A Monastic Disciple of Sri Ramakrishna
THE MAHASAMADHI OF SRI RAMAKRISHNA
GAURI MA THUS PASSED her days in the blessed company of Sri Ramakrishna at Dakshineswar. She was filled with divine joy and a sense of fulfillment. Her mood for intense tapasya had subsided, although she always felt great joy in it. Tapasya was a part of her nature. Even in old age, she would perform a lot ofjapa daily. If she happened to be distracted by other activities during the day, she would do japa in the middle of the night.
During one other earlier stays in Brindavan, a little boy had seen her intense tapasya and had said to her, "Oh. Mother, why do you practice sadhana all day long? Just wake up in the morning and say once 'Radheshyam.' That is enough." With reference to this she used to say, "It is true. If you say it once with all your mind and heart, then it is enough. But to be able to do that, we need to prepare the mind with the practice of austerity."
Gauri Ma now began to feel a strong desire to return to Brindavan and practice austerity, but at the same time she did not want to leave the company of Sri Ramakrishna. She thought, Sri Ramakrishna is everything. What can I gain by going far away?
Seeing her dilemma. Sri Ramakrishna himself suggested that she go to Brindavan, so Gauri Ma went there and became absorbed in tapasya.
Meanwhile in Calcutta, unknown to Gauri Ma, Sri Ramakrishna was getting ready to leave the body. On August 16, 1886, he brought his drama to an end. His wife, Holy Mother Sarada Devi, was about to remove the bangles from her arms, as was the custom those days. when Sri Ramakrishna appeared before her and stopped her, saying, "Am I dead, that you are taking on the symbols of a widow? I have just gone from one room to another. Ask Gauri: she knows the scriptures."
At Brindavan, Gauri Ma came to know about the mahasamadhi of Sri Ramakrishna only after a long time. Her grief and sorrow were intense. What is the use of living any longer? she thought. With the intention of ending her life, she went to the Bhrigu Pond. Just then Sri Ramakrishna appeared before her and sternly reproached her: "What? Are you going to die?" Gauri Ma stopped in astonishment. Realizing that her life's mission was still unfinished. she returned home from the pond.
After the passing of Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother, along with a number of devotees, went on a year's pilgrimage. Reaching Brindavan, she met with Gauri Ma and told her about her vision of Sri Ramakrishna and about how he had asked her not to follow the customary rituals for widows.
When Gauri Ma, who was well versed in the Vaishnava scriptures, heard this account, she quoted the scriptures and said, "Sri Ramakrishna is eternal, and you are Lakshmi herself. If you renounce the auspicious signs of a woman whose husband is still living, it will be very inauspicious for the world."
Holy Mother told Gauri Ma that toward the end, Sri Ramakrishna had wanted to see her. He had even sent her a message, which did not reach her. Holy Mother added, "Thakur has said that your life must be spent in the service of women, who are, in truth, the living images of the Divine Mother."