Off to India!
And so I rode the comet around the sun, spending the fiery hours of its perihelion rounding half the earth to arrive in India on the 28th of December. There was bad weather in Delhi and so we were forced to land Bombay instead. The airline was gracious enough to put us up in a hotel overnight, and then fly us to Delhi in the morning.
While going through the hassle at customs, suddenly an Indian sanyasi, who had preceded me through the line, struck up a conversation. He had a warm joyful face and seemed full of love. He inquired about my journey and I told him something of my interests. To my astonishment it turned out that he was acquainted with Vimala. It seemed an auspicious omen for this arrival, to be standing there in the airport chaos speaking of higher things.
Like a child might bring forth his teddy bear for a stranger to meet I eagerly brought out my picture of Ramakrishna from its brown plastic case and held it up for him to see, as if therein the whole purpose and reason for my journey should be plain for anyone to see. When the sanyasi saw the Master's portrait he lit up with joy saying, "Oh, that sweet boy, I feel as if I could just kiss him!" Whereupon he touched the picture to his head and then kissed it. I was delighted! It seemed an auspicious sign to me.
The sanyasin told me: "Religion should be a thing of joy, singing, dancing! Our Indian yogis have a tendency to be too somber and stern. They scare people away from the path to God rather than attracting them!"
The earmark of a true man of God, he said, is that he is happy and joyous. Then he embraced and kissed me when he left, and wished me well on my journey. The whole incident was a Godsend. It lifted my mind above the anxiety I had been feeling over the mere material difficulties of customs, and it made me feel as if, by chance or fate, India Herself had sent a holy man to welcome me to her ancient soil. For some reason I have always felt my heart quicken and my spirits lift whenever I see the ochre robes of a sanyasi, and this timely coincidence made me happy.
I managed to get to the hotel that the airline had designated and took a much needed shower and put on clean clothes. It was a simple room and I was exhausted. I carefully set up the picture of Ramakrishna on the desk and sat down before it with my guitar and sang my prayers to it, to my heart's content. Did I succeed in bringing my sweet friend to India? Or did he bring me? I wept with gladness. How my heart had been aching to return to India! And now I was here! The picture seemed to shine. I was thankful. I lapsed into a coma of deep sleep, exhausted from the plane flight and from these weeks of anticipation.
India did not strike me as I thought it would. This was to be a journey quite different from my previous one. There was not the sense of exotic adventure there had been the first time and I felt more at home. All the strange sights of Indian culture which had so enthralled me and captivated my senses in 1971 now seemed much more ordinary and familiar. I felt more at home this time. This time my mind was fixed like a radar beacon toward the unknown object of my quest, the old man in Calcutta to which Athena had directed me. Somehow I trusted completely that a benevolent destiny was guiding me, and my obsession to follow that destiny made the sights and sounds around me fade into a dreamlike chimera, in the midst of which my portrait of Ramakrishna seemed the one single real and shining factor.
I left the next day for Delhi and arrived to be caught up in a typical Indian hassle over baggage that was incredible. There were several hundred people pushing and shoving each other for well over an hour in a room hardly large enough to hold them all. I thought, what beasts we become when the security of our trifling possessions is even imagined to be threatened! I bore this agonizing madness until my own things turned up and left for the city of Delhi. Since it was Saturday evening there was no chance of getting my ticket to Calcutta. So I looked for a place to stay.
First I went to a place called the Kali Temple Guest House, but there was no room. I finally wound up at a place called the Nataraj Hotel, in a clean but windowless room, and in which, during the next two days, a curious suffering was to overtake me. It was a period of waiting.
I had no desire to go sightseeing Delhi. It is not my favorite Indian city and I had seen more of it than I wanted to in 1971. A strange kind of weariness began to creep over me that night and the following day. It was an exhaustion which seemed to reach into the depths of my being.
Also, an infection in my tonsils started up and worsened steadily. It was no doubt a reaction to a severe canker sore which had taken root in the left lower side of my mouth. This was a very bad mouth sore, worse than any I had ever had, and it gradually became a gaping, open wound, quite painful, and a source of worry to my mind. Maybe it's cancer, I started to think, lonely and forlorn. The beginning of the end.
Was my health to break down altogether so close to my destination? My mood became very low. Even so, in my quest I was undaunted, despite this increasing depression. Most definitely I would pursue my madness to its inevitable conclusion, whether it be victory or failure or even death, yet I was starting to feel a little forlorn and lost. Actually it was a kind of death that I experienced during those seemingly endless two days in Delhi. It slowly dawned on me that everything had been sacrificed this time. I had burned my bridges and come away completely. I had risked all this time on a compulsive whim derived from the words of a sage. Was I amiss? How bitterly I wept and wept! I suddenly saw that I had given so much of myself to this one desire, to find the Son of God, that I no longer cared in the least whether I lived or died, so long as I might behold His sweet living face just once.
"If it is your will that that I die, O Lord, I don't care any more. Only let me see you first." My physical state was such that death was not an unlikely consideration to my mind. There, in the little chamber of my room at the Nataraj Hotel, my past seemed to get discarded. My eyes got glued to the photo of my Master. Oh! how I wept, like a child, filled with a love's ache that knows no cure save the beloved Himself. All thought of going anywhere else than Calcutta faded completely. To get to that Baba was my only thought. Was he my Ramakrishna? Athena's few and cryptic words went through my brain again and again.
"For me he is just like a Ramakrishna," she had said.
"He is not an ordinary man."
"Ever since I was little I had wanted to see this kind of being."
Somehow I held out. A deep faith burned in my heart that I was being led by the hand of a higher intelligence, and that if I had actually managed, whether by madness of longing, or by any other means, in surrendering my life at God's feet, then all would be well. Gazing at the beauty in my Master's eyes gave me solace to continue.
I finally was able to purchase my ticket to Calcutta on December 31st, to depart that very night, on the threshold of a new year, and, as I later learned, on the slowest and worst possible train, a mail train which stopped at practically every station. I did not much care, for I have always loved being on trains.
January 1, 1974
I awoke on the train and a fellow traveler in my compartment greeted me with the words: "Happy New Year!" I suddenly remembered that it was New Year's Day. I am alone and traveling to Calcutta on the first day of a new year. Or was it the first day of a new life?
The mouth pain is worse. When the train comes to Varanasi (Benares), the ancient city so sacred to Lord Shiva, we have to detrain briefly because of some trouble with the car. For me this delay is a boon since I get a chance to stand on holy ground, even if it is just the train station.
Once we are moving again we pass over the river Ganges and I sing quietly to myself. I feel a sweet homecoming feeling. I look at Ramakrishna occasionally, and am reading a book called Spiritual Talks by one of his disciples. I feel an utter abandonment to fate and destiny. Everything is just happening and I am doing nothing at all.
At night the car fills up with adolescent boys, local travelers sneaking into the first class cars for a short ride. They are crowded into our compartment, and seeing my guitar, they want me to sing. I startle them and silence the car by pulling out the guitar and singing in a couple of songs in Hindi! They are astonished and cheer me on. Night comes again and the train rolls on.
On the train to Calcutta I feel a sense of coming home as we come into the more tropical area of Bengal. The air is moist and there are more palm trees and other greenery. I stand in the doorway of the train wondering if it is true that I was here before. Am I coming "back home," I wonder?
I reach Calcutta on January 2nd at 5pm in Sealdeah station. I try to ring up the number for Jiten which Athena had given me, but it is too late. He has gone home. I pick a rickshaw driver from the many which confront me and I tell him I want a cheap hotel. He takes me to the "Hippie" district near the New Market and I stay at the Paragon Hotel. It is another simple windowless room.
The next day I go to meet Jiten at his place of work: Howrah Station. I have to wait for him for some time in the upper booking office. Jiten immediately takes off work for the day and takes me to his home. It is now January 3rd.
On the rickshaw ride to Jiten's from the Chandernagore train station I finally can relax, feeling myself to be in good hands. I get all surrounded by a beautiful golden light.
Jiten startles me somewhat by telling me a story. He tells me how Baba had told him many years ago that a young man would come from America one day, and that Baba had requested Jiten to take him into his house as one of his own family. I am amazed. Did this Baba know so many years back that I would come?
At Jiten's house I meet my new family, Jiten's wife, three sons and a daughter. Also staying there was Jiten's father in law "Dadu," and his sister in law Miru. My three new little "brothers" are enthralled to have a new American "brother." That very first night I learn my first word of Bengali: "prajapati," meaning "butterfly." I was wearing a tee shirt with a butterfly design on the front.
I spend the day of the 4th with my new "family" and begin to learn the customs. They have all set up a table for me to eat at, with chair and silverware. After one or two times of this I feel uncomfortable and from then on sit on the floor with everyone else. I feel I do not want any special status and I want to be among them all. It makes them laugh and they seem to understand in a happy way.
I Meet Baba for the First Time
On January 5, 1974 we take the train to the ashram. Two trains actually, for we have to switch rail lines. At the ashram they show me how to wash my feet and hands at the pump. This is the normal custom when going anywhere. The ashram is small and unpretentious. We go into the main building, the Kali temple, and I see a short man with long white hair sitting in worship before the image of the goddess. I can but see the back of his head as he worships there.
After some time, the worship is finished and this small man turns and smiles at me. His face is beautiful and radiant. Beaming with light he says, in broken English: "Thank you! One God, very much!" He repeats it again, pointing upward on the word "God" and putting his hands together in pranam on the words "very much!"
We all go into a room to the side of the temple which is Baba's own room. We sit in a circle and have tea and cookies, or "biscuits" as they call them. I am facing Baba and I notice that he is in a very happy mood, abstracted, almost intoxicated.
After tea is taken I give Baba the cassette tape recorder which Athena had sent with me. I reach over and push the record button. I am amazed that he just seems to fall into a kind of automatic speech, the words just start to flow. I am watching entranced as he goes into an exalted state, eyes half closed, mind concentrated. He starts calling me by the name "Premananda" at this point, although it later becomes clear that he has been calling me Premananda for a long time from afar. I hear him saying my name on the tape recording and I long to know what he is saying about me. He is talking about Premamayi as well. I believe this to be the first occasion of his speech being recorded.
I cannot understand the Bengali of course, but I later find out his first words translate to something like this: "I am a beggar. A beggar and a sadhu. So it is not correct for me to keep such an expensive gift in my ashram. I will ask a disciple to keep it and when it is needed I can call for it."
As it turned out, he kept it anyway, under my supervision.
Also on that first tape was the story of how Premamayi
went through many hardships and difficulties to be with Baba on one of her visits. She had
arrived in Ramanathpur only to find that Baba had gone to his birthplace for his yearly
worship there in honor of his father. It is a very remote place and the weather was very
bad, torrential rain, mud everywhere. Baba told how her faith was so great she insisted on
going there at once and would not turn back. This was great devotion and faith in guru, he
said. "Guru-God, God-Guru."
One of the disciples excitedly tells me that Baba had said some few days before "Premananda has left America now." It was odd because I had sent no telegram or letter indicating I was coming.
After our tea there is some banter. Baba is jokingly telling the devotees that now that I am here he will go off with me to South India. The worries about the festival are bothering him he says. I do not fully realize he is joking. He is asking me, through the others, if I would accompany him to South India. I say yes, of course, and he is pleased, like a child.
He goes outside and shows me around the ashram. He is in some kind of deepening ecstatic state. Something happens as I am walking with him across the front of the temple. I look at him and see he is swimming deeply into himself. He seems to be imploding in some way, in some kind of ecstasy. His eyes are squinted almost closed in a kind of inward smile.
When the time comes to leave Baba insists on seeing us part of the way. Jiten and the others keep telling him that is enough, he should go back now, but he keeps insisting on seeing us a bit further along the path. When we come to a turn where we will head off across the rice fields he still wants to come, but the disciples get firm and insist that he go back to the ashram now. I am very deeply touched to see his attachment to me after our first and only meeting so far. Why does he seem to love me so much at first sight?
First Dream of Baba
Jan 6 early AM.
That night I went to sleep at Jiten's in the room that Jiten had built for Baba. I was pleased that I could stay in this room where Baba had stayed. I had set up a little altar in the corner with my picture of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda and Sarada Devi. I sat before it and looked about in wonder.
Where was I? I had crazily risked all, wandered off to Calcutta, and now I was amazed that I was suddenly so well looked-after here in a loving home with strangers who called themselves my "family." Was it true, the old saying, that if the disciple can just take one genuine step toward God, God takes a thousand steps toward him?
That night I had an intense and visionary dream. In it, I found myself running in a vague kind of misty place. There was a very fine light all around, and some sort of white fog, and the place had no other features, really, except that it sloped gently up and up, as if it were a kind of hill. I had the feeling of being a young child, and in my hand I was carrying my precious picture of Ramakrishna.
I was eagerly running toward what I sensed was my mother, that she was up this hill, that I would run to her and show her this wonderful picture I had gotten. It was not exactly my earthly mother, however, to which I ran, but some general motherly presence. I did not, in the dream, think "Divine Mother," yet it was that kind of great, all-pervading entity. And like any child runs to its mother to show some treasure it has stumbled across, I wanted to show this picture I had gotten, this portrait of a wonderful being.
As I came kind of breathlessly, excited, to the top of this hill, I felt the presence of my "Mother" very intimately there. I could almost see her face. I showed the picture, overflowing with childish enthusiasm. "Look!" I exclaimed. "Look, how beautiful! It's a picture of God! Look, he is my very own friend! " No one could fully appreciate my love of this picture, or how it had so changed and influenced my life, but this Mother being, who seemed somehow all-pervading in that white hill-top place, could, I knew it, and I so wanted to share this treasure. I communicated in a sort of telepathic way with her.
She looked on me kindly and lovingly, silently smiling. The love I had was what she saw. As I showed her this picture, and communicated my belief that it was really a picture of God, she paused a moment, as if to gather my attention to herself, and then she kind of made a gesture with her being, a kind of sweep of the arm, without an actual arm, and she took my full awareness and turned it, and aimed it, and her mental "voice" simply seemed to say, "Yes my child, I know. But now behold!" And she revealed before my mind's eyes a vision that played out like a film in front of me.
My hand with the picture fell to my side, nearly forgotten, as I was suddenly watching this scene playing, in perfect crisp detail, before me. And it was a film, simply, of a tiny portion of what had happened that day. The scene was of Baba walking across the Ashram grounds as he was showing me around. From this vague white fog-like place I was suddenly there again, back at the ashram, just beholding Baba as he walked around with me in his ecstasy. And I was able to see into this picture, to see it more carefully and slowly than I had when it had actually happened. It was literally as if the Mother were replaying my own event to me, giving me a second chance to see it again, to see it deeply.
I saw that Baba was walking in this outer world, but he was completely inner somehow. He was flowing inward in a kind of constant stream. He was kind of leading me around the front "yard" of the temple. He was looking around for things to show me. He was bubbling over, like he wanted to show me everything at once, excited, like a child. But what was there to show?
He seemed to be looking around almost desperately for something to share with me. He wanted to make it all mine. But what was there? He saw some flowers that were growing near the temple. Just some simple flowers. He showed them to me as if saying, well, here are these flowers! You see, we have all this, we have these flowers here! And then, all of a sudden embarrassed, he was laughing sheepishly, like a drunken man who begins to realize how drunk he is, he was saying, what am I talking about! You are from a great, rich country, you have been all over the world, and I am showing you these flowers! (What must you think of me?)
And he was intoxicated! He was so much in bliss he seemed not to quite know what he was doing. He stumbled on, laughing, with me in tow, looking further than the flowers, as if there must be something here! Over in the side yard he showed me where they had dug these pits. He made me to understand that they would do the cooking for the festival over these pits, He gestured to the whole place and looked at me lovingly. He kind of gave up at that point. In his look he communicated what he wanted to say. His eyes said, well, I guess there isn't really much to actually show you at all, this is really just a run-down place with nothing much here at all!
The whole place seemed to turn and revolve around his bliss. I was awestruck. He seemed to have scooped me up in those moments and gathered me into his heart.
The movie kind of flickered and was rerunning from the point of Baba walking across the front of the ashram, flowing inward, absorbed in the intoxication of love. I saw him again, eyes twinkling, nearly closed.
Watching him, a huge and intense wave of feeling swelled and threw me forcibly and abruptly into a waking state. I had been on the verge of weeping in the "dream" and I instantly awoke, weeping. I did not have the usual feeling of having been dreaming. I wept uncontrollably, sobbing. I do not know what I was crying about. I had gone running to the Mother to show her my picture of Ramakrishna and she had smiled and swept her arm and said "behold!" And I had beheld as she played back to me her picture.
I woke from the dream in a flash and the vision had seemed more real than the waking state, and I knew for certain that it had not been an ordinary dream, but rather a dream vision inspired by forces beyond my ken. I cried and cried for a very long time with all the feelings in me which the dream had inspired.
From the moment of that dream I knew it was a sign not to go anywhere else, but to stay with Baba. It was so powerful in this way. I was searching for the reincarnation of Sri Ramakrishna after all, but the dream said very clearly to stay with Baba.
I could see he was overwhelmed with love for me, himself like a little child without the slightest trace of pretension.
That night I wrote a poem about Baba:
Later Jiten would return from the ashram and tell be that Baba had been sleepless that night at the time of my dream. He had been yearning to see me again and calling for me. This stupified me. Was this not exactly how Ramakrishna himself responded to his disciples?
Some time with my new family
I spend the next day getting used to Bengal. The bustle of family life is comforting, and I get to know these wonderful people in whose care I have been placed.
Immediately I start to learn the language. Nine year old Titu brings me his simplest school books which show how to make the letters of the Bengali alphabet. Titu is all encouragement and a patient teacher, praising me when I am correct, correcting me gently when I am not.
At other times I have wonderful conversations with Dadu, Jiten's wife's father who is staying some months with them. He has very good English and is always wanting to discuss spiritual things. He says, for example: "Man cannot see God directly, but he can see Son of God." And in other statements he indicates that Baba is just such a "Son of God." I love talking to him. His humility is complete and he is kind and gentle in all things.
Later at night I go to sleep and have another dream of Baba. This one is disturbing and I awake crying and weeping like a baby.
Second dream of Baba
The very night after my first ecstatic dream of Baba I had another one, this time frightening and sad. In my dream I am aware that it is Calcutta in the future. The city is at war or at least some kind of emergency since there are soldiers all around. With the help of some soldiers I am taken to a guarded hotel and given a room. It is far enough in the future that I am aware that Baba has passed away by now. I feel forlorn and uncertain. I go out on the balcony of my room and gaze down at the chaotic flow of people in the street below.
Suddenly I notice one old man who reminds me of Dadu. Of all the people in the street he turns and looks up at me directly. He points his finger at me on the balcony above and clearly says the following words: "Now it is only God himself who can help you"
Second Darshan with Baba
On the 8th or 9th I had my second darshan.
On the 11th I went with Jiten and Miru to Dakshineswar for the first time. We wandered about visiting the many temples at this famous site. I was thrilled and impressed to see for myself this place which I had read so much about in books. At last it became time to visit Ramakrishna's own room. It was in this room that so much occurred that is written about in M.'s book The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna.
I saw the bed where he used to sit, the pictures along the walls that he used to look at and pray to. There were the shoes that he wore. Everything had been kept as nearly as possible in the way it was when he was alive. Worship of his picture was done every day.
After a few minutes in his room I suddenly became overwhelmed. It struck that he had been here and that he was still here. I began to hyperventilate as the whole power of it hit my heart. My body began to feel numb. My mind was rushing to the feet in the picture of him that sat atop the bed where he used to sit. I felt faint, as if I would fall over. The feeling of his presence there was total. I loved him so much I was lost to anyting else.
Suddenly, only half aware of the outer world, I felt Jiten's arm around me pulling me out out of the room to the inner courtyard of the temple. I latched on to a pillar to support myself. I was taking deep breaths to calm down and tears of love were streaming down my cheeks. It took some several minutes to return to a more normal state.
Baba knew we were to visit Dakshineswar that day. Later on Jiten told me that Baba had given him explicit instructions to watch over me when I went into the Master's room. He had told Jiten I would experience bhav samadhi in the room and that he should get me out of there at that point lest I lose consciousness altogether. I might fall and hurt myself. From my point of view I was utterly astonished at the high spiritual power that resides in that room to this very day.
Baba at Chandernagore
We expected Baba to come to Chandernagore on the 13th, but he came a day later on the 14th. He stayed the 15th and on the 16th took me with him to Rishra.
While in Chandernagore Baba gave me several "tests," which would be the first of many. He was sitting on the upstairs veranda outside the room Jiten had built for him. He was combing his hair and then smoking a bidi. He then told Jiten to tell me that I would marry an Indian girl.
This took me so aback I was nearly crying. It was my only wish to be a disciple of such a one as Ramakrishna. Marriage was out of the question. Ramakrishna used to weep and lament when any of his disciples had to get married. Why was he saying this to me now? I was devastated. I protested bitterly, even angrily. I was close to tears about this. I said I would in no way marry an Indian girl or any girl!
But had I known him better, as I would later, I might have discerned the twinkle in his eye which came when he was putting someone to the test. Nor did I know then that he would one day call me his "husband" and himself my "wife." He himself was the Indian girl I would "marry!"
Again he tested me about money. He claimed he was short and needed a loan. Would I give him some money? Loan him some money? One hundred thousand rupees? I honestly told him I would give him all I had. He seemed pleased. It would be a long time before I learned the pun he was using in this test. The word for "hundred thousand" is lakh, very close to the word for "single aim" which is lokkya. It was like two tests in one: would I give him money? And would I give him my single aim at all times?
It was wonderful having him as guest at Jiten's house. All his usual worship activities were performed at the proper hours, and in the evening we sang bhajans and kirtan with me playing the guitar and the boys filling in with drums.
At another later time he looked at the diary note I had been making and he indicated that the writing of these stories about him was the real money, the "god-money" which I would give him.
We go to Rishra
On the 16th Baba took me to a disciples house in Rishra. It was a train ride from Jiten's house, but not a long one. There was to be kirtan there and all type of refreshments. The general purpose of the kirtan was to help raise money for the coming festival of Annokoot at the ashram. And not just money but commodities such as bags of potatoes, vegetables, spices and such. Money was needed and food was especially needed.
Baba sang and danced and I was incredulous to see his strength and stamina. Afterward there was a seemingly small incident which impressed me deeply. We were about to partake of the sweets and other offering of the host of the house when Baba asked me if I had washed my hands. I was still not accustomed to the endless washing of hands that goes on in India, arriving somewhere, before food, after food, before handling food, and so on. So I said no, I hadn't washed my hands.
Suddenly, like a caring mother, he get off the bed and grabs me by the hands. He leads me out back to where the water taps are. He washes his own hands and then takes my two hands in his and washes them carefully and thoroughly. The incident has a strange effect on me, making me feel so close to him, closer than kin. He them makes me to understand that this is the work of the guru, to cleanse the disciple, to directly make the disciple clean and pure.
We return and partake of the many good things to eat, but I am awed by the fact that this Baba has just washed my hands with his own clean hands. It is so deeply impressed that I have never forgotten it. It was the highlight for me of our trip to Rishra.
I return later that night to Jiten's with Biswa, and Baba returns to the ashram.
Telling Baba my story with Babananda
On one of my visits to the ashram I met Kashishwar Mukherji, to whom Baba had given the name "Babananda." He was a great rotund man of deep devotion and humor who sang the sanskrit hymns with fervor and emotion, tears streaming down his face.
