More letters from India 4
by Premananda

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January 9, 1974

Dear Mother and Father,

It is quite a new and wonderful India. I am seeing this time, and the things I have been seeking are being heaped upon me in abundance. So much so that no letter could fully describe the joy I have been having these last days. As Dadu (father-in-law) was expressing to me today with great feeling, "If a man will only take one little step toward God, God is so kind that he takes a hundred steps toward that man."

Although the journey from Bombay to Calcutta was a hellish one of illness and fatigue, now it is reversed, and I am living in an atmosphere of such love and affection that I am frequently moved to tears. My Indian family is so wonderful! And it is giving me a deeply rich experience of true Indian village life, rich with the lessons of innocent simplicity, or as Kaku (uncle) said today, "Simple living and high thinking."

All the work I was doing when everyone at home thought I was not working is bearing fruit now in India. What had no value in America is given highest value here. And the people are all teaching me with their love. I am quite blessed on this journey. Never have I seen sweeter and more natural smiles than on these Bengali people. And they love to laugh and laugh—and if you make them laugh, you are their friend forever. In the morning, little Titu comes running like a monkey to sing "Hare Krishna, Hare Ram" with me, and we decorate my little altar with flowers. In the evening, guitar, tabla drums and harmonium are brought out, and the whole family gathers to sing the many names of God. Life is slow and simple and the people, at least these people, seem to know how to enjoy it as it is—just life—somehow deeply human and shared fully.

The other day, Titu and I (he is 8 with an absolutely radiant face) went to Kaku’s for noonday meal. Indians feel honored and blessed by being able to give food. (Such are the mysteries of this world that in this land of poverty, giving is the ideal.) Then last night, Bishu, an unemployed college graduate, insisted we take some food at his house and meet his mother. (Meeting a person’s mother is also given highest importance here.) Then today on a walk to Ganges with Dadu and the three boys (Babalu, Tubalu and Titu), we were met by Baba’s friend Bijoli, who with such a sweet innocent joy, brought us to her house for tea and sweets and to meet her mother and father (plus sisters, uncles, in-laws, etc., etc.). How happy they were to have this "American bhakta" (lover of God) in their house! It made me cry to see their simple joy at receiving us.

Because I have loved her, India is beginning to withdraw her veil. Suffering is there, of course, but so is a rare and beauteous joy almost unimaginable in America, so stuffed are we with our dubious "wealth." I guess I’ll not be able to explain it. One has to see it, and for that, one has to be able to feel it. They have been practicing religion here for so many centuries it has soaked into the very stones of the road. They are always saying, "We are poor here; you in America are very rich." And I say, "No, you are the rich ones; you have joy in your lives." And they smile and nod their heads. "Yes, we have God."

Saturday, 5th of January, I had the real fulfillment of my voyage. Jiten and his wife and her sister and Titu and I went to the remote village where Baba lives so I could meet him and have his darshan (blessing). There is no describing it. It is a day that is engraved in my memory forever. It proved to me beyond all shadow of a doubt that if one persists in the path I am on, the rewards are there beyond measure.

For five years I have been visiting every wise man and holy man and swami I could find, but I have never seen the likes of Baba. He is utterly absorbed into the bliss of love and his love is flowing out to everyone. He is a worshiper of the Divine Mother Kali the and very air around him vibrates happiness. Just like a child he is. His eyes twinkle like lightning and seem to look into your very heart. No words can describe it, nor my joy on seeing him. I, too, felt like a child in his presence.

My first impression: He was doing worship in the temple of the Mother as I came in and sat down. He turned around and lit up with joy to see me. He looked up, like a child, and pointed upward and said in some of his few English words "ONE GOD! Thank you. Thank you very much, One God!" Later he gave me tea and happily received the gifts I had brought, including the Christmas cookies you had given me which he passed out to everyone, very carefully, and said, "Thank you Mother!"

Later he went into an ecstatic mood and gave a "speech" in Bengali about Athena and I coming so far to see him, the exact translation of which no one has yet given me. In fact, much of what happened was obscure due to its being in Bengali. Apparently, at one point, he went so much into the mood of a child that he decided he was tired of working for the upcoming festival of Sararswati and wanted to go traveling with me, his "new friend" to the South. The devotees were all trying to dissuade him and tell him this was impossible, and I’m standing there not knowing what’s going on. Later he gave me flowers and blessed me—oh, who can explain?

It is a rare instance of a kind of love the world doesn’t know—a man who has reached the goal of human life and is just radiating, just shining. Well, I wanted to just tell a little anyway, to let you know I am happier than I have ever been and have seen what I came to see. More later.



P.S. Illness is gone now, health is fine.