23. Reviving childhood mischiefs with the children
Thakur had given his word to the ladies of the Bandopadhyaya Family that he would find a solution to all their problems. That evening, he called everyone in the family together. The mother, all the daughters, all the sons and their wives came and sat around Sri Sri Thakur. Thakur began, “I am not only your Guru. I am the head of your family and your guardian too. I come to visit you once in every two years. So, you must inform me of all that happens in your family.” That day he spoke at length about how the women in general were so patient, tolerant and compassionate. He also said that they would burden all the responsibility and sacrifice without being asked for the betterment of the family. After everyone left, he turned towards the ladies and continued, “You saw how I took your side and praised you all. Now give up your resentment. Stay devoted at my feet, take care of your husbands, children and family. Spread joy.”
Once, Sri Sri Thakur arrived at the home of the Bandopadhyaya family along with his close disciples Satyananda, Siddhananda, Bhuvanananda and Sevananda. At that time, these young devotees had not been initiated into sanyas mantra. The members of the family had developed a close bond with all these disciples of Sri Sri Thakur. The children of the household used to address them as uncles. One day the children got together for a serious discussion. The agenda of the meeting was to find out who was the most good-looking among all the brahmacharis. Many debates and arguments ensued. Some opted for Satyananda ji while others went with Siddhananda ji. Each one assembled put down his vote quoting reasons for why he thought his nominee was the most handsome. But everyone refused to accept the point of views of others. Each one stuck to their own preferences. So, Bibha and Ranibala went to Sri Sri Thakur to make him the judge. Everyone had to accept Thakur’s decision. Bibha was adamant that Shakti Uncle was the most handsome while Ranibala tilted towards Abani Uncle (Satyananda). Sri Sri Thakur listened to both parties and said, “Okay now listen to me. Both of you go and get a hair from their chests. Then I will tell you with every reason for who the better looking is”. Both the girls ran to the brahmacharis. But to their utter disappointment they could not find a single hair in either one’s chest. Both the girls felt let down and returned to Sri Sri Thakur. Thakur giggled and said, “Now, what can I do? You were unsuccessful and so I can’t decide.”
Sri Sri Thakur loved to play mischief with the children. He enjoyed spending time and fooling around with them. One day, Sobha, a little girl who was hardly six years old came in front of Thakur dressed in a saree. The saree was so long that she had to wrap it around her again and again till it bundled up in front of her stomach. She was having a tough time holding the saree in front. Thakur looked at her and burst out laughing, “What happened to you. You look like you are pregnant.” Sobha was angry at this remark. She came out and shouted, “This Thakur is so uncivilized. He has no sense.” Then she changed into her frock and pants and returned to claim her place near Sri Sri Thakur. Her anger had disappeared and she went back to playing with the most loving person.
Whenever Sri Sri Thakur arrived in Deeghalkandi, his disciple Sri Naresh Chandra Pakadasi would invite him to his house. His house was only half a mile away from the Bandopadhyaya home. Naresh Chandra was the zamindar and so he came with a palanquin to take Thakur home. He was accompanied by the foot soldiers, bagpipers, and palanquin carriers. All the members of Bandopadhyaya family were also invited but since it was not too far, it was decided that they will follow the palanquin on foot. Everyone was getting ready for the procession to start. Bibha and Ranibala, unseen by others, went straight to Sri Sri Thakur and said, “Thakur! We are your friends. So, we have the right to go with you in the palanquin. Who will you talk to if we are not around?” Thakur replied, “Okay then. You will come with me.” Both the girls were excited.
When the time arrived, Thakur went up to the palanquin. Both the girls followed him as if they were glued to him. Everyone’s eyes were on them but it didn’t bother them. They were relaxed. They had gotten assurance from Sri Sri Thakur. Why should they worry? Bhuvan Maharaj was in charge of the procession and he was making sure that everything Thakur would need was kept in the palanquin. He was Thakur’s body guard and travelling companion. Thakur got up into the palanquin but didn’t look back or call the girls to follow him in. But since the girls had Thakur’s word, they slowly went behind Thakur. They were very scared of Buuvan Maharaj. So, they looked away and followed Thakur as if riding the palanquin with Thakur was customary. Bhuvan Maharaj saw them and yelled, “Hey! Where are you going?” Both of them replied in one voice, “We will ride along beside Thakur. Sri Sri Thakur has ordered us.” Bhuvan Maharaj rolled his eyes and shouted back, “What, you will ride the palanquin? Everyone is walking to the place. Go with them.” Then he turned to the palanquin bearers and ordered them to start moving. What could the girls do? Disappointed and heart-broken they joined the pedestrians. After reaching the zamindar’s place, they met Sri Sri Thakur. Both of them went and stood beside him. Thakur was smiling as if he was taunting them and asked, “So, you rode the palanquin?” There was nothing left to say. Their eyes spoke of the betrayal.
…to be continued
Inspired by Krushnapriya Mohanty’s essay, “Deeghalkandi Parivar.”