Baba made me sit on a bench in front of the Kali temple and sing for Babananda some of the bhajans I had learned. Babananda was impressed deeply. After that we went into the Kali temple, just the three of us sitting in a circle, and asked me to tell the story of how I got there. I would speak in English and Babananada would translate for Baba.
I did the best I could, recounting about how I had fallen in love with Ramakrishna, then how I had heard about the Baul incarnation of Ramakrishna and determined to come to India to seek him out. I told how Athena had suggested I visit Baba first on my quest. It was a story considerably more detailed that I am putting here.
As I talked, and Babananda translated, I was just looking at Baba. His face and eyes began to shine more and more. I began to lose sight of the room in light that seemed to emanate from Baba. Babananda also became filled with emotion hearing my simple tale of bhakti and devotion.
By the time I finished my story, all the while staring at Baba, I could see little except a mass of golden light and his two eyes in the midst of it. Baba touched my legs and shook me and with eyes gleaming said to Babananda: "Look, bhav samadhi." Indeed, telling the tale had put me in a high state of love and devotion. I had finally poured out my tale to Baba. I was even vaguely aware that the translator was not really required. Baba seemed to know what I was saying by his own powers beyond human language.
I felt a great relief. Baba brought me back down to a normal state again by turning attention to more mundane things.
From time to time I wrote in my diary, as if to just make sense out of things, to try to put the events in perspective. If it is the "God money" he spoke of, then I am glad.
Entry in exercise book "II"
Small Chapter Days in Chandernagore
Source: Exercise book "II":
January 21, 1974
Is it not to the simple heart that love finds its easiest access? To be sensitive is to be open to the sweet breeze of love, from whichever corner it may come, and the response to that breeze is love again. To the heart which loves, love comes in great abundance, and its fullness silences the mind which can never grasp or encompass love's miracle.
I spent time with my new family. We had a small "picnic" at a nearby pond during which I taught the boys the techniques of throwing and catching the Frisbees I had brought as gifts. They learned quickly and were soon more adept than I.
On January 28th the Saraswati Puja was celebrated. With my new family I toured the town of Chandenagore to see the festivities. Each family group had made their own image of the goddess Saraswati, some of clay, some of paper mache, some of cardboard and paper. Some of these included temple pillars and roofs and all were painted brightly and adorned with candles or Christmas type lights blinking on and off.
Taken altogether it was a huge effort and a magnificent outcome. It was touching to behold. And everyone toured the streets to see each other's efforts. Because Saraswati is the goddess of learning, many of the displays had school books and notebooks at her feet. Offerings to be blessed by the goddess so that the children might excel in school.
We stopped and sang bhajans and kirtan in front of the Thakur my little "brothers" had made. It was very touching.
The next day I returned to the Ashram.
The Festival at Ramanathpur
Source: Entry, exercise book "III":
On the 29th of January I traveled from Chandenagore to Ramanathpur to witness the festival of Annokoot for which Baba and his devotees had been preparing for some time. Annokoot is really an ancient festival dedicated to the rice harvest.
I had myself traveled with Baba to Rishra on the 16th to visit the houses of several devotees and collect from them some money, rice and other commodities with which to feed the thousands of people who would come, to take prasad on the 30th. People would come from miles around to eat the consecrated rice and vegetables to be cooked up in massive black pots which looked like giant woks.
Jiten had been preoccupied with the arrangements for the festival for weeks on end, so much so that even his daily office period had been devoted to preparations for the long awaited event.
Traveling to Ramanathpur I was accompanied by Biswa, Jiten's nephew. We were late by several minutes and missed our connecting train, so what was already a long journey turned out to be more so.
We arrived in Kholachora in the late afternoon and went by foot the remaining distance of several miles. Once again, out of the scramble of the bus, walking on the road that stretches through the fields of paddy, the peaceful beauty of that remote countryside settled upon me, making the heart feel light and free, loosened slightly from the bonds of the world, our so-called "civilization."
This was my fifth visit to the ashram of Baba, and, as on each previous visit, my mind seemed to empty out during the lovely walk, becoming simple again, like a child, empty of expectation, and pulled by the sweet power of love alone.
Before arriving at the Ashram I changed into my newly made Punjabi pajamas and kurta and walked the remaining way in the delightful flowing garments of the Indian people. I was feeling very happy to be coming once again to the feet of my guru and happy that I would have a chance to stay with him at his ashram overnight.
As we walked into the ashram area I could see that many people had already gathered and were milling about, or engaged in various activities of work. In the central area in front of the Kali temple the kirtan party of seven or eight men was chanting the mahamantra to the accompaniment of the Khole drums and cymbals and surrounded by a small crowd of people, sometimes more, sometimes fewer. This mahamantra, also called Harinam, would flow continuously for three days, a veritable current of God-thought ever present in the background, sometimes reduced to a sweet calm flow, sometimes roaring like the torrent of a waterfall, exciting the devotees to rise and dance, inebriated with the delight of God's name.
Baba was sitting on the southern side of the temple porch when I arrived with Biswa. I went in first to salute the Goddess Kali and then came out to give my pranam to Baba, but he withdrew his feet and gave me a sign not to touch them. Jiten, who was sitting nearby with the account books and collection box (a seat he would occupy for three days) explained that Baba would take no pranams during the festival period. Very wise, I thought to myself, for there were already hundreds of people about and thousands to come.
Baba was receiving various people, coming and going, and seemed in quite a natural mood. My attitude was that I should be primarily a spectator at this event, helping if at all possible by taking photos, as Baba had requested, but that I should not expect any special attention from Baba. This was the biggest annual event in the life of the ashram, an immense effort of love and devotion, a spiritual feast and celebration of God.
I, the sole American, the sole foreigner present, felt that I should stay in the background, since I was utterly unacquainted with what was to take place, and since I already felt conspicuous by the whiteness of my skin. Little did I realize at first how Baba's love would draw me in these three long days. His light was to blaze for me so brightly that no shadow would be found. In the midst of this overwhelming crowd of thousands I was to grow into an intimacy with him which would astonish my heart and make me weep and weep unto the Mother, "Thank you! Thank you very much!"
After depositing my shoes in a safe place away from the crowd, a gentleman took me on a "tour" of the area to see the "mela" or carnival, shops and booths set up in the village area selling tea, pictures, souvenirs and what not. I felt blessed to be there, and wide-eyed as a child with wonder. Some stalls were selling holy pictures of gods and godesses, others were selling things to eat. I was intrigued by a small "ferris wheel" type machine which was totally hand powered. There were even some games of chance, although these were, I was told, not officially sanctioned and sometime closed down by the local authorities.
It was a revelation to me of something about the essential characteristic of the Indian nation. Where else, in what other country are there so many festivities carried on in the name of God? These people, generally rather inactive and apathetic toward the kinds of activities which the rest of the world finds so exciting and enticing, are suddenly stirred to great energy and enthusiasm on their holy days, working day and night if the activity has but some element of devotion to, or celebration of God.
If only the western countries could shed their matter-madness just a bit and see beyond the superficial weaknesses of this ancient, tired India, and behold the sweet and innocent virtue shining, preserved (even if somewhat tarnished with age) since the dawn of man. Oh God! Oh, Bhagavan! Oh Ishwar! In this manner beats the heart of India!
And even as the great beasts of the machine-age nations rush blindly toward their mutual destruction, ten-thousand gather in Ramanathpur to pay homage to a holy man and partake of food offered by him to the Divine. To sing the praises of Rama and Krishna and Saraswati. Where else in the world is so much human energy forever pouring toward its own eternal source?
Those three days passed in a kind of magic flow, sometimes with a subtle but powerful inner subjective significance which left me standing speechless and thoughtless. The singing of the harinam would continue three days without stopping:
But the real experience for me was a continual flow of my mind and soul towards the guru's feet. From hour to hour wherever I would wander in the ashram area, through the crowd to take pictures, to watch the kirtan, to witness the cooking, I was forever being drawn back to Baba, to go back and sit beside him, to just watch him be. Toward the end I just was this entire happening and gave in to it, until at the height of the greatest rush of people and energy, all I wanted to do, and did do, was sit looking at Baba as he sat at his place at the tiny temple of Ramchandra.
The cooking was done in giant metal woks over huge fires, about eight of them. Women and men sat peeling endless huge mounds of potatoes and cutting up other vegetables including hot chilis. These were mixed with rice to make a dish called "kitchuri," translated to me as "hodge podge." The fires would burn the whole day long. It was expected that some 10,000 people would be fed. They would be fed in waves since there was space for only about 1000 people to sit down at once.
I was fascinated by it all, and I took photographs, but my mind and attention kept returning to Baba. The roar and rush of the crowd kept fading like an oceanic dream, in the midst of which, in the focus of my gaze, sat Baba, always giving, always new and always shining.
To me Baba was the festival, the creator and sustainer of this divine play, and at once its chief witness. To speak of the festival I must speak of Baba. My experience of the festival was an experience of Baba, during which, by the divine grace of the Universal Mother, it was revealed that this was He whom I had been seeking my life long.
My memories are clustered in fragments. Each one is like a gem, a shining diamond on a necklace that garlands my heart. I remember the opening speech Baba made to the people who had gathered in the ashram grounds. A crude horn type amplifier powered by a battery had been brought in and set up, apparently for this one speech alone. The kirtan continued in the background, as always, and so even using the amplifier Baba had to speak loudly. This was, more or less, the "official" opening of the week long celebration, and particularly of the activity of feeding the people with prasad. Baba. was keyed up for the speech, and delivered it in a smooth spontaneous continuous flow of inspiration.
I was standing several feet away, near his feet, looking up at him, and, as always, feeling a slight sense of anguish at being unable to understand his words. I had been hearing Bengali spoken for nearly a month so I could tell even without knowing the meaning of the words that what Baba was speaking was a kind of poetry. It flowed with a beauty detectable even to my non-understanding ears. But what was he saying?
He stood with hands folded across his stomach, and I noticed throughout that his legs, and at times his whole body was shaking with the intensity of his feeling. How much anxiety he had suffered over this affair for weeks and weeks! Now it was happening and he was giving his all to all who were there. As he spoke I heard several time the word "America" and he glanced at me several times and I became anxious to know what he was saying.
Baba feels my Anguish
When Baba finished his speech and had wandered off nearby and the people had begun milling about again I looked to a devotee seated on the verandah and asked him to tell me what Baba had said, eagerly hoping to get at least a crumb of the prasad of Baba's words. The man said something to the effect that it was a beautiful speech, but he would or could not explain. Perhaps it was too much trouble. He tapped Jiten on the shoulder and asked him to tell me. "Jiten will tell".
But Jiten, as anyone could see, was very busy at the time, collecting money and keeping the books. Suddenly my anguish turned to despair. I realized that no one would bother to take the trouble to try to translate. It was a despair I had been feeling for some time, since I had met Baba. Baba would speak at length and then, at the most, someone would sum it up in one or two words for me, usually stating something I could guess as much by myself, knowing nothing.
In that moment I felt helpless, like a child. I had thrown aside the very substance of my life in the world to come all the way around the earth to sit at the feet of this wise man and even so no one would ever tell me what he was saying! Didn't anyone see how much I wanted to know? Were they all just being lazy? Would no one do the service of bridging this language gap between guru and chela?
I felt my heart break in sadness within me, and also a kind of childish anger, and felt as if I would start weeping. Tears filled my eyes and a painful longing swept over me to be able to communicate more closely with Baba. Oh! Baba! No one will tell me what you say! I thought to myself, nearly weeping.
Suddenly there was a commotion nearby. The devotees were fussing. I looked over to see what it was and saw Baba standing nearby clutching the post of the verandah to steady himself, his hand over his heart and his face wincing with pain. Heart attack?
I jumped up, forgetting my earlier misery in an instant and rushed to Baba's side, holding onto him as we lowered him to a sitting position. His breathing was labored. The devotees were trying to help him, asking him if he wanted water, etc. I stroked his back and wished against hope that the very love I felt in my heart for him would somehow make him better.
After a minute or two he seemed a bit better and looked over his right shoulder at me, to see, I thought, who was stroking him. In his glance, he spoke. What he said, I cannot say, but I knew then that he was suffering for me. He had had this attack at the very instant I had felt my inner despair rush up and start to break into tears. And he was feeling better because my tears had vanished in my love and concern for him.
Who is this being whose heart is one with his children? Who feels their pain and whose love is so great that its power to communicate transcends words and language into the very heights of union itself? At the height of my sadness of feeling separated from him due to language he showed me that he was one with me, that he could feel my anguish, and felt it even more acutely than I, and that this kind of communion made language itself seem like a silly, petty thing.
Oh! What love! What a lesson transmitted in an instant from eye to eye. Before I knew it he was recovered and off into the crowd toward his seat at Ramchandra temple. My heart bows at his feet. This teacher who teaches with the very substance of his life, while all around the crowd rushes and roars, not noticing, unaware.
I followed Baba to the front of the Ramchandra temple. He sat down, still feeling some discomfort. I felt my heart again overflowing with love and a strange kind of compassion, a sympathy for his suffering, even though my mind knew that the real nature of that suffering was beyond my comprehension.
Baba had lain down and I stroked his back gently, confused by this confrontation with those higher laws. It was like the dream I had had of Baba, a dream resplendent with celestial light which I later found out had coincided to the exact hour with another of these "attacks", though we were miles apart. It was like his taking away my mouth-sore into his own body, relieving my suffering by suffering it himself.
As I stroked him I became overwhelmed at these manifestations of a higher power of love and again I started to cry, quietly, within myself. No sooner had these new tears begun to fill my eyes than Baba moaned and indicated that he was feeling some heart trouble again. How could it be? My up and down moods seemed to be getting expressed in his very body somehow.
Then and only then a devotee told me, "You are crying, and so Baba is feeling it in his heart.
What to do? My pained response to his suffering was causing my tears, yet they were causing his suffering. It flashed through me that there are many kinds of tears, and many ways of weeping. Baba looked up at me and somehow I swallowed my feelings, probably I was just a bit shocked into silence, and I just smiled. I realized that Baba's love was in fact such that if I was unhappy, he was unhappy. I saw that the medicine for his heart pain was a smile on my face. Who can fathom the Lord's love? Who can describe its power to teach without words, or its mighty attraction which can call the soul to leave its ego boundaries and expand unto the Father, its source and goal?
Who can describe the sweet madness of the Lord's love? Is the Lord's love just flowing through Baba, like an eternal fountain, or is this Baba the Lord himself, somehow compressed into living human form, the impossible made actual for the delight of this long-suffering world?
How these thoughts haunted me from day to day, and haunt me still. The heart and mind, though given an abundance of signs and indications through the intricate language of life, require something more to be convinced of this staggering proposition: they require transformation itself. Can the consciousness of the humble dog fathom its human master's ways? Can a mere man, caught and held within the ego boundary, measure the Son of God? Although Baba's lila gave me one event after another to show that this was no ordinary human being, still I wanted a whole new sight by which to see him, a greater wider consciousness in which to view his actions.
If he had the power to change me, to raise me out of my ignorance unto the Father, then I would know for sure that He was the One I had been seeking. And still I wait though the staggering visions I have had would convince any number of less exacting minds. It is no question of acceptance. I am his. Mother has made that much clear.
Baba Dresses me Up
On the morning of the 30th Baba did a strange thing for me when I think of it. He had a whim, which he had mentioned two weeks before, to take a picture of me dressed as Sri Chaitanya, in gerua cloth with a garland of flowers, and hands upraised in praise of Hari. On this sacred morning he carried out his whim in such grand style that I just didn't know what to do or think. I felt then, as I continue to feel whenever I an in his presence, like a boy of 6 or 7, unknowing, fun-loving, and utterly entrusted to his father. Biswa, who was to take the pictures, dressed me in the bright orange cloth, and Baba himself put a garland round my neck, gave me a (rudraksha) mala (which he later said was mine to keep "forever") and painted my forehead --carefully, so lovingly carefully-- with sandalwood paste. When he did, this, again I had great trouble to control my feelings. I wanted to fall into his lap sobbing and weeping. Why should he be loving me so much? What had I ever done to receive such good fortune? The very sight of the love and care he took, like a sweet, oh sweet blissful mother, painting my forehead, just made my heart melt with dumbfounded affection.
Some one or two tears of that affection escaped my eyes and he held up his hard in mock anger as if to give me a slap. Somehow it passed by. I felt strange in this garb, purified somehow. The whole event had a sweet taste. It was a loving mixture of whimsical fun and profound seriousness.
We walked with the kirtan group and a crowd of onlookers to another Kali temple in Ramanathpur village, near to where all the souvenir stands were set up. Had I not felt somewhat self-conscious of the staring curiosity of the crowd, no doubt what followed would have pushed me to the edge of a swoon, Babaji and Premananda dressed as Chaitanya and Nityananda led the kirtan party from the Kali Temple back to the ashram chanting the Mahamantra, walking slowly, sometimes stopping, hands upraised. It was a blissful blessing so complete that my heart could not encompass the totality of it. What was happening?
The Unbearable Tenderness of Love
Where was I? Who was I? Who this madman who seems to know no end of ways to win the unfailing flow of my love? No child on Christmas morning was ever so happy as I in the midst of this amazing cosmic drama. Periodically Baba would stop and face me, chanting with all his heart and soul, and seeing me would melt and melt with love. Oh, what a divine madman!
In those moments his grace of love seemed to shine on me like bright rays of sun, warm, almost blinding in their sweetness. It is only by the grace of the love for him with which, the Mother had been filling my heart since the first day, that I did not turn away from that blinding light of his. And by the mother's grace that light shall not fade, nor the memory of Baba's ecstasy of love pass away, but grow in my heart forever.
We walked in this way back to the ashram, and I kept the garland of flowers about my neck for the rest of the day.
The lila seems endless. There's is no sequence. There are only certain impressions which have been stamped onto my soul. What question is there of surrender? Pure love alone has the power to win the seeking soul.
The guru's love is the net cast forth upon the waters of the life, and blessed is he who is caught in that net, for the fisherman is no man at all, but the Great Lord himself. Sweet, oh sweet is Premananda's good fortune, for he finds himself caught forever in the net of God's love.
The Radio Artist
On the night of the 30th Baba's love took a new turn. I had recorded the singing of a certain Baul singer the night before, much to my gladness, for it stirred the memory that Ramakrishna had said he would come again in the trappings of a Baul. Was there any connection here? Was Baba in league with Bauls? On this night another Baul came up and Jiten introduced him as Din Bandhu Das, "friend of the poor," and "radio artist." Would I like to record his songs too?
Of course I said yes, greedy as I have always been to increase my store of Bhajans. But Jiten had ordered some tea for me, so I thought it better to wait, since Baba himself had said to give me tea.
The Baul went off the library with my assurance that I would follow later. I waited for about ten minutes and then Jiten finally told me to go ahead, he would bring the tea over himself. I went over and the Baul was sitting in the midst of a group of Baba's devotees, already singing and playing a kind of banjo with four or five strings. I sat down and turned on my tape machine. The song was sweet indeed, and I got caught in the beauty of it at once.
The song was a plea to the Divine Mother, begging her to come to the bhakta's heart. When it was finished he started another. I was in a trance listening to these songs, amazed at the unending sweetness of my stay in India, determining to learn these songs myself, feeling the ancient warmth of this ancient song and the people crowded round to hear when all of a sudden, like a storm, Baba entered the room. To my startled amazement he rushed over to me and grabbed me by the ear, pulled me up and yanked me toward the door. I was like jelly in his hands.
Although I had been having a good time and could see no wrong in my actions, my priorities were already established. I trusted Baba utterly, even in his madness, or perhaps especially in his madness. He escorted me, or rather chased me back to Kali's room, leaving the Baul still singing and my tape machine still running.
Though he had pulled me very firmly by the ear there was only a warm wonderful feeling from it, and though I had been startled by this abrupt action, yet the feeling of love pervading his behaviour was so strong that by the time we entered Kali's room I again felt like falling at his feet in childlike tears.
There in the Kali Temple room his bed was laid out for sleeping, and beside it was a plate of sweets for me and my tea which I had all but forgotten. I sat down and he sat on his mat to watch me eat. Oh! I nearly weep to think of his love. As sweet as Baba's smile is, it seemed that night that his reprimand was even sweeter, saturated with love and care.
He said in his very limited English "No tape record Baul. Baul (wants) go America. Baul (wants) money, money." He told me to eat and watched lovingly. I looked at the plate and cup of tea, all laid out nicely. I felt warmth beyond expression in this situation which by any other's hand would have caused humiliation.
What had I done wrong? I said (in Bengali) "One man says, 'Premananda, go there!' and another says, 'No, Premananda, go over there,'"
Baba replied, "No, no, One Baba, One guru."
This made me glad. He was relieving a strain I had felt on some occasions from different people giving me contradictory directions. He was saying "check with me first, I am you guru." "One Baba, One Guru, One sadhana," he said, looking up at Kali in a prayerful pose. I leaned over and put my head on his knee. Oh who is this sweet being who has claimed my wandering soul? I had been weeping for months to be led to Ramakrishna, I had begged the Mother with tears of despair and longing to be placed in the lap of the Son of God. And now all this was happening.
Baba patted my head. "Pagol Prem Das" he said, "Crazy Prem Das!" I finished my food and he directed me to go to sleep, which I did.
As I later found out this particular Baul did indeed cherish the desire to go to America to "sell his songs," and he had gotten it into his head that I would be the instrument for fulfilling this desire. Who knows from what karmic entanglement Baba rescued me? That night Premananda learned the difference between a real Baul and a "radio artist."
Feeding the People
Before the feeding of the crowd began Baba had by ceremony and prayer offered the cooked rice to the goddess Kali. Then he carried a huge basket of the rice three times around the temple. The devotees had to join hands to hold back the crowd so that this ritual could be accomplished. The rice from this basket was then thrown by handfuls out into the crowd.
I guess this particular rice was considered deeply holy, and I was amazed to see hundreds of people scrambling for it. They would pick up each and every grain of it from the ground. I don't think a single grain was wasted. Some ate it, but most wanted to take it home and offer it to their own images of the goddess.
The the feeding of the crowds began in earnest. The people were lined up in rows throughout the ashram area in batches of about a thousand at a time. The plates were the equivalent of our disposable paper plates, but made of leaves stitched together with small thorns. The disciples and devotees went up and down the rows dispensing the kitchuri. Everyone was free to eat their fill. When they were finished another wave would take their places. It went on for hours even unto dusk. I even tried my own hand at serving the kitchuri from the buckets. On the 1st of February I returned to Jiten's
I Witness Baba's Nirvikalpa Samadhi
I came again to the ashram on February 6, accompanied by Tubulu, arriving at 10:30 A.M. On that night Baba addressed the crowd in a rousing flow of spontaneous Bengali. After his speech he asked me to sing a song for the assembled crowd. I was terrified of course, but my guitar was brought out and I sang one of the few Bengali songs I knew: "Keshava Kuru," with its repeated chorus "Hari bol, Hari bol, Hari bol mon amar."
On the last chorus Baba went into a divine state called nirvikalpa samadhi where the mind and senses lose all outer consciousness and only a high state of unity is experienced. His body became stiff and would have fallen over except the disciple saw it coming and swooped him up in their arms and laid him gently down on the porch of the temple. Mantras were shouted in his ears and honey put on his tongue to bring him around.
