Childhood and Bethrothal

About sixty miles to the west of Calcutta, on the southeastern border of the Bankura District, is situated the little village of Jayrambati where the Holy Mother was born. She was born on December 22, 1853. Her father’s name was Ramachandra Mukherji and her mother was Syamasundari Devi. Ramachandra though poor was a virtuous and upright man. Of her father the Holy Mother said, “My father was a very good man. He was a great devotee of Rama. He had unswerving devotion to the ideal of a Brahmin’s life. He could not accept gifts indiscriminately. He loved to smoke, and as he smoked, he was so simple and humble ‘ he would address in a friendly way every passer-by that crossed his door and say cordially, ‘Come in brother. Have a smoke.’” Syamasundari Devi was a very simple, guileless and compassionate woman. It was in her nature to feel delighted in feeding people and working for their good. The Holy Mother’s early training was just like that of any poor village girl of India. Much of her time was taken up in helping her mother in cooking and looking after her Ounger brothers. The Holy Mother did not have any formal education.

At the age of six little Sarada was married to Sri Ramakrishna. She stayed at her father’s place till she was 18 years of age. Only on a few occasions she went to visit Sri Ramakrishna. It was only in 1872 that she came to Dakshineswar, Calcutta, to stay with Sri Ramakrishna. It was towards the end of March 1872 that the Holy Mother accompanied by her father started on the journey to Dakshineswar. They had to cover a distance of sixty miles on foot; for in those days there were no railway or steamer service to Calcutta. On the third day of the journey the Holy Mother, who was not accustomed to such long walks, fell ill of high fever. Therefore Ramachandra had to break their journey and take shelter in a wayside rest house. That night she had a wonderful vision. In the later days she described this vision to her devotees in the following manner:

“I was lying unconscious owing to fever, without any sense of decorum even. Just then I saw a woman, pitch dark in complexion, sitting by my side. Though she was dark, I have never seen another so beautiful as she. She stroked my aching head with her soft cool hands, and I felt the heat in my body subsiding. ‘Where are Ou from’ I asked her. And she replied, ‘From Dakshineswar.’ At this I was speechless with wonder and exclaimed, ‘From Dakshineswar! I too am going to Dakshineswar to see my husband. But this fever has unfortunately detained me on the way.’ To this she replied, ‘Don’t worry. You will soon be all right and see Our husband at Dakshineswar. It is for Our sake that I have kept him there. ‘I said to her, ‘Indeed! Is it is so’ But who are Ou to me? ‘I am Our sister’, she replied. I was much astonished to hear this. After this conversation I fell asleep.’

The next morning the Holy Mother was feeling well so they proceeded on their journey. On reaching Dakshineswar she was cordially received by her husband.