[Published in Vicharasetu – April 1991. The author Ma Gurupriya was then ‘Ratnadeepa’]
From Deprivation to Exclusiveness
My Lord wanted to make my seeking more and more intense. He knew how to make me crave for His Company exclusively and wholesomely. And for that He had His own wonderful ways!
He introduced in me the very natural craving of women – motherhood. And, having kindled it He chose to deny me motherhood. But, was it truly a denial? I understood later that through this deprivation, my Lord had essentially blessed me with exclusiveness and wholesomeness in seeking, which I had been lacking but which is so essential for a seeker.
By denying physical motherhood, my Lord slowly made me taste that universal motherly love which fills the whole Creation, which permeates each and every being, sentient or insentient. He made my heart melt in love for all children – human or animal. He made my love grow with each association – sentient or insentient. An experience of pure joy, brimming over! And that is how slowly my ‘Poshaa’, my ‘Pet’, took form in my mind.
But all these did not happen suddenly. I had to grow through a thorny path of mental torment that started with the incident of having two miscarriages. Painfully I found that with all my spiritual thinking I had not gained enough of deeper insight and strength to accept this fact of not being able to become a mother. I suffered melancholy. I suffered a sense of insufficiency.
Tormented Mind Seeks Sure Refuge
While I grew up, I had learnt to control my emotions and never did I weep in front of any body. Now my melancholy, knowing no outward expression, afflicted my mind terribly. I suffered on two accounts: On one hand, the sense of lack and failure regarding motherhood, and on the other, my disgust with myself in not being able to harmonize or get rid of this sense of insufficiency and failure.
A war was going on in the mind with thoughts and counter-thoughts, arguments and counter-arguments. While one part of the mind would constantly foster the craving for motherhood and brood over the denial, the other part would equally try to seek relief through viveka. Specially, the fact of being perturbed to such an extent used to unsettle my ego of a spiritual seeker. Externally, I was quite normal doing all my work in the house as well as in the college. But, the mind at times seemed to get torn to pieces.
About this torment, I never opened my heart to anybody, except Aroopji before whom I was absolutely open. Aroopji with his natural calmness and detachment was ever unperturbed. With his clarity of thought and outlook, he tried to help me as a loving friend and guide, patiently enduring all my moods. But I was not relieved. Unable to bear the burden anymore, I thought of writing to Baba. Baba was very sick at the time. But, I could think of nobody except my Guru who could save me. My mind desperately called out for his help.
I wrote: “For quite a few days, I have been thinking of writing to you. At the same time, knowing about your ill health, I do not have the heart to disturb you. Still, as long as I do not write to you and receive your reply, my mind will not be pacified.”
“… I know that there is nothing to be disappointed about. But, the mind remains troubled by a whirlpool of thoughts regarding this event. I get headache and cannot sleep. At times I feel I am not able to bear this state anymore. I feel scared wondering whether I will remain a prey to this mental weakness forever, and I will not be able to outlive this at all!
“When I do not get sleep at night and feel my head being torn to pieces, I start chanting my mantra vigorously, holding on to it with all my heart. Slowly the mind becomes quiet and sleep overtakes. I think, if I do japa constantly, the mind may become quiet and peaceful. But I am unable to do that; disturbing thoughts interfere. I fail to get rid of the disturbing thoughts. Helplessly I am weeping and constantly calling you to save me.
“Baba, when I place reasons before the mind, it accepts easily that there is nothing to be so unhappy or disappointed about such a trivial matter. But the mind is so disobedient – again it becomes miserable! Fear, doubt and darkness prevail! If I happen to see someone expecting a child or having a new-born baby, more then feeling happy over the sight I become miserable thinking of my own fate. Never, never do I want to become like this. Doing japa if I pray continuously, will I not get rid of this disgraceful plight? Baba, please bless me that I at least have the power to pray.
“Yesterday was my ‘initiation-day’. The whole morning my mind was very heavy. I told myself – why should these petty thoughts get access in me? I will surely get rid of them, will not allow them to enter the mind at all. Instead I will fill the mind with aananda. I have tried, Baba, but mostly I have failed. At night, when I faced sleeplessness again, I thought I must let you know my condition.
“I do not know how your health is – may be you are very weak. But, helpless as I am, all my load I am placing at your feet.”
Before Baba’s reply reached us, we heard from our friend Partha (one of Baba’s disciples) that Baba was very sick. “If you wish to have his last Darsan, you must proceed immediately,” he said. Although I was under bed-rest at that time, Aroopji and myself started immediately for Dakshinkhanda.
Seeing us, Baba’s first reaction was to admonish me strongly for having allowed the mind to become so weak and disarrayed. He said, “I still remember the letter you wrote to me on your birthday expressing such confident notes. How can the same person become like this? Your recent letter I have replied already, asking you to wait for the inner direction and to come after regaining health. I wanted to help you directly. Anyway, now that you have come, stay for some days. Your mind will be pacified.”
We stayed back as desired by Baba. I was happy to do some little service to him. He would sometimes ask me to press his forehead or feet. Sitting beside Baba’s bed, at times I used to ask him a few questions. Baba, in his effort to reply would burst into severe fits of cough and gasping – it was a painful sight. One day, he told me, “Bhooma will come. He will answer all your questions.”
