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Updated: Aug 20, 2023

18. I’m here for You


Sri Sri Thakur had a hearty laugh at the way Suradhuni retorted. After that Bhuban Maharaj called Thakur for prasad and the assembly dispersed.

Whenever the news of Sri Sri Thakur’s arrival reached the family in Deeghalkandi, an atmosphere of festivity would take over. Invitations would be sent out to all their neighbours and relatives. Everyone would keep themselves occupied in cleaning up and decorating the house. Banana plants would be planted on either side of the road. Coloured papers would be cut in various shapes and hung with strings. An auspicious pitcher would be placed. The small girls would deck up with the colourful sarees of their mothers and stand on either side of road with conches in their hands to welcome Sri Sri Thakur. As soon as Sri Sri Thakur’s feet would touch the ground, the girls would start blowing their conches in tune with the auspicious hulahuli of the elderly family members and usher in Sri Sri Thakur. Then the children would start singing the welcome song in their voices which were hardly in tune. Listening to the children sing, Sri Sri Thakur would exclaim, “Oh dear, please allow me to get in first.” When Thakur would start advancing towards the room meant for him, all the children would start following him in. Then, as Thakur would sit in his armchair, everyone would assemble around him and start their soulful prayers, surrendering their body, mind and soul at his lotus feet.

The programme was always planned and worked out to the tiniest detail much well in advance. The one leading this and instructing everyone for a flawless welcome ceremony was Induprabha Devi, the wife of Dheerendranath. She was an expert writer, poet and artist. She was the one who would dress Malati and Suradhuni in various costumes and send them to Sri Sri Thakur, sometimes as Bhairavi and sometime as kabuliwala.

While praying infront of Sri Sri Thakur, not all the kids could sit still. But Krishna, the son of Surendranath and Kanai, the son of Dheerendranath were exceptions. They were very different from other children. They used to sit meditatively and recite their prayers with their eyes closed and mind fixed, without getting distracted. Tears used to run down from their eyes. They attracted Thakur’s attention. Thakur had once remarked, “All of you sit down and pray but not like Krishna and Kanai. They are my greatest devotees. They don’t belong to this world. They are from a higher plane.” Sri Sri Thakur had tied the knot of friendship with both of them. He used to call them bandhu which translates to friend. Both of them also addressed him as bandhu.

That was Sri Sri Thakur’s last visit to Deeghalkandi. After puja and aarti, he sat down to listen to the children pray. Everyone was singing but there was an indescribable heavenly charm on Krishna’s face. Tears ran down from his half-closed eyes soaking his shirt. He sat meditating, with a composure so serene, as if he belonged to another kingdom. He was absorbed in his prayers. Thakur noticed Krishna and was in awe of him.

In the evening, devotees had surrounded Sri Sri Thakur. Discussions were going on about how to lead a fruitful life when Sri Sri Thakur suddenly said, “I had never seen Krishna so involved and in such a trance while praying. Today when he was singing the bhajans, tears rolled down his cheeks ceaselessly. Such a small child and so deeply immersed!” The next instant his facial expressions changed. His large, deep eyes became heavy and drooped down as if he was in some intolerable pain. He continued faintly, “It’s sad that such heavenly children do not survive for a long time on earth. Krishna won’t continue to live in this world.”

Sri Sri Thakur’s prediction came true. Within a year Krishna left for his heavenly abode. Not only Krishna and Kanai but many more children had the fortune of becoming friends, ‘Bandhu’ of Sri Sri Thakur. Sri Sri Thakur’s final visit to Deeghalkandi was in the year 1935. Everyone got to associate with Thakur and had something special that was etched in their memory forever. Everyone rejoiced in those ten days of festivity and celebration. When it was time for Thakur to leave, a cloud of gloom and sadness descended. They were sailing in this ocean of joy and all bitterness, anguish, despair, misery was not able to touch them. All the difficulties, troubles and struggle were carried far away in the ocean of excitement and elation. The news of Thakur’s schedule to leave the very next day stunned everyone. All the daughters and daughters-in-laws of the household crowded around Thakur in the evening and begged, “Thakur! Please stay back for one more day.” Thakur looked at their downcast eyes filled with tears and said, “All of you have gotten together and are asking me to stay back but I don’t see the men here.” The women answered, “We don’t care if they are here or not. You have said that you belong to us. Please stay back for us. We are asking for only one more day.” Thakur replied, “Do you have any idea that staying back one day means an expense of nearly a hundred rupees?!” The ladies answered in unison, “We will all get the money and spend. But please grant us our wish and extend your stay.” The next moment everyone got up and contributed the money into the pool and soon came back to offer Thakur one hundred rupees.

…to be continued

Inspired by Krushnapriya Mohanty’s essay, “Deeghalkandi Parivar.”

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