Shakti is the Universal primary Force. As mentioned in the last post, it could be both-constructive or destructive. We are concerned with constructive force as spirituality involves dealing with positive force.
Prior to the post on ‘Shakti,’ 3 more articles were written about one more type of force and that was Kundalini Shakti. In those posts I have documented my personal experiences of advancing spiritual stage. In those times I merely got glimpses and visions of some saints like Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa and goddess Kali of Dakshineshwar. But a visit to the holy city of Dakshineshwar was taken much later. Even before I made a visit, it was my earnest desire to visit the birth places of Ma Sharada, the spiritual life partner of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa and the birth place of her husband too. I do not know why this desire was born as I am in no way linked to West Bengal and had no connection or background of people worshiping Kali, the goddess of both- preservation and destruction. Jairambati is the birthplace of Ma Sharada and Kamarpukur the birthplace of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa. Both are about 6 kilometers away from each other in Hoogly district of West Bengal.
I have visited both these places twice and have attained high degree of spiritual peace and clarity of thought. In Kamarpukur, I have seen the old house, the courtyard, the more than 160 years old mango tree under which the small house stands even today. It was here that Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa was born. The small room in which he was born is situated there. The mango tree was planted by him and it still bears fruits. And I have seen the humble mud house of Ma Sharada in Jairambati where she would sit for hours in the courtyard praying and chanting the holy name of Lord Jagannath or the Lord of the universe. Both places still radiate immense peace and vibrations of spiritual message and enlightenment.
These two places worth visiting are now under Ramakrishna Paramhansa Mission and are maintained very well, particularly where cleanliness is concerned.
Ma Sharada was a symbol of spiritual and divine force. Although she was not able to live with her husband for a long tenure, she helped him and his foremost disciple, Swami Vivekananda in the worldwide mission of spreading Vedanta knowledge in modern times.
Shakti can manifest itself in a subdued and mellifluous manner. The dynamic force works quietly unseen to the eyes of people in some cases. Ma Sharada was a perfect example of such a silent force.
She spent almost all her life in Japa sadhana. Japa means to repeat God’s name silently and sadhana means to acquire or attain spiritual enhancement and advancement. She would sit silently in the courtyard or sometimes on stairs alone and was often found in the wee hours or midnight with her rosary between her fingers chanting the name of the Divine. Towards the later stage of her life, she was once asked by one of her devotees, “ Ma, why do you do japa, when you have attained the highest? What more is left there for you to do?” She answered immediately, “My dear, this japa is for my beloved children who neither somehow spend time nor have the inclination to invest their time in taking God’s name. I am doing ‘japa’ for them, for their kalyan, for their well-being and good.”
‘Naam Smaran’ or remembering as well as chanting of God’s holy name incessantly, repeatedly is a very good tool to trick the wandering mind. When we silently remember God by speaking or whispering or uttering his name at the back of our mind while keeping busy with our routine tasks, the subconscious mind does not absorb the prevalent negative and impure thoughts of people floating in the ether. In this way, we increase our own Shakti or positive power and reduce negativity present in or around us.
It is not possible to write the complete life history of Ma Sharada, but I will talk about a few extra ordinary incidents of her early childhood which undoubtedly point out towards divinity that she was born with.
Born in a small, quiet village of Jairambati in West Bengal in 1853, Ma Sharada was married to Sri RamaKrishna Paramhansa in early childhood. As the Divine play had, they both led a pious life.
Jairambati did not have its own market. It was a very small village with no zamindars or rich people but the villagers celebrated all festivals with Harinam kirtan, Kali Pooja, Shitla devi pooja, Durga pooja and mythological religious plays.
Her birth was in a devout, humble Brahmin family. The father was generous and helped everyone who came to him asking for help. Her mother worked in the fields where they grew cotton. Her mother’s nature was of firm determination and she was a pious lady. She was very simple and compassionate and she used to feed many people in the villages nearby as well as people in her own village in times of famine and drought in spite of lack of funds at home. The child was showered with love and affection from parents and uncles. As a girl, Ma Sharada was quiet, sober and diligent. Though the family was not very prosperous, her parents were very helpful and generous. Thus the sowing of seeds of virtues in the sacred heart of the little girl took place very early on in her life.
An extra ordinary event is associated with Ma’s birth and her arrival. Once her mother went out for a nature’s call near a pond in the evening. There was this sacred tree of Bilvapatra near the pond. She saw a very beautiful divine girl of about 5-6 years old swinging on this tree. The girl came down with soundless footsteps from the tree’s branch after which she soon disappeared. On that night, the pious mother felt that a big Force had entered her womb because of which she became unconscious. Such was the power of the Force.
At this time Ma Sharada’s father was in Calcutta. After having lunch that day thinking of mundane things he fell asleep. He dreamt that a small girl with a golden glow has jumped up and clung to his back and wrapped her arms around his neck. The girl’s looks were extraordinary and she was wearing glittering ornaments. The Brahmin father asked her, “Who are you?” The girl answered gently, “I have come to you, receive me” After he awoke, the father felt he had a darshan of Goddess Laxmi with all the divine aura present around her.
I have read the life story of Ma Sharada and wish to quote some important lines-
Q- “Ma, whenever I sit for japa-meditation, why am I am surrounded by all types of worries? Do something by which I may forget all my worries”.
A- “After touching his head, “From now onward, you will never worry, even the shadow of worry will not linger”
Q- “Ma, I am unable to concentrate during meditation and japa”
A-“Continue doing japa, increase the duration of japa and if you are able to do one lakh japa, you will attain what I have told you about. Read one chapter of Bhagwat Geeta daily and if you are short of time, read just 2 shlokas. Sit in a comfortable position of meditation and do not move. If your one leg gets tired, shift to another and you will not find any difficulty.”
Q- “Is japa any different from meditation?”
A- “No, they are not contrary to each other, they are one. In fact, they both are complementary to each other. Do japa-dhyana, do meditation through japa”
She has also told her disciples in those days that the Shakti of the Guru lies in the mantra given by him or her. Through mantra it reaches the disciples. The sins of the disciples are absorbed by the Guru. Hence after giving mantra to the chela or disciple, the Guru takes on the karmas of his disciples and his body gets diseased.
Dear readers, such is the power of a Self realized soul and a divine servant of God because of which we are able to bear the weight of our karmic consequences and are in turn able to achieve the kingdom of God.