Diary notes for
volume 3 : At the Feet of the Master
Mark and I arrived last night on the train from New Delhi and when we stepped off the train we found Jiten and Jeffrey waiting for us. He was a welcome sight. The trip from Delhi was uneventful, but in Delhi it seemed the whole Lila had abruptly started up again.
We made a bad taxi choice the first time with a couple guys who were driving us around in circles while the meter clicked. Once we changed cabs to a more devotional taxicab, entire altar on his dashboard, we finally found ourselves a room. This was not easy. We had just happened to arrive on an all-India holiday called "republic" day. Practically all the rooms in the entire city seemed to be taken.
On the plane the emotional bhav started as soon as we left Teheran on the final leg of the flight to Delhi. I guess, for me, the worries ceased then and I finally realized I would really be with Baba again. This long terrible year had so doused my faith that it took me that long just to feel sure this was all really happening. It also felt as if I had crossed over some internal barrier, almost a Jekyll-&-Hyde personality change, as if "Bill Morgan" died and Premananda started coming back to life. It was a good feeling and the rush of tears that came was like a reunion, like meeting an old friend, like suddenly feeling REAL again.
At about 10AM on 25th, even having had no sleep since London, I decided we ought to go straight to the Ramakrishna center before doing anything else. This we did.
Sitting there in the temple, with many memories of my last time here (leaving India '75), looking at the statue of the seated figure of Ramakrishna, I became overwhelmed. The whole time period since Baba had left America flowed before my mind. I wanted to weep outright all my sorrow, my regrets for bad behavior, the memories of my terrible hopeless efforts to get to Baba, as well as my new found joy at actually being in India again, all this surged up in such a wave of Bhav my body shook uncontrollably from top to bottom. It was a great release and I saw Ramakrishna and threw myself, my sorry life, my everything at his feet.
I hoped and felt that the low points I had gone to might have made me truly ready this time to discover the true inner sense of sanyas on this journey. To truly leave all the old ways forever and to renounce all worldly interest and be completely surrendered to the search for God. On the one hand it was like meeting a deep and dear friend again, myself, the self I had lost when I could not get back to Baba and took to drinking.
On the other hand this self was somehow stronger, purer, for having fallen low and survived. Truer for having known the very depths of wretchedness which leads toward suicide. It seems crazy. I would certainly not advise my particular path to anyone.
But it utterly startled me on reaching India to find the past so utterly swept aside and to see the inner truer me which Baba calls Premananda still intact, and in fact, all the more ready to leave this vain world and find and surrender to the feet of God.
This wonderful reunion with myself, this purging, this joyful seeing by the heart again of the spirit of Ramakrishna lasted about a half hour or so. It literally shook me to my core and I begged the Mother to accept my life. Not the ragged helpless life I had left behind and had been so ready to destroy - but the life which was yet to be, and which I suddenly found myself ready and eager to live.
The rest of the day went like magic, and despite lack of sleep and exhaustion, I was vibrating with an electrified energy and excitement. The very stimulation of the sight and sound of India continued to reawaken the self I had thought I had lost to alcohol, and I was amazed at the quickness, the ease, the suddenness of this transformation. Only days before I had hated myself and wanted to die.
Suddenly in a flood of tears I felt my self awaken. The I had spent in America was truly a dream after all, a nightmare shimmering on an unreal veil of illusion and ignorance.
The inner child, the seeker, was untouched. Weary maybe, wiser for it perhaps, but true and undamaged. Perhaps even more highly awake and ready for things because of that nightmare. I was amazed, even stunned to find myself as myself again, and I rejoiced. We went back to the Ramakrishna temple that evening for the arati. I prayed to Ramakrishna. The feeling of praying again was sweeter than the sweetest wine. At nine o'clock I sank into an immediate and deep slumber, having been awake, by then, about 35 hours. I slept for 15 hours.
From Howrah station we finally went on to the ashram by the 6:40 Burdwan local train. I was oddly calm. There was the usual crowding, and then the minibus from Dankuni. We ran into a man, I think it is Joya Ma's son, or son-in-law, and he most kindly took us under wing for the rest of the way.
On arriving at the ashram the whole thing began again, this whole lila with Baba. We found him in terrible health. We learned he had had a "left ventricular failure" the very night before. I suppose a kind of mild heart attack from his infarction. He was sitting in his room, wrapped in blankets, very much the child and obviously very worried.
I bowed briefly and heard the news. I was very upset by this. It was the last thing I expected at that point, particularly after the journey had gone so well, and particularly after the auspicious experience of having felt myself utterly turned around in Delhi and set on the path again.
After a year of aching and dying to come, and being unable, and of being told, practically, by Athena that I was almost unwanted at the ashram, having my heart broken and getting lost and depressed and drunk, then to come at last and feel renewed, untouched by the sorrow, ready for true sadhana again, maybe sanyas - to then find Baba trembling from an attack the very night previous and saying he would not live much longer - it has been a rather difficult series of events to digest.
I told him with sincere conviction he would be OK. His seeming insistence that it is not OK has me greatly worried. Have I come too late? I refuse to believe it.
Tonight I prayed deeply. For some reason it was to Jesus. I guess around Baba I feel incompetent to call on Mother. I asked Jesus to speak to the Father. (All is one, but it is the child who prays. Child goes to mother for some things, to father for others). Bhav, tears, and some relief. My faith is growing again. The guru's word cannot be a lie. Never. He shall not go until his work is done. What he said will come to pass, will come. Still I am worried.
In a way the events of last night and today have given me notice. I must utterly let go of all negative results of my year in hell. I must work as never before. There is no time to lose. This is to be my most serious stay here, and in some strange way my bad experiences of the world have made me ready. What have I to return to? The old search for annihilation in drink, in pleasures, in forgetfulness, and the horrible pain and futility of all that? It is done. I want nothing now. I am with Baba and that is all I ever wanted. When it was out of reach I sought to numb myself, and then destroy myself. Now it is here, I want nothing but to serve him, to be with him, that's all. And I take notice: it is not to be forever. I pray he takes his mighty sword and severs my last few ties completely - and soon.
Tomorrow I go to the Dr. to get the full story. I feel utterly helpless.
Last night I prayed to the Mother for Baba's health and wept as I had not wept since I was last here. It was a furtherance of the waking that had begun to feel in Delhi. Prayers are not merely private, they are inexpressible and incommunicable, in the same way that the symptoms of a weeping heart can be described, but not the essence of it. I found myself speaking to the unknown, called "Mother," half out loud, and in Bengali, and getting off my chest all the built up feelings that had accumulated in a year, and in the past day. It was the return of sweet surrender, and I wished and wished I might give up my own health and life to restore Baba. I begged Mother to let him stay with us a long time, until we are strong enough to bear his love and truth in our lives for the sake of the "whole world." Feelings swept over me that I thought I had lost forever in America, and again I was amazed to find them there, so suddenly.
I still marvel at the change in everything. It is as if I never left, as if my nightmare of separation had never been. And yet there IS a difference there. An almost sad sense of "beware - caution." I finally fell, exhausted, into a childlike sleep. Again, toward morning, I awoke with a sexual feeling, but it passed quickly away. I am sure it is due to the absence of alcohol, and the sudden stirring up of the currents in the heart. It is a joy to suddenly have so little attachment to sex again. A sweet indifference and freedom.
We didn't go to the Doctor's today as it was Sunday and his office would be jammed. To all our joy, as the day wore on, Baba seemed much better. We gradually got the medicine schedule figured out. I did japa for two hours.
Then Mr. Srinivasan came. What a wonderful man! He embraced me for a long, long time, I guess more strongly that I have ever been embraced, and his love was so clear I felt my whole heart open up and could not keep from crying. It was as if the embrace, so utterly sincere and true, coaxed out the shy child within, which, feeling the love, suddenly rushed forward and unburdened itself, all its long suffering, its love and its joy in finding such a soul. I could not help but weep, so deeply did he take me to him.
Later, on the porch, I showed him the translation I had made of Baba's tapes. He liked it, but said "That is all past. What is important for us is what Baba is now." He told us the story of his first coming to Baba, and went on into a monologue of thrilling spiritual ideas. It was so wonderful I sat in complete joy on the verge of tears of joy. His face was radiant and if one was still and attentive there was that shimmering oceanic dimension, that beyondness I have sensed in Vimala, Ramana, and after my initiation by Baba. I was thrilled by his discourse to the point of almost trembling with happiness. What a change from the dismal thoughts of yesterday!
aba seemed to get better and better as the day went on. He is not talking much, and must rest even more, but he sat outside and smiled and laughed a bit and was clearly not in as much distress as yesterday. He spoke about the boys (Jeff and Mark) getting a room somewhere and I mentioned the letter briefly that Athena had sent. He seemed shocked when I told about it, as if he didn't remember what he had said to her, and shortly after said something like "look inside yourself and you will see whether I want you here or not." I'm not sure of the exact words, but it was quite clear what he was saying. ("You know very well where we stand").
But it does seem that the boys might be better off outside but nearby. So we'll see about that. He referred to Jeff and called him Sadhananda. No one took note and Jeff didn't even hear it so we'll see if he sticks to that name.
In the evening we did Hari Narayana with Baba, then we sang while Baba did his worship of Hanuman and Ram. Later, circling around the Mother's temple, everyone joined the line and sang and it was wonderful. Very "up" after such a "down" yesterday. I saw the old Baba coming back and my heart grew light and I rejoiced.
Later he called me in to check on his pulse so I started my "medical record" of pulse and blood pressure. After that he called me in again and Joya and Lokon and another Ma were there and it turned to joking and laughing. Baba wanted his diuretic so I asked him did he want to make a new pukur in the village. Everyone laughed, more joke followed and I saw my old Baba coming back.
I am happy now beyond measure. I thank the Mother. Mother may have my whole life to the last minute if she will but keep my Thakur happy and free of pain. I don't pretend to understand. Did Mother hear my prayers? Or did Baba? It is such a mystery. I am beginning to see that my mind will never see. Love, love, love. Pray, meditate. Surrender. Anything but think. It is as Srinivasan was saying about killing the mind, that there is some sect that actually calls it "The Glorious Suicide."
Oh God, Premananda pranams, and rejoices that the guru is feeling better. Jai Guru. Jai Guru. Jaya Guru. May the guru be always happy, and give bliss to the whole world.
Yesterday we three went to see the doctor and his brother, accompanied by Mana. Baba is better but very weak and we continually urge on him the need to rest. Just now he has fallen asleep (10AM). Babananda (Choto Babu) received us vary warmly. He emphatically ran on and on that Baba's time has come and that he could survive some months perhaps but hardly more than a year. He spoke how Baba is not respected by the village people and that the village is a bad place for Baba, particularly in case of emergency since it takes so long for anyone to get there. Later the doctor said summarily that there would be no emergency if Baba took his medicine and rested. In fact, these two brothers gave us totally contradictory opinions! It leads me to discount both.
Choto Babu thought Baba's going to America would be very good for him, as he loves the people there, and he could rest, and there is medicine which is not available here. He emphasized that we must try to find out from Baba what our duties are after he dies, where his samadhi (burial place) should be, what our work is to be, etc. He said to ask Mr. Pal straight out why he won't sign over the land and so on. All this started up a whole new line of anxious worry for me. They are difficult things to think about. I showed Babananda the xerox I had made in America of Baba's "Blue Book," and he was astounded that I had it and completely pleased.
"I can't believe it, you have it here, in my own handwriting! How is it possible?"
The story of how it came to be "stolen" amused him greatly. Over and over he said how pleased he was. I got his side of the story as well:
It seems that before Baba went to America he came to Bhabananda "almost crying" and told him that he didn't know what to do, he was "murko" and what was he going to tell the people there? Well, Babananda's guru, Purnananda had given him 5 books he had written. At the time of his death the guru told him where the books were and said "someday people will come and you give them this Brahmavidya." So he gave Baba a book he had copied from Purnananda's material. He said when he gave it to Baba, Baba "lit up" and was very happy. Babananda couldn't believe I had gotten ("stolen") the whole thing from Baba. He admonished me to keep them secret, to translate it, but to keep it for those who were truly serious. He again told me he would give me the "5th Veda" someday. It is in Sanskrit transliterated into Bengali.
The doctor was very quick with us telling us there was no emergency but a need to rest the heart and take the medicine. We stopped in Chanditala and Mana helped up buy things. It was a load off my mind to start providing some of our own food and a few of the ashram's needs. No one will ever take any money from us there. I was also heartened to hear Babananda suggest that another trip to America would be good, although I would certainly not take him in this condition. He must be much stronger before he goes.
At night, Baba wanted to know all of what the doctor had said to me in English. He was sitting in his room, childlike, concerned. I reassured him with the Dr.'s side of the story, and mentioned the part from Babananda about going to either Calcutta or America. Strangely he perked up about that slightly, a positive though unspoken reaction. I talked to him later about it again, starting to mention that the devotees were all wanting him to come, etc. We also talked about the festival. I told him we could have a festival if it would not be too hectic and if he would take rest throughout. I also told him his dancing and singing days were OVER, period, and that if he danced at the festival I would bind up his legs, and if he sang I would tie his hands and that if anyone told him to do either I would beat them. "Jaemon ami Janaiye raglam, ragbo." (I will get angry like I got in Janai). He was amused. Throughout all these exchanges he seemed like he was beginning to shine again.
I told him, "You are an old sadhu. What do old sadhus do?"
He assumed a quiet but firm meditation pose.
I said, "Right! They stay peaceful and they don't do any work!" I said, "How many years you have been giving this festival to the disciples. Now it is time for them to give the festival to you." I was greatly heartened to see he was pleased by this approach, and also greatly pleased to see that he seemed at least not disinclined or afraid to return to America. If it is true that his heart is greatly weakened, I do think "another time around" in America may well be part of what his guru meant by "Go, Prahlad, through you a great work will be done." We shall see. For now it is rest, rest, rest, and prepare for all possible possibilities and impossibilities.
Today (10:30) he is weak but at least resting and seeming to relax a bit now that there is at least the appearance of health care. How crazy and unexpected this whole situation. As always with Baba, what was expected never happens.
February 1, 78 1:45 AM
I just awoke from a dream , at once marvelous and terrifying.
I was in Ron's mother's house. I do not know how it could be, for I have never been there! Yet I knew that's where it was. He had invited me for dinner on my return to America. I had been watching TV. There were two TV's. Someone got up and went into another room. The dream became fully vivid. There was pizza to eat, some wine. Gopal was there, but Gopal went in the next room to watch Monty Python or something like that on TV while he ate. Strangely I didn't meet the folks until we started to eat. When I started to eat I began to feel terrible about something which until then I felt I had been hiding or avoiding. It was that I had returned to America so early and without the purpose of my journey being fulfilled. This thought began to eat at me. I tried to remember the journey back but could not. I look at my watch to check the date and realized indeed I had been in India only a very short time. Much less than even a month. Someone or I said something about the shortness of the trip and conversation turned that way. My heart sank. Why had I returned?
At first I tried to make something up, that it was OK, or it was God's will or something, or that since Baba might come it was all right. Then I began to panic since the more I though about it the more I realized I couldn't remember how I got back or why I came so early.
The "father" of the place left the table to get the phone. The "mother" was speaking to me. Some more wine was brought. As my panic was growing I remember holding my glass out. Dream was absolutely vivid and completely ordinary seeming. No sign or sense of it being a dream. I became dejected. Panicky: "Why, oh why did I leave? Why was I back already? How could I have been so stupid?"
