The Divine Gift

Reva Bhandari

 

ma

Some people are born with a silver spoon in their mouth. I happen to be one of those. This fact I am beginning to realize more and more with each passing day. I am studying the Bhagavad Gita at Dalhousie these days. It is absolutely amazing and fascinating, as to how the Gita is revealing itself to our little group. Without a doubt, Ma’s explanations, substantiated with incidents from her life have begun opening little windows in our intellects, through which every revelation comes like a breath of fresh air. Ma has written this Gita for my younger sister Abha, to whom we are eternally grateful for sharing with us this Divine Gift. Before I reveal to you the treasury of thought that this Gita has given me, let me take you back through the realm of the past eight years, when I first came to stay at Madhuban in May 1967.

I was not interested in reading any religious scripture whatsoever but when I saw the youngsters in Madhuban also reveled in such religious activities, my curiosity got the better of me. To satisfy this curious urge in me I began to read and write down Ma’s English Satsangs. I discovered that these by themselves would be a wonderful guide to those dealing with psychological problems in daily life. Fascinated, my interest was intensified, and it was then that I was given the opportunity of joining the Satsang classes that Chhote Ma, Miss Sushil Dhiman by name, used to take every morning. I consider myself to be very fortunate in this, because together we were able to study the Upanishads over a period of two years. It was due to Chhote Ma’s company that I gained tremendously in my knowledge of Ma, through the Shastras.

At the same time, I was attending Ma’s Satsangs, where I received practical knowledge, whilst translating all the verse of Urvashi, which Ma sings in extempore. I translated all of them into English verse, whilst She would be singing in Hindi. In the same way, I would be translating the Upanishads whilst Chhote Ma read them out to us. Due to my background, Ma had asked me to write in English; and in this way she identified herself with me knowing that I would not be able to imbibe very far otherwise. In spite of the fact, that I knew not a word of Gyan, so naturally my translations were not well done, yet they led me on and encouraged me to dive deeper into the depths of her ever flowing wisdom.

Along with the Gyan, I was able to get a practical insight into Ma’s daily life. I stayed with her in her room and observed all her actions from very close quarters. This kind of an opportunity for someone like me, was so undeserved, yet her love conquered all barriers and saved me from myself each time. Ma is a Giver, who is totally identified with the joys and sorrows of those who come to her. It all depends upon what the basic desire of the person is. At that point, as always, her body becomes totally meaningless for her, because it performs every task that is demanded of her; paying no heed to the constant pain and other ailments that she suffers from. Naturally then, I had a startling revelation, that here was in flesh and blood a living image of the Shastras!

All these actions I have watched fascinated, whilst the Gyan, which I was reading, revealed to me the Hidden One; Who walked through life, as one of the very ordinary beings that tread this earth. This combination of the Roop and Swarup, can make a very deep study for any seeker on the Path of Truth. Roop is the manifested form, which shows up in practical life, whereas the Swarup is the hidden attitude of the un-manifest Self.

What an uphill task, it must have been for Ma to show to a self-opinionated and independent minded person like me in daily life, as to what really lay in my interest. The unique feature of our relationship is that she has never once forced anything on me. Her method is one of reason, where she makes one aware of the pros and cons and leaves the final decision to us. Ma is willing to go to any extent to help whomsoever in need, irrespective of the nature of the situation. As Ma is always giving to the other, it invariably becomes a one way traffic because she never expects anything in return.

But, as I said earlier, I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth, therefore, I had been able to grasp all this in a very natural play-way method. For Ma deals with each individual personally. She gives all of us very small jobs to do to begin with, until we are able to muster enough capacity to shoulder a responsibility. That is how today I am able to keep the accounts of the Trust, which have taught me how to identify myself with the needs of the whole place, and every individual that resides over there. I had shirked responsibility all my life, and was blissfully unaware of my duties, therefore, I exercised only my rights. So one can imagine how hard Ma must have worked to save me from myself. Yet wherever I took action during my emotional upheavals by threatening to leave her and go away (little did I realize that it was against myself!) I thought that she used to come apologizing to me in great distress! All because of my feeling of being indispensable to her, since I was doing the accounts of the Ashram. If only I had known that these accounts could have been handled much better by a clerk for one hundred rupees!

Besides doing accounts, Ma would also give me individual problems to deal with, under her guidance. Then I would be asked to explain Satsangs in English to those who did not understand Hindi. This kind of giving at the intellectual and gross levels has given me enough strength today to deal with love and understanding with my emotional group as well. Then Ma asked me to audit my own accounts – the accounts of my emotions – like a very strict auditor who does not spare a single mistake. All my negative opinions of people had to be authenticated with receipts, verified by Truth and Justice. When I started on that, lo and behold! There were no accounts left to settle with anyone. I found, all that was registered in my mind was now redundant. The burden was gone!

I am gradually becoming aware of all these achievements, as it is all in the past. Before this I was totally unconscious of what I was giving and receiving. All these things have happened in spite of me and so silently, that today one can just sit back and marvel at all this.

