It takes him almost half an hour to take the decision as he wants to stay near Fani Babu’s home. As a drowning man clings to a straw for support, similarly, Sri Sri Thakur has also chosen Fani as his last resort. He believes and knows it in his heart that Fani’s love for him is pure. If he has to leave, then spending the last few days near Fani’s house will be peaceful. But in the end, Sudhir Ranjan’s argument is accepted. Thakur keeps his agony to himself and gets up. Looking at Fani’s worried and downcast face, He understands his disciple’s helplessness. Just like Thakur, Fani Bhai drags his tired feet as he returns home with his head hung low. He knows in his heart that Thakur wishes to live near him. But he doesn’t have the courage. He is a lawyer and is well aware of the ways of this world. He knows that if he forcefully takes Thakur to his home and something unfortunate happens, then this action of his would be condemned and blown out of proportion. After reaching home, he can’t even eat a single morsel of rice and keeps on wiping his eyes. God knows he is left with no other choice and his Thakur also knows he is not guilty.
Fani Bhai is beside Thakur when he leaves his material body leaving his devotees and disciples in shock. He breaks down with grief and starts crying like a child. Narayan, another disciple, comes and asks, “Fani Da, do you remember what were Thakur’s advice in his trust deed regarding his Samadhi? Where should we go?” Fani Bhai replies in a quavering voice, still crying uncontrollably, “I don’t know anything. You do whatever you think right.”
Fani Bhai has completely surrendered himself to carry out Thakur’s work. He loves Thakur with all his heart, is faithful and ardently devoted to him. He has written in one of his poems –
Tomare basia bhala hok jai tai, jibana marana kimba kichhu na darai,
Dite dite saba jena phuraiya jaye, saba shese o ranga charane laya paye.
- Come whatever may, I will never stop loving you,
Neither life nor death can scare me away
All I wish is to merge in your lotus feet
Nothing can ever make my faith sway.
This is his innermost desire, his heart’s outburst – “O Thakur! Whatever may happen, my deep love for you should always remain intact. My only desire is to surrender everything to you, That’s my pride too. Please let me remain at your lotus feet.”
He continues his prayer, “I have no expectation - Neither any need for material opulence nor attraction of spiritual upliftment. Only make me yours. You are not limited to me only; you are the lord of countless devotees. How can I demand your love? But I’m aware of one thing – you are everything to me, my only worship, my love. I don’t know what’s good for me so what do I pray for? You are the all-auspicious Lord – may your wish be fulfilled.”
He was always ready to take charge of Sri Sri Thakur’s works. The devotees assembled there recount the episode when Sri Sri Thakur had wished to witness the Haradwar kumbhamela. Though one of the devotees brought out the proposal, no one came forward since it was an expensive affair. Sri Sri Thakur had once said, “Even a housefly that has faith in my wish and continues working to make it happen, can make the impossible possible.” Fani Bhai has unwavering confidence in Thakur’s words and travelled to Haradwar to make the impossible possible. When he reached Haradwar, all the spaces have already been allocated. Fani Bhai became dejected when he came to know there is no more space left. Looking at his downcast eyes, the officer in charge said, “Please write down your address. If anyone cancels in the last minute, then I will inform you.” He had travelled so far, tried in every possible way but couldn’t arrange any space. This failure broke his heart. But he had complete faith that Thakur’s words could never be futile. So, he stood rooted there and kept waiting. After sometime, the officer called him with the news, “One of the institutions that had booked a space is unable to make it and has cancelled.” Fani Bhai’s joy knew no bounds. He instantly deposited the money, booked the space and sent a telegram to Thakur that space had been arranged. Though he had surrendered his heart, mind and soul to Thakur, and always came forward to carry out all of Thakur’s work, he kept accusing himself that he was of no use to Thakur! But Thakur had so much love for him, kept him so close to his heart and blessed him. After Thakur left his body, most of the time, overcome with grief, he skept repeating, “The love that I received from Thakur is incomparable. I have not got it even from my wife, son or family. But I couldn’t do anything in return.”
All his spiritual brothers are very dear to him. During the Bhakta Sammilani, he enjoys their companionship so much that even after it is over, he doesn’t feel like taking their leave. He is not only devoted to his Gurudev, but also adored by his spiritual brothers. Such an instance can be found in Bihari Mohan Sharma’s book, ‘Sri Sri Thakura Mahatmya’.
‘In Bangabda year 1337, after the adjournment of the Mayanamati Sammilani in Bengal, all the spiritual brothers start to take leave one by one. At that time, our Fani Bhai comes, his voice choked as he said, “All our brothers are leaving one by one and it feels like my ribs are breaking and falling with them. Please, all of you stay as long as you can, I will bear the expenses.”
Fani Bhai is one of the administrators responsible for the smooth running of all the ashrams of Sri Sri Thakur. In the year 1952 (Bangabda year 1359), the Bhakta Sammilani is destined to take place in Khadakusuma, West Bengal. Before its commencement, he is busy completing the annual review, working all the way till midnight. The day of the Sammilani approaches nearer. He wishes to take along all his family members but due to various reasons, they cannot join him. Even Santosh Maa can’t accompany him. At last, he packs his bag and starts in his journey alone. He takes leave of his home, House No. 101, Panchananatala, that had been blessed by Thakur’s presence. On 25th December, 1952, at the Bhakta Sammilani, he cuts off all his ties with this material world, breathes his last and takes refuge at the feet of Sri Sri Thakur in the courtyard of Khadakusuma ashram in Gadabeta, West Bengal.
No one has the heart to send this news to his family and they are informed that he is sick. One of the Brahmacharis took the news and arrives at his home to bring his son. Everyone at home is suspicious and worried. Did something unfortunate take place? Without wasting any time, both his sons accompany the brahmachari back to Khadakusuma ashram. On reaching, they see everyone silent, encompassed in a cloud of grief. Devotees had already gathered at the ashram for the Sammilani. They lead both the sons to the place where the body lay, resting at the feet of Sri Sri Thakur.
The sons are devastated and fall down on top the lifeless body. The sanyasis and Brahmacharis present there try to pacify them. Chidananda Maharaj shared an intimate bond with Fani Bhai. He picks up Fani Bhai’s blanket and wraps himself with it as a parting memento. During his death, none of his family members were around but Chidananda Maharaj sat near him, wide awake, guarding his body throughout the dark night in Khadakusuma Ashram.
Everyone in the Ashram starts the preparations for the last rites of Fani Bhai. The sanyasis and devotees assembled carry his body on their shoulders and his two sons carry out the remaining rites. He had always been destined to leave his body in Sri Sri Thakur’s ashram. He came to Sri Sri Thakur, who was the light of his life, to offer his body at his feet. The divine soul starts on his journey - to unite with his love.
Inspired by Krushnapriya Mohanty's essay, 'Sri Fani Busan Mitra'