It was in the summer of 1885 that the Master fell ill of cancer in the throat. By September His condition deteriorated considerably and he was moved to Syampukur, Calcutta, for treatment. The Holy Mother stayed behind in Dakshineswar for a while. Later she also shifted to Syampukur in order to prepare the Masters diet and feed him. After three months the Master was moved to a garden house at Cossipore. Even though the Master was provided with the best medical aid and was carefully nursed by the Holy Mother and His young disciples, his illness showed no signs of improvement.
The Holy Mother now decided to invoke divine aid. She went to the Siva temple at Tarkeswar and lay before the Diety for two days without food and drink, praying for some divine remedy for the Master’s illness. Later referring to this incident, the Holy Mother said,
“During the night of the second day I was startled to hear a sound. It was as if someone was breaking a pile of earthen pots with one blow. I woke from my torpor and the idea flashed in my mind, ‘Who is husband and who is wife? Who is my relative in this world? Why am I about to kill my self?’ All my attachment for the Master disappeared. My mind was filled with utter renunciation. I groped through darkness and sprinkled my face with holy water from the pit at the back of the temple. I also drank a little water as my throat was parched with thirst. I felt refreshed. The next morning I came to the Cossipore Garden. No sooner had the Master seen me he asked, ‘Well, did you get anything? Well, everything is unreal, isn’t i?t’ “
It was on the 15th of August 1886 that the Master spoke to the Holy Mother for the last time. He whispered to her:
“Look here! It seems I am going somewhere, all through water to a far off place. You need have no anxiety. You will be just as you have been so long. Naren and others will look after you and do for you as much as they have done for me. Do have an eye on dear Lakshmi.”
On the 16th in the early morning hours the Master passed away. Two weeks after the Master passed away, the Holy Mother started on a pilgrimage of Upper India. Accompanied by a party of devotees she started from Calcutta on the 30th of August. On their way to Brindavan they halted at Deoghar, Banaras and Ayodhya. At Brindavan the story of Radha’s passionate grief at separation from her beloved Krishna, strongly reminded the Holy Mother of her own situation, and this only added to her sorrow that she was feeling in her heart for the loss of the Master. She was so filled with grief that for days she continued to weep until she had a vision in which the Master came to her and said. “Why are you weeping so much? Here I am. Where have I, after all, gone? Only from one room to another.” After this experience she began to feel the nearness of the Master more and more and she was filled with peace and joy.
At Brindavan the Holy Mother’s life was one of constant worship and meditation. She and another devotee Yogin-Ma would sit together and repeat the name of God with such absorption that they knew not even when flies sat on their faces and made sores there. In Brindavan there are several temples. The Holy Mother visited all of them. At the temple of Radharamana she prayed to the deity with tears in her eyes: “O Lord, remove from me the habit of finding fault with others. May I never find fault with anybody!” As a result of this prayer her character was completely free of this tendency.
During her stay in Brindavan she had many spiritual experiences. One day her companions found her absorbed in Samadhi at one Kala Babu’s house. She remained in this state for a long time. Swami Yoganand (a young disciple of the Master) managed to bring her back to a semi-conscious state by repeating the name of the Lord in her ears. When she regained the semi-conscious state she spoke the way Sri Ramakrishna would on similar occasions, “I will eat something”. She was offered some sweets, water and betel. She took a little of each as Sri Ramakrishna used to do. When she came down to the physical consciousness, she said that the consciousness of the Master was upon her during that state.
The Holy Mother stayed in Brindavan for a whole year. From Brindavan she returned to Calcutta and from there she went to Kamarpukur. At Kamarpukur she faced a life of utter poverty and loneliness. All her relatives who had the responsibility of looking after her deserted her. Towards the end of His life, Sri Ramakrishna had told her, “After my time you go to Kamarpukur, live upon whatever you get, be it mere boiled rice and greens, spend your time in repeating the name of Hari.” These prophetic words seem to come true during this period of the Holy Mothers life. She did not have any money. She was so poor that she could not even buy salt, a commodity that is not denied even to the poorest of the poor. She had to cultivate some greens to go with her daily food. Until these were ready she made rice out of the paddy in the granary, offered it to the Master and partook of it herself without any condiments. In spite of her silence about her sufferings, the disciples of the Master in Calcutta came to know of her condition. They sent an earnest letter of invitation to the Holy Mother, requesting her to come to Calcutta. So after a stay of about nine months at Kamarpukur, the Holy Mother went to Calcutta in April 1888.