Mother in Benaras

Jayrambati Series -27

Mother Sarada Devi in Benaras

In November 1912, Mother Sri Sarada Devi visited Benares for the  third time. Her entourage was large, with a few senior Swamis of the Ramakrishna Order, some of her relatives and several devotees.  She was accommodated at the Lakshmi Nivas, a newly built house belonging to a devotee, very close to the  Ramakrishna Advaita Ashrama.

Vintage: Historic B&W photos of Benares (Varanasi), India (1890s) | MONOVISIONS - Black & White Photography Magazine

Mother stayed in the holy city for two months and a half this time. This made it possible for her to visit at leisure all the important temples and other places of interest in and about the city. After making her obeisance to Visvanath and Annapurna, the principal Deities in Benares, Mother visited, on the  third day of her arrival [8 November 1912] the Ramakrishna Mission  Sevashrama. Sevashrama was a hospital founded with the blessings and guidance of Swami Vivekananda, and an important centre  of medical relief in the city. Within a short time, the hospital had grown big, and was serving the masses. After seeing the different areas of the hospital, Mother was highly satisfied. Finally she expressed her appreciation of the  work in these significant words: “The Master is  present here, and Mother Lakshmi (Goddess of  Prosperity), too, is abiding here in all her glory.  . . . The place looks so nice that I should like to stay here permanently.” And as soon as she went back to her residence, she sent a sum of ten rupees as her donation for the institution.

As regards the shrines she visited, she said about  the Siva images known as Vaidyanath and Tilbhandeswar that they had sprung from the earth and not  been made by the hands of men. About the image of Kedarnath she said, “This Kedar and the Kedar  in the Himalayas are related to each other. If one visits this, one really visits the other. This Deity is a very living presence.”

Mother Sri Sarada Devi stayed in this house, Lakshmi Niwas, from 5 November 1912 to 16 January 1913.

One day she went to visit Sarnath, the ruined site  of an important centre of Buddhist learning and religious activity in ancient days. On seeing there some Westerners looking at the relics of Buddhism in  speechless wonder, she remarked, “ These are the   people who built this place in a previous incarnation.  They are amazed at their own doings.”

Ramakrishna Mission Home of Service, Varanasi
Chameli Puri ji

The Holy Mother visited two well-known monks  in Benares. One of them belonged to the sect of  Nanak and lived on the banks of the Ganges. The other was the celebrated Chameli Puri, who was a  junior contemporary of Tota Puri, the preceptor of  Sri Ramakrishna, and belonged to the same monastery  as he. When Golap-Ma inquired of this monk as to who had been supplying him with food, the monk replied with great force and earnestness, ‘It is the  Goddess Annapurna who feeds me. Who else would?’ The Holy Mother was highly pleased with  the answer. Returning home, she said to her disciples, “ The face of the old man is constantly in my  mind. It is just like that of a child.” Next day she sent him some oranges, sweets and a blanket. When asked if she would visit other holy men in the city, she said, “ I have seen that holy man (Chameli Puri).  What need have I to visit others?”   She returned to Calcutta on the 16 January 1913.