But for Me, Mother and I – That is All

‘But for Me, Mother and I – That is All’
– Swami Sudarshanananda

Source: Vedanta Kesari – Jan 2015

‘One day I went to see Sri Ramakrishna’, related Swami Turiyananda, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna,

there were many other visitors. Among them was a great Vedantic scholar. The master said to him, ‘Let us hear some Vedanta from you.’ The scholar with great deference expounded on Vedanta for more than an hour. Sri Ramakrishna was very pleased. The people around were very surprised at this, but after eulogizing the scholar the Master said:

‘As far as I am concerned, I do not like all these details. There is nothing but Mother and I. To you, knowledge, knower and known—the one who meditates, meditation and the object of meditation—this sort of triple division is very good. But for me, “Mother and I”—that is all and nothing else.’ These words, ‘Mother and I’ were said in such a way that it made a very deep
impression on all present. At that moment all ideas of Vedanta paled into insignificance. The Master’s ‘Mother and I’ seemed easier, simpler and more pleasing to the mind than the three divisions of Vedanta. I realized then that ‘Mother and I’ was the ideal attitude to be adopted.’

Who is ‘Mother’ whom Sri Ramakrishna referred to? According to Sri Ramakrishna, Mother is the dynamic aspect of the Ultimate
R e a l i t y c a l l e d Brahman. When that Reality is static, we call It Brahman, and when it is dynamic, we address It as Mother, or Shakti. Says Sri Ramakrishna,

My Divine Mother is not only formless, She has forms as well. One can see Her forms. One can behold Her incomparable beauty through feeling and love. The Mother reveals Herself to Her devotees in different forms.

To Sri Ramakrishna, Divine Mother was a palpable reality. He lived and breathed in Her presence. He once said,

I saw Her yesterday. She was clad in a seamless ochre-coloured garment, and She talked with me. . . She came to me another day as a Mussalman girl six or seven years old. She had a tilak on her forehead and was naked. She walked with me, joking and frisking like a child.

The Mother that Sri Ramakrishna spoke was both immanent as well as transcendental reality. She is, always. She does everything—
She creates, preserves and dissolves the world but is also beyond it. She does not reveal Herself so easily.

Learning to Be in Her Presence
Not only living in Her Presence, Sri Ramakrishna wanted everyone to live in Her Presence. He gave certain practical hints as to
how one can practice Her Presence in one’s life. Here are some of these:

1. Seeking Her Intensely: God is there, Divine Mother is there, but who wants Her! This is what Sri Ramakrishna pointed out. So,this is the first thing necessary to practice Her Presence: want Her, seek to be in Her Presence.
Sri Ramakrishna sought Her like a mad man. He wept and sobbed that he had not been able to see or experience Her. His only thought was, ‘How can I reach the Divine Mother? I have no support in the whole world; can I find the Divine Mother? Does She want to turn Her face to me?’ This yearning for divine is the core of religious life. As Swami Vivekananda pointed out,

This is the message of Shri Ramakrishna to the modern world. Do not care for doctrines, do not care for dogmas, or sects, or churches or temples;they count for little compared with the essence of existence in each man, which is spirituality;
and the more that this is developed in a man, the more powerful is he for good. Earn that first, acquire that, and criticise no one, for all doctrines and creeds have some good in them. Show by your lives that religion does not mean words, or names, or sects, but that it means spiritual realisation.

2. Learning to be Strong: All weakness comes from the ignorance of our real nature. Ignorance generates attachment to the object of senses and that in turn creates fear. To a seeker of the Divine Mother, however, nothing can bind. No untoward event in the world can disturb a child of the Divine Mother. In the face of calamities, the ordinary person, steeped in worldliness, is shattered, but not so with the child of Divine Mother. Steady, firm, unmoving, resolute—such are the children of
Divine Mother. One may be financially poor or socially lowest in hierarchy, but once we think we are children of Mother, nothing can take away our faith, dignity and calmness. A child of Divine Mother says, ‘My Mother is the Empress of the Universe; why should we fear anyone? She is our protector; who can frighten us? We have nothing to fear from any quarter.’

3. Surrendering the self to Her: This means one should give up all sense of pride and possession and surrender our actions and their results to Her. One of the very illustrative examples of self-surrender is narrated by Sri Ramakrishna thus:

When Rama and Lakshmana went to take their bath in Pampa Lake, they thrust their bows into the ground. Coming out of the water, Lakshmana took out his bow and found its tip stained with blood. Rama said to him: ‘Look, brother!
Look. Perhaps we have hurt some creature.’
Lakshmana dug in the earth and found a big bullfrog. It was dying. Rama said to the frog in a sorrowful voice: ‘Why didn’t you croak? We should have tried to save you. You croak lustily enough when you are in the jaws of a snake.’ The frog said: ‘O Lord, when I am attacked by a snake I croak, saying: “O Rama, save me! O Rama, save me!” This time I found that it was Rama who was killing me; so I kept still.’

When a devotee realizes that God is doing everything, he accepts even death as a gift from Him. He thus becomes fully resigned
to His Will. Such is the attitude of children of the Divine Mother. This is the best way to ward off all worries and anxieties.

The one lesson that one learns from the example of Sri Ramakrishna is: practice the presence of Divine Mother in one’s day-to-day life. His own life was a life of absorption in Her thought and of one long prayer—all else was secondary. He was always either repeating Her name fondly or talking about Her with the devotees. For him there was prayer in the morning, prayer in the evening, prayer during the day, prayer at night. He knew nothing but ‘I and my Mother.’

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