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Ma Saradadevi and Amzad

Ma Saradadevi Holy Mother Ma Saradadevi's (we shall call her 'simple mother') love crossed all barriers and limitations of caste or color, merit or demerit, in fact every sphere of life. Despite paucity of funds and limited resources, she never said 'no' to anyone who came to her out of necessity, help, love, devotion, or to seek shelter. Simple mother showered all her love, concern, and sympathy on the fellow. Additionally, if she had, she would gladly give food, medicine, clothes, and etc. to the needy.

Given below is one such story of love between simple mother and a robber, Amzad Khan, which cannot but move us to the core. The period is British India around 1900 AD, and the place West Bengal, the land of widespread famines, poverty, want, and British exploitation.

Mulberry was once widely cultivated and silkworms reared in many villages of West Bengal. But foreign competition, interference, and unusual rules and regulations put an end to this once flourishing industry. Consequently many families lost their only source of earning and lived in utter penury and privation. Many of these families belonged to Muslim religion. Some members of these families took to stealing, petty thefts, and even robbery to survive. Thus, the local community called them 'Mulberry Robbers'.

One such leader was Amzad Khan. He had worked for a few days as a construction worker in building the mud house for our simple mother. One day he brought some fruits and said to Mother, "Mother, will you accept these fruits from me for Sri Thakur (Sri Ramakrishna)?" He was not sure whether mother would accept the things for worship and offerings from a Muslim and an outcast! But the mother had no such consideration anytime, not even dream. She immediately without any hesitation said, "Why not, my dear, certainly I accept whatever you have brought for the Master."

A woman devotee, close to mother, was taken aback when she noticed 'simple mother' touched Amzad and accepted those fruits for the puja. She said, "These are thieves, you know. Why should his things be offered to the Master?" The simple mother, calm and unruffled as usual, deposited the fruits in her worship room and ordered some fried rice and sweets for Amzad. When he left, the mother severely rebuked the lady, "I know who is good and who is not. To err is human; but how few know how to lead an erring human?"

One day, mother sent for Amzad and said, "You have been working whole day. Have your food here today." Nalini (mother's niece) was serving him, but owing to caste and religious prejudices she stood at a distance and tossed the food in Amzad's plate, like someone throwing food to a beggar. This displeased mother very much, who said, "Can one have relish for food if it is served in such a fashion?" saying this, the mother herself sat beside Amzad and fed him to his heart's content. Not only this, mother didn't allow Amzad to lift and clean his plate, which work mother herself did, as any other mother would do for her son.

At this Nalini shouted, "O Mother, you are leaving your caste!" Simple mother silently replied, "Amzad is as truly my son as my Sarat (Swami Saradananda) himself is!"

Such a wonderful way of equating a Muslim and a thief with highly acclaimed spiritual swami and direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna! Never before in the history of spiritual love and relationship such an incident has recorded, and probably would not be seen in future as well. This is true embodiment of Practical Vedanta as exemplified in the life of the Holy Mother. Should we not learn and proceed to undertake such sadhana to realize the same qualities of simplicity, love, compassion, same-sightedness, and equanimity as this incidence shows?

I must complete this wonderful story. The days passed by. Amzad was in out of prison. Lack of work deprived him of daily livelihood, and he took to drugs in addition! His health started deteriorating.

Once our simple mother was down with fever and many visited her in her sickbed. One day the attendant at mother's residence saw an emaciated man, in ragged clothes, requesting him to allow him to visit mother. The mother was inside her room on her cot when she overheard the discussion and had a glimpse of the human figure, and she exclaimed, "Why, Amzad, are you there! Come my son, come. What a pitiable condition you are in!" She fed the guest, gave him some oil to rub all over his body and filled his bag with some food and medicine. The two had heart to heart talk on usual matters of everyday life. Beaming with joy Amzad left the cottage after sometime.

Once the doctor prescribed pineapple juice for the treatment of mother's ailment. In those days pineapples were hard to find. But Amzad after searching for a couple of days, wandering all over the place, procured the required fruit.

But despite all love and divine association with the holy mother, Amzad could not break the habit of stealing and robbery. Repeatedly he was sent to jail. Once when he was released from the prison, he collected beautiful flowers and offered them at the holy feet of the mother. The mother said, "O my son, I have been anxious because of your long absence. Where were you?"

[Our simple mother passed away in the year 1920. After a few years, Amzad was injured in a scuffle with an opponent. The wounds did not heal, but got infected and the mother's son died due to sepsis.]

|| Mother's Prayer||

O, Lord, let me have peace! Let me not find faults with others, but let me rather find fault with myself. Let me learn to make the world my own. Let me realize that nobody is a stranger; the whole world is mine!

Om! Peace! Peace! Peace!

C S Shah

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