Great women in spirituality

“(…) In our Ashram there are many ladies on the spiritual path. I like to encourage and help women to follow the spiritual way if it is their genuine desire to do so. If a woman opens her heart and fills it full of devotion to the Divine, she can rise to spiritual heights very fast. If we research into the past, we will find that there were many great women in the spiritual field who sacrificed their personal desires and private lives for the sake of humanity. We can take Sri Sarada Devi as a great example. She was not at all wealthy and she had no servants or modern conveniences. After his death, her husband and spiritual master, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, appeared to her and asked her to continue his mission. She worked day and night to serve his devotees in whatever way she could. Without resting she would cook hundreds of chapattis and make sweet betel leaf rolls in order to offer them first as prasādam to her master and then to the visiting devotees.   She was constantly thinking of others. She treated poor villagers and even criminals as if they were her own children, even though others looked down on her because she served people who were of a lower class than her. She revered all religions, attended both Hindu and Muslim festivals and joined in their prayers to show her unity with everyone, just as her master had done.

You often find that the great saints have so much compassion that they want to help the needy and downtrodden. By their example they encourage the devotees to do the same and to work alongside them. Lady saints are mostly very motherly and they show great love and strong caring feelings to all who approach them for solace or advice. Meerabai was a north Indian queen. Despite great opposition from her husband, the king, and his subjects who even tried to murder her, she continued her ecstatic worship of Lord Krishna. Finally, through her transcendental love, she won them all over through her devotion, courage and forgiving compassion.

In recent times we have been inspired by the meritorious acts of the Christian nun, Holy Mother Theresa. She and her groups of altruistic nuns and workers have relieved the physical and mental pain of the suffering in their thousands. Her selfless and determined efforts to comfort the destitute and dying from the poverty -stricken city streets of India have made her a household name in every country in the world. How wonderful this earth would be if all the people made a fraction of her glorious effort to help their fellow human beings!

Likewise, wherever women tread the path towards enlightenment you will find them sacrificing themselves in the service of others. This is because a woman is naturally inclined to carry out the work of the Divine Mother by nurturing, caring and healing other beings. She is the handmaiden of the Divine Mother. Through her the work of the Goddess is completed. Today, men in the world are blindly creating technologies that are ultimately destructive. It is the women who must develop themselves and show the true and original way of life for humanity. It is they who must manifest the love of the Goddess on this earth and show all others the true, real and meaningful way of life.   It is always the women who pick up the pieces after wars and destruction caused by man. Woman must learn, grow and increase her spiritual power in order to successfully carry out the work of Shakti, the Divine Mother.   She can be a working mother, a single girl or a housewife – whatever life role she chooses, let her dedicate herself to Mother’s work and find peace of mind. Then she will surely pass on her inner tranquility and spiritual fulfilment.”

Swami Premananda


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