Sunday, January 31, 2010
Saturday, January 30, 2010
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Friday, January 29, 2010
Let's be honest about Jyoti Basu
Sutanu guru gives 5 reasons why india cannot afford his ideology, politics, economics and legacy
It is a peculiar trait we Indians share: even those we love to hate acquire such a halo after death that we hate to deny we love to hate them. The death of former Prime Minister V.P. Singh was simply crowded out by the traumatic 26/11 attack in 2008. Yet, even then, we preferred to praise the man who should easily be ranked as the worst Prime Minister that India ever had. Something similar seems to be happening with the allegedly best Prime Minister India never had. Yes, I am talking about Jyoti Basu, the bhadralok Marxist whose death seems to have triggered paroxysms of naïve nostalgia and hypocritical hype. The passing of an era is a term that is being bandied about even by his former opponents who hated his guts and ruthlessness. If you go by media reports after his death, Jyoti Basu should be up there with the likes of Jawaharlal Nehru; in fact, some have even compared him with Mother Teresa. Typically Indian, and so typical of our habit and tradition to praise those who have passed on and carp about people who don't want to hide uncomfortable things under a dusty carpet.
But really, let's face some uncomfortable facts before we pronounce Jyoti Basu as the best Prime Minister that India never had and one of the greatest political figures of modern India. If you think Basu was a leader who cared for the poor and the downtrodden, here is what Magsaysay Award winner, author and activist Mahasweta Devi has to say, "Jyoti Basu did very little for the adivasis of the state. I met him on several occasions and appealed to him. My entreaties fell on deaf ears". Sure, you might think that the respected Mahasweta Devi is prejudiced because of her single-minded devotion to adivasis and tribals. Sure, you can put blinkers and prefer to ignore opinion. But, can you ignore facts? Here are some facts that even die-hard believers of the 'Left is Always Right' dogma need to mull over:
l From being one of most industrialised states till the late 1960s, West Bengal is now one of the most backward. Close to 30,000 industrial enterprises were closed down and more than 27,000 units became 'sick' in the hey days of the Basu era of 'Marxist Pragmatism'.
l Unpaid Provident Fund dues of jute mill workers amounted to Rs 5 crore in 1977. They had shot up to more than Rs 200 crore by 2000, when Jyoti Basu handed over the baton to Buddhadeb Bhattacharya (a sobering history lesson for those who think Basu was busy creating a paradise for workers and the proletariat in West Bengal).
l The worst social development indicators and the worst representation in government jobs for Muslims happens to be in the 'fanatically' secular West Bengal (Another deliciously ironical historical nugget here. The devoted Marxist Nurul Islam died in police firing in 1976 during a food agitation. His death played a key role in Marxists coming to power in the state in 1977. His family was subsequently abandoned by the comrades and the brothers of Nurul Islam now actively work with Trinamool Congress!).
At least 13 out of the 18 major districts of West Bengal come in the category of the 100 poorest districts of India.
Not a single medical college was set up during the reign of Jyoti Basu.
Police firings on workers, tribals and farmers were routine during the regime. About 20 enquiry commissions were set up. Only one submitted a report whose recommendations were never implemented.
There is much more that can be proffered as evidence. But we know even voluminous tomes on the misdeeds of the regime will not sway the ideologically blinkered who are convinced that dogma is morally superior to facts. Yet, it is very important to set the record straight. There is no doubt that future historians will marvel at the naiveté of the nostalgic outpourings after the death of Basu when they contrast this with his actual track record. But such nostalgic naiveté can prompt India to make the kind of mistakes that Jyoti Basu and his fellow comrades, willfully or unknowingly, committed in their quest for Red glory. Quite simply, in this 21st century world of rapidly changing dynamics, India simply cannot help but renounce, abjure, condemn and castigate the legacy left behind by Basu and his Red warriors.
Here are five important reasons why:
Party & ideology over nation
Most will remember the visceral and unflinching manner in which Prakash Karat and his fellow comrades opposed the nuclear deal between India and the United States. During the official visit of George Bush to India, they even forgot courtesy while abusing and heckling him (one wonders how many people would have been killed in police firing if demonstrators had abused and heckled Chinse Supremo Hu Jintao during a hypothetical state visit to Kolkata?) But not many will remember that Marxists like Basu always blamed India more than China for the 1962 debacle. Just consider this: The CPI, mentored by the Soviet Union, supported the Emergency because Indira's India was a Soviet ally; the CPI(M) opposed it vehemently because China was not very fond of Indira's India. Of course, both supported the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and kept quiet on the Chinese invasion of fellow Marxist state Vietnam in 1979. Under Jyoti Basu, West Bengal always gave more importance to ideology over public interest. Anything that the United States did was wrong, sinful, imperialistic and evil. Anything that the former Soviet Union and China did was far above criticism. This was all right till the 'ideology over national and public interest' line was largely symbolic. But, it had terrible consequences for the state when dogma invaded realpolitik and started affecting the lives and livelihoods of millions of citizens. Mercifully for India, voters now seem far less swayed by ideology and identity politics than they were in the recent past; that perhaps was the biggest message sent out by voters during the 2009 general elections when both the CPI(M) and the BJP were humiliated and humbled.