I must have finished eating, and begun to move about. The next thing I can remember is when I had already realized that this was all a dream. I can't remember realizing it. I was talking to some female relative in the house and telling her that that it was a dream. I realized somehow it couldn't be real, I must BE IN INDIA, though this seemed impossible since the dream was so real. The dream person I was talking to was backing off, increasingly terrified at my words.
Then suddenly I seemed to rise up into a half-asleep state and I was greatly relieved. I could feel my body on the "ground" (floor) curled up. And I knew I had been dreaming.
Then I was back at Arjuna's house again, and Gopal was with me. The feeling of being BETWEEN realities, particularly at the point of telling someone else it was a dream is utterly indescribable. Indeed, it is fading even now. I forget what the dream was with Gopal. We were in the room, and probably puzzling over why we had come back early or something.
The next thing I remember is talking to him and starting to realize again that this all was not real. I became greatly excited. I was LOOKING AT THE DREAM IN THE DREAM, and it seemed real. But having already had one "waking" I pursued it now earnestly. Gopal had been talking with bravado about this and that, but as I spoke to him about it being a dream he became more and more worried and afraid. I showed him things in the room to show that they looked absolutely real, and that's why we believed in it, but that actually we were dreaming it and were really in India. I reached to show him a table lamp and how real it seemed (all was in very vivid natural color, 3 dimensions). The lamp didn't work when I switched it on. I tried and fumbled for another switch. It went on.
"See?" I said. It all looks very good but it's not. It's a dream we're having." All the time I am feeling an urgency. A panic. If I stay too long, if I forget, I will sink too far into the dream and be stuck there. It must still have been on my mind how depressed I was when I "came home" so soon from India. I didn't want to believe that again. Strangely, Gopal was getting younger and younger as he got more and more troubled by my words.
I forget what was next. I guess as I saw him change - get younger - the spell got broken again and I partially woke up. This time it was much slower. The feeling of being with another and trying to wake up together persisted for a long time through the waking. Then there was a great vibration between us. I realized we were finally waking up out of the "false" reality to the real one. Only when I fully came to my senses and woke and felt myself lying on the floor with Gopal ASLEEP beside me did I realize I WAS ALONE in it all, there had BEEN NO TWO PEOPLE.
I sank into the vivid dream a third time. In the time I have written this I have forgotten most of it. It was the same dream really, only this time I met many people. They were all very vivid real-seeming people, all of whom I tried to convince that things were not real, it was all a dream. At times it was like a nightmare when I would slip too far into believing the dream myself. Some of the people did not like me for saying these things, that it was a dream, etc. When I would try to convince someone, as I spoke about it being a dream sometimes it would get even more vivid and would marvel at it. Sometimes someone's face would seem very real, would change and seem ever so more real, even as I spoke to them directly that it was not real. I think a few got angry, belligerent. In the end someone was angry at me.
I saw what seemed to be some kind of priest or something go in a room and, in a panic again, I followed him, thinking he would help me.
"Father, can I talk to you?" I said.
He said, "All right," though he seemed somewhat less than eager. In fact, not eager at all. As I said this he was just entering a room and I followed. Inside were more men in priest collars. One caught my eye even before I began my "speech." He had ram-like features and I thought he might be Satan. I forget what happened next. I went back to telling them it was a dream I guess. I was getting back toward waking (out of the dream).
I walked around the room to confront or talk to the "satan" man. Very oddly it turned out he had changed and was smiling, with strange teeth showing, large, and colored red white and blue like an American flag! This shocked me, his smile, these American flag teeth! He seemed like some kind of crazed Uncle Sam, priest-guru mixture. I must have told him something, because he responded just by singing, in an eerie, haunting, and radiant way: "We are all one, we are all one." I knew that he agreed it was a dream. (I guess, if I think about it, he was agreeing that HE was a dream!) I thought then ALL this is a dream. (Who am I convincing?)
I looked around. Someone was coming. Again I saw that it was a dream. It became less real. And this time I snapped suddenly and abruptly awake, strangely out of breath, almost panting for air. I was very sleepy still, though fully aware now of where I was and what was "real" (though the VIVIDNESS of all three episodes persisted). I was on the verge of lapsing into sleep again but decide to write this. Now it has all but faded.
Yesterday my mind had become very upset about Baba's oscillating condition, my having come after such a long absence, his saying he will die, etc. He heard about it. When I came in at 9:30 PM he made as if to slap me several times. Then he sat up straight (he was sitting on his legs) and held his arm up to show
"You must have strength." Then he said something about "You must get the true guru inside, then .."
I said I couldn't get it, and that's why my mind had gotten "broken" in America. He nodded. "
The dream of last night, I feel, came out of that and points to that. Had I had the real guru I could have "woken up" in America and realized I was "really" in India having a dream. (My true self was guru).
Another meaning is that whenever I had tried to convince someone it was not real, I was trying to convince an unreal thing. All the different people were in me. When I woke up I was always alone. So, in THIS dream, what I CALL guru, OUTSIDE MYSELF, is really IN ME, inside, and the outside guru is part of a dream.
I am exhausted - back to sleep.
2/1/78 -- 11:30 PM
Very busy day. Very tired. The dream was on my mind all day. I tried to tell Baba about it but my Bengali failed. We went to the Dr.'s house again today. Had another great talk with Dr.'s brother, downstairs in the office this time. We got measured in town for some Indian clothes. Baba is much better now. He is worried about the dyspnea returning. I'm utterly confused about his condition. On leaving Dr.'s brother he said "Baba will survive for YOUR sake." There is a lot of joking with Ma and Lokon again at nighttime. Also, Baba told me not to have people into our room, outsiders, that is. Not much happened with Baba as we were gone all day. Too tired to write tonight. If I don't get more rest...
Once again to Doctor's. This time a two hour wait for a two minute (5 minute?) consultation. I dreamed of Vimala last night. She came to dinner at a house I have never seen. I received her self-consciously. I don't remember more, but it prompted me to buy an air-letter to write to her. I would have written tonight but I need sleep. My state has settled down somewhat from the soul-wrenching first few days.
As Baba gets better, so do I. And the vision of him as my beloved Ramakrishna returns. It is somehow different this time. Perhaps it is my age, perhaps the lessons of a year in hell away from Baba, but I feel detached somehow. I have left much behind this time. All I care about is Baba. The mind has stopped much of its "figuring" and reasoning. Doubts are minimal in the face of our love. What does love care for words?
Tonight I looked at Baba. He was sitting with eyes half closed, silent, semi-smiling, in drawn. For a minute or two I was drawn back into the magic of that first year here. The way the room glowed with such a warm bath of orange-yellow light, the way one suddenly sensed a vastness existing in and beyond his body, extending to and engulfing one's own sense of being, the sudden sensation of sharing for a moment a vaster dimension with him. I felt such a tenderness come back, a feeling so sweet to me as to be worth the sacrifice of a thousand lives. It had been obscured by my misery in America and my escape from misery, and since we came, by the worry I felt and his worry. But I see that the whole play goes on and goes deep, and that I am on the threshold of a great surrender. I know he will be well for a while, for I know he knows his going now will be my own life's loss, and I know how greatly he loves me. There were times I thought I was crazy to be so caught up, so lost in the life of this one single man. But being back in his presence I only wish I had a thousand lives to surrender.
It is raining gently now outside the room. A storm passed by, the wind was very great, but now the silence of the night grows deep, made deeper by the patter of raindrops. The days with Baba are not long enough, and they go too fast, and sleep comes too soon. In America I used to envy those who could feel the guru within, who did not need to run back to the guru's body all the time. But here I can see that it is just my nature. To be with Baba is all I want. Here I can truly say I envy no man. No man at all. 11PM To sleep.
Baba is (or at least seems to be) getting better. I am taking his vital signs twice daily now and it seems to please him in his childlike way. My recent experience as an orderly in Albany Medical Center is coming in handy now. Whether he does or doesn't know that I know very little about medicine, I don't know. I guess all he cares is that it is a lot more than anyone else around here knows, so I guess it's a valid placebo. It is a way to serve him and express my love. My little medical manual has in fact proved very helpful for my own understanding.
Taking care of Baba is a joy, even though fraught with anxious sorrow at times. The bhav I feel when I first came in 1974 now has ways to flow into action. Serving the guru is indeed a deep privilege to be deeply cherished.
This morning Baba wanted me to go get the doctor. I tried to tell him there was really no need and said if he took all that time to come he would be forsaking many sick people there.
But Baba said, "No, today, in the afternoon, is his only time off," so I went. Debu gave me his cycle and I had a great time. It was my first time going anywhere by bicycle in India and I loved it. The doctor said no, he could not come since he had to go quite a distance to see another patient. So I came back.
When I got back there were quite a few people here, and through the afternoon more and more came. Some people were telling Baba to take garlic for his stomach. Ponkoj (the bearded "semi-doctor" they call a "compounder") came and reassured Baba, and I told him that the doctor had said that after this kind of an attack it is very natural to have fears and to be "heart conscious." The other day Baba said he was the same way when Athena came and she "fixed him up" the same way I was doing. And it is odd that though I don't know what I'm doing it is clear that it is basically Baba's great love of me that is helping him. I can never quite understand that.
It was today, as Joya Ma said, a "little Annacoot." Sunil, Rabi, Raja, Jayadev, Manna, and others came, and Baba was sparkling more and more like his own self. It was beautiful to see him like that. Everyone became happy as the night came on. There was a sweet spirit of guru bhais, much love all around. One couple, a doctor and his wife, had come because they had heard rumors that Baba had died. From a long distance they had came. It was a sweet mood after these days of anxiety and depression, self-blame and uncertainty. Even the naptime had been joyous as we had brought out the frisbee for the children for the first time.
After dinner, giving Baba his medicine, alone in the room with him, we had a talk which further lifted my heart. We were talking and he referred to Lokon's having gone home. I asked if he would be back to help with the puja tomorrow as I am worried about Baba doing too much. He said he didn't know and then make the money sign. I was incredulous.
"Your brother takes money for doing the puja?" (Footnote: At that time I was still somehow under the impression that Lokon was Baba's brother. He was not. I also had the naive idea that the priests did their worship just for worship's sake. I did not realize it was job, like any other. My main influence had been Sri Ramakrishna, who could not even touch money).
"Without money," he said, "nothing gets done."
"Your own brother?"
"He took ten rupees today for those letters he delivered."
"Your own brother?" He laughed. Then he started out talking about how India was becoming corrupted and America was becoming holy.
I said "Well, when I come to India my mind becomes much better."
He said, "Yes, that will be so for you. Then he said, "I think if I get better I'll go stay in America."
I told him I had wanted to hear those words. Then I told him of our desires and plans and he took it all in, nodding now and then. I was so happy to have him say all those things without my urging. I had expected to have to wait longer for that, I guess because of John's warning me to let it be his idea (to return to America). But it is definitely clear to me now that he truly wants to, not only from the standpoint of his health, but in the context of the shift of spiritual current. Did not his guru say "Prahlad, tomar diye boro kaj hobe?" ("Prahlad, through you a great work will be done"). Maybe it is in America that he shall do his greatest work.
I am so happy tonight. so many changes in a week. I feel the surrender deepening in such a tender way. Not the way of effort, but of being so much in love. We always try to surrender but that is its own opposite. It is easy when one loves. One just loves. How sweet it is. I bow to all forms of God in thanks and joy. Oh keep the guru happy and safe for the sake of the upliftment of the whole world.
Tonight I fall to sleep happier than I have been in over 16 months. Jaya Guru. Jaya Ma.
Another long day. Worked AM doing what I could to help Monsa get the place ready for the festivals. Put mud on the walls of the tool room, put mud over the rocks near the temples. It seems like not much is getting done at all but I guess it comes together somehow. It will not be the biggest festival I guess. It's all a mystery to me how it happens.
The significant thing today was between Baba and I about treating the cuts of the village kids. It went to my heart and stuck there and in retrospect it almost seemed as if the whole thing occurred that way just to wake up my heart a bit. Oddly, it was something we had been through before.
The kids have been coming with their cut feet and I clean them and put on several coats of betadine and a bandaid. It is a good thing and I get the feeling sometimes that they are all divine, that I am serving God.
A boy showed one day up with something they called "kosh" so I asked the doctor about it. I had put some betadine on it. The doctor showed me the English name in my Merke Index and gave me something called Polyderm. Today the boy came back and I saw that the betadine had actually helped, even in a single day. I reapplied the Betadine in back of his ears and tried the Polyderm on his legs. This far was OK, even though I was beginning to wander a bit beyond cuts and scratches.
Then a lady came with a bandaged foot and her husband asked if I could help. I unwrapped the bandage and saw, to my horror, a large pus-filled bubble nearly two inches across, obviously a burn. It turned out that while cooking she had dropped a hot pan on her foot. I realized suddenly that this was quite serious and that there was nothing I could do. This was a dangerous situation. If the bubble burst, the almost inevitable infection would be terrible. I told her I couldn't do anything and gave her some aspirin and vitamin C and sterilized the bandage with the isodine. I was a little shaken by the sudden presence of a serious injury among these children's minor cuts and scrapes. It took me a while to think it through.
Playing doctor had been fun and a kind of benign bhakti, but this was no play. Later on a girl came whose infected ulcer (on the leg) I had cleaned and treated and bandaged a few days before. The bandaid was intact and when I removed it my heart sank to see the accumulated pus. I was losing confidence fast though I didn't yet realize it. As I examined it I tried to think what treatment would be in the U.S. and I realized it was out of the question. Probably the ulcer would be debrided, irrigated with bacitracin and dressings applied and changed very often with an antibiotic topical agent. If that didn't work, a graft could be done. What to do? These village people don't understand even the most basic things about keeping wounds clean, or about sterility, or the omnipresent nature of infection.
I cleaned it again and put on the polyderm and told her it had to be kept clean and that the dressing had to be changed every day. I realized not even that was sufficient. I also realized that the local village "doctor" would do no better, maybe worse. They all watch me do these things and say "Look how he cleans it. Not even the doctor does it that well!"
In the afternoon after another interlude of helping Monsa chop some bamboo, a boy came, the son of the ashram's sweeper lady (I later learned) with a badly infected gash on his foot. I cleaned it and squeezed a large amount of pus from beneath the gash. Then Baba called me. Something to do with his medicine. There was no real need and I wanted to get back to the boy's cut. I was worried to see how much pus there was. I went back. Baba called me back to his room again. This time the young man was there whose wife had had the terrible burn. He had the pills (aspirin and vitamin C) and was asking me how many she should take. Joya Ma was nearby and said something about "How much doctor work you are doing."
Then Baba started talking. He said that I shouldn't be doing all this stuff because if anything went wrong it would be my "dosh" (sin, error). We got into a kind of argument about it and throughout I had a kind of sickly feeling of having been through the whole thing before, the whole episode with the boy Shankar in 1975.
Baba was saying "Yes, help people, serve people, but you are not a doctor so don't do something you don't know about. What if something goes wrong with someone, then they will blame you even if it is no fault of yours. Look, I know about meditation, so I can do that work, but I'm not going to go about doing something which I don't have knowledge about."
I told him that what I was doing was something even little children in the U.S. know enough to do. That I wasn't being a doctor. It was common knowledge in America. But then the guy with the pills was there, asking about how many times they were to be taken, and I realized with a sinking feeling that Baba's point was true. It did look to them like I was "prescribing" pills.
