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A Memorable Visit To The Land Of The Brave - IV
B.N. Mullik (Kinkar Vishwananda)
In the morning of the 6th December, as soon as the morning prayers were over, Baba asked Vishwananda to go to the hospital as soon as possible and find out Bera Didi’s condition. In spite of the morning being cold, many gentlemen and ladies, including Idar Didi, injured in the previous day’s accident, had come for ‘Paduka Sparsha’. For their benefit, Baba had the ‘Mantra of ‘Paduka Sparsha’ translated into Hindi with explanations and this was read out before the ‘Sparsha’ so that everyone could understand the ‘Mantra’ which Baba would later repeat. On return from the hospital at 9 A.M., Vishwananda reported that Bera Didi had passed an uncomfortable night and the condition was the same as on the previous night. Baba was to some extent relieved at the fact that the condition had not deteriorated. There were several ‘Dikshartis’ and, as Baba had several engagements, he decided to complete the work of ‘Diksha’ before starting on his rounds. This was over by 11 A.M. and Baba then started for the Rai ka Bagh Palace to call on the Raj Dadi who was ailing and on whose invitation Baba had visited Jodhpur.

The Raj Dadi is a most remarkable lady - the like of whom one seldom comes across. She belongs to the Bhati sect of the Rajputs, which claims its descent from the Yadu Vansha to which Shri Krishna belonged. She was married to Maharaja Umed Singh, the grandfather of the present Maharaja. She came from Osian village of Marwar and her father, Jai Singh, was a person of much influence. She had five sons, the eldest of whom, Hanumant Singh, later succeeded his father on the latter’s death, Hanumant Singh’s son Gaj Singh, is the present Maharaja. After her marriage, the Raj Dadi brought her four brothers from Osean to Jodhpur and had ‘jagirs’ given to each of them. She accommodated her own sons and her brothers in the Rai ka Bagh Palace and built a new hose, ‘Umed Bhawan’, to accommodate the ruling prince. She brought up her brothers’ childeren as her own and these children knew her as their mother and, even though they themselves are now grandmothers, they call the Raj Dadi ‘Mamma’; She educated them, nursed them all during their illness, arranged their marriages and is now looking after their children. They were all so attached to each other that they even forgot who their own sister or brother was and who their cousins. The Raj Dadi is revered and loved by all her sons and daughters, her brothers’ sons and daughters and their descendants as well. She is the centripetal force which keeps Maharaja Sardar Singh’s (Sri Umed Singh’s father) and Jai Singh’s  (Raj Dadi’s father) descendants not only united but as members of one family.

Red carpet had been laid for Baba at the Rai ka Bagh Palace and there was Raj Dadi standing at the doorway to receive Baba with all honours due to the Guru. (The Raj Dadi took ‘Diksha’ at Delhi in 1973). And she was not alone; she was backed by all her sons and their wives and her brothers’ sons and their wives and their children. The Rajmata (her daughter-in-law) was also there. After Baba’s feet had been washed by Raj Dadi and ‘Aarati’ had been done, Baba sat on a sofa, and Raj Dadi sat on a carpet on the ground. It was amazing to see that none of her sons of nephews or nieces would sit on the same carpet out of reverence to her. The Raj Dadi talked with Baba whilst others did their 'Pranam’ and each was separately introduced. Baba gave ‘Mantra Chaitanya’ to Raj Dadi who was so happy to receive the new ‘Mantra’. She was looking at Baba all the time with love and adoration coming out of her eyes. This very intimate and cordial visit lasted for an hour after which there was an equally intimate departure in which there were tears in every one’s eyes.

Baba’s next call was at Umed Bhawan, the official residence of the Maharaja. Baba was received by the Maharaja and the Rajmata at the doorway and led into the Central Hall where his feet were washed by the Rajmata and she and her son, the Maharaja, sat on the ground whilst Baba was seated on a sofa. Baba carried on a long conversation with the Maharaja, explained to him the significance of the ‘Gayatri Mantra’, was happy to find that the Maharaja was wearing the sacred thread and even knew the ‘Gayatri Mantra’ though he could not talk in Hindi. In the end Baba begged of the Maharaja to make a gift of all his faults to this old Brahmin (Baba himself) and promised that thereby his ‘Chinmai’ path would open up. The Maharaja responded very favourably. Before Baba’s departure, the Rajmata conducted him to a hall with fresco paintings on all the walls by an Italian painter of eight episodes from the Ramayana. These were beautiful paintings and worth visiting. Baba stressed that the moral deterioration of India in general was due to the downfall of the Brahmins and the Kshatriyas and, unless they raised themselves from the moral abyss in which they had descended, there was little chance of India as a whole turning the corner. The farewell here was also warm, if not as intimate, as in the Rai ka Bagh Palace.

