Sri Sarada Devi
“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.”
—Sri Sarada Devi
Sri Sarada Devi (1853–1920) affectionately referred to as “Holy Mother,” embodied love and wisdom. She was the wife and spiritual counterpart of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. A spiritual giant herself, she lived in true humility her entire life.
Sarada Devi was born to a poor Brahmin family in Jayrambati, a village in West Bengal. As a child, she spent most of her time helping her mother with household chores, and was devoted to God from an early age. As was the custom in India at that time, she was married to Ramakrishna while still a child and stayed with her parents and siblings. At 18, she joined her husband, who was living some 60 miles away, near Calcutta. By that time, Ramakrishna had dedicated his body and mind to the spiritual search, living the life of a monk. Yet, he received her with great warmth, feeling Divine Providence had brought her. Soon after her arrival, he asked her if she had come to pull him down to a worldly life. She replied, “No, I am here to help you realize your Chosen Ideal.”
Ramakrishna taught Sarada Devi the sacred mantras and instructed her on how to initiate people and guide them in spirituality. In this way, she was his first disciple. Those who associated with her were overwhelmed by her unconditional love and selfless service. Sarada Devi regarded all her disciples, and indeed all people, as her own children, regardless of nationality, religious affiliation, or social position. She turned no one away.
Sri Ramakrishna saw in Sarada Devi more than a disciple, more than a wife—in her purity and grace, he saw in her the living embodiment of the Divine Mother, and worshiped her in this way. Both Sarada Devi and Ramakrishna lived the monastic ideal, unattached to desires of the senses. As such, their marriage was never consummated on the physical plane. They simultaneously demonstrated the ideals of the householder and of the monastic ways of life. Ramakrishna asked her to continue his mission after his death and instructed his disciples to not make any distinction between himself and her.
After Ramakrishna passed away, Sri Sarada Devi served as guide and inspiration for this spiritual movement. She encouraged elevation of the underserved, including advocating for women’s education. In 1954, Sri Sarada Math and Ramakrishna Sarada Mission, the monastic order for women, was founded in her name.
Sarada Devi did not write any books; her words and reminiscences have been recorded by her disciples. Though she received no formal education, Sarada Devi's spiritual insight and utterances are highly regarded by great scholars like Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, who writes, “We have bits and pieces of her exquisite remarks as testimony.”
Quotes from Sri Sarada Devi
“Whatever you yearn for, that you will get.”
“Everyone can break down something, but how many can build it up?”
“Forbearance is a great virtue; there is no other like it.”
“As wind removes the cloud, so the name of God destroys the cloud of worldliness.”
“The purpose of one’s life is fulfilled only when one is able to give joy to another.”
“God is one’s very own. It is the eternal relationship. He is everyone’s own. One realizes him in proportion to the intensity of one’s feelings for him.”
“I am the mother of the wicked, and I am the mother of the virtuous. Never fear. Whenever you are in distress, just say to yourself, ‘I have a mother’.”
“If you practice spiritual discipline for some time in a solitary place, you will find that your mind has become strong, and then you can live in any place or society without being in the least affected by it. When the plant is tender, it should be hedged around. But when it has grown big, not even cows and goats can injure it. Spiritual practices in a solitary place are essential.”
Reminiscences of Sri Sarada Devi by Disciples
In 2007, the Vedanta Society of Southern California produced a DVD in which Swamis who knew Holy Mother speak of her. To view it is a spiritual experience. Click here for a sample from the DVD.