Sri Sri Thakur’s visit to Bastar Palace
A gentle breeze rustled through the trees, bringing the onset of springtime. It was around March or April in the month of Chaitra of the year 1928, when Prafulla Chandra travelled to Puri. On the day of Suklashtami, he was initiated into the Tantrik path by Sri Sri Thakur in Nilachala Kutir. He stayed behind with Sri Sri Thakur for ten days and acquired a detailed knowledge of the mysterious sadhana. Thakur made him sit beside him and understand all the rules and methods of worship. He noted down every piece of advice in a notebook. At the end of his stay, he offered his Guru dakshina and returned home. That night, his Ishta Devi was appeased and appeared in his dream.
After a few days, in October, 1928, on being invited by the King of Bastar, Sri Sri Thakur arrived in the Bastar royal palace. During this visit, the queen, Rani Prafulla Kumari also got initiated in the Tantric path. Fani Bhai, Haren Brahmachari and Pragyananda Maharaj had accompanied Sri Sri Thakur in that tour. Sri Sisir Kumar Basu has given a detailed narration of this journey to Bastar in his book, ‘Nigamananda Smruti’.
When Sri Sri Thakur reached the capital of Bastar, a long stretch of police, soldiers, footmen and horse riders were waiting to welcome him on either side of a long stretch of the main road. As soon as Sri Sri Thakur’s car showed up, all of them accompanied him to the doors of the palace in a grand procession with an English band playing bagpipes, shehnai and various other instruments. At the palace entrance, the king, the queen and all the high administrative officials stood with folded hands. With their heads bowed down and hands still folded, they walked in front, leading the way. Sri Sri Thakur, along with his attendants came and sat down at the designated seat. The king and the queen paid their salutations and worshiped him, followed by the other officers of the kingdom. The festival of Vijaya Dasami was celebrated in a grand way in the kingdom of Bastar. Just like every other year, there was a splendid celebration this time. The gathering took place at night with a huge crowd outside the court chamber. The zamindars under the king came riding on horses and elephants and everyone in the kingdom participated in the festivities. The king and the queen had requested Sri Sri Thakur to bless everyone with his presence in that ceremony. The crowd was bewildered by Sri Sri Thakur’s enchanting appearance. They had seen the king and the queen many times before, but this time they couldn’t take their eyes off the Raj Guru’s divine, angelic form. Awestruck, they kept looking at him.
The king and the queen sent a message to Sri Sri Thakur that it was their earnest desire that Sri Sri Thakur should step first into the royal hall followed by the king and the queen. Sri Sri Thakur consented and walked into the court hall like the king of kings. The king and the queen, dressed as warriors, alighted from the chariot, followed him into the hall and took their seats, following whom, the zamindars took their places. After a few auspicious ceremonies, the royal couple came and bowed down before Sri Sri Thakur. Thakur put his hands on their heads and blessed them. What a sight it was! On one side was Sri Sri Thakur, a luminous example of renouncement and detachment, the epitome of knowledge, wisdom, love and devotion and on the other side the noble pair, a representation of material wealth, affluence and prosperity, as if the opulence of the entire world had bowed down before renouncement, seeking its blessings.
The festivity finally came to an end. Sri Sri Thakur was so full of joy that he used to turn inwards and lose his outer consciousness. The king and the queen had completely surrendered themselves in the service of Sri Sri Thakur. They used to cook prasad for Thakur with their own hands and were delighted to feed him. As the time of Thakur’s departure came near, they were distraught. During their association, Sri Sri Thakur used to discuss the basic principles of divine law and was touched by their service and devotion. He used to forget his stature, his yogic abilities and mystic powers, and mingle with them intimately like a child. Once Sri Sri Thakur expressed in front of his accompanying devotees, “Look at this couple! My happiness knows no bounds when I see them. It is as if they are Shiva and Shakti, and I am the witness.” The ruler of the estate, Mr. Grigson was worried because he thought that Sri Sri Thakur was encouraging the duo to lead a detached life. Most of their time was taken away by meditation and worship. They used to eat only once a day. “Won’t this create problems in governance of the state?”, he asked. Sri Sri Thakur removed this misconception arising in the mind of Mr. Grigson when he replied that the king was going far far away from the material world and had a strong attraction towards renouncement. But as his Guru, he was making sure the king continued to rule since the state needed him. He was guiding them to achieve spiritual advancement while leading the life of householders. Earlier, Sri Sri Thakur had once mentioned that The King of Bastar was the famous Tantrik Sri Kedar Ray in his previous birth.
