24. Sarva Devomaya Guru (Guru - Encompassing all Gods)
Sri Sri Thakur had adorned his seat at the centre of the hall. The devotees started filling up the space. Both the girls were getting pushed out to the periphery. They lifted themselves up on their toes, trying to get a glimpse of Thakur. It was unbearable for them to stay so far away from him. It was their right to stay close to Sri Sri Thakur and they had to fight for their right. So, they glided through the crowd and headed straight for Sri Sri Thakur. They couldn’t bear to be left out. There was no exchange of looks or words. They bent down to pick up the palm leaf fans that were lying on either side and started fanning Sri Sri Thakur.
Whenever Sri Sri Thakur resided in Deeghalkandi, this particular service of fanning him was never made available to his other devotees or disciples. This was the sole right and responsibility of the Bandopadhyaya family members. Every member took turns, one after the other, to fan Sri Sri Thakur. Thakur’s disciples were given only one job, to prepare his tobacco. Everything else was managed by the family.
Those days, the families always got together to celebrate festivals that followed one after the other every month. They worshipped many deities in their altars. The Bandopadhyaya family worshipped Maa Kali for generations with great pomp and show. Once during Sri Sri Thakur’s stay, the family instituted Maa Kali Puja in their home. They already had a shrine of ‘Gurubrahma’ in their home. The Kali Puja was organized in a platform beside the Gurubrahma shrine. A sattvik, loyal brahmin performed all the rites and rituals. The puja was going on when Sri Sri Thakur suddenly got up from his bed and went and stood on one side of the platform. He observed it intently, said something as if he was welcoming someone and returned to his room.
The next morning, he addressed everyone and said, “All of you must know that when you have enshrined the Gurubrahma in your home and worship ‘Narakar Parambrahma’ (formless superme), then worshipping other deities becomes meaningless. When you have the physical representation of parambrahma in the form of your Guru in your home, then what is the need of worshipping other deities? ‘Guru sakshat Parambrahma’ – Guru is the supreme absolute himself.” From that day onwards, the family stopped worshipping other deities.
Guru is the absolute brahman in human form ‘Narakar Parambrahma’.
Lord Krishna has said in Srimad Bhagavatam,
“Mote pujiba Guru dehe Mo tahun Guru vinna nuhen.”
(Worship me in your Guru’s form. I am non different from your Guru.)
Instead of offering salutations to various Gods and Godesses, if you worship your Guru, then everyone is satisfied as watering the roots of a tree helps the leaves, flowers and fruits to blossom and grow. Any offering at the lotus feet of the Guru gets accepted by the respective Gods and Godesses. Once during Saraswati Puja celebration in Kokilamukh Matha, on the direction of Sri Sri Thakur, the devotees sang Saraswati Vandana and offered Pushpanjali to the Gurubrahma shrine.
Aparajita was the eldest daughter of the Bandopadhyaya Family. She was a child widow and didn’t have any children. She stayed in her parent’s home and was respected by everyone in the family. She was always asked first to give her view on any personal decisions or any decision that affected the family. Before Aparajita met Sri Sri Thakur, she had already been initiated by their family priest. But when she met Thakur, she felt as if she had known him since ages and expressed her desire to get deeksha from him. Thakur also acceded to her request. The day before she was to be initiated, unexpectedly she got her monthly menstrual periods. Normally women are not allowed to take part in any religious ceremony or worship during these days. Since it was not the regular time of her periods, she thought it was perhaps not the right thing to get initiated twice. But the main problem was of how to inform Sri Sri Thakur. She couldn’t sleep the entire night thinking about her fate. The next day she was supposed to get initiated. All the arrangements had been made. Aparajita called her eldest sister-in-law and informed of her condition and asked for a solution. Her sister-in-law called Bhuvan Maharaj and asked him to pass on the information to Sri Sri Thakur. On hearing Sri Sri Thakur exclaimed, “This is the appropriate time to receive deeksha. It’s a wonderful coincidence.” There was no confusion anymore. Aparajita Devi got initiated the same day.
…to be continued
Inspired by Krushnapriya Mohanty’s essay, “Deeghalkandi Parivar.”