The Mother Divine
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By Kinkar Vitthal Ramanuja

We must particularly remember one thing—if God does not grant any of our desires despite intense prayers, spiritual practice and Yoga, we should not be disappointed. We must trust in the fact: In whatever God does, He does nothing but good to everyone. Just as when the parents sometimes don’t satisfy the desires of their children though they have the wherewithal, it means they wish to do them good by denying these, Similarly God also gratuitously refuses our prayer sometimes.  God is indeed all-powerful and our Supreme Parent; He denies some of our desires because He wants to turn our mind away from the finite joys of worldliness and direct it to the infinite bliss which lies within us. 
Sorrow, misfortune, anguish and torment can sometimes be the cause of supreme happiness in our lives. Rabindranath Tagore writes in Gitanjali:

“I wanted so much, but you deprived me of all of it. In point of fact, you saved me from great crisis. This is indeed Thy kindness disguised as severity. Day by day, you are making me eligible for the Supreme Gift. “ (Gitanjali- 14)

The truth is, sorrow appears in everyone’s life, and though this sorrow may be terrible and intolerable, it can make a man selfless and forbearing; free of sense-desire and God-centric. This Supreme Gift is undoubtedly an extremely positive aspect of sorrow and adversity. That is why Shakespeare writes, “Sweet are the uses of adversity which like a toad ugly and venomous wears yet a precious jewel on its head.” (from ‘As You Like It’). The allegorical tale talks about a frog which is an ugly and venomous creature; but astonishingly and beautifully, it wears on its head a precious jewel. This precious jewel, in the Eastern philosophy, is nothing but a keen interest in the spiritual world, in the inner world which is full of infinite joy amidst the ugliness of worldliness all around.
A madcap dances in every circumstance saying ‘God is always great!’ Is he mad? Perhaps not!
Sri Sri Thakur in a deeply insightful and wonderfully symbolic essay styled in madman’s ramblings, lays down a profound precept: ‘Whatever God Does is for Our Good.’ This is not just a psychological assertion, but a truth from which anyone can derive comfort.

Sorrow and suffering, disease and grief, disgrace and dishonour, everything disappears with this mantra: ‘Whatever God Does is for Our Good.’ But Sri Sri Thakur points out that there may be times a man may forget this mantra. So, as a complementary practice, so that the soothing flame of this precept continues to kindle in our hearts, he recommends chanting the name of Ram. If one can understand ‘Whatever God Does is for Our Good’ and chant Ram Naam or one’s own favourite mantra, all troubles cease. Disease, grief, sorrow and such other things cannot overwhelm us.
‘Whatever God Does is for Our Good.’ It is easy to subscribe to this precept in situations where one can see apparent good. But what about situations where no good is visible? What is the good, for instance, in a situation where a person suffering from an inveterate disease is not cured by medicine, and the physician confesses defeat—what does God do in this matter?  Sri Sri Thakur assures us that God surely does good by afflicting men with disease. From an enlightened point of view, disease also is good because man learns to utter the name of God when assailed with diseases. He forgets to wail for the dreamlike world. Moreover, the disease of uttering the name of God is also good. Man becomes devoted to God in disease and grief.

A man is poor, has nothing to eat, if he gets food in one part of the day he does not get it in the other part of the day. What good does God do in this case? Well, if a man is poor he is not proud; he can understand the sorrow of the poor. People hate a poor man, he cannot approach them. Whomsoever he approaches the person thinks that he has come to ask for something. Everybody avoids a poor man lest he should want anything. A poor man has no way other than living in solitude. Living in solitude, he gets response from his own nearest and dearest One living in his heart: God! Then he talks with Him, becomes acquainted with Him and lives day and night joyfully with Him. The Saints love the poor very much. They step into the house of a poor man to gratify him and bring him nearer to God. He receives the grace God. God is the wealth of the destitute. He stays away from a man so long as he has something to call his own. As soon as all that he had is exhausted, God comes and takes him up in his bosom. This is the eternal way of God. How well does Thakur show us the hidden good in the apparent bad! Whatever God does is indeed for the good of man.

