The next day, Prafulla Chandra returned to Kolkata. His wife, Prafulla Kumari, was pregnant at that time. After three months, she gave birth to a daughter in the month of December of the year 1928. That night, when his daughter was born, he saw a dream. The ancestral deity of Bastar, Maa Kaladanteshwari told him, “The relation between a Guru and his disciples continues birth after birth. Your Guru is the one, whose news of arrival in Kolkata would be made known to both you and your queen at the same time.”
Earlier, Prafulla Chandra was fortunate to come across the book, ‘Tantrik Guru’, written by Sri Sri Nigamananda Paramahansa Dev. He had written a letter to Kokilamukha Matha requesting a copy of the above-mentioned book to be sent to him by post, which he wished to keep with himself. In that letter he had also enquired about the whereabouts of Sri Sri Thakur. After almost one and a half years, the day after he was instructed in his dream, he received a reply from Swami Pragyananda of Kokilamukh Matha, “The book ‘Tantrik Guru’ has been sent to you by V.P. I would also like to inform you that the author of the book, Srimad Swami Nigamananda Paramahansa Dev is now residing at the home of his dear disciple, Adv. Fani Bhusan Mitra, in Panchananatala Road, Howrah. If you have any enquiries regarding the method of worshipping, you may go to his place and get your answers.”
Going through the letter, Prafulla Chandra’s happiness knew no bounds. His heart was filled with joy. The quest for Guru had come to an end. He arrived at Fani Babu’s house the same evening. But unluckily for him, Sri Sri Thakur had gone out to visit another disciple at that time. It would be late night by the time he returns. But Prafulla Chandra was not disheartened. He sat there waiting for him. He had to wait patiently for a couple of hours in Fani Babu’s office, ignoring the mosquito bites. From Fani Babu’s description of his Guru, he could make out that Sri Sri Thakur was a Vaishnava Saint. Time passed by. He gave up his wish of meeting and was about to leave, when he suddenly saw Sri Sri Thakur stepping out of a car. Prafulla Chandra has captured his feelings of that moment in his own words, “I was overwhelmed with emotion looking at the radiant figure. It seemed as if after so many births of penance, I finally got to meet my confidante. I walked to the car and fell at his lotus feet. He blessed me and exclaimed with a big smile, ‘You took so long! I have been waiting for you to come. I will first go upstairs, change and give you a call.’ I was stunned with his brilliant aura. As if he was Vyasa, Vashistha or Parasara from Satya Yuga.” (Satarupe Aparupa Nigamananda)
After half an hour, he was called upstairs. Entering the room, he saw Sri Sri Thakur sitting in tranquil peace, with a pipe in hand. Prafulla Chandra touched his feet and sat down in front of him. Sri Sri Thakur gave him a warm look and asked, “What do you want?” Prafulla Chandra described how he got the Tara mantra from his teacher Pt. Narayan Tripathy. He also told him about his quest for spiritualism since his childhood. After listening intently, Sri Sri Thakur said beamingly “You are fortunate. You have received Tara Mantra. That’s my Ishta Mantra. I have a relationship with you from the previous birth.”
A while later, Fani Bhai remarked, “Thakur! You are the Guru of Kings.” Sri Sri Thakur was annoyed and replied, “Stop talking like this. What difference does it make if a King becomes my disciple?” (Sri Sri Thakura Mahatmya)
Sri Sri Thakur has come as ‘Guru’. The king and the subjects are all equal in his eyes. Fani Bhai’s description confirms the ‘Guru Bhav’ of Thakur Maharaja. Once when the attendants had treated Raja Saheb with more respect, he got annoyed.
Fani Bhai’s granddaughter, Aparna Devi has quoted some funny incidents regarding Raja Saheb. Though he used to dress up as a king, Raja Saheb was very humorous. He had the smile of a child. He was amusing, entertaining and full of fun and frolic. He could carry out conversations with the sanyasis and householders alike. When he used to visit Fani Bhai’s residence during Sri Sri Thakur’s stay, the household would always brighten up. No one ever noticed any trace of royalty or status in his behaviour or in his dealings.
