Maa Sarada

once so near and afterwards so far nephew Hriday,supporting Ramakrishna in trance

John F. Kennedy, possibly in a moment of male bravado, confided to one of his friends “I have never been through a woman unless I have had her in three ways.” Not an unusual bravado. It is typical male ego showing its prowess, attractiveness and success. Only difference is that it has a shock value as it came from one of the most popular Presidents of the United States of America. Very few successful and not so successful men are strangers to this emotion. It is a truth, almost universally observed and acknowledged that women tend to flock around successful men. So by a little twist of logic some men claim that they have had it with so many women in their life to prove their virility, attractiveness and success. Success has its own attractions. Some call it as the ultimate aphrodisiac. I have neither quarrels with the successful men nor with their getting attention from all the attractive and nubile women crowding around them. Rather I have a feeling that it should be so. Women have to think of housing, food, money etc. for themselves and their yet unborn children. They are more rooted in the reality of the world unlike men who have their feet mostly off the ground and up in the sky; mostly their personal sky. What I have objection to is Kennedy’s use as well as many others’ use of the phrase or sentence, “I have had her.” I object because it is a lie. You cannot “have had” a woman. You can attract her to you by your success, wealth and power, you can have sex with her, you can even be in a relationship with her but you cannot “have had’ her at any stage, least of all when you are through with her, doesn’t matter in how many number of ways.

When you are successful and rich you tend to tick women off. After sleeping with someone for some nights you say “ oh, I have had her” and you tick her off and move on to your next trophy, target, prey, victim whatever you say. Then after a few days with her you tick her off “oh, look at her, I have had her.” Then the next one. So it goes on and you reach a tally of say one hundred. My point is that yes, you have had sex with one hundred women but you have not had even one of them. That is not the way to ‘have had’ them. I would rather say they ‘have had’ you in the sense you employ the phrase.

I know of one person only who actually ‘has had’ a woman. Not in the sense you employ the phrase but in its real, true sense. He was SriRamakrishna Paramhansa. He had a wonderful wife in Sarada Devi. Millions call her as Maa Sarada. The first to call her so was none other than Ramakrishna himself. He could see the divine feminine in her. In fact, the entire womankind was only mother to him. The Goddess Kali he was worshipping daily in the temple was, to him, manifested in Sarada. He could not have sex with her. How could one have sex with one’s mother ? Instead, he worshipped her, to the astonishment of the girl –wife who was just eighteen then. She must have been like all other girls of her age, having altogether different pictures of conjugal life in her mind. But she had the intelligence to understand very soon that her husband was not like any other man. In the one-room living room in the temple premises allotted to Ramakrishna they slept like brother and sister, separately. This wife was ready to serve her husband as he wished. Ramakrishna knew that. Yet not for once he could see her in any other way than the Goddess Kali, the divine feminine herself. It became his duty to remind her of her real Self, not by lecturing her or by arguing with her but by revering her as he revered the idol of Goddess Kali. Not even a little bit differently. If he had been something in his words and something else in his actions he wouldn’t have been believed. How could you hoodwink your wife, who was certainly privy to all your lusts, even your lustful thoughts. She was always at hand, she would be the first to notice any discrepancy in his thoughts, words and actions. Because she found none she began to believe in him and moulded herself accordingly. By concentration, meditation and most of all her absolute devotion to Ramakrishna and tending selflessly to all his needs and by devotion to the Goddess Kali Herself she realized her trueself, her real nature. Ramakrishna was there to guide her in every step. But that was a unique relationship, unlike any thing I have seen and known.

She was almost eighteen years younger, they had married while she was five and he was twenty three. After the marriage they lived apart till she turned eighteen when she took the matter to her hand one day and decided to be united with her husband at Calcutta. How she set out for the journey from her village and how she reached the destination is an enthralling story by itself and Ramakrishna knew nothing of her plan. But when she finally reached him he was overjoyed to find her, almost surprising everyone including her. All her apprehensions were dispelled off. It is no less a mystery than his choosing her as his consort when she was just a child of five. What he found in that child of five will remain a mystery forever. But on this reunion after thirteen years of their marriage he was all joy and celebration for her. She was eighteen years younger, but he treated her as more than his equal. All her requests were heeded without fail. No woman had ever got a more devoted, more obedient and a more loving husband. His loyalty to her was one hundred per cent. I have a strong hunch that this kind of unquestioning devotion, reverence, respect, honour to her along with his devotion to the mother Goddess Kali finally left no doubt in her mind as to the role she was cut out to play in the future. Certainly that accounted for his resounding success in ‘having had’ her too. How else could anybody aspire to ‘have had’ a woman other than through love and deep respect, through kindness and understanding and by completely honouring her as Ramakrishna used to honour Sarada ? Ramakrishna not only never disrespected her but also wouldn’t allow anybody to do so. If he noticed anybody doing so, he had a very touching way of warning the offender. I am giving an example.