Intolerance & authoritarianism
Strange as it may sound, this is a trait that Marxists seem to share with Fascists. And like the Fascists, the Marxists have an uncanny way to ruthlessly weed out dissent and free speech even within their own ranks. Many of you know how Prakash Karat and comrades expelled fellow Marxist Somnath Chatterjee for behaving like the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and refusing to vote against the Manmohan Singh government. But much before Somnath Chatterjee became a victim of such classic Marxist intolerance, comrades like Jyoti Basu had set wonderful precedents. Senior Marxist leader Benoy Choudhury was ruthlessly sidelined during the hey days of Basu when he criticised the government for encouraging traders and businessmen at the expense of the poor. He died a forgotten man. Another Marxist leader and former MP Manoranjan Hazra had to leave the party after accusing fellow comrades of promoting "promoter Raj". His daughter - despite several High Court orders - simply failed to get even a school teacher's job in Basu's Bengal. Some of you might have heard of Nripen Chakraborty, a Marxist who became the chief minister of Tripura. He was perpetually sidelined after publicly criticising Basu's policies.
If Basu and his acolytes could treat 'family members' so ruthlessly, imagine the fate of citizens and activists who were not Marxists. Police firings, custody deaths and 'raids' organised by party workers were actually the order of the day in Basu's Bengal. One of the worst is the Marichjhapi massacre where more than 3,000 Dalit protestors were killed. It is only during the Singur and the Nandigram agitations that the sheer ruthlessness of the Marxists and their police machinery came to light and became the staple for media. But it was perfected during Basu's regime when any villager daring to vote against the Marxists automatically became a target for the Marxist goons. That kind of authoritarianism is now coming back to haunt the successors of Basu. And ask yourself honestly: with so many grievances, injustices and inequity, will India survive if the State displays such authoritarianism?
Murder of entrepreneurship
Till the late 1960s, Bengal was one of the most industrialised states of India. Many prominent Marwari business families who found their early fortunes during the British Raj had made Calcutta their home. One of the most respected of the lot is B.K. Birla, almost 90-years-old, and a man who personally witnessed interactions between his father G.D. Birla and Mahatma Gandhi. Of course, he has also witnessed the destruction of West Bengal as an industrial hub. He says, half in sorrow and half in mockery, "What can businessmen expect but unions, strikes, threats and God knows what else. Tell me, which businessman will invest there. You know, when they are out of Bengal, the people are the most hard working, industrious and enterprising. But inside the state…you can see what happened to Bengal over the last 40 years. I don't need to elaborate. Of course, I have always considered Calcutta my home and always will. But frankly, I don't see a bright future for the state."
B.K. Birla considers Calcutta and Bengal his home. But entrepreneurs and capital have been running away from the state at an ever increasing rate. As mentioned earlier, close to 30,000 units have shut down and about 27,000 units are 'sick' almost beyond redemption. Despite the best efforts of Jyoti Basu and his successor Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, private investors still think 20 times before even contemplating a move to Bengal. By now, states like Orissa are overtaking Bengal in industrial investment and Bihar, too, might do that in the near future. This is primarily because the regime under Jyoti Basu virtually declared war on entrepreneurs and encouraged party cadres and trade union members to do their worst. Even the Chinese have long recognised and embraced the virtues of entrepreneurship in wealth and job creation. But in his 23 year old rule, Basu preferred to ignore them, if not chase them away. India in the 21st century simply cannot do without entrepreneurs; just as it can't do without a state that intervenes on behalf of the poor and the marginalised. This virulent antagonism towards entrepreneurs is a Basu legacy that India can do without.
Destruction of institutions
A democracy survives and prospers only when institutions are robust, healthy and accessible to all citizens. Despite all its glaring flaws, India can be proud as a democracy where institutions have often been threatened but never destroyed - even during the excesses of the Emergency. But in Bengal under Basu, the party assaulted and captured virtually every institution that is important for the survival of a functional democracy. More than Basu, it was party ideologue Pramode Dasgupta - long dead since 1972 - who lead this Red charge. Things reached such a state that you had to be a member or a sympathiser of the 'cause' to get a promotion or even a job. Schools and colleges were filled with teachers and professors who were more interested in the interest of the 'party' than the future of the students; municipal offices, lower courts, libraries, universities, panchayats and even cultural institutions were invaded by cadres who gradually came to hold complete sway over them. It was this systematic capture and destruction of institutions that helped the Marxists retain power for so long; booth capturing or rigging is so much easier when the polling officer is a comrade.
