Sri Sarada Devi


Sri Sarada Devi

The Power and Inspiration behind the Ramakrishna Movement

IN 1872 a young woman joined a worldwide movement, a movement that continues today; the flow of countless millions from the countryside to the city. But she wasn’t seeking a life of greater opportunity and prosperity in the city; her only wish was to be with her husband. Some years before he had moved to Kolkata to assist his brother in priestly duties. Now, it was rumoured, he had become insane! Full of concern she set out on foot, accompanied by friends, on the perilous 100 kilometre journey to the city.

Several days later she presented herself before her husband, Sri Ramakrishna, and was relieved to find him sober, understanding and loving. Yes, due to his unusual spiritual ecstasies and devotions, he appeared to be eccentric but she clearly perceived his greatness and soon she resolved to be his companion in his life’s mission of bringing spiritual succour to a sorrowing world. Their marriage remained only as a spiritual union, never consummated.

So it was that this rustic, orthodox, young woman embraced a massive change in her life, leaving the quiet, timeless country life for that of a bustling city. Instead of simple village folk she was now surrounded by members of Kolkata’s elite: the intellectuals, academics, social reformers, religious aspirants and others who sat at the feet of Sri Ramakrishna in his room at the Dakshineswar Temple, soaking up his wisdom: meditating, singing and even dancing in spiritual joy.

From behind the veil which hid her face from people, Sri Sarada Devi looked, listened and learned much about man, mind, God and the universe. Her school was life itself around her and her illustrious husband.

Miss Margaret Noble, an Irish devotee and great scholar writes, “To me it has always appeared that she is Sri Ramakrishna’s final word as to the ideal of Indian womanhood. In her, one sees realized that wisdom and sweetness to which the simplest of women, may attain.”

When Sri Ramakrishna passed away in 1886 Sri Sarada Devi gradually emerged as a leader and guide of the burgeoning Ramakrishna Movement. Like all new movements it was subjected to resistance and suspicion. Sri Sarada Devi provided support, gave courage and when presented with even the knottiest of organizational, social or theological problems, resolved them with the simplest of solutions. To quote one Western writer, “Her life was a long stillness of prayer.” Her life moved smoothly in the midst of her daily chores of worship and serving the hundreds of people who approached her for consolation and spiritual counseling. But at the same time her great compassion, tremendous will-power and innate purity and peace were slowly and silently transforming her into a gigantic power-house. We see in her life the practical philosophy behind the twin ideals of the Ramakrishna Order, conveyed by its motto – ātmano mokshārtham jagat hitāya cha – “For one’s own salvation and the welfare of the many.”

Western admirers were wonder-struck by the keenness of her intellect and great presence of mind. Her universal mother-heart overflowing with unsolicited love and peace embraced within its fold each and every being. The distinction between men and women of different caste, colour, culture, clan or country, had been completely obliterated from within her.

There is the age-old Vedantic dictum: “Truth is one, sages call It by various names,” which has been re-expressed very succinctly by Sri Ramakrishna, “As many religions, so many paths.”

Sarada Devi lived it in her daily life.

Suggested Reading (See Books Section for further information):

  • Holy Mother by Swami Nikhilananda
  • Holy Mother the Great Wonder
  • Teachings of Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi
  • Eternal Mother

"She was a guide to all his followers. Never did a man go to her without being uplifted by her instructions and by her presence. Everyone  who has had a chance of meeting her came out with the view that she was an embodiment of purity, of wisdom, of gentleness and sweetness.’"

Former President of India

"The life of Holy Mother is one of simplicity, depth, and great inspiration and should be read by those who desire to understand India’s spiritual heritage."

Former President of the General Assembly of the United Nations

"Those who had the rare blessing of living with the Holy Mother learned that religion was a sweet, natural, joyous thing; that purity and holiness were tangible realities; that the odour of sanctity was literally a sweet perfume overlaying and destroying the foulness of material selfishness."

American Author, Disciple of Ramakrishna Order