2.9 MARRIAGE AND RETURN TO DAKSHINESWAR
The Master’s mother and brother were very anxious at Kamarpukur on hearing the news that he had given up priestly duties. Scarcely had two years elapsed since Ramkumar’s passing away when Chandramani Devi, the Master’s mother, and his brother Rameswar came to know to their utter dismay that he was suffering from ‘insanity’. Misfortunes never come singly. One after another, mishaps come from all sides and darken man’s life completely. This was exactly what happened to them Gadadhar, whom Chandradevi had borne in her advanced age, was naturally very dear to her. Overwhelmed, therefore, with sorrow, she made arrangements for bringing him back home. When he was with her, she noticed his indifference, absent-mindedness and restlessness, heard his repeated and piteous cries of “Mother”, “Mother”, and tried various means to remedy them Along with administering medicines, various rites propitiatory to gods and demigods were tried. This was at the end of the year 1858.
Although after his return home the Master generally lived his normal life, he became sometimes overwhelmed with spiritual emotions, when his deportment and behaviour became quite contrary to the normal. Again, he felt great pain on account of the burning sensation in his body. Thus, on the one hand, he displayed his usual simple and amiable behaviour towards all, his devotion to God and mother, and his love for his friends; and on the other, there were evident in him from time to time an extraordinary contrary manifestation of an indifference to everything, an absence of shame, aversion and fear, an exuberant eagerness for attaining a vague, unknown object and an obstinate effort to clear all obstacles from the path to his desired goal. These produced in the minds of people a strange belief that he was possessed by a ghost.
That thought had crossed the mind of the simple-hearted Chandradevi also. Now when she heard others talking in the same strain, she resolved to call an exorcist for the good of her son. The Master used to say, “One day an exorcist came, burnt a wick sanctified by Mantras, and made me smell it; he said, ‘If it is a ghost it will flee’; but it was of no avail. Afterwards worship and other ceremonies were performed with the help of a few famous exorcists and a Chanda was invited. The Chanda accepted the worship and offerings, became pleased and said to the exorcists, ‘Neither has he been possessed by a ghost nor is he suffering from any disease.’ The Chanda then addressed me in the presence of all and said, ‘O Gadai, you want to be a Sadhu, why then do you take so much of betel-nut? Don’t you know that it increases lust?’ Indeed I liked betel-nut very much and used to take it very often; however, I gave it up at the Chanda’s word.”
Then the Master was about to complete his twenty-third year. To a great extent, he regained the normal state of his health during his stay at Kamarpukur. There must have been some particular reason for his regaining his normal health and the ceasing of his piteous crying. That he could now be at peace was surely due to the repeated visions of the divine Mother. We are firmly convinced of it from what we have heard about his state at that time from his relatives. We shall now narrate their account.
All alone, he spent a good part of his time in the two fearful solitary crematoriums named Bhutirkhal and Budhui-moral, in the western and the north-eastern borders of Kamarpukur, respectively. Now his relatives came to know of the occasional manifestation of extraordinary powers in him. The Master, we were told, went out from home with a new pot full of sweets and other eatables in order to offer them to the jackals and the demigods that lived there. When those eatables were offered as oblation to them, the pot, the Master told them, would go up in the air and vanish into the void and he could sometimes see those demigods with his own eyes. When his second brother Rameswar found that he did not return home even after midnight, he would go towards those places and loudly call his brother by name. The Master would hear him and reply in a loud voice, “Yes, brother. I am coming. Don’t proceed any farther this side, the demigods might harm you.” During this period the Master planted a seedling of a Vilva tree with his own hand in the Bhutirkhal crematorium. He used to sit under the old peepul tree that was there and meditate and perform Japa for long periods of time. From what the relatives of the Master told us, it appears that the painful want that he had been experiencing, the want of the vision of the divine Mother, was now removed by some extraordinary spiritual visions and experiences. When we study this period of his life it seems to us that he was now having constant visions of the divine Mother’s form—the Mother extremely gracious to the Sadhakas, consisting of pure consciousness, holding in two of Her hands a sword and a severed head and stretching out the other two hands in gestures of offering boons and absolute fearlessness. He was now moulding his life according to Her directions received in response to his questions. He had, it seems, the firm conviction since then, that he would soon have the unique fortune of having the divine Mother’s eternal beatific vision.
