Sunday, February 18, 2018

Chapter 4: Nepal Pilgrimage


Nepal

Maharajji left for Nepal by train from Mathura Station. He used to travel alone without any friendly help but a sadhu became his fellow traveller by chance. This instance had his natural but indifferent consent. The train had to be changed at a couple of stations for going to Nepal from Mathura and the last leg of the journey had to be completed either on foot or some other means of transport as there was no railway track. His journey had commenced and that station came where the train had to be changed. Maharajji  got down and sat on the platform; the sadhu was also with him. Meanwhile, a guard came strolling along and was attracted by Maharajji's lustrous face.

Any service you need, Maharajji? Prostrating before Maharajji, he entreated humbly

I have no requirement,  was Maharajji's reply.

However, he went on insisting modestly for Maharajji to accept some service of his.


Sadhus Sitting at a Distance

Seeing his distinctive solicitation, Shri Maharajji pointed at some sadhus sitting at a distance and suggested,These sadhus appear to be hungry, feed them something.

Happily the guard called a vendor and bought half a seer of pooris [1]and some saag[2]  for each sadhu. Maharajji did not take anything himself. The guard was impressed on seeing Maharajji's indifference to his own comfort and thoughtfulness for other's needs as well as his ascetic behaviour. On learning that Maharajji was going on a pilgrimage to Nepal, the guard arranged tickets for him and the sadhu accompanying him.


Sitamarhi in Mithila Region, Bihar

Covering the path in this manner, Maharaj reached the village of Sitamarhi. A rich and respected sentimental devotee by the name of Seth Arjundas used to live there. He would serve whichever saint came to the village to the best of his ability. Soon enough, he went to see Maharajji and was impressed by his saintly nature, satsangs[3]  and sermons. Extremely insistent he took Maharajji to his house and devouty attended to his needs for a few days. The sadhu accompanying him could not tolerate the high regard and hospitable service accorded to Maharajji.

Satsang and discourses would go on generally. At times jovial talks and pragmatic discussions would also take place. One day Sethji naturally took up the topic of controls and the problem of grain.


 Grain

Maharajji remarked light-heartedly,These are the days of control and regulations. You must have certainly stored enough grain for yourself?Maharajji remarked light-heartedly, in sympathy.

This light conversation went on for a short while. Shri Maharajji kept the proposal of leaving the next day. The Seth[4] and Sethani[5] talked among themselves and mutually decided that they should arrange to give two hundred rupees, clothes and a vessel as service rendered to Maharajji. The Sadhu somehow managed to hear this private talk of the Seth and Sethani and could not bear such honour being bestowed on Maharaj ji. He devised a scheme.

Getting up early in the morning, the sadhu instantly went to Sethji and said,O Sethji! You are  very naive. By whom are you being deceived? This Mahatama is a secret agent. He is spying and taking your secrets. Otherwise what need was there of the Mahatma to ask whether grain is stored or not, it is an era of control and what are the rates. Beware, he might get you arrested!


 
The Sadhu

 In this way he thoroughly poisoned Sethji's ears. Wealthy people are generally timid and credulous. This was enough for Sethji to be alarmed and he was fully convinced about what the Sadhu had said. How could there be any regard and hospitality now ? Perfunctorily and indifferently Sethji made Maharajji have bhiksha, served him food and went through the procedure of bidding farewell. Maharajji was very astonished. How could this sudden change come about in Sethji? He had been serving him so sentimentally, till the day before. Maharajji could figure out that the sadhu was the cause of this drastic transformation. However, he did not say a word  and happily left for the journey ahead.

Now Maharajji thought it was better if he travelled by himself. Leaving the company of that Sadhu on some pretext, he began roaming all alone. Going further he reached a village. Maharajji had not eaten any meal for the past three days and was extremely hungry. 


Shri Ramanandacharya

A bhandara[6]  for sadhus was being held at a spot of the Ramanand Sampradaya, in celebration of some festival. Maharaj ji went there for taking bhiksha. The mahant was standing at the entrance.

Which sampradaya do you belong to? Which akhara[7] ? Which dvara?” he asked.

Maharajji answered in natural good humour,The mouth is the dvara and the stomach is the akhara. I have not eaten anything for the past three days and am famished. I want bhiksha[8].

Mahantji was enraged at his answer. He pushed Maharajji out and shut the door. The huge brick wall of the entrance fell down with a loud thud as soon as he shut the door. As fate would have it, Mahantji escaped safely. He was sort of taken aback at this unexpected incident. He understood that the newcomer was some siddh, a spiritually evolved, Mahatma. The offense committed towards him had resulted in this accident. However, by the time he grasped this reality, Shri Maharajji had gone quite far.

Mahantji ran after him speedily and cried in remorse,Mahatmaji! Mahatmaji! Please stop! Forgive me and come back to have prasad.

