While we have great regard for our sages, how often do we spare a thought for the women in their lives? While the sages were gnanis who could see that their mission in life was spiritual, the women in their lives would have wanted to live like other women — with children and material prosperity.
How did they react, therefore, when called upon to deal with the situation arising out of their husbands' decision to become renunciates? They rose admirably to the occasion, Tiruppur Krishnan said in a discourse, and went on to give examples of such women.
One day, as a family mourned a death, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa entered and laughed out loud. His wife Sarada decided to find out why her husband had behaved thus. So, she asked him the reason for his laughter. He replied that the atma was a sword. The body was a mere sheath. When a person died, the sword was unharmed. It was only the sheath that was discarded. What was the need to cry then? Sarada realised that her husband was a gnani. In course of time, she too became a gnani.
Vallalar lost his mother at a young age and his sister-in-law cared for him as if he were her own son.
One day, Vallalar returned home late at night. Finding the door locked, Vallalar slept on the pyol. Soon, Goddess Parvati, in the guise of his sister-in- law, came and served him with food on a lotus leaf and then left. Some time later, his sister-in-law came out and asked Vallalar when he was going to eat.
A surprised Vallalar pointed to the lotus leaf near him and said: “But you just served me food on that leaf.” The lady knew then that the brother-in-law whom she had looked after all these years was no ordinary man. She realised that he was a saint, and he would soon leave home.
She was torn between pride in him and sorrow that he was going to be lost. Vallalar's wife Dhanakoti told all her relatives that she was lucky to be married to a saint.
Thus, we find that the women in the lives of saints made many sacrifices, so that the world might benefit from the wisdom of the sages. These women, too, deserve the same honour that the sages are shown.