We have heard not only of the Master’s being engaged in such rites and ceremonies as feeding jackals and demigods but also of his practising Yoga as a result of which he developed prophetic powers. Hriday and many people of Kamarpukur and Jayaramvati attested to it and we heard the same from the Master himself.
By now the Master’s mother and other members of the household had learnt that, by the grace of Providence, the disease which he was suffering from had abated to a great extent. For they noticed that he did not now cry piteously as before, and took food at the proper time, and that all his other actions and behaviour were just like those of ordinary persons. But the facts that he used to go very often to the burning grounds and sit for worship and meditation putting off his cloth without any sense of shame and that he would get annoyed at the interference with his prayer and meditation, and spend most of his time with gods and goddesses to the utter disregard of others’ words — all these were to be regarded as his natural inclinations from his childhood, and not as something unusual, due to insanity.
Still they saw with great apprehension that the Master was completely indifferent to worldly affairs and that there was an uninterrupted inwardness about his personality. The fear that there was a great possibility of a relapse as long as he did not pay attention to the daily worldly concerns in a natural way and did not give up his indifference, arose in their minds over and over again and threw them even now into a gulf of anxiety. The Master’s affectionate mother and elder brother were now very often busy in inventing various means of saving him from a relapse into that state. At last after a good deal of thinking and consultation, the mother and the son decided to get the Master married; and, therefore, an urgency was felt for finding a suitable bride. For they thought that the Master’s mind would not roam about in high spiritual regions if he began to love a good-natured wife coming of a noble family. Although he was now in the prime of his youth, he was dependent in all respects on his mother and brother, and was the same guileless boy as ever. The slightest effort or endeavour for improving his own worldly affairs was not perceptible in him How could it be forthcoming unless the responsibility of maintaining his wife and children rested on his shoulders?
The bride had to be brought into the bridegroom’s family only after paying a marriage portion according to the custom of that part of the country. Had they the means to pay so much money as the marriage portion of a girl of ten or eleven would require? They hesitated, and had not married off Gadadhar till then, only because money could not be gathered on account of various mishaps in the family. Had he been married long before to a girl of five, she would have grown up by this time to attract her husband’s mind and could have taken upon herself much of the management of the family. In any case what was destined to happen had happened; there should be no more delay. So they sought for a bride all round.
However secretly the consultation between the mother and the elder son took place, the clever Master came to know of it very soon. But he did not raise any objection when the proposal of marriage was made; rather, he behaved like a child who makes merry and feels happy on festive occasions in the family. Was it because he got an affirmative reply to this question from the Mother Universal that he was in such a mood of merriment? Or was it due to his boyish lack of thinking and foresight? No doubt, people in general would point out the latter as the reason, but we have discussed the topic elsewhere1 and have reasons to differ.
People were sent on errands to the surrounding villages, but nowhere could a suitable bride be found. Rameswar, the elder brother of the Master, did not venture to settle the marriage with any one of the few available girls because their parents demanded a marriage portion too high for him to pay. His friends of the village also did not advise him to settle the marriage by paying such a large sum. Chandradevi, however, became very anxious. For, she was going to get Gadadhar married for his future good and not just for removing her own mental depression — into which she was thrown at the death of her godlike husband and of her first son Ramkumar — by participating in the unalloyed joy of her pet Gadai’s marriage. Therefore she could not rest satisfied with merely thinking that a bride was not available. A vigorous search was made again. As no bride was available in spite of this search, the Master’s mother and brother became extremely worried, when one day the Master suddenly went into Bhavasamadhi and said, “It is useless to search here and there; go and search in the family of Ram Mukhopadhyaya of the village of Jayaramvati; the bride has been marked with a straw2 and kept reserved there.”
