Translated and with notes by Swami Nikhilananda; Edited and with an Introduction by Swami Adiswarananda An inspiring message for all humanity from one of India's most beloved spiritual teachers. If Sri Ramakrishna was a leaping flame of spiritual realization, Holy Mother was a steady glowing fire of God-consciousness. To the Master, Sri Ramakrishna, she was the goddess of wisdom in human form. To her disciples she was the Divine Mother herself. To her devotees she was a more real mother than their own earthly mother. To the seekers of truth she was the final word, and to sinners she was the last refuge. — from the Introduction
Holy Mother was the wife of Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886), now regarded in India and abroad as a rare manifestation of divinity in modern times. She was his constant companion during the most eventful period of his life and a witness of his spiritual experiences. Sri Ramakrishna himself molded her life and assigned her place in the carrying out of his mission after his death.
Outwardly Holy Mother lived as an average Hindu woman, devoting herself to the faithful discharge of her household duties, often unpleasant and frustrating. Inwardly she practiced total non-attachment and remained undisturbed by what happened in the physical world. Never did her mind deviate from contact with God. Thus she has become, today, a model for both householders and world-renouncing monks.
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Holy Mother's life and teachings have a direct bearing on the present human situation. Physical scientists and professional philosophers influenced by the scientific method of reason and experimentation are preoccupied to discover the laws which explain and control life and nature. They are revealing various dimensions of reality which tell us about man and the world and also how to utilize this knowledge for man's physical welfare. There is a growing number of thoughtful people who regard intellectual knowledge, unillumined by spiritual insight, as inadequate to satisfy the deep yearning of the soul. They look to religion for inner peace. But unfortunately most of the religions, as practiced today, are cluttered with dogmas and creeds that conceal the truth. Men want a guide with direct experience of the true nature of the Godhead, the world, and the soul. Only thus can his words and actions become imbued with love and compassion. Moreover, this experience, if it is to transform men's lower nature and lead to the welfare of all, must be expressed in simple words. Perceptive readers may find in Holy Mother's life the fulfillment of these conditions. They will also find one who, instead of luxuriating in the enjoyment of inner peace, worked till the last moment of her life to transmit that peace to others.
The year 2003 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sri Sarada Devi, known affectionately by her devotees in India and throughout the world as the Holy Mother. A rare combination of human and divine qualities, the Holy Mother continues to inspire millions of spiritual seekers. Her life and teachings touch our very souls and grant us peace and joy. Her words of assurance are a blessing for all humanity: "I am the mother of the wicked; I am the mother of the virtuous. Whenever you are in distress, just say to yourself, I have a mother."
The present volume is the first American edition of the conversations of Holy Mother Sarada Devi as recorded by her disciples, both lay and monastic. The book was originally published in Bengali by Swami Arupananda, who served the Holy Mother for many years as personal attendant, and was later translated into English by Swami Nikhilananda, who was a direct disciple of Holy Mother.
The translator, Swami Nikhilananda, a brilliant teacher with a special gift for speaking and writing, had the rare privilege of intimately associating with many of the direct disciples of Sri Ramakrishna and received their blessings. His translation of The Upanishads, his biographies of Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother and Swami Vivekananda, his compilation of the works of Swami Vivekananda, and his other books are considered modern classics of spiritual literature. The swami's monumental work, for which he will ever be remembered, is The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, his English translation of the Bengali Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita, as recorded by M., a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna-a work that Time magazine called "one of the world's most extraordinary religious documents."
In the chapter entitled "Holy Mother, Spiritual Teacher of Humanity" the reader will find an illuminating discussion of the role of the teacher in spiritual life and a description of Holy Mother's relationship with her disciples as the teacher par excellance. This chapter has been excerpted from Swami Nikhilananda's biography Holy Mother: Being the Life of Sri Sarada Devi, Wife of Sri Ramakrishna, and Helpmate in His Mission (published by Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York). It is our hope that in bringing out this new book about Holy Mother and her teachings on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of her birth, an ever greater number of sincere spiritual seekers will be introduced to the Holy Mother, become inspired by her words, and strengthened in their spiritual quest.
The Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York is extremely grateful to Skylight Paths Publishing for joining with our Center in bringing out this important new book.