With the coming of Gopala (Lord Krishna) many conventional bonds snapped for Aghormani. Her orthodoxy almost disappeared. She grew less fastidious about the preparation of food and ceremonial cleanliness. Caste restrictions vanished. Later she could receive a 'foreigner' like Nivedita without the least hesitation and even live with her till her end.
Sri Ramakrishna used her to bring home to his disciples what parama-prema, supreme devotion, means. He made her tell Naren, the later Swami Vivekananda, all about her visions. Naren (Swami Vivekananda) was a dyed-in-the-wool rationalist at that time. But even he, after listening to her unsophisticated narration, admitted that her visions could not be an illusion, they must be projections of Reality. Indeed Naren wept, overwhelmed by the revelation that such divine play could be witnessed even in this materialistic age.
The Mahasamadhi of the Master was, no doubt, a great shock to Gopaler Ma, but her sorrow was assuaged by the fact that she had periodic visions of the Master. And her Gopala (Lord Krishna) continued to play with her and tease her. The acme of her realizations was when during a car festival at a place called Mahesh she could see Gopala everywhere — in the image of the deity, the chariot in which the image was seated, nay, in every one of the pilgrims attending the festival. Vasudevah sarvam iti, sa mahatma sudurlabhah, 'Rarest of the rare is that great soul who is able to see Krishna everywhere and in everything.'
We may recall that when Sarat Maharaj, the later Swami Saradananda on whose shoulders rested the administration of the proliferating Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, first met Sri Ramakrishna he told the Master that his aspiration was to see God in everything. The Master then explained to him that this was the highest realization and he could not have it all at once. But Sarat persisted and the Master gave him that realization in course of time, after much moulding. So we can understand what an extraordinary blessing Sri Ramakrishna had conferred on this simple old woman so soon.
Sister Nivedita, who took personal care of Aghormani Devi during her last years until the latter passed away in 1906 at the ripe old age of 84, has summed up the significance of Gopaler Ma in a few jewelled words: 'In her was such motherhood that the heart of Ramakrishna became a child to her. Could more be said?'
To be continued
About the author
Sri C.S. Ramakrishnan, a former Joint Editor of the Vedanta Kesari, is a longstanding devotee of Sri Ramakrishna, and is actively associated with the Ramakrishna Movement for nearly five decades. In this write up which is an excerpt from his article 'Gopaler Ma,' he explains Aghormani's vision of Lord Krishna who was a constant companion, a rare blessing conferred on her by Sri Ramakrishna.