I had started trying to tell him about the "medicine" but all of a sudden an impossible impulse born out of chagrin and disappointment swept over me like a hot wave. I scooped up all the pills out of the fellow's hand, away from him and said, "No, I can't give it. Baba says no." I looked at Baba and held the handful of pills up to him and said, "Look, this medicine isn't anything! No danger!" I was confused and frustrated. I grabbed Baba's water glass and threw all the pills in my mouth at once and swallowed them, looking steadfastly at Baba. It amounted to two grams of vitamin C and 4 aspirin tablets.
"Look, it's nothing!" Baba seemed both startled and then amused. I don't remember the whole conversation, but in the course of it I realized that this was a kind of a re-run of the previous lesson about Shankar, so I resolved to stop my "doctor" work.
He had said it would be my "sin" ("dosh") if I treated someone and something bad happened. I asked him, "Isn't it a greater sin to sit and watch the infections grow worse and to do nothing?" Later on he compromised when he realized that I wasn't really going too far out by saying "That which is within your knowledge, go ahead and do. But don't do anything beyond your knowledge."
After I had swallowed the pills some talk ensued and Baba said, OK, you can give those kind. We went out onto the temple porch. The sweeper's boy was still sitting over on the library porch, waiting, and Mr. Pal, who happened to be there, called out "Your patient is waiting!"
Baba looked over. Mr. Pal told him I had cleaned the wound. I didn't know what to do. I asked Baba what to do. He said "Pore bolbo." ("I will tell you later"). I went over and got my things and told the boy I couldn't do it. I guess that's when Mr. Pal explained what I had done.
Then I guess Baba suddenly realized who it was I had been "treating" at the time. It was the son of his own sweeper woman. It was all very odd line of events.
He said, "Oh, for her son you can do it!" That is, she was sort of in our own little "family." There would be no likelihood of a problem in that. So, after all this, I finished my work and treated his foot, all these things going through my mind.
Even though Baba had given way all along the line, I realized deeply that he was right. These people will not take care of the wound after I see them, so there is a high chance that there will be an infection in any case, and some will get worse. They won't keep them clean, they won't change the dressing, they have no money for medicine or even soap. They can't afford to see the real doctor in town. It is a real dilemma. It had begun with the burned lady's foot, but Baba had brought it home with a mighty force very quickly, all the while seeming to relent and let me have my way. I have no doubt he saved me today from a perhaps very unpleasant experience in the future, had I gone on without taking the whole picture into account.
When I finished with the boy I gave him some Betadine and told him to put it on 4 or 5 times a day. That was at least an improvement. I was quite shaken by the whole thing. I realized that my "I" had surreptitiously gotten involved in treating the people. "Helping". My "doctor" work will be shut for a while until I think this through further. Above all I don't want to bring Baba any trouble.
Later I felt very sad and humiliated. The storm had been brought up again. This thin line between the heart which sees suffering and wants to relieve it, and the mind which understands it is ultimately futile in a certain sense. My heart ached and the images of the people and their sores plagued my evening meditation.
After meditation Baba called me into his room. He said there were three parts of religion: Jiva Sheva (service to living beings), Harinam (chanting the Name) and (I missed what the third was). He said if you give a poor man some money and he then goes out and gets drunk with it, have you really helped him or have you hurt him? He said "Tomar onek boro kaj hobe." ("You will have a great work to do.") He was so sweet, the way he tried to smooth over everything.
He again went back to my anger and repeated what he always said, that if I got rid of it that would be all that was required. That one "dosh", he said. ("You have that one sin.")
He said "your name is Premananda. When that prem, is there, that love, that's it, bas. Enough. No need for yoga, no need to meditate." He reassured me that my impulse was right, that you must see that God is in all beings and that serving them is real religion. But using examples, like that of the drunkard, he showed me sometimes you think your are serving but you are not, it is just pride, just "I."
He reminded me back to the time in 1975 when he made his little "cigarette speech" one night out on the ghat and I had taped it. It was back when we had been giving cigarettes to the poor local men. We had pitied them, smoking only their rough bidis, and saw how much they like our filtered cigarettes. "You think you are helping, being kind, but actually you are destroying their lives. They become habituated, accustomed to it, and soon they are spending their meagre resources on this poison! " And these cigarettes cost so much more than bidis, he pointed out. Their families will be going without food on account of your "kindness."
I misunderstood him at one point when he was saying not everyone is the same as far as serving them goes. I asked "Do you mean I'm not supposed to serve the thief? Or the drunkard?"
He said "No, no, I didn't say you don't serve the thief did I? You don't even SEE the thief. You only see that in all people there is God."
The whole line of all this whole day had an almost dream-play like coherence and sequence which is lost in my present exhaustion. It is as it has always been for me here. The very substance of life itself seems to come alive and be the book of knowledge and wisdom which we are reading. At times it almost seems that there is a magical scriptwriter hidden behind the scenes somewhere, arranging events and seeming happenstance into a solid and living story. It is lessons woven into and emerging from life itself, never from hearsay or books. Is this kind of magic what they mean by the "Mother's play," or "Bhagavan's Lila?"
Most important was that Baba somehow struck the bell in my heart and made me see all this with a rather intense mixed feeling of humility and love.
Yesterday was Friday, two weeks since we came. When I got up and had my bath I went to check Baba's pressure and pulse etc. (Playing "doctor"). He was lying so quiet, straight, a pathetic look on his face, sort of staring straight up, seemingly barely able to move. He said "shorir karap" ("body not well") as he has said over and over nearly every day since we have been here. But today he seemed truly weak.
I took his pressure, which was up a little from what I normally got, but not too much. When I took his pulse, however, I got rather concerned. I actually had to search for it to get a good count and it seemed really weak. The big festival coming and him so depleted that morning, and then he started talking again about not living much longer. He says thing like "sheskal" ("end time") and "aro bonchbo na," ("I won't survive much longer"), "deho tyag korbo" ("I will give up my body"), and "chole jabo" ("I will go"). My heart began to sink again. I rubbed his arm and caressed him as he lay there on his right side facing me. I began to feel the accumulated sorrow and burden of two weeks of anxiety, worry and concern for him well up in my heart. My tears fell down upon his cloth, but luckily his eyes were closed and he did not see. He cannot tolerate our tears in his presence. This prem filled me and I knew I had better leave the room before I had to sniffle or blow my nose.
I didn't know why this bhav should suddenly strike like this but I had to go be somewhere else. I went in and sat down at the puja table and the feelings swept over my soul. It was such love of him, and deep remorse for my own shortcomings, my "late" arrival, the waste of my time in America, all the weaknesses in myself so familiar to me now. I covered my head with my cloth, but I could not keep from sobbing slightly and finally just laid my head down on the table and wept quietly. This was not the fiery frantic prayer of my first few days here two weeks ago. It was a tired, wearier kind of surrender from a deeper source, and the room and surroundings seemed to dim in the space of a world's-end helplessness.
Then Noyen must have noticed for she came in and tried to rouse me. I had gone into a kind of numbness, like novacaine or something. I couldn't respond. I could hear her as a voice across some distance saying "Premananda, come, aren't you going to help Monsa with the work, how much work he is doing!" She came into the room with a big rose. Were she got it I don't know - I think she said Govinda. "Look, look at the flower, isn't it nice, give it to Thakur."
I struggled to keep from crying anymore, but I had to hold my breath to do so. I looked at the flower. It was lovely. It seemed so strange to be so suddenly struck by the wave of crying and then, out of nowhere, given a rose to give to God. I looked at it as if I had no brain at all. It was so nice, I didn't know what to do with it. I put it by Baba's picture. I wanted to cry some more. She tried to rouse me but I could barely respond. She said "No, look, you have to keep it in this water, then it will stay nice." She put it in the water. She went out. Somewhere she had said, "Baba is calling you!" She had said that somewhere in all this.
I got up and after cleaning my face with my cloth I went into Baba's room. He was lying there. I don't know if he had really been calling me. He said something about helping Monsa with the work. He saw my face. Then he said, "Go, do puja."
"Where?" I asked. I wanted to hold him and weep and say "I don't know any puja." I was feeling strongly that remorse I feel when I cause him trouble, though I was just reacting to my general downfall and his poor health. I had the childlike feeling very strongly. I went back to my room. That was all I wanted anyway.
I sat down feeling "Puja? What puja? I don't know any puja." I felt pathetic, small and helpless. The bhav was coming on again. Frantically I had to do something. I looked around and saw the incense. "Well I can do that much anyway." I lit some and waved it for a long time. I was weeping again and grabbed my blue T-shirt to blow my nose on. An utter humility consumed me. Baba's simple words "Do puja," vibrated in me as I realized I didn't know how to do any puja. All the time my mind is searching for a way to pray. I took the mala from my neck and put it on Baba's picture.
I took the flowers I had placed around the pictures the day before and rearranged them and then started shredding one and putting the yellow petals on the mala. Now almost shaking with a fervent weeping desire for Baba to get better. All the time the remorse, the sense that Baba was suffering for my mistakes. The medicine thing of the day before was lingering in the background I guess, feeding the feelings, but it was not in my frontal consciousness. I prayed in a kind of aimless semiconscious way, like child crazed by fear of his father's imagined impending absence.
After a while Jeffrey came in and sat down to meditate and gradually my mind and heart quieted down and I returned to normal. I remember Baba had gone in for the noontime fire ceremony by this time, and during the fire I had the concentrated image of him ascending upward out of his body and me grabbing him by the feet and holding on and pulling him down pleading "Don't go yet, please! Oh please don't go yet!" Pulling with all my heart. Crazed with panic, that sensation of feeling his weak pulse was feeding my fear and sorrow and remorse and making me pull him down all the more.
When I was calmed down somewhat I went out. I forget what I did. I worked with remorse on the bamboo sticks for awhile and felt happy again, purged and somewhat peaceful. The day progressed. During the bamboo cutting the girl with the bad sore came by. I told her that she should definitely see the doctor. The man whose boy's ear I had treated came and I told him I couldn't give any more medicine. He said "Oh, I'll bring a bottle and put it on my self." I said okay. After all, I had given the sweeper's boy some, that seemed legitimate. At least they all know enough not to eat the Betadine. I slept in the afternoon for an hour.
That evening the doctor, Siddheshwar Mukherji, came. He had me check my blood pressure reading against his. He got 140/90 and I got 120/70. I couldn't believe his reading and I couldn't hear either systolic or diastolic where he heard them. I still don't believe his reading, but that is beside the point. Was he calibrating, so that when I brought him my "reports" he would know what they really meant? Was he subtly say that for the sake of the patient's peace of mind, to allay anxiety, you don't always tell them how high it really is? Were out instuments just different? I could not tell. Siddheshwar is no mere doctor in any case, but an accomplished yogi and mystic in his own right. I had many times seen him treat his patients and observed that he was sometimes in what appeared to be a higher, exalted state of trance or something, almost as if he were using yogic type of powers to sense the patient's state, to diagnose. He had even shown me once that he could tell a person's blood pressure just by putting his hand around there arm and holding it briefly, kind of concentrating with his mind at the same time. He told me what it was and then made me check with the sphygnomometer.
Baba is lying there humbly now, watching as the two of us take his pressure and obviously understanding the discrepancy between our readings. Then the doctor called for my lttle medical book, The Mercke Index, and looked at it briefly, praising it, and then vert strongly he said "Read it." He proclaimed Baba "well" and recommended a few things including bushi (fleaseed husk) for bowels and 2 "Calmpose" (diazepem) at night if the need arose. Baba was very humble and childlike with the Doctor as usual and blessed him when he left. He adores the doctor.
Later I came in again and Baba and Govinda were talking. I quickly gathered that it was about the "medicine" situation, that is, about my little "doctor" work. I started to get alarmed as I pieced together was Govinda was talking about. He was telling Baba that some of the village people down the road were talking ill of him, Baba. They were angrily saying that he had told me that I shouldn't give anyone medicine because all the village people were bad. I felt my stomach sink. I could smell trouble. Certain people were saying that Baba had stopped me from helping the poor people. Baba told me to go and tell them what he had really said, that I should help, so far as I had knowledge, but that I must not give pills and I must not do anything beyond simple "seva" since I was definitely not a doctor and there was a grave danger for me if someone got worse whom I had tried to help.
I swallowed hard a took a big breath. I am not good at this kind thing. Who are these people, anyway? I walked down the road to where Govinda had indicated. There were four or five people sitting in the bamboo hut near the big tree by the old Kali temp. I began, laboriously and stupidly in my broken Bengali, to try to tell them what the real situation was, but they were really angry, self-righteous, and the whole thing turned into a shouting match.
One boy was trying to explain what had really happened, but the others would not listen. There was such a depressing flow of maligning of Baba that I had never heard. I was shocked. I am so used to the sheltered atmosphere in the ashram and among Baba's devotees that it is scary to suddenly realize that there are those in the village who are "against" him, as it were. Baba himself had told me that certain people in the village used to beat him, to treat him very badly. Those had just been sort of quaint romantic stories untill now. Suddenly, inches away, were the grotesque faces of hatred. One man in particular had an almost evil countenance and terrible out of control look in his eyes.
They had twisted the situation of the day before by hearsay and false rumor and pure perversity into something so far from the truth I had to use all the wisdom I possessed not to get totally angry and join in their absurd and futile war of words. The way they spoke of Baba made my ears hurt and my stomach turn. How could they possibly have lived near him so long, and yet see nothing in him but the reflection of their own pettiness? One went so far as to say "He has been here 55 years and what has he done for the village? What has he ever done, for instance, to fix the road?"
"Fix the road?" I thought.
He went on. "Now just look! Here is a case where the disciple should be teaching the guru! The disciple tries to help the poor and the guru says no!"
I wanted to get the true situation across but they were all yelling at once and no one was listening and the whole thing was starting to make me feel sick. How could it have gotten so twisted? Baba had taught me a deep lesson the day before and shaved down my ego and kept me out of a very real danger, but because of the angry way I reacted it appeared to those outside that he had told me to stop serving the people! They only saw my angry part of it, and had no brain to see the real situation. Whatever I had learned the day before was suddenly being hammered into my soul with a sickening force. These people were on the verge of real hatred of some sick kind and it was my fault.
It was no use trying to reason with them, especially with my simplistic Bengali. They were in no mood to listen in any case. I had to struggle to contain my own anger at them. I left saying "Well, whenever you are willing to to hear what I have to say I will come back."
I went back to Baba in his room. He asked me what had happened. Surprisingly he didn't seem too concerned, although by now I was filled with trepidation and shame. I was by now actually afraid they would come and try to hurt him or cause trouble. He had just a while earlier been trying to convince me of how there could be real trouble with the villagers if someone I had "treated" got worse, or even died. Now that very kind of unreasoning and volatile rage was here for me to see. It was the Mother's play again. It was the book of life.
I told him what it was like.
He said, "They are giving me "galagali?" ("insults").
I said "Yes."
He laughed and his eyes twinkled. It was amazing how calmly and sweetly he took the whole thing and what followed. Within hours he had been almost magically restored by the Doctor's mere assertion of his well-being. He so much sees God in the doctor that he accepts his word with utter faith. He doesn't even refer to him by name, but always by the English phrase, "God-Doctor."
Someone came in saying "Don't worry, I've fixed everything up." And gradually some of the participants, pro and con, came in and there followed a sort of "reconciliation meeting" the likes of which I have never witnessed.
