[Published in Vicharasetu – August 1991. The author Ma Gurupriya was then ‘Ratnadeepa’]
Growing Fondness for the ‘Ever-Pure Child’
Walking on the path of spirituality, when a seeker faces a closed gate and knows not how to open it and walk further, who else than his Guru is there to open the gate for him and help him cross the barrier? I too was led to the next phase of my spiritual journey by my Guru’s grace. He gave me the awareness that a great harmony lies beneath all the opposites in the world and taught me the art of moderation. While these two lessons were unfolding their deeper truths and subtleties in my mind, the obsession regarding motherhood and its denial gradually faded away. In its place, my Lord now started feeding me with a sweet vaatsalya-rasa (nectar of parental fondness).
The vaatsalya-rasaemerged as my Lord was taking seat in my mind in the form of the ‘little’ but ‘great’ Lord of Vrindaavana.
I was finding intense delight in reading Sreemad Bhaagavatam, the part (10th skandha) depicting the stories and glory of the ‘little one’. I could visualize the crawling child, his soft tender lips wearing the enchanting smile, his body decorated with flowers and ornaments and a peacock feather on his forehead. I could vividly see the scenes of Vrindaavana, experiencing the emotions generated in each event and episode.
It was as if I was present in Vrindaavana. As I read on, I identified myself with little Gopala the tender child, with Yashoda the loving mother, and with the Gopa-boys and Gopikaas who loved Krishna and had surrendered themselves completely to him. Bliss started pouring into my being making it very soft and supple, overwhelming me with a unique experience of joy and love.
I would narrate the stories to Aroopji and sometimes would read out to him the portions that were immensely sublimating or exhilarating. Soon it became a regular session. Aroopji, after returning from the Institute, would eagerly ask: “Don’t you have anything to read out today?” If somehow there came a gap of two-three days in my narration, he would say: “Oh! So many days have passed; you have not told me anything about Krishna.” He used to sit in front like a small child and shed tears profusely whenever the text had anything sublime and noble, depicting wholesome devotion, surrender or sacrifice.
We fell in love with this little lad of Vrindaavana. We would speak of his innocence, his words and actions, his mischief, and specially, the spiritual truth underlying each episode.
I have always been fond of children. The touch of their soft limbs, their actions, lisping and above all, their innocence has always given me immense delight. Now this delight started getting associated with the ‘ever-pure child’. Looking at children, I could not but think of Him. His nectarine smile adorning the cheerful, bright face used to infuse in me a kind of purity, as if I had taken internal bath in clear cool water.
Not Child but ‘Motherhood’
While such an emotion was growing in my mind, an opportunity came to meet Swamiji again. It was during a Jñaana Yajña in Delhi. We went to meet him in Mr. N.R.Subramanian’s house in Hauz-Khas. We prostrated and took our seat in the hall where many devotees had already assembled. Little later, Swamiji called us to his room and enquired about my mind, its state. I narrated everything – the transformation that I was passing through, the growing change in my attitude, the dawning of clarity and understanding.
After some time I asked: “Swamiji, regarding motherhood, you had advised me to wait till my mind became strong enough. How am I to know whether the mind has become strong?” Swamiji sat silently for a while, deeply absorbed, and then spoke: “I think you should choose not to have a child at all. That will be good for you.”
Neither Aroopji nor myself asked Swamiji ‘why’ he had said this. Unquestioningly we accepted his words. Later, when parents, relatives and friends came to know of the decision, many were surprised. Some felt our decision was absolutely foolish. A few remarked: “Your Swamiji is a Sannyasin. How will he know what it is for a woman to remain childless?” A few others pleaded with us to request Swamiji to “amend his verdict”!
Our reply to all was: “A Guru knows what is best for his disciples. Our vision is short-ranged; we run after happiness brought forth by immediate gains. But a Jñaani’s vision is far reaching; he knows what is Supreme good. If Swamiji has felt that not having a child will be good for us, it must surely be so. We shall act according to his advice.” There was no doubt or second thought in our minds.
But, apart from unquestioning acceptance, what was my reaction hearing Swamiji’s words? Was I surprised or depressed? I felt very free suddenly – freed from a great bondage! As if a big load had been taken away. I felt liberated from the craving for a child.
