JOGIN MA

With reference to Jogin Ma Sri Ramakrishna once remarked that she was not an ordinary bud blossoming quickly, but rather the bud of a thousand-petalled lotus opening slowly. As time rolled on these prophetic words became literally true. Indeed Jogin Ma’s life was really a type of the ancient Indian womanhood, rich with profound spiritual experiences.

The early name of Jogin Ma was Jogindra Mohini Mitra. She was bom on January 16, 1851, in North Calcutta, from where came many devotees and disciples of Sri Ramakrishna. Her father, Dr. Prasanna Kumar Mitra, was a rich and influential man. She was given away in marriage while very young to a well-known rich zemindar family of Khardah, a place near Calcutta. Her husband was the late Ambika Charan Vishwas, one of whose ancestors was the celebrated Prankrishna Vishwas who compiled the famous treatise on Tantra, called the Prana-toshini Tantra. The hope of her parents to see their daughter happy being married into a rich, aristocratic family was dashed to pieces. The marriage proved most unhappy. The young husband became addicted to drink, squandered away everything and became literally a street-beggar. Jogin Ma became disgusted with the

household of her husband and acquired in the very prime of her life an intense Vairagya. From that time she put up at her father’s house at Bagh-bazar, Calcutta. Bala ram Bose of Baghbazar, one of the foremost householder-disciples of Sri Ramakrishna, was related to her. And it was he who took her to Dakshineswar and introduced her to the Master. Within a short time of her acquaintance she was blessed with the divine grace of the Master and began to advance quickly in spiritual life.

After a few visits to Dakshineswar Jogin Ma came to be acquainted with the Holy Mother. Both, being of the same age, contracted at first sight a great love and attraction towards each other. Speaking of the Holy Mother, she once said : “ Whenever I went there, the Holy Mother used to take me into her confidence, tell me her secrets and seek my counsel. ... I used to visit Dakshineswar at intervals of seven or eight days, sometimes spending the night there. And then the Holy Mother would not let me sleep anywhere else, but would drag me and make me sleep with her at the Nahabat. Some time after my first visit the Holy Mother had to go to her country home. I stood waiting on the bank of the Ganges and watched until the boat carrying her disappeared from view. After that I betook myself to the Nahabat and wept a great deal, being unable to bear the pangs of separation from her. The Master on his way to the Panchavati noticed all this and, returning to his own room, sent for me. ‘ You have been much pained by separation from her,’ —said he and began to console me by relating to me the experiences of his Tantrika Sadhana. After about a year and a half when the Holy Mother returned, he told her, ‘ The girl with nice, big eyes, who comes here every now and then, loves you much. She wept a lot at the Nahabat on the day of your departure.’ The Holy Mother replied, ‘Yes, I know her quite well, her name is Jogin.'”

Pleased with the devotion of Jogin Ma, one day the Master, on one of his visits to Calcutta, went also to her house at Baghbazar, and she had the blessed privilege of entertaining him. She also had the good fortune of having many spiritual talks with the Master, and later supplied materials to Swami Saradananda for his important biography of Sri Ramakrishna. Addressing Jogin Ma, Sri Ramakrishna once said: "What more is left to be attained by you? You have seen, fed and served this body (referring to himself)."

During the last illness of the Master Jogin Ma was at Vrindavan, and immediately after his passing away the Holy Mother also joined her there. "The moment the Holy Mother saw me,” said Jogin Ma, "she embraced me and being overwhelmed with grief began to shed profuse tears. While at Vrindavan both of us passed the day mostly in wailing and lamentations. One day the Master appeared to us in a vision and said, ‘ Well, why do you lament so much ? Here I am, where can I go ? It is just like passing from this room to that.’ ”

During this period Jogin Ma used to have great concentration at the time of her meditation. One evening while thus meditating at I.ala Babu’s temple, she became so much absorbed that she fell into deep Samadhi. Long after the evening service of the temple was over she was still found sitting quiet. The temple attendants about to close the outer gate noticed her in that state and tried to bring her to normal consciousness. The Holy Mother, finding her so late in returning, sent her attendant with a lantern in search of her. He went to the above temple, that being the usual place for Jogin Ma’s spiritual practices, and found her lost to all outward consciousness. She gradually came down from that exalted state and returned to her place of residence. Latterly, she would incidentally refer to this period of her life and say, "I was then in such a high spiritual mood that I even forgot whether the world existed or not.”

