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 ...

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