A Life Sketch of Matathakurani Shree Shree Sailabala Devi
(ShreeMa / GuruMa)
Very little has been published about Shree Guruma’s Life. Some materials about her are to be found in ‘Amar Jibon’ written by Gurudev (Swami Asimananda Saraswati) and the book “Asimanander Patra” (Letters of Asimananda). A brief introduction about ShreeMa is given below.
ShreeMa’s name was Shailabala Devi. She was born in Nabadwip Dham on the day of holy Raash Poornima (full moon day coinciding with Raash festival during November), 1917. She was married on the 6th of June 1932 at the age of 15.
Her father was Shree Jagabandhu Goswami, a disciple of the famous aseptic of Tarapeeth, Shree Bamakhepa. He used to live little a renunciate in the later years of his life. People used to know him as Jivananda Goswami in those days. ShreeMa had four brothers. Being the youngest of all ShreeMa was very dear to everybody. Her mother was very simple in nature and broad minded. While speaking about her mother, ShreeMa said that she had a very broad heart. One day, as she was about to sit for her meals after everybody had taken theirs, suddenly a guest came in offering all her food to the guest she stayed without food. This used to happen often. She used to device great joy in serving guests. She was very dear to her neighbors in Nabadwip for her sweet nature. The neighbors loved and respected her greatly.
Once ShreeMa’s father had an attack of chicken pox. People lost all hopes of her survival as his health had deteriorated so much ShreeMa’s mother started praying fervently. Her mother then suddenly fell ill due to an attack of Cholera and died of it. After this ShreeMa’s father recovered gradually, flowers were sprinkled on her body from roof tops when it was being carried for funeral. This in itself indicates what great respect people had for her.
ShreeMa was only six years old when she lost her mother; she was brought up by her grandmother following this. ShreeMa had lived in her aunt’s (father’s sister) house at Narayanganj, but from then onwards she stayed with her father all along. Her second eldest brother died of Diphtheria at an early age.
She would see many good dreams, since her childhood because of her good impressions (of earlier births). She had visited Gendaria Ashram (Dhaka) several times in her younger age. She used to see a sadhu under a free there. He looked like Gosaiji to some extent. ShreeMa took him to be Gosaiji and bowed down to him from a distance with fear. She later came to know that he was Ashwini Bairagi (Swami Brahmanandaji). She used to see a Mahatma in her dreams. Once this Mahatma appeared in her dream, showed her a boy and said, ‘This boy is your husband, you will be married to this boy on the ensuring 21st Jaishtha (June). ShreeMa was 15 years old then. Seeing her father quite anxious for her marriage since some days, ShreeMa told her grandmother and father about this dream. Following this incident her father placed an advertisement in the Ananda bazaar Patrika, a daily, in search of a bridegroom. A few days later, a letter and a photo came from manbhum. On seeing the photograph ShreeMa instantly recognized him as her husband, as seen in her dream. The marriage took place in due time on 21st Jaishtha 1323 Bengali calendar (6th June 1932 A.D) in a very simple manner. No grandeur, glamour of ornaments or dress was to be seen in this marriage. Both the husband and wife prayed with folded hands in the bridal chamber-
- We shall not hesitate to lay down our lives for the country.
- We shall not seek luxury and enjoyment.
- None of us will break the other’s vow.
Touching her husband’s feet at that time, ShreeMa took the vow, ‘I shall never create obstacles in your way’. Annadaprasad their said a mantra to his wife and said, ‘This is your last birth. I shall have to come some more times. You will stay with me this time’. Subsequently both the husband and wife sat and chanted naam throughout the night. The mahatma seen in the dream appeared before them directly. They bowed down on having his darshan, but could not find him any more after lifting their head. They were gratified to see the smiling face of the mahatma and to obtain his blessings.
They lived an unattached life during the first two years of their married life. Subsequently at the behest of the mahatma they had eight children of which were four sons and four daughters. The first issue, a daughter died when she was only eighteen months old. It is learnt from ShreeMa’s writing that they used to follow all the rules of brahmacharya that are specified for a householder’s life, strictly. There is no doubt that observing such rules strictly in a house holders life is not possible without the spiritual of previous births.
When Annadaprasad was later initiated by the Mahatma seen in his dream, he came to know that he was Darveshji Maharaj. ShreeMa received deeksha from Darveshji Maharaj during his visit to the Ramchandrapur Ashram. ShreeMa Then spoke to Darveshji Maharaj about her dream. Darveshji Maharaj said on hearing about the dream – “Dear daughter, am I less harassed because of you two? You are mine from birth after birth. You are absolutely mine!”
We had asked ShreeMa once, ‘What form of Darveshji did you see when you used to see him in your younger age? In reply ShreeMa said, ‘Why I used to have darshan of form as Sadguru’.
We asked, ‘This appears to be very strange was it pre-decided that he would attain same form (which he had years later)? ShreeMa said, “Yes, the form that he would attain as Sadguru was pre-decided. I used to see this form alone”.
After some days Annadaprasad built house anew in his ancestral homestead in Ramchandrapur. Description of those times is available in his book ‘Amar Jibon’. He wrote in that book.
