi, Saraswati, Durga, and Kali. We shall consider three incidents that illustrate some of these Devi aspects.

Devi Awakened

Sri Sarada Devi assumed human form to serve Sri Ramakrishna, and he, in turn, worshipped her as the Divine Mother, losing his sense of 'I' in her (21). Nowhere is this more dramatically illustrated than in a pivotal event that took place either on 5 June 1872 (according to Sarada Devi's own account found in Sri Sri Mayer Katha) or on 25 May 1873 (as recorded by Swami Saradananda in
Sri Sri Ramakrishna Lilaprasanga)9. On the night when the Phalaharini Kali Puja was to be celebrated in the main temple at Dakshineswar, Sri Ramakrishna ordered preparations made for a private puja in his room. His nephew Hriday and Dinu, the priest of the Radha-Govinda temple, assisted in procuring the necessary items: flowers, bel leaves, food offerings, and all the rest. To the right of the
worshipper's seat was placed a beautifully decorated wooden seat, intended for the image of the goddess. When the preparations were completed, Sri Ramakrishna remained alone in his room. At his request, his young wife Sarada arrived at 9 p. m. After he had carried out the preliminary steps of the worship, he indicated for her to take the seat reserved for the image. Already in a high spiritual mood, she complied. Sprinkling sanctified water on her, Sri Ramakrishna then invoked the deity, saying: 'O Divine Mother Tripura-sundari! O Eternal Virgin, possessor of all power! Please open the gate of perfection. Purify her body and mind, and manifest Yourself through her for the welfare of all' (352).

References :

9. See Swami Saradananda, Sri Ramakrishna and His Divine Play, trans. Swami Chetanananda (St Louis: Vedanta Society, 2003), 350, note 3.

-by Devadatta Kali (courtesy : Prabuddha Bharat 2007 April)

To be continued ...


--
कथा : विवेकानन्द केन्द्र { Katha : Vivekananda Kendra }
Vivekananda Rock Memorial & Vivekananda Kendra : http://www.vivekanandakendra.org
Read n Get Articles, Magazines, Books @ http://prakashan.vivekanandakendra.org

Let's work on "Swamiji's Vision - Eknathji's Mission"

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मुक्तसंग्ङोऽनहंवादी धृत्युत्साहसमन्वित:।
सिद्ध‌‌यसिद्धयोर्निर्विकार: कर्ता सात्त्विक उच्यते ॥१८.२६॥

Freed from attachment, non-egoistic, endowed with courage and enthusiasm and unperturbed by success or failure, the worker is known as a pure (Sattvika) one. Four outstanding and essential qualities of a worker. - Bhagwad Gita : XVIII-26

Friday 12 April 2024

Nava-Ratri Special : Devi Sarada - 2


Devi Ramakrishna

The second Kali of Shyamapada's song is Sri Ramakrishna himself. Swami Vivekananda expressed the same idea in 1898, while travelling in the Himalayas with Sister Nivedita, Sara Bull, and Josephine Mac Leod. He told them that there was 'a feminine some- thing somewhere, that wanted to manifest', and that it had manifested in male form as Sri Ramakrishna, who spoke of himself as 'My Divine Mother'4. The following year Sister Nivedita told Vivekananda that she always looked upon Sri Ramakrishna as an incarnation of Kali. She asked if the future would call him that. 'Yes, Swamiji replied, 'I think there is no doubt that Kali worked up the body of Ramakrishna for Her Own Ends'5. Concerning this same question, we also have Sri Ramakrishna's own words. On 15 March 1886, five months before his mahasamadhi, he told Narendra and the other devotees present, 'There are two persons in this [his own] body-one is the Divine Mother-yes, the Mother is one of them-the other is her devotee'6.

Devi Sarada

Sri Sarada Devi is the third Kali of Shyamapada's song. It should not be surprising that the same great power that expressed itself through the form of Sri Ramakrishna also embodied itself as Sri Sarada Devi, the Holy Mother. Customarily a divine incarnation comes accompanied by his shakti. Rama had his devoted wife Sita, and Krishna had his beloved Radha. Sri Ramakrishna, who revealed to Narendra that he himself was an incarnation of the same God that had assumed human birth as Rama and Krishna (303), equated Radha with citśakti, the energy of consciousness. Where God is present, so is his shakti. What does that say about Sarada Devi? What did she herself say?

Once while she was staying with Balaram's family at Kothar in Orissa, a disciple found her sitting alone in a corner of the women's quarters, absorbed in thought. Although her eyes were wide open, she did not notice his presence for some fifteen minutes. Then she confided to him: 'This repeated journey to the earth ! Is there no escape from it? Wherever is Šiva there is Sakti. They are always together. It is the same Siva again and again, and the same Sakti too'. Later in the conversation she revealed that she regarded herself only as the handmaiden of Sri Ramakrishna and wished she could do more to relieve the suffering of the world7. Thus we understand that the same great power that expressed itself through the form of Sri Ramakrishna also embodied itself as Sri Sarada Devi in order to give fuller expression to her all-embracing love8.

References :

4. The Complete Works of Sister Nivedita (Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1995), 1.363.

5. Letters of Sister Nivedita, ed. Sankari Prasad Basu (Calcutta: Nababharat, 1982), 157.
6. Christopher Isherwood, Ramakrishna and His Disciples (Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1974), 299.

7. Swami Nikhilananda, Holy Mother (New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1962): 188-90.
8. Pravrajika Jnanadaprana, "There Is Somewhere a Great Power', in Eternal Mother (Dakshineswar: Sri Sarada Math, 2004), 19.

-by Devadatta Kali (courtesy : Prabuddha Bharat 2007 April)

To be continued ...



--
कथा : विवेकानन्द केन्द्र { Katha : Vivekananda Kendra }
Vivekananda Rock Memorial & Vivekananda Kendra : http://www.vivekanandakendra.org
Read n Get Articles, Magazines, Books @ http://prakashan.vivekanandakendra.org

Let's work on "Swamiji's Vision - Eknathji's Mission"

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मुक्तसंग्ङोऽनहंवादी धृत्युत्साहसमन्वित:।
सिद्ध‌‌यसिद्धयोर्निर्विकार: कर्ता सात्त्विक उच्यते ॥१८.२६॥

Freed from attachment, non-egoistic, endowed with courage and enthusiasm and unperturbed by success or failure, the worker is known as a pure (Sattvika) one. Four outstanding and essential qualities of a worker. - Bhagwad Gita : XVIII-26