Phalaharini Kali Puja
An event in Dakshineswar Bhavatarini Kali temple
that took place at 9 p.m. on May 25, 1873.
During the years 1862 and 1863, Sri Ramakrishna did his tantric sadhana. He had vision of various Devi’s forms. Although all those forms of Hers were of extraordinary beauty, he said later that they were not worth comparison in that respect with that of Sri Rajarajeswari, otherwise called Shodasi. He said about His vision of Shodasi, “I saw in a vision the beauty of the person of Shodasi which melted, and spread all around illumining the quarters.”
That form of Devi he chose to worship, after a gap of 10 years, in the person of his own wife Sri Sarada Devi.
It was May 25, 1873, on a new-moon day, the holy occasion for the worship of the Phalaharini Kalika Devi. It was 9 p.m. Master had got everything prepared for the mystery-worship of the Devi privately in his room. Holy Mother was sitting on a wooden seat decorated with Alimpana, facing north to the right of the Master, who was seated with his face to the east. Master sprinkled the Holy Mother repeatedly with the water purified by Mantras and recited the prayer:
“ O Lady, O Mother Tripurasundari, who are the controller of all powers, open the door to perfection; purify her ( the Holy Mother’s) body and mind, manifest Thyself in her and be beneficent.”
Then the Master did the Nyasa of the Mantras in the body of Holy Mother and worshipped her with the 16 articles, as the Devi Herself. He then offered food and put a part of it to her mouth with his own hand. The Holy Mother lost normal consciousness and went into Samadhi. The Master too reciting the Mantras in the semi-conscious state, entered into complete Samadhi. Regaining the conscious state, he offered himself to the Devi. He surrendered for ever at the lotus feet of the Devi his all – the results of his Sadhanas, his rosary etc. – along with his self, and saluted her with the Mantras:
“O Thou, auspiciousness of all auspicious things, O doer of all actions, O refuge, O three-eyed One, O Thou fair-complexioned spouse of Siva, O Narayani, I bow down to Thee, I bow down to Thee.”
The Master’s Sadhana reached its culmination with the worship of the Ruler of the universe, the divine Mother in the body of a woman, the Holy Mother and thus he attained perfection in all respects.
Through Mother-worship Sri Ramakrishna raised, as Vivekananda said, the ‘Brahma-kundalini’ in the modern times. By this Swamiji meant that the great flood of spirituality which the Master brought in his own life, influenced the entire humanity, bringing a general awakening of the Divine in man and woman all over the globe. Ramakrishna’s Mother-worship brought him out of the barriers of the Hindu temples and showed him the living presence of Mother everywhere. At Jadu Mallick’s garden house first he had the vision of Jesus not on the Cross, but as the child on the lap of Mother Mary, though after a few days he had the vision of Christ Himself. In the presence of fallen women of Calcutta, Ramakrishna went into samadhi, seeing the visible presence of Mother in them. Mother-worship, in its practical aspect, was manifested in his life as respect to all women as one’s own mother. “Mother-worship is the last word in spirituality”, he would say.
Today Ramakrishna’s worship of God as Mother, is inspiring millions to steer the same path to Godhead, as the easiest way to Divine life.
We have Vedic literature giving us elaborate rituals and sacrifice to the experience of Divinity.
We have Upanishadic literature giving us the path of reasoning to experience the Self within.
We have devotional literature showing us the lives of various saints adoring their chosen lords with all their heartful love.
Then, why this Tantra discipline of worshipping God as Mother?
It is because, in this modern age, human beings have got less longevity and are more body-centered. In spite of realising God through the ways of Islam, Christianity, Vaishnavism and other Hindu forms of worship, Ramakrishna remained, at bottom, a worshipper and a child of Divine Mother.
Let us see Swamiji’s words in this context.
