Divine Life of Bhagwan Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

Chapter VIII

Shodashi Pooja

A couple of months after the arrival of Sarada, there arose a curious desire in Ramakrishna’s mind, which he lost no time in fulfilling.



It was the new moon of June 5, 1872, an auspicious night for the worship of Kali. Sri Ramakrishna made special arrangements for special prayers in his room, instructing Sarada to be present. She went there at 9 p.m. Sri Ramakrishna took the seat of the priest. After the preliminaries were over, he beckoned Sarada to the seat that was reserved for the Goddess. Sarada was in a semi-conscious state. Sri Ramakrishna went through the regular form of worship in which Sarada Devi took the place of the deity. During the ceremony she passed into Samadhi. Sri Ramakrishna too, when he had finished the mantras, went into a super-conscious state. The priest and the goddess were joined in a transcendental union of the Self. At dead of night the Master recovered consciousness partially; then, with an appropriate mantra, he surrendered himself and the fruits of his life-long sadhana, together with his rosary, at the feet of Sarada Devi and saluted her. With this sacred ceremony, called in the Tantras the ‘Shodashi-Puja’, or the worship of the Divine Mother Tripurasundari, concluded the long series of Sri Ramakrishna’s spiritual practices.

Since that day, Sarada felt that a divine power had entered into her. The simple village girl had transformed into Holy Mother, Sarada Devi!

The Divine Couple

After the ‘Shodashi Puja’, one day, Sarada Devi, as she was stroking the Master’s feet asked him, “What do you think of me?”. Quick came the answer, “The Mother who is worshipped in the temple is the mother who has given birth to this body and is now living in the Nahabat (concert-room), and she again is stroking my feet at this moment. Verily, I always look upon you as the visible representation of the Blissful Mother.”

The Holy Mother stayed with the Master for about five months after the puja. But not once did the minds of the divine couple come down to the sense-plane. This was possible because, both, the husband and the wife, had their minds attuned to the Infinite. In this period, the Master had Bhava Samadhi night and day. Apprehensive of the uncertainty of the time when such a state might come on him, the Holy Mother could have no sleep at night. Coming to know of this, the Master made arrangements for her to stay at the Nahabat with his mother.

In later days Sri Ramakrishna complimented Sarada Devi in unequivocal terms. He used to say: “After marriage, I anxiously prayed to the Divine Mother to root out all sense of physical enjoyment from her mind. That my prayer had been granted I knew from my contact with her during this period.”

The Holy Mother lived with the Master for about a year and four months at Dakshineswar. She returned to Kamarpukur sometime in October 1873.

Illustrations by Smt. Hema Satagopan

    References:
  1. Sri Ramakrishna The Great Master by Swami Saradananda, Translated by Swami Jagadananda, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Chennai - 600 004
  2. The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Translated by Swami Nikhilananda (Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1974)
  3. The Path Divine, Sathya Sai Balvikas Magazine, Dharmakshetra, Mahakali Caves Road, Andheri (East), Mumbai - 400 093
  4. A Short Life of Sri Ramakrishna, published by Swami Tattwavidananda, Adhyaksha, Advaita Ashrama, Uttarkhand, Himalayas from its Publication Department, Kolkata
  5. The Story of Ramakrishna, Published by Swami Bodhasarananda, Advaitha Ashrama, Uttarkhand, from its Publications Department, Kolkata