There was much that I could not understand, since they spoke fast, as before, and sometimes all at once. The boy whose wife I had given the pills to was there and he gave his side of the story. Gradually, piece by piece, a truer sequence of the actual events was pieced together and some of the gossip and rumors were swept away. The boy who had argued Baba's part at the bamboo hut kept saying that, since I was a foreigner, there was a great danger both for me and for Baba if anyone died whom I had treated, no matter if there was no fault on my part. Baba was saying how of course I should help, but that I should not go anywhere beyond the simplest things (which I had not done in any case).
I told the others how the whole misunderstanding had come about from people observing my angry reaction to being told not to treat the cuts. Then the question of tetanus shots came up and everyone agreed that if you treat a serious cut you must be responsible for seeing to the injection, even taking the person there to get one, if need be.
It went on, very heated at times, but in Baba's presence, in his golden room, it was much more reasonable and humane. Also, the chief detractor, that man whose arguments had struck me as truly malignant, was not there. Baba told how Siddhu Babu had checked my blood pressure readings and had corrected me and had told me to read the book.
The heat of feelings cooled as everyone came to see it in the same light. It was all getting fairly amiable at the end. The whole time Baba was so calm and strong, not at all upset, even when the shouting erupted insanely over a point he was quietly trying to make. It finally ended in laughter when one boy, as all were about to leave, said "Wait, wait, just one more thing I want to say."
All stopped to listen. He said, with a perfect mock seriousness, "Just one thing we want to see Baba. Just once we want to see some vibhuti! Can you do that?" Everyone burst into laughter. He was referring to the production of sacred ash ("vibhuti") out of nowhere, like the "miracles" done by by the south Indian saint, Sai Baba.
Baba laughed sheepishly and looked down, sort of blushing (if a brown man can be said to blush) and shook his head. The boy went on. "We just want to see some vibhuti! How many times we have seen you fly up in the air, but just once we want to see some vibhuti!" This, I guessed, referred to the village stories of those who had witnessed Baba levitate in the air at the burning ghat. Everyone was laughing now, and Baba laughed, totally pleased with this loving mockery, glowing, and he reached for the boy's head to bless him.
The radiations from Baba at this time were like the Baba I have known - no longer the sick Baba, but his power somehow restored a bit, and him sitting there on the edge of some vast dimension in his humble disguise, looking like the beggar, but glowing like the king of kings. I was feeling my old enchantment return, even through the shame I felt at having inadvertently stirred up this wicked hornet's nest of ill will.
After they left, Baba gave me some words. I was amazed at how completely untouched and above it all he had risen. From within him, to meet the difficulty, this wonderful power had come forth. The sick old man was gone. The room was shining with the power. He wanted to instruct me, that I should well the lessons of the day.
He told me how many times he had "eaten blows," (been beaten) and how Jesus had been beaten, and Ramakrishna beaten. He told me never to speak ill of anyone. Always "bhalo, bhalo," ("good, good") and to keep the real feelings of the heart hidden. Even to love those who beat you or speak ill of you - to think nothing of it. Never to say anything, particularly in India, to anger others, as there was real danger. He said there is some danger now at the festival. "These people could beat me."
As I was leaving he called me "dushtu" (naughty) and said "I should hit you! I ought to spank you! Then you would learn!"
I told him to please do it, and I offered my cheek but he only patted me on the head and said "Shanti. Shanti thako." ("Peace. Stay in peace"). Then he said "I knew about this last night. That is why your "mon" was "karap" ("mind was depressed" - me crying) and Joya Ma interjected "You are in there crying and Baba is in here crying! Don't you think that if you are crying your guru will cry?"
When, during this interchange, I made my awkward attempt to apologize or express my remorse, he would have none of it, as if it were not manly, just ignoring it and saying something like "give me some water."
Outside the room I said to Joya Ma "I felt afraid tonight. I made some mistakes."
She said, "Don't worry at all, don't be afraid. You have your guru here. There is nothing to fear."
I couldn't sleep at all. The thing kept going through my mind. It was a whirlwind of events over two days in which the whole lessons of ego ("I am helping"), pride (with nearly no knowledge I can feel like a "doctor") and anger (from a moment of the mind's weakness come many hours of anguish, misunderstanding and unnecessary pain for others) -- these lessons had all been paraded out in the lila of actual life experience with the guru. I was amazed at the fact that in only two weeks I could have gotten into such a trap. I was also greatly relieved to see that Baba was still teaching me, despite his illness, through the movement of events in life and not through vacant Scriptures, formulas or words. The teachings of Baba were always oozing in this way out of the very fabric of life, the living heart beating reality of all these lives, this living place, my very being. The whole thing had gone so deep in my mind and heart by its actuality in life as to produce an inner realization which is, even at this writing, still inking in.
This morning Baba's first words to me were a reiteration about not speaking ill of anyone. I asked him why he had stayed here so long if people spoke such ill of him and treated him so badly.
He said, essentially, "I am a sadhu - should I give truth to a lie? If some one says 'Premananda is no good, Premananda is poison,' and then you run away, they will just say, 'See, we were right!'"
Another thing he had told me the night before was "Look, you have come to learn dharma, to serve the guru, to get God. If you don't do that, if you are off with all these other people, whatever you do won't come to anything. First get God, then the rest will come."
And when I asked him this morning how I could give up my anger, his answer was matter-of-fact simplicity : "Just what you are doing. Serve guru, stay with guru."
He chided me tenderly a few times today calling me "badmais chele" ("naughty boy"). And when, during the day, he was relating parts of the story to others, I was touched by the obvious love in his amused smile, the strange pleasure he took in what had been to me a nightmare. And though he laughed about it, he somehow made me to know I was to take it quite seriously. Quite seriously indeed.
Today the shakti is rising. I went to Chanditala and brought coconuts from the doctor's house and potatoes and new cloths from town. When I got back the excitement of the impending festival was everywhere and I was amazed at Baba's strength and recovery. Truly he is a divine being. Two weeks ago he seemed near death, now he was walking around, worrying, giving directions. It is as if God is awake in him and moving him. He says he doesn't want anymore medicine and acts like a man restored. My mind is completely baffled to understand his body. I am seeing the God-Man again, my Ishta-Devata, my Ramakrishna.
Tomorrow is the puja. I must watch carefully, lest he try to do too much. But his recovery so far seems so superhuman that all my ideas about medicine and "doctors" and everything are hush. It is not an ordinary body, but an extraordinary being. In two weeks I have seen my Baba go from his deathbed to his radiant original self, and I have felt that child of his, Premananda, rise gradually out of the ashes of his American despair.
Midnight just passed, no sleep last night. Sleep is coming on like a tangible wave. Jaya Guru, Jaya Guru, Jaya Guru. May Mother restore his body fully, may all go well, may his return to America become a reality, so that all devotees there can see what is a true Paramahansa. Om.
Feb 14, 1978 (12:00 midnight)
Anacoot Festival Day -
The hour is late, but I am so relieved that this difficult time is over I feel a surge of energy through my exhaustion. Baba made it through with little difficulty other than his usual worrying about everything all at once. And the festival, which I had come to fear, for Baba's sake, over these past two weeks was actually quite moving to see. It was seen through quite different eyes from those of 4 years ago. At that magical time I had no idea of all the diffuculties that were involved, nor of the expense, etc., so it was a more worldly vision I had this time, and one fringed with fear due to Baba's constant talk of leaving his body.
On Sunday, the Saraswati Puja day, I went on the begging rounds with the kirtan group as they went from house to house throughout the village, chanting the name of God, and begging for rice and other food. Baba used to do this throughout all the neighboring villages, and he bragged before I went about how much he used to get, saying that I wouldn't get much as at all since I was an American and a "boro lokh" ("rich man").
I had run after the group thinking that they were going just a short way. Then as we started out one guy told me we would be out until about 3 PM. It was then about 11:30. I wasn't sure if I could make it, but I stayed with them. As we went along singing I began to feel lightened, imagining Chaitanya going from place to place, or thinking of how many times Baba himself went down these very pathways from house to house to beg the means to feed the people. We would go into each courtyard (often a mud floor between two mud houses) and if the people were going to give anything they would throw water down at our feet and sometimes they would blow the conche. The water was cool and refreshing on the feet, and many of the people would then touch the water and then touch it to their heads as a blessing. The belief is that it has become holy, for wherever the name of God is sung becomes a holy place. There is such faith here in the power of the names of God.
At some of the less poor places they had a custom whereby they would put out a dish of sugar candy and one of the singers would put a piece by the tulsi tree and then throw the rest out for the children to scramble after. We developed quite a little cortege of regular followers after a while, many of whom tucked the candies away in their pockets.
We went in and out of so many irregular pathways and alleys I no longer had any idea where we were. As the day wore on I got tired, but I was amazed that I did not collapse altogether. The sun was very hot, I was sweating, and the Indians sing in so high an octave that it was quite difficult for me. But it seemed that there was a strength coming from somewhere, an inspiration. As we went on I was now and then touched to the point of tears. It was enlightening to finally see how Baba had gone begging, what it involved. Three people followed the group and collected the rice and moori in gunny sacks, and money too. Potatoes, some other kinds of things were also given.
Of course most people were quite astounded to have a "sahib" singing in their house courtyard. I think maybe Baba was right, an they may have given less because of me being there, but I don't know for sure. I lasted until 3:30 and then came back to the ashram. Later Baba asked me why I went.
I told him "Because you sent me."
He said "They think because Americans are at the ashram that they don't have to give too much."
I said "The real reason I went was to learn about your life." Baba was lying down in his room at the time and said nothing but nodded knowingly.
I was so tired and hungry all the next day I don't remember much about it. The singers were singing and we sang with them a while. The ashram was bustling with preparations and decorations and the worship of Saraswati was going on. Baba was lying down a lot and checking with everbody about what was being done, etc. and generally fretting and saying that he might die the next day.
That night three people from the village came in. I gathered they might have been involved either in the present misunderstanding or some previous thing for Baba started to weep as he talked to them. He was saying something like "I have been here 55 years. May this village always be shining. May it be great, blessed." And so on. It greatly touched me. He has been too weak to bear such feeling lately, so it was unexpected to see this surge of emotion. So pure and tender and sincere. He was telling them he was near his end and had no ill feelings to anyone.
I went to bed early, exhausted, almost dreading the festival. Falling asleep even now.
Feb 15, 1978
The morning of the 14th was a chaos of activity. It did seem as if much had been left to the last minute. The cooking began. It is still mysterious to me how it was all organized and by whom. Monsa suddenly seemed to be doing everything at once. Jiten coordinated activities and the devotees brought supplies. Govinda had brought things (including thousands of leaf plates) from Calcutta. The Janai people overlooked the cooking which was done by workers. Baba stayed much of the time in his room. People started coming, a few at first, then more and more. They kept coming in to pranam Baba and Baba would tell them not to pranam today as his body was not well but they wouldn't listen. I remembered four years ago, when I first witnessed the festival, and on that day Baba would not let me pranam. I guess the idea is that the guru takes on some impurities of the disciple when he receives their pranam, and that this is hard on the guru's body and health. Something like that.
I stayed by his side and remembered the doctor's words "they come and eat him like ants to sugar." And also the line from Baba's blue book: "Everyone wants God's blessing, but nobody wants God."
When Thakur Ma came I bowed down at her feet. I prayed to Kali or Ma or whatever she is to fix up Baba. It was intense. Who or what she is or what the story is I have no idea. She is a mystery.
The crowd gathered and became rather thick and congested. Baba would get up occasionally to check on things. He did his Puja to the Mother, then rested some more. He made his official appearance at the weighing ceremony. The children who had been healed by Baba during the year were put on a scale, and the child's weight in sweets was offered by the parents to the Goddess, and to all the people. It was a chaotic and tumultuous affair.
On one of his trips taking the sweets into the temple someone in the crowd reached out in devotion and touched his feet. He turned immediately at the touch, going down on his knees in one motion to offer this stranger his own pranam in return. It was then I first realized he was going into deeper states. He was rubbing himself with dust from the ground, and as we helped him up and guided him back to the stool he was trembling and unsteady. As he sat on the stool near the scales in front of the temple he lurched forward once and I felt a fear like a shock, thinking his heart was having trouble. No doubt it was but it passed away.
When the weighing was over Baba went over to bless the "bhoga," a giant pile of rice decorated with flowers and sweets, and which had been offered to God in worship. It looked beautiful, still steaming hot under its little canopy. The crowd was now so thick it was difficult for us to make way for him but it went without mishap. We had thought to prevent Baba from making his usual rounds of the temple carrying a basket of the rice on his head, but at the last moment it was decided to have him go just once around. Mr. Srinivasan showed up at about that time.
Baba took the basket full of rice and made his way around the temple with the singers and drummers chanting with abandon. As he carried this offering on his head I saw he was going into an ever more exalted state. It was as if he was suddenly moving into another dimension, that this was more than a festival, and this was more than just some temple, and this was more than just some beggar-priest. His eyes were as if fixed on something just above his brow, and the rice he carried was truly, in those moments, transformed into much more than just a basket of rice. It was a sacrifice of his total being unto all life. And all this wild crowd transformed from this crowd into all of humanity. Just to follow him around that temple and see all this was to feel one's own self transformed for a moment in the heady and spacious realm of pure spirit in which he dwelled.
At the end he collapsed, not from exertion, but because he had left this physical world for a bit. His legs stiffened up in a bent position as they do sometimes when he is in samadhi. He was semi-conscious, so deeply had he gone into the consecration of the rice.
Choto Babu had me go get my blood pressure machine and when I got back it Ponkoj Babu, the "compounder" was there, and he took his pressure. Choto Babu told me to massage Baba's legs and to try, gently, to straighten them. They were fanning him. When I go to massage his legs suddenly everyone is yelling not to touch his feet! Now they say that, I think, at the one moment it is necessary!
Choto Babu is yelling at me, "No, no, go ahead, set them straight."
After a few minutes Baba came around and was told to sit up. It had been a strain but he was okay. I felt great relief at that point. I sensed that the greatest danger of the whole festival was over now, Baba would be all right.
The people were crowding in and since a few faithful ones were there I felt free to wander about. I had been with him steadily since morning. I felt a great desire to feed some of the people. By now they were arranged in long rows by the hundreds and being fed the "kitchuri," ("hodgepodge" as they say).
Monsa finally got me a big ladle and I went up and down the rows for a while. It was a wonderful thing to see this part of it. I did not have a lot of interest in any of the rest of the festival this year. I guess I am tired of watching complicated pujas. But the sight of all those people being fed was incredible. I guess this is the real puja. The first time I had come here I had been mystified by everything in general, but this time I stood for a long time and just looked at it all.
How did a poor Brahmin child, a Calcutta street beggar ever come to feed so many thousands of people? The sight seemed a miracle when one considered that there is no money base at all to the ashram or Baba's life.
I had tried to help with the preparations but it turned out to be only token things and it did seem, in the end, that there was a kind of blessedness in how things came together. I climbed up on the roof of the library and got a picture of a large part of the crowd.
Later on Thakur Ma took me by the hand and through the crowd to see her brother Pranab, who had written the little biography of Baba called Thakur. I had a nice talk with him and he was quite emphatic in his message. He told me that I would have to shoulder the work of telling about my experiences with Baba by making a book. He said he only knew Baba up to the point where his book left off and he was hungry to know the experiences of someone coming from so far, not knowing the language, and so on. He kept referring to the "work," getting Baba's message out to the people, etc. He was quite charming and speaks in a very poetic tongue. Whatever anyone may say about him I found him to be true and a friend and had an intuition that he would help me great deal someday. What he had written in his slim volume had already helped me immensely.
