Updated: Feb 5
Who Can Escape the Wrath of the Mother?
Ashwini Bhai had named his home ‘Saraswat Kunja’. Saraswat Kunja was surrounded with lush green trees it's backyard boasted of a beautiful pond with crystal clear water. The water sparkled when the early rays of sun reflected from the surface of the pond inviting the onlookers to take a dip and feel refreshed. One morning, when Sri Sri Thakur passed by the pond, the water was so welcoming that he wanted to spend the day playing with the kids in it. So, he called the kids out and stepped into the pond. As soon as they went in, all of them with Sri Sri Thakur in their midst, started swimming from one end of the pond to the other. They were so excited and amused, oblivious of the fact that the soft, tender rays of the sun had become piercing hot. Time was ticking away; morning had given way to noon and even hunger and thirst stayed away afraid of interrupting their fun. It was past noon but no one wanted to come out of the water. They had dragged Thakur to compete with them in their game of swimming. Sri Sri Thakur was also playing and competing with them like their friend, splashing water like a friend. Sri Sri Thakur was a very strong and agile swimmer and the children were no less. They were trying out all sorts of styles of swimming.
Their mother was worried and came out looking for Sri Sri Thakur and the kids. Lunch had been prepared long ago and she was waiting to serve them food. She called out to them to come out of the pond and sit down for lunch. The kids shouted back saying they will soon be out. Their mother went back home and got busy with housework. With no one to check on them the children continued their game with Thakur. After sometime, not finding the kids at home, their mother went out again and screamed at them to come out warning them of the repercussions if they didn’t heed to her call. The same answer, “We will be out soon.” Why would they worry about their mother’s scoldings when Sri Sri Thakur was on their side! Lunch time had passed by and she lost her patience. She knew very well that it was all because of Sri Sri Thakur’s pampering. Without losing any more time, fuming with anger, she got hold of a stick and came and stood at the edge of the pond. The whole place was reverberating with conversations, cackles, giggles and laughter. All the children along with Sri Sri Thakur were swimming and playing right in the middle of the pond. She called out in a stern voice, “Come out quickly or else you will all get it from me.” When the children heard her shouting, they pointed at Sri Sri Thakur and yelled back, “What can we do? Thakur is not letting us go.” And they were not wrong. Sri Sri Thakur didn’t want the fun. Their answer further angered their mother and she went into a rage screaming, “What did you say? Thakur is not letting you go. Yes, he is the reason of all this trouble. He can’t escape either. Come out all of you, now! Now I said, or else get ready to face the consequence.” Scared, the children turned towards Sri Sri Thakur. Thakur calmly replied, “First, ask your mother to throw that stick away and not to hit us once we are out. We will come out only if she gives us her word.” Their mother gave a piercing look at Sri Sri Thakur, hit the stick on the ground twice and shouted, “I understand everything. All this mischief is your doing. You have been instigating the children. Come out now or else no one will be spared.” The children after conspiring with Thakur replied, “Thakur is scared O Mother! He is scared that your stick will land on his back.”
“Do you think I will let him escape? Come out now if you care for your life. Out now!” retorted their mother. Then it was Sri Sri Thakur’s turn to reply, “Why are you getting so impatient? We are coming out. Do you have to scream so loudly?” Sri Sri Thakur came out followed by the group and said calmly, “Now throw that stick away. Can’t you see how the children have turned so pale?” That one line of Sri Sri Thakur brought the desired outcome that the children were waiting for. Their mother threw the stick and walked back to the house, covering her face with her saree to hide her chuckle.
The relationship between Ashwini Bhai’s wife and Sri Sri Thakur was a vibrant example of Vatsalya Rasa, parental love. And with Ashwini Bhai, he had developed a deep intimacy, rarely seen in a Guru-Sishya relationship.
Once, Ashwini Bhai was not well and was suffering from high fever. Sri Sri Thakur came to know about it and invited him to visit Puri. Without wasting any time, he arrived at Sri Sri Thakur’s place, the Nilachala Kutir, along with his wife, two daughters and a granddaughter. Sri Sri Thakur was inside the kutir when they all arrived. The ladies who had accompanied Ashwini Bhai joined the devotees, helping them with the daily chores of the ashram. Ashwini Bhai sat in the room outside waiting for darshan of Sri Sri Thakur. After asking him to take a seat, the disciples went back to attend to their unfinished chores. When Sri Sri Thakur climbed down the stairs for prasad, not seeing Ashwini, he asked, “Where is Ashwini?” Looking for him, he stepped out and saw Ashwini Bhai sitting in a corner. He got annoyed when he saw that no one took care of his sick disciple and had left him alone. Sri Sri Thakur quipped, “How could you make an unwell person sit outside in this heat? You couldn’t even make him a place to lie down? You all have no idea how he takes care of me when I visit him. He treats me like a king. He takes care of my every little wish, makes sure to get what all I like to eat, so that I can have a comfortable stay. Without caring about his own comfort, he makes sure I have everything and makes me feel at home. And you made him, a sick person, sit outside for four hours? Don’t you all have any common sense? Do I have to tell you everything? Ashwini is not like the rest of them.” Saying this, Sri Sri Thakur himself arranged a table and some chairs and chose the best room of Nilachal Kutir for Ashwini Bhai to stay. He supervised all the arrangements and was satisfied when Ashwini Bhai and his family had comfortably settled down.
How would the devotees know? Was it their mistake? If ever they took any extra care for any renowned personality, then Sri Sri Thakur would rebuke. So, why would they even think that they had to take special care of Ashwini Bhai?
Ashwini Bhai’s home, ‘Saraswata Kunj’ in Dhaka was close to Maa Siddheswari Temple. The very first ashram of Anandamayee Maa was also near the same temple. So, Ashwini Bhai’s family had developed a close bonding with Anandamayee Maa. Once Sri Ramani Chakravorty, husband of Anandamayee Maa, suffered from liver ailment. Seeing his critical condition, Ashwini Bhai brought the couple, Ramani Ji and Anandamayee Maa, to his home and took on the responsibility of nursing and taking care of them. Ashwini Bhai even got all the medical help they needed. After some days Ramani Babu started to recover. During this trying time, Anandamayee Maa stayed at Ashwini Bhai’s home and addressed his wife as her mother. There, in Ashwini Bhai’s home, Anandamayee Maa met Sri Sri Thakur for the first time.
... to be continued
Sadguru Swami Nigamananda Paramahansa Dev
Inspired by Krushnapriya Mohanty's essay, 'Sri Ashwini Kumar Dasgupta.'