When institutions are so systematically undermined, the state becomes even more vulnerable when dissent and opposition gather steam. In China, the ideological mentors of the Bengal Marxists have managed to thrive because they have offered a better standard of living to citizens. Having failed to do even that, the Marxists in Bengal realised that Singur and Nandigram became harbingers of another anti-Red revolution that is sweeping the state. As you sow, so shall you reap. India as a whole seriously needs to repair its institutions that have been under attack from crime, corruption and an immoral political class. Surely, the Basu legacy will ruin whatever is left to salvage.
Ideology is eventually almost always trumped by opportunism. Here is what Left Historian Narhari Kabiraj says about the great split in the Marxist movement in India in 1964, "Basu was initially opposed to the split, but when he realised that things were changing rapidly and he would gain politically if he switched sides, he joined the CPI(M) and became a Politburo member". Of course, Basu was also Deputy chief minister in an alliance government with the Bangla Congress.
That kind of political opportunism is no big deal; it is part of politics. But when such opportunism started becoming crony socialism, things became very bad for citizens of the state. Not a single medical college came up during the tenure of Basu; worse, land allotted at throwaway prices were used to build 'corporate' hospitals like Ruby, Peerless and EEDF. And don't forget, the practice of using farmland for industrial purposes started during his tenure, Falta, Haldia and Rajarhat as prime examples. But dissent was so ruthlessly suppressed then that not many could get to know about the sweetheart deals that the Marxist regime was making with businessmen. It's only the deal with Ratan Tata for the Nano car plant and the sheer injustice of the deal towards landowners and sharecroppers that the chickens started coming home to roost. Most agree that crony socialism was perfected into an art by the time Basu retired in 2000. Large swathes of India have been victims of crony socialism. But perhaps the worst affected has been Basu's Bengal.
Sure Jyoti Basu was a tall leader, arguably the tallest Marxist in India (Who remembers S.A Dange, E.M S Namboodiripad and Harkishen Singh Surjeet anyway?). Sure, let's praise him for the good deeds he has done. But let us not go overboard and make him a Marxist version of Jawaharlal Nehru. Bengal has lost decades of growth, social development and employment opportunities. History will be nostalgic and polite; it will inevitably declare that Jyoti Basu cannot escape his sins of omission and commission.
In defence of Jyoti basu
A Glorious Legacy
The death of Jyoti Basu marked the end of a legendary set of political leaders who were part of the freedom movement. Much of the commentary following his death has primarily focused on his record-making 23 years as chief minister of West Bengal, but what has been rarely discussed is that his political life spanned nearly seven decades - starting as a student activist who joined the Communist movement and aided in the freedom struggle while being in England, later immersing himself into working class, organising, working in legislature from the young age of 32 after getting elected from the Railway constituency in as early as 1946, building his rudimentary party-which was banned till 1950s-into viable opposition to the ruling Congress, and serving as the leader of the Opposition for years, working in a coalition government and finally becoming the chief minister. In all his roles that he played in his career - his political positions were remarkably consistent - from opposing what he called "ultra-left" resolution for an insurrection by the party just post independence, to utilising the parliamentary route for mass struggles and combining it with extra-parliamentary work to building a robust and highly penetrative form of three-tier democratic institutions - the Panchayati Raj when in government. In the manner he worked even with his adversaries and in the high praise that he earned for his work both in opposition and in government, Jyoti Basu distinguished himself as a democrat to the core.
Critics - particularly from the urban middle class and there are many - have pointed out to the lack of adequate industrialisation of West Bengal during the years Jyoti Basu ruled. The man himself acknowledged some of the shortcomings - he was self-critical of his government's achievements in education and health for example, but seen in the overwhelming light of the achievements made by the CPI(M)-led government in tackling rural poverty, food insecurity and rural to urban migration, it can be said with authority that the Jyoti Basu led regime was the most pro-poor among all state governments in the country. The implementation of land reforms - even today 22% of the total land distributed in India has been done in West Bengal and 54.6% of the total beneficiaries in the country were from West Bengal - was his sterling achievement. As regards industrialisation, the chief minister fought lengthy battles with the Central government over discrimination in clearing industrial projects and managed to build the Haldia Petrochemicals project.
Following the liberalisation policies adopted in the Centre, Jyoti Basu seized the opportunity to escape the licence-permit-raj dominated economic system to construct the New Industrial Policy in 1994, but always emphasised that the policy should complement the needs of the urban and rural poor.
In the way he constructed the concept of united and Left fronts, in the manner he impressed upon the Congress to build the UPA (the first time that the Congress was running a coalition government) supported by the Left Front from outside and in the way he was consulted by his ideological counterparts such as Rajiv Gandhi (on Panchayati Raj, relations with China), Atal Behari Vajpayee (in the Indo-Bangladesh water sharing treaty), he showed his mettle as a sagacious and wise statesman who was appreciated not just by his fellow compatriots but also by his detractors.
by Srinivasan Ramani
(Assistant Editor, EPW)
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Thursday, January 28, 2010
This world is the great gymnasium where we come to make ourselves strong.
