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Vivekananda on Mother Kali

Updated: Jan 29, 2023

Excerpt from The Life of Swami Vivekananda by His Eastern and Western Disciples, Advaita Ashrama, Calcutta, 1974, (pp 94-96).

One day the idea struck me that God listened to Sri Ramakrishna’s prayers. So why should I not ask him to pray for me for the removal of my pecuniary wants, a favor the Master would never deny me. I hurried to Dakshineswar and insisted on his making an appeal on behalf of my starving family. He said, “My boy, I can’t make such demands. But why don’t you go and ask the Mother yourself? All your sufferings are due to your disregard of Her.” I said, “I do not know the Mother; you speak to Her on my behalf. You must.” He replied tenderly, “My dear boy, I have done so again and again. But you do not accept Her, so She does not grant my prayer. All right, it is Tuesday-go to the Kali Temple tonight, prostrate yourself before the Mother and ask Her any boon you like. It shall be granted; She is Knowledge Absolute, the Inscrutable Power of Brahman and by Her mere will She has given birth to this world. Everything is in Her power to give.” I believed every word and eagerly waited for the night.

About nine o’clock, the Master commanded me to go to the temple. As I went I was filled with a divine intoxication. Me feet were unsteady. My heart was leaping in anticipation of the joy of beholding the living Goddess and hearing Her worlds. I was full of the idea. Reaching the temple, as I cast my eyes upon the image, I actually found that the Divine Mother was living and conscious, full of divine love and beauty. I was caught in a surging wave of devotion and love. In an ecstasy of joy I prostrated myself again before the Mother and prayed, “Mother, give me discrimination! Give me renunciation; give me knowledge and devotion; grant that I may have an uninterrupted vision of Thee!” A serene peace reigned in my soul. The world was forgotten. Only the Divine Mother shone within my heart.

As soon as I returned, Sri Ramakrishna asked me if I had prayed to the Mother for the removal of my worldly wants. I was startled at this question and said, “No sir, I forgot all about it. But is there any remedy now?” “Go again,” said he, “and tell Her about your wants.” I again set out for the temple, but at the sight of the Mother forgot my mission, bowed to Her repeatedly and prayed only for knowledge and devotion. The Master asked if I had done it the second time. I told him what had happened. He said, “how thoughtless! Couldn’t you restrain yourself enough to say those few worlds? Well, try once more and make that prayer to Her. Quick!” I went for the third time, but on entering the temple a terrible shame overpowered me. I thought, “What a trifle have I come to pray to the Mother for! It is like asking a gracious king for a few vegetables! What a fool I am!” In shame and remorse I bowed to Her respectfully and said, “Mother, I want nothing but knowledge and devotion!” Coming out of the temple I understood that all this was doe to Sri Ramakrishna’s will. Otherwise how could I fail in my object three times? I came to him and said, “Sir, it is you who have cast a charm over my mind and made me forgetful. Mow please grant me the boon that my people at hoe may no longer suffer the pinch of poverty!” He said, “Such a prayer never comes from my lips. I asked you to pray for yourself, but you couldn’t do it. It appears that you are not destined to enjoy worldly happiness. Well, I can’t help it.” But I wouldn’t let hum go. I insisted on his granting that prayer. At last he said, “All right, your people at home will never be in want of plain food and clothing.

But I Had To Accept Her At Last!

Excerpt from The Complete Works of Sister Nivedita, Sister Nivedita’s Girls School, Calcutta, 1967, (pp. 119-120).

How I used to hate Kali! And all Her ways! That was the ground of my six years’ fight-that I would not accept Her. But I had to accept Her at last! Ramakrishna Paramahamsa dedicated me to Her, and now I believe that She guides me in every little thing I do, and does with me what She will… .Yet I fought so long! I loved him, you see, and that was what held me. I saw his marvelous purity… .I felt his wonderful love… .His greatness had not dawned on me then. All that came afterwards, when I had given in. At that time I thought him a brainsick baby, always seeing visions and the rest. I hated it. And then I too had to accept Her!

No, the thing that made me do it is a secret that will die with me. I had great misfortunes at that time… .It was an opportunity… .She made a slave of me. Those were the very words-“a slave of me.” And Ramakrishna Paramahamsa made me over to Her… .Strange! He lived only tow years after doing that, and most of the time his was suffering. Not more than six months did he keep his own health and brightness.

Guru Nanak was like that, you know, looking for the one disciple to whom he would give his power. And he passed over all his won family-his children were as nothing to him-till he came upon the boy to whom he gave it, and then he could die.

The future, you say, will call Ramakrishna Paramahamsa an Incarnation of Kali? Yes, I think there’s no doubt that She worked up the body of Ramakrishna for Her own ends.

You see, I cannot but believe that there is somewhere a great Power that thinks of Herself as feminine, and called Kali, and Mother.

The Divine Mother

Excerpt from Inspired Talks, My Master and Other Writings, (Wednessday, July 2, 1895), Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, New York, (pp. 48-49).

The Saktas worship the Universal Energy as Mother; it is the sweetest name they know. The mother is the highest ideal of womanhood in India….

Mother is the first manifestation of power and is considered a higher idea than father. The name of mother brings the idea of shakti, Divine energy and omnipotence. The baby believes its mother to be all-powerful, able to do anything. The Divine Mother is the Kundalini sleeping in us; without worshipping Her, we can never know ourselves. All merciful, all-powerful, omnipresent – these are attributes of the Divine Mother. She is the sum total of the energy in the Universe. Every manifestation of power in the universe is Mother. She is Life, She is Intelligence, She is Love. She is in the universe, yet separate from it. She is a person, and can be seen and known – as Sri Ramakrishna saw and knew Her. Established in the idea of Mother, we can do anything. She quickly answers prayers.

She can show Herself to us in any form at any moment. The Divine Mother can have form (rupa) and name (nama), or name without form; and as we worship Her in these various aspects, we can rise to Pure Being, having neither form nor name.

The sum-total of all the cells in an organism is one person. Each soul is like one cell, and the sum of them is God. And beyond that is the Absolute. The sea calm is the Absolute; the same sea in waves is the Divine Mother. She is time, space and causation. Mother is the same as Brahman and has two natures; the conditioned and the unconditioned. As the former, She is God, nature and soul. As the latter, she is unknown and unknowable. Out of the Unconditioned came the trinity, God, nature and soul – the triangle of existence.

A bit of Mother, a drop, was Krishna; another was Buddha; another was Christ. The worship of even one spark of Mother in our earthly mother leads to greatness. Worship Her if you want love and wisdom.

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