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The Journey of Surrender - 10

Bihari Mohan Sharma

 

In the quaint village of Kutubpur, nestled amidst serene landscapes, the ladies emanated a divine aura akin to the mother goddess herself. Bihari, weary from a prolonged and taxing journey, found himself unexpectedly under the weather. His discomfort weighed heavily on him, particularly concerned that his condition might cast a shadow over the familial festivities. With a sense of unease, he broached the idea of leaving the place for his home.


However, his proposal was met with swift reproach from the assembled ladies. Recognizing his plight, they promptly summoned the village doctor and meticulously arranged for his prescribed medicines and nourishment. Their eagerness to attend to his needs was so palpable that Bihari was overwhelmed with this profound sense of hospitality, respect, and care emanating from his revered Guru's ancestral family.


Amidst the jubilant festivities of the day and the enchanting tales of Sri Sri Thakur in the evening, Bihari found solace and excitement. The ladies regaled him with anecdotes from Sri Sri Thakur's childhood, and eagerly learnt from Bihari every detail of his present-day life. Their curiosity knew no bounds as they delved into discussions about how Thakur managed his daily routine, his preferences, and even pondered if he retained memories of his birthplace.

In this nurturing environment, enveloped by warmth and affection, Bihari realized that his visit was a journey into the heart of familial care and celebration, where the spirit of Sri Sri Thakur permeated every aspect of life.

On the scheduled date and time, the thread ceremony unfolded with customary rites. Among these traditions lay a poignant ritual, wherein as the brahmachari advances from the third step to the fourth, after receiving alms from his mother, she obstructs his path. Legend holds that if the mother fails to impede her son and he completes all four steps, it foretells his future as a sanyasi.

During that thread ceremony of Narendra Brahmachari, son of Tarapad Bhattacharya, a moment of levity ensued. Bihari, amidst the solemnity, jested, "O Mother! Did you forget to restrain Sri Sri Thakur during his thread ceremony?" To which, Sri Sri Thakur's youngest aunt replied, "We didn’t forget, O son! But your Thakur was quite mischievous as a child. We attempted to hold him back, but he was resolute in his chosen path. Thus, we knew he would inevitably embrace the life of a sanyasi."


After the music, movements and laughter faded out, Bihari sought permission from all and embarked on a journey to Radhakantpur, the residence of Sri Sri Thakur’s eldest aunt. Upon his arrival, he was greeted with warmth. Sri Sri Thakur's eldest aunt had heard about Bihari's journey and was waiting eagerly to see him who had come all the way from her dearest nephew. Though suffering from fever, she exhibited unwavering hospitality, her eyes revealing how eagerly she was waiting to hear about Sri Sri Thakur from one of his closest disciple. Ignoring her own ailment, she busied herself in the kitchen, preparing delectable treats for her esteemed guest, disregarding all of Bihari's protestations.


Undeterred, she led Bihari through a nostalgic tour, recounting tales of Sri Sri Thakur's upbringing. They visited the very spot beneath a coconut tree where Sri Sri Thakur was born, and ascended to the upper chamber, which housed his study, resting place, and bed. Each corner resonated with the echoes of his literary endeavours, with notebooks, books, and pens meticulously arranged, as if awaiting their master's return.


In Bihari's recounting within his book 'Thakura Mahatmya,' he aptly described the pilgrimage-like experience, where both gentlemen and ladies of Sri Sri Thakur’s ancestral village assumed an almost divine aura. In this sacred space, amidst the relics of Sri Sri Thakur's life, Bihari found himself enveloped in reverence and awe of the enduring legacy of tradition and hospitality.

Bihari could spend only one day in Radhakantpur, but within the span of a single day and night, Bihari absorbed the entirety of Sri Sri Thakur's life, from the minutest details to the profound depths of his trials and tribulations during his twenty-three years before embracing sanyas.


After four months of traversing distant lands, Bihari returned home. He was greeted warmly by his spiritual brothers who were waiting to hear about all his travel. However, the allure of ashram life lingered persistently in his mind. As if adding fuel to this fervour, a letter from Chidananda Maharaj arrived. He wrote, “How long will you carry on with your wife, children and family? Now is the time to take Vanaprastha and come and help out in the ashram.” Bihari was waiting for this signal. He started writing to Sri Sri Thakur time and again to give him permission to come and stay in Kokilamukh Matha. Days passed by but there was no response to any of his letters. Undeterred by the lack of response to his entreaties to Sri Sri Thakur regarding residency at Kokilamukh Matha, Bihari didn’t stop trying. He received an information that in the month of Ashadh, Sri Sri Thakur had plans to travel to Puri along the Assam Bengal rail route. Bihari seized this opportunity and made arrangements for a day’s stay at Srimangal station. Bihari journeyed to Srimangal Station in the company of a few other spiritual brothers and carried some utensils and groceries to prepare prasad for Sri Sri Thakur.


As Sri Sri Thakur's arrival drew near, the atmosphere brimmed with anticipation. Everyone got busy cooking prasad, offering and distributing. Seeing everyone immersed in the flurry of activities, Sri Sri Thakur expressed disappointment. He was also eagerly waiting for a meaningful discourse with his devotees. He quipped, “You all kept yourselves busy with all the day’s work. I had so much to tell you and I couldn’t find any time.” Responding to Thakur's lament, Bihari relinquished his tasks and stood before him, ready to heed his guidance. Finding Bihari near him, Sri Sri Thakur addressed his dilemma that he had expressed in his letters, “Bihari! If you have taken a firm decision to come and stay in Kokilamukh Matha along with your family, then your decision needs to be conveyed to the ashram so that proper arrangements can be made.” But when his prayers were answered, Bihari was at a loss of words. Perplexed, he bowed down before his revered Guru and replied, “I don’t know what’s good for me. Please have mercy on me and guide me on my destined path.” Sri Sri Thakur looked at him, his eyes filled with compassion, and said, “But if your wife and children feel like a burden to you, what will you gain by taking them along with you to the ashram? So, why don't you continue staying at home and fulfil your domestic responsibilities? Whenever you wish, you can come and stay in the ashram for a couple of months and find solace in these periodic retreats. Kokilamukh Matha will bear the expenses of your travel.” Sri Sri Thakur then extended an invitation for Bihari to assume a role in nurturing young minds at Kokilamukh Matha.


With humility and reverence, Bihari accepted Thakur's counsel, embracing his role at home while cherishing the camaraderie of his spiritual brethren. Engaged in discussions about Sri Sri Thakur and partaking in the jubilation of festive occasions, Bihari found fulfilment in balancing the demands of worldly obligations with his spiritual aspirations.

 ...to be continued

Inspired by Krushnapriya Mohanty's essay, 'Bihari Mohan Sharma.'




Sadguru Swami Nigamananda Paramahansa Dev

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