“The ideal woman in India is the mother, the mother first, and the mother last. The word woman calls up to the mind of the Hindu, motherhood; and God is called Mother. In the West, the woman is wife. The idea of womanhood is concentrated there-as the wife. . . . .In an Indian home, the mother rules. If a mother comes into a Western home, she has to be subordinate to the wife; to the wife belongs the home. A mother always lives in our homes; the wife must be subordinate to her.. . .There she is-the Hindu Mother. The son’s wife comes in as her daughter; just as the mother’s own daughter married and went out, so her son married and brought in another daughter, and she has to fall in line under the government of the queen of queens, of his mother. Even I, who never married, belonging to an Order that never marries, would be disgusted if my wife, supposing I had married, dared to displease my mother. Why? Don’t I worship my mother? Why should not her daughter-in-law? Whom I worship, why not she? Who is she, then, that would try to ride over my head and govern my mother? She has to wait till her woman-hood is fulfilled; and the one thing that fulfils womanhood, that is womanliness in woman, is motherhood. Wait till she becomes a mother; then she will have the same right. That, according to the Hindu mind, is the great mission of woman-to become a mother. But, oh, how different! Oh, how different! My father and mother fasted and prayed, for years and years, so that I would be born. They pray for every child before it is born. Says our great law-giver, Manu, giving the definition of an Aryan,”He is the Aryan, who is born through prayer”. Every child not born through prayer is illegitimate, according to the great law-giver. The child must be prayed for.. . . Why should mother be worshipped? Because she made herself pure. She underwent harsh penances sometimes to keep herself as pure as purity can be. For, mind you, no woman in India thinks of giving up her body to any man; it is her own. The English, as a reform, have introduced at present what they call “Restitution of conjugal rights”, but no Indian would take advantage of it. When a man comes in physical contact with his wife, the circumstances she controls, through what prayers and through what vows! For that which brings forth the child is the holiest symbol of God himself. It is the greatest prayer between man and wife, the prayer that is going to bring into the world another soul fraught with a tremendous power for good or for evil. Is it a joke? Is it a simple nervous satisfaction? Is it a brute enjoyment of the body? Says, the Hindu: no, a thousand times, no! But then, following that, there comes in another idea. The idea we started with was that the ideal is the love for the mother- herself all suffering, all forbearing. The worship that is accorded to the mother has its fountain-head there. She was a saint to bring me into the world; she kept her body pure, her mind pure, her food pure, her clothes pure, her imagination pure, for years, because I would be born. Because she did that she deserves worship.”
Lord says in Bhagavad Gita that for the protection of the virtuous and for the destruction of vicious ones, he takes human forms on earth.
How this statement is got fulfilled in the advent of Ramakrishna?
By worshiping his own wife as the Divine Mother, Sri Ramakrishna awakened the divine virtue of ‘motherliness’ in the hearts of all. He thus proved the statement of Devi Mahatmyam, which says that the Lord resides in all creatures in the form of Mother.
“ Ya devi sarva bhuteshu matru rupena samsthitha
Namastasyai, namastasyai, namastasyai namo nama ha.”
Our Holy Mother was meaning this fact only when she said that she is the Mother of all.
In her life she proved that the divine virtue of ‘motherliness’ is possible to be followed by one and all.
Motherliness is not a quality reserved for females to be manifested only when giving birth to children.
A man can be motherly towards his parents.
A man can be motherly towards his brothers and sisters.
A man can be motherly towards his wife.
A man can be motherly towards his children.
A man can be motherly towards his employer.
A man can be motherly towards his fellow citizens.
Thus a man can be motherly towards the whole world community.
This is what Sri Ramakrishna-Ma Sarada Devi demonstrated in their lives.
It was Sri Ramakrishna who awakened this divine quality of Universal Motherhood in the person of Sarada .
As a result what we see in her life?
We see in her life two main things:
Firstly, we see the one single purpose that is to serve Sri Ramakrishna whom she regarded as God Himself and through this service she not only learnt how to divinize all her actions and her entire life, but also how to manifest the divine Motherhood that was hidden within her.
Secondly, her life showed that marriage is a spiritual partnership, a mode of spiritual living, and is not an obstacle to higher realization if it is understood in this light. She showed how to do intense spiritual practice even in the midst of intense activity, how to remember God constantly, how to convert one’s whole life into unbroken worship. Thus, she demonstrated how the apparently contradictory ideals of the wife, nun and mother could be integrated in a woman’s life.
On Friday, the 11th June, 2010, on the occasion of Phalaharini Kali Puja, all our branch centres of Ramakrishna Math and Mission are performing this historical worship of Shodai Puja.
On this auspicious occasion I pray Sri Ramakrishna and Ma Sri Sarada Devi to bestow and bless us all with the divine virtue of Motherliness in all moments of our lives.
nishthatmananda of muzaffarpur