On the 13th I came to the ashram alone for the first time. Diary entries begin again on the 17th, and due to my difficulty in jotting down events, and my weariness at night, when I wrote, begin to assume a shorthand style. I have here expanded them somewhat to make complete sentences.]
A Minor Misunderstanding
February 16, 1974
At night there was an incident which completely reduced me to despair. Baba went into the Kali temple to pranam Mother Kali. I tried to follow him in but he seemed to shut the door before I could enter. I did not understand and since I do not know the customs I thought perhaps he wanted to be alone in there. Perhaps this was his private time with the Mother. I waited by the door. When he finally came out he seemed to be annnoyed and told me to go in and pranam.
"You're not going to pranam?" he said. The force in his few words made me utterly humiliated and ashamed. At the same time I felt somewhat angry at the injustice, since I had tried to enter.
I went into the temple and made full pranam, my full body lain down in front of the altar. I started weeping and watching my feelings. The rebuke from Baba had shattered me and at the same time made me angry. I determined to swallow my anger. Lying there in front of the mother I even felt angry at her. I told her to tell Baba what had happened. But as I lay there, the ego weakened, and I began to see that no matter how he spoke to me I loved him. I just waited, lying prostrate on the floor before the image of the Mother.
Soon after Baba came in and dried my tears with his own cloth.
A Day at the Ashram
February 17, 1974
It is Ekadoshi. Oh Mother! What will you do with this child? I awoke this morning with the agony of the previous night healed, yet there still lingered a certain sense of both a disgust with this incomprhensible flow of maya, and a kind of impotent childish rage to overcome it. What could I do? Before I took my bath I proceeded to the Hanuman temple. At least I could do one of the few things Baba had instructed. So great has been his love that I delight in following his instructions, I saluted Hanuman and started circuiting the temple chanting "Hari Narayana" clapping my hands gently.
How sweet the morning is in Ramanathpur, quiet, cool and peaceful. The beautiful morning light touching the trees and reaching out across the dry earth, the birds twittering their music in the fresh air. As I walked around the temple Baba approached after finishing his bath. He was accompanied by Jiten and said, "Right!" and fell into step just ahead of me, leading both Jiten and I around the temple.
The effect was very reassuring to my mind. Baba repeatedly seems to arrive at just the point when some energy is required. After we finished this salutation I gave Baba my pranam. As I stood up he blessed me by touching my forehead. I went to take my bath.
I take my morning tea. Jiten and Joya Ma give me 'Pao Ruti' (yeast bread), too much of it. I am feeling somehow more and more independent and I think of refusing it, but I eat it anyway. Even so, it is still too much for me. I go into the Kali temple where Baba is doing his morning worship. He is washing the images, putting new leaves and flowers on them. I do japa on my beads, repeating silently, "Hari Narayana, Hari Om." I am feeling that I only want to do worship today, to give myself to the Mother, to keep working.
Later on, Baba is having tea with Jiten and a lady comes in with some money. Baba talks with her. He is worried about the money and the pipes for the new well that is to be sunk. The water for the ashram comes from a well which is near the road in front of Baba's room under a big old tree. There is a hand pump there and a kind of surrounding cement place to wash one's feet and hands. It seems that there is something wrong with the well, it does not go deep enough I think, and a new well must be dug. It will be put to the north side of the ashram, near the cooking room, and Baba is fretting about the cost to whomever will listen.
I get bored and go into temple. I do japa. Tears come to my eyes. This ego! "Oh, Mother take away my ego, burn it in your fire" I pray, and so on. This goes on for an hour or more. After a while Baba does his Hom fire with Mr. Chandran helping. It is a big and elaborate ceremony today. It is Sunday, and a number of devotees have come to visit Baba. I have pain in my legs from sitting so long. Jiten calls me for tea but I decline. It seems important to witness the fire today. I think to myself that pain is just an offering of the self to Ma, give it to God, and so on.
After the fire it was time for noon meal and people were calling me to come and eat. There were a number of guests taking rice and dal in the hallway behind the temple, but for several days I had been thinking I did not want to eat so much rice as it was too heavy. I refuse and there is a kind of tug of war. Finally Jiten and Joya Ma arrange a plate of fruit. It is prasad from Kali. Baba comes and sees it and says "Right!" I feel like a little child. Thank you Ma! Just what I wanted! There is an ever amazing grace at work here.
All today I am remembering this place from subconscious images, as if I had seen it before in dreams or something. In particular, the building across from the temple, called the "Library." The veranda, the way the roof is, the view of it from the ashram porch, it is so familiar to me somehow. I am certain I dreamed of it.
In the afternoon Jiten leaves to return to Chandernagor and I am struck by his great love for me. What do I need? he keeps asking me. He even tries to offer me pocket money. He is so kind.
Before Jiten goes we are sitting on the ashram porch and Baba looks through the notecase I have with me. When he looks at my Bengali notebook he tells me that I will write his "jiboni," his life story. (Did he know I was trying to keep these notes? Does he really have the abilitiy to see the future, as everyone here seems to believe? What's happening?) My Bengali language notebook pleases him, and he tells me to keep studying. He looks at the picture of Ramakrishna I have in my case and he imitates it, going into complete stillness.
As Jiten prepares to leave I feel suddenly that the ashram is my home now. I got what I wanted by Mother's will.
"Where's your money?" Baba suddenly says to me. I point to my bag and he says "No! This money", pointing to the japa beads. "I want 10,000 of this money a day."
I am incredulous. Ten-thousand malas a day? No matter how you count it that is alot of Japa! I imitate a fast machine, a super-japa machine. All laugh. Jiten leaves and then Chandan and the others leave.
Suddenly all is quiet. Baba says everyday there is a "function" here. He uses the English word "function" in place of the Bengali word "Utsab" or festival. It is so charming somehow when he uses one of his few English words. I write letters and evening comes.
I go to do japa at the Hanuman temple. As soon as I begin to feel chilly, without saying a word, Joya Ma appears like magic, bringing me the gerua cloth Baba had given me. Soon Baba comes and we circle around the Hanuman temple again, chanting. I am feeling very happy. It is deeply quiet again. I experience feelings about Hanuman, the true servant, the true devotee. In my mind I imagine the angels are nearby singing "Ram, Ram." Baba sits down for worship at the front of the Hanuman temple, facing Hanuman, and I feel the beauty of God. Ram, Ram -- is this Ram? Himself?
Later we circle the Mother's temple singing Hari Krishna. Then we go into Baba's room to have some light refreshments, some puffed rice and peas. Baba tells me not to eat food late at night. As we have our snacks he goes on into giving me further instruction. I sit and look at him, spellbound.
He says the word "Maya!" and then pantomimes vomiting loudly. As long as the ego is there, he says, the various forms of God will be there. When the ego is dissolved, the forms of God are also dissolved.
"What remains?" I asked him. "Nothing?"
"No", he said, "God is there, but without form." He tells me about the milk-curd-butter-ghee. "Do you see Ghee (butter) in the milk? No, but it is there."
Then he tells me I will write his "Kathamrita." I show him the diary notebook I have been trying to keep. I say that the festival was a very big thing, and the notebook, the writing about it is very small. How can I write about it? Who will write? I can't do it, I tell him. Ma will do it.
He tells me that the writing is my "God money," the money I will give him. He has differentiated these kinds of money. There is the usual money, and then there is what he calls "God-Money," something the disciple gives to the guru, some sacrifice, some token of love or devotion. Often Baba will try to trick someone by telling them that he will take them on as a disciple, but only if they can give him some extraordinary amount of "money." If they mistakenly assume he means this world's money they may become quite despondent, but Baba will soon let on he is talking about something of a different order. Often he says he wants "one lakh," that is "one hundred thousand." The devotee thinks this mean rupees, and is taken aback. But Baba is making a pun on the Bengali word "lokka" or aim. He is saying he wants "one aim."
Although I feel glad for some encouragement about trying to write about my experiences here, I am somewhat surprised and intimidated about the idea of writing his "Kathamrita." It is a troubling assignment. I am by no means of the order of a Sri M. I cannot deal with the idea and I put it out of my mind for the time being.
Some Lessons in "Yoga"
Baba goes on to show me about the chakras. These are the famous seven centers along the nervous system. He describes them, how they look like flowers, how they open up like flowers when the serpant-like power of the kundalini moves up and down the channel of the spine. Whenever he goes into this kind of description he seems to begin to become intoxicated, as if the mere thinking of these things causes his consciousness to rise toward a transcendental dimension. It is unlike any teaching I have ever received, for the descriptions are so clearly from his own direct experience.
I sing the song from the Kathamrita, "Dub, Dub, Dub, Amar Mon" ("Dive Deep, Oh my Mind") and he is pleased. He sings his own version of it with the sweet spontaneity of a child. He sings without pretension and without any touch of ego. In fact, it is sometimes sort of out of tune in a way. All that matters to him is the feeling behind it.
Next he shows me how the cross-legged yoga asana or "lotus position," is like a triangle indicating the three gunas, rajas, sattwa, and tamas. As he is showing this, he becomes withdrawn and goes into a trance and I am left just staring at his motionless form before me. He seems to be shining. It is as if a kind of background light becomes more and more manifest in the room as he goes into this other, higher state of consciousness.
All of a sudden I behold -- WHAT?? It is something indescribable, like a dimension beyond this world. I see Baba's body, in fact the whole room, shimmering like a dream in a fabulous light. Is this his real nature?
He seems to know what I have seen, and makes a sign toward his feet, that I should pranam, touch his feet. I fall at his feet weeping, my heart region feeling pressured, wrung out like a towel. Still in an ecstatic mood he starts waving his arms around in front of him as if he were embracing an invisible being. He is trembling with love and intoxicated. Like a child, amazed, he shows me that one of his feet is hot and the other one is cold. And the top of his head has become hot. He makes me feel it with my hand to see for myself. I embrace him again. He looks around with a wide-eyed expression saying "God! God! God!" and waves his arms in ecstasy. As he tries to stand up he is unsteady on his feet and I jump up to hold him. Still intoxicated with bliss, he goes out to sing on the veranda. He is like God, I think to myself. This trance of his, who can describe it?
What started out as a lesson in yoga has ended up as a demonstration of the higher states in Baba's own body. Not talking about yoga, but the very thing itself.
Later, after the singing, I take my food. He says his heart is not right. I feel bad about it and massage him. Still somewhat in ecstasy, he is going over a poem he had been saying before. How sweet. Always, night and day, he is turning his attention toward the divine, toward God or some Godly topic. My mind is boggled.
February 18, 1974
The morning went routinely. I felt very happy taking my bath. I had awakened twice in the night once at about two with a feeling of fear, and again at about four on the verge of a wet dream, which because I wakened, did not occur. I felt grateful as I took my bath chanting "this is not my body, this is God's body". Puja. Two devotees come. In the midst of my silent mental puja I suddenly switch to repeating Gayatri mantra and Baba who has been uttering various other mantras out loud suddenly starts doing the Gayatri mantra also. It seems to happen like this a lot around Baba. As if there is a subtle communion going on unconsciously.
We have moori and tea. Baba taped a short message to add to the one he had given on the 30th. He repeated all the names of the villages which had helped with the festival. I learn that he has a book he has made. Later, however, they tell me that no, Baba has never written anything.
These tapes of Baba speaking, I think, this will make a new book. I go into the Kali temple for japa. I start to weep. The Mother looks so beautiful there on her throne. I feel like I am nothing. The world seems far away. Sadhana is attracting me in a new way. I witness the flower ceremony. Later, at food, Baba tells me to eat more slowly.
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In the afternoon we go to visit Baba's doctor, Siddheshwar Mukherji, and his brother, Kashishwar, whom Baba calls "Bhavananda". This is my first meeting with the doctor. He is a wonderful man, a combination of western science and eastern mysticism. Tirelessly seeing patients day and night, still he rises before dawn to practice his yoga and meditation. He is a rarity in another way. Having received his medical education in Canada, he did not stay in the west to practice, as so many do, but returned to India to serve his own people. In the doctor's presence Baba became utterly humble and loving, and completely like a child, putting himself into the doctor's hands and care with utter trust and surrender. The doctor gives Baba a quick examination.
Later we go upstairs from the doctor's office to the living quarters of his brother, Bhavananda. Baba's goes into a mood at Bhavananda's house which is utterly sparkling with delight, and humble in a way that touches me deeply. Bhavananda is a huge man, rotund and jolly, and utterly emphatic in his words and opinions. His great size has earned him the ironic nickname "Choto Babu," roughly translated, "Mr. Little." He is not a disciple of Baba's, having had his own guru, a saint named Purnananda. I take it that Purnananda and Baba had been close friends. Choto Baba thus has a relationship with Baba that is quite different than those I have been observing. It is more on the level of an intimate friend rather than that of a devotee. He is very frank and outspoken with Baba, thinking nothing, even, of yelling at him and scolding him. Yet the respect and love he had for Baba were always clear and evident. He tells Baba that he must send me back the next day for a proper meal. He scolds Baba, saying that I will not be able to have a proper diet at the ashram. A young man needs foods like butter, he says, even meat. I take it that they are not vegetarians. Baba accepts all this while beaming sheepishly, enjoying the play. It seems, too, that he enjoys, for once, someone who does not relate to him with utter deference.
Later, riding home to the ashram under the wide Bengal sky, seated by Baba on the Rickshaw, I look up at the immensity of the stars. I am amazed. Not long ago I was in America, yearning and praying to God to be with a genuine God-Man. Now I am riding under all this vast beside this incredible being I now call "Baba." The whole beauty of it brings a rush of feeling. As soon as this feeling reaches the heart and is about to break into tears, Baba just says, "OM," as if to stop it. It is as if he can always read my inner feelings.
He starts talking happily about our visit. He says that today we had "kom japa" (not much japa), "beshi maya" (too much maya). For having eaten a few delicacies at Bhavananda's housel he says "beshi maya!"
Dinner at Choto Babu's
February 19, 1974
In the morning, sitting with Baba, he tells me that this whole world is just like a "cinema." He uses the English word for "cinema." He says that the "world" is like the piece of film, and that the light which shows the film is God.
Today I go alone back to Babananda's house to have a full noon meal. He is called "Choto Babu" more familiarly, which means "little man," humorous because he is such a huge man.
Choto Babu had a relationship with Baba that was on the most familiar of terms. He had another guru name Purnananda who had passed on. So yesterday Choto Babu had chided Baba that it was not good for a young man to be so serious all the time and that I should have some relaxation sometimes, a "day off" as it were. And he berated Baba further saying the ashram food was too poor, that a young man needed butter and meat and eggs and such. So I returned there to have my noon meal.
Choto Babu brother was a local doctor of great local fame. He worked 12 hours a day seeing patients, even making house calls. He seemed half doctor and half saint. Choto Baba functioned as his brother's "compounder," or pharmacist. Many of the medications were made on the premises.
Before mealtime Choto Babu speaks to me at length. He speaks very well, but sadly nothing new really. He is expounding the dharma and will not for a minute listen to me.
He tells me to do the "OM-MA" mantra. I should repeat it with faith. He says that I should lie on right side when sleeping. Think of Ramakrishna and he will come.
"Mother is dancing in manipura chakra! Father is sleeping in state of turiya! Father must be wakened! Ah! When Father wakens !"
He tells me how Baba used to go from door to door doing Harinam kirtan, a beggar sadhu.
"You must say to Baba: 'Show me Ma! Show me Ramakrishna! Don't be shy, be bold! Insist upon it!"
He adds his belief that Ramakrishna will come three more times, and maybe he is finished with the first time. I am too shy at the moment to ask Choto if he believes Baba is one of those incarnations. He presents me with the gift of a very nice diary book. Then I am treated to a sumptuous meal, a little of everything. They are a wealthy family and the food is first class.
Later in the afternoon, after I have returned from Choto Babu's it is still on my mind how he told me to say to Baba, "Show me!" but I feel shy to do this directly.
I say to him "I want to see Mother! I want to see my Ramakrishna!"
Baba then says "Ami Ramakrishna na?" ("Am I not Ramakrishna?"). Then he goes into his Ramakrishna pose: one hand held to his heart, one arm upraised. It is so beautiful and childlike the way he suddenly does this. A thrill goes through me. Is he acknowledging that he is Ramakrishna?
Taken aback I say "I don't know," I say, "Mother must tell me."
He says "Right!"
At the evening worship at the ashram I am overcome by deep feelings again and tears. Later in discussion with Baba he tells me "Whole bishwa cinema maya!" (The whole universe is like a cinema, an illusion).
He is laughing sweetly and talking with great bhav. He tells me to write this down in my diary, about the cinema. About the whole world being an illusion like a movie. Only the light is real, everything else is just shadows in the light from the film.
Then he points out how all the different members of the family, brother, sister, mother, father are all calling themselves by the same name, "human," and all the parts of the body, the arms, legs, hands etc. are also calling themselves as "human."
He laughs and laughs at this. These are all such different things, and yet they are all the same thing! He imitates a ganga smoker which cracks me up with laughter, so intense and perfect is his pantomime.
Later at night, sitting in his room by the soft yellow glow of the lantern he says something to me about diksha (initiation). ?" It is another test. He points to his ear. He says "Who is your guru?"
I say something clever like "God is the guru. Ramakrishna is my guru."
He says, "Yes, but when you go to America, if people ask you who your guru is, what will you say. I say his name: Prahlad Chandra Brahmachari.
The following entry in exercise book "II" was also marked February 19th, although it may have been another day.
Keeping Secrets of the Heart
In morning I went for darshan with Baba. He was sitting in his room. He seemed to be angry or perturbed with me. He starts telling me that I must keep the things of my heart secret.
"Sit in the corner and do your meditation, but don't talk of what is happening within yourself to others."
"Does a businessman reveal his financial affairs to others?" he asked. "Does he tell how much money he is making? Do a young boy and girl reveal the intimate secrets of their love to others? In this spiritual line, if you reveal everything that is going on within you to others, all your power will go away."
The translator of this, a devotee named Krishna Shanka Mehta, told me, to illustrate what, Baba meant, to see that Baba was doing so much, going through so much inwardly but not telling anything about it to others, not displaying his virtues or experiences for others to see.
"That is how he became superhuman. If he were telling everything to everyone and everybody, all the power would go away."
This was very strange that this topic should all of a sudden be thrust at me in this way, because just the previous night I had been writing a letter to Glenn, revealing to him some of the experiences I had been having. After writing it I had wondered if I should be telling it. What was the harm? After all, Glenn had lived through my spiritual madness with me, he was one of the only people who might actually understand these things and what they meant to me. But was I bragging? How much should I say to him or anyone?
I protested to Baba. Why all this "secrecy?" I told him that in America all my many friends and I talked freely about God and spiritual matters, what's wrong with that?
"No, no," he said, "That's okay. You can give your 'lectures' but about your own inner sadhana you should be silent."
This was so frustrating! In somewhat of a huff I take out my various diary notebooks and hold them up to him. "Should I burn all these?"
"What?" he asks, not understanding.
"Lekhbo na?" (Shouldn't I write my experiences?) If all these inner affairs were so private then this task of trying to describe being with him would be impossible, for who could separate the inner and the outer? Perhaps in my frustration there was some small element of hope that I could get out of this difficult task of writing about all this.
"No, no, no!" he says. "Write! Write a lot!" He tells me that indeed I should write in my diary a lot, but then he reveals that it is he who is writing, not me. He says "One guru! Guru-God, God-guru," and uses the word "shakti" making a sign from his heart to me, indicating that the power to write was coming from him. "Guru will write, Ma will write. Always think "tumi" ("thou") and not "ami" ("I").
When he says this word "ami," "I," he suddenly imitates vomiting loudly. It is a kind of shock. I cannot help but laugh but I see that none of this is theoretical to him, this disdain for the sense of personal ego.
I am greatly relieved about the idea that it is really he who is really doing the writing, as I had been wanting sometimes to want to drop the whole thing. It seemed too much of a burden and responsibility weighing on me in the light of an increasing awareness of the littleness of my powers.
"Good." I said. "I don't want to write it, you write!" I threw the notebooks down in front of him in disgust. I really meant it. I was in no position to write about someone I could hardly fathom.
Baba laughed to have the notebooks thrust in his lap and clapped his hands in delight. "Right! No 'Ami'"
And again he told me. "No kam," (lust) and made as if vomiting. He says that man and woman are one. A young girl happened to be sitting next to us there and he points to her. "She is a girl, you are a boy. Tell me, is there any difference?"
I say "Maya!" (Illusion) and he says
"Right! Maya! No prakrit (female), no purush (male)."
This is like a question I had been thinking about yesterday: Is the Divine Mother of Indian religion different in any way from the Heavenly Father of the west? I ask him this question, in my new and rather awkward and simplistic Bengali.
"In India God is Mother. In America God is Father. Is this two?"
"No," he says. "One India prays to Mother, one America, Russia, Poland, London, prays to Father. Purush (male), Prakrit (female)."
When these two, the man and the woman come together, one child is the result. Out of apparent duality, oneness comes again. He imitates a pregnant lady, he stomach swollen. What is the result? "One Premananda!" and he laughs again.
Sivaratri I am Initiated
February 20, 1974
Today is the festival of Shivaratri, the one day of the Hindu calendar devoted to the Lord Shiva. The word actually means "night of Siva," and in fact, the worship is performed at night, all night, on this eve of the new moon.
To be initiated by such a soul as Baba is a big event. I am told by various disciples that sometimes people come year after year requesting initiation (diksha) but Baba says no, the time is not right. On the other hand some who never ask for it get it unexpectedly and suddenly. I had never asked specifically for initiatiion.
In the morning I feel driven to the limit. I feel that I must know. Who is this Baba? Was I crazy to come looking for the reincarnation of a dead saint? Is he really and truly that Ramakrishna? I am bouncing so regularly from doubts to total certainty it is giving me feelings of anxiety and conflict to the point of tears.
In the morning worship I have a recurrent feeling - helplessness. As if there is nothing I can do to become certain about anything, Baba included. I am also having some conflicts coming from the teachings of Krishnamurti and Vimala. They do not place any importance on the idea of guru at all, and here with Baba it is a primary thing.
And yet in that extraordinary and overwhelming dream I had of Krishnamurti he turned into Govinda and danced with me! And Vimala herself had told me "One day Ramakrishna will be your constant companion." So? What to think? The mind was bouncing around like a rubber ball.
It is out of my hands anyway, I think. Don't miss this chance. Life Is offering high help. But what about freedom? What is freedom? Freedom from "I"? I write a letter to Brahmamayi.
In the late afternooon Baba's room has been somewhat cleared out and set up for the doing of the worship to Lord Siva. A table on the east wall holds the Siva lingam and other articals of worship. I am somewhat intrigued with all these details of the puja. What exactly does all this worship consist of?
I resolve to sit and watch the worship and record in a notebook all the details and actions. Then I could do my own puja if I wanted to. But after a while I become completely bored with this activity. I have no idea what is going on or how to record it in writing. There are so many little actions and articles of worship that I give up. (Later at night Baba will be joking about the puja calling it "Maya!") I meditate instead.
I know that my mind has been overtaxed lately. All my efforts are in vain. I keep dying in a surrender wish. I drop all effort. I simply wait. I watch the nothingness go by.
