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PRABUDDHA BHARATA Sri Sarada Devi: Essence of the Infinite  





              Sri Sarada Devi: Essence of the Infinite



               Swami Satyamayananda




     Gods Inscrutable Ways and Appeal


     God incarnated as Sri Sarada Devi in Jayrambati, in poor rural Bengal, on 22 December 1853. Of course, that was not the first time God incarnated for humanity and certainly that will not be the last time either. Can anyone understand Gods ways? Bhishma was none other than one of the eight Vasus, but even he shed tears on his bed of arrows. He said: How astonishing! God Himself is the companion of the Pandava brothers, and still there is no end to their troubles and sorrows! Who can ever understand the ways of God? (1) This descent of the Divine may be inscrutable to logic and philosophy, but it is immensely appealing to the heart. Gods incarnation as Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi has also opened to us a new vision of God, spirituality and sadhana, spiritual practice. Amazingly, one finds that Holy Mother was not so reticent about her real nature as Sri Ramakrishna was. This is a bigger appeal. For instance, here is a conversation between Holy Mother and her devotee:


     I [Surendranath Sircar] said, Mother, devotees call you Kali, Adyashakti, Bhagavati, etc. In the Gita it is mentioned that the saints Asita, Devala, Vyasa and others called Sri Krishna as Narayana Himself. By mentioning it himself in the Gita [10.13], the idea has been still more emphasized. I believe everything that I have heard about you. Still, if you will please speak of it yourself, my doubts will be dispelled. I want to hear from you directly whether these things are true. Yes, true they are, said the Mother. (2)


     Even with all this, Mother seems like anyone of us. Otherwise, why should we feel so identified with her? This is the biggest appeal. More importantly, we had been pining to know our real Mother for long, and when we suddenly discover her in our midst, the joy and relief is immense like children feel on finding someone after a tiring search in a game of hide-and-seek. This joy is compounded when the hidden person equally enjoys being discovered and joins in the fun and laughter.



     The Visible and Invisible Universe



     There are some 100 billion galaxies, each with an average of a 100 billion stars. In each galaxy there are perhaps as many planets as stars. This is, of course, not the final figure; the process of mapping the heavens is still on and will go on for a long, long time. Given these numbers, the idea naturally arises that space must be very cluttered, but no, the immensity of space makes these massive galaxies float at mind-boggling distances from each other. Travelling at 1,86,000 miles per second, light from some galaxies take billions of years to reach the Earth. Intergalactic distances are so immense, so staggeringly far apart, and space seemingly so desolate, empty, cold and dark that the best-trained imagination begins to ache, tremble and simply fizzle out. All these celestial bodies are in different stages of evolution, some of it occasionally happening in a very violent way. Apart from this, the universe is frighteningly silent to human ears. Every planet, star and galaxy also rotates and revolves around each other, and the entire universe is expanding at an unimaginable velocity. (3)



     Our Galaxy and Human Nature


     The Milky Way, our spiral-armed galaxy, contains 400 billions stars. Of all these stars we know a little perhaps about just a small mediocre one. We see it rise and set daily, and it is the source of light and energy to us. Rooted in this microscopic speck of dust called planet Earth, in the midst of swirling galaxies of cosmic dust and gas all around, the mind is overwhelmed and awestruck at this fantastic vision spread before it. Yet, due to their inherent inquisitiveness, humans have dared to dream, to scan and study the heavens for knowledge and conquest. This eternal quest obviously raises the questions Why? Are we alone? These questions rising from deep within human souls waft away, seemingly down and up, and get lost in the very vast intergalactic distances. But since every motion in this universe is circular, things return to where they started. These questions also return to where they originated, but as faint echoes. If one is sensitive and also expansive in mind, one can catch the feeble echoes that have been transformed by their travel, echoes that say that this earth with its life is unique, beautiful, significant, mysterious, terrifying and much, much more (the last being the subject of this article). Another reason humans have to seek answers is because we are products of this universe (our bodies are made of the very stuff stars are made), and to study it is to study us, and conversely, studying ourselves also reveals the universe.



     The Final Result and Its Production from the Means


     Let us look at it this way: we know it takes thousands of years with millions of tons of constant pressure to produce a diamond in the bowels of the earth. Likewise, acres and acres of fields are required to be cultivated to produce a few thousand saffron flowers, from the stamens and pistils of which one gets a handful of kesar (Crosus sativus). On squeezing it we get just a few precious drops of oil. To carry this line of thought further: a nation produces just one champion after years and years of daily hard work and practice by thousands and thousands of athletes. To come closer home: for many, youth, manhood, energy and mental brilliance have to be sacrificed till they earn their first million rupees. In spiritual life it takes maybe millions of repetitions of a mantra till it becomes awakened. The Lord says in the Bhagavadgita, One perhaps in thousands of men strives for perfection; among such striving men, one perhaps knows Me in reality. (4) Further, At the end of many births the man of wisdom takes refuge in Me. (5) All these examples are just to fix in our minds the law that the means are almost exhausted to produce the end. Everything is almost sucked dry for the result to emerge. So also this whole universe, light years away from us, with its billions and billions of stars, with all its materials and secrets, is required to produce just this one precious Earth we call our home. For now, this small planet is the very essence, the gem, of the universe, the condensed form of infinite time, space, matter and energy made palpable.



