^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ SYMBOLS OF TWELVE MAJOR WORLD RELIGIONS ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^



May Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi bless us all on this auspicious day of her 158th birthday.
Sri Sarada Devi Temple & Image at Jayrambati
Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi 's life is a life of Devotion and Dedication, Inspiration and Illumination and, Service and Sacrifice. It is also a source of Solace and Solution for  Spiritual aspirations of many people. 

1. Birth and parentage:

Sri Sarada Devi was the wife and Divine Consort of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, the spiritual luminary of West Bengal, who lived in nineteenth century.  She is also reverentially addressed as the Holy Mother by the devotees and monks of the Ramakrishna order. Sri Sarada Devi played a vital role in the growth of the Ramakrishna Movement. The followers of the Sri Ramakrishna movement regard Sri Sarada Devi as an incarnation of the Divine Mother.

Sri Sarada Devi was born of Brahmin parents as the eldest daughter on December 22, 1853, in an obscure village named Jayarambati. It is situated about 75 km northwest of Kolkata in West Bengal. Her parents, Ramachandra Mukhopadhyaya and Syamasundari Devi, were poor but pious. Her father Ramachandra earned his living as a farmer and through the performance of priestly duties. After the birth of Sri Sarada Devi, Ramachandra had one more  daughter and five sons.[Picture:  Sri Sarada Devi's house at Jayarambati where she lived for the majority of her life]

It is interesting to know that Sri Sarada Devi’s parents had visions and supernatural events foretelling the birth of a divine being as their daughter. The Holy Mother herself had given an account of an incident regarding her mother’s spiritual vision: “My mother in my grandmother’s house once went out and was sitting under a Vilva tree. At that time she saw a beautiful young girl of six, swinging from the tree. Seeing her, my mother was over powered. The small girl came down from the tree. However, my mother did not see the girl-child and afterwards felt something had entered her womb and she lost consciousness!” The Vilva tree stands even today and is seen behind monument at Sarada Math, Sihore. [Picture: courtesy to saradamath.org]

In the case of Ramachandra too, a few days back, an incident of similar nature happened. One day Ramachandra dreamt that a small girl was playing on his stomach holding his neck with both her hands. The form and the ornaments she wore gave the impression that the girl was a divine being. “Who are you? he asked. In a sweet voice, the little girl replied, “I have come to you!” When the dream ended he felt as if Goddess Lakshmi had graciously appeared before him.


As in the case of most girls of rural upbringing, Sri Sarada Devi did not receive any formal education. On her own effort Sri Sarada Devi learnt to read and write in Bengali. Later years she could read herself Ramayana and other religious literatures. But she learned to serve others as she helped her mother to run a large household and looked after her younger brothers.  During the terrible famine of 1864, Sarada worked ceaselessly as her family served food to hungry people.  She was interested in the clay models of goddesses Kali and Lakshmi, which she worshiped regularly. She is said to have started meditating from her childhood and had many spiritual visions and experiences.

3. marriage:

Sri Ramakrishna who was a priest of the Dakshineswar Kali Temple since 1855-was practicing intense spiritual practices. His mother Chandramani and brother thought that a marriage would be a good steadying effect on him, by diverting his attention away from  severe spiritual austerities and visions.

In May 1859, Sri Sarada Devi was married to Ramakrishna. Then Sarada was only 5 years old and Ramakrishna was 23.After the marriage, Sarada was left to the care of her parents and Ramakrishna returned to Dakshineswar.

After this Sri Sarada Devi had seen Sri Ramakrishna only once, but she was only a small girl then. After that in her thirteenth and fourteenth year she went to Kamarpukur twice for short     periods and stayed there. During her forth visit to Kamarpukur an extraordinary incident happened. She used to see a bevy of eight girls of her age coming from an unknown place, and escorted her in the chores during her childhood.
 [To read this anecdote (click here)]

4. at dakshineswar kali temple:

Sri Sarada joined Ramakrishna at Dakshineswar in 1872 on her own accord when she was eighteen, after hearing many rumors about his mental health. She found Ramakrishna to be a kind and caring person. In Dakshineswar she lived in a small room on the south side ground floor of the Nahabat (Musical tower) [Pictures: Nahabat and Sri Sarada Devi's tiny room on the ground floor of the Nahabat (now a shrine)].

Ramakrishna imparted Sri Sarada Devi instructions on
meditation and spiritual life. Both of them lived lives of
unbroken continence, showing the ideals of a householder and of the monastic ways of life. She was unique in being the devoted wife, perfect sannyasini, affectionate mother and guru for innumerable and monks and devotees.

About her life in Dhakshineshwar she expressed it in later days: “I felt as if a pitcher of bliss kept in my heart. From that time onwards, the joy continued throughout my life. It is impossible for me to describe the divine joy that I was experiencing in my mind.”