I am sitting in front of the Kall temple. Sivaratri is a rather boistrous evening. I am well aware of Siva's fondness for smoking ganja, or hashish. The hemp plant is sacred to Lord Siva and its leaves are often offered to him when he is worshipped. And on this one day of the year Shiva worshippers throughout India are allowed to partake of this mind altering prasad by smoking the consecrated hemp leaves in a chillum. Occasionally throughout the long night groups of people come dancing along the road by the ashram, or into the ashram courtyard. I realize that most of them are somewhat inebriated and stoned on the ganja.
When these Shiva dancers came by they seemed stoned and raucous. Baba says "Manipura" and points to his belly and imitates the dancers. He means that this kind of intoxcation is down in the belly, the manipura chakra, not very significant.
I Say "Anahata?" meaning the heart chakra and he says "Ah! Bhakti! "
Then he points the vishudha (throat chakra) which brings samadhi, and Ajna, the point between the eyees, and finally Brahma chakra at the top of the head.
The puja continues to go on and Baba is joking about how there is no peace, no shanti, no ananda on Sivaratri. A lot of commotion and noise. This is not his favorite festival. For one thing it is the day that unmarried women bring offerings to Shiva in the hopes of finding a good and potent husband. Baba feels the worldliness of this aspect of Shivaratri
All day long I am remembering visions of this place I must have had before I came - the "library" falls into place. All day confused, aching for Ma, aching to know if Baba is He, and after awhile I just don't care. This lila is too much God given, God directed, I will follow it. God is obviously doing it, On the one hand my Viveka (discrimination) is active, on the other hand I am a child, how can I judge Baba? He keeps winning over doubts by his love and his intimacy and miraculous forms.
As I am sitting on the veranda of the Kali temple in my mood of "letting go," my mind breaks down a bit and starts getting giddy. For weeks there has been so much attention on the idea of getting the vision of the Divine Mother. All this earnestness, longing.
Suddenly I start thinking, "What if I finally did have the vision of the Divine Mother, and she appeared to me as a cartoon character? I crazily thing of Fritzi Ritz from the "Nancy" comic strip. What if Kali finally appeared to me in the form of Fritzi Ritz? This idea completely cracks me up. My mind has indeed been overworking I guess. After all, the Divine Mother could assume any form she wanted, couldn't she? I imagine Fritzi Ritz standing like Kali and am laughing to myself. I can see her serious expression, her hair. She is absorbed within herself. It strikes me as unreasonably funny. Why, of all people, did I choose Fritzi Ritz? Where did she come from?
My laughing spell is broken suddenly by Baba calling me. He comes and brings me by the arm into his room where the worship of Siva is going on. In a rather quick transition from the ridiculous to the sublime I realize that this is to be my actual initiation. It has come quite unexpectedly. No mention had ever been made as to when it might occur, and I myself had never asked Baba for it. All of a sudden it was happening.
Baba takes the rudraksha beads from around my neck, the ones he had given me before, and blesses them. He puts sandalwood paste on the them and does some japa with them, and then gives them to Siva. He tells me step by step what to do.
He takes some honey and puts it on my tongue, to purify it for receiving the manrta. Then, using the the hard stem of a leaf, he writes the mantra in Bengali on my tongue three times. Then he wants me to verify that I have understood what he has written. He asks me what it was, and I tell him the mantra, "Om."
Then he cups his hand and leans over and repeats it in my ear in a long loud kind of whisper.
Now the guru fee must be offered. He tells me that because I do not have much money he himself will give me the money for the guru fee.
Has gives me a ten paisa coin and tells me to offer it to Siva. Before I do this he holds the ten paisa coin right in front of my face and looks at me as if it is very important that I understand this. He says emphatically, about the coin, "maya!" He gives the coin to me and then I give it to Siva.
Next he tells me how to do the mantra on the beads. Throughout all this I am submissive, like a child. It is all just happening by itself, by some grace, by the same destiny that brought me here. He blesses me with mantras, putting his hand on my head.
Then we go out to the hom fire that has been going all day outside. On the way out he pauses in the doorway and says to me quietly and almost sheepishly: "I am Siva."
Out at the sacred hom fire Baba hold my beads, doing Japa on them and telling me how to throw the various offerings into the fire saying "Swaha!"
Then he tellls me to go right to sleep, which I do. Om is in my mind. There is a faint anaesthetic buzz.
AMABOSHYA (Dark moon Kall worship)
February 21, 1974
It is the morning after my initiation. I awake in a strange state, as if during sleep I had forgotten I was even here. I seemed surprised when I woke up. I feel normal at first but then this deep peace comes over me. It is subtle, but certain.. As I am bathing I notice that my body feels incredibly pure. Also I am especially hungry.
During morning puja I try out the japa. I tire of it after awhile. My senses turn off and I drift into a sweet deep meditation, like an ocean of peace. Thoughts are coming but they do not distract from this. Baba has to call me out of it.
We have tea. Baba is beaming. Some worldly type cinema music is playing on loudspeakers outside and Baba refers to it by holding up his hgnd like a cobra striking. I laugh.
I ask Baba "What's wrong with the index finger?" The night before he had shown me that the index finger is not to be used when doing japa on the beads.
"That finger is a ghost!" he says and laughs.
Baba goes outside his room and I stay and talk with a young devotee who has come, Deb Kumar Chatterjeee It is a wonderful talk. As we talk I begin to notice that subtle oceanic feeling is shining still. Baba's force is saturating me. I notice that I keep drifting off into this wordless feeling, oceanic, transparent. Is it any wonder? What to do? Love Baba.
I listen to my "Mother Song" on the tape, Divine. The words of that song which I wrote have become true. What is happening? It is as If I no longer care about who is Baba. I just love him and give myself to his care and accept my dharma.
At morning darshan Baba told me to write the Sivaratri story. He says "Sivaratri" and sticks out his tongue to show what he means. "OM?" I say, and he gives a sign to show he means much more than that. Love pulled me over doubts. The final move of yesterday was utter giving up.
Twelve PM Baba fixing up his room again after the puja stuff has been removed. He hangs a picture of Vishnu up top, and under that a picture of Chaitanya, and under that his own picture. I place Ramakrishna's picture in the frame with his own picture and he says "Right."
Jiten has come. I felt a great love between us, He is going to Calcutta and weeps at Baba's feet as he takes permission to leave.
12PM Baba is hanging picture for worship. (diagram). Is mother answering my request for some definite clues? Last night I gave up and just waited. My heart was aching. No words to talk to Baba with. I resolved to write him a letter. I realized many things.
I had jumped into the river. I just trusted God. Gave up? Died? Heart and throat were positively aching. Bhav and longing, anxiety, unknowing was coming in waves through the heart.
The feeling of the ocean of peace shines all day, the body fades in stillness. I talk with Mr. Pal and he tells me the story of Shiva's benevolence. Shiva is satisfied with simple humble offering. Even if you give him a common leaf as offering he will grant your boon.
It reminds me of last night. Shiva is satisfied with very little, Mr. Pal says, and I think how Baba held the meager ten paisa in front of my face saying "Maya." And again when he gave the mantra he said "Ami Shib." (I am Shiva). Now it is 2AM and I'm all confused again.
The new moon worship of Kali goes on nearly all night. It is the most important night of worship for Baba. Many trays of fruits and sweets are prepared for offering to the goddess.
During the worship I have a vision of my own mother as Divine Mother. I realize that Kali is there in every mother in the world. I weep and weep at her feet, and I wish the highest blessing on her. Bhav comes in deep breaths, the culmination of the day. Light and love. Worship is 10pm to 2AM Baba sitting with the shiva stick, looks like Shiva worshipping Kali. Mantras lull me into a trance. Body suffers some from sitting so long but eagerness to stay with worship is strong.
At the culmination of the worship, I am told by a disciple, all the doors of the temple are closed and Baba makes a small cut on his arm and offers his own blood to Kali. I am amazed to hear this. Afterward he comes out and puts a bit of the blood on the forehead of those who are still awake.
I fall into a deep sleep.
February 22, 1974
I Awaken from a deep sleep. As usual lately there is a kind of disorientation in the morning. The peace of the place, the bight sun, Baba's presence soaks me up later. Doubts disappear if I sit and make the mind quiet. Very tired. And Baba is in pain from piles and wind. He asks me about the hemmaroid medicine, if it is OK and shows me the problems.
After worship I lie down on porch at 3PM He calls me into room to lie down. I sleep till 5PM Deep nap, I wake like a spaced child, I circle Hanuman for 20-30 minutes. Waves of Bhav. I am thinking that all is gone, God must come, guru or no - even still Baba's grace is incredible. Baba comes, we go round the Hanuman worship is a deep egoless space now almost every night, Japa or no japa. Ocean of living nothing. I am always incredulous how very hidden Baba is, here in the middle of nowhere, sitting by Hanuman. His life is so simple and alone, how few people are around. And he just worships. Regularly like clockwork.
He is having trouble, constipation and gas pain very bad. At night, after puja, after food, he tells me that Lokon has been bitten by a snake. He doesn't mean a real snake. He means that he is feeling "I am a yogi. I am a priest." Maya! He is talking about this with someone, and then he and I go into the Kali temple. There is the evening kirtan going on outside.
I point to the image of the mother and I say "Kothay Ma, ekhane?" (Where is the mother, here on the altar?)
Baba points to my heart and says "No, mother is here!
"Is this mother on the altar maya?" I ask.
He say "Yes." Then he goes out to tell everyone what I said. (He is always doing that, e.g. when a big worm came in my room and I told him It was a "puka bandhu", a worm friend, he told everyone about that). I feel relieved to hear him so flatly say that the image Mother is maya. I see his worship is utterly inward -- the outer "mother" is for the lower mind.
Meditation is easy and sweet. OM taking root. I see in meditation what Baba said about the "Om Ma" mantra. It become A U MA U MA U MA, The breath is in a loop like a figure eight. Om sound is a vibration, a rippling roar connected with the breath loop of in and out. In and out is one continuous waven not two.
Yesterday's post-initiation state was just like Ramakrishna's descriptions of the world appearing to look like it is made of molten silver, transparent consciousness within which transparent silver shining images are floatingthe insubstantial Ego fades, the world fades.
After worship Baba shows me his hemmoroid problem. It is amazing because I had been wishing for the kind of intimacy which certain of Ramakrishna's disciple used to serve him. He defers more medicine until tomorrow. We talk about the constipation etc.
I said to Baba if Guru is God and God Guru then God has constipation. Baba laughs and laughs, utterly delighted.
More and more I "remember" this place and see that Baba is he of my LSD vision. It seems as if I have seen this place before, long ago or in a dream.
February 23, 1974
Baba is In an incredible mood this morning, Shining with clear transparency and jovial childlike spontaneity. I go with Mr. Pal who has invited me to partake of some special fig juice. I don't want to leave Baba, but Pal insists and I go.
When we get to his house I wait outside while he goes in. I hear him yelling and screaming with his wife for some time, quite a fight, and finally, after dragging me there, he tells me his wife threw out the juice thinking that it had spoiled. I go back and Baba and I sit for tea after puja. He asks me "How was the fig juice?"
I tell him I went with him but that there was no juice. "The Juice was maya!" I say and Baba roars with laughter.
Apparently his ailments are alleviated today. He is in a jovial mood. We are eating moori (puffed rice) and he calls the moori "God!"
Next he tells me he wants to go to America and become a houseboy. Mimics houseboy work. Asks me how much he can make doing "service". Says he has no degree, no M.D., no B.A., no M.A., so he can't work in an office. Some girls come in for darshan and he is telling them about me. He asks me if my body is angry, the food is bad, there is no good bathroom and so on. I say no, those things are maya.
Soon he starts singing "Keshava" which I sing with him slowly and Prem rushes to his heart. He gets that look on his face of inexpressibility, and waves his arms. Then he sings "Hari Bol" slowly and filled with love. The whole room seems transformed, clear with consciousness. He looks at me with incredible love.
Then we sing "Sri Krishna Chaitanya" and he melts. Then Hari Narayana. "All is maya!" he says, almost yelling. He pounds on the objects nearby, and on his own body and says "Maya!" and pretends to vomit. Puts his hand to his heart and becomes still after mimicing throwing all maya away. It is as if wisdom is coming from a child. I am happy seeing all this and I clap my hands. As he sings the mind becomes so clear I feel I can see Ramakrishna shining.
I ask him "Is Prem maya too?" He says "NO, no Rama is maya", etc. He goes through all the foms of God. "Puja (worship) is maya" and so on.
"But Prem is not maya." He concentrates in his heart, mimics weeping to show about Prem and says "Bas." (That's enough. Love is all you need).
It reminds me of a spell of laughter I had last night before sleeping as I realized how Baba is going through all the "maya" of worship and festivals and yet has a certain distaste for it all because it is all illusion.
Baba's one action of vomiting seems to have penetrated and stamped itself on my being. His wideness of application (calling everything maya) makes meditation deeper and purer. Silence of the self is the space needed for the advent of God, The Self is not silenced by the self, it must spontaneously, motivelessly cease to move and act. The coming here, death in Delhi, leaving Chandernagore -- all is part of this process of throwing away the crap. Laying down the life. Dying-into the kingdom. What to do? All I can think now is the beauty of God and to praise love and worship him all the day.
Today Baba said "Beshi choto Ganja," (You are smoking too much). I said "Why?" He said "God." I laughed.
He was so absorbed in love this morning. A very high spiritual mood. How strange. The other day I was thinking of Ramakrishna's vision of his Baul incarnation. The wooden sandles, the stone bowl, the beard, the hookah. And I wondered about the hookah. There was the broken stone bowl, the beard, the robes of a monk, the wooden sandals. But where was the hookah? Baba smoked common bidis, not a hookah.
All of a sudden today a man brings a hookah for Baba! How odd! I watch as he unwraps it for Baba from its packaging. There is a oblong body made from a coconut shell, a wooden tube rising out of that, and a clay bowl on top to hold the tamak. Tamak is a sweet smelling mixture of tobacco and spices which is smoked in the hookah. The coconut body is half filled with water to cool the smoke, and a reed tube is inserted by which to smoke the mixture.
My amazement is considerable. Just the previous day I had wondered about the signs and wondered why there was no hookah. The next day it arrives.
Here is the text of Ramakrishna's prediction which had so fired my imagination and devotion to finding the Baul incarnation. Ramakrishna is here called "the Master."
I take an afternoon nap and awake at 5PM from wet dream. This is the first in ages. I feel utter despair and embarrassement though it is pemeated with stillness, and peace.
Baba comes in mood of loving friend and watchful protector.
"What's the matter?" he says. I feel despair and can't tell him. He tells me to sleep earlier at night. I get up and go for a smoke, go to circuit but a tearful anguish start to overcome me. He calls. I go lay my head on his lap.
I tell him through Mr. Pal who has stopped by about the wet dream. Baba is concerned, perhaps simply by my candor, but tells me not to worry or think about it. Mr. Pal says it is, natural. They give me milk. I say I want Baba to take away my lust and he says "Right' ."
Later he seems concerned. (Hari, Ganga Babu present). Tells me (over food) to go slowly and steadily in the spiritual line, otherwise I will fall down. Says other things but Hari can't translate pooperly. I feel like crying. He gives his darshan.
I sing a few things, "Dub dub" and then we have meditation, deep and quiet. Later Baba puts me in the Kali chamber alone and I weep and talk to God. I howl. I feel exactly as I did when a little boy. I feel I can't bear not being able to express myself and God is the only one I can talk to.
I feel confused. I talk intimately in my prayer. If I can't speak to guru because of the language problem then I can speak directly to God and that feels good. The vision of the Son rises in my heart. I melt. The Son is so sweet. Love for Baba is reaching an intensity of the same order.
Baba comes in with Hari, Ganga Babu and flowers. We escort them on their way home. Coming back with Baba we sing Hari Narayana walking together. I see the fence and remember a long ago dream with Jerry. The library is also clearly the same - I have seen it before. I have seen this whole place before somehow. It flls me with wonder.
February 24, 1974
I have a heavy heart in morning. I feel confused. So much prem is coming, I feel like crying. I can't talk to Baba, can't find God. The oceanic light is fading into the confusion of before and I am tired. Mr. Chandan comes. I keep wanting to run away and cry. It is that Son of God feeling, as if I can almost feel Him near.
I have a feeling of utter despair at not being able to communicate with Baba. I feel as if I can't stand it. Choking in throat, heaving love in heart. NO WAY TO EXRESS either my love or my confusion or my questions.
I feel as if I don't find God soon I will just die. I feel as if I must go directly to God to communicate my feeling. I am sobbing with my picture of Ramakrishna.
Baba asks if I want food. I say no with mock anger. I guess I feel betrayed because NO ONE seems to see or care about my anguish over the language barrier. I burst into tears. It is a combination of longing for God, seeing God in Baba, and being unable to express myself. Utter sobbing. Chandan's daughter comes in.
"Why are you crying?" she asks. Through her (and Chandan) I tell Baba it is because I can never understand Baba or talk to him. Baba melts with love to learn the source of my sorrow.
He tells me through Chandan "Your feelings are due to Prem. There is no need of physical talking." He tells Chandan to say, "You are nearing the goal, so Baba speaks directly through his gaze and psychically. Baba will give understanding not through mere talk."
Baba poses in mediation, silent. "God doesn't speak in mere words."
I get reassured but I still feel difficulty holding my feelings in check. Baba helps me wash my face and himself wipes my eyes. He serves me food like a mother, then goes to eat.
I feel better that at least this inexpression problem is expressed, but I know that the Prem will continue as I feel at the end of my road and rope. No God, no life. How can I return to America without getting established in God? What is there to return to? I am in no man's land.
Baba takes rest. Talks to them about me. Keeps telling the Puka Badhu story. I go to sleep. Baba gets me up after awhile and says "din no nidra" (not to sleep in the daytime). Chandan reiterates the reassurance that the verbal teaching is just for beginners. He says Baba will know all your inner feelings, there Is no need to express verbally. Baba and I walk them to the rickshaw. We sing "Keshava Kuru" at the fork in the road. Baba puts on the hom ashes on Chandan's forhead as he takes leave.
Baba and I walk around the village on the way home. We stop to pet a baby cow, Baba telling me that everything Is God, and everything is maya. We stop at a man's house who has a broken leg. Baba blesses them there. Stop at another house of "man with B.A." and he blesses them. Baba talks to lots of people briefly on the way. He is taking extreme care to make me feel happy.
We return. I cherish a desire to wash his feet since I have been thinking of Jesus. This is fulfilled sweetly and without words as Baba allows me to wash his feet after our walk.
I go to circle but he calls me back to ask if it is okay just to rub on the Preparation H medicine (or does he have to use the applicator). I reassure him. He tells me to go circle.
I do Hari Narayana mantra silently. My reason and intellect are getting lost in him. I am loving him so much I am dizzy with it. A baby nearby starts crying, having lost sight of its mother. I go to it and try to comfort it and then finally I take it to its mother.
Baba sees this incident and later comments on how the only thing that would stop the baby's crying was to be put in its Mother's arms. It fills me with joy to put the crying baby in its mother's arms since it seems a perfect symbol of my own self these days. Baba is literally putting me in the Mother's arms.
Other notes: Lately I frequently see Baba is the LSD vision God. Today Ramakrishna's birthday.
February 25th, 1974
My morning state is good. Easy meditation, deep, no desire of action. I am to go to Chandernagore to Jiten's house later on. In the morning a man comes to the ashram, P.S. Mukherjee. He tells me some things.
He says "No one can see the magnitude of Baba unless Baba himself reveals it to them." Later he says Baba is "miserly," meaning that he has the vision of God but reveals little of it to others.. We sit in front of the temple and Baba and I sing. Baba is weeping with love. He shakes himself sometimes (Why? To stave off his samadhi, his fervor?)
I sing a few songs. Baba puts his hand on my knee and pats me. I kiss his hand. He weeping. It is creeping over me, the inevitable conclusion, the focus point of all the events, the reassurance yesterday that Baba knows all my inner thoughts.
Baba looked at the pictures of some of my friends. He told about Michael. Said "tratak", etc. "siddhi" (he will become perfect). Number two Glenn, three Marvin, (What is this maya?) He concentrates on the picture of Marvin. He tells me that being with someone like Michael cleared my imperfections. He says "Vivekananda must be born in America." He tells me to tell Mike my realizations
I wash Baba's toe which he had hurt on a pipe. He does the flower ceremony. This he does anytime something is in question. He puts the flower on top of the mother's image and then sits and watches how it falls. Somehow he can tell by how it falls, soon or late, whether the thing in question is auspicious or not. He says he won't go to Chandernagore today with me.
I see he is worried about it and tell him that his form will stay and he will go in my heart, He gets happy, I have food and rest. Again he tells me to eat slowly. The guru is in you, he says, always think when you eat that you are feeding the guru. When I am getting ready to go he blesses me in the hall. He gazes straight at me standing on one leg. The recognition is growing. each time my thought reaches the Son of God idea he looks away and says "Bas!" (enough). Also yesterday at the fork in the road this happened.
be awake during sleep, to understand, therefore the dream as it is being dreamt. Silence.
Before I leave I bumped my head coming out of the storage room. Baba was behind me and coming out he bumps his head too. I exclaim my concern (strangely my bump had no pain whatsoever) and Baba just says you hurt-I hurt. We are not two, but one. I stroke his head. I wonder, did it just happen or did he do it on purpose?
Yesterday on the porch Baba tells a man to ask me what my mother said before I left. I tell them she said "I hope you find what you're looking for." He says, I think you have found it and I agree. Recognition growing that this is indeed whom I was looking for.
Baba is very tender as I take leave. He gives me the cloth to take as I desired. Gives me the sweets, a letter, a flower from his heart to show that he is going with me. Blesses me and I prostrate before him as per his instruction. He makes me take my shoes.
My last view: he is standing there saying, "Thank you, thank you very much," I suddenly remember the dream I had at Hunger Mountain of Ramakrishna saying these very words in the same way. The evidence is building to the breaking point somehow.
I leave. Sweet feelings. I come back to Jiten's absorbed. There is joy on returning to my 'family', sweet greetings. And there is a letter waiting for me from Srinivasan:
I nearly swoon. I feel it Is Baba's grace. I eat and tell them some stores of what has happened. I keep drifting into silence. Srinivasan's letter keeps ringing through me. His words that Baba " in my humble experience, is no other than Sri Ramamkrishna. I sing songs. Ma comes. I sit alone in bed before sleep and tell the whole story to God. "You were there all the time"
I speak thus and am weeping for over an hour or more. Then deep sleep. I wake to my brothers and the joy of their love. What is the difference that creeps over me? Consumation of the first part of my purpose? Finally someone has said the words which confirm my suspicions. Now with the road ahead be unobstructed by doubts?
February 26, 1974
I awake to my brothers. A joyous reunion. Sleep was the deepest I have had in a long time. A certain burden of uncertainty was lifted. I begin to see that my madness was not madness at all but the strength of surrender to the Lord's call and guidance. As a result there Is a relaxation throughout the system and a new strength coming. I felt Baba's oceanic presence last night very much. I read Krishnamurti today and find no conflict. It all amounts to ego-death.
Mind-silence is the gateway to the other dimension. I am still getting as I have all week the passing feeling of somehow knowing all this from before. The places, the feeling, the path. Fantasies of the future are getting less.
Baba is much with me as he said he would be, so a faith is growing. I guess that he will guide me my life-long. With a confirmation growing the possibilities of things miraculous opens. i.e. if this whole journey has actually been true then anything is possible.