As 1.30 P.M. Baba reached Mahatma Gandhi Hospital. He first went to Bera Didi and enquired from her how she was keeping. Even though she was in pain and distress, she replied that she was well. She further said that Baba must be facing many inconveniences as she was not there to look after him. Baba replied that he had everything and only missed her. Seated on a chair, he raised his feet on to Bera Didi’s bed and Didi rubbed her head against the soles of his feet to her great satisfaction. After blessing her, Baba went to see the maidservant who had been injured in the same accident and was in another ward. He enquired about her welfare and blessed her. A visit by Baba to her was not even dreamt of by this maidservant and she was happy beyond measure to see Baba and get the dust of his feet.

Baba returned to his residence in Bera House on the Residency Road at 2.30 P.M. in the afternoon, though he wanted to rest a little, many people came in and so Baba had to get up and talk to them. At 6 P.M. he went to the Satsang Bhawan for a ‘Satsang’. Several tracts were read by Sri Hans and Sri Jayendu and then there was ‘Kirtan’ in high tempo by Mahananda and his party which kept the audience spell-bound. At 8.30 P.M. he returned to the residence and many important people, including some members of the ruler’s family were present. So Baba sat with Vishwananda and Tarakda went to the hospital to see Bera Didi who was looking rather bad with the whole face swollen beyond recognition. There was a fear that deterioration in her condition had set in. On return, they reported their apprehensions to Baba who ordered every member of the party to do 1008 Durga Naam Japa every day, one Gurubhai, Banerji, to do one lakh Durga Naam Japa and our Panditji to do Narayan Puja with Tulsi leaves; night meal was served after midnight after which Baba lay down to take rest.

There was a fair gathering for the morning prayers and ‘Paduka Sparsha’ early in the morning of 7.12.74.

Baba was originally scheduled to stay at Jodhpur for only two nights and he was due to leave for Ajmer on this day. But he extended his stay at Jodhpur by another day to see Bera Didi cross her crisis period.

There were some ‘Dikshartis’ and Baba completed the ‘Diksha’ work before starting out on his morning visits. By 10.30 A.M. he was free and he left for Jodhpur fort where the Rajmata had arrived to guide him. Most of the journey inside the ramparts of the fort could be negotiated by a jeep but over the last one hundred yards to the Chamunda Temple, Baba had to be carried on a chair.

Sri Chamunda is the family deity of the Jodhpur rulers. It had originally been established at Kanauj as Chakreshwari but later, after the migration of Siha to Marwar, it was brought by a Brahmin Rishi from Kanauj and it was re-established at Nagana, which was then the headquarters of the Jodhpur rulers. When Jodha Singh built the fort, the deity was transferred to its present site. Baba did a ‘Parikrama’ and offered Puja. The Rajmata explained that when she became the Maharani, she found that the ‘Murti’ and its base were very dirty and the original ‘Murti’ could hardly be seen. She had the whole thing cleaned up and now it was being regularly cleaned. But soon after the first cleaning operation, the magazine in the fort accidentally was blown up and the temple was also destroyed. She had it rebuilt and the deity newly made and re-established; but she had been told that this was not according to the ‘Shastras’. She wanted Baba’s decision on this matter. Baba said that he would think about it and send his opinion.

