A Monastic Disciple of Sri Ramakrishna
MASTER AND DISCIPLE
AT THE INVITATION of Balaram Babu, Gauri Ma now left Jagannathpuri and went to Calcutta. Balaram Babu respectfully welcomed her to his home in Bagh Bazaar. In that large house, she was given a convenient room to stay in. This was the year 1882, when Gauri Ma had the vision of the Lord's two lotus feet.
Although Gauri Ma was already restless for God at the young age of ten and although she had met Sri Ramakrishna then, she had no idea who he was or why she was attracted to him. She had even been initiated by him, but she could not imagine the relationship between guru and disciple that would emerge in the future. Now, in 1882 at the age of twenty-five, she had come into contact with Sri Ramakrishna once again in a strange, unimaginable way.
She began to comprehend the deeper spiritual meaning of this relationship. She finally knew who this supreme person – this Sri Ramakrishna – was. This person, with a yearning for whom she had wandered, insane, through the different places of pilgrimage – through forests and deserted places, through valleys and over mountains – this very person, full of love, compassion, and mercy, was living at the Kali Temple in Dakshineswar on the banks of the holy Ganges River in the form of Sri Ramakrishna. He had been waiting for her all along. "Waiting for me, you are here. You, the Lord of the worlds, the refuge of all in quest of whom devotees ever roam in this world."
To understand all these mysteries, however, Gauri Ma had to perform severe austerities continuously for fifteen years. That is why the Lord had let her go through these experiences: it was absolutely necessary for her to perform that tapasya.
The day after her first visit to Sri Ramakrishna with Balaram Babu, Gauri Ma took an early morning bath in the Ganges and once again went to Dakshineswar, this time by herself.
Standing by the front door. Sri Ramakrishna was very happy to see her. "I was just thinking about you," he said.
Falteringly, Gauri Ma described her life of the preceding fifteen years to Sri Ramakrishna. She recounted her mysterious experience when she had seen his holy feet on the throne of Damodar. She then asked him, "That you are hiding here, at Dakshineswar, so close to Calcutta – could I not have known this earlier, Father?"
But Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna only gave a little knowing smile and replied, "Then how would you have done so much sadhana?"
If we want to have something, we must pay the full price for it. After practicing severe austerity not generally done by women, Gauri Ma met Sri Ramakrishna, who, unknown to her, had been in Dakshineswar all those years. As soon as she saw him again, she realized who he was. Taking shelter at his lotus feet and surrendering everything at those feet, she felt blessed and fulfilled.
Thus, in 1882 at age twenty-five, her divine and mysterious meeting with Sri Ramakrishna brought to an end the first phase of Gauri Ma's life – a phase of extraordinary austerity. As a natural outcome of this sadhana, she began the second phase, which proved to be equally uncommon. The rest of her life she spent serving women. whom she ever regarded as the veritable manifestations of the Divine Mother.