     The Multiverse


     At the present state of knowledge, even with ongoing diligent search with sophisticated telescopes, astronomical spectroscopes and supercomputers, this Earth is the only planet pulsating with life. This could be an understatement; it is found to be teeming with life (just view a drop of water under a microscope) extending from the simple single-celled amoeba to the huge blue whale, with plants, trees, insects reptiles, birds and complex mammals in between. All life forms come in innumerable shapes, sizes, behaviour and functions, with lifespans ranging from a few seconds to more than a thousand years (like that of giant redwood trees). All these simple to the highly complex species number in millions. They live in the atmosphere high above, in air, water, on the ground and below. All these species collectively live their lives in their own universe, so to say. From the individual standpoint, life in a single body needs to live by struggling and battling with its own kind and other species for survival and self-propagation. For instance, as Homo sapiens we believe we are part of a very large multicoloured family called the human universe, yet each one of us lives in his own personal world of joys, sorrows and fears. But all these living universes of collective species and worlds of individuals, from the microbe to man, constantly interact; they are interdependent and interconnected. Hence a word for all this, which is becoming quite current: multiverse.



     Consciousness, the Essence of the Universe


     Man stands at the crest of this teeming ocean of life on Earth. Swami Vivekananda says, Man is the epitome of all things, and all knowledge is in him. (6) The Earth, as we have seen, is the very essence of this massive universe, and the best product of Earth (that is, matter) is the human brain. Life is the very essence of matter; the essence of life is mind; the essence of mind is intelligence; the essence of intelligence is consciousness. Thus consciousness is the essence, as it were, of everything in the universe and multiverse. Though consciousness is present in a bacterium and plants, yet in them it is in a rudimentary state. In man it is fully manifest, but here again, the differences in man are quite marked, and these differences are principally due to the difference in the manifestation of consciousness. In the highest men, consciousness is completely unfurled; these are known as the paramahamsas. This all-pervading consciousness is spoken of thus in the Aitareya Upanishad:


      this is all these (big creatures), together with the tiny ones, that are the procreators of others and referable in pairs - to wit, those that are born of eggs, of wombs, of moisture, and of the earth, viz horses, cattle, men, elephants, and all the creatures that there are, which move or fly and those which do not move. All these are impelled by Consciousness; all these have Consciousness as the giver of their reality; the universe has Consciousness as its eye, and Consciousness is its end. Consciousness is Brahman. (7)



     The Particular and the General


     Are we sure or this? Why not! If you know one hydrogen atom here, you know all the hydrogen atoms in the universe. One need not study it out in space. Take the atom. It is particular; but it gives rise to the knowledge of the universal. We know all the hydrogen atoms in the universe on knowing one here. Again, according to the well-known Indian adage, Just by pressing with the fingers one grain of rice in the cooking pot one can know whether all the grains in the pot have been boiled or not. (8) If you know one physical law, it is the same throughout the universe. The very idea is presented in the Chandogya Upanishad: O good looking one, by knowing a lump of clay, all that is made of clay is known, every modification being only a name, arising from speech, while clay is the only reality about it. (9) Hence what is known in the microcosm is known in the macrocosm. If we know our bodies, we can study other bodies; if we know life in our bodies, we can know and understand life in other bodies. If we know our minds, we can know other minds. If we know our intelligence, we can understand intelligence everywhere. This knowing and understanding things comes from Consciousness, which is our root. Hence we can understand and appreciate consciousness in every being.



     Gross Forms Arise from the Subtle


     These are the faint echoes coming back from the questions Why? Are we alone? Add to them when and how. As every question implies an answer (as every problem always comes with its solution), the echoes return to us in the depths from where they arose, from the depths of our consciousness, whispering the answers. This is the secret of the universe. This whispering answer sometimes manifests in bold form. In other words, things commence from the extremely subtle and become gross by degrees. This is the greatest secret and mystery of this universe. To give a crude example, it is like anger: constantly dwelt upon and cultivated secretly in the subconscious, anger gradually becomes strong, slowly colouring the mind and then rearing itself violently at the conscious level. This wave of anger then grips the body and shakes it, as it were, and impels it towards karma to fulfil the emotion. To illustrate: it is like huge monster waves lashing the shoreline, waves that have arisen miles and miles away from an earthquake on the ocean floor and travelled almost imperceptibly all the distance, slowly gathering strength to finally erupt in fury. Similarly every how, why, who and when that proceeds from mans consciousness slowly gathers strength as it makes the circuit of the universe, as it were, and finally returns with answers. Add to this every cry from the human heart, every pain, every misery, love, compassion and so on - in fact, everything that weeps and seeks solace. In this age, all these have manifested as Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi. Hence Holy Mother holds in her all the answers, all the remedies for our times. It is but natural that Holy Mother will run to her children who cry for her; we see it happen in our lives everywhere.



