By Swami Gauriswarananda
Swami Gauriswarananda (Rammoy Maharaj) was a disciple of Holy Mother and was greatly loved in the Ramakrishna Order for his warm, sweet nature. He was also highly appreciated for his gardening abilities (he was affectionately known as the “Rose Swami”) as well as his musical compositions which are known throughout the Ramakrishna Order.
From my childhood I have been interested in fruit and flower gardens. I had planted some jasmine, beli (bel), lotus-oleander, marigold and other flowers in the courtyard in front of the Holy Mother’s house and also along the edges of the “Punyapukur” pond next to the house. Mother used to feel delighted to see these flowers. One day I saw Mother after her noonday rest digging at the roots of the jasmine plant. When I took the spud away from her hand saying, “I shall do that, you do not have to do it,” she said, “It is you who do everything. You see, I love jasmine flowers and so, seeing that it is nearly time for them to bloom, I am only making the ground ready for watering the plants.”
Once I took her a lemon graft I had prepared myself. It had seven or eight lemons on it. Mother was delighted and went about saying to everybody. “See how clever the boy is! He has brought a scion actually in fruit!”
When the lotus-oleander bloomed for the first time, Mother would not let anyone pick the flowers. She would say to everybody, “Let R…(meaning me) come and see how many flowers have blossomed on his tree.” As soon as I arrived on a Saturday, Mother took me by the hand and leading me to the tree, pointed at the flowers saying, “Do you see what beautiful flowers are out? And how sweet is their fragrance!” She handed me her flower tray. After I had picked the flowers with my hands, she worshipped the Master (Sri Ramakrishna) with them.
Once I broke off a whole branch of the Amalaki (emblic myrobalan) tree with fruits growing on it, and gave it to Mother. Mother felt displeased at this and forbade me ever to break off branches with fruits on them, from a tree in fruit, especially the Amalaki tree. This particular Amalaki tree stood beside the river Amodar and from this point the current of the river turned northward. Mother continued, “The thirty-three crores of gods live in the shade of the Amalaki tree. Should one meditate and pray under the Amalaki, one’s prayers will be all the more fruitful.” Later she asked me to put aside all the leaves growing on that branch, to be used for worship, and she explained, “Like the leaves of the bel tree these leaves too may be used in puja.”
On another occasion, J. Maharaj and I were planting some banana and other trees in the garden on the northern side of the “Punyapukur” pond. We had begun work early in the morning. When it became very late for breakfast, Mother stood by the ghat of the pond and began calling us to come and take our breakfast. We replied we would come away very soon. A little later, Mother again started calling us anxiously and urged ussaying, “After taking your breakfast you can go and finish the work.” I grew impatient, but J. Maharaj would not let me go. When Mother again called us for the third time, she called out to me only, leaving out J. Maharaj; so I immediately threw down my spade and ran to her. I did not listen to J. Maharaj who kept on saying that only a little of the work remained to the completed and that we would go together. Mother was very pleased and said, “You wash your mouth and hands and sit down to eat.”
As I was going to sit for my breakfast, Nalini-di (a niece of the Holy Mother) said that the spot of work in that garden was unclean and that I should not eat before I had had a bath; she insisted, “Fie! How can you relish eating without having bathed?” But Mother rebuked her saying, “Be quiet. They are boys and so are always clean. Nothing can defile them. Your own mind is unclean, and that is why you are always squeamishly worrying yourself to death about such contaminations.” When Mother said this, I commenced to eat. Mother too was pleased.
Mother was always attentive even about minor details. One day I was getting ready some sal leaves on which food was to be served. I sprinkled a little water on them, shook them out and laid them down, when Mother said, “Oh, dear, the boys will eat from them; do wash them properly, or else the dust will remain on them.”
Another day I was laying down some mats as seats for people to sit upon for their meal. From her verandah, Mother saw me doing it and said, “They are not laid straight.” Even after I had made some straight alterations, she said, “No, it is not right yet.” When I could not detect where the defect lay, she came over herself and laid the mat-seats down properly. Then I saw that the mats were laid in parallel lines and the front edges were all in a straight line.
One day a devotee had brought a very large bel fruit from Benares. Mother had put it away under her bedstead. She was sitting on the verandah in front of Nalini-di’s room and was cutting vegetables. When she had finished, she asked me to fetch the bet fruit. I had never seen such a huge bel. So taking it for a pumpkin, I said, “Why, Mother, there is no bel under your bedstead.” Mother said, “I put it there myself; where can it go? Look for it properly.” I said again, “No, Mother, there is no bel.” Then she asked, “What do you find under the bedstead?” I answered, “There is a pumpkin.” Then Mother said laughing, “Well, then bring that ‘pumpkin’ here.” As soon as I lifted it, I knew it was a bel. Mother began to laugh all the more.
The Holy Mother’s expenses were certainly all paid, but she never had much money on her hands. She would open her box and give me money for marketing. She would give me almost all the money in the box and say, “Well, bring a rupee’s worth of oil, a rupee’s worth of flour, two rupees’ worth of ghee” and so on. I would say, “No, Mother, let me note down what you tell me. Then I shall buy the things by weight five seers of the one, two-and-a-half of the other, and so forth. It will be more economical.” Mother would feel delighted and say, “Make whatever calculations you like and buy them. I can’t keep such detailed accounts, any way.”
