Monika Devi had two daughters. All her maternal love was showered on her new found son Gopal. He was a charismatic young man, gorgeous and polite. He started teaching at the university. The life of Buddha and the doctrines of Buddhism had always attracted him, so he plunged into the volumes of Buddhist literature he found and spent his time in research and meditation. Since the original Buddhist manuscripts were written in Pali, he became interested in the language and soon mastered it. One by one, he went through all the ancient Buddhist texts but that wasn’t able to satisfy his quest for inner peace. So many questions kept popping up, creating turmoil in his life, and he was seeking answers that could help him understand love, life and beyond. He started studying about Indian philosophy of Sanatana Dharma and desired to walk on the path to become aware of the source. He became engrossed in the Vedas, Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. His resolution and determination helped him master Sanskrit and his research into the original texts helped him to clear his doubts.
Ronald Nixon was not only admired as a learned teacher but was also a much sought-after face in all the social gatherings of Lucknow. He was tall, fair, well built, his deep-set blue eyes shining with the brilliance of his intellect. In any discussion on any subject ranging from literature, culture, philosophy or politics, his views and analysis were unique. The people of the city loved and revered him. Students were in awe of his personality and genius. The parents of young girls of aristocratic families kept an eye on him as a prospect for their daughters. On the outside, in social invitations or meetings over tea, he was seen as a jovial person, full of life, with an acute sense of humour. But any confusion on the inside would reveal his real self. He had plunged into the unfathomable depth of life and come out with the divine treasure. His life revolved around all that is true, pure and blissful. He effortlessly blended and imbibed the spiritual ethos of India.
Monika Devi was smart, elegant, fashionable, modern in her outlook and the creme of all elite gatherings. She was the life of all parties, art exhibitions and celebrations. She had travelled widely throughout the globe with her husband and was well versed with the traditional ways of India as well as the etiquettes followed in Europe and America. She was aware of the various cultures, lifestyles, trends and there was hardly anyone comparable to her in any event. She delighted everyone with her presence and kept everyone occupied with her stories and narrations of events from world over.
Ronald Nixon was eager to attend all these gatherings and enjoyed the social exchanges with everyone. But all his attention was always fixed on the ever cheerful and graceful Monika Devi. He understood that this outwardly carefree, lively and exuberant disposition successfully masked a life illuminated with spiritual flame of love and devotion, unknown to others.
For quite a few days, Nixon had been observing her intently. Monika Devi used to get dressed with the latest fashion in vogue, put make up on her face, go from one table to the other entertaining guests, with a cigarette in her hand, swirling the smoke in the air. Her friends and guests would get engrossed in her tales and tattles. One day, in the middle of the party, a change came over her. She suddenly became silent yet restless. Then she collected herself, paced across the hall, entered her room and sat down quietly in one corner. What could be the reason behind this abrupt change in her behaviour? Why did she tear herself from her friends and look for a secluded spot? Nixon became worried anticipating some misfortune. This was not the first time he had noticed this abrupt change of behaviour. Was she sick and suffering from some disease that he was not aware of? He had to find out. He swiftly followed Monika Devi and stood outside his mother’s door.
In one corner of the tastefully decorated room, he witnessed a strange scene. His mother was seated in a meditative pose, her eyes half closed, body lifeless, completely withdrawn from the happenings of the outside world. Shocked at the sight, Nixon stood there motionless, staring at her, his blue eyes getting wider, unable to comprehend what was going on. It seemed like a mystery. He was so close to his mother and adored her, but this aspect of his mother was so new to him. To see his mother, the queen bee of Lucknow’s elite class, in such a sublime state was beyond his wildest dreams. The spiritual stream was already flowing inside her and people outside had no clue. Monika Devi woke up from her meditation. Tears of joy flooded her eyes, flowing down her cheeks. She was in a state of ecstasy, goosebumps all over, her body shivering and she was incessantly shedding tears. A little while later, she got her composure back, went to the dressing table, wiped away the tears sticking to her face, applied some face powder and a little rouge and turned around. Nixon stood there, as stiff as a pillar. He bowed down and touched his mother’s feet. Unable to control his emotion, he uttered, “I’m sorry Mother, I witnessed this heavenly episode without your permission. How could you hide this fact from your son for so long? Every son has a right on his mother’s possessions. Don’t you think so?” Monika Devi patted him affectionately on his cheek and replied, “Gopal! Good that you witnessed everything. I will disclose everything to you. But not today, tomorrow. There is a party going on in the house, I am the hostess and I have deserted my guests. This is not right. Let’s go.” Monika Devi resumed mingling with the guests effortlessly, as if nothing had happened. Slowly the guests, satisfied with their time that evening, took leave one by one.
The following day, after breakfast, Monika Devi called Nixon and took him to a quiet corner. She said, “Listen to me Gopal. I can feel the change in myself. I am not the same person I used to be earlier.”
“That’s the reason I am so surprised. Staying so close to you, how did I not notice it?”, exclaimed Nixon.
“Gopal! This external body is nothing. There is a soul which stays hidden within this body and mind. When it awakens and the transcendental waves crash against the shore, man undergoes a transformation. The body surrenders before the supreme power. My life is going through that state right now.”
“O Mother! When did all this begin? Before or after we met?”, enquired Nixon.
To be continued ...
Inspired by Sri Shakarnath Ray's 'Bharater Sadhaka'
Image credit: Eila Sahu