All healthy social changes are the manifestations of the spiritual forces working within, and if these are strong and well adjusted. Society will arrange itself accordingly. Each individual has to work out his own salvation; there is no other way, and so also with nations. It is very easy to point out the defects of institutions, all being more or less imperfect, but he is the real benefactor of humanity who helps the individual to overcome his imperfections under whatever institutions he may live. The individuals being raised, the nation and its institutions are bound to rise.
Men in general lay all the blame of life on their fellowmen, or, failing that, on God, or they conjure up a ghost, and say it is fate. Where is fate, and who is fate? We reap what we sow. We are the makers of our own fate. None else has the blame, none has the praise. The wind is blowing; and those vessels whose sails are unfurled catch it, and go forward on their way, but those which have their sails furled do not catch the wind. Is the fault of the wind?
I was once traveling in the Himalayas and the long road stretched before us. We poor monks cannot get anybody to carry us, so we had to make all the way on foot. There was an old man with us. He said, Oh, Sir, how to cross it; I cannot walk any more; my chest will break. I said to him, Look down at your feet. He did so, and I said, "The road that is under your feet is that you have passed and is the same road that you see before you; it will be soon under your feet. The highest things are under your feet, because you are Divine Stars"
The history of world is of six men of faith, six men of deep pure character. We need to have three things: the heart to feel, the brain to conceive, the hand to work. Make yourself a dynamo. Feel, first for the world. Ask yourself, does your mind react in hatred or jealousy? Good works are continually are being undone by the tons of hatred and anger which are being poured out on the world. If you are pure, if you are strong, you, one man, are equal to the whole world.
Late Natwarsinhji Lakhdhirsinhji Vaghela,
one of the elder pracharak of Gujarat RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sang) and member of prant karyakari mandal, passed away on 26th January2010
Natwarsinhji known with nick name 'Bapu' was born in 1922 in Limbadi. He was born and brought up in patriotic family and atmosphere. He did his primary education in Limbadi itself and then went to Bhavnagar for graduation study at Shamaldas Arts College. He left college study to work for RSS. He was required to work as teacher as his father passed away. He worked as physical teacher in school. He won medal in high jump and polo jump at that time. He also did correspondence course for homeopathy.
He was in close contact with Dilawarsinh Rana son of freedom fighter and kanikai Sardarsinh Rana. He was inspired to join and work for RSS in that young age. He left study and job too for full time work of RSS Pracharak in 1945. He worked in kapadvanj Taluka initially. Then he worked as Jilla vibhag and sambhag pracharak too. He was member of prant karykari mandal Rss of Gujarat till his death. He was also looking after off al trust related to RSS. He was guiding to BMS (Bharatiya Mazdoor sangh too. He also worked for few years at Killa Paradi at Pandit Satvalekarji Ashram.
He was very kind, noble and simple living personality. He worked years together till age 87. He never expected anything form anywhere. He was very near to so many swayamsevak and their family members. He was taking just once a day simple food. During World War 2 he left eating sugar, as it was imported from Morasius. But he contained it till his end. He went on walking and even on bicycle for RSS pravas. He was moving in most of sarashtra area n motorcycle. He invaluably drives his two-wheeler till age 85 years. He was very kind to teach anyone by simple self-exampled. He never gave big lecture but did small task to inspire so many. He was pioneer of RSS work in Saurashrta area.
He was very humble and worrying for every one whom he knows. In last days of illness he asked his Sarathi (Driver) Harpalsinhji , what you expect from me, let me know before I leave this world. He tried to inquire and talk with one vibhag pracharak for recently detected his Diabetes, even thought he was in bed and not bale to speak well. He was giving simple examples to follow. I have heard his simple lecture in many times in RSS camp and Bethak. One of those was in RSS Sangh Sikhsa varg at Porbandar 2003 May
He was ever asking to work and meet people even in his bed-ridden illness. He was practicing to go for daily shakha without any gap. In his last illness too, he never left his Sangh Prathrana.
He was having little bit joint problem after 85 years of age. And ski problem ageing process. He was detected having Acute Myeloid leukemia on October 2009 when he was having pneumonia. Later on he was kept on drug and good vigilance for general health. But disease process continued to rise and he was admitted in Dr. Vallabhbhai Kathiriya’s Hospital. He was looked after by expert intrevenist. Ultimately his soul left his body on 26th January 2010 at 4.45 pm in hospital only
His body was kept for darshan by all swayamsevak in Rajkot karyalay, Dr Headgear Bhauvan. His body was left to panchtatva at Ramnath Smashan ghat on 27th January at 10 am.
Many swayamsevak came to pay respect t his last voyage. Even Narendra Modi CM, Gujarat and much renowned personality came to pay respect to him.
