14. In Charge of their Kitchen and their Liberation
It is seen that when the seers invoke Maa Ganga, she arrives to fulfil their wish. There are many such incidents. Sri Paramananda Puri was an esteemed follower of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Mahaprabhu respected him as his elder brother. One day when he was residing in Puri, Mahaprabhu went to Paramananda Puri’s home and started discussions and analyses. In between Mahaprabhu said, “I am thirsty. I need some water.” There was a well near Paramananda Puri’s residence whose water was brackish and unclean. So he sent his attendant to fetch sweet water from a distant place. As he took a long time to bring the water, Mahaprabhu pointed at the well and asked why couldn’t he just drink water from the well. After being told that the water was not suitable for consumption, Mahaprabhu stood up and went near the well. He then raised both his hands and went around the well singing kirtan and dancing. Then he prayed, “O Lord Jagannath! Please grant me a wish and let Maa Ganga enter this well with your permission.” The next day his disciples went to Sri Paramananda Puri’s place to test the water of the well. They drew some water and found out that the water had turned pure and sweet. Seeing this miraculous incident, Paramanda Puri was overwhelmed and lost his senses. Everyone gathered there understood that Maa Ganga had listened to Mahaprabhu’s prayers and arrived there. The news reached Mahaprabhu and he came running there. He, along with his devotees, chanted, sang the hymns of Maa Ganga, circumambulated the well and took bath in that water.
In the courtyard of the Bandopadhyaya residence, people gathered with drums and cymbals and used to get engrossed singing and chanting kirtans while Sri Sri Thakur sat in an easy chair on the verandah listening with his eyes half closed. One day Thakur called all the members of the family and said he had to discuss something with everyone. But that day the villagers surrounded Thakur till late and the family didn’t get the opportunity to be with Thakur. The following day, after aarti and kirtan, all the five brothers along with their wives sat around Sri Sri Thakur. Thakur had taken the responsibility of the head of their household. He said, “If any one of you have any complaint or facing any difficulty, then tell me openly. I am here to solve all your problems.” Most of the complaints came from the ladies of the household. They always came with a long list of demands. That time their main complaint was about the cooking oil. One of them stood up and spoke, “Thakur! The amount of oil that is provided to us for cooking is not enough. It is impossible to cook for such a big family with this little amount of oil. Please sanction more cooking oil.” Thakur couldn’t stop laughing and said, “Yes, I have seen my mother and aunts bring oil in glass bottles from their parents’ homes. I will surely look into this matter.” Then he advised them of the responsibilities and duties of living in a joint family. He continued, “As long as you all live together, one heart, one soul, you will find me in your midst.” Then looking at the ladies he said, “Please make sure that you continue to cook for me.” He said this in such a soul-stirring voice that it pierced everyone’s heart. It was Sri Sri Thakur’s earnest wish that the family would stay bound together and for the brothers to never get separated.
That day they were discussing about liberation. Thakur said, “Liberation is not easy. If the heart is not free of wants and desires, it is impossible to be liberated.” Dhiren Bhai asked, “Thakur! Then will all of us be deprived of liberation?” Thakur waved his hand and replied, “Listen to me. In one gesture I will take away all your wishes and desires. I have accepted you all. Hand over all your worries to me and stay fearless.”
The father of Sri Naresh Chandra Pakadasi was the zamindar of a place called ‘Sthala’. Naresh Chandra was a distant uncle of the children of the Bandopadhyaya family. So, whenever Thakur arrived, Naresh Chandra also used to visit regularly. He was a devoted disciple of Sri Sri Thakur. By the grace of Sri Sri Thakur, he had recovered from an incurable illness. When everyone, including him, had lost hope of recovery and were helplessly counting his days, Sri Sri Thakur appeared in his life. When Thakur touched him with compassion, he regained his life source. So, he had completely surrendered himself at the lotus feet of Sri Sri Thakur.
…to be continued
Inspired by Krushnapriya Mohanty’s essay, “Deeghalkandi Parivar.”