Although they could not immediately have faith in those words of the Master, his mother and brother sent a man there to make an enquiry. He brought the news that, other things apart, the bride-to-be was too young, just a little more than five years. As no other bride was available anywhere else and this girl was found in such an unexpected way, the Master’s mother had no alternative but to agree to Gadadhar’s marriage with that girl. Everything was settled by a few days’ negotiation. Afterwards an auspicious day and an auspicious moment were looked up in the almanac. Then Rameswar went with his brother to the village of Jayaramvati, four miles west of Kamarpukur, and had the auspicious marriage ceremony performed with the five-year-old, only daughter of Ramchandra Mukhopadhyaya, and returned home. A marriage portion of three hundred rupees had to be paid. It was the month of May, 1859 and the Master had reached his twenty-fourth year.
Chandramani, it is evident, was free from anxiety to a great extent after Gadadhar’s marriage. When she found that her son obeyed all her injunctions regarding marriage as well as those regarding other matters, she thought that Providence was now propitious after all. For, would all things have come to pass so well, had He not been favourable? The listless son had returned home, a bride of noble descent had graced her family, want of money had also been removed providentially and Gadai had entered the life of the world! So, how could it be said that Providence was not favourable? Therefore the virtuous, simple-hearted Chandradevi became somewhat happy now. But she, we can clearly understand, became greatly distressed at the thought of the poverty of her family a few days afterwards. In order to please the bride’s father and to keep up appearances, the bridal ornaments had been borrowed from the Lahas, their landlord friends, to adorn the bride with on the day of the wedding. From the marriage day, Chandradevi, by lavishing her love on the bride, made her new daughter-in-law more than her own daughter so that Gadadhar might love her very dearly. Now that the time for returning those ornaments had come, the eyes of the old lady were filled with tears to think that she should muster the sternness to take off the ornaments from the girl’s person. She, however, did not express the anguish of her heart to anyone, but it did not take long for Gadadhar to understand it. He pacified his mother with a few words and took off the ornaments from the person of his sleeping wife so deftly that she could not know it at all. The ornaments were immediately sent back to the Lahas. But the matter did not end there. The intelligent girl, when she woke up, said, “Where are those ornaments I had on?” With tears Chandradevi took the girl on her lap and said by way of consoling her, “My child, Gadadhar will give you afterwards many ornaments better than those.” The bride’s uncle came that day to see her and when he came to know this, he expressed great displeasure and took her away. Chandradevi was once more rudely shocked. But very soon the Master removed that pain of hers by his playfulness and jocular remarks, such as, “Let them say or do whatever they like; the marriage cannot be annulled now.”
After his marriage, the Master spent about one year and seven months at Kamarpukur. His mother had him with her after a very long time and did not easily give him permission to return to Calcutta. She did not soon allow him to return lest he should have a relapse of that insanity. Anyway he stayed on and, according to the custom of the family, went to his father-in-law’s house for a few days and returned on an auspicious day to Kamarpukur together with his wife, who, by now, had reached her seventh year.
Now he resolved to return to Calcutta shortly after his “coming in a pair”, as it was called. But for his poverty he would not have had to come to Calcutta. Although his mother and brother asked him to remain at home for some time more, the poverty in the family was not unknown to him. How then could the affectionate and loving heart of the Master remain free from anxiety, fully knowing as he did, all that? He did not comply with their wish, but returned to Calcutta, to the Kali temple, and took over charge of the divine Mother’s service.
Scarcely had he performed the worship for a few days when he became so much absorbed in it that everything about Kamarpukur — mother, brother, wife, worldly affairs, want, etc., — got shut up in a dark secluded corner of his heart. The only idea that occupied the whole of his mind was how he could see the divine Mother in all beings at all times. His chest became reddish again on account of continuous Japa, remembrance of God and reflection and meditation on Him The world and all talks thereof appeared to him as deadly poison; that terrible burning sensation came on him again; and sleep vanished as it were into air. But as he had experienced such physical and mental states once before, he was not completely overwhelmed by them as before.