A saintly fakir once lived on the outskirts of a village in northern India, and it was to him that the village people always went for advice. Suddenly, there was an epidemic that killed all the roosters, hens and chickens in the village, so that the villagers went straight to the fakir.

“O Fakir, they asked him, “We have lost our hens and roosters, and even the little chickens. What shall we do?”

“There must be some good in it,” was the fakir’s reply, and nothing could induce him to say more.
A few days later, a sickness of some kind struck down all the dogs of the village. Once again they went to the fakir.

“Now, O Fakir,” they reported to him, “Every single dog in the village has died. We are without watchdogs and at the mercy of thieves. What shall we do?”

“God must have seen some good in this also,” the fakir consoled them.

In those days, before there were any matchsticks, everyone in India would cover their cooking fires with ashes to keep them alive. But a few days after all the dogs had died, every single cooking fire in the village mysteriously went out-all at the same moment. At this, the villagers were more distressed than ever. They told the fakir what had happened.

“This is another sign of the grace of God,” he said with all the serenity in the world.

“What grace can there be, when we have no fire left with which to cook our food?” the villagers demanded of him.

“Wait and see.” said the fakir. ‘Have patience. It is not always a simple job to discern the plans of God.’
Scarcely a day had gone by when a cruel and warlike king, accompanied by a huge army, passed through the countryside surrounding the village. Wherever he went, his soldiers killed, looted, burnt and destroyed with a savage and terrifying ferocity. When the king came near the village of the fakir, he looked at it to see whether he should order it to be burnt and robbed. But when he saw that there was not a single fire smoking, not a single dog or a pet animal moving, he told his leading general. “That is a deserted village. It is not worth bothering about. Order the army forward to the next village.”

It was only then that villagers came to understand the meaning of all that had happened. Going to the fakir, they offered him their heartfelt thanks.

“Ah brothers, all is now well with you,” said the fakir. “For where the Lord is pleased to abide, nothing can go wrong.”

Those who live in the will of God are his true devotees.

One may research into all happenings, little or great, in one’s own life and one is likely to find no inconsistency in this teaching. All one needs to do is to examine carefully. The grace of God is ever present; it is the man who lacks the subtlety of understanding to see through it. “Whatever God does is for Good”— with any happening. Now begins a new attitude to living. In disease and grief, sorrow and pain, the spiritual aspirant does not lament or blame his destiny; he sees that whatever God does is for Good. Though he cannot understand at times what good God does, he knows for certain that whatever God does is for good. Dmitry Nekhlyudov, the protagonist in Tolstoy’s novel, Resurrection, words this in Biblical inspiration at the point of his realization: ‘To understand it, to understand the whole of Master’s will is not in my power. But to do His will, this is written down in my conscience, is in my power; that I know for certain. And when I am fulfilling it I have sureness and peace.’  Thus, it is not for us to know what is the good implied in a situation, but it is certain there is some god. The ways of destiny are strange. It profits one to exercise patience; for it is when one takes a long term view that the advantages of adversity dawn on us. Many a man who has lamented missing a flight, has breathed a sigh afterwards knowing that the plane he missed has crashed.

One often meets members of a family where a young woman has suddenly become a widow in her youth and taken shelter in her father’s house. There is huge suffering in the family. Ceaseless wailing! What good has God done by raining such blows upon an innocent person? But the rage of the question is silenced with time. Great sorrow can be a cause for a fundamental change in a person. Grief can knock off all the adamantine walls of rationality and materialism and make staunch theists out of confirmed atheists. Sometimes, sorrow makes one plunge into deep self-search and convert a coward into the most daring one. The torment of samsara gives a new path to the human being. Majority of the people who have taken to the path of God have gone through suffering in this world. No wonder some of the mendicants of the Sufi order, raise their hands heavenward and shout, Ya Allah takleef de (O Lord, give me suffering!). The Sufi chooses suffering like Mother Kunti of Mahabharata…just so that he may remember God all the time.