Fani Bhai’s eldest son, Dashu was very naughty. He was always trying out various pranks. Raja Saheb used to join him and give him different ideas for tricks. One time, he asked Dashu to bring some molten tar and paste it on all the chairs which Fani Bhai’s clients and other guests would usually sit on. When the guests would arrive, Raja Saheb would proceed to direct them to sit on those chairs. Sitting near them, he would start talking about various matters, but when they get up to take leave, the chairs would also stick to them and rise up along with them, which would always make Raja Saheb burst out in laughter!
Raja Saheb used to visit with his attendants and servants. They would bathe him, wipe him and dress him up. While wearing clothes, he would call Dashu and gesture at him to tickle the servants. Dashu would always be waiting for this opportunity to tickle and keep disturbing them. The servants wouldn’t know what to do! Even though they felt like laughing, they couldn’t let go of the clothes that they were putting on Raja Saheb. If the clothes fell off, then who knows what would happen to them?! But even Dashu couldn’t laugh too loudly since it would annoy Sri Sri Thakur and he would end up getting beatings from his father. Looking at their helplessness, Raja Saheb used to roar with laughter.
Raja Saheb used to wear many rings studded with precious gems and diamonds. Once after taking his bath, he had his breakfast and sat down leisurely. A devotee came in and asked, “Have you lost or misplaced some of your belongings somewhere?” When Raja Saheb denied this, he repeated his question, “Please look carefully, is something missing?” He got the same answer again, “No”. The devotee opened his fist and said, “Then who do these rings belong to?” Raja Saheb saw the rings and started laughing, “Yes, yes, they are mine.” As if it would have mattered if the rings were lost.
Rani Prafulla Kumari was also a fitting consort of her husband. She had an arresting presence, but at the same time, she was calm and shy. She had also accompanied Raja Saheb to Fani Bhai’s house a few times. Fani Babu’s wife, Santosh Maa, loved her and treated her as her own daughter. One day, after Sri Sri Thakur had taken his lunch, she requested Santosh Maa that she wished to prepare the pipe for Thakur. The attendants refused to allow her to take on that responsibility since the queen didn’t have any experience in this matter. But seeing the keen interest of the queen, Santosh Maa softened and said, “She is a child. Even if she doesn’t know, can’t we teach her?” With the help of everyone present there, the queen prepared the pipe and took it to Sri Sri Thakur. That day she had worn a pink Banarasi saree, adorned with gold jewellery studded with diamonds and precious gems, a seven layered necklace and a waist band. She was soaked in sweat due to the heat when she arrived near Sri Sri Thakur. Her fair and glowing face must have gotten marked with black spots when she wiped the sweat off her face while preparing the pipe. She put the tobacco in the hookah down beside Sri Sri Thakur, handed him the pipe and came out gracefully. Thakur smiled and asked, “Who has prepared the tobacco today?!”
After getting assurance, Prafulla Chandra disclosed his secret wish before Sri Sri Thakur – to get initiated. He had surrendered himself with a desire to get close to Maa. He wished to get initiated and advance in the path of Tantra. Sri Sri Thakur looked at him, his eyes filled with kindness and said, “I have a lot to disclose to you. I cannot tell you in front of everyone. You must come to Nilachala Kutir at Puri, at your own convenience. There I will initiate you and impart the Tantric doctrines.” Being thus blessed by Sri Sri Thakur, he returned with a cheerful heart waiting for that fateful day when he would be initiated.
... to be continued
Maharaja Prafulla Chandra Bhanja Deo with Maharani Prafulla Kumari
Image Courtesy: बस्तर भूषण (bastarbhushan.in)
Inspired by Krushnapriya Mohanty's essay Maharaja Prafulla Chandra Bhanja Deo