4. Call for Liberation
No sooner did the words come out of Bhubanananda’s mouth, did all the eyes turn towards him. They looked at him wide eyed and waited for him to narrate the mysterious event that he had witnessed. Bhuvanananda didn’t keep them waiting for long. His eyes narrowed as if the event was happening right before his eyes. He revealed that he had encountered his eldest sister-in-law, right after she passed away.
The eldest daughter in law of the family, wife of Surendranath, used to wake up every night in the last quarter. She always felt like someone was calling out to her. She would get out of her bed thinking that someone in the family needed help. She used to stand near the well, waiting for the caller but no would come out. One day, following the call, she came out and stood near the well. Without seeing anyone, she started drawing water to get done with her chores. While drawing the water out, she might have leaned over, stumbled and fallen inside the well. This incident that took her life happened after Bhubanananda had left home and taken shelter at the feet of Sri Sri Thakur. So, no one in the family had informed him about the passing away of his eldest sister-in-law.
One day, in the dead of the night, when Bhubanananda was sleeping in the Kokilamukha Math, he heard someone calling him by his name, “Bhuvana … Bhuvana.” The next night, he again heard the same call and that became a regular affair every night. Bhuvanananda informed Sri Sri Thakur about this recurring event. After listening to him intently Sri Sri Thakur replied, “I think some lost soul is asking you for help. Don’t be afraid. If you hear her call again, go near her and ask why she’s calling you. But be careful. Do not cross the boundary of this Math.” The following night when he heard the call, Bhuvan Maharaj mustered all his courage and came out. He saw a light in a distance that came nearer and nearer. Closer to him, it started taking a form. Seeing the form, he could make out that it was an image of his eldest sister-in-law. He was shocked and overwhelmed and it didn’t take much time to understand that it was her spirit. The spirit informed him about her death and said that she was in a lot of pain. She had met Sri Atulananda but he advised her to come to this Math as only Sri Sri Thakur could relieve her from this state. The form disappeared soon after saying this.
The next morning, Bhuvanananda informed Sri Sri Thakur and the all-merciful Guru granted liberation to her soul. After that day Bhuvananda didn’t encounter her anymore. Everyone’s jaw dropped on listening to this incident and they became aware of the greatness of their Gurudev. Sri Sri Thakur spent five days with the family, took everyone under his shelter and filled their days with joy.
Sri Sri Thakur again visited the family for the second time after two years. The family was apprised of his coming in a letter. Surendranath travelled to Puri to bring Sri Sri Thakur while everyone at home waited in excitement and anticipation. All their discussions revolved around planning for Sri Sri Thakur’s arrival - How to welcome him, where to make him sit, where to put the bed for him, and so on and so forth. Sri Sri Thakur had informed that he would get down in Kandapada harbour. So, the people of the village took three boats and waited for his arrival at the harbour. Some of his disciples including Chidananda Maharaj, Prajnananda Maharaj, Sri Fani Bhusan Mitra of Howrah, Siddhananda Saraswati, Satyananda Maharaj had accompanied Sri Sri Thakur in that trip. As the steamer touched the shores, Sri Sri Thakur was seen seated in a recliner chair with Sri Bhubanananda Maharaj standing right beside him. The next moment, the whole area reverberated with shouts of Jayaguru and ‘hulahuli’. Around sixty people from the village had gathered to welcome. The atmosphere was ethereal with the sounds of Jayaguru Kirtan, blowing of conches and auspicious chants by the ladies. There was a grand celebration and the villagers warmly brought the entourage home.
It was almost eleven in the morning when they reached home. Sri Sri Thakur sat down in a recliner in the verandah in front of the room that was arranged with care for him. Every member of the family, including the head of the household, the sons, daughters, daughters-in-laws and the little kids, sat down if front of him and paid their obeisances. In unison, they sang the song written by Swami Swarupananda, in praise of their Guru Maharaj, “Sneha Preeti Bhakti Bhara, Moder Guru Jagat Joda …” It was already time for lunch and the Bhoga that had already been cooked was offered to Sri Sri Thakur. Sri Sri Thakur retired into his room to rest and the devotees assembled sat down to enjoy the prasad.
Beside the room decorated for Sri Sri Thakur, was a big hall. In the afternoon, Sri Sri Thakur came and sat in that hall. All the men and women of the village and even people from neighbouring villages had already assembled there. Everyone was waiting anxiously to hear some words from this great seer. Sri Sri Thakur addressed the gathering with some advice that was like drops of nectar to the ears. He also gave simple solutions to some of the questions asked by the villagers. In the evening, after aarti, everyone left one by one and Sri Sri Thakur sat down with the members of the family. The eldest son, Surendranath, pleaded, “Thakur! We pray that we be allowed to register all our wealth, land, building and savings in your name. Whatever we earn from our job or business, we will keep sending that to you every month. You are the head of this household. Please take care of us. Whatever amount you decide to send us will be enough to carry on our day today expenses.”
After this request, he looked up at the lotus face waiting for Gurudev’s approval.
…to be continued
Inspired by Krushnapriya Mohanty’s essay, “Deeghalkandi Parivar.”