Later in the evening I heard Baba had been looking for me. I rushed here and there and didn't find him in his usual places. Then I saw several of the devotees leading him along in front of the Krishna temple. He was in a semiconscious state and they were reassuring him that the people were being fed. They were saying "See, Baba, look! Everything is taken care of." It seemed he had gotten inspired or something and lost track of the outer world, and then, coming round, started worrying like a mother hen, fearful that that there would not be enough food. So he had to be shown that the people were eating and that there was plenty of food for all. Now he was content, smiling and beaming like a child. Seeing him in this state after so long in his sick state melted my heart. He was so childlike, pure, so much in a world beyond that the connection with this world seems sometimes so tenuous.
As he went to go back to his room at night, when the crowd had thinned out a bit, it was discovered that a box with an estimated 500 rupees had been stolen, and from the Mother's temple! This cast a dark pall on the rest of the night. Everyone was giving their own version of why it didin't matter and why he should not worry. It disturbed him. I think what was particularly disturbing was that it had been taken from the temple itself, from right next to the Mother Goddess.
One person asked him if he knew who did it. He had been lying down on his left side for some time without saying anything, and now he was sitting up. He would not answer the question. Everyone, including myself, gathered that the only reason he wouldn't answer was that he did know who it was. Some talk ensued about getting it back. I was exhausted. On my way back to the room where we three Americans had been staying during the festival I met my old friend Debu. We stopped at the bamboo hut near his house and talked and soon some others came along, including the school master. We had "high talk" and I felt very happy.
Later on I couldn't sleep for quite a while, tired as I was.
Today the festival ended. Not much happened during the day. I was tired and people were hanging around. At night I told Baba about the Mark and Jeff's impending plan to leave. Previously, after lunch, Gopal had been saying he didn't know if he wanted to go anywhere except back home. This make me realize even more that they were having extreme difficulty here. I guess I have finally learned my lesson about bringing people here. I keep forgetting how difficult it is to be here. It has never been all that difficult for me. It is my love of Baba and his gift of strength to me that makes it easy, as well as my having a rapport with and love for the people. So I talked about it to Baba, told them the the plan, told about Gopal saying "I don't even want God," etc. etc. Baba took it all in and then said "Where is Gopal?"
I said "I'll go look for them."
I found them buying sweets at the Bazaar. When I brought them back Baba gave Gopal a few whacks saying "Where did you go? Where were you?" He took us to Hanuman and we watched the festival end. He was giving instructions to them. I was delighted. It was like a resurrection of my beloved. He has been so ill. To see him now in his old form gave me great strength.
When Debu's Boy's Club's flourescent "wagon train" of rickshaws came by with its large Saraswati statue lit up by shining "tube lights" running off a portable gas generator, Baba jumped up to go and salute the Goddess. There was a great deal of "ki jai" and shouting and a beautiful sense of reconciliation and joy and the boys all bowed at Baba's feet. It took several minutes. As the carts moved on I had to hold Baba securely as he was in bhav again, his legs shaking, walking somewhat unsteadily. We went back to the Hanuman temple. His heart pain came back and I massaged him.
I think the fact that he had been yelling "ki jai" etc. brought on the pain but no doubt the emotion of this little scene, after the misunderstandings, was part of it. I still don't understand all that is involved in these squabbles. I am slowly getting a view into the seamy rumor-gossip slanderous side of village life, a view I never wanted, but which I must understand or be forewarned about if I am to behave rightly and bring Baba no trouble.
Baba went to his room and we followed. Later he went on with his "instructions." He told us about God being everywhere, about the outer hullabaloo of worship being just maya, illusory. It is as if Baba is coming back from the dead.
Tonight he said "Gopal, will you take me to America on your shoulder? I want to stay in America." [note: this is a reference to some story Baba had about Gopal, but what is it? Also, there were a string of references at various times about "staying" in America, "dying" there....]
Went to Calcutta today. We change money, buy some books, have tea and toast in fancy Hotel lounge.
Yesterday Baba was very weary after having no sleep. I also couldn't sleep that night - very restless, tossing and turning. I found out later he was upset, not only about the money theft (which today he just laughed at) but also about a disciple's two year old child who had died that day. He was weak all the 16th. Then after evening Hare Krishna rounds and Kali pranam he told us to try meditation at the Hom fire place in front of Hanuman to see how it was.
I sat down and reached into the fire-pit to put some ashes on my head. I was surprised that though the fire was dead and the ashes were very fine, they were still extremely hot. I sat and had a deep meditation, very still, strong, and the oceanic feeling again of a finer dimension passing through everything, illuminating everything, yet not touching or touched by anything. I worked to keep the breath still. I had a feeling of great earnest aspiration, wordless. I looked at the temple which was bathed in the light from the gas-lantern at my back. Tears came which did not break the stillness but which brought the glow to the heart region and increased determination.
A phrase kept repeating in my mind in various variations: "In my father's palace / at the threshhold of his kingdom / I sit and wait." "In tears I keep my silence/ for my father's heart is heavy/ and his sorrow great." Sometimes it was 'the shadow of his kingdom.' It had a large effect, magical almost, on my mind's progressive blankness. The threshhold of the kingdom was the coming and going of the oceanic sense of obliteration, seeming so close when it was there, but so far when it faded, and the things around assumed their normal proportions again.
Tonight after we returned Baba was talking at first to Rabi. I was the only other one present in the room. I missed much as they were talking fast and I was so tired, but I could gather that it was about my "anger" or "krodh" or "rag". Baba said several times that this was the main thing, the only thing I had to renounce. He said "Here is a mahapurush sitting, if he only gives up his anger." He repeated these things several times. He said my meditation was okay. He told how I used to combine meditation and worship by offering a flower after each mala. "But he doesn't do that anymore. What can he do, there's no right room. At that time he had the library."
He went on sort of praising me but returning to my anger. Rabi said he couldn't believe I had anger when he first met me and Baba went on to give ample examples. He pointed out the Shankar incident, when I got so mad because Baba didn't want me to get involved trying to save a dying boy. Then the recent swallowing of the pills, and long ago the Janai incident when I got mad at all the Janai devotees for letting Baba dance so much, risking his health.
There was something very odd in all this. He is usually careful not to praise me, at least in my presence, lest I be proud. And he was talking to Rabi, not at all to me - as if I were just a spectator. I was touched by the affection in his voice. He had been worried about us, I knew, and Ma had said that also. It was so tender to feel his love this way, that he had missed us and worried. It melts my heart and makes me sad that he had been worried and lonely. I hate being away from him.
I asked him later how to renounce anger. He said "Guru Kripa". (Guru's Grace). "If you don't have guru's grace - nothing." I felt relieved, for I believe in his grace and I can believe that there is no other way I can get rid of that anger by myself.
It took me so long after meeting him to even believe I had any real anger. I guess it was being here with the three boys in '75 that first revealed it to me. That one thorn most important to remove is always the one we cannot see.
Feb 22 1978
Satya Narayan - The last two days have been the Satya Narayan full moon puja. Much preparations. We went to Belur on the 21st with Joya Ma and Kakababu, Baba's younger brother. First we went to Thakur Ma's house. Thakur Ma cooked and fed us a giant feast. Later we went to Alpona's (Joya's daughter) and her husband Kashinath's place. It was a nice day but we wound up not having enough time to get to Dakshineswar. Instead we saw a kind of park where big fish in a pond ate moori and there was a strange cement boat, which, I guess, was rented out for parties and weddings. We sang some songs and then taped Thakur Ma. When I came back I asked Baba "Who is Thakur Ma - why do you pranam her?" All he would say was "I do."
These last few days I've been feeling almost as fed up as Jeff and Mark. There is always a festival or something going on and Baba has not been in a mood to be with us or give us any help. Also, it seems a lot of problems have been happening to disciples, and Baba gets distressed by their distress. One devotee's child has just died. Then Jiten had an accident on his bicycle riding to the train station from the ashram. On that particular day had told him not to take the bicycle, but he wouldn't listen. He got a very nasty cut on the head. And Rajat's brother has had a fever for 15 days and the doctor's suspect he has cancer. Today Rabi and I went to Janai to see Sunil who is sick with an ulcer of some kind. He seemed in very bad shape and all that the doctor had given him was acetominiphen with diazepem. All this has made it somewhat difficult, and I felt my faith shaking, wondering. I started to see my anger on subtler levels and realized it is not so easy to recognize as I thought. It must be discovered long before it reaches surface manifestation. With this frustration however, meditations have grown more intense. Maybe it is the moon.
Tonight at the festival I taped a speech Baba made. It was short but significant. He was shaking with the effort of it. Afterward we found out someone had stolen a box of cloths from the house where Lokon stays. Baba asked the people through his bedside window about it. He wasn't too concerned. He went to bed and I talked with Debu while the songs went on and until "feeding" time. He told me about his business and made some suggestions about getting a visa extension. I wasn't sleepy so I stayed up to watch the food distribution. Today the brahmins are fed in their own separate "mini-festival." I guess the caste restrictions forbid them taking food with all the other castes on Annakoot day. Their food must be cooked by brahmins, for one thing, served by brahmins I guess, and there are other restrictions I don't even know about.
As I watched everything I felt a whole new relation to the festival. It was a sort of warm detached feeling, watching the faces of the people. I mixed with everyone and enjoyed myself. Some boys were taunting the poor blind guy so I brought him away from them and helped him get some food. It was touching. Later they were doing it again and he was crying. They can be cruel. I pulled the young blind man away from them again. I was quite conscious that I was angry, and therefore I didn't get really mad. I wiped off the "shini" from his face and got him some more. Later someone took him home.
After that there was a big argument by some boys. They said they had asked for shini and Govinda had said something like "You didn't help with the work so you don't get any," or something like that and they made a big stink about it. Emotions are so volatile here, but things are usually surprisingly well mended. Now it's almost 3AM. My mood is very odd. I am impatient with Baba, but perhaps I'm just getting that from the others. I want to meditate and worship and that's been difficult with the public festivals and having to sleep at Debu's house. Tomorrow it's over for a while.
Feb 26, 1978
Today was Sunday. Kakababu left at 6AM and I somehow roused myself to get up and pranam him goodbye. He said come see him when Baba comes. I didn't do much today. Intensive meditations the last few days leading always to the idea that the "I" must be suspended, interrupted, ended. After evening worship Rabi left. I walked him to the bus stand. He was saying to me "Baba says you have a great soul, but you still have this anger. When you get rid of that you will advance greatly." We talked a bit. I told him that when Baba first was saying I had anger, I couldn't see it at all. Then he would get angry at me or contradict himself, and do other things to provoke me into anger, thus showing it to me.
I told Rabi "It is strange how we can see others' faults so easily, but our own are sometimes difficult to see. " When I came back I talked with Baba.
There had been almost no one here all day, and with Rabi gone it seemed very empty here. Baba was lying down and Lokon was massaging his legs. Baba started talking about Sanat. The the talk turned toward his trip back to India from America in 1976. The story he told made me both sad and also proud of him.
When he had gone back, it had been impossible for Sanat to accompany him as planned. Sanat's ticket was a free ticket which he had gotten by being an empoyee of Air India. He had to go on a standby basis, and there was no empty seat on the plane when Baba left. Unbeknownst to us at the time, Baba left with practically no money whatsoever. When he got to Bombay he had seven rupees. In fact that was all he took from America. The money Mr. Srinivasan had given him had been spent by Sanat for gifts to take back. When we gave him traveling money in America, Sanat had kept it all, thinking, no doubt, to save Baba the worry of carrying it. By the time we were at the airport Sanat was so anxious and in anguish about not getting on the plane, I guess it slipped his mind. Even so, I thought Baba had something, I had tucked some money in his pouch myself, but I guess that was what Sanat had. Anyway it was surely our oversight.
Baba, while narrating all this, seemed so pure, like a little child. In Rome, unfortunately, the plane broke down. Baba said that he had told the stewardess on the plane who spoke Hindi, that the plane wouldn't be able to fly all the way. She had reassured him saying "No, no, it will be OK." But he knew better than she! Air India had tried to get another plane in Rome but could not, and so they had to put everyone up for the night in a big hotel. I had not known about this. I prodded him with questions. The idea of Baba checking in to a fancy Roman hotel was completely bizarre and incongruous.
It is good that it was an Air India flight, for some fellow passengers from India could explain to him what was happening. He told about going in the "lift" up to the room. Apparently there were three in the room I guess, including Baba. He didn't eat anything. He had only had tea on the plane.
One of the men he had to share the hotel room with was a Punjabi. He had bought eight bottles of duty-free liquor on the plane. This man asked Baba to carry four of them through Indian customs for him since it was more than the legal limit!!
I said how could anyone ask a sadhu to do a thing like that?
He said "Oh, they can!"
The airline had given Baba a card for a free meal, but he didn't want to eat.
When he got to Bombay the customs people insisted on opening his bag. But he had lost the key so, the lock had to be broken open. Inside were only the What is the Guru? books and some clothes. He said "Why do you have to do that?"
They told him that whenever a sadhu comes back from the west they must always check very carefully! When they found nothing of any value, no cameras, gems, money, etc., they were utterly astonished and told Baba, in amazement, that it was the first time any sadhu had not brought back money or articles of value from America!
Because the plane was late they had to be again put up in a Bombay hotel. Baba said at that point he gave "galagali" (insults) to India, since absolutely no one would help him in Bombat. He had to carry all his own bags, and he had only seven rupees. I guess he bought some tea.
The whole saga filled me with amazement, love's sorrow, and pride. To think of Baba coming back alone with no money, staying in a Rome Hotel with worldly strangers, having to carry his bags, etc., and going through this whole thing alone. I felt very proud for him. I am sad and ashamed that we could have let any such thing happen, yet secretly I am proud that Baba could do it, and did it.
It is symbolic of the whole meaning of his life, his purity, his strength. I never met any guru anywhere who would even think of making such a trip with seven rupees, let alone an ordinary person. As he was telling the story it sounded like something in a myth. The mixture of feeling I had was almost perverse! There was remorse and sorrow for our oversight and our carelessness, and sympathy, empathy for his situation, and pride and joy that he was so strong, so pure. I felt bad that he had suffered, and at the same time I was glad and proud that he came back with nothing. It showed the world how a true rishi can travel, utterly on God's grace. These dual feelings make it hard from me to face the whole story, but I see in it shining the stamp of God. And as Baba said, had Sanat come back with him, with his tape recorder etc., it would have been more problematic. It is a saga that has great meaning. This true sadhu broke the stereotype pattern of holy men going to the west and and coming back with riches.
Baba talked about America a bit. I said, "If you go again, it will be good."
He said, "I will go."
I said in America people had called me foolish and a "baby" for always having to run back to the "outer" guru. I said that I know it's foolish but so long as he is there I can't even want the inner guru.
Baba said that's okay, at first there is the outer "cinema," then later there is the inward thing.
Baba asked me the man in America had called "Mathur." He asked his funny childlike questions like whether they sold those apples from the orchard (at Briarcliff Manor) or did they just use them themselves? He talked about John B. and said how high he was.
