Pravrajika Bharatiprana was the first President of the Sri Sarada Math and Ramakrishna Sarada Mission. She was a student of Sister Nivedita and a direct disciple and personal attendant of Sri Sarada Devi.
It was as if, Sri Sarada Devi gave her spiritual training to prepare for the great responsibility which she had to undertake in the future. She had been given Tantrik Sannyasa and the name Sri Bharati by Swami Saradananda in 1926. In 1959 Vedic Sannyasa with full rites was given to her and to seven other senior Brahmacharinis by Swami Sankarananda, the seventh President of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission. Her simple, quiet and serene personality made her the object of everyone’s reverence. Many men and women were inspired to lead spiritual lives after taking initiation from her.
She was born in July 1894 in an ordinary brahmin family in a village called Guptipara. She was the eldest daughter of Sri Rajendranath Mukherjee and Sushila Devi. Her parents named her Parul.
In her early years small Parul was brought to Calcutta where she was drawn to Sri Sarada Devi, Sister Nivedita and Sudhira-di, who became her mentor in her spiritual journey. Sudhira-di, a brave and fearless young woman full of love, enthusiasm and renunciation went to teach at Sister Nivedita’s school when Parul was in her senior class. Like many other students of her class, Parul was irresistibly attracted by Sudhira-di’s powerful personality She tried to arouse the religious feeling in her students. With Sudhira-di’s permission and encouragement, Parul left home to renounce the worldly life. Sudhira-di renamed her Sarala and took her to Sri Sarada Devi for spiritual initiation.
Sarala embraced the life of austerity and hardship and was staying at one place or other as Sudhira-di arranged for her. Sri Sarada Devi kept a loving eye on Sarala. Sarala nursed her during her last illness. She often prayed, ‘Oh, Mother, I will not be able to live without you, so please take me with you.’ Sri Sarada Devi replied, ‘Finally it is to me you will come, my child. But before that, I have some work, which you will have to do. It will not do if you go now.’ In her last days, she had instructed Swami Saradananda to look after Sarala.
Swami Saradananda executed this responsibility with parental care and made some provision for her maintenance. After Swami Saradananda passed away, Sarala spent twenty-seven years from 1927 to 1954 in spiritual practices at Varanasi. There she lived alone and had to face many ordeals but she never spoke to anyone about them. She was cheerful in the face of a hundred difficulties and firm on her path with absolute faith in Sarada Devi. Unseen by the world, with the help of God alone, she reached a very high state in her spiritual life.
During Sri Sarada Devi’s birth centenary (1953-54), when arrangements were being made for the opening of a Women’s Math of the Ramakrishna Order, the Belur Math authorities naturally thought of Sarala Devi (later named Pravrajika Bharatiprana) as the first President of Sri Sarada Math. They all felt that through Sarala Devi the Women’s Math had a direct link with Sri Sarada Devi. For eighteen years, from December 1954 to January 1973, she was the President of Sri Sarada Math. Her mind always dwelt on a higher level of consciousness. Despite her efforts to conceal her real self, her Mahasamadhi brought her extraordinary spiritual attainment to the notice of all who witnessed it. During her last moments she withdrew her mind and uttering Satchidananda Brahma, Satchidananda Brahma, Shivoham, Shivoham(God, the Existence- Knowledge-Bliss; I am Shiva) her mind merged in to the Infinite Brahman. Pravrajika Bharatiprana, Sri Sarada Devi’s beloved Sarala was a bright example of a life full of renunciation and total dependence on God.
Teachings of Pravrajika Bharatiprana:
- The impossible becomes possible by Sri Ramakrishna’s grace. If you pray to him sincerely, he will listen to you; but one must always wait for the right time and favourable circumstances. Sri Ramakrishna is your own. He will remove all your sorrows. Tell him everything. Pray to him.
- A guru gives whatever has to be given in the very beginning. The rest depends on the kind of life that the disciple leads.
- One cannot work well without doing Japa and Meditation.
- If you love God alone and do japa persistently, you will be saved and help others also, but if you become attached to human beings, you will be drowned and also lead them astray. Therefore, use your discrimination.
- Fruits and flowers are only incidental. The essential thing is devotion.
- By doing Sadhana, you will develop the ‘eye of love’ with which you will see Holy Mother and the Master.
- Wherever you stay don’t fail to do Japa morning and evening.
- The power of the Kulakundalini is in everyone and once it is aroused, a person becomes omniscient. Such a person’s nerve called Medha opens out. This serpent power is sleeping in the Muladhara entwining Shiva. Its colour is like copper or tender bel leaf. One should earnestly pray to the Kulakundalini, “Mother, please arise.” Unless one prays, it does not arise. One must pray for God’s grace.
- The mind won’t become steady; it won’t like it. Still, we should not give up. Forcibly we should hold on with tenacity. While sitting for Japa one must tell the mind – Now you keep away. The whole day you made me toil like a horse. Now get lost. Now only me and my Chosen Ideal and none else.
- Show the ideal in your life.
- Life should be moulded keeping Sri Ramakrishna in the centre.
- If you work with grudges you will harm yourselves.
- If you do Japa for a long time, the body becomes heated. Therefore, you have to eat something that will cool your system.
- It is not enough to sit for meditation only in the morning and evening. Japa should be done often; then only one will want to do it. Do japa early in the morning, then after bath, even if it is only for ten or fifteen minutes; then in the evening, before and after arati. In this manner, you have to draw the mind always towards doing japa and then you will not like to stop doing it.
- There is no harm if you do a little less work. But if you give up japa and meditation, you will not get joy in this life. Don’t you know how much sadhana Sri Ramakrishna’s disciples did, even though they were blessed by his holy company? Then how do you expect to get his grace without doing anything?
- If you take a bath in the Ganga on holy occasions, you will enjoy the fruits of austerities done in many births.
- The bondage created by work can only be removed by work.
- Renunciation is the ornament of a sadhu; it is detachment from the world and attachment to God.
- Keep in mind that you have come for your own development, not to teach others. If this can be kept in mind, no trouble will crop up.
- Outward renunciation alone will not do and that is not difficult also. Renunciation should be from the core of one’s being.
- Humility lies not only in acting humbly, but in an inner unself-consciousness which has forgotten forever its ego-bound attributes. Such a person is naturally impersonal, unpretentious and unselfish.
- Regular practice is essential for all. You have nothing to worry. Your Guru will take you by your hand to your Ishta.
- Always remember Sri Ramakrishna and Mother. Try to follow the path of truth. Know that in this way you will be the recipient of their love.
- Pray with tears in your eyes. Saying, ‘Give me devotion for you.’ Tears will wash away all the impurities of the mind, then love can grow.
- Whenever anger arises in the mind, repeat the name of your Ishta aloud.