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The Journey of Surrender - 9

Bihari Mohan Sharma

 

The sun dipped low over the horizon, casting a golden hue over the bustling streets of Puri as the days of pilgrimage came to a serene close. For Bihari, however, it marked not an end, but a transition to the next chapter of his journey. With gratitude in his heart, Bihari sought blessings from Sri Sri Thakur, the venerable guide of his journey thus far. As he bid farewell to the sacred city, he gathered the provisions for his upcoming travels, graciously provided by Sri Sri Thakur.


His destination lay in the hallowed lands of Kutabpur, the birthplace of Sri Sri Thakur himself. Yet, before reaching this revered site, Bihari's path took him through the welcoming abode of Fani Bhai in Howrah. There, amidst warm hospitality, he rested and prepared for the next leg of his voyage. The next morning, Bihari set forth towards Navadwip, guided by the words of Sri Sri Thakur. In this historic town, he was to find shelter under the roof of Sri Dhirendranath Mukhopadhyaya, a relative of his revered mentor. Here, he would immerse himself in the sacred pilgrimage of Navadwip, honouring the spiritual legacy woven into its ancient streets, before continuing his journey to the sacred grounds of Kutabpur.


As Bihari arrived at the doorstep of Dhiren Babu's home in Navadwip. little did he know that this humble abode held not just shelter, but the embrace of a spiritual family intertwined with the legacy of his revered mentor. Dhiren Babu, the son-in-law of Sri Sri Thakur's aunt, welcomed Bihari into their midst. Within the walls of this dwelling resided not only Dhiren Babu and his wife Bijuliprabha Devi but also his mother in law who was Sri Sri Thakur’s aunt, all bound by their devotion to Sri Sri Thakur. As Bihari introduced himself, sharing his recent pilgrimage from Puri, joy danced in the eyes of his hosts. To have journeyed from the sanctified ashram of Sri Sri Thakur filled their hearts with delight and reverence.


As Bihari bowed in reverence, they halted him, declaring, "We too are disciples of Sri Sri Thakur. Hence, you are our spiritual brother," cementing a bond beyond mere acquaintance. They bid Bihari to refresh himself and labored to ensure Bihari's comfort, their actions echoing the teachings of their shared spiritual guide. In their midst, Bihari found not just refuge but a sanctuary of kindness and camaraderie. As the day wore on, amidst the gentle hum of conversations, Bihari Bhai revealed his heartfelt desire to journey to Kutubpur. His words stirred a response that would shape the course of his pilgrimage in unforeseen ways. Sri Sri Thakur's aunt, upon hearing Bihari's wish, disclosed her own impending journey to Kutubpur. She shared her intent to attend the thread ceremony of Tarapad Bhai's son, scheduled in ten days' time. Proposing that they travel together, she extended an invitation for Bihari to stay with them in Navadwip until then.


For Bihari, this invitation was a golden opportunity. It not only fulfilled his yearning to explore the sacred sites of Navadwip but also offered the prospect of accompanying his newfound spiritual family to Kutubpur. It seemed as though Sri Sri Thakur's guidance had foreseen this unfolding of events, steering Bihari's path. Embracing this fortuitous chance, Bihari embarked on a journey of exploration through the labyrinthine lanes of Navadwip, guided by Dhirendranath. Together, they sought the divine presence of saints and sages. Amongst the myriad souls they encountered, their pilgrimage led them to the doorstep of Lalita Sakhi, a saint enshrined in the practice of Gopi Bhaav. Clad in the guise of femininity, Lalita Sakhi's devotion to the divine mirrored the ardour of the cowherd maidens of Vrindavan. Reflecting on a past exchange between Sri Sri Thakur and Lalita Sakhi, Bihari pondered the enigmatic words spoken by the saint. When Sri Sri Thakur had expressed his wish to meet Lalita Sakhi, the later had replied, “O son! What will you gain by meeting this mere cowherd girl?”


Each day in Navadwip unfurled with the rhythm of devotion, guiding him through a sacred routine. With the morning sun casting its gentle glow, Bihari would partake in a nourishing breakfast, engage in enriching conversations and delve into the depths of sacred texts, immersing himself in the wisdom shared by his hosts. As the midday sun reached its zenith, Bihari would rest a bit, and with renewed vigour, continue his pilgrimage through the sacred streets of Navadwip. Visiting temples steeped in the echoes of centuries past, he witnessed divine grace. Amidst the flickering flames of aarti in temples, Bihari found his spirit uplifted by the rhythmic chants that echoed through the sanctuaries. Returning to the embrace of his host's home as night descended, he carried with him the blessings of the day's journey. Before going to bed, Bihari would listen enraptured as the ladies of the household wove tales of Sri Sri Thakur's childhood.


In his voyage around Navadwip, Bihari traversed the sacred landscapes associated with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. From the abode where Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had once dwelled to the revered school of Pandit Gangadas, about four kilometres away, where Mahaprabhu studied the scriptures and shastras, the home of Kazi, Madhai Ghat, Vidyasagar, every stop along the way held echoes of divine presence. In the sacred soil of Navadwip, his journey unfolded moments leading him ever closer to the heart of divine grace.

 

After spending eleven days in Navadwip, Bihari accompanied Sri Sri Thakur’s aunt and Dhirendranath to Kutubpur. The arrival of a cherished disciple of Sri Sri Thakur in Kutubpur,  ignited a fervor of celebration that echoed through the cobblestone streets and thatched-roof homes. The whispers of his arrival spread like wildfire, unfolding a joy and reverence that embraced the entire village.

In Kutubpur, the news of Bihari's arrival was greeted with jubilation, as if Sri Sri Thakur himself had descended amongst them. The air was charged with the palpable excitement of a divine visitation, as the villagers prepared to welcome their esteemed guest with open arms. Though initially unaware of the thread ceremony awaiting him, Bihari found himself embraced by the affection and respect of the villagers, who regarded him as Sri Sri Thakur's representative. Their reverence for saints and wise men was evident in every gesture, as they insisted that Bihari refrain from bowing or touching their feet, regardless of their age or status. Amidst this outpouring of reverence, a separate room was arranged for Bihari's stay, adorned with care and meticulous attention to detail. Special dishes were prepared in his honour, and a dedicated attendant was tasked with tending to his every need, ensuring his comfort and well-being.

Overwhelmed by the warmth and hospitality extended to him by the ladies of Sri Sri Thakur's familial abode, Bihari found himself immersed in a sea of gratitude and wonder. In their midst, he experienced firsthand the depth of love and devotion that bound the community together. As the days unfolded in Kutubpur, Bihari's heart swelled with humility and awe, touched by the profound respect and care he received from the villagers, all bound by their shared reverence for Sri Sri Thakur.


…to be continued

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


Swami Nigamananda Paramahansa Dev

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