Sri Sri Thakur stayed in Bastar for two weeks and returned to Kolkata. Raja Saheb accompanied him till Raipur to see him off. During that journey, he stayed with Sri Sri Thakur for a night in the palace of the King of Raigarh. That was the night he learnt about the Shakti Tattva in detail.
The next day, as soon as Sri Sri Thakur boarded the train in Raipur station, he returned to Bastar. Earlier he had been advised by Maa Bhagavati in a dream to get initiated by his Guru and progress in the path of Tantra. King Prafulla Chandra wished to attain that state of the highest empire in Tantra and expressed his desire. Sri Sri Thakur gave him the assurance that he would be undoubtedly crowned in that state at the right time and made him aware of the procedure and practice required to reach that stage. After listening, all the frustrations and misconceptions of the king regarding the method became clear and he developed a distinct liking for the Tantra discipline. He was filled with divine joy. His wife was an able companion in his meditation and prayers. The King was fortunate to have had a partner with whom he enjoyed talking about Sri Sri Thakur and his ways.
After a month Prafulla Chandra had to travel to Kolkata for some work. All of a sudden, he met Fani Bhai in Howrah Station. He got the news that Sri Sri Thakur had arrived in Kolkata the day before and is residing at Fani Bhai’s home. On Fani Bhai’s invitation, he got into the taxi with him and arrived at his home. As soon as this news reached Sri Sri Thakur, he was called upstairs. That was his only wish, to have a glimpse of Sri Sri Thakur’s delicate feet. His Guru, who was taking food, put aside some prasad for the king and gave directions to his disciples to arrange for Prafulla Chandra’s food and stay. He resided there for two days and got to meet some of Sri Sri Thakur’s dearest disciples.
On the day of Deepavali, he sat beside Sri Sri Thakur and finished his chanting. Then he asked, “At midnight is the muhurta for Shyama Puja. Are you planning any specific celebration? This is the sacred place, the Mahapith of Maa Kali. If you advise, I will go to Kalighat to chant and meditate.”
Sri Sri Thakur smiled and said, “Maa is in your heart. Meditating and chanting with your Guru will give you the greatest success. Guru is Shiva. Both the Vedas and Tantra are learnt from a Guru. Guru is Maa Tara and Maa Tara is Guru. Today, you will sit beside me and chant and meditate on Maa Tara. The realisation of brahma cannot be expressed in words. The worthy disciple inherits from his Guru who is aware of the Brahma. Silence and calmness are its right language. So, you should sit calmly, beside a Guru who has realised Brahma, in silence and meditate.”
That afternoon, Sri Sri Thakur called him up to his chamber. Thakur never used to discuss matters related to Tantra with his brahmachari and sanyasi disciples. He hushed them away when there was a need to discuss Tantra practice with some unique, blessed disciples. Prafulla Chandra had just had his lunch and was happy to get some time to spend with his Guru. Sri Sri Thakur enquired, “I had asked you to study the Tantrik Guru book. Have you read it?” He nodded his head in conformation. Thakur continued, “In Tantra, there are two types of ‘Veer Sadhana’, spiritual practices, to get blessed with the darshan of Maa. I stayed with my Guru, Mahabhairav Bamakshepa, in Veerbhum, Tarapith. I accomplished the Chita sadhana in one night and got the darshan of Maa Tara. After you get crowned (Purnabhisheka), I will take you there.” After that, Sri Sri Thakur described the intricacies of Tantra Shastra and the practice, the behaviour and various methods followed by different groups. He also gave a detailed account of the method and practice he followed under the guidance of his Guru Mahabhairava Bamakhsepa and how he successfully accomplished Chita Sadhana.
On that visit, Prafulla Chandra acquired many experiences of Tantra Sadhana. While meditating his Ista Mantra at the feet of Sri Sri Thakur, he was blessed with the darshan of Maa Mahakali and also received some instructions which he was unable to comprehend. Sri Sri Thakur made him understand the subtleties and advised him to continue his meditation and worship.
Raja Saheb’s wife was pregnant at that time. So, he had come to Kolkata to consult with the doctor and was supposed to travel to Darjeeling in two- or three-months’ time. He told Sri Sri Thakur about his plan and requested him to visit them, at least once, during their stay in Darjeeling. Sri Sri Thakur obliged with a warm smile.
Sri Sri Thakur Nigamananda Paramahansa Dev with Lal Sahib Prafulla Chandra Bhanja Deo and Maharani Prafulla Kumari Devi
Image Courtesy: bastarbhusan.in
Inspired by Krushnapriya Mohanty's essay, 'Maharaja Prafulla Chandra Bhanja Deo'