When Baba came out of the temple into the open courtyard, the Rajmata narrated an interesting story about the fort. When the fort was under construction, the alignment of one wall was such as would pass through the ‘Ashram’ of a ‘Sadhu’. When the workers went to destroy the ‘Ashram’, the ‘Sadhu’ told them to divert the wall a little either to the front or to the rear so that his ‘Ashram’ could be saved. He did not mind whether it fell within the fort ramparts or outside it. But the workers did not pay any heed to him and destroyed the ‘Ashram’. The Sadhu then gave many curses on the ruling family. When Jodha Singh heard of the incident, he was perturbed and hastened to the broken ‘Ashram’ and requested the Sadhu to withdraw his curses because all this mistake had occurred without his knowledge and he would never haveagreedto destruction of the ‘Ashram’; and even if he were directly guilty, the curses would adversely affect his subjects who had committed no fault. The Sadhu than withdrew all curses except three. One was that a famine would visit Marwar every third year. The second was that good people would shun Marwar. The third was something personal against the Maharaja seeing the face of his grandson. The Rajmata , in desperation, asked when would this curse end. To this the Sadhu replied - When the Maharaja would see the face of his grandson. The Rajmata added that no Maharaja of Jodhpur, since that date, had seen the face of his grandson and famines occurred very frequently in Marwar. However, probably because of these curses, the Marwaris spread themselves to all parts of India and have done astoundingly well in trade and business. There are villages and towns of Marwar, e.g., Ladlau of which over 80% of the population live outside Rajasthan. Baba thanked the Rajmata for her curtsey in showing him round and then left the fort while members of his party went to see the Museum located in the fort.

Baba then came to the Hospital to see Bera Didi. It seems that Baba’s order that every one of his party should do 1008 Durga Naam Japa every morning and that Narayana Puja should be done had worked a miracle and Bera Didi looked definitely better. Like on the previous day, he sat on a chair and lifted his feet on Bera Didi’s bed and Didi held them on her head. Her face immediately brightened up and she said- “Baba do not bother about me; I am all right and shall soon be up and doing.” Baba said- “Of course, you will, but I shall be happy only when you and your husband appear before me fit and well in Bengal”. Baba then went to the other ward to see how the maidservant was progressing. She was much better. Baba left the hospital at 1.30 P.M.

Baba then went to the Mausoleum of the ruling family, where caskets containing the ashes of the dead members of the family used to be buried and monuments built on them. Here there was a recent construction for a lady who became ‘Sati’ in 1953. She was Shrimati Sugandh Kanwar. She was the daughter of Thakur Nathu Singh of Osian- the same family from which the Raj Dadi came. She was married to Brigadier Jabar Singh who was Bera Dada’s uncle (Younger brother of Thakur Prithvi Singh - Bera Dada’s father). Jabar Singh, after retirement from the army was reemployed as the Controller of Jodhpur ruler’s household. The husband and wife were in deep love with each other and they always had their food together. Jabar Singh got heart ailment and she had the premonition that he would die. She wanted to be a ‘Sati’. Jabar Singh suddenly died of heart failure in 1953, and she started making preparations for being a ‘Sati’. Members of the family, including Jabar’s younger brother, Jagat Singh (now working in Calcutta), tried their best to persuade her not to do so. She then said that probably they did not believe but God was her witness. As soon as she uttered these words, the ‘Agarbatis’ burst into flames as if ‘Agni-Devi’ himself was becoming the witness. The members of the family then kept quiet. She remained the whole night sitting with her dead husband’s head on her lap. In the morning, when the relatives wanted to remove the dead body and she started dressing for the occasion, they bolted her door from outside. When she discovered this, she said, in a determined voice, that they might prevent her from burning in the same funeral pyre, but she would set fire to her clothes from the fire of the lamp which was burning in the room and she would be a ‘Sati’ in any case. Then she struck the door with the palms of her hands and surprisingly the door flew open. The print made by her palms on the door-planks still exists. The family members did not resist any more. Her feet were besmeared with vermillion. (The tiles of the floor containing the feet - mark were later removed and they are still worshipped by her son, Manohar Singh). She got into the vehicle in which the dead body had been laid and sat with the head of the body on her lap. The relatives, apprehending interference by the magistrates and the police, did not take the body to the funeral ground. Instead they brought it to the Jodhpur family mausoleum where funeral pyre was hastily got ready and the body laid on it. The widow then distributed a few of her things to those very near and dear to her and to her son she handed over a coconut saying that this was her ‘Sati’ and he should preserve it as an evidence of her having been a ‘Sati’. She then mounted the pyre with a contented face, sat with her dead husband’s head on her lap and asked her son to light the pyre. She expressed no fear or pain, but was repeating only Hari Om, Hare Krishna, Hare Ram. Soon her body was also burnt to ashes with that of her husband. The relatives have built a beautiful mausoleum over the casket containing the ashes of the husband and his Nobel wife - who were united in life-time but doubly united in death, never to be separated again. (There was the usual criminal case against the relations for abetting suicide but the accused were all acquitted by the High Court). Baba was very moved on hearing this story and said that the wife had gone to heaven and had taken her husband along with her. He further said that an account of this ‘Sati’ should be published in all papers under him. Here Baba was told of a living ‘Sati’. When her husband died, the wife wanted to become a ‘Sati’, but the relations would not allow her to commit suicide. So she said that her ‘Prana’ had already gone with that of her husband and, as there was no need of her body, she would thereafter eat no food. And her body has lived for 30 years without any food. It seems unbelievable. But is said to be true. As it was already late and no previous information had been sent to this living ‘Sati’, Baba could not visit her.