I told him I had gotten angry at Athena for not making an extra reservation, so someone could have accompanied him home. But by the end I had seen it was my own error, which was not making absolutely sure he had some dollars with him. Looking back, I could swear I double checked that, but I guess I didn't. It had been a hectic time.
Anyway. Now there is deep peace and quiet here. Baba said God had sent me to make him well. He said Athena had known that if I went he would get better. I told him that's what she said in her letter yesterday. I had omitted it, in some idiotic modesty or something, when translating. He said when Sanat got my letter he came and told Baba about it, that I was looking for a room. It had been Athena's request, that we stay nearby but not at the ashram. She felt it was too much of a burden on everyone. But Baba had told Sanat, no, that he wanted us to stay with him. And he had told Jiten later "When Premananda comes and sees my condition he will never go away."
The days are getting warmer. I wish I could sleep all day and stay up all night. The nights here are great for sadhana, but being here is its own sadhana. My body and mind are transformed from America. Only a few desires now and then, usually a reaction after a period of intense meditation. We'll see. I am tired.
27 - Feb 78
Khogan came today. We were standing around having a smoke begin the ashram and he told his story. He said his mind had been greatly changed since meeting Baba. He had seen Baba many times since he works at Howrah with Jiten, and Baba passed through the office from time to time. But he had never gone to the ashram or surrrendered to Baba. He described his state of mind at that time as "thinking thoughts that were not worth thinking."
He had planned to go to the ashram with Jiten many times but he never made it for one reason or another. Then one day Jiten said he was going and Khogan just up and went. He pranamed and exchanged greetings with Baba and then Baba said "kothaya thakish?" several times. ("Where do you live?") At first he thought he meant this in the usual sense, but when Baba kept repeating the question, it suddenly made Khogan realized his state was futile.
Then Baba said "Well, what do you want?"
And Khogan said "I don't want anything from you. I just want to give you something: my mind."
So Baba said, "All right, I'll take it." Since then Khogan says his whole life has changed.
Then he told another story how he had gotten tested in his faith. He is a single man, and rents a place to live, and he was looking around to buy a place, so that when he retired he could devote himself to sadhana. He had asked Baba about it and Baba had said "Yes, you must build a house."
He went ahead and made an advance payment on a place in Uttapara of Rs.800. Then Jiten told him that he should take some of the soil from that place to Baba. Baba could tell from holding the soil if that place was going to be auspicious. I guess that is not an uncommon thing among Indians who have a trusted guru.
When Khogen did that, Baba said no, it would not be good, and he would not be able to get peace there. This was very bad news for Khogen since it meant the considerable loss of the advance.
But when Baba he found out an advance had been made, he said "Why didn't you tell me that?" He told Khogan that it was wrong not to have told him everything from the outset. Then he said, it't okay, you go ahead and buy it, and I will eat the poison, I will take the evils.
At this, Khogan was profoundly disturbed and wept profusely in front of Baba saying, no, no, he didn't want Baba to do that, that the loss of the money was not important. Then Baba embraced him. Later on Khogan found a different plot in Serampur and Baba said that place would be okay, so he put an advance on that place.
Baba ate too much for lunch and his stomach has swelled up. He's been talking about it ever since. Today he told me to do a lakh of mantras in a week. I figured that's 132 malas a day, and going with the breathing it's about 10 hours a day. But it came at a time when I had felt my mind having difficulty keeping up the meditation of a week ago, so I guess it was a well-timed suggestion. If the mind can't be silent, just do japa and watch it.
Tonight he talked about John B. again and also about Sita Frenkel. His mind was on America. I related to him some of the letters from Roberta and Mary Jo and Arjuna. A rather lazy day otherwise. Slept in the afternoon, fitfully. Japa now for an hour or so.
28/Feb/78 2:30 PM
Baba didn't sleep well last night. He was up several times to urinate. He is complaining of heart pain again. The days lately seem very slow and lazy. I've been tired most of the time. I feel like I could sleep all day. I am not getting good sleep or right nourishment but it was always like that here. Losing touch of things. I guess I need to go somewhere, maybe Calcutta tomorrow.
March 8, 1978 2:30
I am feeling very weak and discouraged for many days now. A sore throat changed into swollen glands and became very painful so I got a prescription from the doctor for penicillin. The throat is somewhat better but a weakness persisits which is very depressing and my thought have been likewise.
Last night was Sivaratri, marking four years since my initiation by Baba. It was depressing to think of since, to me, it seems I have understood and attained so little since then. In fact, looking back, it seems as if the devotional spirit was greater then. That was a time of great power and revelation, and it seemed as though a permanent breakthrough was at hand. Now, four years later, Baba is weak, preoccupied with the body (outwardly) and so am I.
At one point last night Baba starts his Hom fire to Siva in the fire pit in front of the temple. I go to watch and sit down facing him. We do japa together, he throwing the offering stuff in the fire and saying "Om swaha, Om Namah Shivaya, Om Swaha!" It brought back vividly that night fours years ago and tears came to my eyes for the first time in weeks. It is awesome right now how much he has totally consumed my life. Who is he?
In my rather depressed state right now, seeing him in his weakness, getting sick of pujas and ceremonies and yet being too weak to plunge within to the truth of the inner being, my doubts have arisen again. They wreak their havoc in the mind, but they still cannot shake my basic feeling of pure love for Baba and the God-Man-on-earth he represents. I wonder if I am just wasting my life sometimes, since attainment comes so slowly and there are severe setbacks like this one, when an hour ago I couldn't even get up to get a glass of water. I had intended to stay awake all night on Sivaratri, but instead slept in Baba's room. I tried to do japa, but fell asleep almost immediately, and at 12:30 today I fell asleep again. And the heart feels dry and God far away and ritual and puja and japa seem pointless.
Today as I slept I had a mini-dream of Baba. I was half-asleep and Baba was just outside the room on the porch talking to three devotees, that is, actually. Then I fell asleep. In my dream I was in the same room, over by the puja table, but the room was larger. Some friend was in the background, maybe it was Gopal. The devotees and Baba were felt to be near since I guess I was hearing them in my sleep. A small boy appeared nearby and he looked somewhat sad and forlorn.
He said to me, "Will you be my friend?"
I was delighted with him and felt sympathy and affection and got up and hugged him to me. Then I showed him a small pocket radio and showed how it worked and let him try it. I thought to cheer him up and get him playing. Then Baba came in the room. He had brought the three men in to see me.
I had been crying just before the boy appeared and Baba said, "Here you can see devotion, look at his tears," whereupon he rather roughly pushed me down on the floor and put his right foot right in the middle of my back. I felt hurt by his rough treatment at first and began to cry again slightly, but I realized that this had to be for my good. He pushed down on my back with increasing force, very hard, and there was a pain and I winced and cried but bore it. It was an unusual pain, somehow psychic in nature, and there was also the difficulty of breathing. Something cracked in my back and I floated up to waking awareness and the continuing sound of Baba and the three men still on the porch, still talking about medicine, stomach acid, gas, etc. etc. There was such and odd mixture of overlapping worlds for a moment that everything seemed like a dream. I got up and took my medicine, the penicillin, out at the pump.
I'm not sure what the dream means to me, but it had a relieving effect on my depression. It is one thing to be healthy and with a healthy guru. It is easy to have faith. It is another to be sick with a guru who is sick and whose daily ritual no longer holds any fascination or meaning. It is the maya of the outer superficial world taking hold of a mind weakened by illness and by a month and a half of worrying. I don't know anymore if I am trying to catch up to a level where I was, or being called on to leave childish things and go higher and deeper. I guess it is the latter but my faith in myself has been shaken and passing this four-year mark has only made that very clear.
Baba will not go to Orissa till after Dol Purnima and the whole worry about my visa and what to do is creeping into my mind again. It all gets so frustrating that I keep wanting to drop everything and just die. I can no longer entertain childish notions that God is somewhere outside my being. I have realized in mind that this is false, that all of being is God, that God has become all this. But when I look within it is with a morbid eye to all my faults and failings, to my periodic downfalls in desire, to my weaknesses, etc. And how can that be God? I tend to doubt the whole of my life these days. I guess it is one of those rough phases one must go through.
On Friday I had a rather horrendous day in Calcutta, trying to find the American Embassy, then trying to find "Dey's Medical" to get the "rare" Gelusil. It tried my faith and strength. At 4PM I went to see Rabi at the bank and he took me to his house. It was fun so see where he lives and meet his mother, who was very sweet. We had tea and played records on Rabi's old-fashioned record player. He had many devotional song records and knew all about the different singers.
Sunday I went to the doctor to get my medicine.
3/9/78 10:30 PM
Last night was Amaboshya, the dark night of Kali, the new moon. I had an extreme turn-around of my previous state by Baba's grace. I had got up from my nap and strange dream and was still feeling the weakness and the futility and the sadness of four years of seeming to go nowhere. While doing Hari Narayana (with Rabi and the bearded guy), it all comes up in a rush of helplessness. Walking behind Baba, this image of his short form, his peculiar gait, his knotted hair, having so many times been imprinted on my brain, suddenly a whole flood of feeling started to roll. At the end of our rounds, Baba turned to me and said "Your body is weak?" I looked askance and said yes, hoping he would not notice I had been crying. I could see however his glance read through me.
"Will you lie down?"
"I've been lying down all day," I say.
"Okay, sit for japa."
I went to my room and sat at the table while Baba went to the temple. Now the whole frustration pours forth. Accumulated worries, weakness, self-pity, feeling inadequate, and an anger at this whole of maya, at the very God for making everything so difficult! I had doubt as to whether anything was worth it, and at the same time a terrible fateful certainty that there was no other way, there was no backing out, there could be no giving up. My brain and heart were racked and I wept the difficult tears of one who must weep quietly, for fear of being heard, when a storm is raging within. It was actually a relief from the sense of emotional "dryness-cum-worry" I had been in. But it was a pathetic dead-end kind of feeling. And there was the usual anger element (not getting what one wants).
Ma heard it. Baba finds out and comes into the room, all compassionate. "He says don't you want a mala?" He's got a whole bunch of them in his arms. "We got a lot of malas today!" He dumps the flower garlands on the table and puts one on the picture of Ramana Maharshi. He doesn't say anything, but diverts my attention in this way. I preoccupy myself with the flowers, feeling better now both from the release of pent-up feelings, and the sense that those feelings give to one that the soul is, indeed, still alive. Weeping piteously, feeling the far-offness of God and one's own helpless low condition is still far better than that terrible and empty dry state in which one no longer cares about the path.
After a while, tired from all this, I lie down. I contemplate Baba's foot on me in the dream and it takes me back to Purushottampur, in 1974, when Baba and I had played Siva and Kali, and taken turns putting our foot on each other's chest. I realize I have some sadness because the Shiva puja was so small, and I fell asleep anyway, and now the preparation for the Mother's puja are going on and there are so many flowers and fruits. I begin to wonder if even my weakness is not Baba's doing, the Mother's foot on Siva, the dominance of maya over the hidden sleeping purush. Lying there I start feeling like Siva. I start crying again, just a bit, remembering what Rabi had told me the day before. He said Siva is not a poplular deity. Siva wears ashes and nobody likes him. Siva has a snake, and nobody likes snakes. Siva's flower is the thornapple from deep in the jungle and nobody likes that particular flower. Shiva stays at the burning ground, where the dead bodies are burned, and no one likes to go there. I had never thought of it like that. I feel a love for Siva and am sad that Shivaratri was small.
Suddenly I don't care about being weak. I go in to get a candle from Baba's room. and he calls out to me, "What's the matter? Tomar mon karap?" ("Are you depressed?"). He presses for and answer but I don't want to tell him anything in front of all the others. I say that nothing is wrong. He thinks it is just my body I am worried about. I say it is the penicillin that made me go to the bathroom so much, and he says don't take any more. It goes on. I tell him I'll tell him alone.
Later he comes into the room. I am lying down again. This time he has brought his tall hookah and its hose in with him and he sets it down. Somehow this strikes me as very intimate and tender. "What's the matter? You said you would tell me."
I say, "I'm just sad."
I tell him it seems that in the four years since my initiaion, my state has only gotten worse, not better, that my state at that time seemed to be better than it is now.
He said "How can you possibly tell it it's better worse? Will you know that?"
I tell him my faith seems less now, but he says no, it's okay.
I say that yesterday I saw that another year was gone and I didn't see God. He laughs and laughs and says, "Premananda, you're really funny! You haven't seen God!" He laughs even more.
I hold out my arms indicating him and say "Well, I see God, but I'm afraid you will go away."
"I can't help it if I'm sick, what can I do?" He tenderly reaffirms that everything is all right with me. I tell him the main part of my dream and he says "Tik ache." ("It's okay"). Later he gets me in to listen to his heart saying how can he do the Kali puja if my mind is all messed up. The puja goes on.
I do japa and go out to offer Siva some things at the bel tree near the pond where Baba used to do sadhana long ago. I am sneaking in the dark so that no one will see. I tell Siva I am sorry I fell asleep during his puja and that I love him the best even if no one else does. Later, as the Kali puja goes on, I suddenly resolve to go to the burning ground and light incense there in honor of Baba. Although it is not exactly forbidden, Baba had always sort of discouraged my fascination with the burning place and my interest in going there at night. And it is a scary thing to do alone at night in any case. Somehow I needed to do it, to feel the fear, to go through the fear. It would be kind of puja of my own.
I write what I think are my "sins" on a piece of paper. I will take the paper and burn it and the cremation ground. Stealthily I sneak out of the ashram when no one is looking. It is extremely exciting and I feel more scared than I thought I would. As one gets beyond the edge of the village it is very dark and desolate, and it is a long, lonely walk across the fields to where the bodies are burned. It is so quiet. I wonder if there are snakes around, never mind the ghosts.
I got there about midnight, seen by no one, feeling quite nervous but glad to be in an adventurous state again and I am definitely not feeling tired any more. I feel the deep mysterious silence of the place. I have never been here alone at all, and I must admit it is a bit spooky. I do some japa, a prayer in Baba's name for his health, at this, the place of his holy tapasya (austerities), at 12 AM on this new moon night. I light the incense and burn my piece of paper and sit for a while.
I come back with a feeling of having fulfilled a dare to myself. Joya and Noyen had been looking all around for me before, and when I got back they were asking where had I gone. I just said, "In the jungle."
"In the jungle? At night?" When I went in my room they shut the door and locked me in the room. They were laughing that I had to be locked up so they could keep track of me. I was actually padlocked in! This situation struck me suddenly in the light of the fact that in my frenzied prayers earlier I had crazily said "Oh God, maybe it would be better to be in jail somewhere, like Aurobindo, then one would be forced into sadhana..." etc. I had always been impressed with the fact that Sri Aurobindo had used his time in jail to advance quickly and earnestly toward spiritual illumination. And now here I was in jail a few hours later! The room even has bars on all the windows! (Later I saw that the key had been conveniently left in the lock).
[The weakness. The tears. Baba's grace and love. Then adventure, daring, and new strength. Went to Dr.'s with Rabi earlier today. Talked to Choto Ma there, feeling stronger again and not so despairing.]
Today I had said to Baba, "What's the matter with me? I get weak, my faith gets weak, I can't do meditation, I can't do japa..."
He said "You are here having the darshan of guru! What need is there of those things?"
And tonight, with Rabi there, he tells me again that I have no way of knowing good or bad or telling if things are goind well or not.
"In four years," he says "you have been so very lucky to come to India three times! Only this anger is left, otherwise I would already have given you sanyas."
