The life of Holy Mother has been written beautifully by many authors, and so I will not recount her life story. First, I will give you my own experiences that I had with her. I had the blessed fortune to meet her many times in my life. I shall also relate to you what I have heard directly from the disciples of Sri Ramakrishna, and you will find how they looked upon her; as well as some stories I have heard from her attendant [Rashbehari, later Swami Arupananda], a brother disciple of mine.
There is hardly anyone who has not prayed at some time or other in his life. When a baby feels hungry or discomfort it cries. To its mother at least, it is an unarticulated prayer, and she runs to it and attends to its needs. In a way, every wish may be regarded as an unuttered prayer. In this sense even an atheist or a materialist prays; only in his case he prays to himself.
The name Bhairavi means “frightful,” “terrible,” “horrible,” or “formidable.” The basic idea here is fear. Ordinarily we associate fear with darkness. It is not uncommon to be afraid of the dark, or rather of the dangers that lurk there unseen, but that is not the sort of fear that Bhairavi provokes, for she is said to shine with the effulgence of ten thousand rising suns.
The highest spiritual truth is that reality is One. That reality, when personified as the Divine Mother, expresses itself in countless ways. The ten Mahavidyas, or Wisdom Goddesses, represent distinct aspects of divinity intent on guiding the spiritual seeker toward liberation. For the devotionally minded seeker these forms can be approached in a spirit of reverence, love, and increasing intimacy. For a knowledge-oriented seeker, these same forms can represent various states of inner awakening along the path to enlightenment.
Japa is one of the main spiritual practices of the Ramakrishna movement. Combined with prayer and meditation, it forms a triangle—a three-fold method of reaching out for God, establishing him within, and keeping him there.
Prayer is simply the act of talking to God.