Equanimous to honour and dishonour, Shri Maharajji returned. Mahantji served him food with great regard. Bidding farewell, Maharajji went ahead and reached Nepal in a span of few days.


 Nepal

Lying along the southern slopes of the lofty Himalayan peaks, Nepal is an independent nation. 

 The Shiva Lingam at Pashupatinath

 Counted among the twelve Jyotirlinga[9]s, Shri Pashupatinath is the revered deity of this nation. 

The Pashupatinath Temple

On Shivratri, thousands of pilgrims and multitudes of saints throng the temple for having darshan. If a Mahatma of great standing arrives here, the Rana family serves him with great hospitality on knowing of his arrival.

Reaching Kathmandu, Maharajji had darshan of Shri Pashupatinathji. After doing bhiksha he took rest in a secluded place. He would usually go to Shri Pashupatinath as long as he remained in Kathmandu. Attracted by his asceticism and radiant personality, the society of bhaktas would throng to him and get enraptured on listening to his spiritual discourses and sermons.

 
Kathmandu is the City of Shiva

Kathmandu, Nepal's capital is virtually 'Shivpuri', the city of Shiva. Generally one gets to hear the sound of Shiva's name being chanted and talk of Shiva.  


Shri Krishna Mandir, Kathmandu

One day Shri Maharajji was sitting beside a famous Shri Krishna Mandir. A few bhaktas were also present. Soon after, the sound of arti [10]was heard from the mandir. Some Vaishnava students were sitting there.


 Lord Hari & Goddess Lakshmi

srit kamla kuch mandal, ae, jai jai dev hare, meaningVictory, victory, victory to that Lord Hari who is supported by the upright luminous expanse of Goddess Lakshmi's breasts,” these melodious words reverberated.

The mellifluous words entered Maharajji's ears and God entered his inner consciousness through the path of the ears; he had got to hear the sweet name of Krishna after a gap of several days. Shri Maharaj ji went into bhava avesha, a trance like state of religious rapture. Signs of body hairs standing on end, streaming tears, tremors and loss of colour were apparent in his body. This emotional state lasted for some time. During his stay in Kathmandu Maharajji would go to the Shri Krishna Mandir to hear the lovingly tender arti geet, everyday.


Sir Mohan Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana

After some time the fame of Shri Maharajji reached the ears of His Honour Sir Mohan Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, the Commanding General. He and his family were great devotees at heart. Soon after, Rana came along with his wife to see Maharajji. After some initial questions talk of satsang began naturally. The Commanding General and his wife listened in rapt attention and that spiritual discourse impressed them greatly. Next day they came on their own and escorted Shri Maharajji with great honour to their newly built residence in the royal premises. Maharajji was forced to accept their hospitality that day. The Rana family adulated him with food, clothes and various other services. As long as he stayed in Kathmandu, Rana's wife would come to visit him after a couple of days. Attending to his needs by offering fruit, flowers and money she would thus benefit from associating with such a holy saint.
 


 Mendicants in Kathmandu

 Shri Maharajji would not refuse gifts given the sensitive Rani but distributed her offerings to saints and mendicants as soon as she left, not keeping anything with himself. Calmly he would keep singing padas[11] at night. Thus he lived for some days in Nepal and then his heart wanted to move on. When the Rani heard that Maharajji was going to leave she came and offered a handful of gold coins to him. 


Chandra Garhi, Nepal

 He distributed the coins right there and journeyed to Shisha Garhi and Chandra Garhi on foot.



[1]     Poori: a light, round, unleavened wheat bread of India, usually deep-fried.
[2] Saag: spinach, a leafy vegetable
[3]     Satsangs: congregational spiritual discourses
[4]     Seth: affluent businessman
[5]     Sethani: businessman's wife
[6]     Bhandara: free feast
[7]     Akhara:in Hinduism akhara is an oranization of the different sects of sadus, vairagis, and yogis

[8] Bhiksha: cooked food as alms
[9]     Jyotirlingas:As per Shiva Mahapurana, once Brahma  and Vishnu  had an argument in terms of supremacy of creation.To test them, Shiva pierced the three worlds as a huge endless pillar of light, the jyotirlinga. Vishnu and Brahma split their ways to downwards and upwards respectively to find the end of the light in either directions. Brahma lied that he found out the end, while Vishnu conceded his defeat. Shiva appeared as a second pillar of light and cursed Brahma that he would have no place in ceremonies while Vishnu would be worshipped till the end of eternity. The jyotirlinga is the supreme partless reality, out of which Shiva partly appears. The jyothirlinga shrines, thus are places where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light.
[10]    Arti: a ritual performed in homes and temples in which incense and light is offered to a deity in Hinduism.
[11]    Padas: verses of a devotional nature