Ramakrishna had a nephew named Hriday living with him who used to help Sarada in her kitchen and in other household and religious work. He was also attending to Ramakrishna. On his outings too he used to accompany him as Ramakrishna was highly prone to elapse into Samadhi or trance like state at any moment of time if God’s name was sung anywhere around him. The nephew, in course of time, like any other ordinary man in his place, began to throw his weight around as he had some high ideas about himself and his capabilities. He thought of himself as indispensable as Ramakrishna was not even able to take care of himself due to his extremely sensitive and devout nature. Ramakrishna never touched money in his life. When money was kept under his bed to test him, without his knowledge, he could not sleep till the offending object was removed. The nephew began to disobey him and sometimes even dared to speak sharp, hurtful and impudent words to him in his face. Ramakrishna never protested such behavior. He tolerated them all. But when he saw the same kind of treatment meted out to Sarada he couldn’t take it any more. He warned Hriday in a very touching way. He said, ” you disobeyed me, misbehaved with me so many times yet I never said anything. But she is different. She is the Goddess herself. If she is hurt by your behavior, untold miseries will follow you. Then none can save you. Don’t tell me then that I hadn’t warned you.” But ordinary man that the nephew was he took no heed as he didn’t believe that a cooking, cleaning , not very well read and an ordinary woman could be anything other than what she appeared to him. He persisted in his obnoxious, arrogant behavior towards her. But not for long. Situations and events took such a turn that the nephew had to leave the place for good without Ramakrishna having to do anything. Later on the nephew realized that he was actually not indispensable and repented and wept to be taken back but none of these acts even got reported to Ramakrishna. Such was his fate that the man who was always beside Ramakrishna for many years had to beg his disciples to have an audience with him but it was never granted. Ramakrishna was completely unaware of these happenings. His warning proved one hundred percent true. There are many such examples to be read from the biography of Ramakrishna or Mother Sarada. Ramakrishna would tolerate everything but he had the least tolerance towards dishonor or disrespect to women. Here lies the root of the story of my fascination with Ramakrishna.

From my childhood Ramakrishna became a hero to me for this unique quality. He revered each woman as a Goddess in herself. Every woman was like his own mother. This feeling was so much developed in him that he could never bring himself to consummate his own marriage.

I know we cannot be like him. Sex is movement of energy in us. It carries so much charge, so much power that it holds us in its thrall and demands expression and searches for outlet. The resolutiuon of tension so engendered becomes one of the prime activities of all animals, birds, insects or reptiles. No individual is untouched by it. The sexual urge is purely biological and elemental. Mother Nature ensures the survival and continuation of most of its children through reproduction by sexual mating. Sexual mating again causes formation of bonding which ensures better chance of survival of the species wherein the offspring get two parents in place of one for succor and protection.

So wherein this scenario or set up Ramakrishna fits in ? What is his relevance in a world governed by sex ? What is this bull doing in a china shop ? Sorry, what is this asexual saints’s relevance for us who have begun to believe or have taken for granted that being called sexy amounts to being called beautiful, desirable and even spiritual ? I think he has great relevance for us. The people who have actively fought a prolonged war are the ones who really seek peace, as they have suffered the horrors of war, they have seen the war in its true colors. They are the ones who never glorify war. Instead they want peace.

Similarly, those who have seen how sex has undone so many by leading people by the garden path, promising so many sweet dreams of happiness, joy, love and bliss but actually ending by falling flat on the ground with a sense of having been cheated or having eaten grass. Sex is purely biological, but some still think and say that it is spiritual too. I say, if it is spiritual in the sense that it can be used for God realization then electricity is spiritual too as it is used by meditators to keep the meditation hall cool or warm as the case may be or for using it for lighting, microphone, cooking etc. Osho, also advocated throughout his life that sex was spiritual too. I have spent a decade of my life reading his books and listening to his tapes and I have come to the conclusion that it may be true for him or for a very few gifted individuals only. But for the vast majority it is a mirage. Realising God through sex is a mirage. Tantra in India almost got wiped out of the land of its birth due to, among many other reasons, this dabbling with sex as a means of God realization. Ultimately at the end of your search nothing comes to your hand. You are empty as before only now you are more confused, more disillusioned. Osho too like Ramakrishna was a great respecter of women. He had a woman at the head in each department of his Ashram. But he had to pay a very great price for espousing this path of God realization through sex. Of course, Osho will survive because sex is just one of his flavours, he was a many flavoured, many dimensional man. But here I am digressing.

Ramakrishna showed how by revering and honoring the Divine Mother, the Divine Feminine within each woman we see, we can seek Her, please Her to let us show Her splendor, Her real Self, which many mystics have said to be Love. She could be known only with Her mercy, if She lets you show Herself. Devotion to Her is the only way. She is the repository of all knowledge. By Her grace only you can be the knower of all that knowledge, including the knowledge of knowing Her. According to Ramakrishna,” The Mother is fierce to the evil doers but She is infinitely compassionate and kind to Her children who take refuge in Her”. So surrendering to the Divine Feminine is the way to peace, prosperity, joy, grace and wisdom.
Ramakrishna “has had” certainly one woman and probably many women in his life without even touching any of them. Both Ramakrishna and John F.Kennedy died very early in their life, to be precise a little before they turned fifty. Ramakrishna died of cancer and Kennedy by a bullet. Both were survived by their widows for more than thirty years. I am struck by many resemblances in their lives but they differ widely in the way they viewed women. In fact, very few viewed women the way Ramakrishna did. And what a great difference it made! Sarada, after eastern tradition, never thought of remarrying. In life she served her husband as a mother took care of her son and after his death his grateful, devoted and gifted disciples rallied round her, saw to her comforts, took her guidance in furthering the causes most dear to her husband’s heart and above all continued to revere her as The Mother.

Thus she became an example of what great faith could do to change an ordinary mortal into a power house of courage, confidence and wisdom. I am beholden to Ramakrishna for altering so many lives in the direction of their fulfillment and self realization. He certainly knew how to ‘have had’ others.