3 - Issue 3
Master, go on, and I will follow Thee,
It is time! Baba enters the private room of His residence. It is Darshan time in Brindavan! He will soon emerge out of the room and walk towards the gate, outside which have gathered hundreds of devotees, seated on the ground, tensely expectant, silent, and each one full of intense hope that Bhagavan will have a special word of solace... perhaps bestow on them some gesture of love and compassion... or even the much coveted Interview!
The main gate is opened by a couple of volunteers. Baba comes out, a radiant smile on His handsome face. His light shaded red robe and His magnificent hair shine as if some divine, effulgent light is falling upon His exquisitely charming, slim figure. He stands outside the gate for a moment and casts His eyes on the large crowd of men, women and children. They have come from all parts of India and many from abroad. Baba's gaze has an electrifying effect upon them. One seems to be merged with some supreme power, a Mahashakti. The whole atmosphere is charged with love, Prema. Baba is compassion personified. As He stands there surveying the devotees for a few minutes, His hands make a few significant gestures perhaps of encouragement, solace and benediction. For Baba knows each individual among the crowd. He can probe into each person's inner depths, understand each devotee’s needs and problems.
He is now moving towards the devotees seated in long, almost interminable lines - ¬men on one side and women on the other. A lady suddenly gets up and approaches Him, and in a voice trembling with some deep agony oppressing her heart, whispers a few words to this incarnation of the Divine, who is now amongst us, to fulfill the solemn assurance He had given ages ago, to Arjuna on the tumultuous battlefield of Kurukshetra:
Whenever there is decay
of Dharma and rise of Adharma.
He listens to the lady. He knows what is troubling her. At once, He stretches slightly His right hand, makes a brief rotating movement with the hand and a small quantity of sacred Vibhuti appears. He pours it into the woman's palm... there are tears in her eyes, not of sorrow, but of a deep satisfaction, Ananda. His divine touch on her head has expelled all her doubts and fears. They are tears of gratitude, of love.
A few steps.... under the shade of the tree near the gate, He sees a sick child crippled by some disease. He makes a beeline towards the child. The parents and other members of the family gather around him. Baba knows exactly what is wrong with the child. He is an Avatar—omnipotent and omniscient. Men must work out their Karma, but the Lord's grace is even more powerful. He knows best what to do in each case of suffering. His compassion can dissolve the effects of Karma, mitigate its rigours. Baba soothes the parents and relatives of the child by a few encouraging words, pats the child's head and, mystery of mysteries, He tells the parents all about the child's illness, again materialises the sacred Vibhuti and applies it lovingly to the child's limbs. The gloom that has enveloped the child's parents vanishes. Baba has been the bringer of a new hope, a strengthened faith in a power that is beyond our petty calculations. The Veda describes the Supreme as "Aprapya Manasasaha", beyond the utmost bounds of human intelligence and logic.
"God moving among men”, I hear someone whisper to His neighbour. As he says these words, his eyes moisten. A flickering conviction, perhaps, but at the moment in Baba's presence, he is deeply moved. And so are hundreds of others. In Baba's mere presence, the atmosphere becomes instantaneously charged with a light and splendour "that never was on sea or land”, a glory which can hardly be described in human speech. As He moves along between the two rows of devotees, many make desperate attempts to catch His eye or attract His attention. Eager, tear-filled eyes, faces drawn with pain, some nameless anxiety or fear, broken hearts, frustrated personalities, men and women groaning under the heavy burden of worldly cares and problems, guilt conscious persons seeking divine forgiveness, aspirants of the spirit in search of a supremely self realised being... others, anxious for some token of compassion and still others in grave need of some earthly benefit; they are all there.
The Gita speaks of four kinds of Bhaktas; arto, jijnasur, artharthi, and Jnani - the man in distress, the man seeking knowledge, the man seeking wealth and the man imbued with wisdom. All these types are here and many more, the derelicts and the abandoned... sometimes those who come to see Baba merely out of curiosity ....skeptics and atheists, wanderers who have assumed the garb of Sannyasis to maintain themselves without work, the waifs and strays of the world. He sometimes reveals an uncanny understanding of those who somehow do not fit themselves into the atmosphere of the place.
All eyes are focused on the slim, radiant, beloved figure. With folded hands they gaze into His eyes. He stops, before a group; the miracle of the sacred Vibhuti is repea¬ted. His eyes soften with deep compassion as some old lady attempts to touch His Feet. "No, Bangaroo,” He tells her. Bangaroo is a favourite word of affection with Baba. As He utters it to a devotee, it opens out unlimited realms of divine solicitude for the smallest of His devotees. It is the "open sesame" that opens the doors of one's heart; its sweetness lingers in the heart for days, it vibrates and reverberates in one's soul. Bangaroo is a Telugu word meaning "gold”. When I first heard it addressed to me, many years ago, I felt as if I was lifted to the heavens. It has continued to haunt me, and whenever Baba utters the magic word to me, I am filled with joy and peace which seem to have no bounds. Attuned, Baba stands perfectly still, deeply absorbed in Himself. He brings to my mind the figure of the Supreme Yogi—untouched by the waves of this worldly ocean. Only He knows what He is thinking about—the past, present and future of creation, and perhaps, His long, unbroken lineage of Himself from generation to generation: "Many are the births taken by me and you, O Arjuna. I know them all while you know not, O Parantapa.” These are the words of Krishna in the Gita.