Still I said: “Swamiji, I fully accept what you say. At this moment I feel light and free, and think this to be a blessing. But what shall I feel after ten years, I am wondering. Shall I repent or have any sense of deprivation?” Swamiji laughed: “You will be absolutely alright; perhaps, much better than what you can think of now.”
Exactly ten years later while I write this narration, I find how his words have come true! I offer all my gratitude to his lotus feet for giving me such a boon. Making me miss a child, he has blessed me with a greater motherhood, with a greater love – selfless – that enables me to embrace all children alike; as if they are my very own. His blessing has gifted me a love which is non-possessive and spontaneous, which arises from the core of my heart. This love enfolds not only the children but people of all ages, not only the human beings but also animals.
Now I understand, what a woman really needs is not a child but ‘motherhood’.
The effect of meeting Swamiji in Delhi reinforced the transformation I was undergoing. Slowly my ‘pet’ – actually I started calling him ‘Poshaa’ (the pet) much later – was taking shape in my mind. My Lord made me realize that this small child who resides in my mind and heart, never leaves me. He is constantly present there waiting to be called, to be talked to, to be shown affection to, and even to be chided. He is there to console me, greeting me with his characteristic smile, saying: “Here I am, Mother, don’t be afraid!”
This loving ‘little one’ stole my heart completely. I craved for the touch of his purity always. I found his purity and innocence best manifest in children. Even the ugliest and the tiniest baby, be it human or animal or insect, generated in me a vaatsalya, a tender fondness. In their movements and gestures I found my Poshaa playing and dancing; in their eyes I saw the innocent but meaningful glances of Poshaa – wanting to tell me so many things, or waiting quietly for my love!
My dislike towards animals and insects got dissolved. I started talking to them lispingly. To frogs and lizards, especially the young ones, I would say: “Oh! You too are so beautiful! I never knew.” Fear and repulsion towards frogs and cats got transformed into love and interest; they started communicating to me so many things about themselves! To big spiders, which I am generally scared of, I would say: “Poshaa, why do you dress like this and come to frighten me?” Whenever I thought of snakes, I would tell Poshaa: “Please don’t come near me in your ‘snake-moorti’! Don’t you know that I get scared?”
Over the years, this love and closeness have grown not only with animals and insects, but with all creatures – the trees, buds and flowers, and even with so called insentient objects. When I see a book with pages torn, or a vessel with a dent, I tell them lovingly: “Who has done this to you, my dear?” I can feel their craving for care and attention. In my closeness with all of them – sentient or insentient – I experience a unique joy, a feeling of something melting in my heart. And in all these interactions, only one face comes to my mind – that is my Poshaa’s.
While Poshaa was seating himself firmly in my heart, a very sweet relationship started growing amongst the three of us – Aroopji, Poshaa and myself. With Aroopji, my relationship is very special and unique. We are greatest of friends, full of love, cooperation and understanding. As seekers, we are co-travelers too on the path of spirituality. But besides all these, we are a mother and a child.
When others are not there, Aroopji behaves and talks to me in a childlike manner. With Poshaa stealing my lap, Aroopji accepted him very lovingly as his younger brother and started referring to himself as ‘Poshaar daadaa’ (Poshaa's elder brother). He would listen to Krishna’s story, imitate him and dance. Listening to Krishna’s mischief, he would say: “Your Poshaa is all naughty and mischievous. Daadaa is not like that.” Listening to Krishna’s words of wisdom or acts of valour, he would say: “ Oh! Poshaa has so much of strength and intelligence!” Sometimes, when I happened to be too absorbed in my work, he would say: “Come Poshaa, this mother doesn’t even look at us, neither does she care about what we play. Come, let us find another mother.” Thus, Poshaa became very much a living entity in our life.
As these emotions were enriching my mind, my Lord gave me opportunities to come in closest contact with children – human as well as animal; perhaps to teach me about them and myself, about how to handle their mind and behaviour. In the process He made me grow with qualities like patience, endurance, alertness, sympathy and sacrifice. Through all those interactions, he blessed me with one realization: there is only one thing by which everything and everybody can be owned, and that is ‘Love’.
Love can be of two kinds: one that binds and makes us constricted; and the other – selfless, non-expectant and pure – that makes us expand, enabling us to embrace everybody as our own. My Lord revealed to me that the ordinary love, when turned towards Him, transforms itself into the greater one, making us grow and expand, finally merging into the Lord’s eternal vastness.
* * *