I have written this in blog to pay small shranthajali to him. I ask all friends, and swayamsevak to write about him and their memories with Natwarsinhji in this blog in form of comments. If you have any memorable photos of him, please send on my email address, so we can upload to view by others
One file photos of Natwarsinhji with prant karyakari MandalOne file photos of Natwarsinhji with prant karyakari Mandal
In light Mood
Sandesh, Dali Nws paper, rajkot
સૌરાષ્ટ્રમાં રાષ્ટ્રીય સ્વયંસેવક સંઘનો પાયો નાખનાર અને સંઘના વરિષ્ઠ પ્રચારક નટવરસિંહજી લખધીરસિંહજી વાઘેલાનું આજે ૮૮ વર્ષની ઉંમરે રાજકોટમાં નિધન થતા સ્વયંસેવકો અને ભાજપના કાર્યકરોમાં શોકની લાગણી ફેલાઈ હતી. તેમને શ્રધ્ધાંજલી અર્પવા મુખ્યમંત્રી નરેન્દ્ર મોદી ખાસ ગાંધીનગરથી હવાઈ માર્ગે રાજકોટ દોડી આવ્યા હતા.
સંઘના વરિષ્ટ પ્રચારક નટવરસિંહજીએ પ્રાથમિક શિક્ષણ લીમડીમાં પૂર્ણ કરીને ભાવનગરની શામળદાસ આર્ટસ કોલેજમાં દાખલ થયા હતા. પરંતુ સંઘ કાર્ય કરવાની અને સંઘ માટે સંપૂર્ણ જીવન સર્મિપત કરવાની તૈયારીના કારણે છેલ્લા વર્ષ બાકી રાખીને બાકીનું જીવન સંઘને સર્મિપત કર્યું હતું. મોરેશ્યસથી આવતી ખાંડનો બહિષ્કાર થતા તેમણે બીજા વિશ્વયુધ્ધ પછી ખાંડ કયારેય ખાધી નહોતી. પ્રચારક તેમણે મોટરસાયકલ પર ખૂબ પ્રવાસ કર્યો હતો. ભાવનગર વિભાગ, સૌરાષ્ટ્ર સંભાગ, જૂનાગઢ વિભાગમાં પ્રચારક રહ્યા હતા. બ્લડ કેન્સરનું નિદાન થયા બાદ ડો.કથિરીયાની હોસ્પિટલમાં તેમની સારવાર ચાલી રહી હતી. જયાં ગઈકાલે સાંજે પાંચ વાગ્યે તેમનું અવસાન થયું હતું. તેની જાણ થતા મુખ્યમંત્રી મોદી સહીતના અગ્રણીઓએ અંજલી અર્પણ કરી હતી. સદ્દગતની પ્રાર્થના સભા તા.૩૧ના રવિવારે સાંજે ૪-૩૦ કલાકે રાષ્ટ્રીય શાળા, રાજકોટ ખાતે રાખવામાં આવી છે.
Akila's photos 27 jan 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
The Universal Motherhood
I am thankful to the organisers of today's Meeting for inviting me to speak on "The Universal Motherhood", which is indeed a very interesting topic especially in these days when we have lost the universal values of Motherhood.
Before I deal with the subject at length, we should all know what is exactly meant by the word, 'Universal'. Any quality or aspect, which can be made applicable to the people or things of the entire world, is called 'universal'. Of course the physical phenomenon that exists in the world is universal. But if we are to view the world from our mental horizon, differences arise. And if we still go a step further and view this world from the spiritual point of view, still the differences exist in terms of spiritual attitudes and practices while spiritual truths being the same or 'universal'.
The great spiritual beings that appear on the world scene from time to time like Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, Guru Nanak, Sri Ramakrishna and Holy Mother Sarada Devi have a universal appeal in their life and teachings.
Among them, the uniqueness of Holy Mother Sarada Devi, the Divine Consort of Bhagwan Sri Ramakrishna, is exemplified by her own lifestyle. Through her own life and by her utterances, she demonstrated what the 'universal motherhood' actually implies. In fact her teachings mostly contained in her living itself. She virtually lived as a universal Mother. She was a spiritual phenomenon as it were dawned upon the firmament of the world in the 19th century and lived through the first part of the 20th century. The most important facet of the Holy Mother's character is her motherhood.
Sarada Devi did not have any children born out of her physical body and yet she is called 'Universal Mother'. How?
To answer this, let me hurriedly narrate her life story in a few minutes..
The Holy Mother came to establish the ideal of universal motherhood. This is because, only if man and woman live in an orderly way in the world, can they be useful to the house, family, country and the entire human family. If otherwise, misery is inevitable. That is how Sri Ramakrishna and Holy Mother came together.
