The Mother Divine
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By Kinkar Vitthal Ramanuj

Kinkar Vitthal Ramanuj (Right) with his Guru Sri Sri Sitaramdas Omkarnath (Left)

Part - I
“O Bhakta, worship, serve and enjoy His divine sports!
This enjoyment, nothing but incessant meditation, burns away those burning sorrows!
There is no better and easy way, In the age of Kali Yuga.”
Sri Sri Sitaramdas Omkarnath

Swami Dhruvananda Giri, the enlightened sage, had assured Sitaramdas Omkarnath, during the latter’s exalted spiritual state, “God is walking you the varied paths.” In a superb biographical account of the spiritual practices and attainments of Sitaram, the author and learned Teacher, Shri Bhoomananda (Professor Sadananda Chakravarti) has introduced the description with    a pithy observation, “All roads lead to Rome” that is, all the paths walked lead to the same destination.
The many and varied paths and practices adopted by the great yogi Sitaramdas Omkarnath  are indeed very difficult to elaborate upon. We have chosen to merely hint at some of these. Any one among these that may catch one’s attention, if focused upon, expand into a veritable philosophy and ideal. Shri Bhoomananda writes, “How many roads did he traverse to reach his Rome? Look at it from whatever angle you will, the Master’s life has been an object lesson to us.”

No matter which of the unprecedented methods of spiritual practice of Sitaram we choose to follow, we are sure to be endowed with precious and sublime spiritual gems!

Some of the renowned paths in the tradition of Yoga are those of karmayoga, bhaktiyoga, jnanayoga, rajayoga, layayoga, sharanagati yoga, siddhayoga and so on. Sitaram traversed all the paths of yoga and attained to the exalted Ultimate Supreme through each one. His works therefore refer to, and illustrate, all the paths of yoga. We could divide the paths he adopted into

  1. Practices Preparatory to yoga and II) Principal Practices of yoga.

Worshipin Trisandhyakal: During the Vedic period, the practice of sandhya was compulsory, as instructed by the Vedas. Sandhya was to be practiced with prescribed procedures during the twilight periods and at noon (trisandhyakal). Sitaram attached great importance to it, for,  and this is no exaggeration, his life was a living testimony to the truth of the Vedas. He himself was rigorous and unfailing in his practice of sandhya, offerings (to the gods) as well as other rites prescribed in the shastras. In time, his sandhya was to merge into the Gayatri, and the Gayatri to later dissolve into the Aumkar. With the dissolution into Aumkar, he became an adept in the Aumkar. The state of galitahasta overcame him when he attempted to offer water and flowers as part of worship. Water would flow out from in between his fingers and the flower would remain unoffered in his hand! Such state, the galitahasta, indicates naishkarmya siddhi wherein a sublimely passive state prevailing, the act of worship becomes redundant.

  1. Worship of Mother and Father as God: A noteworthy pronouncement of the Vedas is Pitrudevobhava Matrudevobhava Acharyadevobhava (meaning: the father, the mother and the teacher have the status of God). Sri Bhagawan made the pronouncement, Acharya ma vijaaneeyaat which signifies the Godly status of the Teacher. Let us look at excerpts from the life of Sitaram.

    Though Sitaram lost him in early youth, portions taken from his spiritual literary work ‘Pagaler Khayaal’, show his continuing devotion to his father. An interesting excerpt:
    It is a year to this day since I lost my father. I have no idea where, in whose home you have been reborn. I shall never be able to meet you in this present life of mine.

    He had lost his mother, Malyavati, in his childhood. However, Giribala Devi, (much in the manner of Yashoda Ma, foster-mother of Krishna Bhagawan) took the little Sitaram for her own and raised him with earnest love. Sitaram displayed a worshipful love for his foster-mother, the likes of which is nearly unthinkable for the one who lives in this age and day. Sitaram performed the circumambulation around his mother, which is customary in the worship of  the gods and rendered a worshipful salutation with joined palms (pranaam), every single day. After pranaam, he would worship her with offerings of flowers and sandal paste, wash her feet and partake of the washings of her feet. Even while in self-exile and self-imposed silence, and absorbed in an exalted state, he would abandon the stern rigours in obedience to her instruction, and rush to her from a distant place. At the opportune times, he would keep his mother within his own residence, fulfilling her needs with minute attention.

    God may be attained through the worship of father and mother. Sitaram would relate the story of Pundarik (of Pandharpur), fabled for his worship of his parents. Becoming identified and absorbed in the story, Sitaram would enter samadhi. On coming out of such a state, he would declare to one and all, “The one who says that the mother is the Divine Mother, the father, the Divine Father, such a one need not follow any religion or faith. God will descend and manifest in the life of such a one.”

  2. Worshipof the Guru as God: Sitaram was peerless as a worshipper of his Guru as God! In one of the later chapters in this book, we have described in elaborate detail, Sitaram's worship of and service to his Guru. The tale of Bharata administrating the kingdom with the two padukas of Rama installed on the throne is known the world over. This severe penance of Bharata is perhaps bettered by Sitaram! Bharata practiced such penance for a period of fourteen years. Sitaram practiced such penance for a lifetime, bearing his Guru’s twin padukas as pendants over his chest, wherever he went. The twin padukas were installed in the very heart of Sitaram!

    He held firm conviction about three pronouncements of his Guru:
    1. Everything that God does is auspicious.
    2. The Universe (and the world therein) is subject to change.
    3. This day shall not last.