At times when all the money was spent, she would say. “Well, Indu will be sending money in a few days, then we can buy things in larger quantities.” I seem to remember that Indu Babu of Ranchi used to send Mother fifteen rupees by the first or second of each month. In those days rice did not cost more than two rupees and eight annas per maund.
Once our teacher Prabodh Babu met Indu Babu at Jayrambati. The two of them would become engrossed in talk. Two or three days later Prabodh Babu expressed a wish to go and stay at Koalpara, because too many guests would only mean more trouble for Mother. Mother, however, said, “Why at Koalpara? Why not remain here? After all it means only an extra handful of food; it is no trouble to me. And the two of you are so friendly. Stay here itself as long as Indu is here”.
I was splitting thin strips of firewood for the kitchen. Saying, “Give it to me,” Prabodh Babu started splitting the wood. No sooner had he done so than the Mother came near the parlor herself and cried, “No, my son. You do not have to do that. R. is used to it, let him do it. You people are advanced in age, your hands will begin to ache.” The teacher said, “We are ‘gentlemen’! Therefore disqualified! We have not the right to serve Mother even with our meager effort.”
The Holy Mother was very fond of songs. Once I. Babu, Mokshada Babu, and some others had come to Jayrambati. They sang a number of songs for Mother. Mother would listen with great pleasure. At last they went round Mother in a circle singing devotional songs (kirtan). Once Revered B. sang many songs at Jayrambati. Our Head Pandit played on the drum in accompaniment. The singing continued till late at night and Mother was delighted. Many people of the village had come too.
When journals like the Udbodhan and the Tattvamanjari arrived, Mother would inquire, “Is there any writing by Sarat (meaning Swami Saradananda) in the Udbodhan?” If there was, she would ask us to read it out to her. Once a Sanskrit hymn was published in the Tattvamanjari. When I read it out to her, Mother said, “Say it translated into Bengali.” As I did not know the meaning of some of the words, and not having a dictionary at hand, I said, “I do not know the meanings of all the words. When I go to school, I shall get our Pandit to explain it all to me, and then I shall come and tell you.” But she would not leave me and insisted, “Tell me now as much as you can.”
When a woman devotee wished to serve the Holy Mother personally, Mother said, “No, dear. The Master (Sri Ramakrishna) is worshipped here. It will not do. I am mother of both good men and bad men: I am mother of good women as well as bad women. But it will not do in the case of the worship of the Master. How many women are pure to the very bone? They can be counted on one’s fingers.”
Once P., a brahmachari from Koalpara (Ashrama), came to Mother and expressed great sorrow because he had to attend to many duties like cutting grass for the cows, chopping hay for cattle, digging in the garden, weaving, etc. so much so that he had no time left for japa and meditation. Hearing this, Mother said, “Quite so. You are the son of a weaver, so you may weave. But how will it do to burden you with so much work? I am going to write to K. somewhat to lighten your work.” Mother asked me to write the letter. Like the affectionate mother that she was, she had the letter written.
When I first saw revered Sarat Maharaj (Swami Saradananda) at Jayrambati, I was afraid to go near him, having seen his huge person even from a distance. So having seen him on the road, I straightaway went to Mother. When I made my salutation to her, she said to me with great pleasure, “R. have you seen that Sarat is here?” I answered, “Yes, Mother, I have seen him from a distance.” Mother said, “Did you not go near him? Did you not make your salutation to Sarat?” I said, “No, Mother, I am afraid.” Mother cried, “You foolish boy! Who couldever be afraid of Sarat! You will see how he will love you. Go now.” I went to revered Sarat Maharaj from the inner apartment of Mother’s house and made my obeisance. . . . He inquired of me my name, where my home was, why I had come to Jayrambati, and whether I had any friends or relations. Thinking that because I was quite young he did not understand that it was to Mother only that I used to come, I answered frankly, “I come to Mother every Saturday and go back to school on Monday.” He then understood.
He spoke such affectionate words that I was filled with joy. A few minutes later, Mother began calling me by name and gave me something to eat. Then it was no longer difficult for revered Sarat Maharaj to realize that the Mother loved me very much. When he heard that I was well known to everyone in the house, Sarat Maharaj said to me, “Look here, you just observe what work Mother does and when. Come and tell me when she has no work on hand. Then I will ask you to go and find out (from her) if I may go to her to make my salutation. Now remember to do exactly as I have told you. Don’t try to apply your own cleverness.”
I realized that he was cautioning me lest I should disturb Mother by mentioning to her, when she was busy, about his wanting to come and pay his respects to her. I would do exactly as he had ordered and tell him, “Maharaj, Mother has finished with the vegetables and is now sitting in her room.” As soon as he heard this, Maharaj would say, “Go to her and ask her, with folded hands, if I may now go and make my salutation to her.” Soon after I asked Mother, she would say, “Yes, dear, ask Sarat to come.”I would follow Maharaj, stand on the verandah and watch everything. The door of the Mother’s room was narrow and Maharaj was quite stout. He could not enter straight but had to pass through it sideways. Mother would be seated on her bedstead with her feet on the floor. Maharaj would kneel down, place his head on the blessed feet of Mother and thus make his obeisance to her. Mother would then place both her hands on his head and bless him. After that Maharaj would ask, “Are you well, Mother?” Mother would answer, “Yes, my son, I am well. Are you well?” He would reply, “Yes, Mother, I am well.” Every day I would hear these same questions and answers. After he had made his obeisance, Maharaj would get up slowly and without turning his back on Mother, would walk backwards out of the room……