A Short Biography
The affectionate term “Holy Mother” refers to Sri Sarada Devi (1853-1920), Ramakrishna’s wife and spiritual counterpart. According to the custom then prevalent in India, she was betrothed to him while still a child. At the age of 18, she left her parental home to join her husband, who lived some sixty miles away, near Calcutta.
By that time Sri Ramakrishna had dedicated his body and mind to the spiritual search and lived the life of a monk. Yet he received Sarada very kindly, feeling that Divine Providence had brought her. After nursing her to recovery from an illness contracted on the journey, Ramakrishna one day asked her why she had come to join him.
She replied that she had come only to help him in his chosen way, which—as she well knew—meant the way of complete renunciation of all earthly ties for the sake of God-realization. Thus, instead of seeking conjugal fulfillment, she became his first disciple.
Sarada Devi was a spiritual giant in her own right and yet, in her simple and unassuming way, she served Ramakrishna and his disciples for many years. After Ramakrishna’s passing away, she carried on his religious ministry, serving as guide and inspiration of the new spiritual movement.
Within the ambiance of her natural simplicity and modesty, she set a unique example of an ideal disciple, nun, wife, teacher, and also mother to her countless spiritual children. Those who associated with her were overwhelmed by her unconditional love and selfless service. All were her children irrespective of nationality, religious affiliation, or social position. No one was ever turned away. She accepted all.
Quotes from Sri Sarada Devi
“I tell you one thing—if you want peace, do not find fault with others. Rather see your own faults. Learn to make the world your own. No one is a stranger, my child; the whole world is your own.”
“God is one’s very own. It is the eternal relationship. He is everyone’s own. One realizes him in proportion to the intensity of one’s feelings for him.”
“If you practice spiritual discipline for some time in a solitary place, you will find that your mind has become strong, and then you can live in any place or society without being in the least affected by it. When the plant is tender, it should be hedged around. But when it has grown big, not even cows and goats can injure it. Spiritual practices in a solitary place are essential.”
“Whatever you yearn for, that you will get.”
“Everyone can break down something, but how many can build it up?”
“I am the mother of the wicked, and I am the mother of the virtuous. Never fear. Whenever you are in distress, just say to yourself, ‘I have a mother’.”
“Forbearance is a great virtue; there is no other like it.”
“The purpose of one’s life is fulfilled only when one is able to give joy to another.”
“As wind removes the cloud, so the name of God destroys the cloud of worldliness.”