In talking to him last night in my tearful rapture, I saw that he had been guiding everything all along. My anguished aching desire to know Baba's real nature reached a peak of utter howling during the last few days. Now after Srinivasan's letter, all the events that have happened will begin to be seen in a new light. My surrender will grow. Mind will be able to concentrate on living in the egoless state or the Prem state rather than be wasted in doubts.
Reading Krishnamurti today: Meditation is not an experience. It is the emptying of the mind of all contents, which is the past. Ending all illusions which means the mind is completely still. This is attention, looking without the observer, the past, the me. Also to
February 27, 1974
I awake late. Last night I couldn't sleep. I talked to myself again. I was overcome by a rush of wanting to go back to see Baba immediately. Jiten had told me Baba said not to let me come alone. The feeling that he is Ramamkrishna keeps creeping over me and at the same time a relaxation of my previous intense struggles.
I wrote to Srinivasan and told him a little of my journey, thanked him for his words. I wrote a poem called "The Son!" Today I rested deeply, sleeping two hours.
In the morning Jiten asked me, somewhat excitedly, who had named me Billy. He said Vivekananda was called this as a small child. He said that he had talked with Baba and Baba said I was Vivekananda. And for Jiten not to let me go anywhere alone.
This news of being Vivekananda flipped me out. Somehow I wished it were not told this. I don't believe it and have been thinking Baba is just crazy on this account but I don't know anything. I liked it when he dressed me up as Nitya. Now I'm all crazy over this. Jiten said you even look like him. I would rather be nothing. Very disturbed somehow. Maybe it is no accident that Vivekananda was my least favorite of all Ramakrishna's disciples.
Jiten said Baba was weeping for me, feeling alone. This touched my heart and made me want to return. I feel like I will stay with Baba till my visa expires. I am puzzled about my disturbance. It seems like madness. As if I had followed my mad fantasy to the point where it became real to the extent that I had dreamed it, but now I am in it and being pulled along beyond my expectation. On a point like this can Baba be wrong? And mad? Its ridiculous to think I was Vivekananda but is it any more mad than thinking Baba was Ramakrishna? It seems I have felt like all of them, even M. which I didn't like because the responsibility of the diary is too much.
Oh! Just give me God! I don't want all this ego-identification. The confusion. I came to get rid of identity, not to gain new images and fantasies. Some great change is coming. I want the Lord now, not the play. The nitya, not the lila. Oh why did he have to say a thing like that? What a burden. Whom can I appeal to for truth? I am alone.
Miru's prospective husband's people came today. It is a kind of "shopping trip," examining the possible bride to be. In the end I guess she was considered a bit too dark of skin color. I am all tired. A wasted day but deep rest after a struggle that has lasted nearly a year. I am thinking about that day I packed up all my stuff and Swami Vivekananda's picture came all alive. I was weeping then about the love between Ramakrishna and Vivekananda. That is what I really wanted. And now here I am.
That night we have a spirited satsang. I had come in, Jiten and wife and Miru were looking at my alter and saying how beautiful. They are very friendly but since Baba's statement about Vivekananda they are almost an awe.
I thinking wait a minute this is ridiculous. Now I am trapped in a mad dream which is out of control. I wanted Baba to be Ramakrishna, but I did not want to be anyone special. We are singing bhajans but I am really longing for that samadhi, that peaceful space again. I am restless for it.
Now I plan to return tomorrow with Miru. Hardly soon enough. I am anxious to begin some new leg of my adventure. I want to dive, dive dive. Who cares about this maya? If my destination has proved true then God is and has been doing all, all along.
February 28, 1974
I return to ashram with Miru in a strange mood, 11:30AM. Miru has been a godsend to me because of her good English speaking abilities. She tells me many things about life in Bengal, the customs, the people whom I am with.
Some transformation creeping over, or is it a temporary thing? I get reabsorbed in the deep egoless space when I return. It is like magic. It made me realize how scattered my mind had gotten at Chandannagore.
I slept by Baba in the afternoon. He was on mauna, or vow of silence. He follows this every Thursday. This made me feel distant. I slept briefly and I then fanned him while he slept for over an hour. I kept thinking "Is this really He?" but the peace descended, though the mind was babbling its confusion. I circle Hanuman. Very spaced out, not the tears but the OM, the ocean, that pure feeling lightening the body.
The thing about Vivekananda is still bothering me. I eat and Baba asks why my face is so drawn and small. I hadn't realized that it was and this statement took me aback. As I thought about it I saw the confused state I was in. Before, with my yearning, I had something steady, but now with these two rash statements having hit me (Srinivasan's letter and the comment about Vivekananda) I was swimming in confusion more than ever.
I felt a bit angry, oddly enough, as if I were a toy of some kind, as if had fallen into a part in some game. I felt as if I had no freedom. So many conflicting feelings.
When the serving girl came in, I had a series of nightmare flashbacks to Baba's "marriage test" at Chandernagore, where he had said that I would marry an Indian girl and reduced me to tears. What if he pulls that again? This thought sent me into a tailspin.
At least before I knew were I was at. I was me, I had traveled to find Ramakrishna, I was on my own adventure, I was finding out, etc. But I did not want some great new identity thrust on me! Now, suddenly, I don't know anything again. Is all this predetermined? Is all this completely out of my control? Is it some kind of divine play? What can I do? I want to believe my Baba is the reincarnation of that wonderful dead saint, but it has turned around and bit me in the backside.
About being Vivekananda I cannot accept it. It seems crazy. Besides, I don't want any veil over me. I want out of this maya. I want God-consciousness, I want love, I want Ramakrishna, but no new ego-identity. I want less and less. Oh! this has blown my mind. Baba asks me to sing, then he instructs more about OM.
I am frustrated because there is no translator. I am sitting in Baba's room, spaced-out and sad, helpless to speak my feelings or clarify anything. Baba comes in and frizzles my hair. Then he sits in front of me like a child. With his hands he seems to measure the distance between my heart-throat, heart-navel, feels my breath. What is he doing?
Then he holds my hand and starts playing some kind of hand game with me. His enthusiasm and the way he moves soon has me laughing and forgetting my earlier sorrow. And he says something about how Ramakrishna and Vivekananda used to play this hand game together. He laughs like a child, and claps his hands with glee when I "win". (His strength is incredible, I discover). We go to sing the evening prayers. We sing "Hari Narayan," then the Ramayana prayers at the Hanuman temple.
Earlier, walking away in a crazy mood, he had said to me via Miru, "Aren't you going to sing? You never sing any songs anymore!"
Flashback. While I was sad before, Miru and Baba were talking about me. Food, sleep, etc. I sort of gave up? I felt I had given all to God in this mad quest, now it was up to him to clarify a few things. I was in no position to do it myself. I knew this was called tamasic bhava: the disciple make demands of the guru. This whole sadness sequence started with his remark about my face. As if I had done something wrong which was ridiculous. So I didn't even watch them to try to catch the meaning. I gave up.
After kirtan I come in and eat, and then rub his legs. I can't understand my own feeling tonight - sort of a shyness on the one hand, mixed with a very strange kind of anger - the way one gets angry with someone one loves beyond all speaking, anger which can never even get off the ground-- as if I feel frustrated knowing Baba can put me through almost any kind of twist and turn and I'll still wind up coming back to his feet with my tears of love.
There is only forward. Delhi consecration, death all are behind me. Oh! Lord! Enough of this cat and mouse game! Reveal yourself!
March 1st, 1974
I awake after good sleep but I am still confused, asking in my heart for God. I don't know what to do. Baba is in a very good mood.
He says, "You are late with your pranam?"
I say "You're always brushing your teeth or bathing, how can I pranam?"
At tea he searches my eyes. I am sad I can't meet them. He is joking. I am reading Upanishads while he combs his hair.
He says no, and throws the book down. I show him the word OM in the book. He puts it down again. Shows me OM on his body. I think he is the living truth itself, but how can I ever get it?
Afterward, before lunch, I sing some songs for Baba. (Hare Satia, Narayana Hari, Keshava, Chaitanya, Dub Dub). Baba gets ecstatic, gives me several looks of heart melting bhakti. This singing cleared the choking longing I had been feeling before.
After puja Baba is standing on porch. He tells me direcly "You are Vivekananda!"
I say no, I don't want to be. I eat. Baba is joking and calls the whole place "Food Ashram," "Money Ashram" meaning people come and give money and get sacred flowers. He calls the temple his "Doctor Chamber" where the "patients" come to find out their fate or to have their fate changed. He is crazy today. Sleep. I get letters from Jeff and Rick Dryden.
10PM- The lila goes on. Incredible. Baba's love flowing like a torrent. It is making me strong somehow, though not in the ego sense. It is beyond my mind's fathoming. Somehow I play my part, I don't know how. Tonight I play guitar with the singers and do kirtan.
Baba was in his room talking to Ma, Miru, and an old lady, an old man. I come in and he says "Sit down. Say something."
I am taken aback and don't know what to say. I am still in a daze. Baba gives instruction: The passions must be given up, the maya must be vomited up, one must meditate.
Baba reads from a book about the requirements for sadhana: purity, yearning for God, strength, practice, etc. He pantomimes each thing. He is very intimate and patient in his attempts to bridge language gap.
He tells about reading books too much. They heat up the brain. Too much thinking. He reminds me that Ramakrishna couldn't read. No M.A., no B.A.
He says "Ami choto chele." (I'm just a little boy) showing a small size with his hands and bowing humbly and cutely like a child. "l'm just a small child."
I show him the book "Thakur" by Pranab and he says "No right! Life. no right." There are some mistakes in that book apparently. He tells me to write about him. Something about showing to my friends. I discover Pranab wrote it mostly by himself.
I also discover Mrs. Hart tried to give Baba car, a watch, a jewel ring, all of which he gave away. He has also been repeatedly telling me about the film-cinema thing. The white light is the reality, the shadows on the film are the illusion of maya.
March 2nd 1974
I awake after only five hours sleep, 2AM to 7AM and I am tired all morning. Japa at ten. Baba is busy in Chamber all day, seeing the many people who have come for his blessing.. A boy comes with terrible pain in his eyes.
I watch the people come. Some of their faces, their humble seeking is very touching. I watch one encounter before the boy's turn. Baba is asking the person questions and doing some kind of Indian style horoscope, even palm reading etc. By now I realize these are really for the benefit of the person. Baba needs no such tricks to divine the fate of anyone. He just sees it in their countenance and on their faces.
My mind is over-busy today and straining. Too much effort. After my nap I feel better.
Jiten comes. He tells that Mrs. Hart is expected to come on the 23rd. I massage Baba feeling like God is far. I do not even feel the longing, so I am frustrated since when I came at least I had longing. But this today is mostly mind chatter. My faith remains.
After we have our evening puffed rice Ganga Babu comes and he and Baba talk deeply in soft tone. He loves Ganga Babu very much. Baba goes into an exquisite shanti ecstasy and all my thoughts and doubts etc. are again wiped away by looking at his shining light.
My ego goes blessedly away for awhile. I melt with love for him. I see the Lord shining there. It is beauty beyond telling - beauty in which the seer vanishes in the beauty itself. My body became perfectly still and relaxed. I was seeing Ramakrishna and more. Baba is speaking from such a depth. My tears came gently, the quiet ones.
Baba was talking something about no "I" and I could feel my own "I" vanish in the joy of witnessing his glory. It was the glory of triumph over the "I". Space and time seemed unreal - only the presence was real and in that presence there was no I and no Baba, only HE, the all-pervading space of God
Oh, I heard the silent chorale of his angels there! My heart flowed to him. I longed for death into his being. He finished by saying that all the talk he could give me was only maya- then he went into his Ramakrishna pose, made a silence sign, and showed that the real communion is in this kind of stillness and wordlessness.
My heart is hush to speak the beauty of my Lord! We walk Ganga Babu to the road and Baba calls me over and points up to the moon. I don't understand what he said, but he said something about how Ramakrishna showed Vivekananda the same thing. He showed Vivekananda their own two faces in the moon.In the face of his love I am reduced to nothing?
March 3rd 1974
Good sleep for a change. Misty morning, the sweet smell of the country. Baba is in a good mood though he got little sleep due to his heart trouble, despite taking a full Calmpose pill (diazepam) last night.
Morning tea. The conversation is our impending visit that day to Baba's other ashram in the village of Kuldanga. It is called "Sadhanashram." Baba is still asking me for the 3rd or 4th time whether we should to to Sadhanashram by rickshaw or by car. Knowing that money is an issue and the rickshaw is cheap I suggest rickshaw.
Baba plays the tape of last night of the conversation with Ganga Babu and gets into such a sweet mood from it. Everything is maya, he says.
There are two visitors here, Nitai and someone else. Mr. Pal comes and asks for a cigarette. My mind is quieter today, tending toward the oceanic. Baba's theme must be penetrating as all the previous intensity of eagerness toward the Lord is now tending toward removing ego consciousness.
It is exasperating but the main thing is always Baba's face, his expressions, and how to write these? I do what I can with my camera from time to time, to capture his incredible expressions and the luminous quality of his eyes.
We Visit Kuldanga and Sadhanashram
We leave for Sadhanashram. It is a beautiful day, wind blowing gently. We walk across rice fields on old dusty paths to meet up with the two rickshaws that will take us to Kuldanga. I take a few pictures of Baba smiling and walking. These pictures will later become famous and precious among the devotees.
I am ecstatic while walking. My love is made wide and high by the scenery, the wide blue sky, my saviour walking steady and simply. A stream of God-love and praise flows through my brain, time stands still, my longing seems fulfilled.
I feel I am walking in the footsteps of the Son of Heaven. As if Jesus had just said: "Throw down your nets and follow me. I will make you fishers of men."
My love that hour knows no bounds, nor does it get limited to this walking form of Baba - it seems through Baba to embrace the whole day. I am simple, empty like a child, open, heart flowing to both the visible and the invisible Lord.
After we rendevous with the waiting rickshaws we journey through the village country by rickshaw, I soaking up impressions of rural lndia, the people by the wayside, children playing, the cows, the chickens, little tiny villages apparently in the middle of nowhere.
Alternately walking and riding. Baba points to the road -"Indian roads are not right!" At last a tire blows out and we must stop to repair it. Baba is puzzled. He says that the Mother's morning flower said it was okay to go by rickshaw, and then he gives me a look as if to say, "Who can comprehend it?"
After many hours we reach the ashram at Kuldanga. Baba spent many years here doing intense sadhana and he takes me to his room. This is a new room, his original room reduced to ruins nearby. I look at the picture of him on the simple altar there as a young man.
Showing me around he gives me an amused look and says, "Phooaw!" as if to say, how ridiculous this ashram, all maya! big deal! Indeed there is not much there, a Kali temple, a kitchen room.. He shows me his old hut and laughs and laughs mimicing how it is all broken down. He used to do sadhana there long ago. He is in a happy mood. I goto look at the images in the temple.
The Kali image in the temple is a life-sized realistic statue with blood all over, bloody heads hanging from her hand and around her neck. I am shocked by it. It is Kali in her terrible scary form.
I come out and mimic to Baba the ferociousness of the Kali and Baba bursts into roaring laughter and also mimics it - "Whoo-ah!"
"I don't look at it," he says, "I don't want it. My Kali is a little one," showing with his hand how big. Indeed, the image of Kali that Baba worships is called Anandamayi, the blissful form, Kali as the granter of boons.
Back at his room he tells me "No murti (form). Shiva and Kali are not two." He points to the wall writing "Om" and says, "Bas (enough) No forms, OM." Tells me all this like an intimate dear friend. I found out later that he had insisted that no elaborate altar be built in that room, just a simple OM sign painted on the wall and the single picture of himself.
In the evening we do kirtan walking around a small tulsi tree in a pot which has been placed in the center of the ashram courtyard. This is after impressing on me that God has no form. He points to it and laughs and I say, "That little tulsi tree is God?" and he says "Yes, God!"
The kirtan is spirited and spontaneous. At the end he is quaking through and through. I just keep surrendering into his love. Then the evening worship follows. Deep meditation, silent and empty, no effort to be still. I keep on drifting into a state beyond myself in which I am watching all within in a detatched way.
The theme of my meditation seems to be: no "ami" (ego), just Om. lt is death! Meditation is the ending of the "me." We have some puffed rice after worship. There is a cozy picnic feeling. He tells me not to smoke on the ashram grounds so I go out to the road.
In the evening there is a "meeting" with the Sadhanashram people. Baba again shows me the full moon again, and I still don't get what he is talking about. At the meeting I sit by him and he talks to the people.
I can only catch that it is about the proper ashram attitude, etc. Something about the Navaratri festival. He seems almost to be scolding them He is animated, absolutely strong and almost fierce although not exactly angry. Mighty and firm in his expression.
His speech seems again to be just spontaneiously flowing from beyond him, instilling the people with ideals. I watch him. I see my Ramakrishna. It all ends up in a big arguement, the outcome of which, one guy tells me, is that they will stop the Navaratri function.
Meanwhile I am dropping thought somehow, going into the ocean of silence, the sense of a real presence beyond the occasional spluttering of my "me." It is sweet shanti. Impersonal, steady, amazing.
There is no urge to weep with emotion this night for it is there in its complete fullness. No chaos of thought. It feels as if samadhi is not far off.
I am thinking of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda and suddenly Baba slaps my knee and holds his hand there firmly. I snap out of my state with a jolt and experience slight disorientation as if I don't know what to think or how.
He gazes at me and I meet his gaze -- I try to steady myself and look beyond his form to the unseen God I know dwells there. I give up thought and ego as if I were rushing toward him to union. It lasts a minute perhaps. He closes his eyes. Pats my knee several times with pleasure as if to say, yes, yes, yes.
He has a headache so I massage his head and neck. We play some of the tapes we have been making. I continue to meditate.
Later we have some food at the nearby house of Molina's family, although Molina is not there. I do not know nor guess that Molina will one day play a big part in my life. We sleep in Baba's room. He helps me set up our two mosquito nets.
March 4, 1974 - Kuldanga
I awake instantly after a super-deep sleep to Baba's intonation of "Om." As has happened many times before he seems to waken me from inside myself somehow, as if he has truly taken residence in my heart.
I have my morning "bath" in the woods. Baba shows me the "paikane" (latrine) they have dug for me in the woods. One for me and one for him. He says "Guru God, God Guru," to explain why we do not use the same one. Guru's latrine is for guru only.
As usual there is the noon worship and hom fire.
After the worship Baba is sitting outside the ashram gate on a cloth,combing his hair. A bench has been put there for me. It is the courtesy everywhere to offer westerner a chair or bench. They seem to believe "sahibs" are not capable of sitting cross legged on the ground.
Baba calls for the tape of he and Ganga Babu talking. A crowd gathers around. We listen to the tape. I am preoccupied at first but then I notice that Baba is weeping at different things on the tape and getting indrawn, occasionally sobbing with feeling. My attention goes to him, the bhav starts in my heart and grows . People are listening intently. Baba periodically looks up. The guy sitting next to me moves and I move closer to Baba. It gets deeper and deeper.
My gaze fixes on him. It is like being with Ramakrishna! There are intense moments of communion. He looks up at me and his eyes are like no eyes I have ever seen anywhere! Oh Lord! What love!
His expression is one of a man about to drown, but it is God he is drowning in. He throws his eyes up to heaven, then again looks at me. He rolls his eyes, looks up again, and sobbing looks at me.
I become intoxicated with love of him. He is looking at me directly, weeping, I nod my head, yes, yes, yes, I know, I feel it, I love you, love God. He closes his eyes. This exchange seemed like a direct communion. All through it my heart's love is flowing. One thought, behold the Son!
It was as if the crowd vanished. Was Baba inhibited by the crowd? No, he was going beyond maya. What a tenderness I felt. The day vanished in that bright shining light of his love.
An old man devotee standing nearby quietly said "bhava samadhi". The tape ended and I shut it off. The ensuing quiet seemed to pass through Baba and I noticed he was no longer moving at all. His legs were crossed, his left arm over the back of the chair, his right arm in his lap.He was in deep samadhi.
I sat looking, entranced for a few moments. Then it occurred to me that he might fall so I got up and stood behind him gently supporting him. He stayed that way for awhile. I sang "Hari Bol" very softly. How wonderful I felt. It was truly Ramakrishna I held. I felt like petting him but I didn't.
He came out of it after shaking for awhile. He came out with a sort of startled jerk or two as if suddenly regaining body consciousness. He looked around, saw me there. I stroked his back lovingly. He wanted his towel which I went to wet, but he said no and came and lay down on the ground with his cloth under his head, still in a slight swoon. We exchanged looks. a warm happy glance: everything is OK.
I overflowing with love. He sits up and I brush off his back. He looks at me. I reach for him. There is a world of words in that look of recognition. His eyes are wet and full of love and an "it's all God" kind of fullness.
I reach for him somehow and he embraces me. It is a very strong and long embrace. Then he laughs at his intoxication and says' "l'm a monkey!" He looks up at the crowd that is staring at him and he mimics a monkey, Asks for a bidi. He often asks for a smoke to help bring him back into the sensory realm again. I get his comb. He is talking normally but seems to be glowing.
There was another event before the Hom fire when Baba talking to the priest of the ashram, standing just outside the ashram gate. Baba seemed to be scolding the priest. The Priest (pujari) was just looking down at the ground and toward the end he seemed to be experiencing something intense but withheld feelings. He could not look at Baba. The words seemed to flow from Baba in an electric flow. After the Hom fire the pujari fell at Baba's feet weeping bitterly, uttering something through his tears.
After our food we take a nap. When Baba showed me his old wrecked hut there was a huge spider web and Baba said the web was maya and the spider was God.
Going to sleep at night, Baba takes all his medicines. It is a very tender scene, like two buddies. I am utterly exhausted although since the deep meditation I am not feeling much body consciousness. I fall asleep immediatcly. I dream of Vimala and Baba. I don't remember much but a strange part where Vimala says about me: "No, he is mine," and Baba laughs.
Maybe this is just a lingering sense of a remaining split allegience in the subconscious which can only exist as long as I am not 100% sure that Baba is Ramakrishna. Somewhere below the surface I still am not convinced totally though my surface mind is well satisfied.
I Meet Ganga Ma
March 4th 1974
After our nap again Baba seems to wake me up as if from the inside. We pack our thing and leave the Ashram. It will be a four hour ride in the rickshaw to get back to Ramanathpur.
On our way out of the town of Kuldanga we stop at the house of a woman devotee named Ganga. There I watch while she enacts a ritual I find deeply moving. She has prepared brass plate, water bowl, and has apparently been waiting for us. She seats Baba in a chair before here and proceeds to wash Baba's feet with her hair! Then she gives him coconut water to drink. It somehow seems like a scene from centuries ago, or timeless.
We get home to the ashram after riding quite a while in the moonlight. We salute the deities. I fan Baba while he talks to two devotees who have come. Baba is telling his life story. Later on Baba asked me several times if I wanted to go stay at Sadhanashram. I said no, I want to stay here at Ananda Ashram.
Joya Ma, always knowing my heart, teasingly asks me if I would want to stay at Ananda Ashram if Baba is not there. I say "No Baba, no Ananda Ashram!" Everyone laughs.
Before going to sleep Baba and I have another laughing spell about the horrendous Kali image at Sadhanashram. Baba is telling Lokon about my reaction to it. I say that the Shiva under Kali's foot is in pretty bad shape, and mimic that bloody Kali stomping all over him.
