THE BANDOPADHYAYA FAMILY OF DEEGHALKANDI
3. The Family Follows in the Footsteps
Deeghalkandi, a village in Nadia district of West Bengal, comprised of three hundred families. The part of the village where the Bandopadhyaya family lived had around twelve brahmin families. Nareshchandra Pakadasi, the son of the zamindar of the nearby village of Basantpur, was cured of a life-threatening disease by the grace of Sri Sri Thakur. Naresh Chandra, after being cured, had gone to Kokilamukh Matha with the wish of becoming a sanyasi. But Sri Sri Thakur advised him to go back home, get married and settle down. Once, when Sri Sri Thakur was staying in Naresh Chandra’s home, Charu Chandra happened to visit his place along with three other friends with a desire to meet Sri Sri Thakur. After prostrating before Sri Sri Thakur, they requested him to visit Deeghalkandi. Sri Sri Thakur nodded a yes and stepped in Deeghalkandi for the first time.
In Deeghalkandi, he stayed at at Deben Bhai’s home. The Bandopadhyaya family didn’t have a home of their own and they were living at their uncle’s place. The land that they had bought to build their home had some litigations. Sadhak Atulananda had commented that an evil spirit lived in the bilva tree which stood in that plot of land and hence building a house there might bring danger. He had carried out certain rituals and prayers to calm the spirit but Yaminikanta, the head of the Bandopadhyaya family, had doubts and hesitated to build his house there.
Deben Bhai’s home, where Sri Sri Thakur stayed, was close to Bandopadhyaya family’s residence. A few years ago, Bhuvanananda, one of the sons of this family, had taken shelter at the lotus feet of Sri Sri Thakur. Though no one else had met Sri Sri Thakur earlier, they knew about him and revered him. Hearing about the arrival of Sri Sri Thakur in Deeghalkandi, their father Sri Yaminikanta, went to meet him. He bowed down at the feet of Sri Sri Thakur and said, “I have two requests. I pray to you to bless my family and accept us and secondly, to please set your feet in the land that I have purchased to build my home.” Sri Sri Thakur replied, “I cannot fulfil both your requests. Let me know what is more important.” On Sri Yaminikanta’s insistence Sri Sri Thakur went and stood on the land that he had purchased. He listened to what Sri Atulananda’s had advised and consoled them saying, “The evil spirit was dwelling in this bilva tree. But it has left the place and gone now. You can build your home here without any fear.” Sri Yaminikanta’s wish was fulfilled. He knew that his land would be purified with the dust from the holy feet of this great saint and even if the evil spirit was still there, it wouldn’t be able to harm them.
When the construction work was over, the family shifted to their new home. Their only desire was to bring Sri Sri Thakur to this home. Soon their dream came true. By then, Bhuvanananda had been with Sri Sri Thakur for almost ten years. That year after the ‘Bhakta Sammilani’, congregation in Baguda, Sri Sri Thakur arrived at their home along with Bhuvanananda. Everyone was overwhelmed with joy. Sri Sri Thakur looked at their father Sri Yaminikanta and pointing at Bhuvanananda said, “Look, I am returning your son to you.” Yaminikanta replied, “Why would I take on his responsibility. He has taken your shelter and renounced this family. You are his path to liberation. I cannot accept him back into this family.” Sri Sri Thakur was pleased on hearing this answer.
Bhuvanananda wanted his whole family to be initiated by Sri Sri Thakur and expressed his wish before his father. His father went to Sri Sri Thakur and prayed, “I want to take deeksha from you. But I have already been initiated by my family’s priest and don’t want to enrage him. If you give me assurance, I would like to get initiated by you.” Sri Sri Thakur replied, “I can give you protection. But you shouldn’t disrespect your family priest. You have to give him his dues. You and your wife don’t need deeksha. Even without initiation, I will take up all your responsibilities.” After this assurance, Sri Yaminikanta had one more request. He prayed, “Thakur! Please see to it that no one in my family dies before me.” Sri Sri Thakur granted him that wish. Theirs was a family of twelve people including their sons, daughters and sons in law. Sri Sri Thakur gave deeksha to all of them.
At first, Charuchandra was uncomfortable with the proposition of getting initiated since he had already received a mantra from Sri Atulananda in his dream and wanted to get initiated from him. Thakur looked straight at him and told him that Sri Atulananda is not his Guru. There was no chance of Charuchandrs coming across Sri Atulananda again in future. Charuchandra thought about it for some time and replied, “Thakur! if you can recite the mantra that I have received in my dream, then I will consider myself the most fortunate to be initiated by you. The next day, Sri Sri Thakur recited the mantra and gave deeksha to Charuchandra. Unfathomable mercy!
The following day, as they all sat down together, Bhubanananda revealed a mysterious event.
… to be continued
Inspired by Krushnapriya Mohanty's essay 'Deeghalkandi Parivar.'
Image Courtesy: Sibasis Samal