Pravrajika Bharatiprana (1894 - 1973)
Pravrajika Bharatiprana was the first President of the Sri Sarada Math and Ramakrishna Sarada Mission. She was a student of Sister Nivedita and a direct disciple and personal attendant of Sri Sarada Devi.
It was as if, Sri Sarada Devi gave her spiritual training to prepare for the great responsibility which she had to undertake in the future. She had been given Tantrik Sannyasa and the name Sri Bharati by Swami Saradananda in 1926. In 1959 Vedic Sannyasa with full rites was given to her and to seven other senior Brahmacharinis by Swami Sankarananda, the seventh President of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission. Her simple, quiet and serene personality made her the object of everyone’s reverence. Many men and women were inspired to lead spiritual lives after taking initiation from her.
She was born in July 1894 in an ordinary brahmin family in a village called Guptipara. She was the eldest daughter of Sri Rajendranath Mukherjee and Sushila Devi. Her parents named her Parul.
In her early years small Parul was brought to Calcutta where she was drawn to Sri Sarada Devi, Sister Nivedita and Sudhira-di, who became her mentor in her spiritual journey. Sudhira-di, a brave and fearless young woman full of love, enthusiasm and renunciation went to teach at Sister Nivedita’s school when Parul was in her senior class. Like many other students of her class, Parul was irresistibly attracted by Sudhira-di’s powerful personality She tried to arouse the religious feeling in her students. With Sudhira-di’s permission and encouragement, Parul left home to renounce the worldly life. Sudhira-di renamed her Sarala and took her to Sri Sarada Devi for spiritual initiation.
Sarala embraced the life of austerity and hardship and was staying at one place or other as Sudhira-di arranged for her. Sri Sarada Devi kept a loving eye on Sarala. Sarala nursed her during her last illness. She often prayed, ‘Oh, Mother, I will not be able to live without you, so please take me with you.’ Sri Sarada Devi replied, ‘Finally it is to me you will come, my child. But before that, I have some work, which you will have to do. It will not do if you go now.’ In her last days, she had instructed Swami Saradananda to look after Sarala.
Swami Saradananda executed this responsibility with parental care and made some provision for her maintenance. After Swami Saradananda passed away, Sarala spent twenty-seven years from 1927 to 1954 in spiritual practices at Varanasi. There she lived alone and had to face many ordeals but she never spoke to anyone about them. She was cheerful in the face of a hundred difficulties and firm on her path with absolute faith in Sarada Devi. Unseen by the world, with the help of God alone, she reached a very high state in her spiritual life.
During Sri Sarada Devi’s birth centenary (1953-54), when arrangements were being made for the opening of a Women’s Math of the Ramakrishna Order, the Belur Math authorities naturally thought of Sarala Devi (later named Pravrajika Bharatiprana) as the first President of Sri Sarada Math. They all felt that through Sarala Devi the Women’s Math had a direct link with Sri Sarada Devi. For eighteen years, from December 1954 to January 1973, she was the President of Sri Sarada Math. Her mind always dwelt on a higher level of consciousness. Despite her efforts to conceal her real self, her Mahasamadhi brought her extraordinary spiritual attainment to the notice of all who witnessed it. During her last moments she withdrew her mind and uttering Satchidananda Brahma, Satchidananda Brahma, Shivoham, Shivoham(God, the Existence- Knowledge-Bliss; I am Shiva) her mind merged in to the Infinite Brahman. Pravrajika Bharatiprana, Sri Sarada Devi’s beloved Sarala was a bright example of a life full of renunciation and total dependence on God.
If you want peace of mind, do not find fault with others. Rather learn to see your own faults. Make the whole world your own. No one is a stranger, my child; this is your own.