It was 2.45 P.M. when Baba returned to the Bera House and he had his ‘Anna-bhog’ at 3 P.M. After this he should have had some rest but many visitors had collected, and he went on talking to them. Ultimately at 4.30 P.M., his room was cleared of visitors and he was persuaded to take rest. He readily agreed and was soon fast asleep. The evening was free but not from visitors. Baba ordered Mahananda and party to do ‘Naam Kirtan’ and himself selected the ‘Suras’ and Mahananda served Baba and the audience with the choicest songs lasting for nearly 2 hours. An advance party left for Ajmer but train was at about 9 P.M. Vishwananda went to hospital and returned at 10 P.M. with the reassuring news that Bera-Didi was now out of danger though her full recovery would be a painful and long process. Baba had many pressing engagements in Ajmer, Kota, Bombay and Calcutta but he still would have halted at Jodhpur further had any danger to Bera Didi’s life been apprehended. So he decided to depart next morning and leave Vishwananda behind as his representative.

There was a good gathering for the Morning Prayer and ‘Paduka-sparsha’ on 1.12.74. But immediately after that he retired into his room and wanted to be left alone as something was coming down from heaven. He started scribbling on any piece of paper that he found nearby and was at it for over an hour. The result was the beautiful and noble writing starting with the words, ‘You are not a sheep, but lion you are’. Baba had this read out to him, made minor corrections handed it over to Vishwananda to make translations in English and Hindi translations was published in the December issue of the Param Katha. This was later made into a leaflet and thousands of copies were distributed in Calcutta, Andhra and Orissa during Baba’s visit to those places.

In the meantime preparations were being made for the departure. After a hurried ‘Phal-bhog’, Baba left Bera House at 8.30 A.M. and first went to the ‘Rai ka Bagh’ Palace to pay a farewell call on Raj Dadi. He talked to her for a few minutes, gave her a copy of the Hindi Guru Gita and blessed her.The Raj Dadi entreated Baba to come again, and Baba, as usual, said that it was in God’s hands. Tears came to every eye as Baba turned about to depart. This Rai ka Bagh Palace has a charm about it. It has charmed the men and women living in it and also charms the visitors.

Baba next came to the hospital. Bera Didi was better and sat up on the bed to receive Baba. She expressed sorrow that she could not be of any service to him all Jodhpur and requested him to come again. Baba in reply said that she had made all the necessary arrangements and he and the members of his party did not feel any inconvenience. Their only sorrow was that she was not there. He said that he had pressing engagements which he could not postpone at this stage and so he was departing from Jodhpur but was leaving Vishwananda behind to look after her and keep him informed everyday by telephone or telegraph. He, however, would not get any peace of mind till he saw her and her husband in Bengal fully recovered and as active as she was before the accident. He wanted to see the maidservant also but she had been taken away to Idar by her relatives.

Baba came down to the landing and left some last minute instructions with Vishwananda. If there was any deterioration in Bera Didi’s condition, he should be informed at once and he would fly specialists from Calcutta to treat her. He departed for Ajmer at 10.30 A.M.

The visit to Jodhpur had begun in an atmosphere surcharged with fear and anxiety but it was due to Baba’s ‘Kripa’ that everything brightened up later. When Vishwananda, a fortnight later, met Baba in Calcutta, the latter said that Bera Ma had to undergo this suffering to show the depth of her ‘Bhakti’. Everyone hopes that with Baba’s visit to Jodhpur, the five century old curse of the Sadhu that has been hanging on this land of Marwar will wear away and a more prosperous era, saved from the prospects of recurring droughts, will dawn on this desert land.