Through her life and expression, the Holy Mother demonstrated to the world what a motherly love means. This is not the selfish, limited and truncated love of an ordinary worldly mother for her children. This is to love all equally as one's own children. The extension of unselfish love beyond the family, region and nation as taught and demonstrated by the Holy Mother virtually points to the universal aspect of Motherhood. For the Holy Mother, everybody is her child, whether it is Radhu her niece or Amjad the dacoit or Sharadananda, the Sannyasin disciple of Bhagwan Sri Ramakrishna or anybody else, and she did not discriminate him or her as good or bad children. Her love was so pure and unselfish that it crossed the limits of caste, creed, region, colour and sex. This is the power of love of the Holy Mother for all beings in the world, which has thus become universalized. Every person who came in contact with her during her lifetime admitted feeling the warmth of love of her mother-heart. During the last about 20 years of her life she virtually deified the role of a mother as the highest ideal of any modern women in the world. In fact, the modern western woman nowadays is fighting for women's liberation as if she is chained without any freedom and under the domination of man. The Holy Mother showed her the way for the liberation of the soul. Soul is sexless. Liberation of soul is worth trying in life rather than mere women's lib. or anything else. Most of the women of today are groping in darkness. They don't know the power of love that can conquer the whole world. And universal motherhood extending the love to one and all is the only way and a potent instrument to conquer the world. This, the Holy Mother has amply demonstrated in her lifetime. Yes, it is true that the Holy Mother did not have children from her physical body. But her Divine Consort, Bhagwan Sri Ramakrishna once proclaimed that 'a time will come when so many children will call her 'Mother' '. This indeed came true, and everybody even today calls her as Holy Mother only. Thus the Holy Mother by her power of Love established Universal Motherhood. She herself proclaimed once "I am the mother of the wicked even as I am the mother of the virtuous. I am the mother of all, not only of all men and women, but also even of animals, birds and insects. I am the real mother. …. Never fear. Whenever you are in distress, just say to yourself, 'I have a mother.' This is indeed a great assurance and re- assurance to the world that the Holy Mother has given.
The ideal of 'God of all' has been exemplified in the lives of Krishna, Christ and others. But the ideal of 'Mother of all' pronounced by Holy Mother is a startlingly new phenomenon in the world. How many types of relationships an ordinary individual has to enter into every day – as father or mother, husband or wife, son or daughter, master or servant, doctor or patient, shopkeeper or customer, and so on! But has ever a woman demonstrated perfect equanimity and same-sighted motherhood for all creatures of the universe, as did the Holy Mother? Rarely can one ever find her likeness even in the whole history of religion and spirituality.
Thus, when we turn to the life of Sri Sarada Devi, we find that she was nothing else but the Mother of All. It is well known that she did not care for any other attitude and never wanted anyone to look upon her in any other way except as 'Mother'.
It was this divine and universal Motherhood of God that the Holy Mother revealed in her artless statement: 'If any child of mine gets covered with dust or dirt, I myself have to wash him and take him on my lap.' She had totally transcended all the polarities of life – virtue and vice, good and bad, knowledge and ignorance, purity and impurity. She had no need to undergo any austere discipline to attain this, for it was natural to her. She is the fullest manifestation of Mother-Power. An Avtar like Sri Ramakrishna may accept certain people and reject certain others. But the Mother accepts all – including those rejected by the Avatar. She is ever ready to take anyone onto her lap. There is no need of fear of punishment from her; she gives only protection and indulgence to everyone.
Mother-Power is eternal and universal. Differences in birth and caste do not affect its universality. On the contrary, it mellows the harshness of contemporary social rules and customs. The flow of Mother's love breaks down all walls of separation. On her lap, Swami Saradananda the Sannyasin and Amjad the dacoit were alike, like two sons. In her arms, Gopal's mother and the mad-aunt, and at her feet, the world-renowned Swami Vivekananda and the drunkard Padmabinode, were all equal.
Bhagwan Sri Ramakrishna was very particular about purity in personal conduct and could not bear the company of immoral persons. Once he noticed a woman who had led a rather loose life in her youth frequenting the room where the Holy Mother stayed. He asked the Mother: 'Why is that woman here? She is a public woman. Why talk with her?' The Mother simply said, 'She now talks only of God. What is the harm in that?' She continued to allow the unfortunate woman to visit her as before. Can a mother reject her child who has sought the refuge of her lap! There are numerous such touching incidents in her life.
One such incident of Holy Mother's compassion is this. A woman of ill repute came and begged Holy Mother that she would take Sri Ramakrishna's food to his room. 'Please give that to me, mother, give that to me!' Immediately Mother gave it to her. Sri Ramakrishna complained to Mother later: ' what's this you have know her? She is immoral. How can I now eat what has been defiled by her?' 'I know all that,' says Holy Mother, 'but, do please take this tonight.' The Master said: 'Promise that you won't hand it over to anybody else hereafter.' Holy Mother replied with folded hands: 'That I cannot, Master! I shall certainly bring your food myself, but if any one begs me by calling me " Mother", I shall not be able to contain myself. Besides, you are not my Master alone, you are for all.' Such a compassionate mother, such a forgiving mother, such a loving mother to whom everyone can go without the least hesitation is the Holy Mother.