Our post marriage celebration continued on the road itself. The police and group of spies followed me from behind. I had to welcome my housewife in my wretched life in this manner. This too was a test in my life. How long can one continue without money, wealth or food! You may possibly say, what was the need for marriage then? You have known of the need from Shaila’s statement I had to go ahead for marriage. Even in this state according to my Guru’s order. I offer my heartfelt regard with deep gratitude even today to the woman who came forward in my life which was full of struggle, grief, danger, torture, humiliation, starvation and walked with equal steps with me; the way I received from her during my tapasya over the last thirty five years.
From this itself it is clear as to what a terrible situation ShreeMa had to pass through. It is however true that their lives were controlled by that Mahatma seen in their dreams – Shree Darveshji Maharaj. It is seen that whenever they fell into hard times or dangerous situations, Shree Darveshji Maharaj gave them darshan and due directions. They have thus always received the limitless grace of Darveshji Maharaj and his blessings ever since their birth.
ShreeMa was a bit worried when Annadaprasad took Sannyas. Three days after this Shree Darveshji Maharaj appeared before ShreeMa and said - ‘I have told him (Annada) that he will stay with you in the same way Gosaiji and I had lived. I know no harm will be caused to him by you’.
Annadaprasad was named Swami Asimananda Saraswati after sannyas. A book titled ‘Asimanander Patra’ containing some of his letters has been published. It is revealed from this book that Swami Asinananda Saraswati had indicated well in advance the Stages and Sadhan that ShreeMa had to undergo later –
- While doing work, at first it appears that ‘I do it?
- This feeling goes away gradually and then causes reliance on God.
- With the enhancement of reliance action of unknown force is felt.
- Gradually one’s own effort ceases.
- The sadhak realizes that an unseen force in helping us.
- Gradually need for one’s own effort is felt to be unnecessary corresponding to the growth of the feeling of surrender.
- Subsequently self effort ends.
- Then comes a totally new state of life.
- Sometimes with the start of a new life pride comes to the mind.
- The sadhak thinks, ‘I enjoy God’s grace’ and darkness descends owing to such pride.
- The path of sadhak’s progress gets covered with darkness.
- The sadhak then fails to find the way, being directionless under darkness. He cries out and prays to god fervently for help.
- God responds to the Sadhak’s call during such hard times consoles and says – ‘Have no fear, I am with you, I will be your charioteer’.
- In his troubled times this solicitous appeal helps God’s grace to descend on the Sadhak.
- By God’s grace sadhak’s body progreses to attain godly form.
- Sadhak still retain his sense of separateness.
- When sadhak finds next that it is not possible to achieve anything by himself, he says, “May your wish alone be fulfilled, Oh gracious Lord”.
- No separate will stop after this. The sadhak feels that ‘He’ alone gets everything done within himself.
- The sadhak looks upon himself to be a machine.
- This is followed by a state of bliss always – brimming with bliss.
- Next state is being mad with bhava.
- Sadhak gets established in Brahmani. Everything seems to be full of Brahman to him. This state is dangerous. People fail to appreciate the sadhak’s bhava. Mistakenly people may inflict severe torture on the sadhak causing death. One has to be very careful during such times.
- Next comes the state of being separate from earthly attachment even while living in the earth.
- The mind becomes diluted at this state.
- Next is the state of omniscience. His actions are beyond the understanding of common people.
- Next comes the state when he plays with child’s bhava. Behaviour live a child. The sadhak forgets his total being – cries and laughs like a child, plays with toys.
- In the following state of unattached existence the sadhak ceases to have sense of his body. However any pending bhog (enjoyment or suffering) gets destroyed. The sadhak, apart from undergoing his own bhog also suffers two thirds of the bhog of those sheltered by him.
- All the pending bhogas of sadhak since his previous impression get finished in the following state. Sadhak’s bhoga come to an end this way.
- Next to this sadhak gets established in the self by tapasya. Always established in Brahman. Thoughts of life or death just do not appear. No feeling appears as to the existence of the body. Everything in Brahman.
- Next all the tendencies of the body and sense organs get dissolved. The genital organ. Gets hidden somewhere. The bhakta’s, failing to appreciate sadhak’s condition call the doctor for treatment.
- Then comes union of soul with supersoul. Everything seems to be immersed with everything else. Seeing Brahman everywhere. Realisation of Brahman.
- Next the place of ‘I’ is taken by ‘You’. There is nothing but you – only you – only you.
- The next state is appreciating his sweet Leela (play) in the entire universe.
- Next comes, everything is he. He alone is everything.
- Next stage you are me – I am you – ‘I am that ‘ feeling
- Next stage – not I but you – you are – you are me, I am you – such a mixed up state.
In one of his letters to ShreeMa, Swami Asimananda Saraswati had written – I have written to you about the states of sadhana as I have understood. May you achieve this state while staying in the samsar itself. Remember, Guruji’s letter. He wrote to me about you. ‘How many girls like Shaila are born on this earth?’
Swami Asimanandaji left his mortal frame in 1968 A.D. ShreeMa had kept herself concealed all these days. Bhaktas from various places started coming to her now. Gradually, following the orders of Gosaiji and her Gurudev, she started giving deeksha to people. Most of the incidents that had taken place during such times remain unknown. Bhaktas and disciples have been gratified to realize some of her glory.
Many men and women were gratified to have her grace from 1968 to 1998. ShreeMa left for her eternal abode on the 7th of May 1998 (23rd Baishakh, 1405 Bengali calendar) at 3-30 pm in the after noon.
- Swami Amalananda Saraswati