Baba just roars with laughter. Nothing is quite so wonderful as the laughter of this God-man. Just as his every word has a certain power, his laughter too has a kind of special power of its own. It seems to ring through my very soul as a kind of highest blessing. It has a fullness that is truly psychic in nature. Sometimes I feel that if I could just make Baba laugh once in awhile, that will be perfect happiness and perfect sadhana in itself. There has been no conflict or tension in two days. The ego is getting lost in Baba's love and in love of Baba. Viveka, discrimination, is alive, but Baba always wins. There is no describing the Lord.
March 5th , 1974
I awake at 7AM as usual. Baba is hurting. I roll up the strands of his hair that fall out while combing. People do this and keep the hair as a kind of blessing or talisman. He tells me to do ten thousand "money", 100 malas. Peace is with me but I want to keep going.
I do japa for one and a half hours and then meditate for another hour. I get into tamasic bhakti state: Why don't I see him? Why does the ego persist? My mind keeps being boggled by so many things. I feel angry at God. I don't know what else I can give but the love is there so what can I do?
I get angry unto tears, like a child who has been promised sweets by his father but is impatient when he doesn't get them right away. Saying, what do you want God, my blood? Okay, I'll give every drop but just absorb me in your consciousness. Give me union! Give me union! I am angry at that God who is the best treasure in the universe, but who chooses to hide himself, ever keeping us deluded so that his game can go on.
After sitting there from 10AM to 1PM Baba comes in and says "Oh Baba!"
He had told me to do japa and then forgotten that I was there! He comes over and puts his hand on my head and one leg up on the other and gives his blessing saying "Om shanti."
He introduces some people who have come, but I couldn't care less. I am absorbed in this silent feeling. I don't feel like moving. Later Joya Ma brings me food. I say I won't eat until Baba eats. She insists. I say no, I won't eat. I feel an angry strength about it. Finally Baba comes in and gives me a "look" which seems to say, it's all maya-food, eat a little anyway.
He smiles a grin like isn't this whole play crazy fun! He melts my silly game with a single ray of love. I agree to eat after he eats some of it himself, but it takes me awhile to move my body. Later that night Baba gently informs me that Joya Ma cries if I don't eat.
After eating I fall asleep. lt is hot, sweaty, flies buzzing around. Baba comes in after his "chamber" work. He sleeps too.
I wake up and go out to circle the Hanuman temple. We have tea, I do more circles. Then Mr. Pal comes over. He invites me to come and see the saint later at his house. I ask Baba through Pal about getting my visa. Plans are made simply for me to go tomorrow to Chandernagore and meet Baba Thursday in Rishra. Tik. Baba stands there and starts singing "Hari Bol." I look at him lovingly and sing with him. What a mad God-man. He wins me everytime with his love and God-madness. Melts away all doubts everytime. How can I stay angry at him? It's ridiculous.
This child-man seems to own me. Is my ego dying into love of him? He tells me through Pal that my heart is a garden and God is the gardener. "Kunja" is the whole chest (draws a big circle on my chest) and "kanana" is the heart (makes a dot on my heart).
I say about the garden: "And Prem is the flower," and he says yes, "one prem, phule" and then, through Pal, that without the water of the tears of love that prem flower will dry up and die.
I Meet a "Saint"
I circle Hanuman and then the "saint" comes. He is the official family guru of the Pal clan and his name is Tokkananda. He is a tall thin man with glasses on and wearing the orange robes of a sadhu. I go over and Mr. Pal tells me who it is, this is the one who was expected. I gather that he is very highly respected to a great number of people in the village. Everyone seems excited that he has come.
Suddenly I see Baba bowing down to this guy. I am taken aback and amazed. I had wondered if there ever people that Baba bowed down before. This guy accepts Baba's pranam without returning it. They greet as each other as old and beloved friends. I can feel the enthusiastic rush of love between them. Baba starts going toward the deepest bhava. He is all humility, reverence and love. He seems to be bubbling, as if he cannot express it. This is the one of Baba's many moods that touches me most deeply, this absolutely genuine humility, in which it really seems as if he is being nothing. Bubbling blissful and happy, yet humbly withholding himself, playing the beggar with utter sincerity. (I saw it at Choto Babu's house).
I make my pranam to the swami. He guy tells me something about a penpal he had named B.G. something-or-other, and every American he sees now makes him think of this penpal he had 30 years ago.
He and Baba go into the Kali temple to talk and I hang around the door to watch. They are sitting in front of the goddess and talking and holding hands. Baba is telling him briefly about me, my having come, and about Kanta Devi and Mrs. Hart, etc. and both of them are gushing with warmth. Baba is rapidly heading toward absorption in bliss. It is an ecstatic reunion of two lovers of God.
After a while they finish and Baba stretches out his arms to embrace the Swami. They come out of the temple. All the children are rushing about underfoot and taking the dust of the Swami's feet in an excited swarm.
I think, what a strange thing. Here is this Ramakrishna standing in all humility watching while they flock to this other guy. To my own eyes the genuine greatness is there in the place where it is hidden. I get confused by this as to what's what, but Baba's mood of humility touches me more deeply than anything. At Baba's sign I take the dust of the Swami's feet and he says, "I'll see you again, but only God knows where or when."
The Swami leaves and then suddenly everyone is gone, the whole crowd that had been gathered around is just sort of swept away in the Swami's trail. Only some some singers have stayed. It is strange, I think to myself, how all the people are hankering after the other Swami, who does not interest me at all.But because he has an education, and has made a name for himself, and has many disciples, they all flock to him.
I look up at Baba who is standing on the porch. I notice his bhava is deepening. He has that wild look as when he is about to be overwhelmed. He is saying, over and over, "Jaya Ramakrishna! Jaya Ramakrishna!" with deep choked feeling. I stand up and go to him, partly protecting, since his mood is rapidly going toward another loss of control, and partly because my own feelings have been deeply stirred.
I just go to his right side and hold him dearly. He draws his head against mine and the mood deepens. He is saying "Ramakrishna, Ramakrishna" again and again, half weeping, half struggling to maintain himself, holding the porch pole for support. He looks up, looks all around the ashram courtyard and says, "Everything is Ramakrishna!"
My love knows no bounds. I feel that just to be standing here touching this amazing being is God's great gift to me. His whole frame is trembling and shaking, occasionally stiffening slightly as it did at the Satyanarayana festival when he went into nirvikalpa samadhi. We are standing there like two lovers in the most tender posture, my whole being as a totality flowing to him.
The singers take leave after witnessing this scene and Baba bows before them. Is he seeing that they are God? His bowing to them is the essence of that humility which utterly tugs at my heart. Throughout he is occasionally sort of muttering to himself. Joya Ma comes and makes him sit down and I stroke him as he recovers. I circle some more around the Hanuman temple, keeping an eye on Baba. He is still inebriated, crying a bit, looking up at Hanuman with childlike utter devotion. Deep meditation follows.
At night Baba talks. Tells me that he is a fool. He says that the other Swami (Tokkananda) has a B.A., M.A., but that he, Baba, has no education. I am entranced again. The samadhi bhava was another upheaval of my day. We put the picture of Ramakrishna onto the picture of him that is in his in his room, tucking it to the corner of the frame, and he says "Right." At first I put it onto the picture of Chaitanya, but he says "niche", below, on top of his). It is as if he keeps giving the gentle affirmation of his identity because he cannot never say it directly. Is this a divine game?
The Life is the Teachings
Baba tapes a short message, "Guru-God" to Athena and Philip on the cassette tape recorder they had sent. He starts talking a bit about his life. I say that I want to get many tapes and record his "Upadesh", his spiritual teachings.
But he says that his life story is his upadesh. He says that Ramakrishna's life story is itself one big upadesh, one Upanishad.
"New Upanishad!" I say.
He says "Yes, new. One Jesus Christ life story, one upadesh."
Then he points to himself, saying, "Jiboni - Upanishad." (He says just these two words, "jiboni," "Upanishad". He does not say "amar jiboni," or My life story).
He indicates that these great ones did not write books. Their lives were their books. It was others that wrote the stories of their lives and these stories became the holy books. Did Jesus write any book? Did Ramakrisha write any book? They lived a certain way and their lives were their book.
Then he starts telling me the story of his life. He tells in animated pantomime with few words. The intimacy between us is growing very intense. The more I come to see that this really seems to be him, the more we are like one being, divided only enough to enjoy each others' existence.
In the Kali temple at pranam time Baba showed that his heart, his health, was not well, there were palpitations, and so on. Then he said "maya." I indicated the body is maya. He said "No maya, no rupa (form)," as if in answer to my anger of the day. Take away all the maya and there is nothing but the formless One. As long as God is incarnated in a body he suffers maya.
Baba tells me that his mother was really his first guru, because she was always telling him to call on God. They were completely destitute when he was a boy. They had no money. His father was a yogi. He mimics perfectly the utterly pathetic state they were in, no food, clothes, begging. He is a perfect actor.
When he was 7 his mother said "Go beg." When he was sixteen his father hit him with an ax for stealing a mango from a neighbor's tree. He shows me the scar which is still there, several inches long, on his hip. His mother had tried to stop the father saying, "No, don't do it," but the father pushed her aside. Blood poured out. Baba acted all this out for me perfectly.
At night Baba calls me over to show me a shadow. There is no light except that of the full moon, which is bright, and Baba points out a shadow being cast on the ground and wall. He moves his hand in the moonlight to show me that he is talking about the shadow. He tells me that the shadow is like maya. It is blocking the light. The illusory life of maya is the shadow blocking the fullness of the light of reality.
March 6, 1974
In the morning Baba is proudly telling others about how I didn't want to go to see the other swami last night, that I only wanted to stay with him. He sends me off to Chandernagore with great tenderness and love. I have another reunion there with my Bengali "family." The children are pleased. Jiten tells me the story of how he first met Baba and how Baba's healing of Tubulu gave him faith in the higher things.
Tubulu very tender toward me so I tell him to look at Ramakrishna up close 5 or 10 minutes every day and he agrees. After hearing Jiten's story it is clear that Tubulu is Baba's.
March 7, 1974 Calcutta Chaos
I go to Calcutta with Jiten for an intense fiasco in the matter of trying to extend my visa. It is an exercise in nothingness, a journey into hell. I want so much to stay with Baba some extra time. I would stay with him for the rest of his life if I could. But to get even a month or two extension of my visa seems impossible, I do not know why.
I had to stand and walk nearly four hours straight. The crowded train to Howrah, the horrible overpacked bus, a long walk to the American Consul, nothing. We go to Indian security, nothing. Go to Superintendant of Police, nothing. Heat intense. The city is a total chaos. Throughout I follow Jiten blindly, mildly annoyed that all this wasn't prevented by the one obvious phone call.
I am annoyed at the buses, the insanity of conditions in this place. How do they bear it? Finally we go back to Howrah Station. I read Time magazine. They argue and finally get confirmation from an official who happens to be booking something. I burn gently, disgusted with maya and indifferent to my fate. On the bus back to Howrah I nearly wept, it was so fruitless, suffering pointlessly all day for absolutely nothing. Yet I kept thinking of Om and Brahman and Baba.
Baba at Rishra The Master's Wonderful Dance
Finally we take the train to Rishra where we are to meet Baba. There is a festival going on at the house of a devotee. Twilight was coming down and I was feeling fairly "thin" and brave and intent, and so on. I am still feeling something of my day's pointless pain, yet I feel must keep going ever onward, and endure what must be endured.
Baba sees me coming before I see him. He is sitting on a chair near the kirtan stand. He stands up and makes the Ramakrishna pose. I make the sign of the snake to indicate what kind of day I had. He looks startled. Jiten and I pranam. I sit next to Baba.
He is all love to me, pets me as he hears the sad story of my day, his body trembling occasionally. My heart is full with love, the emotional choking feeling coming occasionally when I let my mind rest on Baba for awhile. Other than that, as soon as I got back to Baba presence I was in the ocean again, my mind so sweetly sick of the outer realm it naturally drifted inward. Baba's grace is flowing. He has taken a glass of water and is holding it in his hands. He holds it for at least five minutes, then he finally gives me some to drink, and even then won't let me drink more than half. He puts his hand on my head several times.
All suffering seems to life whenever I return to Baba's presence. It is useless to complain about what has happened because being with Baba again makes it all recede into the background.
As I sit there I know he is all to me. I am utterly lost in his love like the fly who falls into the sugar syrup. I feel so happy being back with him.
I say "Calcutta is no good!"
He says, "I never go there! Maya!"
I am so tired tonight I can't possibly find words to describe the tenderness of this particular reunion. He was showering me with love, and for my part, after the experience of the day, I was just dying at his feet, losing my separate nature in the golden beauty of his being.
Is Mother removing my veil of doubts at last? After two months of this, as Glenn put it, "Sherlock Holms" work? Baba talked over plans with Jiten while I drifted into myself and gazed at the moon. There was a large crowd all around and nearby the kirtan singers were chanting and singing the holy name. Finally Baba went for kirtan.
How can I ever describe what followed? It lasted for over a half an hour. It was, in fact, a witnessing of what one of Ramakrishna's devotees had called "The Master's Wonderful Dance." I was so transfixed at Baba's singing and dancing I don't know what happened.
Baba rolled in the dirt, dancing intoxicated, stumbling at times, at times the movements seemed like a spontaneious perfect rhythm symphony of God-love. There was sweat on his brow, he was oblivious, his looking at me. I tried to join in but finally I just had to watch and couldn't sing any more. My body couldn't move I was so enthralled. It removed my doubts.
At the end Baba was standing, exalted, and passed into nirvikalpa samadhi, his body and mind unconscious to the outer world. The devotees, again, seemed to have known this was coming. They swoop him up, carry him off, fanning him and singing the holy word "Om!" in his ear to bring him around. After about ten minutes he starts to regain awareness of the world again. He doesn't know what's happening at first. He looks around questioningly to those nearby. I massage him lightly and he smokes and has some water. These bodily activities seem to bring him down to earth again. He is cold and puts on a cloth, disoriented for awhile. His mind still goes back into the ongoing music occasionally.
Later we go into a devotee's house for some food. They have made a place for Baba to sit on the bed, and are preparing various foods. Baba is telling me I must wash my hands before eating, something I am always forgetting, but then he gets up from the bed and takes me by the hand. He leads me toward the back into a little bathroom and then washes my hands himself! He is cleaning my hands with his own hands under the water spigot. He does this so tenderly and lovingly that I am deeply moved. It is so clear that he means me to understand something by this gesture, that it is not only my hands that are being cleansed. The guru is cleansing the disciple completely.
Then we go back to the other room and he feeds me the things they have prepared, again with his own hands. He sitting on a bed, I sitting near it, using it as a table. I weep with love. I see him sitting there above me, the room all golden light. He is utterly radient with love. Oh Son of God, it's you, the eternal one himself! I am dissolved in love. He keeps feeding me apples. He discards the orange after testing it himself. It is not good enough to give me. He eats practically nothing himself, and gives me the food from his own plate too.
This day is engraved on my heart. From the worst maya to the very best, I have seen everything today. I am too tired to write more. We come home by car. Me holding his cane, crying with love and ego loss.
The Festival of Holi Dol Purnima
March 8, 1974
Today is the festival called "Holi," or "Dol Purnima," (full moon of spring) and everyone is squirting colored water on each other and exchanging colored powders on each other's head and feet. It honors a similar game that was said to be played by Radha and Krishna in ancient times. It also welcomes in the sweet breezes of the spring season
Baba says this is a happy crazy day. And he tells me that on this very day Ramakrishna went into samadhi, crying. Vivekananda had to hit him to "wake" him up. Ramakrishna had been weeping with love for Lord Krishna.
Today Baba is happy and very tender to me. We sat on the porch in the morning. We are going through some of the proverbs in my Bengali book and he is explaining them. He is amused and happy. Regarding the proverb "Where there's a will there's a way," Baba interjects "You should always say 'I WILL see God!,' don't just say 'I want to see God.'"
Then he called for my flute. I played and he meditated. Was he imagining the young Govinda playing his flute? And then I played guitar and sang Sri Ram, The Black Bee of my Mind, Keshava Kuru, Hare Krishna. Toward the end he became completely absorbed, tears in his eyes. I was feeling that I was with Krishna himself, as if I were coming ever closer and closer to him, toward mergence.
He told me all these activities, like these festivals, are really maya. The actual Radha and Krishna are in the heart. All this outer play and festivity is just a tool to help us realize the truth within ourselves. The spraying of colors and colored powders is done with great respect and love.
Again today he is telling everyone about me, things I did, things I said. He is like a proud parent.
Yesterday and today I am getting a very strong Ramakrishna manifestation from Baba. He keeps telling everyone how Ramakrishna went into deep samadhi on this day. This was photographed and remains the most famous picture of Ramakrishna all over India. This in itself wipes away my ego and leaves me just staring at him in amazement. I had fully believed for the past year and a half that if I ever actually found Ramakrishna I would vanish in my love of him. He accepts every tenderness from me if it is from the heart and sincere. Noon worship and meditation. Then we eat, and after that it is nap time.
At the evening puja Baba's presence seems to pull me inward to the oceanic egoless space everytime I allow it to. I try to persevere in tethering my wandering mind. Tonight I started out scattered, and ended up in deep meditation with bhav coming strong just as he finished.
My doubts are now burning up fast in the blazing rays of his darshan of love and his "hints" are getting more direct. As this happens the relationship is changing to a closeness that seems eternal, to have always been. The more I am convinced it is He, the more my feeling of "me" is dissolved in utter surrender. All the thoughts of my life (past, present or future) vanish altogether in those moments when I perceive in Baba that very Ramakrishna or that Chaitanya.
Even as this is so, I am less and less looking for Ramakrishna in Baba and more just simply seeing that Baba is a direct manifestation of God, by any name. It is as it should be. I wanted to find Ramakrishnna because I believed he was God.
In the evening Baba gave a wonderful long speech about the Dol Purnima festival we had been enjoying all day long. We were sitting with some devotees on the veranda in front of Baba's room. Baba was leaning against the wall. The singers were singing the evening prayers in front of the Kali temple. First I sang some more, and then Baba asked me if there was a new tape. I said yes and again punched the record button. He started talking.
How beautiful it was! He was utterly absorbed, his face was dancing, he was deep into bhava and so unmoving that he got a bad cramp at the end of it from sitting wrong. All along I kept seeing the very being of Ramakrishna shining brightly behind the Baba "form".
As he spoke he went into bhav samadhi with the words just coming in a natural flow, spontaneous and without guile. I saw that Baba was one truth, that God that is in everything. I could feel that he was that God which is within me which means that to realize God would be to be one with Baba.
My joy at these perceptions is inexpressible -- such joy that only silent samadhi seems a sufficient expression or response. No jumping or shouting needed since that joy is already full and perfect. How odd! My mind is slowly and finally beginning to accept the reality of the consumation of my desire. The speech lasted nearly an hour. He is smiling throughout with eyes half-closed. With my growing Bengali vocabulary I can catch a few pieces of it. Much later I make the following humble translation of the whole speech.
(A portion of the tape with subtitles is available at http://www.prahlad.org/holi_rv.htm)
Later I asked Baba who spoke all this.
He said "Thakur Ramakrishna is speaking, I am not speaking."
How completely at rest he seemed to be even though the words were pouring from him with great intensity. The words seemed to come from beyond him, from that wide and starry space I have been tasting by Baba's grace.
The form. What is the form? I perceived a bit of Baba's essense, that is, I looked beyond his form somehow. The form was shining golden, but transparent - the true Baba is an infinite presence, the life universal, the God divine!
The tenderest sweetest expression crossed his face, as if his face were being moved by the higher force itself - his face became a window to God. How beautiful it is for me when I gaze at Baba and all thought of Baba or Ramakrishna or anything is wiped away and I see only God the Father!! Oh Life! Thank you. Thank you very much.
Today I mentioned my desire to make a film of Baba. We were talking about the Kali yuga. Baba calls it the "Bhut-yuga", age of ghosts.
It is before nap time and I am fanning him with a hand fan. He is saying the whole earth now is "not right", that people are like dogs, or rakoshes (demons). All is maya, illusion, desire for money, and so on.
I told him about wanting to make a film of him. I said of Ramakrishna we have only a few still photos. He said yes, and was pleased. He was also talking about a new guest room for me, friends, Athena, etc. to stay in. It made me happy. Also talking about not going anywhere which made me happy since I just want to stay with him. After the evening tape he told the others about the film idea. I said I don't know how it will happen, he just pointed to God. (In 1976 this dream came true when we made a video tape of him talking and playing with the disciples at Athena's house in Brooklyn.
March 9, 1974
Who can write this lila? Now my heart is relaxing somehow and flowing to Baba like a river. The more I perceive his Godhood the more I throw myself before the door of his heart. What was unbelievable at first is becoming seen as fact. Oh the joy of the surrender! The wanderer's return! The prodigal son. The sweet smile of my Beloved Lord melts all difference and heals my soul.
Today was "chamber day," meaning there is a long line of people waiting to see Baba, to tell him their troubles. I do japa and meditation.
The woman devotee called "Niba" comes. She is wonderful chatterbox of a woman and she chatters my ears off telling a quaint story about worshipping some pebbles of lava. Then she lost them, and then later they returned. And so on.
At evening puja at Hanuman temple, sitting with Baba, I get absorbed again and feel the oceanic presence, weeping with love of Baba. I fall in his lap at the end of the worship and we just weep.
Ganga Babu comes and meditates in the Kali chamber afterward. Very deep. I sing Hari Narayana with the kirtan singers and the shakti (power) is very strong. When I come back to Baba he is in deep meditation. I meditate, lose body feeling, see his form fade into light. Ocean of love, ocean of love.
March 10, 1974
Awake 6 AM after dreaming. Short meditation. I am to go to Jiten's house again today. Baba does a fast puja. I take leave by holding his foot on my head. He blessed me tenderly. I come to Chandernagore. Ma, Miru, Tubulu are at sister's and arrive at 12 or so. Sweet scenes of family love. The boy to come to see Alpona for marriage doesn't show up. I read some Vivekananda but only the book of his letters really interests me. There he seems more human and seems to express his feelings more directly. The other books are more ponderous and formal. I decide I had throw them all aside and just have this one book of his letters. There his love and friendship shine. There too is his real feelings about the east and the west. When he is in America he talks about the virtues of India, and when he is in India he scolds them, extolling the virtues of the western lands. It is a kind of schizophrenia I have been through many times myself.
March 11, 1974
Chandennagore. I awake peacefully and feel Baba's presence. I sit awhile. Later I go to Chinsura Police station to try to get some headway on my application to extend my three month visa. There is some irritation in me about everyone's slowness. The D.I.'s office is very nice. Tells us to go back to another office in Calcutta. Says I will be allowed to stay after saying that extension is prohibited, i.e. hears the whole story and says by God's power they must give.
I get uplifted to see that this official is a devoted person. "Don't you have any faith in this guru-baba?"
"Yes," I say.
"Then certainly you will get it."
Next the officers make me sing a few songs in Bengali. The sight of a white western sahib is novel and fascinating to them. I consider that such a thing would never occur in America. In India religion touches the soul of everyone, even the police.
I come back to Jiten's and go to the bank to cash checks. This is a seemingly endless process of going to various desks where huge tomes are stacked up, bound together with string.
