Compiled by a Monk of the Ramakrishna Order: Sri Sarada Devi (1853-1920) is affectionately called “Holy Mother” by millions of people around the world.
Sarada Devi was Ramakrishna’s wife, spiritual counterpart and spiritual giant in her own right. Holy Mother lived a simple, unassuming and extraordinarily modest life, yet her life and teachings rang with the truth of the highest spiritual realization.
Work and Purity of Mind
One must do some work. Through work alone one can remove the bondage of work, not by avoiding work. Total detachment comes later on. One should not be without work even for a moment.
(To a person who carelessly threw away the broom after sweeping the courtyard) “What is this? You have thrown away the broom with such disrespect when the work is done. It takes only the same length of time to put it gently in a corner as it does to throw it aside. One should not trifle with a thing, though it may be very insignificant. Will you not again need that broom? One should perform even an insignificant work with respect.
Holy Mother: “One must bear with everything, because all our facilities are determined by actions. Again, actions can be cancelled by actions.”
Disciple : “Can action ever cancel action?”
Holy Mother: “Why not? If you do a good action, that will counteract your past evil action. Past sins can be counteracted by meditation, japa and spiritual thought.”
How many are there who can meditate and practice japa all the time? At first they earnestly practice these disciplines, but their brains become heated in the long run by sitting constantly on their prayer rugs. They become very vain. They also suffer from mental worries by reflecting on different things. It is much better to work than to allow the mind to roam at large. For when the mind gets a free scope to wander, it creates much confusion. My Naren (Swami Vivekananda) thought of these things and wisely founded institutions where people would do disinterested work.
No doubt, you must do your duties. It keeps one’s mind in good condition. But it is also very necessary to practice japa, meditation and prayer. One must practice these disciplines at least in the morning and the evening. Such practice is like the rudder of a boat.
The householders have no need of external renunciation. They will spontaneously get the internal renunciation. But some people need external renunciation.
Why should you be afraid? Surrender yourself to Sri Ramakrishna and always remember that he stands behind you.
It is true that He is doing everything, but very few feel like that. Being maddened with pride, people think that they are doing everything and do not depend upon Him. God protects that person from all dangers who depends upon him.
Such is the fascination of money that if your involve yourself too much in it, you will feel attracted to it. You may think that you are above money and that you will never feel any attraction for it as you have once renounced it. No, my child, never harbor this thought in your mind. Through a tiny little loophole it will enter into your mind then strangle you gradually quite undetected.
The rich should serve God and his devotees with money and the poor should worship God by repeating his name.
The mind is everything. It is in the mind alone that one feels pure and impure. A person, first of all must make his or her own mind guilty and then alone they can see another’s guilt. Does anything ever happen to another if you enumerate their faults? It only injures you. This has been my attitude. Hence I cannot see anybody’s faults. If someone does a trifle for me, I try to remember that person even for that. To see the faults of others! One should never do it.
Forgiveness is indeed tapasya—spiritual austerity.
One should not hurt others even by words. One must not speak even an unpleasant truth unnecessarily. By indulging in rude words one’s nature becomes rude. One’s sensitivity is lost if one has no control over one’s speech. Sri Ramakrishna used to say, “One should not ask a lame person how he became lame.”
Let me tell you one thing. If you want peace of mind, do not find fault with others. Rather see your own faults. Learn to make the whole world your own. No one is a stranger, my child; the whole world is your own.
One must be patient like the earth. What inequities are being perpetrated on her! Yet she quietly endures them all. People, too, should be like that.
(Advice given to a young widow): Don’t be familiar with anybody. Don’t take much part in the social functions of the family. Say, “O mind, always keep to yourself. Don’t be inquisitive about others.” Gradually increase the period of meditation and prayer, and read the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna.
(To the mother of a monk) “It is a rare good fortune to be the mother of a monk. People cannot give up attachment even to a brass pot. Is it an easy thing to renounce the world?
Instructions on Spiritual Practice
Do not make any distinction between Sri Ramakrishna and me. Meditate on and pray to the particular aspect of the divinity revealed to you. Worship ends with absorption in meditation. . . . Neither mantra nor scripture is of any avail; bhakti or devotion alone accomplishes everything.
Be sincere in your practice, words and deeds. You will feel blessed! His blessings are always showered on all creatures on the earth. It is needless to ask for it. Practice meditation sincerely and you will understand His infinite grace. God wants sincerity, truthfulness and love. Outward verbal effusions do not touch Him.
Austerities, worship, pilgrimage, the earning of money—one should do all these in the days of youth… In old age the body deteriorates. The mind loses its vigor. It is possible to do anything at that time? It is quite right that the young monks of our monastery have been directing their mind to God from an early age. This is the right time for them to do so. My child, austerities or worship, practice all these things right now. Will these things be possible later on? Whatever you want to achieve, achieve it now: this is the right time.
Spiritual practices in a lonely place are very essential. Pray to God with tears in your eyes whenever you want illumination or find yourself faced with any doubt or difficulty. The Lord will remove all your impurities, assuage your mental anguish, and give you enlightenment.
My child, you have been extremely fortunate in getting this human birth. Have intense devotion to God. One must work hard. How can one achieve anything without effort? You must devote some time for prayer even in the midst of the busiest hours of the day. I used to be very busy during my days at Dakshineswar; yet I did my prayer and meditation regularly.
The more intensely a person practices spiritual disciplines, the more quickly he or she attains God… Those who spends their time idly, without practicing prayer and meditation, will take a long time to attain Him.
Continue to pray without losing your heart. Everything will happen in time. For how many cycles did the sages of old practice austerities to realize God, and do you believe you will attain him in a flash? Is it so easy to realize God? But this time Sri Ramakrishna has shown an easy path.
One has no control over illness, but even in the midst of illness or intense activity, one should at least remember God and salute him.
If you do not call upon God—indeed many people never even remember him–what does it matter to him? It is your own misfortune. Such is the maya of God; he keeps them ignorant of himself saying, “They are happy enough, let them be so!”
Don’t puzzle the mind with too many inquiries. One finds it difficult to put one thing into practice, but dares invite distraction by filling the mind with too many things.
If the mind feels at rest in a particular place, there is no need of pilgrimage.
If you are constantly in touch with the objects of enjoyment, you are likely to succumb to their influence.
Sri Ramakrishna spoke about nothing but God. He used to tell me, “Do you notice this human body? Today it is and tomorrow it is not. And coming to this world it suffers no end of misery and pain. Why should one worry about taking another birth? God alone is eternally true. If one can call on Him, it is good. Taking a body one has to suffer from its accompanying troubles!”
Don’t be afraid. Human birth is full of suffering and one has to endure everything patiently, taking the name of God. None, not even God in human form, can escape the sufferings of the body and mind.
You see, my child, no one can avoid facing dangers in life. Difficulties always come but they do not last forever. You will see that they pass away like water under a bridge.
One must experience the results of prarabdha karma [that karma from previous lives which has begun to bear fruit in the present life]. None one can escape it. But japa or repetition of God’s holy name minimizes its intensity. It is like the case of a man who is destined to lose his leg, but instead suffers only from the prick of a thorn in his foot.
Those who think of the Lord always, which way can evil come to them?
Disciple: “Are you the Mother of all?”
Disciple: “Even of these birds and animals?”
Mother: “Yes, of these also.”
Disciple: “Then why should they suffer so much?”
Mother: “In this birth they must have these experiences.”
Live in holy company. Try to be pure. And everything will be achieved gradually. Pray to Sri Ramakrishna. I am with you. Why do you fear? In time he will do everything for you.