More letters from India 22
by Premananda

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Beloved Vimalaji,

At long last I have returned to India. It is eight years since I was here. All is rushing back into my heart after my long exile. Children I had known and played with in this little village are now grown, and others, like myself, have grown gray-haired. 

Life moves on in endless change—yet that ocean of love I felt here so long ago is the same. It is the time of Annokoot Festival and the devotees are gathering, and the Harinam Sankirtan will be continuous for three days. How I love these people! I feel I am on the brink of a new kind of abandonment. I tremble within and try to go slowly lest I be totally swept off my feet. They have built a lovely temple over Baba’s Mahasamadhi. I am still afraid to spend much time there. The thought of his body sitting there under the ground is too overwhelming. Even now the tears are welling up just writing about it. Surely, it will take some time. 

I have tried, as you had suggested, to take leave of America in a way that there would be nothing drawing me back. I had hoped to come before this, but I was suffering for two years with a condition of hyperactive thyroid called Grave’s disease. This was treated in December with radio-iodine, and I am told I will be OK, although I shall have to take thyroid hormone. The brush with death and mortality has altered my perspective a great deal. There is so much I want to tell you and yet that will take time, too. I do not know what the future will bring, but I know that I am ever at your feet. America is fading fast from my mind. I have taken leave of my parents and friends and family for this journey into the unknown. 

I want to abandon myself to that great unspeakable divine about which I know nothing. I know that my Baba is immortal, but I do not know the way past the jaws of death to find him. All I know is I must find him at all costs, or find the true faith that he will find me. These mysteries must somehow be penetrated at last. Your words to me in the past are engraved in gold in my mind. They have never failed to guide me. The words of a sage will never fail or prove untrue. They have held me together in my darkest hours. My heart is ever flying off to your feet. 

As you know from our last meeting, I am exceedingly anxious about being allowed to stay in India. When I heard you were leaving India in March, my anxiety only increased. I have many friends here who will support me and vouch for me, but for the most part, they are simple village people who are as ignorant of such things as I am. I shall do whatever you say in this regard as my previous attempts and failures have shown my impotence in this area. I fear that to return to America prematurely again will be too devastating. If I could not stay with Baba constantly in his life, then I must stay by him in "death." I no longer feel I understand anything. Only there is this immense feeling waking and rising in my heart. It is like a heart with wings. I am certain that you understand.

I arrived in India February 10, so my visa will expire on May 9. I am anxious to know where I can continue to write to you and keep in touch during your tour. The ashram address is on the letter, and in Calcutta, Baba’s close disciple Rabi Bhattacharya could relay an urgent message if the need arises. His address is: 2C, Biswakosh Lane, Baghbazar, Calcutta 3, WB. Rabi is in charge of the ashram after Baba’s Mahasamadhi. Even though I am just arrived, the May deadline is already giving me some insecurity. I go to Madras on March 4 for about two or three weeks to see one of Baba’s devotees, and to keep my vow to return to that living mountain, Arunachala. I will write more in a day or two. These Aerogrammes are too small. Please do not mind if I write to you too often now. I feel you are the form of the Great Mother herself. Surely, with your help, I shall be able to stay and to move along this great path. My deepest pranams to you. When the time is right, I look forward to come and join you.

All my love, your servant and friend,