I take a nap. At evening meditation. I call on Ramakrishna feeling very restless for Baba. Changes are very evident since I first came here. Tonight I feel pain in my heart from separation from Baba. How I love him! He has stolen my heart away.
Dreamed of Krishnamurti and Vimala. Krishnamurti was very old. He went for a walk with us in park. Compassion I embrace Vimala, pranam, talk, etc. Wake up not knowing where I am.
March 12, 1974
Horrible day. I go to Calcutta to Chandran's office who is to help me with visa. He refused to call Gopal Dal Nag for me. I go to the passport office, it is hell there. I leave Chandran's office angry and go to Jiten's office, then to ashram. I am feeling pain in my heart, pain all over, frustration, contempt for disorganized government, everything. Why doesn't God help? Where is guru?
When I come to the ashram and Baba is not there I get depressed horribly. 5pm-8pm. Baba finally comes and everything is okay again. Asks me about the days experience. He tells me not to get angry. Says "shanti." (peace)
Baba imitates how I should respond when talking to the government people: "Yes sir, yes sir, right!..." He tells me to go to back to Chinsura but not to get angry if my request is not granted.
He says I will go to America and he will be in my heart. He will give me the strength to gather my circle of friends and bring Baba's blessing to them and so on. And he says that after six months or a year I will come back for a longer while. He will take care of the money part. His love so mysteriously wins me back.
I tell him I get angry at God himself, holding my fist up to heaven. He says it's alright to get angry at God, but not to get angry at people! He tells how Swamiji used to get angry at God.
He sooths my heart, gives me faith by the sureness of his gaze, the solidity of his being. I play the comet song for him and tell him it is his song. I play the tape Vimala's had made for me and Baba loves it. I try to tell him what Vimala said to me. She had told me "One day I think you will find that Ramakrishna will be your constant companion."
Baba says "Right." Next he mimics his "God-telephone." This is when he puts three fingers on the floor for the connection and "calls me up" in America. "Hello? Premananda? Ah...right!...henh...ah ha...etc." "Hello...Jiten?...etc." I am laughing and clapping.He can be such a jokester that all sorrow is forgotten.
March 13, 1974
I go to Chinsura for the last futile time and return. When I come back to the ashram in the rickshaw I am stunned by the beauty of the stars overhead. I feel good that things are settled.
When Baba sees me he lights up. I pranam to him and hold my head at his feet and we embrace. He is overflowing with sympathy over my visa troubles. He knows I am only going through all this because I cannot bear to leave him and go back to America.
He touches my chin and kisses his hand several times. I explain how things went and he says, "right." He says that he saw that before that I would stay 3 months, go back to U.S., then come back for a longer time.
I call him "dushtu guru," (naughty guru) for letting me go through all this. He laughs and says Naren (Vivekananda) was like that. I say guru saw the whole thing, why didn't he tell me, dushtu guru.
I tell him about meeting the nice guy at the office and he is pleased. We go in for tea and plan the remaining days of my visa on the calendar. Joya's daughter Alpona helps him with the English numbers.
He goes on to tell me many things. He says the great Indian Sanatan Dharma (eternal religion) still exists in India but is now almost extinguished by the darkness of the Kali Yuga.
The whole India now is rakosh (demons), dogs. Does incredible demon and dog imitations. He say that everywhere all is now money and greed. Religion has become mostly fear and superstition. Tells me he doesn't want to go anywhere - all demons.
I keep asking why? He says the sanatan dharma will go to America, India doesn't care about it much anymore. Shows a mixture of despair and disgust.
I have an extreme sense of deja vu at one point. We crawl over and look at the Ramakrishna picture on his table. We are examining the male-female aspect and he shows me on himself the right and left sides of his body, mimics the picture carefully.
I look up to the picture and POW! Déjà vu! Oh yeah! I remember all this. It WAS seen before, the whole thing. The backyard beyond, the yellow light, the Ramakrishna picture. What magic. The deja vu lasts powerfully and I watch it in wonder. Baba goes on into yoga meditation, the male- female. I can almost see it. He begins to weep, then comes out into that frantic state, looking around in amazement. He looks at me, an incredible darshan, and he starts weeping. I fall into his lap and bends over me weeping
It brings on a flashback. Earlier on the porch when I first came back and called him a "naughty guru" he laughed and got high, made a sort of a sweet "self-conscious" giggle, and fell into my lap, his head in my lap, all affection. I bent down and embraced him and he made a contented hum.
I told him I love him very much and it affects him deeply. He sits up, close to weeping. "I will live in your heart," he says, I will go with you." He says this with such heart felt emphasis, so choked with emotion it penetrates deeply into me. He seems to want me to know and/or believe this and by the tender love vibration with which he says it I believe him.
I told him if he doesn't come with me I will die. Hearing this he gets serious and says "No!..not!" But he knows I am joking. This whole tender scene made everything okay. I know his love, what more do I need?
Back in his room, Baba is weeping and saying Ramakrishna several times. Looks all around. Before he had gone into this samadhi and bhava I had said I wanted a picture of him like the pose in the Ramakrishna picture. I arrange his clothes etc. and he sank into it. Finally he shakes his head to come out of it and lies down and weeps. I stroke him, amazed. Is this God weeping for God? I am comepletely moved. Before, after the deja vu, I kept beholding him as Ramakrishna. One thing in the deja vu was the picture combined with the real thing. This is none other than Ramakrishna! How do I know? He reveals himself somehow, but with evidence which speaks to a particular soul. He does not yet reveal himself to mankind. (All rakosh anyway).
Baba sits up after weeping. Crawls over to the bed. He touches the fan half-consciously, (doesn't know what to do). I take the clue and fan him. He starts talking about different qualities - I forget what - mostly I am beholding his light. I can tell by my own feeling and by watching his graceful stillness that he has almost no body consciousness at this point.
Soon he starts singing, "Tumi nara, narayana..." He becomes childlike mad love sweetness beyond telling. Food comes. I start eating but he starts singing again and I lose most of my body feeling in rapt love-attention, amazed and more and more amazed at this continuing and increasing flow of Ramakrishna manifestation.
It is perfect now. His eyes half or almost closed, sweet intoxication. He stops occasionally and says the words of the song in a sweet simple childlike heartfelt way. I can't eat. He stops and says how crazy he is. He is completely intoxicated with bliss, which I feel as well just watching him.
Joya, Lokon, Noyen, Alpona are also watching. He addressing the Mother a lot in song. He sings something with repeating Radha Krishna. Radha is the tongue. He points to his tongue. Krishna is the eyes. He moves his hand saying "Ami-tumi, tumi-ami," (I am you...you are me). I feel an electrical bhav in my body, frozen by these rays of love. The father is shining! The father is shining!
Somehow I finish my food. After that he goes into the woman thing, wears his cloth like a Sari, comes out on the porch and talks to Alpona like a woman. She is just laughing so hard!
Last night my tender long weeping prayer of "anger"' explaining my anger to God, all fulfilled today. Conflict ended. Baba said "right" and manifested so strongly. Much blessing the whole day. I just accept the fact that my visa will not be extended.
March 14, 1974
I come back from a day in Calcutta trying to reserve tickets. Tentative results. As I get to ashram I felt again that no matter what my sorrows are they are inevitably lifted somehow every time I get back to Baba.
I lay my head in his lap and suddenly feel how weary I am and how much I love Baba. Love! What a wonderful power. Power enough to sweep aside the joys and sorrows of all this maya and open wide the heart to the ecstasy of union!
He inquires about the day and I tell him somehow. I am almost beyond caring what happens. We have tea with Ganga Babu after I give Baba milk powder and fruits etc. and he helps me wash my feet and hands. The pain in my heart that I felt during the day begins to turn to bhava. I marvel at the change in state whenever I get back to the ashram. All pain vanishes in samadhic bliss. The ashram is an oasis of peace and love. Troubles seem to fade as I approach the place. It happens every time.
Afterward we go into Kali temple and Baba puts on flowers. I sitting quietly, my tiredness makes stillness come easy, and bhav makes the body vanish. As he puts the garland on Kali all of a sudden tears come and pour through my heart. It is a combination of my days of suffering, the tender sweet pain of having to leave, the love of Baba and the sense of God's wide presence all around Baba.
Oh how I love him and the unseen One he is manifesting! The love comes in wave upon sweet wave to sooth my heart. As he worships I see strongly that being of my vision of '66 facing forward with his gaze looking out upon the void, all maya to his back, bathed in pure light, yet contemplating that which transcends light itself.
His aloneness in these moment of worship forever touches my heart. I weep to watch him sitting, the single one, the brave one who has conquered maya, the glorious one who humbly shines with a light divine. My breath comes in an even gentle heaving in this ecstasy. All the maya of these days makes me long to flow into the one, to leave the ego, the cause of multiplicity, and be one with that Lord. Various aspects of God flow through my mind but inwardly my unity is reaching for the unqualified unity of God. Oh! Baba! How beautiful you are, my Ramakrishna!
Baba turns when he finishes. Ganga Babu starts talking to Baba. Both have eyes closed, and me gazing at Baba who seems to be bathed in a golden light which at times nearly wipes out his form. Baba sinks into bhava deeper and deeper as Ganga Babu's talk becomes ecstatic with truth and love. Sometimes Ganga Babu reaches out and strokes Baba. At first it seems that Baba doesn't want words at the moment, but Ganga Babu's words are like a symphony of the soul - they flow like a running river to the ocean and as I gaze at Baba I feel my heart ceaselessly rushing toward him like a river into the sea.
Tears flow like rain. Occasionally the sobbing comes. I keep seeing the '66 vision Baba surrounded by the void-light. I see him utterly in stillness and my own body becomes still. Oh Ramakrishna! Oh God-form! I see both the form of Baba and sense through the quality of the stillness of the form the formless one who is manifesting. Once Ganga Babu puts his hand on my knee, another time on my back. It is the love disciples of this guru have for each other. We are all going through the same thing in our own ways.
After awhile, after a vain attempt to leave the temple room, Baba, whose bhava has deepened to deep samadhi, starts talking, sometimes looking at me. What did he say? He was talking of me but I don't know what.
He told Ganga Babu about my seeing rakoshes in government places, dogs everywhere, himsa (violence), etc. He tells Ganga about how I bewailed the loss of dharma. Soon he is weeping and on the verge of sobbing.
When he tells about how I said "dushtu guru" and "Why didn't you tell me not to go since you knew the outcome already?" my heart just breaks. He is weeping for me, this God divine, Oh! Lord! The look on his face, it is Ramakrishna, it is God.
Once he says "Ramakrishna," and about how I only wanted to see Ramakrishna, and I sob. A heaving wave of love, of recognition, of miracle-fact. Ganga Babu's hand on my back, affectionately stroking me, my body gone, the vision before me, now even more than Ramakrishna, verily the Father, our long-suffering creator, the infinite one!
Oh weep my heart and soul at the feet of the Lord! I fall forward, still sitting, and weep at his feet, sobbing with love -- not pain, though the weariness of all the ages of man seems to be aching in my heart, yet it is love that I weep, for this being is perfect and shining and weeping with perfect love.
Oh breathless wave of union! Oh Beloved! As Baba was talking to Ganga Babu at times his face pleading like one pouring out his sorrow to a friend, yet it was my sorrow he was pouring out, my heartache aching in his heart. Oh the love, the love on his face, in his tears, in his tone of voice, choked with deep feeling. As if he is pleading for me. Where is my sorrow now?
I would suffer anything for this one. I would lay down my life in an instant. I will keep going. I am Simon throwing down my net. I am John with head bent low of Jesus' breast. The blood! I remember it from my 1966 LSD vision. It is life universal! It is the soul of God. The vision-Baba looking out upon the starry void of his creation and showing me his jeweled matchbox filled with nameless nothing. lt is all here! I am yours, Oh infinite morning, I am yours.
March 15, 1974
Deep sleep. Awake exactly at five of seven as usual, though I fall back to sleep for a half hour. In the morning I sit outside the Kali temple and Baba talks to the people.
I sit and write to Kanta Devi. Baba looks at pictures of my friends and shows them to others, talks about my troubles. Dictates the letter, listens to the Vimala tape, calls for the Chidananda picture, much more. At puja Baba is weeping and weeping - talking to the Mother in glorious tones - gets so high! Bubbling with joy, his very body seems to be unsolid, as if floating in another dimension. He forgets the holy water when going over to the Hanuman temple, laughs, says he doesn't know what he's doing -- walking around in ecstasy.
At the Mother puja as well he was the same, his actions seemed absent minded, as if he didn't care about "doing" anything. At Hanuman he sings. "Ramakrishna" etc. After the Hanuman puja I have an impulse to sing. Within minutes he says "How is your "guitar-friend'?" I sing quietly on the porch while he talks to someone. Then he sings that song he sang the other night - "Tumi nara rupi, narayana, doya kore darashana.." and I accompany him and improvise. We both get high. Hom, puja, eat, sleep. Later I find out that this was a song that Ramakrishna used to sing to Vivekananda.
I awake from my nap at five. There is a letter from Srinivasan. Baba sits on steps of Hanuman and reads a letter from "Brahmachari School". We go for a walk out through the fields. As always when walking with Baba I get a feeling of Jesus bhakti, the feeling of walking in the footsteps of the great on. And I get high on the sheer beauty of the fields and the wide sky overhead. We sit on a stone bench out in the fields. Baba tells my story to two guys who are there. We walk back and do the Hanuman worship. After puja I sing Kandana for Baba. I sing with the Kirtan group, Hari Narayana, and an incredible strength is flowing through me in kirtan, obviously Baba's shakti. Very sweet and very strong. Play flute, eat, sleep.
March 10, 1974
It is a big day. We are to leave today for the journey to Baba's birthplace, Purushottampur in Orissa state. We are up at six and Baba does a very fast worship in the Kali temple. By eight o'clock we leave for Howrah station and the train that will take us south.
Our rickshaw is driven by Biral, a name which means "cat." Many different people say goodbye to Baba...(Where are you going?) Some were just coming to see him. They give their sweets and incense. We sing Hari Narayana all the way (with occasional interuptions) and it goes into perfect-fifth harmony after a short while. My heart flows. I have the river feeling again, as if Baba is a giant ocean and my heart's love is a river. I guess it is as I told Glenn - all my life I was just looking for something perfect to love.
We get to the local train station and a man waits in the line for us to get our tickets. Baba is talking to devotees and strangers about me our trip, etc.
We wait on the platform for the train to Howrah and again a crowd gathers. Having missed one train we wait for the next and it turns out to contain several of Baba's devotees who are of course delighted to see him. One, the one who brought the boy with the eye-pain, has his face transfigured by the joy of seeing Baba here by happenstance.
At Howrah a number of people come up and pranam (as they have all along the way. One man goes after batteries. Baba seems detached from the wide maya though utterly attentive to immediate details of karma. Finally we get on the train and go.
The train arrives late due to chain-pulling at every stop where ticketless travelers get off before the actual station. Baba is not feeling too well. We arrive in Jajpur about nine in the evening. There is a rush getting out of the train. We get on a bus. Baba gets some bananas. lt is a 40 minute ride to Belissa. We get out along the road, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, and Baba talks to a guy in a little lamp lit hut by the roadside for directions. First the guy doesn't want to help but finally he shows us the path we must take. Baba gives him some paisa. We start off down the path and ask directions again at another house. Yes, we are on the right road.
We walk and walk through utterly peaceful areas. The stars are magnificent up above, sweet infinite silence all around except for the singing of crickets and frogs.
Baba says, "Oh, Premananda! Look! One universe, one earth, how beautiful it is, isn't it?" All the way Baba is talking creerfully to keep everyone's spirits up. Keeps asking each person if they're okay. It is late, dark, and a long walk. Our destination is indeed a very remote village. Baba sings Hari Narayana.
We turn off the road. We had stopped at a house where a guy took two bags and showed us the rest of the way. We come to a river which we must cross by wading. How sweet! Peaceful night, cool refreshing water flowing over clean sand. We come finally to the house.
Along the way, before the river, Baba asks me: what's the purpose of comihg here, that is, why did you decide for us to come? I get angry.
"I only go where Baba goes," I say. I never decided anything. This little statement gets under my skin since I didn't know it would be so hard and for Baba's sake I would have said to stay if I had known. But Baba probably just joking and would have done it no matter what I said. He is just teasing me.
Baba is angry when he arrives. There are no arrangements ready, he is very tired, but I begin to wonder if this "anger" he sometimes displays isn't all just a front. It always seems to be a joking, harmless anger. I am exhausted to the core yet there is a deep peace throughout.
We wash our feet and some of the household member fan Baba while we rest. Food is eaten and I finally go to sleep. It is very deep sleep. I dream of Vimala. One thing I remember from this dream is that she says "Why don't you admit that you want money to carry out your work?" There is another where I meet with several other devotees of Baba and they are ecstatic and one lady speaks about money. l have the feeling of joining them. Don't remember more of dream yet there was much more with Vimala.
Swimming with Baba
Purushottampur, Orissa, Baba's birthplace. I have some irritation in the morning since I don't know where to pee or wash myself and Baba is all freaked out saying first one thing and then another. They are all laughing. Shows me where to pee but the "crowd" comes along which makes me feel altogether helpless. Is there never any privacy in India?
Then Baba says come for a walk after telling me I can wash in the room. And finally I burst out, "I just want to wash!" Baba slaps his knee laughing at my outburst. He seems to enjoy my getting frustrated and mad. Tells Miru to give me water, but I decide to just go to the river and wash myself there.
We walk to the river, Baba, Jiten and I. Baba shows me the place where he was "thrown away" as a baby and then we walk down to the river. There is lots of sand, a sand bar. Baba shows me where his parents were cremated and I take a picture of him there making pranam to the memory of his parents.
Baba goes into the river for a bath and I follow. He laughs delightedly as I approach him waist deep in the water. The pleasantness of the whole scene wipes away my irritation and frustration. I throw water at Baba playfully and he laughs happilly. He embraces me gladly.
He calls for my towel and a girl brings it and we bathe. I am just wearing my underwear. The water feels unbelievably good. He does tratakam on the sun, shows me to press my eyes and see the "jyoti" (light). Blesses me there in the water, his arm upraised, and Jiten takes a picture. We take some more pictures there.
We come back and eat. Baba is irritated at the household that things are all disordered. The moori isn't right, the floor is dirty, and so on. He looks at the cross I gave him. I ask him where that bible is that I gave him, knowing he had given it to someone.
I ask him if I should give away the mala he gave me. He says No, no, that guy is going to return the Bible when he has read it. Baba imitates "I'm going to get angry" and I stick my face up close to his in imitation of strength in the face of anger (go ahead!) and he laughs and says something about "bandhu" (friend) and shakes hands with me. He is so spontaneous that one never knows what is going to happen.
I say God is my bandhu (friend) and I embrace him and he laughs and gets ecstatic. Looks up at pictures on the wall. We sit on the porch while he dictates his life stories to Jiten. Baba makes a one hour speech, which I tape and title "Purushottampur Speech."
Then we go for a walk to see the village school which has been named for him. I take a few photos and then we come back for the noon Hom fire. I photograph the ceremony, the first chance l've had to do it where the lighting was any good. It is in the worship room of his fathers house and the light coming in through the open door give beautiful images of his worship.
After sleep we go for a trip to Jajpur, walking to the river and wading across and taking rickshaws from there. Baba is high the whole trip, the beauty of the walk to the river. We meet one of Baba's childhood friends. Baba is now like a little boy having a good time. I take a few photos. The yellowish-orange pre-twilight light, the balmy air. The river and its clean sand beach, the quiet end of day. Ecstatic beauty. We come to the rickshaws which Baba starts calling "helicopters."
"Come," he says, "sit down in the helicopter."
We go. The ride is ecstatic. The colors brilliant. The green rice fields, red sand roads, blue sky with orange sun going down. We sing Hari Narayana and I zoom toward bhava samadhi feeling Baba's presence and love and I am just overwhelmed with love for him. That feeling again from when we were swimming in the river together.
I say to Baba "All mantras are a river and Om is the ocean."
Baba says "Right! The other mantras all are maya, unnecessary. Om is everything."
I ask him if in samadhi there is Om or just nothing. He says "Om is there, Om is God." I nearly faint with love now and then, the two of us in the rickshaw in splendid surroundings.
I feel that choking feeling in my throat a lot and it becomes difficult to keep the chant going. I see that two directions exist there, samadhi and weeping. One can weep endlessly, or one can go beyond that.
All along I am seeing all the beauty and thinking of filming things with Baba and then this vision starts flowing through my mind of Kalki Krishna. I see Baba on a white horse and me leading the horse along the roads, singing the mantra and collecting people. I think of Vimala. I wonder if I will come back again. The Kalki vision grows. I wonder if Baba would let me film him on a white horse.
The vision of Baba as Kalki persists. I see the coming disaster days, animal-like scramble for food in the darkness of world ignorance and the Lord come to separate the wheat from the chaff. I see that the whole thing could be filmed as a prophetic movie with interwoven stories of these blessed by Kalki when he comes. The whole vision makes me ecstatic (we are singing all the while) and I feel I will melt, burst, die with love of Baba. I feel his is all through me.
The Kalki vision makes me ask him, "Will a new Satya Yuga come?" He says, most definitely will come. And then he says something about America. He talks about Om and I see the vedic period as the recurrent point in a circle where the wisdom is so intense that the need for so many God-forms drops.
We go to visit some temples. I cannot go in as these are orthodox temple and I am not technically a Hindu. We talk to the gatekeeper or priest about it. Jiten and Miru go in but Baba and I sit in the rickshaw. He does not want to go in if I cannot go it. I say I don't care about it anyway, Baba is my temple.
We stop at a market for some things. We go to visit an officer of some kind, a friend of Baba's I guess, but I don't understand much of what is said.
Baba Makes a Disturbing Statement
Getting home we sing. Later Baba, talking to Jiten, makes a statement that upsets me. He says something about Ramakrishna is born but is just a six year old child now and will manifest himself later on. I don't know how to take this. Just when I am seeing Baba so clearly as Ramakrishna he makes a statement that suggest he is not. I weep at night in confusion and prayer and get almost no sleep.
March 18, 1974
I awake and go for my bath in the river again. I pranam Baba at river's edge as I catch up to him. He says something about Vivekananda and slapping. He makes a mock slap at me. I return the gesture. We bathe.
But I am still feeling disturbed about his remark last night. I don't know how to bring it up. I long for some kind of explanation of his remark about Ramakrishna being a child somewhere. It has thrown me into despair. I have tested him for three months and have become convinced that he is none other than that great soul.
We Go to the Brahmachari School
We come back and the schoolteachers and all the school children have come. Baba talks to them for awhile and asks me to take pictures but there is not enough light there. After talking to the teachers on the porch Baba comes into the room where I am sitting and asks me if he should go to the school or not. Apparently there has been some disagreement or something which I don't understand anything about.
I just say to him "Well, if you don't go there how do you expect the children to go there?"
He accepts this. He says to me that if I will go to the school then he will go. Not otherwise. This is a crazy position for me to be in, but off we go to the school. All the children are lined up neatly in their best dress. They yell, "Sri Sri Swami Prahlad Chandra Brahmachari ki Jai!" They put garlands on Baba and on me. I take some pictures at the school.