Thakur Omkarnath tells us that a licentious drunkard can lose his relish for wine and women and became a great devotee of Hari; one can never fully fathom the good that God has appointed in things. As one sows, so does one reap! Much of what we name as adversity is nothing but an expiation of our own past sins. If we can firmly believe in the precept that God is doing good, we can see the possibility of burning off some of our karmic dross and debt. Thakur illustrates the possibilities— a debtor silently shedding tears at the abuse of a creditor, may actually be repaying for the money he has stolen from his master; an old man being beaten up badly by the son and daughter-in-law may actually be paying for the treatment he accorded to his own parents; a troublesome child draining parents dry of all resources, may actually be someone to whom much was owed in the previous life. In each case, the sorrow is an opportunity to destroy the fruit of evil deeds.

Here is an event from the life of one of the most intimate disciples of Sri Sri Thakur, late Parashar Chattopadhyaya.  Professor Parasharji considered Thakur to be his heartbeat and remembered Him fondly in most of his wakeful moments. To be without Thakur, that was unthinkable for him. He often travelled with Thakur on spiritual sojourns and the latter called him his ‘mouthpiece.’ When it was time for Parasharji to get married, he sent word to his God, Thakur Omkarnath, and solicited his presence at the auspicious ceremony. Thakur was performing austerities at Benares at the time. Parasharji waited for Thakur to appear for the wedding. How could he marry without the divine presence of his living God? Thakur, however, could not manage to attend Parasharji’s wedding. Parasharji was sorely disappointed and he went through the ceremony with a heavy heart, his eyes constantly dropping tears. Thakur just sent a note, “Despite my best intentions, I am afraid, I can’t make it to your wedding. I know you would be disappointed, and I am disappointed too. But even in this situation, I have not lost my faith in the precept that ‘whatever God does, He does it for some Good.’ Well, days passed and Parasharji stepped into the householder’s life. When people proposed various options for his honeymoon, a thought came to his mind. ‘Why not go to Benares and be with Thakur for the honeymoon?’ He promptly followed his instinct and the newly wedded couple joined Thakur. What transpired then could be called the best ten days of Parasharji’s life. Thakur spent a lot of time with him, gave long discourses, chanted Naam and personally took the newly wedded couple to Anandamayi Ma’s ashram and other spots in Benares. When it was time for Parasharji to leave Benares, his heart was fully content. Bidding fare to Thakur for the time being, Parasharji realised, after all, there was some design in Thakur’s not attending his wedding. What he had now got was incomparable. The favourite precept of Thakur rang in his heart, ‘Whatever God does, He does it for some Good.’

Thakur tells us there is nothing in this world like suffering. The more suffering there is, the more does the human being embrace God. God does good in the form of disease to destroy the sin born of violation of customs and transgression of religious injunctions. There is good in poverty, sorrow, disease and disgrace. Like the madman portrayed by Thakur, even we can look around and our minds come unhinged. When one looks at the world with the attitude Whatever God does is for Good, one cannot find anything evil in this world. Even if the mind becomes agitated thinking anything to be evil, one can resort to chanting of the Name of God for some time and then everything turns into good. We can float into the sea of joy.
Take the case of Anandamayi Ma, to whose Ashram Thakur took Parasharji in the previous episode. Although Anandamayi Ma travelled to many parts of India, the Kanakhal ashram was to become her final resting place. In July of 1982, her health began to deteriorate seriously. As she weakened day by day, her devotees encouraged her to eat and drink, but she resisted. They implored her to perform a manifestation of spontaneous divine will, kheyala, on her body. However, she repeatedly responded, “There is no kheyala. Whatever God does is all right.” Toward the end of July, she instructed devotees to take her to the Kishenpur ashram in Dehradun. She was to stay in her second floor room there. Amidst the sounds of uninterrupted chanting and prayers in the hall below, she breathed her last on August 27. She demonstrated through her own life an unwavering belief in the fact.

Whatever God does is for Good. With this insight we forget evil and see only good. To turn your face away from Shiva is to court sorrow. Shiva is mangal – mine of auspiciousness! Those men and women who forsake this mangal, how can they hope to meet with good fortune? ‘All is good, honour is good, dishonour is good, happiness is good, sorrow is good, a widow is good, a woman with her husband living is good, a son is good, a daughter is good, there is only good and nothing else. God who is All-Good has created this universe only of good. Victory to God who is All-Good!