The Mother Divine
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Book Review
Author: Sudhir (Dada) Mukherjee
Reviewed by: Vikas Shukla

By His Grace is a semi-autobiographical book by Sudhir Mukerjee (Dada), a former professor of Economics at Allahabad University and a devotee of the renowned saint Neem Karoli Baba (lovingly referred to as Maharaj Ji).

Neem Karoli Baba was a mystic and a lifelong adept of Bhakti Yoga. He renounced his life as a householder and wandered extensively throughout Northern India as a sadhu. Maharaj Ji gave no discourse; he only encouraged service to others (seva) as the highest form of unconditional devotion to God. He led a simple life; walking barefoot, and wearing only a dhoti and a blanket or a white sheet wrapped around his body. Innumerable miracles were attributed to Maharaj Ji but he never accepted having played any part in them, saying that it is God who does everything.

This book is an offering of pure love written in a state of intoxication with guru’s grace. It is a canvas on which Dada paints a vibrant portrait of Maharaj Ji and describes how Maharaj Ji burst unannounced and uninvited into his world, and transformed his life forever. It is an extraordinary account of a guru seeking out his devotee and taking over the steering wheel of the devotee’s life.
Dada was a scholar, dedicated to logic and analysis. He had had traditional upbringing but was not actively inclined to rituals or spiritual pursuit. When he was a young man, Dada was accosted by a sadhu in one of the Shiva temples in Dakshineshwar, and was forcibly given a mantra. Dada did not make much of the incident and was in fact glad to have gotten rid of the persistent sadhu. The mantra however, stayed with him. The book tells us how, nearly twenty or more years later, it finally became clear to Dada that the sadhu in Dakshineshwar was none other than Maharaj Ji himself!
A casual visit by Dada’s family to Maharaj Ji, who was visiting a neighbour’s house, changed Dada’s life forever. Maharaj Ji walked into their home, and completely took over their lives. He lovingly joked, “Dada’s house? This is my house! Dada is my guest.” Indeed it was true, for everyone lived in the benign shelter of his grace. They were his responsibility; their pain was his pain.

Through the book, Dada presents various ‘lilas’ of Maharaj Ji, since Maharaj Ji taught almost entirely through ‘lilas’. He would be a child, a son, a friend, a father, an elder, a guru – be different things for different people. It was impossible to predict his response to any person. He could ridicule or admonish or ignore or bless, or even push or slap a visitor. There was always a purpose to each act: to open the hearts of his devotees, teach an important lesson or strengthen their commitment to selfless seva. A mere look from Maharaj Ji could reform even a hardened criminal and a touch could heal the deadliest of diseases.  Under Maharaj Ji’s spell, Dada felt his old life silently fading away and the intoxication of Maharaj Ji’s love grow stronger each passing day.

The narration is simple and without any pretense, just as Maharaj Ji would have liked. It is an engaging tale of Maharaj Ji’s unconditional grace and of a unique bond between a guru and his devotee. Ram Das describes the connection between Maharaj Ji and Dada as having the one-pointedness of a mother-child love. “They hear his faintest whispers above earth’s loudest song; they see his slightest signal across the heads of the throng.”

The book concludes with excerpts of a talk given by Dada in the USA.

Even after his mahasamadhi, Maharaj Ji never did leave Dada’s home. Dada’s family always felt his presence and their dialogue with him never ceased. Maharaj Ji’s perpetual chant of ‘Ram Ram’ still filled their consciousness and they never felt the absence of his grace.

The book leaves the reader in awe of the good fortune of all those who would hear their guru say, “Henceforth, I shall be staying with you.”