Both of them, Fani Bhai and Kshetramohan Babu, get ready and start for their destination, Rani Shankari Lane in Kalighat. Their Lord has arrived in the house of Ashwini Kumar Dasgupta. They sat on the ground floor, waiting. As they were called in, they travel up the stairs and arrive in the hall. And there, their Lord is. Dazzling, sitting there with the devotees surrounding him, his face radiant like the glow of a full moon. He has the pipe of the hookah in his hand, eyes half closed, filled with compassion. He looks heavenly, not a man of this world, as if he had come down from paradise. His state, when Fani Bhusan sees the Man of his dreams, in front of his eyes, in the realm of his touch, is beyond the experience of a normal person. He is in tears, shivering, sweating, full of joy.
In his essay ’Jeevan prabhat’, he has written about the image that he saw in his first meeting - “palms and feet had a reddish lustre, glowing like the dazzling rays of sunrise, his body was the colour of molten gold, his charming face was radiant, hands extending down to knees, hair falling onto his back, long eyes like petals of a blooming lotus pierces the heart like sharpened arrows. Once your eyes get locked with those eyes, you can’t get peace anywhere else. Looking at the teasing smile on his rosy lips, any stern, knowledgeable seer will desire to embrace him tightly and kiss those divine lips. Looking at his brilliant form, I stood there wide eyed and enchanted. I compared him to the Man in my dream, same to the very hair tip.”
The jewel of Fani bhai’s heart is none other than the supreme lover, Sri Sri Thakur Nigamananda Paramahansa Dev. The lord immediately recognizes his eternal servant. He smiles at him with that bewitching smile, when their eyes met for the first time. The heart was bound to his lotus feet.
An intimate meeting was going on between the Lord and his disciples. So many questions and answers, so many blessings to let go of all fear. At last, the meeting comes to an end. People began to take leave, one by one. Fani Bhai approaches with his heart beating loud, whole-body trembling, “Everyone got his wish fulfilled. Is there any hope for me?” He waited anxiously for an answer. He heard the nectar like voice speak, “Come tomorrow after taking bath in the Ganges.” At this time the crowd has started moving to touch the feet of Sri Sri Thakur. He gets pushed away to a far end, away from the sight of Sri Sri Thakur. About to take leave, he hears the rich voice again, “How will you go to Howrah so late in the night? You may accompany Sri Amol Kumar Mukhopadhyaya, the postal clerk and travel together.” Amol Bhai comes to Fani Bhai, takes his hand and leads him downstairs. On the journey back, Fani Bhai is beside himself. He can control his tears but how can he control the pounding of his heart? He is enraptured, unable to hold so much joy. A triumph so unexpected wants to break all barriers and flow unhindered. So much compassion, so much love in the heart of a stern, illuminated Sanyasi! Is the existence of such unbound, pure love possible underneath such an idol of detachment, sacrifice and renunciation. Fani bhai, spellbound, lies awake the entire night, thinking about the Man of his dream.
The next morning, after taking bath in the Ganges, he arrives at the house of Ashwini Bhai in Rani Shankar Lane. There he meets Shanti Maa for the first time. All arrangements for the initiation have been made. Fani Bhai follows the direction of Shanti Maa and arrives at the door of an empty room. He stands there, waiting for his call. So many thoughts streaming through his heart. After sometime, a melodious voice instructs from within the room, “Please come in.” He goes in and closes the door behind him at the command of Sri Sri Thakur. He stands there, beholding the divine spiritual form of Sri Sri Thakur, sitting cross legged, as calm and peaceful as ever. All the puja requisites are arranged neatly. Sri Sri Thakur begins to utter the mantra and soon enough, Fani Bhai is already getting initiated. The disciple has no idea of the rules and regulations. He is simply engrossed in soaking in the beauty of the Lord. Why will the bee, desired of seeking honey from the flower, be interested in the dry fruit? Only both of them. Nothing in between. As if the body, mind and soul will merge in that existence. He came back to his senses when he heard the words, “I am your Guru from today. Bow down at my feet.”
Fani Bhai has written down his heart’s outpour in his essay ‘Jeevan Prabhat’- As soon as I heard these words, the light of the entire universe was getting assimilated and absorbed in me. I began to tremble. I felt like I was caught in a mirage. I kept asking myself, “Bearer of boundless divine mercy, who are you?” You became my Guru. That means, I have to surrender this filthy, polluted, smelly body of mine in your sandalwood smeared golden arms. You will drink this poison like ‘Mahadev’ with a smile on your face, and thus liberated, I will dance. No, I don’t want you as my Guru. I don’t want my desired fulfilled, I don’t want to be liberated. I only want you, the one who has stolen my mind and my heart, the apple of my eye, my everything. I don’t feel like asking anything from you. I only want to give, to give everything and offer myself at your lotus feet. To serve at your feet in exchange for this life. Please give me this assurance. Assure me that your feet won’t become soiled by touching this unclean body of mine. Then from now onwards I offer myself as a slave at your feet. This is my salutation.” What an elucidation of love! The desire to become deprived of any identity and give in completely. Give, give, give up your complete self. This is how love blooms. Our Fani Bhai is one such lover. Not a word - words lose their meanings. The Lord of his heart accepted his heart’s desire. He falls down at his feet like a trembling vine. The lotus feet become wet with his uncontrolled tears. His eyes also become tearful. With a heavy voice, he says, “This is what I want. Wealth, ego, knowledge, affluence, prosperity, dignity - all these are nothing in front of one who is so rich in love. The search of so many births finds fulfillment in tears of compassion.
After having his Prasad, he meets with Shanti Maa, a dignified, angelic lady. She said smilingly, “I can see the guillotine around the neck but it seems like the sacrifice hasn’t been carried out yet.” You have been initiated but total surrender is still due.
Instructed to meet Sri Sri Thakur after having prasad, Fani Bhai enters the chamber, trembling all over and bows down at the feet of his Lord. An eerie silence follows. Sri Sri Thakur takes the pipe out of his mouth and says in a kind voice, “Son, what more will you gain out of meditation and penance? Just love me a little and you will attain everything.” Tears run down Fani Bhai’s face profusely, soaking his feet. Fani Bhai asks, “Please tell me how to love you.” This is his actual initiation. Sitting beside his Lord, he begins to offer all his affection and love. He exclaims, “O Lord! Please bless me so that I can sacrifice this life for you without any hesitation. I don’t desire, God, Super soul, Brahma, liberation, meditation, penance, nothing. I only want you, only you.”
This is how Radharani surrendered herself-
“O Friend! What more can I say,
Be the king of my heart, in every birth.”
... to be continued
Fani Bhai's home, 'Santosh Kutir'
Image Courtesy: 'Smruti Pathe Nigamananda'
Inspired by Krushnapriya Mohanty's essay, 'Sri Fani Bhusan Mitra.'