Adi Sankaracharya at one place said, "There can be a bad son, but there can never be a bad mother'. A mother may scold or punish, but never curse her children. It is only her love that gives the mother the authority to punish her children. If and when she punishes, it is only for the child's good. This is the inherent right of Universal Motherhood.
The Holy Mother's love was in fact a disinterested motherly love for all. There was uniqueness in her motherly love as it embraced all. She considered all people, whether they are in the East or in the West, as her own children and gave the same treatment and extended her great love and affection whenever anybody called on her. There are innumerable instances where she accepted, and treated as her own children, the saints and the sinners, the wicked and the virtuous, the rich and the poor, householders and monks, alike. She even responded like an affectionate mother to the piteous cries of birds and animals. She was so utterly motherly that all who came to her felt that she loved them more than their own mothers. Many actually saw their mothers in her. Similarly, due to the abundance of motherhood in the Holy Mother, it is very easy to see in her our own mother and through her, we can reach all the mothers of the world. We can clearly see that this motherhood radiates even today from her pictures. We can say that even now she lives in subtle form in her portrait, a look at which after a day's toil can soothe high-strung nerves in a moment and fill the heart with instant peace and bliss. Let us all remember that we all have a mother in the Holy Mother whose benign gaze is always protecting us.
The Holy Mother had an unrestrained compassion for all. Her all-embracing love and compassion was not confined to the people of India alone. Her great heart knew no geographical barriers, and in its universal embrace, included all people of all nations, races and cultures. In those days of freedom struggle, especially when Indians had a hateful attitude towards the British, she once expressed that the British too were her children and had equal love for them. She made this remark in spite of the fact that quite a number of her disciples were engaged in anti-government and even revolutionary activities.
When Swami Vivekananda's western disciples – Mrs. Ole Bull, Miss MacLeod, Sister Nivedita and Sister Christine – came to Kolkata, the Holy Mother immediately accepted them as her own daughters and made them feel at home in their new environment and ate with them. Thus, her love knew no inequality or discrimination. Incidentally, at the request of Mrs. Ole Bull at that time, the Holy Mother allowed her photo to be taken at Nivedita's Bose Para house. The Holy Mother at first did not agree to the proposal. But when Mrs. Ole Bull said, 'Mother, I will take it to America and worship it', she could not refuse her daughter's sincere wish. This photo, which is now being worshipped everywhere, was the first photo ever taken of the Holy Mother. Josephine MacLeod was overwhelmed by the Mother's love. She used to say, 'Sarada Devi is endowed with divine insight', and 'Sarada Devi is the Madonna, Mother Mary, of this new religious community.'
Holy Mother's love was not restricted to human beings alone; it embraced all living beings. She felt herself to be the Mother also of lowly creatures – cats, parrots, cows and all – not in a metaphorical sense, not in an artificial way. It was natural and spontaneous with her, like the air that she breathed. She could not bear to see even a cat ill-treated. Her niece Radhu had a pet cat, which used to remain at the Mother's feet free of all fear. She would keep apart one cup of milk for it every day. The cat, however, used to surreptitiously enter into the kitchen and eat things stealthily. For this, some of the disciples of the Mother would occasionally strike the cat, which pained Mother very much. She would say, 'Stealing is its inborn nature, my son. Who will feed it with love and care?' Once while leaving for kolkata, she told brahmachari Jnan: 'Look, Jnan, don't beat the cat; I dwell in the cat also.'
In the eyes of the Holy Mother everything in the universe had its inherent value and dignity in the divine plan. Once a woman was sweeping the courtyard at Jayarambati. After she finished, she threw aside her broom somewhat carelessly. The Mother saw it and pointed out to her the need for regarding all work with care and alertness. Being herself the Fount of Shakti, she saw everything as a manifestation of that Divine Power.
The Holy Mother treated the disciples of Bhagwan Sri Ramakrishna as her own children. After the passing away of their Master (Sri Ramakrishna) , his disciples came together one by one – Naren, Rakhal, Sharat, Sashi, Latu, Yogin, Baburam and others. The Holy Mother was to them an unfailing source of strength, and they rallied round her as their center. Right from their early days at Dakshineswar the Mother used to regard them as her own children. She always kept a watchful eye upon them, and her protective influence was felt by every one of them. It was only natural that they all looked upon her as their own true Mother. For, right from the beginning they had firm conviction that the Holy Mother was not an ordinary woman, but the helpmate of Sri Ramakrishna in his mission on earth. For them she was the Divine Mother Herself who had assumed the human form. Once, in a letter to a devotee of Bangalore, Swami Ramakrishnananda (Sashi Maharaj) wrote: "You should never lose this very rare and unexpected opportunity to worship the Motherhood of God in her (the Holy Mother). She is your real Mother….It is so fortunate you are to have the Mother of the Universe at your very door!"
