More letters from India 11
by Premananda

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March 2, 1974

Dear Mom and Dad,

I am back at the ashram after spending two days back at Jiten’s house. I was there twelve days at a stretch and had many different experiences. It is very peaceful here. Baba is giving out advice everyday and giving flowers to people which are to help the with their different problems. He sometimes calls the temple the "Doctor’s Chamber" since so many sick people come to be cured. How funny he is I can’t say! Like a magician changing his forms all the time.

I was glad to get your letter, Dad, and to read the article. Yes, indeed, things are bad here. At the ashram, since there is no electricity anyway, the fuel crisis has cut the lantern light at night. In collecting food for the big festival, they had more trouble than in 30 previous years due to the food shortages, and in Chaudannagar, the electricity is off for an hour or two at night due to "load sharing." The unemployment is ridiculous, and everywhere there are young men with college education who have nothing to do. The strange thing is that now it seems the whole world is on the decline. People must wake up to the fact that the whole humanity is a single organism.

I won’t send my film home—I’ll bring it since the pictures are precious to me. Sending the pictures to the people here is one of the few things I can do in return for all the kindnesses given to me. Most of my film was used "documenting" the Annokoot Festival. Maybe I will make a book about it or something. Baba has asked me to keep a diary which I am trying to do. He also wants me to write his life story. One book was written on this, but he says it isn’t very good. His life was incredible. They thought he was a still birth when he was born, and he was thrown aside till a holy man came and saw that he was not. The holy man pressed the top of the baby’s head and "awakened" it somehow. He ran away from home at 13 years or so and was found by another holy man who initiated him with mantra and gave him a stick of some kind which could cure ailments After that he became a beggar in Calcutta, begging and chanting all day and practicing yoga at night. His instruction in yoga used to come from the Divine Mother during dreams. He very early developed a curious power to be able to see a man’s past and future by looking at his forehead. People would come to him for their "fortune." Eventually, after long years, he got free of the ego entirely and became one with the universal intelligence. Somehow he keeps his real stature and nature hidden most of the time. He says, "I’m a beggar, I’m nothing. I can’t even write. I’m just a child." It is as if to protect himself from being overrun by people he puts on a disguise. His heart is not well, though I have never seen such a young-like strong and energetic 72-year-old person. He is constantly taking on the sorrows of his devotees, and it goes to his heart.

I will try to get my visa extended this week. We will travel to the South in early April if I succeed, and I would then be coming home around April 20-26. 26th April is the absolute deadline for leaving as my ticket expires at that point. I am passing my days just being with Baba, chanting, learning to go deeper in mediation and noting my impressions and experiences. It is a simple life. One strange thing is that long before I came here I had seen the place in a dream or two. Isn’t that strange? Just now I am seated by Baba, and the devotees are sitting around him, each hoping for something to be fulfilled through this remarkable man. It is Saturday so more people then usual will come. By evening it will be empty again except for a few, and a deep peace will settle over everything. As they say, "Simple living, high thinking." All my love to you all. Mom, yes, I read Isherwood’s book. Very good--I hope you like it.

Love, Bill