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Doting Devotion – II

The Bonding


With Sri Sri Thakur in their midst, everyone present there had completely immersed himself in the preparation of the aarti, bhajans, discourses, discussions, cooking and having prasad together, forgetting their differences and celebrating the coming together of surrendered minds and egos. No one could keep a tab on the time. Sunrises led to sunsets and days continued to roll on and then the time arrived when Sri Sri Thakur had to return to Kokilamukh Math. When the news did the rounds, everyone went into a shock, as if someone hammered a severe blow on the castle they were building. Immersed in this heavenly association, they had forgotten their home, their families and their lives. No one wanted him to leave. No one wanted the joy to come to an end. So, all the little girls and boys, under the direction of Shanti Maa, pleaded with Sri Sri Thakur to stay on for a few more days. Sri Sri Thakur, his eyes full of kindness, looked at the wide eyed, innocent faces staring at him eagerly, waiting for his affirmation. He listened to their request and nodded a yes. The children jumped with joy when Thakur extended his stay for three more days. Everyone including Shanti Maa had an earnest desire to take Sri Sri Thakur to Ashwini Bhai’s place. That wish also got fulfilled. When Ashwini Bhai heard that Sri Sri Thakur had accepted the invitation to lay his foot in their home, his joy knew no bound. Everyone in the family got together to clean the house. One bedroom was decorated and made suitable for Sri Sri Thakur to rest. A place inside the room was beautified with flowers and a comfortable chair was placed for Sri Sri Thakur to sit. The house was decked with flower garlands and bouquets of tuberoses adorned the flower vases. The whole house was decked with flowers and the sweet fragrance filled the atmosphere with a heavenly charm. Sri Sri Thakur arrived on the specific day and looked around. Seeing the decorated seat in the centre, he asked, “Where am I supposed to sit?” Everyone replied in a single voice, “Please have a seat here.”

Everyone sat around Sri Sri Thakur. The children started telling him all the stories they had memorized and he also joined in, smiling and laughing. None of his disciples or devotees were around that day, so Sri Sri Thakur got the opportunity to mingle with the kids without any reservation. They opened up their hearts candidly and from that day Sri Sri Thakur developed a close bond with the children.

In their Ranishankari Lane house, another ardent disciple, Sri Fanibhusan Mitra got initiated by Sri Sri Thakur. During that time, Maa (Ashwini Bhai’s wife) was pregnant. Shanti Maa was residing at Ashwini Bhai’s home like a family member. One day Sri Sri thakur called Shanti Maa and said, “This child that would be born may not survive.” Shanti Maa was shocked on hearing this prophecy. She knew that these words would surely come true. Heartbroken, she prayed to Sri Sri Thakur to save the child. Sri Sri Thakur was silent for some time. He didn’t want to see the faces of his dear disciple saddened at the thought of the inevitable loss. All eyes were on him, He had to do something. He thought for some time and instructed them to carry out certain rituals. Then he pacified them saying that when he would meet the child after birth, he would give further instructions. After hearing these words of comfort, everyone calmed down and heaved a sigh of relief.

Sri Sri Thakur returned to Saraswata Math. The happiness and joy of the last few days came to an abrupt stop. The house that was so filled with laughter seemed empty. Shanti Maa also started preparations for her return to Kashi. During that time, she received a letter from Sri Sri Thakur,

“…Inform me when Kanu’s mother’s delivery time is near. Please pass on my love and blessings to Ashwini, his wife, son and daughters. I am touched by their innocence and devotion…”

Kanu was Ashwini Bhai’s son.

In due time Ashwini Bhai’s wife gave birth to a son. It was a moment of celebration for the whole family. They knew that their son was born only by Sri Sri Thakur’s blessings. Shanti Maa named him ‘Thakur-Pada-Renu’. The son was born with a defect in his eyes which got cured after treatment. Three years hence, Ashwini Bhai and his wife travelled to Puri with their sons, Kanu and Renu. Both their daughters stayed back at home and Shanti Maa took utmost care of them. Soon, after their parents left, the younger daughter, Chhanna, started missing them and didn’t stop crying. Shanti Maa used to gently console her and take her to their neighbour’s house to play with their children, every afternoon. Then started the exchange of letters between the children and Sri Sri Thakur. Shanti Maa guided them on how to address and write the letters, what to write, so that the bond between the children and Sri Sri Thakur could strengthen. The children used to write every little detail to Thakur and wait for the reply which followed soon.

Shanti Maa’s health deteriorated again. Everyone became anxious. Shanti Maa had become so dear to them in those few days that they couldn’t think of letting her go. On the doctor’s advice, Shanti Maa was taken to Ranchi for radium treatment. Ashwini Bhai accompanied her to Ranchi to see that her stay and treatment there was comfortable. Sri Sri Thakur was constantly in touch with Ashwini Bhai’s younger daughter, Snehalata, for updates on Shanti Maa’s health.

Ashwini Bhai took care of all the hospital expenses. While Shanti Maa was being treated in the hospital at Ranchi, he got promoted to the position of Sub Judge and was transferred to Asansol. He shifted to Asansol with his family but kept the rented house since he was hopeful that Shanti Maa would soon be cured and return to the house. He appointed two people and requested his spiritual brothers to take care of Shanti Maa.

A few days after Ashwini Bhai shifted to Asansol, he received a letter from Sri Sri Thakur informing him about his arrival in Kolkata. Ashwini Bhai enquired if it would be possible for all of them to visit him and as soon as he got the affirmation, he started his preparations to travel to Kolkata.

… to be continued

Inspired by Krushnapriya Mohanty's essay 'Sri Ashwini kumar Dasgupta'

Sadguru Swami Nigamananda Saraswati

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