More letters from India 3
by Premananda

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January 4, 1974

Dear Mom and Dad et al.,

Everything has changed wonderfully from the howling madness of the city to the quiet beauty and peacefulness of village life.

I am staying for awhile with a wonderful Indian family who has welcomed me in last night, and in the famous and ancient tradition of Indian hospitality, has begged me to consider myself one of their own. This is the devotee of Baba that Athena sent me to, his wife, three sons (13, 11, 8), daughter (10), sister-in-law and father-in-law. I just can’t describe the love of these people. One minute I was in hell, the next I was in heaven. All around are palm trees and cool breezes and a bright but not bothersome sun. The people in the village and in this family are so open hearted and giving of their love, and the life so slow and graceful—healthy and sane, I guess. That my whole trip would have been worth it just to witness this first hand. It is like finally living Indian life from the inside.

The children are teaching me Bengali bit by bit and are very fascinated by my camera and small tape recorder. They look much younger than their ages (by Western standards) and are incredibly full of fun.

The wonderful old father-in-law has sat me down several times for serious talk about truth and God. His face gets transported as he talks and gets inspired, and he bestows his blessing so eloquently and so sincerely that he seems ever on the verge of tears. "Anyone who is an old man and doesn’t cry is fool," he said, " and so I will cry for you and pray that God bestows His highest blessing." Such talk after knowing me less than a day! And Jiten, the father, is forever humbly going out of his way to try to do something for me or to anticipate some need. Again and again he begs me to feel no shyness and to speak up if I need anything or feel inconvenienced in any way. And they call such "underdeveloped nations." where humans are acting incredibly humane. I don’t know. Such behavior is unthinkable in the West.

I am resting today and playing with the kids. I am on the verge of flu or something connected with a mouth sore, but shall get some medicine from the doctor. Tomorrow I go even further into the hinterlands for the darshan with Baba at his ashram.

According to Jiten, Baba predicted 30 years ago that seven Americans would come to see him and take mantra from him. He is in his 70s now, and I am extremely happy to have the privilege of seeing him. It is not only Athena’s good judgement which I trust, but a very strong intuition of my own that I have been waiting to see this person a long time. Well, more later. You can write and forward stuff here till end of January, at least, as I will be here off and on through the celebration of Baba’s birthday, January 28, and 15 days thereafter. I’ll perhaps make side trips to Puri-Varanasi.

All my love,