I walk over to Baba and see that he is weeping over the whole thing. We go into the building. He is weeping more now and I begin to sense how deeply it is hitting him, though I don't exactly know what his feeling are. Jiten tells me as we approach the school that someone had accused Baba's brother Kaka Babu of taking money and so Baba wouldn't go to the school for three years. This is the first time in three years since he has set foot there.
The children all crowd in the room and Baba sits down. Weeping he puts his head down on the table in front of his chair. Sits up and shakes it off. Tells me I will make a speech. He wants a bidi, sends Jiten. We go out and walk around a bit. Baba goes to pee. Jiten and Miru come, Baba smokes. We go back. Baba gives a speech, which is taped. Miru speaks, then another guy says some words. Baba's body is shaking a bit as he talks. The students listen attentively to Baba and myself but not to their own teachers.
As we had come to the school grounds and again into the room Baba made a point of making me precede him. He was serious in saying he would only go to the school if I took him there.
The despair I had felt from the night before was temporarily suspended during this event, such as when Baba wept on my shoulder before his speech.
My Crisis of Faith
But afterward the disturbance started to return. Was Baba telling the truth? Can he do otherwise? Then has my whole lila here been a gigantic hallucination? Or is he only testing my faith in him? If he is not Ramakrishna then how could God have deluded me so?
My faith should have held me firmly but I was so tired and in pain and the mere prospect of everything turning out false, of having a web of maya thrown over me, or of having to wait four years, etc. was too much.
Eventually I went into the room longing to be alone and lay down and l became absorbed in speechless despair. Who could I appeal to? As before it seemed that God alone could resolve my conflict and he seemed to be keeping silent. The whole pageant of my quest flowed before my mind's eye. I felt so weary. as if I could go no further. I had done all I could to sacrifice my very life, to consecrate it to the feet of this whom I believed by intuition, discrimination, power and love and signs from God to be thc very incarnation of Sri Ramakrishna and now he himself had said no, I'm not he, he will show himself in four years! Oh! the pain in my heart was unutterable.
I just lay there in shock. Baba came in to ask me to take the food which was being brought in the room. I couldn't move. I felt as if I were dead. I couldn't speak. They tried to rouse me but I couldn't respond.
Baba said, "samadhi," but I doubted that very much. The the very mechanism of action seemed to have died. I felt helpless. Only when Baba said through Jiten, that he wouldn't eat if I didn't eat did I have a motive stirred within me. He was as tired or far more so than I and I wanted him to eat. I had no hunger myself.
I got up, somewhat sullenly and sat down. The food looked silly. I couldn't imagine eating. He watched me and urged me all the way. At one point he said, what's the matter? All I could say is I have a pain in my heart. I felt angry in a number of directions. Why can't he just know what is wrong and make things clear. My mind is so confused. Why won't he just tell me the truth one way or another? Are you Ramakrishna or are you not?
I eat a bit. Very sad. An incredibly bad state. I can see the cause of it, it is just very painful.
After eating what I could I sit on the bed. Where can I turn? What can I do. There is nothing. I feel like dying.
Baba leaves, telling a young boy to fan me. I don't like it and ask the boy to stop. He won't stop so I go outside and sit. The boy comes back and gets me but starts fanning me again so I leave the room again.
This time Baba himself comes and brings me into the room and tells me to lie down. I sit on the bed feeling a point of utter helplessness. I can't go on.
The scene. Husband and wife. Baba comes in and sits on the bed with me. I refuse to lie down. I feel a heaving wave of love- despair in my heart and throat. At this point I am beyond reason altogether. If I could have reasoned then I would have seen that his previous night's remark was a small thing in the light of all that has happened, but reason was gone. It was the whole wave of my Journey hitting me in the heart. All the accumulated suffering, the longing to clutch the Lord, the longing for the Lord's love, and the accumulated pain of being unable to express anything or understand (language), the isolation from the very object of my quest. The soul's impasse. Of course it was crazy! The whole thing has been crazy.
The wave of despair breaks and I weep. Baba fans me. This has an odd effect. ln the midst of this deep sorrow/despair I feel it is bad that he should fan me, it is taking too much from him. I reach up and grab the fan to stop him and actually start laughing as I feel the silliness of myself. Guru fanning disciple!
He says no, "I am you and you are me, I am you and you are me."
The wave hits me again. Some self pity is there, but also the pain which comes from being empty of all power, frustrated beyond possibility of self repair, throwing oneself on the father's lap. I want to confront him and ask the question I have been struggling with for so long: Are you Ramakrishna?
Baba wipes my tears with his handkerchief. He doesn't ask what's wrong exactly but continues to fan and try to calm me. Certainly he must see the whole thing. This bhava is basically God longing colored by the confusion warp in the lila caused by his remark.
I feel my utter foolishness was in blaming him. His remark was perfect innocence. I failed to see that the pain within my heart was my own well of longing and confusion. His remark only punctured the dam. The pain was mine, and not caused by him.
Throughout this I continue to feel a kind of obstinate resolve not to speak. My feeling is let God diagnose the baby's ills if he is so all- knowing. I have put forth my whole effort to express myself to unlistening people and to understand their speech and it all just leads to confusion in these last very critical days.
Suddenly Baba lies down on the bed and tells me to lie down beside him. I don't get it at first. He then says that this is how Ramakrishna and Vivekananda used to lie down together, side by side.
Then he says, "I am Ramakrishna and you are Vivekananda." Now my ridiculous mood vanishes. Is this not a contradiction of what he said last night?
"You are Ramakrishna?" I say.
"Yes, I am Ramakrishna," he says in perfect alert innocence, like a child playing, looking up at me from where he lay on his bed, me sitting beside him.
"And you are Vivekananda." I protest that last night he said that he wasn't.
"When did I say that?" he asks and tells Jiten to come in. I tell him what he said last night, that Ramakrishna was a child that he would come in four years, etc.
I do not remember how these statements were resolved. Only that when Baba understood what had been bothering me he did a very strange thing.
He suddenly got up and was saying, "I am Kali, and you are Siva, I am Kali, you are Siva," and he put his right foot on my chest, me lying down. The sudden change to this playful mood was disorienting further.
Then he wanted me to do it to him! I got up and put my foot on his chest as he lay beneath me and I roared with mock ferociousness. Somehow he turned everything around and my mood vanished and I began to feel stupid for getting so upset. Then he left the room. Those viewing this scene were absolutely shocked that the disciple should touch the guru with his foot. In India this is a terrible thing!
I got up and went into the other room where Baba was llying down. I saw that he was upset. Jiten was there and translated. Baba started weeping. He then gave me straight forward the deepest lesson of my entire life.
He said that if what I wanted was to find someone who would say in no uncertain term that they are Ramakrishna I could go to Calcutta and find alot of them. He said he had a scrapbook somewhere of lots of people who claimed to be the incarnation of Ramakrishna.
"Word is nothing," he told me. Does God have any need to go around saying "I am God?"
He was crying and saying over and over "I will never say it, I will never say it." But in my foolishness I had made him say it and I was beginning to feel terrible.
He said that if I wanted to see God I should stick with him, but that if I just wanted someone who said "I am Ramakrishna" I should go. He said he knew a few who claimed to be Ramakrishna and he would take me to them.
He was crying. Over and over saying, "Bolbo na, bolbo na, bolbo na," -- "I won't say it, I won't say it ..."
I told him I understood now. I was feeling terrible ashamed and stupid. I suddenly realized the truth of what he was saying and how stupid was my desire to have him say it directly to me.
He and I both calmed down after a while and later we went for a walk along the riverbank. Baba was in a good mood but I was feeling terrible. I was ashamed of my stupidity, my silly trival desire. He seemed amused at my shame and seemed to understand it and made no effort to lift it. He let the whole thing sink in deeply. I pondered my foolishness and stupidity for hours.
March 19, 1974
I had a good sleep. Baba was in my dream somewhere. Even so I am still feeling ashamed because of my lack of faith and doubt I had had. It was as if I had squeezed something out of him which was a sacred trust of silence, yet I was glad because he had spoken the very words I wanted to hear. How could I have been so stupid to demand that he say in words "Yes, I am Ramakrishna?"
I am exhausted from my heart having been wrung in a thousand ways. But I am captured. I must go on.
Miru tells me how all the people here want money from Baba. Then, somewhat secretly, she leads me to some inner rooms of the house to meet the woman who was Baba's wife. This is a story too long to recount here, but I meet her. She gives me the kiss with the hand. At nap-time I can't sleep. I go to the nearby Shiva temple to pray, do japa. Leaving is a difficult hassle. I take a picture of Baba at the Shiva temple.
We Leave Purushottampur
Again we wade through the beauty of the river. At the train station there is quite some trouble getting a seat on the train. I get angry when some people push Baba aside trying to get on the train.. Protectively I push them back, angry that they don't respect a holy man.
Baba is in an unbelievable mood as soon as we get on the train and get settled in seats. His love just flows. He talks to everyone, makes friends with everyone. The result being that due to his innocent friendliness our seats are assured thereafter.
The train starts after much noise and Baba and I both flip out singing Hari Narayana. I had been wondering before if it were all right to sing on the train and Baba started up. Pure union. Like the Sivaratri sensation only now there is the golden sense of union with Baba.
Both of us are now crazy with love. We sing harmony. I perceive a space beyond the space-time of maya in which we are one being yet a separation remains for the pure joy of being aware of the union. The space is inexpressible. I can feel Baba's incredible power to communicate to the soul. As I feel this I perceive it is his will and grace, no action of my own other than attentively moving with it. Though we are both looking askance, inwardly, in the golden space, we are facing each other. My total being fills with and gets swallowed in sheer anahata-visshuda joy of communion. Very happy. We pause and start again and then talk. Baba is in sweet ecstasy and I am playing along, both of us children in the light of God's name, both mad with love.
I say to Baba: "This is a Narayana train!"
Baba laughs, "Yes, he says, one Narayana ghari!"
Where is it going, I ask.
He tells me about the river again. The whole of maya is a river flowing into the ocean of OM.
I ask "Is this train going to the Om ocean?"
"Yes!" he says "Om sagar." Ah, very good! We both laugh. The movement oi the train is indeed Om-like. Baba talks. Talking about maya and "ami", the "I".
I suddenly say, spontaneously, "Ami hote chai na, tumi hao Bhagavan." Which translates roughly to "I don't want to be, God, YOU be."
Baba flips out completly, he loves it. He tells it to everyone around several times, somewhat like a proud mother telling of her child's first words.
He sings it. He tells me to write it down, but my bag is too full, so he says "tak" (leave it). He says he doesn't know any English, only "Thank you, very much," and I say no, you know alot, and I get him to explain "Not pice, single mind one is" which it one of his English sayings which always comes out sounding like: "Nothing by single by one to is."
He falls into my lap crazily and lovingly. Everyone laughs and laughs at his "saying" and I say I will write that in my diary. "Today Baba gave teaching 'Nothing by single by one." That is when he fell in my lap.
Again we laugh about "Kali yuga = Ami-rica, Satya yuga- Tumi-rica."
Finally some people hush us up as it was time to sleep on the train. It was a wave of Joyous union. Baba somehow sweeping away all maya of separation from my heart and mind to show me we are one and that oneness is God's inexpressible being. On that Narayana train my Joy knew no bounds for I disappeared in Baba's love. Oh sweet one! Oh Hari! Can words speak that love? That love erases the lover! The bliss of God is in the loss of ego! Oh Baba! Jaya Guru! Jaya Ramakrishna!
We talk, and then sleep. The lesson of Purushottampur is clear in my heart. Who cares which dead person someone might have been? God is just self evident in the avatars and the names of them are insignificant.
Back at Ramanathpur
At night Baba tells one guy that when I leave he will be bedridden such will be his sorrow. He will cry.
"You are my husband" he says, going off to the paikane, singing' "l'm the wife, you're the husband. Everyone is laughing at him.
I go to Air India. Two hour wait. Have an amazing conversation with the ticket lady, Illa Mukherji. She says she is interested in religion, wishes she had seen Vivekananda, thinks maybe Ramakrishna is around and only waiting to manifest himself. I give her Baba's name and address and she says she's very happy to have it. We talk about philosophy etc. for about 35 minutes. She likes Aurobindo and shows me a blessed picture. I tell her about Baba etc. I feel a ray of light when even in this business office someone likes God things.
March 21, 1974
Morning. Baba suggests I go get my Delhi ticket. A guy writes a note from Baba and Baba gives a flower for Illa. Does it all so carefully I feel somehow all will be right. l'm glad he said to go get ticket since it worried me.
Horrible day. Pana Kole goes with me. Calcutta's misery descends on me like a fiery sword. Indian Airlines office, then Air India. Illa reads the note. Tickled, glad, but laughs. No luck, says to come back. No reservation. We leave. Some despair sets in. I go for tapes in the market place. The whole thing starts to be like a cross. What is it? I see the aching mass of Calcutta and feel its incredible agony all through my soul. I see the whole screaming seething ocean of sorrow which is maya and am so disgusted and sick of it I get kind of shocked into a silence.
We go to Howrah again, by rickshaw - the pageant of suffering. At the station the guy leaves for home. I stand on the balcony outside Jiten's office and weep. The whole thing of my suffering is now hitting me in the belly and heart. I want to scream. It is as if the whole suffering in all the maya is hitting me. Feeling the whole pain of the world mixed with my personal agonizing situation --visa expiring, no reservation, leaving Baba. I suddenly understand about Jesus, incarnations, Baba bearing the suffering of the whole world. The thought of the trouble of booking a seat, and what to do if it fails is so horrible I keep thinking I will just run away to Rishikesh and fast until I die or something. I feel I can't bear anymore of this. Having come for Baba's companky and having to spend the time in a Demon Land in a helpless state of humiliating suffering. I am mad at the God who allows such a horrible thing and mad at him for keeping me away from Baba in these precious days and mad at him for still hiding behind the veil after I have thrown my whole life on his lap.
Yet as ever I am without choice. Anger comes and goes but it is the impotent rage of a desparate child. In the midst of this sorrow I keep resolving to go back and throw all this aching confused despair at Baba's feet. It strikes me many times: who is this Baba for the sake of whose darshan and companionship I am willing to go through all this? At the very time I feel weakest and the agony of the whole world seems to be shooting through me in heavy scream-like waves I marvel at this seemingly new strength within with which I can bear it.
Though I feel pushed to the edge of my capacity, yet my mind keeps awake and tries to have faith. Though I firmly resolve to return to the ashram and confront Baba somehow with this "sacrifice" I am feeling, yet when I return to the ashram as always the sorrow is utterly lifted. How hopeless! How sweet! That balcony scene I can hardly recollect, much less describe. I was like an animal which goes mad from a pain it can't escape, yet strength came from somewhere to bear it and to use it to create a certain indelible impression in the psyche for the development of vairagya. The maya-vomit thing, the hopelessness of trying to "fix-up" the outer world, the uselessness of relying on anyone for anything except as far as it is God-given and comes without asking.
I read the Upanishads on the train. There had been communist parades all day. As soon as I get close to the ashram the horrible thing starts lifting, so by the time I get back there is peace and love for Baba. I tell Baba about the pain I felt and I feel it again. He understands, says don't do it. Shanti. Baba gets the story of the ticket from Pana Kole. Plans are set. He indicates he knew I wouldn't get the second ticket today.
Regarding all the suffering, I ask Baba why is God such a bad Mother that she can't give her children food. He says that there is but the people don't get it because of the rakoshes. He asks if he should go to America with me. I say yes, America is a new holy land, he says right.
We tape Hari Narayana and a Hindi tape for Vimala. All through the speech I feel that space again in which we are one. I see many things, particularly that Baba is beyond his form. I see "myself" in him, I see the golden shining one, the '66-vision Father talking out of the depth of the void. Baba looks more familiar than ever. I sort of swim in him, tired as I am, I flow into him for an hour. I feel a meaning exists in this speech, it is a pure lila, a karmic cue ball.
After I eat Baba gives me Hom ashes to take home, flowers, etc. I'm sad but I feel I am in his hands and he keeps talking definitely about America so I regain faith in the ticket thing. I guess perhaps he does know the future. Talks about Athena's strength and determination in getting to Purushottampur the year before and compares it to my visits to Demon land and says "pass", which, though I resist the idea of testing somehow, makes me very glad. Baba is taking every effort to make my leaving painless and to "induce" himself in me so that I will feel his presence in me. All this whole thing has been 1) Overwhelming love of my parama bandhu, my lover, my "wife". That he called himself my wife was realized today as a sign of madhura bhava. 2) Out of love, surrender of ego self. 3) Death 4) Wider life in lila --acceptance of whatever role God chooses us to play. Like loving someone so much you Just want to follow them around all the time. Following God around. Accepting his lead. 5) Loss of ego boundry --oceanic consciousness, impersonal, yet encompassing and embracing all angles of all personal lila.
Awake with sharp pain in my belly and body, feeling as if trucks had run over it. Previous night I had wept and wept with love for Baba and with the whole mysterious force of my saga, the sorrow of the world and my joy in melting with love into the guru. I see all in him. In these last days he has been revealing himself to my soul somehow and the blazing beauty of his sun-like countenance makes me weep and drown in love. The thought of whether he is Ramakrishna or not has faded a great deal because I simply see God there, tbe unqualified one, the oceanic omni- presence who appears to us with the form which our heart longs for. I feel the whole two weeks of misery in the world alternating with the joy of his darshan at night has been a kind of test. I pushed myself to the limit for him and what happened? More and more love. Love that doesn't care what the beloved does. Love which does not want anything but love. Love which can bear all things and only be strengthened by hardship. And last night, knowing it was the last night, I seemed to melt altogether in a sobbing which seemed to come from a depth as deep as Baba himself.
Prem, oh prem! Ocean of prem! Prem for God, for the guru who reveals that God in himself and in the disciple -- prem for the One, the Om, for which this whole fragmented maya of my personal nature wants to die and be reborn, to be transformed by the master's will. Oh Baba! Not only are you Ramakrishna, sweet child, sweet beloved, you are Brahman himself! Test me as you wish, it is thee I want! Thee alone, Oh Brahman, oh life universal! I said in my heart in a moment of great love that for the love of the avatar I would descend into hell itself, and that is where I have been. And I ask for nothing but love of Thee, love which leads to union and melts the heart into oneness! Om is the angels and beyond the angels.
All morning my heart was shaking with the trembling thought of leaving. Baba was sweet, and kept repeating the details of my program. This morning finally he gave assurances that Illa Mukherji would sign the ticket and all would be well, and I perceived that he knew all along how everything would turn out. Why did I have to go through all that?
I pack. Mr. Pal tapes a thing. I pranam the temple deities and take a picture of Baba - it is not a good one I fear. Though there is no longer any doubt about his presence staying with me, yet I can feel the tears in my heart welling up. At one point Baba did a guru puja. I held a mala of flowers while he told me some mantras to say, bit by bit, and the tears started welling and running down my face. Baba seems to be shining with tenderness and strength. I put the mala on his neck. The choking feeling in my throat is intense and my very being vibrates with an oceanic love of God and this God- form before me. Beyond all words is that love. It rushes like a mighty river to the sweet sea of God's being. Then my deep wish of the past weeks is fulfilled: they bring Ganges water and flowers and I wash Baba's feet and place flowers on them and the tears are streaming. My heart seems to be heaving and exploding. Baba seems to be hurrying me along as if he knows that if I linger too long over these symbolic rituals I will be so absorbed that I will be weeping utterly out of control. Two malas were given, one to Kali, one to Vishnu, then another on Baba's own person. This last he gave me at the end. Outside, later, I take photos of a group, including Joya Ma, and then some men come up and put a flower mala on my neck. Baba says something which I don't understand. He tells someone to tell me. "Baba says to tell you that they are presenting you with the 'library'." What? What does that mean?
Baba starts rushing me along. He says he is going to Doctor Babu's house because Bhavananda is not well. So he is getting all dressed up to go which is somohow impressed upon my consciousness as a very symbolic detail, as if he were physically showing me that he is going with me, but it is a subjective impression. I go to pranam Joya Ma, she starts weeping -- the tenderness deepens my mood. We embrace, weeping. I pranam to the whole ashram in the dust. Baba comes over, "Hey, what's this crazy one!"
I get up. He is saying "Go, go," and others are hurrying me. I feel all liquid and light and trembling with that poignant mixture of deep affection and sorrow of leaving. In all my life I never felt such a parting sensation. Not for anyone. I know we are one, yet my heart is about to break. I start away. "Are you going?" I ask Baba. Unclear. He goes a little way. (Before, at night, he said tomorrow, pack your stuff, pranam and go) but just now I have been thinking that he will go to the road. Now I see it is not so. I will leave now. The moment hits me. I go to Baba and fall at his feet clutching them to the top of my head. My heart breaks. I feel a force, a tangible wave of love-devotion vibration running from the top of my head to his feet. His legs are shaking and he is exclaiming "Oh! Oh-oh!" He taps me to get up. I am weeping now, the full flow of the river. I get up and he embraces me, both of us crying. This is the closest I have ever felt to Baba. Before he embraced me on the second darshan and wept, and again at Anacoot samadhi, but I was not weeping. Now it feels as if our souls are one. This embrace and these tears nearly wipe away the outer world altogether. He tells me to go --"The train! The train!" and I stagger off, swimming in the prem I feel for the Son of God. After five or ten minutes my heaving breath slows down and I start thinking again.
At the airline office there is a high vibration. Final release from my anxiety. Illa thanks me for the Prasad but says the news is not good. My heart starts sinking momentarily but I recover. Baba's assurance was definite. The morning flower to the mother, which Baba had so tenderly asked the Mother for, was in my pocket, saying that I would get to Delhi and America alright. My fear was quieted and I witnessed. A man comes to help. They ask about the date. I go through the conflict, the visa, etc. and they phone. Tense wait. Finally it comes through from Pan Am, like a heavy weight off my heart. All friendliness at counter. She signs over the ticket from Air India to Pan Am and Pana Kole and I walk to Pan Am. Walking over I am drawn again into the Bhav of the morning. Who is this Baba. the love for whom is so much flowing that I feel like I am in heaven even on these Calcutta streets. My heart flows golden supreme to his sacred feet! I am reborn! I am in His eternity.
Chanderagore - Brahmanic ocean prevails. After kirtan, egoless awareness. No sleep. The mood of leavlng is descending on me making me anxious to try to catch the fleeting memories of these three months of lila.
At night Miru shows me that a candle burned Swami Chidananda's cloth up in front of Sarada Ma. She has bought a new cloth. Says God wanted it. Then tells me the negative of Baba I had wanted was lost by Bubu in a library book. Affects me deeply as only today I had tried and been unable to get a good picture of Baba . She is very upset and I ask her how she could have lost it and question her if everything possible was done to find it. In the morning she tells me she had a dream in which she saw the book where it was and shows it to me. Tells me tears can do anything. She had been crying over the loss.
March 24, 1974
Awoke at five and dozed off again briefly. Had slept on bench at airport. Jiten watching my stuff. We had to come at night as there was a taxi strike due. Jiten-- how faithful! What a servant to his guru! Again and again I am nearly moved to tears to see his devotion. Though his wordly affairs give him no peace, yet his steadfast devotion will give him possession of the prize in the end. How deep is his love of Baba! Airplane, no hassles. As I took off it hit me. I was softly singing Jaya Guru to myself and the actual fact of leaving Baba hit me in the face and the wave of tears came. He is with me in thc plane. He must come! It is love, that's all. He will come, and he will always be there.