It startles me. How lucky I have been, indeed.
Later I question him. He says kam (lust, desire) and krodh (anger) are the two main things wreaking havoc in the world. He points out that by kam he doesn't mean just man-woman (sexual desire) but every kind of desire -- ("I want, I want, I want").
I ask him what is the root of anger, now wishing to be rid of this poison, to pull it out by the roots. I just don't see how one "gives up" something like anger. What is it?
Baba says the root of anger is pride.
"What is the root of pride?"
"Kam. Wanting." He picks up the fan. "Suppose this is your fan. But I want it. You want it too. To you, it is yours. Then I take it from you. And then you get angry." He mimics all this, the anger, the indignation. "It comes from wanting. And from pride. Putting th "me" above all".
This simple discussion cast a giant ray of light on the problem. I guess it was the utterly serious way he spoke, simple but with utter authority. I was spellbound by his attitude now. In the last several hours he had been through about fifty different moods, and now, suddenly, he was earnestly explaining the root of my ego in the mood of a professor and with the simplicity of a child.
He told a story about Narada telling Narayan that there was no greater bhakta (devotee) than he was. So Narayan took him to visit a farmer, a very ordinary guy. Narayan warned Narada not to test the farmer's devotion as it would be very dangerous for the farmer. Narada said to the farmer, "If you are such a great bhakta then how come you have a family and are a farmer?"
The farmer said, "Oh, this is just maya that I wear."
Narada said, "Well, if you are so great, then take all my sins away." And the farmer immediately fell over and died.
Narayana said to Narada, "I warned you."
Throughout all this again is shining the steadfast and unchanging root lesson of Baba's: the "me" must die. And the lesson, as always, comes out of his play in actual life. All my frustration made me angry, and it was based on not getting what I wanted.
March 23, 1978
[expand: ] Notes - About a week ago, snake story...
Today Gopal and Shukh Dev return from their trip down south. I had incredible tooth pain at night and all morning. Last night Baba did a tape of some mantras. I chide him for talking of money all the time. Weep to sleep. Today Baba is in his severe mood, when one is almost afraid to approach him, but at night he is at pains to instruct the others on religious topics. It is very touching to see that.
[expand:] Painful rejection. Today - last night another culmination end-of-rope syndrome - pain - hunger - weariness - no God bhav.
April 5th, 1978
Last night there was a beautiful eclipse of the moon. Good Friday altar was set up. Today to Dr.'s with Jeff and Mark, mostly by foot. When we come back, Baba is in a good mood. Some devotees came and Baba talks to them, which I tape. Again Baba talking more about religious topics. Not so mad at me any more.
In the morning before I was really awake Lokon came in and said that Baba had said to take his blood pressure. Okay, I said, little later. He was sitting there when Baba came out of the morning worship. Baba said something and he got up and left. Then they told Baba that he was waiting for his pressure to be taken. Baba says "Oh! Oh Lokon!" and calls him back. I start to go get the pressure machine, and he calls "Oh Premananda Babu!" I am on my way, knowing what he wants, so I keep going. But he runs over and grabs my ear and twists it. "I was just going to get the jantra (tool)" I said. "I want THIS jantra!" he says pointing at my heart.
I take Lokon's pressure. It is high. Baba gives him all the instructions he himself has been getting for months.
7 April 78
After Kali Puja. Many, many things since last entry. The mind is not feeling the urge to write lately. It has needed a rest and a chance to let things flow.
Notes : Tooth incident. Reading Aurobindo. After the tooth, a peace, power, strength. Went to Chinsura. Resolved to stay. Huge strength, fear fleeing. The Gopal Krishna Silk Deal. Frustration with the two. Kakababu came and left. Singing at night. Aurobindo coming clear.
Today Mr. Pal comes and talks to Baba about the herbs for acid stomach. He has two herb books with him. Baba is lying in front of his room. The heat is heavy and rising and Baba is not too well today. Kakababu has told him to take the tea of a certain herb every day and he has taken it twice and is worried.
The night before he tells me that Jaya Ma said that he should just take the herb and stop everything else. She is in a bad mood lately and I feel she is mad at me. I am shocked by the idea of stopping the medicine because of what the doctor had said that day.
"How OLD is Baba?," he had asked, rhetorically. "And how long can a man live? Every one must leave this world at some point. It is for all of your sake that he is living now at all. Put some oil on his head and massage his his legs."
It had mad me feel like he was saying that it was all beyond medicine at this point anyway. He has said before that if it were merely a matter of medicine, Baba would have been dead long ago, that it was a supernormal power keeping him alive. That day I had gone and gotten all the medicine before seeing the doctor and giving a report. And I was exhausted. Only three hours of sleep the night before, chanting around the tree until 2AM, then up at 5AM to get Kakababu on the train to Orissa. So I didn't say much to the doctor, but his words made me uneasy. I caressed Baba and massaged his legs and told him that the doctor had said he needed that kind of medicine too.
[Explain:] [had gotten a letter from Athena saying Mr. Pal was hopeless regarding turning over deed of land to Baba. He had turned it over to his son "Shonar".. -> ]
So Mr. Pal was sitting there on the porch in front of Baba's room talking to Baba and he happened to ask if I had heard from Athena. Something got into me, I guess. I said yes. He asked what she had said, and so I let him have it.
"She said you're absolutely hopeless!" He looked puzzled, as if he hadn't heard right. So I told him plainly why she had said that, because the ashram had still not be put in Baba's name. This time he misunderstands, so I tell him again and he gets a very shocked look on his face.
"Baba has been here for 55 years and still you can't see what kind of a sadhu he is. And now he is an old man and he has no place of his own, and no way to make arrangements for this ashram after his death. After all this he is still just like a guest here. And Athena came and asked you to fix up the arrangements and to get a document assuring the future of the ashram, and allowing Americans to use the Ashram, and you did nothing. So maybe we should just take him to America and keep him there."
Baba is watching us talk and smiling, and hearing all this half-English, half-Bengali, and it looks like he is enjoying the play. I don't get angry but my passion rises. Mr. Pal gets very serious and gets up and asks me to come with him and takes me by the arm out on the road a short distance away. He wants to talk privately about this, not in Baba's presence, though Baba is watching us from the porch, and can probably still hear.
Mr. Pal says, very earnestly and in a half-hushed voice, that he has made a great mistake, a terrible mistake by having giving the deed for the ashram's land to his son, that he is ashamed for it. This unexpected attitude completely disarms my anger, and I actually wind up feeling sorry for him. As he leaves he reiterates that he has made a mistake and tries to explain himself. He says he wants to set the matter straight. By now I am feeling I made a mistake in being so blunt since he is almost acting like a little kid.
Later Baba asks me if Mr. Pal had gotten angry or what, and I say no. Although the whole interchange and drama had seemed to amuse him, Baba now starts getting worried about all this and thinking about it. Later, during Hom, I fall into a 3 hour sleep and I dream.
In the dream Baba is sitting somewhere near a temple. I feel it is America, but it is an Indian type temple. Baba shows me on his lap a large green bird. It has the face and breasts of a woman. I am amazed and tentatively go to pet it but he pulls it away from my outstretched hand and says that I mustn't touch it. I marvel at it and study it for a while but he does not tell me anything. There are some others "around" but they see nothing of this. I Some other things happened which I have forgotten.
The next I remember I am in the temple on the upper part. I am aware that it has four levels and that I am on the top level. A huge wind or storm has arisen for the temple is swaying dangerously, as if it might topple. I am getting fearful and realize I must climb down. Each level is just a bare room. There is some kind of structure in the middle to which I cling, to keep from being blown away, but each level is but basically bare. Somehow I get down and I am in the ground floor room. There is a pool of water in that room and some people, and worship is either going on or about to be done. Then I find myself suddenly in the basement.
As I look around I seem to remember this place as if I have been there before and I realize I have dreamed of this basement before. In the basement I see a servant coming in from another room. He has what appears to be a boy on his shoulder. There is something bent and odd about the person he carries. Perhaps it is some kind of a dwarf or a deformed person. Behind the servant him is a small woman. Instantly I know somehow that this woman is the woman-bird, but now she has no more feathers. She is naked but I see only her upper part. She is a young woman, but small, like a doll.
The man takes the "boy"-thing to a compartment in the basement wall which is like a cage and locks it up in there. The girl seems to vanish but I have the feeling that perhaps she too is locked up or "kept there," though she is freer than the boy. I go to the cage trying to peer in and see more of it but it is locked up when I get there and I am mystified. Who is that? Why is he locked up? I do not remember more about the basement.
Later, when I am outside again, I am in a room in a cottage at the bottom of the hill on which the temple is built, and our baggage is all there, as if a group of us were going somewhere. Baba is walking down the hill on the dirt road with some people. Oddly, my parents are nearby in another house. We are supposed to move the bags. Are we just arriving, settling in here or are we leaving? I am confused. Baba is still coming down the hill. I fuss with the bags. I am confused and I wake up. I am haunted by the vision of the green bird-woman.
In the afternoon Baba is very worried. Jiten and Khogen come. While doing rounds of the Hanuman temple, Baba says that he has been worried since morning. He says he doesn't think I will get my visa extension, and that if I don't I should not get angry, just go on back and make arrangements for his coming to America, and that someone will bring him and he will come to America and stay there.
At this point Mr. Pal comes up. He has obviously having overheard what Baba said. Baba says that if I get it the extension, good, but it's no good staying in India "without passport" and besides, no one else but me is really free to make arrangements in America. He says he will go and establish something there, and I will take sannyas in US and live in an ashram. He says he doesn't want a big thing, just a "kutir". He is obviously upset about things and is quick to make it clear he is promising to come and that he will be worried sick if I am in a jam in India with the authorities.
It sets me spinning. The puja goes on. I write to Jeff. 4:45 sleep.
[Notes: expand stories]
The Great Silk Deal - the wretched silk in the pukur - 4/9
Going to Konnagar 4/7- 4/8.
4/9 - Jeff's dikka, Rajat's brother, cancer, medicine.
Jeff and Mark leave on the 10th. I go with Gopal to Howrah. Monsa accompanies us. Nothing now. Mind down again. The heat has hit with a terrifying force. Deep within on a level rarely touched I can feel the body panic. There is no escape from the heat and every task is met with a lassitude and lethargy that seems heavy as from ages. It is as if the cells themselves are terrified. I had forgotten what it was like to sweat constantly.
The day drags by. Baba says he will not go to U.S. if I don't go make arrangements. I thing he is just worried about my visa. But no word from that end. I don't know what is going on.
4/13 - Pranab comes to the ashram. There is a hailstorm. I watch the children gathering the precious pieces of ice, considered holy and auspicious. It is very refreshing.
4/14 - I go to Pranab's house, telegram [?], tamak. Mind down.
4/15 - Bengali New Year's day. End day down. Despair. Jeff returns.
4/17 - My mind is in a deep tailspin as if struck in mid-flight. My visa coming due has me worried deeply. Went to Dakshineswar in despair today, and there was a storm. It was a wonderful visit.
4/23 - Visa due tomorrow. Went Wednesday to apply. Baba many days rejecting me, not talking. Then we talked on 21st night. He reiterated that I must go back or no work will get done. He said he couldn't take me to Orissa. He said he wanted a temple along the east bank of the river (the Hudson?) (about midway?) and that only I could find it as the others are not free. I said very much anxiously how will I know whether it is right? He said God will give you the "bhuddhi". (Knowledge). My mind has been in a spin. Was it another test or was he serious?
Yesterday I took Jeff to the airport. I had gone 2 days before (20th) to Choto Babu's and had told him that Baba wasn't speaking with me, etc. He said just sit tight, that was how Indian sadhus remove pride and anger - etc. Then Choto Babu came on 21st but Baba was gone to dedicate a "Pal" house. Thakur Ma also came.
When we went to airport Baba sent us to check up on Choto as we heard he had gotten sick going home from the ashram. Choto told me he had come back and had 104 degree fever. Then he didn't know what to do as his wife was sick and his children gone. Some guy was going along the road offering Dakshineswar prasad so Choto went and had some and after eating it he was all right. He then went on to relate a letter Baba had just sent telling him to tell me to go on home, get the place, do guru puja (purnima) there and get ready. That Baba went through all that made me realize he was serious. It is also to break down any feeling I have of being special (staying always with Baba, etc.) and make the guru Bhakti grow. I realize that it is right though it is terrifying for me to think of leaving his "safe" presence. The mind has been through such upset and turmoil lately, a kind of death. Only when I saw my helplessness would he tell me what to do.
I had felt like dying. I felt if the guru ever let me go I would have no desire to live. A feeling of life's end. The red-white. The cloud-thing. The God in going out and up to the All-God coming down.
The prospect of doing his work, finding a house, making preparations, etc. is both exciting and terrifying. There is always the fear of mistake and fall. But at some point I must see the inner guide and be able to be without the physical presence of Baba. I knew this when I saw him so sick, and now he sends me away to have it grow. I'm ready to go.
May 1, 1978
Yesterday the police came to check up on me here, and they came in style.
We had gone to Kuldanga the day before, Saturday, by car, for the Kali Puja at Molina's house. It was a pleasant visit and Molina was very sweet. Baba sat for a while and then did some puja. It was about six. The people came an pranamed. At the puja itself there were a few who were drunk and they danced. In all it was uneventful and not too difficult. I took some pictures.
We had to leave early since Baba had gotten word only the day before that there were "50 Marawaris" coming.
[Did we stay overnight?]
We got back. They arrived in four cars, not quite fifty but many and they had brought rich foods and cold rose water and they disgusted me. I have never gotten over this utter distaste for the rich Indian. and here in this poor village the contrast was too much. I wiped the floor and helped serve them the foor, and fanned Joya Ma who was toiling over the fire making luchis for everyone. Baba was not pleased but received them. He bawled them out for not informing him earlier of their arrival. It was ridiculous.
After food I saw that a jeep was coming with the Inspector. I invited him to come along to the ashram but he said he had "work" and would come later. From that point I sensed something was up. Baba heard of it and said his heart was trembling. The Marwaris left. They had brough a bundle of old cloths "for the poor" and me and Baba and Rabi and Ma and Noyen opened it up. Baba was disgusted again for they had only given towels, no dhotis or saris which might have been useful. Baba kept saying what good is a towel to someone who can't get enough to eat? He said if he had known it was all towels he would have refused it telling them he was not THAT poor. The whole thing was absurd.
He gave me a towel saying "What a shame to give and old towel to a Rajachele (king's son)." I told him it was a new one and that I needed one. Baba went out to sit by Hanuman. (Side gate). He looked up at me tenderly and and said "Would anyone in America believe a sadhu like this?" His bhav was rising. He said "Like Jishu Krishna..." and imitated the crucifixion - the pounding of nails the arms. Then the children came running - they were calling my name and saying "So many police..." and indeed three cars came up beside the ashram, all filled. I saw the Chanditala officer, another one I didn't know, the Chinsura inspector and the Hoogly superintendent and various officers.
The S.P. (Haldar) is the biggest yet to come here. My heart leapt. I had done my application according to all their instructions. I had known someone would come to make sure I was there, but the S.P.? Why? They sat down on the cot and bench and Baba went into a bhav state talking to them. I had a fear at first something had gone wrong with my application (why so many?) but I soon saw that he was such a big officer he had to have the escort. I felt bad however that my not listening to Baba had brought about such a lot of trouble for the ashram. I felt bad to see Baba having to go through this, but later he said he was happy and that he saw a lot of Bhakti in the S.P.
