Baba in his Own Words
August 11, 1976
(from a videotape)
(Baba was sitting in the back yard of Athena's house in Brooklyn. Various devotees were gathered around. A question had been asked: Why do you do the worship of the Mother, and what has been the fruit of this worship?)
BABA: Oh Baba! Should I speak in English? (laughs) I can't speak English! Should I speak in Bengali?
BILL: Yes, of course. Speak Bengali.
BABA: First of all, if you don't pray to the Mother, you will not get Father. Mother, who takes you on her lap, That which is my God, the spiritual power Kundalini Shakti, is Mahamaya... ["the great illusion"]
You have to wake Her first. You have to pray to Her first. That is why our worship of the Mother is needed first of all. Because who is He who is my Father? Only the Mother knows. She will take me to Him in her arms. If you can wake up that Mahamaya, that great power in sushumna, by way of the thousand petaled lotus, then you will drink Amrit [nectar]. You will see Nada-Bindu-Kola. But only with Mother's help. That is why we need the worship of Mother. This is the real truth.
After that I had a lot of trouble. When I would see some food at someone's house, I used to come to my mother and cry. But my mother would tell me, "Call on God, Baba. We are poor. How will we get anything to eat?" Then I said to mother, "Ma, what is this play of God?" Then my age was nine or ten. I wouldn't get enough to eat. What suffering. At this time my mother told me, "Call on God, your sorrows will go away." This is the initiation [diksha] I got from my mother. Truly mother's word can never be a lie. Today this word of my mother, "If you call on God," it has all become fulfilled. This is all very high. Because you have to catch the Mother first.
Mahamaya prabhavena samsara sristhi karani
Mahamaya prabhavena mohogotta nipatita.
This illusion [maya], this universal illusion ...
How will we get the vision of God? That is why, before Ma, Yogamayi Upashitam. I will do Hom worship. If she destroys my Hom, then still I see this whole world as only Mother's form and Father's form. That's why one must do worship of the Mother first.
[Recalling more of childhood days]
My birthplace is in Orissa. I am unlearned. I never went to school at all. Much less study. My life was spent in great sorrows, great difficulties. My mother .. if I talk about my mother I may get absorbed .. tears come to my eyes.
My mother was always in so much sorrow. She never go enough to fill her stomach. But my mother, yes, I will call her Yogamayi, she never had good clothes to wear, never a full stomach. But my mother said to me, "Don't cry, Baba."
Maybe I came back from watching at someone's house, and I said, "Ma, they are making such good food. They have a lot to eat, they are throwing it away! Can I pick it up off the ground and eat it Ma?" She said "Baba, call on God. God will certainly fulfill your dream." So I always remember my mother's words. How much suffering my mother had.
We were five brothers: Prahlad, Dhruva, Okrur, Urdhav, Bairagi. It is a sad tale. My father's name was Sadhu. And truly he was a sadhu. Sometimes he would take ganja. And he would remain absorbed in meditation. Always he would sing "Janaki vallaba Sita Ram, Ragupati ragava Raja Ram." He used to say this continuously.
We had no house, we had no place of our own to live. No cloths to cover our bodies. If you ask me, "how did you grow up?"
I used to put a piece of cloth down to sleep on, covering my body with the other half. Somehow I got through the winter. Such a life!
That is why there is this worship before all of the devotees. One needs to do the worship of Mother first. Without the Mother how would we ever grow up? My Mother will certainly take me in her arms and dissolve me at the feet and in the power of God.
If you first pray to the outer mother, then only you will get the Mother within. Like seeing your face in a mirror. Then you can know what you look like.
Then my life was spent in great poverty. I was beaten. In so many places I was beaten. I can't describe them one by one.
[Remembers being beaten]
I got a job. He was a good man, with his son, Sargodare Mahapatra. His name was Mahapatra. At that time he was [inaudible]. I used to take the Mahapatras' son on my lap, or by the hand walking on the seashore. Mahapatra's wife gave the boy two sandesh or two rassagola. After walking for a while he ate one, and I took the other one to eat. Mahapa tra's wife could see this. After we came back she told her husband and Mahapatra gave me a bad beating. It was such a bad beating that I was bleeding. Then I thought, "Mother, you told me to call on God, and that he will remove my sorrow. Is this the way to call God and remove the sorrow?"
[Runs away to Waltair]
Anyway, before sunrise I got up and went toward the Railway Station. One train was going toward Madras, south India. Wearing just my one cloth, and another rag upon my shoulders, I got onto the train "without ticket." When that train reached Waltair station the ticket checker saw me, and grabbing me forcibly by the throat, threw me off the train. At that time Waltair was a British town. There was no way to get food. And then the drama of my life began.
There were so many pilgrims that walked from Waltair to the mountains at the border. They walked to see the image of Nrisingha [the half-man, half lion], at Prahlad's place of tapasya. I finally reached that place. You have to climb up the stones one by one. It was very treacherous. If you fell down from there it was certain death. With great struggle I went up and I saw a flat land. There were many fruit trees and an image of Nrisingha. I had darshan.