Sarada Devi stayed at Dakshineswar until 1885, except for short periods when she visited her village Jayrambati. By this time Ramakrishna had already embraced the monastic life of a sannyasin; as a result, the marriage was never consummated. On the day of Phalaharini Kali Puja, Sri Ramakrishna worshiped Sri Sarada Devi as Shodashi [ie. worshing Divine Mother as a sixteen year old virgin]. She was made to sit in the seat of Goddess Kali, and worshiped as the Divine mother. During the worship both went into Samadhi. Sri Ramakrishna always regarded Sri Sarada Devi as the incarnation of Divine Mother.

Sri Sarada Devi's day began at 3 am. After finishing her ablutions in the Ganges, she would practice japa [counting the beads] and meditation until daybreak.  Ramakrishna taught her the sacred mantras, and instructed her how to initiate people and guide them in spiritual life. Sri Sarada Devi is regarded as Ramakrishna's first disciple.  Except for her hours of meditation, most of her time was spent in cooking for Ramakrishna and the growing number of his devotees. While Sri Sarada Devi remained completely in the background, her unassuming but warm personality attracted female devotees – Golap-Ma, Yogen-Ma, Gopal-Ma and others. Some of them became her lifelong companions. Ramakrishna had commissioned her to continue his mission after his passing away and wanted his disciples not to make any distinction between himself and her. 

During Ramakrishna's last days, during which he suffered from throat cancer, Sri Sarada Devi played an important role in nursing him and preparing suitable food for him and his disciples. After Ramakrishna's passing away in August 1886, when Sri Sarada Devi tried to remove her bracelets as the customs dictated for a widow, she had a vision of Ramakrishna in which he said, "I have not passed away, I have gone from one room to another." According to her, whenever she thought of dressing like a widow, she had a vision of Ramakrishna asking her not to do so.

5. Pilgrimage:

After his death, Sri Sarada Devi began her pilgrimage to North India, accompanied by a party of women disciples including Lakshmi Didi, Gopal Ma, and Ramakrishna's householder and monastic disciples. The party visited the Vishwanath Temple of Lord Shiva at Banaras and the city of Ayodhya, which is associated with life of Lord Sri Rama.

Later, Sri Sarada Devi visited Brindavan which is associated with Lord Sri Krishna. At Brindavan, she experienced nirvikalpa Samadhi. Here she began her role as guru after Sri 
Ramakrishna appeared before her and told to initiate his disciple Swami Yogananda. Later she also initiated several of the Ramakrishna's disciples including Mahendranath Gupta. In course of time she started giving initiation to innumerable number of devotees without refusing any one.
Again, in 1888 she went to Puri and then Gaya. On the invitation of Swami Ramakrishnananda, a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, in 1911 she went to Chennai and visited Rameswaram temple[see picture] and some other temples in Tamil
Nadu.[picture:courtesy:indugodwallpaper. blogspot.com].

6. AT Kolkata:

After the pilgrimage, Sri Sarada Devi stayed alone in Kamarpukur, Ramakrishna's native village and endured poverty and starvation for a year. When the news reached the lay and monastic disciples of Sri Ramakrishna that she needed their care and attention, they invited her to Kolkata and arranged for her stay. Swami Saradananda, a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, built a permanent house (called Udbodhan House) for Sri Sarada Devi in Kolkata where she spent the longest period of her life.

At Udbodhan House, Sri Sarada Devi was accompanied by other women disciples of Ramakrishna, Gopal Ma, Yogin Ma, Lakshmi Didi and Gauri Ma. Here an increasing number of people began to flock for guidance, instructions and spiritual initiation. Other Western women followers of Ramakrishna Order including Sister Nivedita [UK] and Sister Devamata [USA] formed close relationship with her. She regarded all her disciples as her own children. Sri Sarada Devi’s hospitality was unique and was characterized by motherly care and solicitude.

Traditional accounts recount the mystical experiences of her devotees. Some devotees dreamt of her as a Goddess in human form though they had never seen her picture before. Others reportedly received their initiation from her in their dream. One such example is of Girish Chandra Ghosh, the father of Bengali drama, who reportedly saw Sri Sarada Devi in a dream when he was nineteen years old and received a mantra. When he met her many years later, to his astonishment it was the same person in the dream.

7. last  days:

Sri Sarada Devi spent her final years moving back and forth between Jayrambati and Kolkata. In January 1919, Sri Sarada Devi went to Jayrambati and stayed there for over a year. During the last three months of her stay, her health seriously declined. Her strength was greatly impaired and she was brought back to Kolkata on February 27, 1920. For the next five months she continued to suffer.

Before her death, Sri Sarada Devi gave the last advice to the grief stricken devotees, "But I tell you one thing—if you want peace of mind, do not find fault with others. Rather see your own faults. Learn to make the whole world your own. No one is a stranger my child: this whole world is your own!” This is considered as her last message to the world. She passed away at 1.30 am on July 20, 1920 in Udbodhan house. Her body was carried to Belur Math and cremated. In Belur Math now stands a beautiful temple facing the Ganges, the most sacred river of the Hindus and much loved and adored by the Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi.

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