We told them all what we were doing and they seemed satisfied. Yesterday though my moind fell down again thinking how I had screwed things up. There is a mixture of fear of leaving Baba and of facing the work in America and also a restlessness to get started on it, to make everything right for his visit. We had a quarrel last night, me feeling helpless and ashamed of the "jamala" and feeling that I had wrecked everything. But it wasn't much and now I just want to do his wich, at whatever cost. It is useless to stay much longer - so long as he is alive I want to work for him - let mukti wait. Serving the guru is its own mukti. I just wish I could have had more faith eralier and avoided this mixup but by error learn.
I have seen more and more in this three months that it is hopeless to depend utterly on the outer guru - that it brings dependence, helplessness and fear. We must find him inside. To truly love and serve him is to go forward.
Monday - 1
Teusday- 2nd of May - Baba goes into samadhi, sees guru. "One day." (I had been reading novel. Go in. He abuses me. I strongly hurt. Think of killing myself. Samadhi. "There he is, I see him, standing right there.")
Wed. Thur - Thakur Ma comes. I get frustrated. Snake in temple with frog. Big snake. Baba comes in my room. Tells story of frog. Frog japa, basket, storm.
Fri - To Chinsura. They tell me to come back with letter of leaving. I buy pics at Belur (after talk with man-in-white Ganguli) then go to Thakur Ma's to see how she got home in storm. She tells me to go to Pranab's.
May 6, 1978
10:30 PM - The arrangements for the Kali Puja are going on. The final preparations. Soon Baba will sit. It is very late starting. The mood is heavy and Baba is not feeling too well for today I made my reservation to leave. All went like clockwork. (Ticket to Delhi on 10th, to London on 14th, 12 AM, to N.Y. on to N.Y. on 15th 10 AM). Then I went to Ramrajtola to try to settle things with Pranab and see where he stands. Huge heat, very tiring. Pranab seems confident that passport will go through. I tire of his endless prose but try to be friendly and positive. I certainly don't understand what is going on there. Baba seems to not want to take him, but then insists on keeping his word.
I buy fruit and flowers for Kali, 6 PM. 6:50 train home. Crowded mini-bus with many friends makes me feel good and sad. Love of these who love me. I get back and Baba is so sad I will be leaving and saying his body will be bad and who will look after him. This throws me back into confusion. Last night he has spoken so strongly that he wouldn't go to U.S. if I didn't go and ridiculed almost my wanting to stay. As if I was being a baby and not keeping faith that he is with me always. He was saying, when we read the letter from Athena saying she couldn't keep him there, that "see, if you had gone before some work would already have been done." He said "Oh, you might be sad for a few days, but soon you'll forget and be having 'brandy' with your friends but I will be laid flat for a long time."
This was anguish to me. I have been in this anguish for weeks now. To go or not. Will he stay well enough to come? Will I be successful in getting a place? Is there enough time? Must I not put down my own welfare for now so that everyone there can have his darshan and he can have a happy rest? Did he not tellabout the frog's wish for the whole world's welfare the day before when the frog was caught by the snake in the temple (what IS going on here? There was the scorpion too, and yesterday my #6 bus killed a dog). He chastises me for being late in leaving, then when I whirlwind my reservations he is so sad and wants me to stay.
I am making Baba's "bushi" at 9 and Joya Ma is cutting up fruit in his room. Baba is outside lying down and Ma turns to me, so seriously, and says "What to do? You are going, Baba's body will suffer a lot." ("Babar sharir khub karap habe.")
Then she says "You will come back and bring him to America."
"When he goes."
"After guru purnima."
"How can I do that?"
"You will be able."
This throws me for a new loop. But the insanity, back and forth, of these weeks has made my mind so rubberlike that it seems everything is the same. I think, well, who knows? My anguish grows great, then it subsides in a "pagol" sense of frustration that nothing seems real any more, all the real thing is hidden under the surface behind these outer signs and sybols - that perhaps, for all that Baba seems to be pushing me to decide, it is only to see that all is already decided. And then again, when I feel that, he will push me the other way and say well you did THIS, that's why THAT happened. Occasionally, so weary of this Zen-like torture-game my mind gives up and I don't care any more. Then I look at him and just feel a love so irrational, so unmotivated, so seemingly ancient.
When Baba had been in my room earlier, when he told the frog-story.me in my room, he had been saying something about our "quarreling." He said "Will any other guru anywhere call you his 'husband,' and himself your wife?" The fact that we quarreled like we do sometimes is only a sign of the great intimacy and closeness between us, he said, and this intimacy was there because we had been together lifetime after lifetime, for many many lives.
He looked at me so tenderly when he said this, his face beaming with the smile of great love. And I just stared at him, gazing in mute wonder at the fact he was stating. The mental aspect of our relationship seemed so worn away by confusion, by purposes cancelling out other purposes, by Baba's efforts to wipe the dust off my soul, by my trying to understand his spontaneous irrational behaviour with my reason. But there in his face, in his simple statement that there had been lifetimes of all this, there just no longer seemed to be any need for any reason for anything.
Anyway - the temple is ready and looks beautiful. Baba is mumbling his complaints and nearly ready. The clock is striking eleven. I shall try to sum up some of the past few days and at random fill in somem stories.
Baba has sat at the front door. Divakar, Kesto, and few others are watching. The mantras begin. Inside the empty temple the censor is pouring fourth a cloud of thick white smoke. The altar is literally covered with flowers and trays and bowls of fruits are waiting to be offered. Baba's mood is sad and heavy. My own is at wit's end.
11:40 - Baba has finally sat for puja, mumbling things like "Ma, what will I do?" "Ma, whatever you say, that will be," in a plaintive voice.
At first he had told me to go, as he said later, because he was worried about the visa, worried that I would be staying "without passport." He never changed his statement that if I didn't go make arrangements, wake up the bhaktas and "draw him," then he wouldn't go. But when it seemed possible I could stay, he started saying it didn't matter, I was his America anyway. And this alternated with things like "What's the use of sitting here? Don't you realize I can never give you up. I will always be with you?" And, just before he went into samadhi, the day Rabi was here and he was heaping ridicule on me he was saying that he had never seen his guru at all - let alone stay with him all the time. That his guru had no form, --etc---> (samadhi).
And this, the last few days, alternating with such pathetic sorrow of my going - it tops off the end of my mind. How much contradiction can the mind take? My brain has been over it a million times and it comes up with the verdict that I must now renounce the great blessing of his daily presence in order to bring that presence to others. That at least he has made unequivocally clear, he will not go if I don't go now, so what can I do? Do I stay for my own sake and deprive others of his darshan? Not that I think I will do much, but that he has said it that way, so it can only be that way. Mother can get him a million temples in the wink of an eye if she pleases - mother can take him anywhere, or keep him living beyond all laws of medicine. Mother at his prayer could do anything - there is truly no need of Premananda. But if he says it that way, that it can only be that way, it can only be that way. Is he going to further throw me into confusion by being sick and unhappy?
Mother, Oh, Mother on this night of your puja I beg to know your will, to do your will, to serve my beloved in the right way, to make no mistake, to have your command, to be moved, if I am moved, by your hand, to be stayed, if I am stayed, only by your hand. For the happiness and health and fulfillment of your child I will leave if it be your will. For the sake of America's bhakta's blessedness I will go, if it be your wish. For the sake of your son I will stay, if it be your wish. Make clear to me somehow tonight, through guru, inner or outer, what is your will.
12:15 - The mind wavers endlessly. The coming departure begins to dawn as a real things and my mind grieves. Did I not intend to stay? His American journey has wreaked havoc on my brain, yet I too want it for the sake of all. If only I had gotten things together long before. Had I been true to him I could have forseen perhaps, been an instument then to make kall things ready. Mother, will he go? Will I succeed in my work? What is the right thing?
4:00 - I slept restlessly 2:00 - 3:30. Arose for prasad. Baba in a joking mood now, transformed by the puja. So tired I couldn't stay awake.
Monday. May 8.
I went to Chinsura and finalized leaving details. I had started to have doubts agian as to wheter I should leave. On Sunday Rabi was here and Divakar and Jayadev. The mood had been light but Baba was teasing me. He says "You see, nobody wants me! You see, nobody will stay here."
"I know, I've seen."
"You don't want me either." Then he says something like, "If you had only stayed another couple of weeks it would have been good."
This type of "Yes-No" game had been going on so long. Really, like two lovers quarreling, and em taking him seriously at the wrong times.
I went in and lay down. He came to the door. "Come here!", he says.
"You come here!" I say. Still, he was beaming all the while, it was friendly. The last weeks have been a torture of not knowing what to do.
I got up yesterday. He sayd "Are you going?" (Chinsura)
"I can go tomorrow."
"Go today. It's cool today. Go round." So I went. They whipped me through. I gave them prasad there. My mind hardly believing it was real. On the way back there was a HUGE storm. Rain was coming in the bus, and the walk from Kholachora was totally muddy and soaked. The beauty of the fields.
All the while going there my mind racing crazily over what was happening. Mad at Baba, not for sending me so much as being stupid about the whole affair, being afraid of police, not getting it all done. At the same time even feeling like why should I bother to organize the trip, why do any of this whole thing, mad at India for being so utterly stupid.
(Today the doctor said "They are all idiots and they will remain idiots for the next 150 years").
When I realized in Chunsura finally that they had always had the power there to grant 3 months I got quite shaky about what I was doing. As I left I realized I could have stayed (which I knew all along).
When I got back all wet I was sad and a little mad but mostly sad. Baba kind and soft, seeing to my things, ants in room, Ma puts powder. Then we sit in front of room and he says "You're mad at me?"
I say no, not really mad but I don't know why I'm going or what I'm going to do. I tell him the power was always in Chinsura's hand. He says I didn't know. I say that the only thing, that he was afraid. [sic] I ask did you say to leave because it was important to go quickly or because you were afraid?
"I was afraid."
I say, "How could you be afraid, you are an old sadhu, what's to fear? What did I do wrong? They can't take me. I did what they said. I had the paper."
"Well, these people came and told me, this incident, that incident."
"You know how stupid people are around here, why did you listen to them?"
"I don't know, it's my mistake, I listened to stupid people, I don't know anything."
"I decided to leave because I believed you, I believed you know everything."
"I don't know anything."
At this point he starts crying. "Oh, what have I done? I will lose my Premananda. Who will look after me, who will take my pressure? If you have a pistol you should shoot me.." and he was now sobbing so pathetically that it broke my heart and the whole situation of these three weeks changed in a flash by his tears, his love.
"Who will look after me?" he said. "No one does what he does." There is no way to describe the feeling which swept him nor the way it broke into my heart.
I fell in his lap, caressed him. "No Baba, no, it was right.." (for reasons which I suddenly saw clearly - if they gave me time right away I never would have left and he never could go to U.S.) ".. it will be beautiful there, a good place .. "
Him still weeping and crying "Ar kono upay nay?" ("Is there no other way?") Then he is saying I will die, I will die when you go - in a week you'll get a letter...
I say "No!" He goes to pee. I say "No, you must stay. You'll go to America. Dibi Dichi if you die now I will die, I will take pills, I promise. He says, "Never say that, you have to live. I promise if you say that then I will die right now." He was still weeping some, then he puts his hand on my head. "If you go and I die, I will sit in your heart. You will have a big work to do. Habe, habe... (It SHALL be, it SHALL be) etc. "I put my hand on your head," etc.
I was now 100% reversed 180 degrees from the hurt way I had accused him of being afraid and of having "spoiled" my chance of staying. The sight of the pain I had caused him and of his pain at my leaving (particularly when I told him it was "his fault" - "I'm stupid, I'm a fool, listened to stupid people") now made me frantically blubber at him "No, no you did right, you only did it because you love me, it wasn't fear really."
"I thought they would come and take you, your visa was shesh (finished), I couldn't bear the thought of your being in trouble." "No, it was all right, it was love..." "You see what kind of state I'm in, you have no idea how it will be." etc.
I comforted him profusely. The sight of his love in one second had put straight what all my 3 weeks thinking could never do. I suddenly just wanted him to live. I thought of trying to change everything again but now the work in America suddenly had meaning. To think that in the morning I had wanted to chuck everything and forget the whole idea.
I spent the rest of the night trying to undo the torrent of his sorrow I had unleashed with my cruel comment. It wasn't really cruel I guess. I had a deep need to know if he had been afraid and to know for sure he wasn't sending me away but truly sending me to make a way.
I still don't understand it. How in that revelation of his heart, his love, his weeping, his blaming himself. (After 'teuri korar galagali' [sic]) my mind flipped into place.
At night I heard some of Requiem and sang and then wept bitterly and deeply over everything and in love and for his welfare and my own foolishness.
Today - Dr's house. I give the doctor the blood pressure machine, take pictures. Choto Babu says he will look after Baba. I realize that forever after someone must stay here. (Doctor: "One thing is required, there must be someone to stay there and looke after that poor sadhu.") Medicine to continue. I come back. Pranab on road in Chanditala.
Baba is okay when I come back. Very tender the rest of the day. I reassure him in various directions but it is suddenly all sincere and I see the path before me. The work takes on solid form and a power of enthusiasm brought on by his love's tears sweeps over me. I write notes of things to be done. It fills me as if I am not doing it. I realize now he will be with me.
Tomorrow is an auspicious day. The New Satya yuga. Tonight I press his feet.
"Your guru is so stupid," he says.
[Flashback - he comes in my room where I am writing. I tell him it is good, I'm going "ananda bhave" (happily), I can't do much more here, (heat, my health) I can do a lot there."
He hugs me and weeps. "That's what I told you before."
"But I was a fool, I had to learn."
"No, I was a fool."
"No, no, I was a fool." etc.
The tempestuous emotions of conflict have left. There is a peace and sweetness permeated by eagerness and enthusiasm. He warned me to work slowly, not all at once, not fast. It means, I think, let God work.
While I am pressing his feet he talks about his guru. Only one day he saw him. Yes, he had a body, but it was huge. A long white beard, big eyes, big mouth. The story much as it was. "Premananda, in my life there has been nothing. He said there would be a great work done through me, where is it?"
I say it is just beginning, from tomorrow in America. He rambles on. When he talks about his guru he gets filled with bhav. That is the secret to get anything out of him, get him to think of his guru a lot.
I say that's what I have to learn .. you were only with him one day, but I believe so much in outer (maya) guru I don't know true guru, or even want to know. He says no, that's right, you did right, from that comes the knowing of the real guru. We talk about lots of things. A very tender talk. He tells me to have a big meeting when I get back with Premamoyi, G. P., everyone in one place. Says, yes, new disciples will come in America.
(Flashback - When I said in his room earlier after returning from Doctor I have been thinking I will tell everyone from now on there must always be someone here, if not one then another... he is overjoyed clapping his hands, "thank you.." An utterly total positive response. So we must have a schedule and come in shifts through the year.
On my way home on the cycle I wept with the vision building 3 months.. the birds and beasts have their nests but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head. It is ASTOUNDING that there is no one here, that the "idiots", as Dr. said, "know nothing of the beauty of life and never will."
Today a torrent of change, newness, tender love. Baba. What you have put me through.
No amount of writing could tell it, this last month. It feels like '74 again - futility of trying to write the subtle hidden process of change. It can be nothing but notes for future wisdom and vision to transcribe, and even then, but a tiny fraction.
Copyright © 1999 by Bill Morgan