Sri Ramakrishna was absent from Kamarpukur for more than eight years. He was all the time absorbed in various spiritual practices at Dakshineswar. He was in poor health; so Mathur thought that a change would be good for him. Therefore, in the summer of 1867 Ramakrishna started for Kamarpukur accompanied by Hriday and Bhairavi Brahmani for a change. Sri Ramakrishna stayed at Kamarpukur for six months. It was a great relaxation for him to enter into the joys and sorrows of the simple village folk after the stormy days of sadhana at Dakshineswar. Sarada, his girl wife, was then staying with her father at Jayrambati.
Shortly after Sri Ramakrishna’s arrival, she was sent for. So Sarada Devi, or the Holy Mother as she came to be be known later to the devotees of Sri Ramakrishna, arrived at Kamarpukur.
Here was a chance for Sri Ramakrishna to test his realizations. By allowing the rightful privileges of her position to his wife, who was then a girl of fourteen, he subjected himself to an ordeal from which he emerged brighter than ever. He took special care that she had an all-round training in the discharge of her household duties. Sarada was charmed with the ideal of pure and selfless love that was shown to her by her saintly husband; she was content to worship him as her Ishtadeva and by following in his footsteps to develop her own character. Sri Ramakrishna trained her not only in spiritual things but also in mundane matters that would make her an ideal mistress of the household.
But the Bhairavi Brahmani did not take kindly to the idea of Sri Ramakrishna’s doing his duty towards his wife. Perhaps she feared that this would endanger his celibate life. But the Master would not listen to her remonstrance. He remained unruffled and revered her as much as ever. The Brahmani was seized with a sense of false pride; and despite her attainments, she could not control herself. But subsequently she came to realize her mistakes. One day she approached Sri Ramakrishna with sandal paste and garlands of flowers which she had taken great pains to prepare, and with these adorned him as an Incarnation of Sri Chaitanya. She implored his forgiveness and bade farewell to Kamarpukur.
The holy association of Sarada with her God-intoxicated husband at Kamarpukur filled her pure heart with unspeakable delight. Referring to this joy, she said later on, “I used to feel always as if a pitcher full of bliss was placed in my heart, the joy was ineffable”.
Sri Ramakrishna returns to Dakshineswar
Sri Ramakrishna regained his former health as a result of his prolonged stay in the peaceful environs of his native village, and afterwards returned with Hriday to Dakshineswar.
In January 1868, Mathurbabu requested Sri Ramakrishna to join them for a pilgrimage. A group of 125 people set out on the pilgrimage. They visited Deoghar, Varanasi, Allahabad and Vrindavan. At Deoghar, they visited the Shiva temple. After that, while passing through a village, Ramakrishna saw poor people in a wretched condition. He felt great pity for them, and asked Mathurbabu to feed them sumptuously and distribute clothes to all of them. Mathurbabu was reluctant at first, as it would involve considerable expenses, but later yielded, as Ramakrishna refused to go further without doing so.
Then, they proceeded to Varanasi, the city of Shiva. Later, the pilgrimage party visited Mathura and Vrindavan. Ramakrishna was overjoyed because of its association with the childhood days of Sri Krishna.
Sarada Devi goes to Dakshineswar
The years rolled on. Sarada was now a young woman of eighteen. Wild rumours reached her to the effect that her saintly husband had gone mad. After much thought she decided to go to Dakshineswar to see for herself. So, in 1872, few days before Holi festival, she set out for Kolkata with her father. They had to walk all the 70 miles from Jayarambati to Kolkata. On the way Sarada fell ill. She feared she would never reach Dakshineswar. As she was lying with high fever she had a vision of a lovely young girl of dark complexion, but of great beauty, appeared before her and stroked her body gently. Then they both started conversing:
|Sarada||:||“Where do you come from?”|
|Young girl||:||“From Dakshineswar”|
|Sarada||:||“From Dakshineswar! I long to go there, but this fever will upset everything,”|
|Young girl||:||“Do not worry, when you get well, you will reach Dakshineswar and meet Ramakrishna. I have kept him there for you.”|
|Sarada||:||“You are so kind, who are you?”|
|Young girl||:||“I am your sister.”|
After this vision, Sarada fell asleep, and when she awoke, the fever had gone. She was able to proceed and reached Dakshineswar.
Sri Ramakrishna bestowed on her as much love and care as he had done previously. He sent her to live in the concert-room with his mother, who had already come there to spend the last days of her life by the side of the Ganga. Sarada was convinced after a few days stay at Dakshineswar, that Sri Ramakrishna was unchanged in his attitude towards her, she decided to remain there and serve him and her mother-in-law.
Sri Ramakrishna now resumed his old task of teaching his wife, testing at the same time his own realization and discharging his duties as a husband. His teaching covered a wide range of subjects from housekeeping to the knowledge of Brahman. Not content with merely giving instructions, he took particular care to see that she carried them out, lovingly correcting any mistake.
Illustrations by Smt. Hema Satagopan
- Sri Ramakrishna The Great Master by Swami Saradananda, Translated by Swami Jagadananda, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Chennai - 600 004
- The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Translated by Swami Nikhilananda (Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1974)
- The Path Divine, Sathya Sai Balvikas Magazine, Dharmakshetra, Mahakali Caves Road, Andheri (East), Mumbai - 400 093
- A Short Life of Sri Ramakrishna, published by Swami Tattwavidananda, Adhyaksha, Advaita Ashrama, Uttarkhand, Himalayas from its Publication Department, Kolkata
- The Story of Ramakrishna, Published by Swami Bodhasarananda, Advaitha Ashrama, Uttarkhand, from its Publications Department, Kolkata