     Mothers Two Astounding Answers


     In the Gospel of the Holy Mother there are two simple but astounding answers to some fundamental questions.


     Disciple (Swami Arupananda): Mother, infinite is this creation; who can tell what is happening in a remote plane? Who can say if any living beings inhabit any of those innumerable stars and planets?



     Mother: It is possible only for God to be omniscient in this realm of Maya. Perhaps there is no living being in those planets and stars. (10)


     If the doubt arises as to whether the answer was offhand, the next answer set the doubt at rest:


     Disciple: Are you the Mother of all?



     Mother: Yes!



     Disciple: Even of these birds and animals?



     Mother: Yes, of these also. (75)


     Similarly, she also said, Beings all over the universe are my children. (204) These two answers are staggering and tremendous. First, who could have said this? Only one who knows for certain; and that person has to be even vaster and greater than the universe. The second answer is more amazing: Holy Mother is the Mother of all life forms.


     Just as this multiverse is the essence of this universe and Consciousness is its essence, Holy Mother is the essence of this Consciousness, for it is clearly said in the Chandi: Repeated salutations to Her, who, established in the form of Consciousness, pervades the whole world. (11) This is the ground in which our roots are anchored. There is nothing higher than this. Swamiji puts it powerfully: In Whom is the Universe, Who is in the Universe, Who is the Universe; in Whom is the Soul, Who is in the soul, Who is the Soul of Man (12)



     Some Modern Scientific Views


     To make a minor digression in order to bring in modern views: it is now common knowledge that we are living in a world that is just right for life forms like ours. It suggests that the universe is run by some transcendent intelligence called Anthropic Principle.


     The Anthropic Principle was first coined in the mid 1970s by Cambridge astrophysicist Brandon Carter. Carter observed that the balance of power between two forces, gravitational and strong interaction force (of atoms), is so incredibly fine-tuned that if the strength of the force of gravitation had varied by as little as a mere small part (1 part in 1040), this delicate balance would have been destroyed and stars such as our Sun would never have formed. (13)


     There must be some regulating principle behind the whole universe, visible and invisible. Even the living legend Stephen Hawking says, It is difficult to discuss the beginning of the universe without mentioning the concept of God. My work on the origin of the universe is on the borderline between science and religion, but I try to stay on the scientific side of the border. It is quite possible that God acts in ways that cannot be described by scientific laws. (14)



     Mothers Real Identity


     We conclude by quoting one more instance of Holy Mothers revelation of her true nature.


     Disciple (Prafulla Kumar Ganguli): Does the Master receive the food that I offer to him? Do you, too, receive what I offer to you?



     Mother: Yes.



     Disciple: How can I understand this?



     Mother: Why? Have you not read in the Gita that God receives the fruits, flowers, water and other things that are offered to Him with devotion?


     Surprised at this reply I said, Then, you are God? On hearing this, the Mother laughed heartily. We too joined her. (15)







     1. M, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, trans. Swami Nikhilananda (Chennai: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 2002), 183.

     2. The Gospel of the Holy Mother (Chennai: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 2000), 224.

     3. See Carl Sagan, Cosmos (New York: Ballantyne Books, 1985), 2.

     4. Bhagavadgita, 7.3.

     5. Ibid., 7.19.

     6. The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, 9 vols. (Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1-8, 1989; 9, 1997), 8.21.

     7. Aitareya Upanishad, 3.1.3 from Eight Upanishads, trans. Swami Gambhirananda, 2 vols (Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1, 1977; 2, 1978), 2.71.

     8. Swami Saradananda, Sri Ramakrishna the Great Master, trans. Swami Jagadananda, 2 vols. (Chennai: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1, 1978; 2, 1984), 1.102.

     9. Yatha saumyaikena mritpindena sarvam mrinmayam vijnatam syad-vacarambhanam vikaro namadheyam mrittiketyeva satyam.

          - Chandogya Upanishad, 6.1.4.

     10. Gospel of the Holy Mother, 112.

     11. Citirupena ya kritsnametad-vyapya stitha jagat; Namastasyai. Namastasyai. Namastasyai namo namah.

          - Chandi (Durga Saptashati), 5.78-80.

     12. CW, 5.435.

     13. M. Talbot, Beyond the Quantum, 184; quoted in Swami Jitatmananda, Modern Physics and Vedanta (Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 2003), 149.

     14. Michael White and John Gribbin, Stephen Hawking (Viking, 1992), 167; quoted in Modern Physics and Vedanta, 150.

     15. Gospel of the Holy Mother, 331.

International Yoga Day 21 June 2015
International Yoga Day 21 June 2015








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