In her Calcutta residence, too, she once experienced this bliss of Samadhi. With reference to this Swami Vivekananda (who was alive at that time) remarked to her: ” Jogin Ma, you will pass away in Samadhi. One who gets Samadhi once in life, gets back the memory of that at the time of death.”

On another occasion, in connection with her spiritual experiences, she said: "Once I was at such a high spiritual altitude that wherever I turned my eyes, I would see my Ishta. That state lasted for three days.” Jogin Ma had two images of the Boy Gopal which she used to serve and worship with so much love and care that she would see them in trance. “One day,” she said, “while meditating at the time of the worship, I saw two incomparably handsome boys. They came smiling and hugging me closely and stroking me on my back said, ‘ Do you know who we are ?’ I replied, ‘Yes, I know you quite well, you are the heroic Balaram, and you, Sri Krishna.’ The younger one (Sri Krishna) rejoined, ‘ You won’t remember us.’ ‘Why?’ said I. ‘No, you won’t, on account of them’—he answered and pointed to iny grandsons.” Really after the death of her only daughter Jogin Ma was much taken up with her grandsons, and the high spiritual tension at which she had been abated to some extent and became gradually normal.

Though Jogin Ma apparently lived like a householder, she had been initiated into Sannyasa both according to Tantrika and Vedic rites. She performed the Panchatapa ceremony—a very hard form of spiritual practice in which the aspirant sits at meditation with tire on four sides and the burning sun overhead. Her whole life was full of fasts and vigils. In the matter of formal rites and worship she had such single-minded devotion and such application that it was rare even among great devotees. She never wasted time. In her leisure hours she used to read the Gita, Bhaga-vata and other Puranas or sometimes Chaitanya-Charitamrita and such other devotional works including those on Sri Ramakrishna. She had such a sharp memory that she learnt many portions of these books, Chaitanya-Charitamrita in particular, by heart and could relate the stories

Udbodhan Lane and attend to the peeling of vegetables and the like. At noon she would go to her own house, cook for herself and for her old mother and again go to the Holy Mother in the afternoon to attend to her comforts, returning to her own house at night after the last service in the shrine.

One of the good traits of Jogin Ma's character was that whenever she visited some holy place she would give something to the poor, disappointing none. She travelled far and wide in India. From Kedarnath and Badrinarayan in the North to Kanyakumari in the South, from Dwarka in Kathiawar to Kamakhya in Assam, she visited many places of pilgrimage.

The foremost disciples of the Master had great regard for Jogin Ma. Swami Vivekananda had great love for Jogin Ma. When perhaps the Swami was coming from the Belur Math to Calcutta he might meet Jogin Ma who had come to the Ganges for her bath. Alighting from the boat almost the first words he uttered would be: "Jogin Ma, I will have my meal to-day at your place. Please prepare that favourite curry of mine." The Swami was so fond of things prepared by Jogin Ma that he would make fun and say: " To-day is my birthday. Entertain me well with nice dishes."

Jogin Ma had devotion to all forms of the Deity. She was never narrow or bigoted. Having that toleration common to Hinduism, she would worship all the forms of the Divinity. While an expert in formal worship, ceremonials and fasts, she had also the highest form of devotion and knowledge in her. That is why Sri Ramakrishna once remarked, “Among women devotees Jogin has the characteristics of a Jnani.” Jogin Ma lived to a good old age. At the time of her death she was seventy-three. As the end was drawing nearer and nearer she lived more and more on spiritual planes. She was quite indifferent to anything that had no spiritual bearing. She passed into life eternal on June 4, 1924, at the Holy Mother’s Calcutta home. But the noble memory of her life is a source of strength and inspiration to many devotees -lay as well as monastic. At the time of death she was in apparently unconscious state. But the medical opinion said it was not a state of coma. According to some expert opinion it was a state of Samadhi. In that case the words of Swami Vivekananda with respect to Jogin Ma that one who experiences Samadhi even once in life dies in a state of Samadhi came true.