The peak of realization that Gopaler Ma attained has to be viewed in the light of Sri Ramakrishna's own mission. The Master was a scientist in the truest sense of the term. A scientist does not accept blindly any authority, however exalted. He must verify truth by personal observation and experiment. So Ramakrishna did not take God for granted. He underwent incredible Sadhanas till he could prove from personal experience that all paths sincerely followed led to the same Ultimate.
One path he experimented with was Vatsalya Bhava — the mode of maternal affection (love for God). The Mother's love of her child is one of the purest and most selfless. There is no quid pro quo in it. The mother lovingly undergoes any amount of trials and tribulations for the welfare and happiness of her young one without expecting anything in return. So if the aspirant thinks of God as his or her own child, intense, unconditional love can be developed towards Him. Bhakti is parama prema rupa, it is of the nature of supreme love for God.
The Gopis of Vraja attained it through Madhura Bhava, but for most of us Madhura Bhava is out of the question. Vstsalya Bhava, however, is more readily practicable. The self-sacrificing maternal instinct can be powerfully and successfully directed towards God. It was to prove this spiritual verity that the Master (Sri Ramakrishna) evoked and played with Ramlala, the baby Rama emerging out of the image that Jatadhari gave him. In the pages of Swami Saradananda's Sri Ramakrishna, the Great Master we get a thrilling account of how the Infinite appeared before the Master as the divine child and how the Master mothered Him. Vatsalya takes us straight to the Supreme.
It might be objected that all this might be possible for an Avatara, but not for us common folk. Now one of the fundamentals of science is that the result one scientist obtains through his experiments can be obtained by any other scientist following the same discipline. What Sri Ramakrishna could achieve any other aspirant can achieve provided he or she brings to the spiritual experiment the required earnestness and purity of mind.
Through Aghormani the Master proved the veracity of this dictum. She was a very simple rustic woman without advantage of wealth or status, scholarship or sharp intelligence. But she had vyakulata, intense, agonizing yearning for Gopala (Lord Krishna) to the exclusion of all worldly desires. And the 'black body' Ramakrishna responded by becoming her Gopala (Lord Krishna). The simple woman attained the Highest through sheer Vatsalya, motherly love for God.
Vandhyaputra, the son of a sterile woman, is a term used to denote an impossibility. But when the Putra happens to be the Divine the impossible becomes possible and the vandhya becomes Vandya, a mother fit to be adored. Sri Ramakrishna has given us Gopaler Ma to instil in us the conviction that what the scriptures assert continues to be relevant even today and that even a simple mode like the natural love of a mother for her child can be transmuted to take us to santam, sivam, sundaram, the Good, the True, the Beautiful.
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 about the Master revealing the way of developing love for God, using Aghormani as an instrument.
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