The unique feature of Holy Mother's love demonstrated through her Universal Motherhood was that it was without attachment. No doubt her outward behavior showed that she was too much attached emotionally. People around were in fact commenting on her attachment towards her niece Radhu. But she chose to give up the attachment whenever she wanted.
Many a time the Holy Mother's love was expressed through her ceaseless service. Even in her old age she used to do loving service to her disciples as well as all the devotees coming to her for succor and blessing. Like all women in the households, she used to sweep the floor, cook the meals, wash the plates, and nurse the sick and so on. But this service was different from the service done by other women. While rendering any service the Holy Mother could feel the presence of God in the people and the objects she was serving. Thus she demonstrated to the world that the worship of God lies in the service to mankind.
The Holy Mother's motherly love and affection crossed all barriers of language; colour, creed and sex and thus she had lots of children from all corners of the globe belonging to many religions outside the Hindu fold. She thus endeared herself to all by her universal love and affection.
The Holy Mother had great concern for the welfare of all and not a few around her. She used to express deep concern whenever she noticed that somebody was suffering on account of something or the other.
Even in her last message the Holy Mother said, "Nobody is a stranger, my child, the whole world is your own." If the love, which the Holy Mother bestowed on humanity as a whole, is given a practical shape by all of us, the entire world becomes our own; there will not be anybody who is left without love. A virtual happiness of Heaven can be created on earth. This sort of unconditional love of a mother extended beyond the portals of the family and region and even the State, will solve many of the problems that modern society is facing today. If we can practise this pure and unselfish love in our day-to-day dealings with others, we can overlook the faults, nay, even the evils perpetrated by some of our fellow beings out of ignorance and thus establish a loving relationship with them sooner or later.
The Holy Mother demonstrated the value of 'simple living and high thinking' in her own lifetime. If a mother can put into practice this oft-repeated proverb of simple living and high thinking, her children later may learn from her and be happy and profited in later years. If the mother herself becomes egoistic and ostentatious, what can her children learn? The Holy Mother gave the secret of happiness in life by her simple living. This is also one of the aspects of universal motherhood.
Catholicity and liberal attitude towards all whom the Holy Mother always treated as her children is an important aspect of universal motherhood.
Besides her pure and unselfish love of a mother, the Holy Mother had a great concern for the problems of others. Whenever she found anybody suffering for lack of food, she used to express great concern and do whatever she could to relieve the suffering with a loving attitude. She solved many problems, spiritual and mundane, which the people were facing in those days. She firmly believed that problems arise because of some misunderstandings and lack of communication and faith in each other. They can be solved by frankly talking to the parties concerned with love and without any selfishness behind and with a certain accommodation on both sides. We are to find solutions according to the circumstances at a particular time. The Holy Mother herself had encountered many problems of living while staying in Nahabat. But with patience and perseverance and positive understanding she smilingly went through the difficult daily routine. When she was going to Sri Ramakrishna for the first time after her marriage, she was walking her way to Dakshineswar. She lost her way through the forest and suddenly she was confronted by a robber. The Holy Mother at once understood the situation and adjusted herself to the circumstances and shedding off any fear whatsoever, she established a relationship with the robber and said: "Father, I am your daughter Sarada. My companions left me behind. Perhaps I am going in the wrong direction. Your son-in-law lives at the Kali Temple at Dakshineswar. I am going to him. Please take me there. He will certainly appreciate your kindness and show you proper courtesy." See how she adapted herself to the situation and endeared herself to that robber adopting him as her father. The robber, confronted strangely in this manner, along with his wife gladly escorted her to Dakshineswar as a 'responsible' father. There are innumerable instances where the Holy Mother solved others' problems whether they are physical problems or mental problems or even spiritual problems, fully applying her positive and liberal approach to the problems with an attitude of catholicity expressing her Divine Motherhood, which is universal.
Through the medium of Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi, the Universal Divine Mother-Power has been expressed itself in a unique, unprecedented and unheard-of way on this earth this time. In Sri Ramakrishna's life we notice daily spiritual treats, daily fiestas of bliss, daily celebrations of spiritual sadhana, daily feasts of spiritual realization. What do we see in Holy Mother's life? Whether it is at Balaram Bose's house or Cossipore Garden House, wherever we see her, we find her appearing as an ordinary mortal, with a very down-to-earth conduct and a natural life in every way. There is no expression of insensibility anywhere in her. There is no need to ask other people to understand her. It is all so simple and unassuming in Holy Mother. But though she appears ordinary, what do we see behind the superficial veil of ordinariness in her life? Behind the ordinary externals is the female personality of universal motherhood, which we call Devi, Jagadamba, Jagat Janani, the Mother of the Universe, the Originator of everything, expressing herself through the ordinary day-to-day events and occurrences. Thus the Holy Mother is someone who is beyond all imagination, representing the Universal Motherhood. If we meditate upon her life and teachings, I am sure we can fully comprehend what is Universal Motherhood. Thank you.