Teachings of Sri Sarada Devi, the Holy Mother – Part 1

Compiled by a Monk of the Ramakrishna Order

Sri Sarada Devi (1853-1920) is affectionately called “Holy Mother” by millions of people around the world. Sarada Devi was Ramakrishna’s wife, spiritual counterpart and spiritual giant in her own right. Holy Mother lived a simple, unassuming and extraordinarily modest life, yet her life and teachings rang with the truth of the highest spiritual realization. As Swami Vivekananda’s great disciple Sister Nivedita wrote: “In her one sees realized that wisdom and sweetness to which simplest of women may attain. And yet, to myself the stateliness of her courtesy and her great open mind are almost as wonderful as her sainthood. Her life is one long stillness of prayer.”

Devotion and Self-Surrender

As for those who depend upon God and have faith in Him, well, that itself is their spiritual practice, sadhana. God is one’s very own. It is an eternal relationship. One realizes Him in proportion to the intensity of one’s feeling for him. Don’t be afraid. Always remember that somebody is protecting you.

How many are there who truly want to realize God? They, no doubt, profess great devotion and longing, but they feel satisfied when they get even a tiny bit of enjoyment. They say, “Ah, how kind is God!”

Always do your duty to others, but love you must give to God alone. Worldly love always brings in its wake untold misery.

If you love any human being you will have to suffer for it. That person is blessed, indeed, who can love God alone. There is no suffering in loving God.

Everything will come in time, my child. Be devoted to Him and take shelter at his feet. It is enough to remember that there is Someone—call him Father or Mother—who is always protecting you.

Repeat the name of God always in the innermost core of your heart and in all sincerity take refuge in Sri Ramakrishna. Do not bother to know how your mind is reacting to things around. And do not waste time in calculating and worrying over whether or not you are progressing in the path of spirituality. It is egotism to judge progress for oneself. Have faith in the grace of your guru and God.

Why are you so restless, my child? Why don’t you stick on to what you have got? Always remember, “I have at least a Mother, if none else.”

Holy Mother: “Do you know the significance of japa and other spiritual practices? By these the power of the sense organs is subdued and the ties of past karma are cut asunder. But realization of God cannot be achieved without ecstatic love (prema bhakti) for Him.”

Disciple: “But how can one yearn for God without seeing the manifestation of His love?”

Holy Mother: “Yes, you can do so. There lies the grace of God.”

You see, it is the nature of water to flow downwards, but the sun’s rays lift it up towards the sky; likewise it is the very nature of mind to go to lower things, to objects of enjoyment, but the grace of God can make the mind go towards higher objects.

Lay the burden of your mind before Sri Ramakrishna. Tell him your sorrow with your tears. You will find that he will fill your arms with the desired object.

Referring to Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother once said, “Really and truly he was God himself. He assumed this human body to remove the sorrows and sufferings of others. He moved about, as a king walks through his city in disguise. He disappeared the moment he became known.”

He who has really prayed to Sri Ramakrishna, even once, has nothing to fear. By praying to him constantly one gets ecstatic love through his grace. This ecstatic love, my child, is the innermost thing of spiritual life. The gopis of Vrindavan attained it. They were not aware of anything else in the world except Sri Krishna.

My child, this world is like a deep marshy place. Once a person gets entangled there, it becomes very difficult to come out. Repeat the name of God. If you do so, He will cut away your bondage some day. Can anyone get liberation, my child, unless He himself removes the shackles? Have deep faith in God. Look upon Sri Ramakrishna as your refuge, even as children regard their parents.

How little intelligence does a person possess! The person may require one thing, but ask for another! A person starts to mold an image of Shiva and often ends by making that of a monkey. It is best therefore to surrender all desires at the feet of God. He will do whatever is best for us. But one may pray for devotion and detachment. These cannot be classified as desires.

What does one become by realizing God? Does one get two horns? No. What happens is, the person develops discrimination between the real and the unreal, gets spiritual consciousness, and goes beyond life and death.

One who is able to renounce all for His sake is a living god. Even the decrees of fate are cancelled if one takes refuge in God. Fate strikes off with her own hand what she has written about such a person.

Those who is really anxious to cross the ocean of the world will somehow break their bonds. No one can entangle such people.

Always discriminate. Whenever the mind goes after anything other than God, consider it as transient and surrender the mind at the sacred feet of the Lord. Be like the man who, while angling for fish, became so absorbed in it that he did not hear the least of the din and bustle of a marriage procession passing by.

