The Mother Divine
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By Dr Arindam Chakrabarti (Kinkar Abhayananda)
(A Foreword to the Hindi Translation of “MANNAATHA”)

Sri Sri Gurave Namah

I am Guru’s, Guru is Mine

(Mein Guru kA, Guru MerA----Ami Guru-r, AmAr Guru, )

When we read, think, or hear about Bhagwan Sri Sri Sitaramdas Omkarnath’s… how very human (kitnA mAnavik) yet how very superhuman (phir bhi kitnA hi ati-mAnavik)… life and character, we invariably remember GiitA’s verse:

आश्चर्यवत्पश्यति कश्चिदेन माश्चर्यवद्वदति तथैव चान्यः। आश्चर्यवच्चैनमन्यः शृणोति श्रुत्वाप्येनं वेद न चैव कश्चित् ॥ Bhagavadgita: 2.29।।

ascharya-vat pasyati kascid enam ascharya-vad vadati tathaiva chanyah

ascharya-vac chainam anyah srnoti srutvapy enam veda na chaiva kascit

Some see the soul as amazing, some speak of him as amazing, some others hear of him as amazing, while many others, even after hearing about him, cannot understand him at all.

“But this Bhagavad-GitA verse is not about the Teacher; it is about the Self—AtmA”, someone may object. In reply, we could simply say, that “MannAtha” is also “Mad-AtmA”. Our Master Omkarnath picked the title of his biography of his own Master from the famous verse:

“My master is the master of the world, my teacher is the teacher of the world, and I bow down to That Guru who is my Self, and the Self of all living beings.” Why are our Master, our Master’s Master, and most importantly the relation (sambandh) between them so amazing?

It is amazing because whatever adjective we apply to the Self (AtmA), we are compelled to apply its logical opposite also. Thus Isha Upanishad says about the “sarva-bhUtAtmA” : he moves, he moves not, he is very far away, he is very near by, he is inside everyone yet he is outside of all these beings.

In like manner, the relationship between Sri Sri Thakur Omkarnath and his “Ashcaryavat” Gurudev Sri Sri Dasarathi Dev is amazing, wondrous (adbhut) because at every step the disciple appears to become the teacher, and the teacher seems appears to become the disciple. The expression of amazement (vismaya) is the question “What is this? Who are you?” As Arjuna, after seeing the Vishwa-rUpa asked his own intimate friend “Tell me WHO ARE you? (AkhyAhi me ko bhavAn ugra rUpah?) Similarly, Dasharathi Dev, at a turning point in his life asked his dearest disciple:
“Tell me, please, with WHAT element are you made? (kim asi gathitah tat kathaya me). That amazing verse-offering (shlok-upahAr) authored by Dasharathi of the village Digsui addressed to Prabodh (the future Sitaraam) of the village Dumurdaha around 1912 is the best description of the mysterious mind-mesmerizing relationship between this divine pair of souls:

“Whether you are my teacher or my pupil, is not known.
But from your nature, one thing is well-understood: that you are mine and I am yours. If you are the teacher, I am hereby taking refuge in you, please save and instruct me! If you are the disciple/pupil, then tell me with what ingredients are you made?”

Sitaram wrote an immense amount on a vast range of subjects. And he was not at all shy about talking about his own life, his darshan of Lord Shiva once in childhood and once again in his youth and his spiritual experiences. Then why did he not write his own autobiography? He did not, because, he had no sense of a separate Ego. He literally considered himself to be his own “Guru-Vigraha”—a body belonging to his own Guru, Srimad Dasharathi Dev. And thus, by writing the two books “MannAtha” and “Milan-GAthA” about his own Guru, Sitaram has given us a minutely detailed autobiography. He felt and lived the truth that he belonged to his own guru and his guru belonged to him: “Ami tomAr i, tumi AmAr I”. The book translated into Hindi here, MANNAATHA, is thus the love-story of Sitaram and Dasharathi, the eternal pair of teacher-disciple. Writing the life of his own Guru, for Sitaram, amounted to writing his own life.

On this point, our author Omkarnath himself raises an objection and a question about this book. “The Godly character (Devopam Charitra) of my Thakur, and his love, attracted me totally to him and gradually as my consciousness was improving and rising higher, I constantly thought about how to become more and more like him.”.. After these remarks and some details of his own Initiation (DiikshA), Sitaram raises the Question: “When speaking about Thakur (Gurudev/MannAtha) why are we speaking about ourselves? This question should arise naturally. In reply to this, let me say this: It is only with us (humlogko le-ke hi) that our Thakur exists, it is through us and in no other way that his greatness, his glory, is expressed and revealed. Had there not been two or three such worst human beings (narAdham, gandA adham AdmiyAn) like us, whom would he have redeemed and saved?”

Once again, we see how Sitaram asserts that it is through the RELATION with his disciples and especially his relationship to his dearest disciple Prabodh (Sitaramdas Onkarnath) that Param Gurudev shines in his full glory. Sitaram both belongs to and owns his beloved Guru Dasharathi Dev Yogeshwar. He is his Guru’s and his Guru is His own. Their transcendental amazing relationship is the topic of this gem of a book MANNATHA—MY MASTER.

As we study this uniquely literary (sAhityik) and well-documented book, seven remarkable features of Dasharathi Dev’s life and character come out vividly in front of our mind’s eye:

Life-long struggle with extreme poverty
Ethical uprightness and strong moral character
Staying unperturbed in grief—loss of son, loss of mother, loss of son-in-law etc.
Deep, dignified, humorous but reserved personality.
In spite of orthodoxy and ritualistic perfection, a very liberal world-embracing outlook and concern for all suffering humanity.
Social Service, educational drive to spread knowledge and values locally, cremation of dead bodies etc.
Sanskrit and Bengali literary talent.

In order to understand why it is particularly relevant in the current social and political climate of India to publish a Hindi translation of Sitaram’s fascinating biography of his own Gurudeva for all India circulation, let us conclude this Preface by focusing on one dialogue between our author Sitaram (ME) and his revered Guru (THAKUR). This mysterious (rahasya-ghana) dialogue took place on 28th of MAgh 1331 (page 106 Bengali original) between Sitaram (ME) and DAsharathi (THAKUR):

“Thakur: The day is almost totally gone
Me: Indeed, that’s why I am worrying (thiik, yah hi kAran se chintA ho rahi hai)
Thakur: On top of that, there is darkness ahead of us. (sAmne ghanghor Andhera A-rahA hai)
Me: Right you are, there is deep darkness in front of us.
Thakur: Do not fear. Just after that, a lot of light is coming.
Me: Relieved, to a large extent, knowing that there is a lot light immediately
after that dark period!”

Currently, through the hellish pollution of our physical environment and through the total degradation and corruption of our inner mental life, we are passing through that very Dark Age. But Sitaram and his amazing Teacher who dreamt of saving the whole world by preaching the Harekrishna Mahamantra globally reassure us that a lot of light is about to dawn just after this deep darkness. Let us chant the divine name while we wait for that light.