    4. Sitaram’s life as preacher was completely founded upon the support of two things, first, his worshipful bearing of the Guru’s padukas and second, the Guru’s words of blessing, “I pray  to the Auspicious One, that you may be long-lived and always absorbed in preaching the Truth, and, that the Auspicious One may confer special grace on you.” These words of Guru’s grace found a special place in Sitaram’s heart; over and above, he ensured the blessings were published, along with Guru’s photograph, as the first among the forewords of any written material published at his initiative.
      This was a sure sign of the firm loyalty of Sitaram to his Guru. In every Mutt and Ashram of the Sampradaya, the idol of Shri Shri Dasharathidev is worshipped every day. If ever Sitaram chanced on his own photograph or idol being worshipped, he would be angered and halt such a practice. As a result, the disciples of Sitaram were constrained to perform such worship in their own rooms, hidden from the eye of the Guru! He did not allow his own photograph to be published; he maintained with firm conviction, “Publicity of oneself is nothing but spiritual suicide!” Sitaram always exerted towards preaching the greatness of his Guru, not his own self. His life, which was a reflection of his refuge with Guru, took inspiration from a sublime saying in Sanskrit, whose philosophical import is that the Guru, who is the equivalent of the Vedanta, is worthy of worship and salutation.
      During his last days, even as he lay on his death-bed, he would hold reverently the Guru’s paduka to his head, drink the washings from Guru’s feet and eat as prasad the leavings which had been offered to Guru. When he spoke of his Guru, his voice would choke with emotion and his eyes would fill up with tears. Sitaram has sung a musical salutation to his Guru:

      O Dasharathi, God of my worship, O my very life-energy! O Giver of Knowledge, of God-speed to Liberation,

      Even the venerable Tulsidas bows low at your feet! The lowly devotees render crores of salutations.

      With the twin paduka nestled on his bosom The lowly Sitaram’s heart rests glad
      At his singular fortune!

      Sitaram’s worshipful attitude extended to his Guru-Ma as well. He would again and again return to Digsui to have a sight of the holy feet of the Guru-Ma, Shri Shri Hemanginidevi. In preparation of the observance of festivals and auspicious events, he would pray constantly in her remembrance. He would earnestly request her blessings through her presence and the rites would be performed in her name. If a solemn vow was undertaken to institute an ashram, it would be inevitably made in her name.

      In 1980, during Durga Pooja at Durgapuri at Delhi, the organizers succeeded in bringing Guru-Ma to the venue. Meanwhile, Sitaram, being deeply absorbed in sadhana at Gujarat,  had already registered his inability to attend the event. But on getting telegraphic news of the arrival of his Guru-Ma, he rushed post-haste to the venue.
      Arrangements for Guru-Ma’s stay had been made at the home of Subrato Roy Chowdhury who was the husband of her granddaughter, and a devotee of Sitaram as well. The organizers of the Durga Pooja made arrangements for Sitaram to reside in the spacious and well-appointed Durga Ashram. Sitaram, turning a blind eye to the comforts of the Ashram, arrived at Subrato Chowdhury’s home, planted himself at the feet of the Guru-Ma and declared that he cared less for the Pooja and wished much more to offer pranaam to the Guru-Ma. It was this latter wish that had brought him all the way to Delhi. As long as she resided there, he remained at her feet.

      We recount here an entertaining though telling incident. Dhirendranath Mukhopadhyaya, Sitaram’s fellow disciple was a recluse. He held Sitaram in very high regard, treated him almost as a Guru and addressed him as dada (elder brother). The youngsters in Sitaram’s family loved him much and reposed great confidence in him; they addressed him as kaka (uncle).

      On one occasion, a loving battle of words took place…the youngsters cheekily asked,  “What was the standing of your Guru? Look at Sitaram, he is a world-Teacher with lakhs and lakhs of devotee-children…see how vast the scope of his work is!” The ‘uncle’ possessed of a subtle intellect, replied, “My guru has prepared one disciple such as Sitaram; let us see if your Guru, Sitaram will be able to prepare one disciple such as himself. This will show his capability!”   It was impossible to debate post this claim. Truly, the greatest creation of Guru Shri Shri Dashrathidev, Sitaram, remains unexcelled to this day; the lakhs of lamps of the attainments of the disciples simply pale in the brilliant light of the one Sitaram.

      The tales of Sitaram’s devotion to Guru bring tears to the eyes for they are unprecedented in the realm of spirituality. Over and above the Guru from whom he obtained initiation, he also revered and treated as Guru, all those who rendered spiritual advice, gave guidance, or even simply asked him to learn by heart a certain shastra or spiritual work. In fact, Sitaram treated all as Guru and performed the salutation of bowing at the feet of every single person, until  the state of immobility (as of a pillar) descended upon him. Sitaram writes in his work, Shri Gurumahimamrit, “All, down to the immobile blade of grass, are an essence of Guru.” And how adorable and worship-worthy are all these! Sitaram’s philosophy of ‘Guru is God’ leaves us astonished.

  3. Varnashram: In all the scriptures, the observance of Varnashram is extolled. Sri Bhagawan in the Gita has clearly stated: Chaaturvarnam mayaa shrishtam gunakarma vibhaagashaha

    Sitaram declared about the Shastras, “… I openly declare my adoration for You. I was unable to obey all your injunctions; howsoever, the few which I did obey have left me utterly gratified. I am drowned in the sea of Divine Bliss. Hence I shall declare loudly, until my mortal coil lasts, that the shastras are the Truth, the shastras are non-delusional, and, the one who takes refuge in them shall find himself sheltered in the very bosom of God…”
    In the present age, Sitaram excelled in conforming to various shastric injunctions. Far from being content with the preaching and propaganda of varnashram, he practiced varnashram de rigeur in an exemplary manner. No wonder Sitaram always remained in the close embrace of God, indeed became God himself.