Great Meeting – The Last and The First
Right from the beginning of our association with Baba, we had heard from him a great deal about our Swamiji. I had seen a picture of Swamiji kept near Baba’s bed. It was taken just after Swamiji took Sannyaasa. But, I had not met Swamiji personally. Swamiji had been coming to Jamshedpur every year for Jnaana Yajna. Aroopji, being from Jamshedpur, had listened to Swamiji’s discourses right from his school days. But, he too never came into Swamiji’s personal contact. However, it was from Swamiji’s lectures that Aroopji came to know of Baba. Quite a few years later, while working for Ph.D. in Calcutta University, he went to Baba with certain spiritual enquiry and took initiation from him.
We were eagerly waiting for Swamiji’s arrival. It was night by the time Swamiji arrived with his disciples – Ammini aunty and her daughter Lata, Sukhavanam uncle, Ponna aunty and Smt. Thyagarajan. After washing his hands and feet, Swamiji went straight to Baba’s room on the first floor. It was a memorable sight – the meeting of a Guru and his dearest disciple. The whole room was filled with aananda. Even now, when I think of that sight, I see only light and aananda radiating from every corner of the room. The meeting of two Saints is no wonder a rare sight!
Next morning, Baba called us to his room. He asked me to sit near his feet. Swamiji was seated near Baba’s head; the other devotees were also there. Baba asked me to tell Swamiji about my mind’s confusion. I narrated everything – my conflict, my fear, apprehension, despondency and above all, my inability to overcome all these.
Swamiji asked me to sit quietly for some time closing my eyes. The mind that had been very restless quite a few days, became quiet slowly. I told him so. Swamiji then took us to the adjacent room and spoke to us for long time.
I asked him so many questions. Each moment, my mind was becoming lighter and lighter. Swamiji’s words, his analysis of my conflict, made me think and see everything from a new angle, giving me a fresh insight. When he stopped talking, I felt I was a new person with new spirit and confidence, and I could proceed boldly leaving behind all confusing thoughts which were bothering me. Swamiji did not disallow my craving for motherhood, but he emphasized that only when my mind regained its normal health and strength, we could think of having a child.
Swamiji left in the afternoon. In the evening, when I went to see Baba, he asked me whether my mind had been quietened. I nodded with a relieving ‘yes’.
This was our last meeting with Baba. While we were coming away, he said “Good bye” with a significant shine in his eyes. Within one and a half months, he left his body.
The Ceaseless Flame
A chapter in our life was over. But, a new chapter had already begun – our association with Swamiji. Had not Baba wisely and lovingly placed me under Swamiji’s spiritual guidance, I would have surely felt a loss. Holding my hand securely, Baba had led me to a certain point on the spiritual path, and then, when it was time for him to take leave, he entrusted me to Swamiji – his own ‘Bhooma’.
Years later, Swamiji told me that on that fateful day itself, Baba had handed me over to his care with the specific words: “Look after her very well. She needs your care and guidance”. When I heard this, I remembered the letter Baba had written long back: “…Even if I do not live till you attain the goal, some Jnaanee – pre-ordained – will tell you the rest and fulfil your quest”.
Thus, Baba and Swamiji merged together in the same flame – the flame that was illuminating my heart and mind, showing me the right direction. Whether the wick is renewed or oil added the flame does not change, nor does its brilliance dwindle.
As long as Baba was there, we used to visit his abode quite frequently and stay there for a few days. That was our spiritual home with ‘Ma’ looking after us with all her affection and endearment. We used to return to our regular life with heart and mind full of bliss and peace, light and quietude. This opportunity was lost now – Swamiji stayed far away in Kerala. However, he remained with us through his letters, providing constant inspiration, hope and clarity.
When we parted after the first meeting at Baba’s abode, Swamiji had asked me to write to him after two weeks informing about my state. I wrote mentioning that I was feeling quite energetic and happy.
In reply, Swamiji in his first letter to me wrote: “…I shall introduce to you the concept of nirdvandva. Ponder over it, gradually. The life in the world and the experiences it brings from time to time will oblige you to practice the truth progressively.
“Dvandva denotes the pair of opposites. Light-darkness, success-failure, man-woman, yesterday-tomorrow, past-future, soul-body – all these are pairs of opposites. The world is constituted of these dvandvas at all levels.
“Our mind also operates on the same principle of dvandva. The dvandvas that constitute the mind and its operations are: happiness-misery, pleasantness-unpleasantness, hope-hopelessness, etc. Knowing that this is so, Deepa, give a place in your understanding – with enough of feelings and emotions – for all the usual mental states to be there for a time and then to be disappearing later, to revisit you again, to re-disappear again…
“Mental health is the first factor. With your mind healthy, any further spiritual gain will become easy and stable. I shall tell you all about the glorious spiritual wisdom, its practice and attainment, and you will one day realize the secret of human fulfillment, dear Deepa. But let us first be ready for all that.”
“How is Aroop? Make him happy too. As for motherhood, do not feel the least self-pity. My dear Soul, is not the world full and open? Your life in it will bless you in one way, if not the other way, and in a new way if all old ways are found unfeasible. So, be patient, Self-reliant and hopeful. Every one will be happy if you feel pleasant at heart”.
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