Gauri-Ma's original name, given by her family, was Mridani. She was also
called Rudrani. She was born in 1857. Her father, Parvati Charan
Chattopadhyay, and mother, Giribala Devi, were both very devoted to God.
Giribala composed many devotional songs and hymns.
Even as a child, Gauri-Ma was fearless and uncompromising,
and no external pressure could make her deviate from a resolution which
she considered right. Her relatives arranged her marriage against her
will when she was thirteen, but her mother allowed her to run away and
hide herself. She later on accompanied a group of monks and nuns to
Hardwar and spent several years wandering alone, sometimes disguised as
a man. During her itinerant days, Gauri-Ma practised severe austerities,
such as fasting, observing silence, meditating and studying scriptures.
Finally she returned to Kolkata.
Drawn by a mysterious pull, Gauri-Ma came to Sri Ramakrishna in the
company of Balaram Bose. Sri Ramakrishna wanted to fulfill a special
mission through Gauri-Ma. He realized that the women of the society were
terribly neglected, especially in the area of education, and it was his
wish that Gauri-Ma should work among them. Gauri-Ma looked upon Sri
Ramakrishna and the Holy Mother as her own parents. She had a strong
desire to practise austerities in a secluded place, and left for
Vrindaban. There she met the Holy Mother when the latter was visiting
Vrindaban after the Master's passing away.
Later, when she took sannyas, Gauri Ma came to be known as "Gauri Puri Devi". In 1894, Gauri-Ma founded the Sri Saradeshwari Ashrama for women on the
banks of the Ganga at B arrackpore in Kolkata. The Holy Mother praised
the way she took care of the girls there. During the Master's birth
centenary in 1936, Gauri-Ma gave an address in Bengali, which was
broadcast on All India Radio. On 28 February 28 1938, the day of
Shivaratri, Gauri-Ma started consciously preparing for death and passed
away the following day.
Yogindra Mohini Mitra, or Yogin-Ma, as she was known to the devotees of
Sri Ramakrishna, was born on 16 January 1851 at Baghbazar in North Kolkata.
Her father, Prasanna Kumar Mitra, was a well-known physician. When she was
seven, she was married to Ambika Charan Biswas. The latter turned out to
be a libertine, and Yogin-Ma returned with her daughter to her parents'
In 1882, Yogin-Ma met Sri Ramakrishna for the first time at Balaram Bose's
house. She would bring him various dishes prepared by herself, which Sri
Ramakrishna would eat with much relish.
Yogin-Ma had been initiated into a Devi Mantra. The master confirmed this
and asked her to keep repeating it. Yogin-Ma soon met the Holy Mother
Sarada Devi, and the two were immediately drawn towards each other.
In the middle of 1885, Yogin-Ma and a few other women devotees went to the
Car Festival at Panihati and watched the Master as he danced among the
huge crowd. Yogin-Ma used to say that the women used to feel that the
Master was one of them and that they never felt any shyness in his
presence. She took the Master's permission and went to Vrindaban to spend
her days in austerity. She came to know of the Master's death from the
Holy Mother while in Vrindaban. She became a close companion of Holy
Mother. Whenever Holy Mother visited Kolkata, Yogin Ma would go to
Mothers house every day and do household work there.
Yogin-Ma used to look upon the disciples of Sri Ramakrishna as her own
children. On 20 November 1900, she underwent PurnaAbhisheka, a special
Tantric Rite. Later, she was initiated into Vedic sannyasa by Swami
Saradananda in Puri. The latter consulted her before beginning his
monumental work, Sri Sri Ramakrishna Lila-prasanga in 1909.
On 4 June 1924 at 10:25 p.m. Yogin-Ma passed away at Udbodhan, next to the
room where the Holy Mother had lived. The Holy Mother used to describe her
as one of her two eternal companions (the other being, Golap-Ma).
Golap Sundari Devi, known to devotees as Golap-Ma, was born in a brahmin
family of North Kolkata, probably in the late 1840's. She was married
off young, but her husband died after a few years, leaving her with two
small children, a son and a daughter. Her daughter died prematurely,
leaving a void in her life.
Seeing Golap-Ma's terrible suffering, Yogin-Ma, who was her neighbour,
came to her help and took her to Sri Ramakrishna one day in 1885. The
Master touched her head, and all grief left her. The Master introduced
Golap-Ma to the Holy Mother and told her “Keep your eyes on this brahmin
woman. She will live with you permanently.” Golap-Ma was one of Sri
Ramakrishna's main women disciples and she often got the opportunity to
render personal service to him. Not only did she carry his food to him,
but also cleaned his room. The Master visited her dilapidated house on
28 July 1885.
One important trait of Golap-Ma's character was that she was not egoistic.
Because of her outspoken nature, she was often misunderstood and
criticised by other devotees, but she never left the Master or the Holy
Mother. After the Master's passing away, Golap-Ma accompanied Holy
Mother to Vrindaban. Later, she became Holy Mother’s constant companion.
In Kolkata, she lived with Mother and took charge of running the
Holy Mother passed away in 1920 and Golap-Ma lived for four years after
that. She died at Udbodhan on 19 December 1924.
Aghormani Devi (popularly known as Gopaler Ma) was born in a brahmin
family in the year 1822 at Kamarhati, a northern suburb of Kolkata. She
was a child widow. She was initiated into spiritual life by her
husband's family, with the child Krishna as her Chosen Ideal, and was
given the Gopala Mantra. Her love and energy were thus directed towards
her beloved Gopala. She sold her jewellery and husband's property,
invested the money she got from it and lived on the interest accruing
from it. She shaved her head as was customary amongst widows, and led an
intensely contemplative life in a temple garden at Kamarhati. She would
rise at two in the morning and continue her spiritual practices till
eight. She would then clean the temple and the worship vessels, pick
and make garlands and sandal paste. She would meditate under a Bilva
tree after a bath in the Ganga, cook food and offer it to the boy Gopala,
partake of the Prasad and then rest a while. She would practise japa
again until evening, listen to the vespers, have a simple light supper
and then practise japa again until midnight. She followed this routine
from 1852 to 1883.
In 1884, she came in contact with Sri Ramakrishna. But whenever she came
to Sri Ramakrishna, the latter would say nothing of spiritual matters,
but would ask her to bring whatever she had cooked at home for him.
This, at times, evoked mixed feelings, but the Master's pull was too
great. In the spring of 1885, she gained a vision of Sri Ramakrishna
which melted into the boy Gopala. She started having an uninterrupted
vision of her Chosen Deity. Sri Ramakrishna told her that she had
attained the goal of her spiritual practices.
After the passing away of Sri Ramakrishna, Gopaler Ma was grief-stricken,
but repeated visions of the Master consoled her. She would occasionally
visit the Baranagore Monastery. In 1903, she fell seriously ill, but her
exalted mood did not wane a whit. During her last days, she was looked
after by Sister Nivedita. The end came on 9 July 1906. She was carried
to the Ganga, where she breathed her last at dawn, touching the holy
waters of the river.