Sarada Devi

Born: 22 December 1853, Jayrambati

Died: 20 July 1920, Baghbazar, Kolkata

Full name: Saradamani Mukhopadhyay

Spouse: Ramakrishna (m. 1859–1886)

 

Saradamani Devi was born of Brahmin parents as the eldest daughter on 22 December 1853, in the quiet village of Jayrambati in present-day West Bengal, India. Her parents, Ramachandra Mukhopadhyay and Shyama Sundari Devi, were poor. Her father Ramchandra earned his living as a farmer and through the performance of priestly duties. According to traditional accounts, Ramachandra and Syama Sundari had visions and supernatural events foretelling the birth of a divine being as their daughter.

Sarada lived the simple life of an Indian village girl. As a child Sarada—then known as Saradamani—was fascinated by traditional Hindu folklore and narratives. As in the case of most girls of rural upbringing, she did not receive any formal education but learned to serve others as she helped her mother run a large household and looked after her younger brothers.] During the terrible famine of 1864, Sarada worked ceaselessly as her family served food to hungry people. She was interested in the clay models of goddesses Kali and Lakshmi, which she worshiped regularly. She is said to have started meditating from her childhood and traditional accounts recount her mystic visions and experiences.According to Sarada Devi, she used to see a bevy of eight girls of her age coming from an unknown place and escorting her in her chores during her childhood..

Ramakrishna—then known as Gadadhar Chattopadhayay and a priest of the Dakshineswar Kali Temple since 1855—was practising spiritual austerities. His mother and brother thought that a marriage would be a good steadying effect on him, by diverting his attention away from spiritual austerities and visions.It is reported that Ramakrishna himself indicated Saradamani as the bride. In May 1859, Sarada was betrothed to Ramakrishna. Sarada was 5 years old and Ramakrishna was 23; the age difference was typical for 19th century rural Bengal.

After the betrothal, Sarada was left to the care of her parents and Ramakrishna returned to Dakshineswar. Sarada next met Ramakrishna when she was fourteen years old, and she spent three months with him at Kamarpukur. There, Ramakrishna imparted to Sarada instructions on meditation and spiritual life.Ramakrishna’s frequent bhava samadhi (ecstasy) and unorthodox ways of worship led some onlookers to doubt his mental stability, while others regarded him as a great saint.Sarada joined Ramakrishna at Dakshineswar in 1872 on her own accord when she was eighteen, after hearing these rumours about his mental health. She found Ramakrishna to be a kind and caring person.