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 ...

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