Devotion in Kolkata
When i had first heard the words “Moved by Love” - i loved the sound of it! and after what has been happening in my life since then - has been a miracle.
My Brother Neerad and sis Sheetal have always been the source of immense strength and happiness in my life. The AWAKIN retreat at Pune that i attended a few days ago was one such gift i received from them. Jus back from this, while i was still dancing over the ripples of the retreat, when, the ocean of love,compassion and maitri - Jayesh Bhai - walked into my city (Kolkota), my life and my home. Hearing Bapuji’s voice (Jayesh Bhai is lovingly called that) saying, “Beta, in calcutta!” was the last thing that the old ME heard.
Sukanta (my soul mate and husband) and i had the amazing fortune to spend 2 days with Bapuji. When we went to pick him, we also had met 2 other amazing Mamas from Gandhi ashram who gave us the opportunity and fortune to serve them. We had a plan to visit Dakshineshwar ( deity of the temple is Bhavatarini, an aspect of Kali, meaning, ‘She who liberates Her devotees from the ocean of existence) and Belur math. The significance of this place is huge as Shri Ramakrishna Paramhansadev, Thakur, had attained his darshan and enlightenment when he lived here for over 30 years as the “priest” for the deity.
At Dakshineshwar , when we entered the temple, someone around said, “so many people” and Bapuji’s response was , “oh so much devotion”! when we did the darshan and went around the temple complex to see the house of Shree Ramakrishna dev, i realized how much i had missed out on, by not knowing the stories behind the various places in the temple. we entered the old house where 16 years were spent by Thakur and then the other house where he spent 16 more years of his lifetime. As i had little knowledge to share about the temple, i requested a young man, who was in-charge of the library ,to share some stories. He told us a lovely story about Sharada Ma, wife of Sree Ramakrishna, who was a symbol of compassion and sacrifice. Once, 2 lads from Benaras wanted to test Ma and her love for her children- so they said amongst themselves while on their way to meet her, that if she knows what is in our hearts, we would like to eat Pithe (rice dumplings in milk and jaggery) made by her. They traveled from Benaras and when they reached Ma’s house, she asked them to have lunch as they must be hungry and served food with “PITHE” and smiled at them and said, “so you wanted to test me?”. The 2 boys started to sob and fell at Ma’s feet !! - so touching!
We left the place and Bapuji tells me - i want to eat petha, do feed them to me at your place! i smiled and nodded (though i didnt know how i was going to do that as we had very little time, i just prayed to god! ).
We did the rest of the trip in reverence to Ma, reflecting on her sacrifice and selfless love and the Unpeturbed bhakti of Shree Ramakrishna. His simple pure bhakti had the strength to create SWAMI VIVEKANANDA! the peace and the light that you feel on entering the rooms of these great saints is an experience in itself. Sitting there, in silence, with Bapuji , was surreal.
Bapuji also sat by the banks of Ganga for a long time at Belur Math, and i was sitting silently by his side. Then i asked him, “what creates difference” , He smiled and said ,” maan, abhimaan, sammaan”. He said, be like the Ganga- it knows its destination is the ocean, it keeps flowing in that direction and on the way, gives people water to drink, live, bathe, pray in, grows plants, and then, moves on. It doesn’t attach itself to a port , nor does it dry up in exhaustion! while, i was listening- a realization dawned- Jhanvi means GANGA!
We had the evening Silent Sunday at Anirudh Bhai’s place so Bapuji, Sukanta and me left for the same. initially 8 of us just sat and had polite conversations as we were all meeting each other for the first time! we did a brief prayer and Bapuji explained why we need to sit with ourselves - that is the most important part of silent meditation.The second most significance being, building Noble friendship! we sat in Silence and suddenly the whole atmosphere changed. In the sharing, Mine was of Gratitude bows and how during my retreat, i had started thinking about “thanking the universe for what i had” , the list didnt end even after the bows did! life is so beautiful!
The other sharing was of Buaji, Anirudh Bhai’s aunt, who shared how lovely it was that everywhere she went and who ever she met, she looked for a learning in that. so profound!
Anirudh bhai sang a lovely bhajan. Bapuji’s sharing about his father’s request to him to clean up the washrooms in the entire hospital, just the day before he passed on to the other world, was a throat-choking moment for everyone in the circle. Anirudhji’s mother also shared intensely touching story of how a forgotten story of Namdevji touched her again after so many years. She also shared the story about Bhagwan Krishna and Gandhari and how she felt that every thing that happens, is all god’s will and nothing happens with out HIS will, we need to remind ourselves this, in good times and bad. Bapuji asked Sukanta to sing a song and he sang one about Maa Kali where a child is crying to Maa, that all my sadhana is over yet my wish to see a world full of love, is unfulfilled, o mother, carry me in your arms to a place which is a haven of unconditional love! The circle closed at this wow moment when the actual wow moment came minutes after this- Rashmi Didi how was quiet through the session, came up to me and said that when she had heard Sukanta’s song, she felt that she needs to start her sadhana of Sitar again! she said she had left it for 15-20 Years!! we have requested her to play her sitar in the next meditation at my house and she promised us she would! when i shared this with Bapuji and Sukanto , they both were wonder struck as to how instant and deep were these circles!! The impact invisible yet profound!
This sacred morning of Shankranti, just as we were to leave for the airport,out of the blue, Sukanta’s mother walks in with a bowl of “Pithe” and Nariyal Ladoos, for Bapuji! He was so very touched by this entire incident that he said, “that was Sharada Ma sending her blessings!” how could she not fulfill her beloved son’s desire!
Bapuji gifted both Sukanta and me, the wonderful gift of Maitraiyee- where we moved, from being spouses, to becoming “Noble friends”
While parting this morning, Bapuji made both of us do a prayer with him. at the end of this, a new family was brought together, where our tears and hugs ,connected us and this bonding is forever.. inseparable- and will stay- even after death do us apart!!