Aghoramani Devi (Gopal’s Mother) (1822-1906)—A devotee of rare eminence, revered by the Master himself who named her “Gopaler Ma” (Gopal’s mother) after her chosen deity, the infant Krishna. Born about 1822 in Kamarhati, a village near Dakshineswar. Daughter of Kashinath (Ghosal) Bhattacharya. Married into a family living close by at the age of nine, widowed at the age of fourteen, having met her husband only at her wedding. Lived near her father’s home in the precincts of a temple owned by the widow of Gobinda Chandra Datta, looked after by Nilmadhav, her brother and priest at the temple. Initiated into “Gopala mantram” by her husband’s family guru, she confined herself to her room, engaged in single-minded japam for thirty years. Also assisted in the temple work. Later lived in a hut beside the temple, having sold her jewellery and land given by her in-laws for a living. Accompanied Gobinda Chandra’s widow on several pilgrimages and having gone to Dakshineswar with her one day (1884) to visit the Master, she perceived in him her chosen deity, Gopala. The Master’s grace gave an impetus to her spiritual practices. Her chosen deity Gopala “came alive” and constantly she had visions of the divine infant, playing around, asking for food or getting into some mischief or the other. The Master considered her to be the fruit-seller of Vraja who used to feed delicious fruit to the child Krishna (Swami Saradananda by Brahmachari Prakash, p. 267). She attained salvation through japam. Once when she was engaged in japam at the Nahabat, the Master declared that she need not practise japam any more as she had attained everything. He assured the incredulous woman that as she had accomplished everything it was not necessary to practise japam or austerities for her own spiritual or physical good but, if she wished, she might continue those disciplines for his welfare, pointing to himself (Sri Ramakrishna, the Great Master, pp. 740-41). He had even sought her blessings on one occasion (The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, p. 840). Her salutations seemed to embarrass him for he was the little Gopal and she, his mother (Ibid., p. 804). However, on his second visit to her at Kamarhati he had accepted her homage. She survived the Master by twenty years during which period she maintained contact with his monastic disciples at the successive Maths—Baranagore, Alambazar, Nilambar Babu’s Garden House, and also with the Holy Mother whom she regarded as her daughter-in-law. After seeing her at the Master’s birthday celebrations (28.2.1989), Sister Nivedita (then Margaret Noble), Mrs. Ole Bull and Miss MacLeod together visited her Kamarhati residence (Sri Ramakrishna, the Great Master, Vol. II, p. 762). Deeply moved, Swamiji had exclaimed, “Ah, this is the old India that you have seen, the India of prayers and tears, of vigils and fasts, that is passing away never to return.” Hearing the news of Swamiji’s death she fell down and broke her arm. Upon the onset of her terminal illness five years before her death, she was first moved to Balaram Mandir and later, consequent to Sister Nivedita’s eagerness, to her residence (17 Bosepara Lane) where she was under Sister’s personal care. Her japam would continue even in a semi-comatose state and she never failed to acknowledge a visit from the Holy Mother. Sister Nivedita arranged for her to pass her last two nights on the bank of the Ganga. Died on 8.7.1906 at dawn, her body partly immersed in the river according to custom, and her head resting on the lap of Holy Mother. Her obsequies were performed at Sister Nivedita’s residence and attended by about one-hundred and fifty women. Had begun wearing ochre cloth about 10 or 12 years prior to her demise. Had imparted initiation to Kusum Devi, her attendant, and her relative Gourmani. Donated her savings of two-hundred rupees to Belur Math. Her rosary, first in the keeping of Swami Saradananda, passed to Kusum Devi and then to Sister Nivedita. The photograph of the Master worshipped by her is now in the shrine of Holy Mother at Belur Math.