On the way from Jodhpur to Ajmer, Baba’s car developed some trouble and hence his arrival at the latter place was delayed by two hours, everyone waited for him anxiously since the morning and there was elation amongst them as soon as he arrived. Baba was profusely garlanded and he took ‘Pranams’ from everyone present. Sri Sajjan Singh Rathore, who was Baba’s host at Ajmer, had made elaborate arrangements for the accommodation of Baba’s party members and their feeding as well as that of Gurubhais who had come there from Jaipur, Bikaner, Alwar, Kota, Udaipur and Banswara. As the advance party had arrived early in the morning by train, food was ready. After taking his ‘Anna-bhog’ at 4 P.M. Baba went to Pushkar at 5 P.M.

At Pushkar Baba inspected the Math and expressed a desire to build a Kali temple at this place. Immediately offers for Rs. 11,000 and 11 bighas of irrigated land were made. Baba made arrangements for the proper running of the Math in the future. Many of the local Pandas and some Sadhus came to pay their respect to Baba and Baba ordered fruits to be distributed to them. He stayed at Pushkar till 10 P.M. and did not return to Ajmer till 11 P.M. Both at Pushkar and at Ajmer, Baba gave short ‘Bhasans’ the gist of which was as follows:-

‘Every living creature has three bodies - (1) the ‘Sthula Sharira’ of flesh and bones made of the five elements - sky, water, air, fire and earth : (2) the ‘Sukshma Sharira’ made of the five Indriyas of Jnan and the five Indriyas of Karma, the five ‘Pranas’ and Mind and Ahankar - i.e., seventeen in all; (3) the ‘Karana Sharira’ which is the feeling that ‘I am the body’ which is caused by eternal ignorance (Avidya). A creature is born as a human being when in his previous life he has done both works of merit and those of sin. The purpose of gaining human body is ‘Bhagwat-Prapti’ (to attain God). In olden days, this was done by long ‘Tapasya, and ‘Sadhana’ and there were different disciplines for the various castes. In Kaliyuga, as it became difficult for the majority of the people to follow one’s own avocation, Manu laid down five universal disciplines which could be observed by everyone irrespective of caste. These were ‘Ahimsa’, ‘Satya’, ‘Asteya’, ‘Shoucha’ and ‘Indriya- Nigraha’. ‘Ahimsa’ was not to do violence to any living creature by thought, word or deed. ‘Satya’ meant sticking to ‘Kalyankar’ truth in all circumstances. ‘Asteya’ meant not to steal and it included cheating, misappropriation, black- marketing, smuggling, etc. ‘Shoucha’, which meant the observance of purity or cleanliness, had two aspects, outer ‘Shoucha’ or keeping the body clean with the help of ‘Maitri’, ‘Mudita’, ‘Karuna’ and ‘Upeksha’. ‘Maitri’ was to keep friendship with one’s equals. ‘Karuna’ was to feel sympathy for the distressed. ‘Mudita’ was not to be envious of but be pleased at the success of others. ‘Upeksha’ was to have tolerance even for the sinners. ‘Indriya Nigraha’ meant to keep one’s senses under control and to make the ‘Bahir-Mukhi indriyas’ ‘Antar-Mukhi’.

‘As it was difficult for people these days to observe even five disciplines simultaneously, they could be reduced to three simpler methods by way of (1) ‘Shuddha Aahar’ (eating only pure ‘Satvik’ food), (2) ‘Sadachar’ i.e., right behaviour and, (3) ‘Upasana’ i.e., prayers at regular hours. But the key to everything was ‘Naam’ and in the ‘Kaliyuga’, ‘Naam’ was the straight and easy path to heaven. ‘Naam’ was the only way, there was no other way.

In this ‘Samsara’ some sinners sometimes seem to prosper and some men of virtue suffer. The fact is that when a man starts sinning, ‘Dharma’ leaves him but in so doing leaves some of its fruits behind and the sinner seems to profit by them but in fact he gets deeper and deeper into sin. Similarly when sin leaves a person, it leaves some of its fruits behind, and the virtuous man seems to suffer but through this suffering he rises higher and higher. In the end, however, the result of ‘Dharma’ must be good and that of sin must be bad”.

(to be continued in the next issue of The Mother)