I saw that there were many sadhus there. (To say a lot, I mean about ten or twelve). There was much fruit there. Plums, kantal, pineapple, and many other kinds. After getting there, what could I do? When winter came I lit fires. There was no shortage of wood. I lit a dhuni fire and by its warmth I slept. In that state ... [remembers his exact age at the time] when I was seventeen I worked at Puri. At eighteen I went to Waltair, at the border. There I stayed for one year.
[assuming a birthyear of 1902 these events would be circa 1920]
My mother and father, my mother used to cry. They all thought that I had died. They wrote to Mahapatra. After suffering much my father went from Jajpur, Purushottampur, about 200 miles to Mahapatra's house.
"My son, whom I gave to you, where did he go?"
"Who knows," said Mahapatra. "He ran away in the middle of the night. He was a thief! Where he went, nobody knows."
My father cried like a baby. After having darshan of Jaganath he went back home. When he told my mother, she fainted. Everyone thought that I was dead.
But I was at the Simachal border for one year. I had no way to write a letter. There was no post office there. Nobody knew whether I was alive or dead. Ha! What a funny situation.
Babaís miraculous meeting with the Guru
After a year, one year and four months, suddenly in the night, at 12 or 1 o'clock, I had a dream that both my mother and father had died. I awoke and started to cry.
"Oh life! I have come here without purpose. Both my mother and my father have died and I could not be with them at the time of their passing!" I cried. I screamed. I don't just mean a little crying. I was deeply sobbing.
Then, all of a sudden, I don't know who he was, he had an amazing body! His feet were huge. So huge that in the whole world you could not ever see such big feet. He had a string of coco nut fiber tied to his waist. He had a kind of sacred thread. And he seemed to have no clothes on his body. He had smeared his whole body with ashes. Such a huge looking man I have never seen in all my life. He came to me and spoke.
He spoke in Hindi and I could not understand. Then he spoke in Oriya: "Why are you crying? What is your sorrow?" And I said to that great man, "My mother and father have died. I have come from so far away. I could not see them at the hour of their passing, so I am crying."
There was an ordinary bag on his shoulder. From that bag he gave me 25 rupees. To me it seemed that I gotten a great amount of wealth! I was very poor. I had never gotten any money. Twenty-five rupees! Hari Baba! Getting that money I felt like a rich man.
He said in Oriya: "Hey, get a ticket at Waltair station with this money and go to Jajpur."
I was so happy. He had gone two or three steps when I said, "Thakur, Oh Thakur! Won't my life ever amount to anything?"
Then suddenly he stopped and turned around... his image... it is beyond description. I cannot describe him in words. He came running back and got some leaves from the forest. And pulling out my tongue, he pressed the leaves and cut my tongue down the middle. When he was pulling my tongue I felt like my life was going. "Oh! I am dying! I am dying!"
Then when he gave the juice, as soon as he gave the juice it felt as sweet as honey. If there is such honey in God's world I have never found it. Getting that sweet honey my hairs stood on end. What peace my body received!
Then that great man put his hand on my head and said: "Through you a great work will be done. Go. Go back to your place. A lot of work will be done through you." No mantras. No mantras, only that juice on the tongue.
Again I came to Waltair. At that time I was stupid, blind, a fool. I couldn't understand anything. After coming to Jajpur, without a ticket, I got down at Jajpur. From Jajpur I walked the fourteen miles to my house, and there I saw my mother and father. I was so happy. I had been away from home for one year and five months. What happiness my mother felt. My mother wrapped me in her arms and wept streams of tears.
But that great man had given me the name "Prahlad." And before, my name had also been "Prahlad." And he said, "Go, Prahlad. Through you a great work will be done."
After seeing my father and mother.. [remembers] ... no sooner had my father taken me on his lap than my mother also took me and put me on her lap. They are wrapping their arms all around me. That scene, that reunion cannot be described. So I stayed in Orissa for a while. I used to beg.
For one year all that begging, that same poor hut. I used to go out in the morning and come back in the evening. Some days I got four kg., some days five kg., some days three. When I felt hungry I would put some rice in a towel and I would soak it, and then chew it. But I always remembered that image, his image, that indescribable image.
[Decides to go to Calcutta]
After one year I saw that our poverty was not going away. I felt I must remove my mother's sorrow, my father's sorrow. "Without ticket" I came to Jajpur, then to Calcutta. In the train I slept under the benches that other people were sitting on. Sleeping under there I somehow got to Howrah Station. The bridge was drawn up. There was no way to cross the river. Many men and women were standing about. Finally the bridge was joined together.
After crossing the bridge I saw a cement ghat, Rajendra Mallick Ghat. There were a lot of Oriya priests there. I asked them for shelter, but none would give it. Somehow I slept on that ghat. When it rained I slept among the cloths those priests used to put sandalwood on the forehead. In the morning Marwari women came to bathe and I asked them for alms. From those alms, and from the house of the priests, I sent money orders to my mother and father. Some months four rupees, some months five rupees.
