Sarada Devi

(India, 1853-1920)

Sri Sarada DeviSri Sarada Devi was married at the age of five to one of the most realized mystics of the nineteenth century, the Indian saint and sage Ramakrishna, who was twenty-three at the time. When she turned eighteen, she moved to his temple compound, living in a tiny room some eight square feet in size until she was thirty-two, when Ramakrishna passed away. Her years with her husband were a time of demanding training in spiritual life and in the Vedantic philosophy of religion. Emerging as his foremost student, Sarada Devi was believed by everyone who knew her to incarnate the Divine Mother and came to be called "Holy Mother." At Ramakrishna's death, his students maintained that he had left Holy Mother in the world to reveal the Motherhood of God.

She spent the rest of her life in spiritual teaching and ministry, renowned for her love and the purity of her soul.  The essence of her message, a key to understanding her love, is revealed in extensive teachings, which were written down by one of her students.  Only five days before she died, she offered guidance to a young disciple:  "If you want peace, do not see the faults of others.  Rather, see your own faults.  Learn to make the whole world your own.  No one is a stranger....This whole world is your own."

-- Mary Ford-Grabowsky


One who makes a habit of prayer will overcome all difficulties and remain calm and undisturbed in the midst of life's trials.

One should be like the dabchicks floating on the water, swimming and diving without a drop of water sticking to them.  Live in the midst of the materialistic world, but shake off all clinging to things.

sun on seawater - photo by Murad MerwanjiIt is the nature of water to run downwards, but the sun's rays lift it up toward the skies.  Similarly, it is the very nature of the mind to go to lower things, but the grace of God can lift the mind toward higher things.

How can one's mind be healthy if one doesn't work?  No one can spend all twenty-four hours in thought and meditation.  To keep the mind cheerful, one must engage the mind in work.

The mind stays well in work, but worship, prayer, and meditation are also necessary.  Sit at least once in the morning and in the evening.  That acts as a rudder for a boat.  When one sits in meditation in the evening, one gets a chance to think over what one has done during the day and to compare one's mind of the preceding day to the present day's.

Whether you jump into water or are pushed into it, your clothing will be equally drenched.  So too, either regular meditation or constant meditation will make the mind one-pointed.  Discriminate always between the real and the unreal.  Whenever you find your mind clinging to one object, try to draw the mind back to the thought of God.  The mind of a spiritual aspirant should remain fixed....One gets everything when the mind becomes steady.

How does one receive the vision of God?  It is through Divine grace.  But one must practice meditation, worship, spiritual disciplines.  Just as one receives the fragrance of a flower by handling it, or the smell of sandalwood by rubbing it against a stone, so in a similar way, one receives spiritual awakening by thinking of God.

If one is without kindness, how can one be called a human being?

Work to remove the sufferings of the world.


Additional reading:
Sacred Voices: Essential Women's Wisdom Through the Ages, edited by Mary Ford-Grabowsky
(San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2002).

Reprinted here with the kind permission of Mary Ford-Grabowsky.