It's The Love That Matters
Young Bimala had been adopted by Sri Sri Thakur. She has grown up in the ashram since her childhood days. On Sri Sri Thakur’s instruction, she is to be married to Sri Dharanidhara Maiti, who was adopted by the Saraswata Math’s orphanage. Thakur has chosen Fani Bhai’s house to be the venue for this wedding. In Sri Sri Thakur’s eyes, Fani Bhai and Santosh Maa are the perfect example of ‘Adarsha Grihasta’, the ideal householder and hence their home has been chosen for the wedding ceremony. The seed of ‘Adarsha Grihasta’ germinates here, in the presence and support of an ideal family. Sri Sri Thakur is not present at the wedding, but following his instructions, Fani Bhai carries on all the responsibilities of the wedding. Bimala’s wedding takes place in 203, Panchananatala Road residence in the presence of the devotees of ‘Nigama’ family.
Ashwini Babu, another close disciple of Sri Sri Thakur passes away untimely, at an early age. His children are very young at that time. Thakur made Fani Bhai take up the responsibility of nurturing these kids. Snehalata, Ashwini Bhai’s eldest daughter, used to live in Fani Bhai’s home and work as a teacher in a school. Later on, she shifted to the teacher’s quarters but spends most of her time with Fani Bhai’s family. All of Ashwini Bhai’s children are very close to Fani Bhai family and spend most of their time together.
Sri Sri Thakur consults Fani Bhai when it comes to all legal matters. While buying a house in Puri, Fani Bhai is called to Neelachal Kutir to prepare the will. Sri Sri Thakur also assigns Fani Bhai with the responsibility to prepare the trust deed for the Saraswata Math and ashram. Fani Bhai’s No.203, Panchananatala Road residence is Sri Sri Thakur’s rest house. The house is always crowded with his disciples and devotees whenever he arrives there. Santosh Maa gets occupied all day cooking for Sri Sri Thakur and distributing prasad to the devotees. Fani bhai gets up early in the morning and goes out with a bag to buy vegetables. He chooses and picks tender fruits and vegetables for Thakur, worried that he might not get fresh stuff if he is late. He takes care and is vigilant about Sri Sri Thakur’s food, drinks, clothes, and rest time. He makes sure everything is carried out smoothly. He pours his heart and soul to keep Thakur satisfied and happy. Even when Thakur resided at Puri, Fani Bhai would buy all the seasonal fruits on their arrival in the market, pack them up in big baskets and sent them in goods train to Puri. The brahmacharis or sevaks used to collect it from Puri station. And how joyfully Thakur used to go through all those items! Thakur used to inspect everything carefully. Season’s first fruits were sold at a higher price but Fani Bhai couldn’t taste them without sending them first to Thakur.
As soon as they get informed about Thakur’s visit to Howrah, Fani Bhai would have his house cleaned. He, himself would clean Thakur’s toilet and never allowed anyone else to do it. He was satisfied only after he had cleaned it to a sparkle.
Sri Sri Thakur was bound by the love showered on him by Fani Bhai’s family. Santosh Maa was his most adorable eldest daughter. He introduced her to Leela saying, “She is my eldest daughter, Santosh. You will call her Didimoni”. Everyone in the family were devoted to Sri Sri Thakur and loved him with their heart,. The family was so surrendered that if anyone fell sick, drinking Sri Sri Thakur’s charanamrit and chanting ‘Jayaguru’ was their first and foremost medicine. Many a times Thakur has also bent his rules and regulations for Santosh Maa. Only brahmin disciples were allowed to cook for Thakur’s bhoga. Santosh Maa felt disheartened. Won’t she be ever allowed to cook and feed Thakur? Once, when Thakur was residing at their place, she expressed her inner wish in front of Sura Maa, another disciple of Thakur. Santosh Maa had her reservations. She was ‘Kayastha’. Sanyasi and Brahmachari also take Thakur’s prasad. Will it be right for her to cook? Sura Maa divulged it in front of Thakur. Thakur showed interest and said, “Yes, Santosh cooks very well. Now I will eat her cooked food.”
In Narayani Devi’s words, “Thakur used to perceive their home as his own because of Dada Mohasoy’s love and his wife’s deferential service. Whenever he arrives, he stays from three – four days to fifteen days at a time. Sometimes he used to come along with his entourage. Disciples and devotees used to visit all the time. What surprised everyone was that Thakur had many disciples in Howrah. Among them, many were brahmin too. But Thakur has consistently resided with the Mitra family and accepted Didi Moni’s hand cooked ‘bhoga’. People have also talked about this. Dada Mohasoy has also hesitantly enquired, ‘Thakur! How should I serve My brahmin spiritual brothers?’ Thakur replied instantly, ‘Whoever wishes may have the prasad and whoever doesn’t wish may refrain from it.’ In the end, everyone accepted the prasad.
For a long time, Sri Sri Thakur was unable to fathom that this disciple of his was financially fragile. It’s known that Dada Mohasoy will never reveal his condition in front of Thakur, but Didimoni also never opened her mouth about their state. Usually, women pray to Thakur for material gains. But Didimoni was an exception. In 1329 (Bengal Calendar), Thakur arrived at Fani’s home with Sura Maa and Bimala Maa. Sura Maa saw in her own eyes the condition of Didimoni’s family and narrated to Thakur on her return to Puri. After listening to every detail, Thakur might have been happy as a ‘Guru’ but the human in him was pained. He said sorrowfully, ‘I had no idea about their hardship.’
Neither the disciple mentioned it nor the Guru tried to pacify him. But the result was obvious. Dada Mohasoy started earning well. The Guru and the disciple met again in a few months. Dada Mohasoy bowed down and offered a hundred rupee note at the feet of Sri Sri Thakur. Thakur raised his brow and said, ‘what is all this?’ Dada Mohasoy looked at him straight in the eye and replied, ‘Do you know, this is my one day’s earning.’ Whether Thakur admits or not, Both the husband and the wife were aware that it’s their Guru’s grace.”
Image courtesy: Batagopal Tripathy
Inspired by Krushnapriya Mohanty's essay, 'Sri Fani Bhusan Mitra'.