More letters from India 5
by Premananda

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January 12, 1974

Dear Mom and Dad,

How are you all? I hope it is not too cold there. Just now it is afternoon, and the warm sun is shining down through the leaves of the palm trees.

I’ve been very happy and swirling through a number of events that seem to be direct answers to certain of my deepest inner wishes. I cannot write fully about them all as I still do not understand everything fully.

I had my second darshan with Baba which was as astonishing as the first. To be sure, he is quite extraordinary. He is like a fountain of love. Jiten told me that two years ago Baba said to him, "A certain young man from America will be coming. When he does, please accept him in your home as your own brother." And then Dadu told me Baba told him some days before I arrived, "He has started now. He will be here soon." And here I am. It seems strange, but as one who has studied the lives of God-men, I know that nothing is impossible.

When I was in Delhi, I had developed a severe sore in my mouth, and by the time I got to Calcutta, it was spreading to the opposite side as well. At my first meeting with Baba, he detected the trouble. At my second meeting, it had largely disappeared, and he showed me the same sore in his own mouth. In his compassion, by the power of divine love, he had taken it away from me to his own body!! I felt bad about this, but Jiten said, "Don’t feel bad. That is the nature of Baba. That is Baba’s love."

January 13, 1974

Today the family is making pitu—rice cakes filled with coconut. Baba is expected to come tonight from his village ashram to stay overnight, and all are excited. He will bathe in nearby Ganges tomorrow, which is a special holy day. Preparations are underway for the big festival which starts about the 28th, commemorating Baba’s birthday and the 30th anniversary of his "enlightenment," or as they say, the day he first saw the Mother of the Universe. I am very fortunate to be able to witness this, as about 10,000 people will come from all over India to have his darshan and take prasad (prasad is blessed food). Jiten is preoccupied with this since enough money must be raised before then to feed 10,000 people for several days! I can’t image this, but I shall see it. I will take pictures of the festival at Baba’s request and also do chanting during the period. He has given me much to think about already. I am very happy to be with him.

My Indian family is always asking about you, and they begged me to send you their love and regards. They are always saying that for me to be so devoted to Ramakrishna I must indeed have "a very pious mother." Everything in India comes back to the mother.

Yesterday four of us went to Dakshineswar to see where Ramakrishna had lived. It was very exciting after five years reading about him to see the actual places where all the stories took place. When I went into the room where he had lived for over 30 years, I was nearly overcome with emotion. Such a powerful high atmosphere is there! It is not possible to describe such a sensation, safe to say that it is like a kind of powerful automatic mediation to one tuned into it. What a wonderful feeling! Well, these are personal subjective things perhaps, but they are real. Ah! How can I tell everything? Who will believe even half of what has been happening? This trip is so different than the last.

After seeing the Master’s room, we took a boat across the Ganges to Belur Math, the headquarter’s of the Ramakrishna Mission, which is one of the largest service organizations in India. One of the Master’s favorite teachings was "service to man is real worship of God," and it finds widespread practical outlet through this organization. It is impossible to overstate the affect of this man on India. At Belur Math, his ashes are interred, and there is a very peaceful atmosphere prevailing.

We saw the room, where Swami Vivekananda used to stay after the Master passed away. Vivekananda was Ramakrishna’s most beloved disciple and an intellectual giant who wrote volumes and volumes and who electrified the World Parliment of Religions in 1893 in Chicago by bringing the ancient Upanishdir truths to the West for the first time. When he first met Ramakrishna, he had been wandering from holy man to holy man for quite some time with the single question, "Have you seen God?" All had to admit—no. When he put the question to Ramakrishna, the answer was, "Not only have I seen God, I see Him now even clearer than I see you." So many wonderful stories connected with these two. Well, no more room here. All my love to all. You may write here to me and send any mail I’ve gotten. I’ll write again soon.