With all this experience behind me, Ma finally asked me to read the Gita for the first time. I had never read the Gita before in my life, but since explaining to somebody gives oneself a great deal of clarity, I was asked to do so as well. I suddenly found that I was merely explaining Ma’s life with all of us. Every shloka seemed to describe her life, her qualities and her Being. I could give examples for every shloka, through my past experience of her in daily actions. This fact was so astonishing, as it slowly began to reveal to me the proof of the scriptures as to Who Ma was! Was it even possible that I could be in such close contact with such a One? I was absolutely taken aback with my discovery of how unique this person really was, with whom I had lived in the same room for so many years! It was far too unbelievable. This just shows, how little notice we really take of those around us, and how very ordinary Ma must be in daily life. Whilst arriving at these sudden realizations my companion and I often found ourselves in a state of shock and profound amazement, right in the midst of a shloka. Occasionally I was caught weeping and at other times in elation due to the encouragement in a particular shloka. All these things were very new to me, and often I would be surprised at myself, since all these reactions were so unlike me specially upon the reading of the Holy Scripture.

Towards the end, Gita came to life for me. Nothing before had moved me so much. Today I realize why Ma left the Gita as the last scripture for me to read. By that time I had made up my mind as to what I desired of it. So after a gap of two months I began reading it once again with two others this time so that now the whole Gita could be read with my new found attitude towards it.

Lo and behold! From the very first shloka onwards, I began to experience Ma as the Swarup. I wanted to imbibe her attitude through my experience in my daily life. So in order to be able to retain the memory of “I am not the body”, Ma asked us to visit the Shamshan, the burning ghat of the Hindus. During her Sadhana period Ma used to go to the Shamshan for many months continuously. It was during the second chapter of the Gita that we went to the Shamshan with Ma and received a fresh impact on our minds, which took us nearer towards understanding the fact that “I am not the body”.

That evening the peace and tranquility of the Shamshan engulfed me. When I saw Ma standing amongst all the burning pyres, whilst replying to our questions in song, I was so moved, that all of a sudden the past centuries seemed to unfold before my very eyes. Perhaps on the wings of Ma’s songs as those Divine words flowed from her lips, I was transported back into the past era of the Mahabharata. The import of Bhagwan Krishna’s saying to Arjun, that the body dies and only the Atma is eternal without any form or name was revealed to me in all its practical glory. I was truly overwhelmed, the scene was so convincing.

As the fire was consuming the body I realized the futility of the attachment to our bodily circumstances, and the mind that is illusion itself. For a moment the veil of Maya seemed to lift and only the Self remained. Perhaps this is what is meant when they say, that when ignorance is consumed by the fire of Gyan, the Truth reveals itself. As we were walking back, I had one fervent and devout prayer in my heart “Oh Lord! Let me be surrounded by this blazing saffron fire of Gyan for the rest of my life! The fire that destroys the illusions of the mind and results in blissful quietitude within”.

After that Ma sent us to Dalhousie, so that we could study the Gita more intently. By the time we reached chapter four, we had begun our “Krito Samar”. Wherein we were traversing our foregone life, and analyzing all our past actions. This gave us such a deep insight as to where we had gone wrong, that it is a study in itself. Not only did the retrospective view of our own lives reveal the absolute futility of our grudges and self-pitying illusionary phantoms, it also revealed the aberrations and the injustice they were cause to our present point of view.

One is then suddenly relieved of the heavy burdens the mind has been carrying and the world focuses itself in a new life. A reverential attitude and a new faith has emerged, and I am determined to use my past inconsistent or rather consistent – follies as signboards for purifying my future karmas. I was afraid to look into my past. I was afraid to know myself. But today though I am regretful of the unkindness and pain I have unheedingly caused other people, there is a strange peace within me which beckons me to look forward with courage.

There was an overwhelming feeling of gratitude, that in spite of all our misdeeds, fate had still given us not only an opportunity but actually put this Gita into our laps. Why is it that we were the ones chosen to comprehend it in this way? How did we ever deserve that Ma should come into our lives? These thoughts and feelings continued. Even our walks became fascinating with our lively discussions. Then slowly we began to feel Ma’s presence. She was smiling at us in the room, where her photograph lay, as we read the Gita. Sometimes she seemed serious, at other times compassionate. So much so that we actually began talking to her occasionally. Her very photograph was so alive. She even accompanied us on our walks. We were never alone and were enfolded in her blissful embrace.

We progressed to the fifth chapter. There were times when I would go into ecstasies of elation, and not being able to contain myself would go out of the room. The feeling of not being the body, was a very new one! Then I would recompose myself and walk back to continue the reading. There were also times, when I felt that perhaps we were on the wrong track since the reading had tempered down so much, for there had been no experience for the past two days! It was then that Ma arrived, with my sister Abha, in Dalhousie, and cleared up our thoughts on the matter. She told us that these “experiences” were only a play of the mind. Once they would sober down, these revelations would turn into realizations.

As we plunge into the sixth chapter of the Gita, we are eagerly awaiting whatever gift the Gita has in store for us in its following chapters. As it is, we have been privileged in being able to see several facets of Ma with great clarity, and in this experience, if we are still not convinced, that One we have before us is the Lord’s very own Image then it is our sad misfortune. When one sees so many Divine Manifestations one feels infinitely grateful, for having an opportunity to live with someone like her.

I do not know what homage is, I am a stranger to obeisance. My vocabulary is limited. All I can say is, the more I see, the more humble I feel. Ma’s magnificence makes me see beauty in her, and that gives me peace. Ma’s Grace is such that it spreads over all the world around her and yet she is so ‘ordinary’, that it amounts to sheer deception!

If we are able to imbibe her attitude in our lives, then we can become better people and help in making this a far more beautiful and meaningful world. Today, when I walk beside her, she seems so near, and yet is so far beyond…..

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