The next morning she [Saradamma] came out of samadhi with a strong awareness that her ‘I’-thought was still existing. She remembered the peace of the previous day and night when she had been in samadhi, with the ‘I’-thought temporarily gone, and she decided to see if she could enter the same state again. She closed her eyes and within a few minutes her ‘I’- thought subsided into the Heart and she went back into samadhi again. The ‘I’-thought emerged from the Heart several times during the day, but each time it subsided Sarada was convinced that she had realised the Self. She was still able to talk and Swamy, thinking that her realisation was near, placed a small tape- recorder near her to record her words. Sarada spoke in short, quiet sentences, with frequent pauses as she was overwhelmed by the bliss of the Self.
‘I have no body. I have no “I”. I am not the body. How I am talking, I do not know. Some power is talking through me.’
Swamy asked her if she was looking, and she replied: ‘Even though I am looking, I am not looking. Where is the “I” to look. When the mind enters the Heart, there is no “I” to tell that there is no “I”. My “I” is dead.’
Swamy then asked her how she was feeling. ‘My whole body is filled with peace and bliss. I cannot describe it. Everything is filled with peace. The Self is pulling me towards it and I am not able to open my eyes. The whole body is weak.’
Swamy remarked, ‘It is like an elephant entering a weak hut. The hut cannot stand the strain. Is it beyond time and death?’
‘It is beyond time and death as there is no mind. As the “I” is dead I don’t wish to eat anymore. I am not able to eat. However tasty the food I cannot eat. I have no desire to eat. Everything is filled with peace and bliss. I am content with my realisation. I have recognised my own Self, so I am content.’ Swamy then told her that her “I” was not yet dead and that she had not yet reached the final state. Sarada replied: ‘As the “I” is dead, there is no you.’
‘Have you no mother or father?’ asked Swamy. ‘No father, no mother, no world. Everything is peace and bliss. Why do I have to eat when there is no “I”? The body is inert; it cannot eat. A corpse will not eat. It is like that because the “I” is dead. As I cannot eat, I cannot talk. Who is talking, I do not know.’
‘Then who is talking?’ asked Swamy. Sarada remained silent, and so Swamy answered his own question. ‘The Self is talking.’
Sarada continued: ‘Even though I am seeing, I am not seeing. Even though I am talking, I am not talking. Whatever I do I am not doing it because the “I” is dead. I have no body. All the nerves are filled with peace and bliss. All is Brahman . All is bliss. In the veins instead of blood, love and bliss are flowing. A great power has entered into me.’
Three months before Swamy had told Sarada, ‘Even though I sleep I am not sleeping’. Sarada remembered this, repeated Swamy’s words and said that she was finally able to understand what he had meant. Sarada continued to talk: ‘I have no thought of doing anything. I have no fear of death. Before, I feared death, but not anymore. I don’t care about death. I have nothing more to do. I shall give up the body.’
Swamy asked her to stay but Sarada answered: ‘What is death to die now? The body is inert, how can it die? My “I” is dead, what is there left to die? Why then fear death?’
Swamy then reminded her that her ‘I’ was not dead and that she was not yet in the final sahaja state. Swamy then stopped the tape we were listening to and talked a little about the state that Sarada was experiencing when she spoke these words.
‘Anyone whose mind completely subsides into the Heart for a short time can talk like an enlightened person. Their experience of the Self is the same as that of a realised person. However, their “I”-thought is not dead and it is likely to re-emerge at any time. Such an experience is not the final state because it is not permanent.’
He then played the final portion of Sarada’s comments on her experience.
‘I am everywhere. I am not the body. I have no body so I have no fear. I am immobile. Whatever I may do, I am immobile. I am shining as the Self. Everything is a great void [maha- sunya]. How can I describe the Self in words? It is neither light nor dark. No one can describe what it is. In the past, present and future no one can describe what it is. It is difficult to describe. Self is Self, that is all.’
Throughout that day Sarada’s mind kept sinking into the Self, but on each occasion it came out again. At 4 p.m. the “I”-thought went from the Heart to the brain and started to bang against the inside of her skull. Sarada said later that it was like an axe trying to split her head open from the inside. Since she was not able to bear the pain she came forward, took Swamy’s hand and placed it on her head. The “I”-thought went back to the Heart, but again it was only a temporary subsidence, Three minutes later it rose again and once again started to bang against the inside of her skull. Sarada came forward, placed her head on Swamy’s feet and a few seconds later the “I”-thought returned to its source and died forever.
With her “I”-thought permanently gone, Sarada had realised the Self. Swamy says that in the final few minutes her “I”-thought was trying to escape and take birth again, and that had he not been present, the “I”-thought would have killed her and escaped.
Saradamma: People look at Swamy and me and think that realization must be relatively easy to achieve because we both realized the Self in a short time. However, we are exceptions. It is rare for someone to have the determination and dispassion that Swamy had during his sadhana, and it is equally rare for a devotee to be as God-intoxicated as I was.
Complete surrender or earnest self-enquiry can only be effectively practiced by advanced devotees. Even Ramana Maharshi sometimes said that self-enquiry was for ripe souls only.
Most people need a long period of purification to get their minds pure enough for total surrender or effective self-enquiry. Devotees ask for grace to realize the Self, but most devotees are nowhere near ready for realization; if they were given a large amount of grace the shock would kill them. For most people a preliminary period of mind purification, such as can be produced by japa or pranayama will be most useful.