Everything—husband, wife, or even the body, is illusory. These are all shackles of illusion. Unless you can free yourself from these bondages, you will never be able to go to the other shore of the world. Even this attachment to the body, the identification of the self with the body, must go. What is this body, my darling? It is nothing but three pounds of ashes when it is cremated. Why so much vanity about it? However strong or beautiful this body may be, its culmination is in those three pounds of ashes. And still people are so attached to it!

My child, this mind is just like a wild elephant. It races with the wind. Therefore one should discriminate all the time. One should work hard for the realization of God.

This world is moving around like a wheel. That indeed is the last birth in which one gets completely rid of all desires.

Does one get a faith by mere study of books? Too much reading creates confusion. Sri Ramakrishna used to say that one should learn from the scriptures that God alone is real and the world illusory.

As you meditate you will realize that He who is in me is in you too and in the humblest of people—only then will humility grow in your mind.

People have been worshiping images from time immemorial and attaining liberation through that. Do you want to say that does not mean anything? Sri Ramakrishna had no such narrow dogmatic views. God is everywhere. But this you must believe; holy people are born to guide others and each one talks in a different way. There are many ways, and so what each one says is true.

In the course of one’s spiritual advancement one comes to the stage when one does not feel even the existence of God. After attaining wisdom (jnana) one sees that the forms of gods and deities are all maya. Everything comes into existence in time and also disappears in time. . . . The aspirant then realizes that the Mother alone pervades the entire Universe (as the Supreme Spirit). All then become one. This is the simple truth.

Japa and Meditation

Pray to the Lord to make your heart as pure as the star. As a result of sincere and regular japa and meditation you will find that the Lord will speak to you. All your desires will be fulfilled and you will experience pure bliss.

The kundalini will awaken in course of time. Do japa and meditation. It does not rise of itself. Continuous meditation will make the mind so steady that you will not feel inclined to give it up. When the mind is not in a mood to meditate, do not force it to do so. In such conditions, get up from the seat of meditation after making prostrations. Real meditation is of a spontaneous nature. . . . If meditation is not possible, do japa. Realization will come through japa.

Realization of God, or meditation, all these depend on the mind. Concentrate, and everything will come to pass.

Mind this, my child, one has to take refuge and wait on God’s mercy; then only he takes pity.

A pure mind easily gets concentrated in meditation. When pure souls perform japa, they feel as if the holy name bubbles up spontaneously from within themselves. They does not make any effort to repeat the name.

The kundalini will gradually be awakened. You will realize everything by the repetition of God’s name. Even if the mind be not quiet, still you can sit at a place and repeat the holy name a million times.

As wind removes the cloud, so the name of God destroys the cloud of worldliness.

Repeating the name of God once, when the mind is controlled, is equivalent to a million repetitions when the mind is away from God. You may repeat the name for the whole day, but if the mind be elsewhere, that does not produce much result. The repetition must be accompanied by concentration. Then alone one gets the grace of God. One must repeat the mantra at least fifteen to twenty thousand times a day, then only one will get some results. One is sure to get it. One must practice first before one complains that one is not progressing. But then one must practice japa with a little concentration. People don’t practice and simply say, “Why am I not progressing spiritually?”

Do not give up japa even if the mind is unsteady and unwilling. You must go on with the repetition. And you will find that the mind is getting gradually steadier—like a flame in a windless corner. Any movement in the air disturbs the steady burning of the flame; even so the presence of any thought or desire makes the mind unsteady. The mantra must be correctly repeated. Incorrect utterance delays progress.

One should practice japa and meditation at regular times, giving up idleness. While living a Dakshineswar I used to get up at 3 o’clock in the morning and practice japa and meditation. One day I felt a little indisposed and left the bed rather late. The next day I woke up still late through laziness. Gradually I found that I did not feel inclined to get up early at all. Then I said to myself, “Ah, at last I have fallen a victim to idleness.” There upon I began to force myself to get up early. Gradually I got back my former habit. In such matters one should keep up the practice with unyielding resolution.

Read Part 2.

Yoga—True and False
September 1, 2002
Teachings of Sri Sarada Devi, the Holy Mother – Part 2
November 1, 2002
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Teachings of Sri Sarada Devi, the Holy Mother – Part 1