Baba is the consciousness that abides in eternity, a consciousness not erased or fragmented by the endless passage of eons, a consciousness that survives the universe's cataclysms and transformations. He is the ONE that remains while the many change and pass.
He walks sometimes briskly, hardly noticing the crowd, silent, detached, not even a smile at them. Not that He is indifferent. He knows when He should speak to a particular devotee. His blessings are there—an integral, inseparable part of His Darshan. Through unheard spiritual vibrations, unuttered words, Baba can bring about a silent transformation among the people. His very presence is a perpetual blessing. "When I first saw Him,” said an American devotee to me, "I was thrilled and uplifted beyond my wildest expectations." The Divine's ways are always unpredictable. God is inscrutable. He moves in a mysterious way to perform His wonders. Divine Love transcends the ups and downs, the vicissitudes of human behaviour. There, certainly, is a hidden purpose in Bhagavan's ways. His Prema is inexhaustible. One of His most moving declarations is that though men disregard Him, look upon Him with doubt, are ungrateful and do not recognise Him, His care, love and solicitude will never abate.
Many offer garlands to Him, or other things. They beseech Him for autographs. Sometimes if the devotee is lucky, the offerings are touched and given back. Flower garlands are invariably flung with an enchanting smile towards the devotee. "Not for you only,” He adds mischievously, "share the flowers with others." There are a couple of young men dressed flamboyantly, with hang hair and "side burns”, typical products of our decadent, hybrid culture. Baba has no patience with such youthful aberrations. He speaks sternly to them. Some bring gifts to him. “I do not want your offerings,” He gently reprimands them, "offer your heart's purity to me. That is enough for me." He often tells people that He is not a ‘taker’ but a ‘giver’. He is a veritable Kalpavriksha—the divine tree of wish fulfillment. His generosity is as vast as the ocean.
Baba's humour is sparkling. I remember when a lady complained to Baba about her son’s poor progress at school, Baba without batting an eye lid told her, "Then the best thing is to attend school yourself." His jokes do not hurt. Nobody is happier than those of whom He sometimes makes fun. Baba's humour is like the soft dimples of light that appear on the surface of a stream or river when the morning sun shines upon it. His humour has a radiance which belongs to soft and fragrant rose petals, the iridescent rainbow which spans the sky, the cool showers of summer, the heart warming smile of a child, the enchanting notes of bird song... He is not always soft and gentle. When He sees among the crowd someone who has cried and had been forgiven and still continues to be refractory, His reprimand acquires a sudden sharpness. Even the harshness is part of His Divine Mission, His ceaseless solicitude for His devotees. At such times, He is hard as a diamond, yet basically compassionate and understanding; Vajradapi kathorani, mridunam kusumadapi. "Hard as a diamond soft as a flower".
Baba loves children. They sometimes break loose from their mothers or fathers and rush to Baba with a flower or a photograph to be autographed. Baba is always affectionate towards them. He pats them on their backs, and I have seen Him giving them sweets which just happen to be in His palm at the moment! He does not mind children prostrating themselves before Him although He is distinctly averse to Padanamaskars by the adults when He moves among a crowd of devotees. This hampers His progress and disturbs Him when he is engaged in some serious conversation with a devotee. He performs Aksharabhyasa for the children, by writing the sacred syllable "OM" on the slate brought by the child and guiding the little hands of the child gently and lovingly over the letter.
When old devotees come, He enquires about their welfare and sometimes calls them for an Interview inside His residence. He has a soft corner for such devotees as have travelled long distances for His Darshans. He asks them to come and stand before the Interview room in groups, talks to them at length and sends them away with Prasad. Baba loves people who are guileless and unsophisticated. These "Interviews" (a word which cannot adequately convey what is really a deep communion between the Lord and His Bhaktas) whether in Brindavan or at Prashanti Nilayam are tremendously significant.
It is time to return to His residence. His return is a little tumultuous, the crowd eager to come closer to Him. The lines are broken, and many people rush toward Him. They know He is going back; they too must return home. When comes another chance? They want to touch Baba's Feet, do Padanamaskar, prostration at His Holy Feet. To an Indian devotee the touch of the Feet of the Guru is an act of absolute surrender. There is a little confusion. Volunteers have to be vigilant; otherwise Baba would find it difficult to extricate Himself from these numerous suppliants of His grace and blessings.
Now He enters the gate, quickly turns to the left and walks along the narrow path between the rose garden, and the bougainvillea hedge towards the Interview room. On the verandah outside are seated those whose stricken minds and sorrowful hearts await the touch of the divine healing balm of Baba's Love and understanding. Baba softly opens the door, enters, and beckons the devotees.... So He accomplishes His Divine Ministry day after day, wherever He is.
—H. Sunder Rao, Brindavan
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