From No Mind, I Am the Self, David Godman
The following can be seen at http://mathrusrisarada.org/
Sri Sarada was given the name Mathru Sri Sarada by Bhagavan Sri Lakshmana Swamy when Sri Sarada realised her self. Mathru means mother. Mathru Sri Sarada realised her self through her intense love and surrender to Bhagavan, thus becoming one with him. The book, No Mind, I am the Self, contains details about them.
Brief Life Sketch (based on No Mind, I am the Self):
Ramanadham, Saradamma’s father, was a childhood friend of Lakshmana Swamy. However, they lost touch of each other after their college days. Ramanadham and his wife, Bhanumathy, were devotees of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda. Therefore, when Saradamma was born in 1959, they named her after Sarada Ma, wife of Sri Ramakrishna.
Though initially healthy, Saradamma was afflicted with many ailments as a child, thereby losing her good health and her light complexion. Saradamma had a curiously ascetic nature, not caring for good clothes or food. Many people mistook her for a servant because of her dark complexion and poor clothes. Saradamma was indifferent to such views. Young Saradamma also had a very generous disposition.
Ramanadham, on becoming aware that his childhood friend had become a great yogi, started visiting Lakshmana Swamy for the annual and eventually bi-annual darshans. Lakshmana Swamy became more accessible in 1972 but it was not until 1974 that Saradamma started visiting Lakshmana Swamy regularly. Lakshmana Swamy’s face would light up with a big smile whenever he looked at her. He recognised her as an advanced devotee who was capable of realising her self.
Saradamma started having dreams of Lakshmana Swamy after each darshan. Shortly, Saradamma started to meditate on Swamy’s form and accepted him as her Guru. Within a year, the frequency with which Saradamma had Lakshmana Swamy’s darshan increased. During this time, apart from going to school, Saradamma would spend her evenings and weekends with Lakshmana Swamy. Eventually, she was spending so much time thinking about Lakshmana Swamy that her studies suffered. Saradamma’s education ended when she was in her 8th standard. Recognizing her devotion and love for him, Lakshmana Swamy informally adopted Saradamma as his daughter.
Details about the period between 1975 and 1978 are sketchy since Saradamma had stopped maintaining her diary by then. Lakshmana Swamy’s mother, jealous of Saradamma’s increasing prominence, harassed her in numerous ways. Lakshmana Swamy also tested Saradamma’s devotion and faith many times. During this time, Saradamma would do japa or meditate on Lakshmana Swamy’s form for up to 20 hours a day. In the remaining four hours she would be dreaming about him.
The holy mountain, Arunachala, has had a significant positive influence on Saradamma’s spiritual progress. During her third visit to Arunachala, as Lakshmana Swamy, Saradamma and other devotees were sitting on its slopes; Lakshmana Swamy looked and smiled at Saradamma. Saradamma lost thought and body consciousness. During the next few days, whenever Saradamma looked at Lakshmana Swamy during darshan she would go into the same state.
On returning back to Gudur, Saradamma resumed her meditation. She discovered that she could enter into the thought free state whenever she was in the presence of Lakshmana Swamy. During all these years, Lakshmana Swamy tried a few times to persuade Saradamma to do self-inquiry. However, self-inquiry had no attraction for Saradamma. Her path was that of surrender.
It was at Bangalore, where Saradamma had gone to help her sister, that Saradamma had her first experience of Kevala Nirvikalpa Samadhi. This was in October of 1978. The last few weeks of her stay there were spent in either a thought-free state or Samadhi.
Saradamma returned back to Gudur on the 16th of December, 1978. The next day, Saradamma went to the Ashramam and sat before Lakshmana Swamy. She went back into a thought-free state and eventually into Kevala Nirvikalpa Samadhi. She remained so all day and night. The next day, Lakshmana Swamy, realising that she was close to self-realisation, recorded her words using a tape recorder. Her ‘I’ thought repeatedly sank into her heart, but every time it came back up into her brain, banging against her skull causing intense pain. Saradamma unable to bear this pain took Lakshmana Swamy’s hand and placed it on her head. This made her ‘I’ thought go back into the heart. Three minutes later it again came back causing similar pain. Saradamma placed her head on Lakshmana Swamy’s feet, upon which her ‘I’ thought returned to its source and died forever. Saradamma had realised her self permanently on 18th December 1978.
Lakshmana Swamy gave Saradamma a new name Mathru Sri Sarada. Mathru means mother and Sri is a common Hindu honorific. Initially, Saradamma wanted to give up her body; however, Lakshmana Swamy wanted her to retain it, since sincere devotees would be benefited by her bodily presence. The next one year was a struggle for Lakshmana Swamy to keep Saradamma alive. She would lose body consciousness and withdraw into the self almost daily. She was also not interested in the outside world. Lakshmana Swamy was able to keep her interested in the world by making her play with dolls. In the next phase, Saradamma spent the whole day playing with dolls. People would not believe that she was a Jnani, but she did not care. Jnanis do not care for name or fame.
Slowly, over the years, Saradamma has taken up the role of catering to devotees’ needs. Now-a-days, it is she who interacts with devotees, Lakshmana Swamy having become more reserved. While neither of them is available to the general public, Saradamma occasionally gives darshan to some devotees.