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8. The Promise Was Meant to Be Kept


The Bandopadhyaya family had surrendered themselves completely at the feet of Sri Sri Thakur. All their emotions, be it love, happiness, sorrow, pride, disappointment, awe, guilt, surprise, everything was in relation with their attachment with Thakur. When their father, Sri Yaminikanta, was 69 years of age, Bhubanananda, who had taken shelter at the lotus feet of Sri Sri Thakur thought about his duty towards his father. Death is the only permanent truth in everyone’s life. So, Bhuvananda pondered whether at this age it would be better for his father if he detached himself from all the bindings of the family and spent his time in Kashi focusing on spiritual awakening.

One day, in the year 1931, Bhubanananda went to his village and expressed his thoughts before his father. Everyone agreed to this proposition but the father. He said, “I know it’s definitely better to spend my last days in Kashi but I have a wish. When Sri Sri Thakur comes again to this house, I want to enjoy his presence here along with my family. By seeing him near and touching him, my life will be fulfilled. You may come again after Sri Sri Thakur has left and I will be ready to go to Kashi.”

It was that time of the year when Sri Sri Thakur arrived at their home in Deeghalkandi. The next few days passed in the company of Sri Sri Thakur. Not a drop of anxiety in anyone’s heart and no one spoke about the conversation between the father and the son. By the grace of Thakur everyone continued with their normal life forgetting their problems. One day Sri Sri Thakur called Bhuban Maharaj and said, “Your father’s condition is getting worse. He will leave his body soon.” Everyone was astonished when they heard the news because their father seemed hale and hearty. He was not even sick. But that afternoon, their father stopped taking in food. Everyone could sense that those signs were indicators that he didn’t have much time left. The whole family gathered around Sri Sri Thakur and told him about the condition of their father and prayed for his long life. But Sri Sri Thakur replied, “Your father’s time is up. He was supposed to leave his body four years ago. For some reason it hasn’t happened. This is his last journey. I don’t want to give you any false hope.” Everyone was terrified thinking of the tough times ahead. With folded hands they requested, “Thakur! We can bear all the pain and suffering if you are with us. So, our only prayer is that let him leave his body in your presence, looking at your lotus face.”

“No. He won’t be able to leave his body as long as I am here. He will suffer unnecessarily. So, I won’t stay any longer. Please arrange for my departure.”

Everyone broke down hearing his reply. They pleaded with him to stay for a few more days. Sri Sri Thakur was overwhelmed by their earnest prayers and shelved his decision to leave. On the tenth day, he pacified everyone, blessed them with the strength to bear the pain and left the house.

Everyone then turned to their ailing father and attended to him. After dropping off Sri Sri Thakur, Bhuban Maharaj too returned home to be at his father’s side during his last days. He conveyed to his father of Sri Sri Thakur’s assurance that he would find Thakur in front of him at the time of his death and Thakur would hold his hand and take him on the path of light. Tears ran down the patriarch’s face. He lifted his hands up, chanted ‘Jayaguru, Jayaguru’ and bowed down. By Sri Sri Thakur’s mercy, he had already become detached from the outside world. He kept on praying, “Thakur! Please take away all my wants and desires and grant me faith and devotion.” He was ready for his onward journey. His only wish was to give up this old and sick body and merge with the lotus feet of Sri Sri Thakur. Every passing day was becoming more difficult. One day, Bhuban Maharaj checked his pulse and said, “It doesn’t look good.” Their father, elated with the news, started clapping and singing, “I will bear every pain and suffering that comes my way. But I won’t leave this body without seeing Sri Sri Thakur in front of me. That’s my pledge.”

He called all his five sons together, caressed their heads with his hand and blessed them advising, “O my dear sons, all five of you should live together and not tread away from the path of dharma. Sri Sri Thakur is with you. He is your protector. Why should you worry when he is showering his mercy on you? Trust him, have faith in him, stay devoted to him and follow his directions. Surrender everything, your happiness, sorrow, joy, pain, everything at his lotus feet and carry on his work. That’s my last wish.” His time had come. He could hear the sweet notes of the flute with the accompaniment of drums playing around him. He lifted his hands high up in the air, offered his prayers to Sri Sri Thakur and said aloud, “Look! My Thakur has come, my dearest Thakur is here! What a joy to be in his presence!” He then started ‘Jayaguru kirtan’ and the family joined in. The house filled with the fragrance of a thousand roses. The family could smell the perfume but couldn’t see the form of Sri Sri Thakur. Their father was restless. Only ‘Jayaguru Kirtan’ helped calm him down. The night gave way to dawn. As the first rays of the sun gleamed, he chanted ‘Jayaguru’ three times loudly. A chill went through his body and mind. Utmost peace. Then he asked his children to carry him out. His bed was made beside the tulsi plant in the courtyard. He was ready for his meeting with ‘Parambrahma’ in the early sacred hour.

Earlier the children were worried, thinking about how they would manage without their father. But when the time arrived, their hearts were devoid of any sorrow. The shadow of agony had lifted up and, in its place, they felt a serene peace within. Everyone’s heart was filled with an unknown joy. What was that if not the mercy of Sri Sri Thakur! When Brajabala died, Sri Sri Thakur had said, “The manner in which you sailed over this pain so patiently, is praiseworthy. You will have to face many such heart wrenching situations. My blessings will always be with you as you accept them without any anxiety or sorrow, rather with a surreal calmness.”

That was Sri Sri Thakur’s prediction. In reality also, this family had to suffer the loss of many of its family members, one after the other.

…to be continued

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

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