Then suddenly one priest said to me, "Oh Thakur, you are not getting anything to eat. Go to the house of Rajendra Mallick. There they give food to Jaganath, and at midday they give everyone something to eat." Somehow I walked to Char Bagan. I saw that everyday at twelve a lot of poor people were eating. So I sat among them and they gave me rice, dal, vegetables. And whatever money I got from begging near the priests, I sent to my father and mother. It went on like this. I did not go back home for two years. But at least mother and father knew "our child is in Calcutta."
But sometimes I used to think, "Oh Great Man, you said that through me a great work would be done? What kind of work is this I am doing?" Anyway, I lived somehow. In the middle of the night I used to think of that image I had seen. That was my meditation. I never learned meditation from any yogi. But nearly every night I would see that image and smell the fragrance of his body.
After that, there was a saintly Oriya neighbor of ours, Nirbhoy Khatisti, a sadhu priest, and Anon Mishra. They all had a fried-bread shop. They called me, "Thakur! Come, Prahlad! You will knead our dough, wash our pans, and we will feed you. And you will work."
So I went to them. It was on Oymedhya Ghat, at No. 2, that they had their shop. They sold a lot of fried-bread. The bread was fried in Lakshmi Ghee. One serving of bread was about four or six annas. All the pans, pails, I used to wash them all. Then waking up at 3 or 4 A.M. I used to go begging at the ghat. At the Astadashi Ghat there was a boatman, Prasad [name indistict] And Badrinath Manna. They all loved me very much. They said, "Thakur, will you take this job?"
[Remembers the death of his brothers]
I said, "What? I have so much suffering. My mother and father aren't getting food to eat." In this state my two brothers died. Okrur and Urdhav. They couldn't get enough food. They died. It got so bad that even the neighbors didn't help. I heard from Harish Chandra Raja that my own mother, digging a hole near the Boitarini River, (my father was in Puri at the time) .. even though she was a mother, she buried her son. After hearing that I felt worldly attachment to them.
[Baba becomes a kind of simple priest]
Then Badrinath Manna and Prasad, the boatman, said to me, "Oh Thakur, we want to make a throne of wood. We will put on it an image of Ma Shitala. We will make an image of mud. When you stand at somebody's door with this image of Mother Shitala, everyone will give you alms and money. This will remove you dire poverty."
So in Calcutta I used to beg, saying to the people: "Ma Shitala will give you her blessings."
Saying this I would stand in the doorway. Some people gave rice, other gave money. Some gave nothing. Do you know how far it was? From Shyambazaar, Baghbazaar up to Kashipur, from here up to Beleghata, from Sealdah to Deleghat, from here up to Kalighat. From this side of Ganges up to Belur, Bally, and again up to Shivpur. Very far I had to roam.
I used to get a lot of rice and sell it by the roadside. Six paisa for one [unknown unit of measure]. I used to sell it, even at that price. Some days I got one rupee, some days only 12 annas, and some days one-and-a-half rupees. I would give all that to Prasad, the boatman, and Badrinath Manna, Boshak Rashik, who had the [bread] shop.
True sadhana begins on the banks of the ganges at night
At that time I started to cry very much. And again after that, coming back in the morning, I had to knead the bread dough, or else they would beat me. I had to massage the feet of that shop owner, Arnay Mishra, and the sadhu priest and the madhu priest. If I didnít, they would beat me. Many times they beat me. I had to do it. Again, waking up at 3 or 4 A.M. I had to go to the river to beg.
Great is he who is my guru, Ishwar, Brahmamayi, Brahma Guru. Truly I see now:
Truly guru is Parabrahma. Without his blessing, nothing will happen. I told him in my mind, "Gurudev, you told me that through me a great work would be done. What is this work of mine? This staying at Ganges' bank? Going through life with things that are begged?" I didn't know anything about concentration and meditation. "What work will there be, Thakur? Is this my work?"
[Baba is thrown in the morgue]
One day, at the bank of the Ganges, after I had eaten stale bread and stale dal, I had vomiting and diarrhoea. The car from the Civil Hospital picked me up from the Ganges bank, and later I was admitted to the hospital. I was not dead, but they put me in the morgue. It was British rule then. When they were taking the dead bodies out to burn they saw that I was alive. Then they gave me 25 rupees and said, "Don't tell anybody, Thakur." I was so happy to get the money I didn't tell anyone.
[Baba finds a bag of money]
All of a sudden I am thinking this. It is the time of the new moon [...?] and everyday, taking flowers in the left hand, I used to do worship of the Ganges. Everybody did it with the right hand, but I did it with my left. Suddenly one day as I was walking I saw a tied-up bag. I kicked it and there came a metallic sound. After three times I picked it up. When I picked it up I began to tremble. After quickly doing my Puja to the Ganges (I was late that day), that shopkeeper whose dough I kneaded, he slapped me on the back. Some slaps on my back.
[END 76VT2] (After several minutes gap, VT3 begins)
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