We were told by Hriday that on a call from Mathur Babu, Gangaprasad, the reputed Ayurvedic physician of Calcutta, prescribed for the Master medicines like Chaturmukha pills, and Madhyamanarayana and other oils one after another, for the cure of his sleeplessness, excess of the humour of wind, the burning sensation in his body, etc. Although no immediate result was produced by the treatment, Hriday did not lose hope, and occasionally went with the Master to the Calcutta house of the physician for his treatment. One day, the Master said, when he went there with Hriday, Gangaprasad examined him carefully and prescribed new medicines. Then there was with him another physician of eastern Bengal. Attracted by the Master’s looks and thinking deeply over his disease, he said, “It appears from the symptoms that he is in a state of divine inebriation. It is not curable by medicine.”3 The Master used to say that it was this physician who, of all, was the first to be able to ascertain the real cause of his physical changes appearing like a disease. But nobody then believed in his words. Time passed on thus. Mathur Babu and other friends and well-wishers of the Master grew more anxious and went on trying various treatments for his extraordinary disease. But the disease was on the increase and showed no signs of abatement.
Gradually the news reached Kamarpukur. Having no other alternative, Chandradevi undertook a complete fast unto death before Siva for the recovery of her son. Knowing that the “ancient” Siva of Kamarpukur was an “awakened” deity, she went to His temple and lay prostrate without food or drink. Here she got the instruction from the “ancient” Siva that she would have her desire fulfilled if she undertook that vow in the temple of the Siva of Mukundapur, where she went and undertook the fast again. Although she knew that nobody used to undertake such fast in that temple before, the old lady had full faith in the divine instruction and undertook the fast. Hardly had two or three days passed when she dreamt that Siva, the great God, more silvery in complexion than silver itself, bedecked with glowing matted hair and clad in a tiger skin, appeared before her and consoled her saying, “Don’t be afraid; your son is not mad; he is in that state on account of a tremendous awakening of the divine spirit in him” Thus assured through divine intimation, the virtuous old lady offered worship to the great God with her heart purified by devotion and, returning home, began to serve Sitala and Raghuvir with undivided attention for her son’s mental peace. Many men and women, we were told, have since then been undertaking fasts in the temple of the Siva at Mukundapur and getting their desires fulfilled.
Remembering the happenings of that time, the Master said to us now and again: “Far from such a state being fully produced in ordinary peoples’ bodies and minds, one fourth of such changes is enough to bring their lives to an end. I remained occupied with some vision or other of the Mother during the greater part of the day and night; that saved the situation; otherwise it would have been impossible for this sheath (showing his body) to survive. I had no sleep at all for six long years. The eyes lost the power of winking; I could not close the eyes in spite of all my efforts. I had no idea of the passing of time and was not at all conscious of the body; When the attention turned from Mother to the body, even if a little, I felt apprehensive, thinking, ‘Am I on the verge of insanity?’ I stood before a mirror and put my finger into my eyes to see whether the eyelids closed; I found the eyelids were even then equally incapable of winking; 1 became alarmed and wept complaining to Mother, ‘Mother, is this the result of calling on Thee? Is it the result of my absolute reliance on Thee that Thou hast given this terrible disease to this body?’ And the next moment I said, ‘Let anything happen to this. Let the body go, if it is to do so; but see that Thou dost not forsake me. Do reveal Thyself to me and bestow Thy grace on me; for, Mother, I have utterly taken refuge at Thy lotus feet and have absolutely no support except Thee,’ I used to weep thus for some time, when my mind would again be filled with extraordinary ecstasy. The body appeared to be a trifling thing — something unworthy of attention. Then I was blessed with Her vision and consoled by Her words assuring freedom from fear.”
Again it was during this time that one day Mathur was astonished and dumbfounded on having an unsolicited vision of a wonderful divine manifestation in the Master by the inscrutable decree of the Mother of the universe. We have described elsewhere4 how he had that vision of the forms of Siva and Kali in the Master and offered his heartfelt worship to him as the veritable God. He was compelled to view the Master with a different eye since that day and to have devotion to and faith in him When we see such an impossible event happen, it is brought home to us that the divine Mother, the Will of all wills, thus bound up both of them inseparably with the cord of love because Mathur’s help and service during the following period of the Master’s life of Sadhana would be indispensable. One is wonder-struck to find from such events, proofs of how much care the divine Mother took and what wonderful means She employed, in order to make the Master’s body and mind fit instruments for stemming the decline of religion in, and infusing a new spiritual vigour into, the modern world overpowered by agnosticism, atheism and materialism.