Friday, January 8, 2010

Chapter 10: Teaching Career - An Earlier Reminiscence

Krishna Explains the Secret of Nishkama Karma to Arjuna

 Nishkama Karma or selfless motiveless action leads to bhakti and mukti. Karmas help in attaining Lord Krishna with a passionate longing for His leelas or divine play and is the means of acquiring swaraga. In the absence of self interest, the devotee pleases his favoured deity and gradually attains reverence, love and dedicated devotion for Him.

The Lotus Feet of Shri Radha-Krishna
Great sages have laid greater stress on acceptance than renunciation in the realm of bhakti. Offering our acts at the feet of Krishna, the Supreme lover and Radha His beloved and steeping ourselves in their love we become instinctively detached from the mundane world. It is essential to follow the course of karmas  until this condition arises on its own accord.

The Varna Ashram

The underlying essence is that there are two advantages of doing deeds in the Varna Ashram (the main division of Hindu society into four social classes based on guna or attribute and karma or activity) either it heads towards renunciation and we gain knowledge which in turn leads to salvation or ardently longing for God's kirtan and katha we acquire religious devotion in the process.

Revered Bahenji had got a proposition for opening a school. Her father was a man of independent ideas and could not support any unethical work of the insurance company which was not in accordance to his principles.This mindset hampered his success and he was forced to leave this job.

We have mentioned earlier that Bahenji had passed her examination of the tenth class and she was fluent in several languages. Reputed people of Ambala Cantonment knew of her calibre.The Sanatan Dharmis requested her once again to start the school and she agreed. Gangeshwar Nandji Maharaj, a renowned saint of Vrindavan was invited and the foundation of the Sanatan Dharam Girls School was laid in the year 1942. Several students and their parents were drawn by Bahenji's loving tenderness and her multi-faceted persona.

Working in the school for a span of roughly four years, her personal education continued simultaneously. In 1946 Ushaji appeared for B.A. Her marks in English were merely 44 on 140 and she could not pass. On getting the paper rechecked it was found that she had scored 94 marks and it was a lapse on the clerk's part. She compassionately forgave the erring officer who begged her not to take any action. Appearing for the examination again, she got through with a first class.

Sanatan Dharam Mandir, Ambala

 Usha Bahenji became so popular among students, colleagues, neighbours, lovers of poetry, leaders of independent India, Congress workers, scholars, spiritualists and social-workers that a throng of admirers always longed for her company. The Sanatan Dharmis persisted that she should pitch in if a speaker did not turn up. A thundering voice at kavi sammelans, a perfect rendition at social festivals, spirited lectures at the assembly's functions and fervent speeches of nationalism were her forte.

The Upanishads

As a matter of chance the courtyard of the Sanatan Dharam Temple and the school was the same, which doubled her responsiblity. Once a religious function was on and great saints and luminaries had been invited. Shankaracharyaji Maharaj, a guest could not reach at the time of the sermon.The swelling crowd eager to hear him, turned restless. The Sanatan Dharmis requested their lovable Munno (Usha Bahenji) to help out. When she stood on the dais with her short stature and serious demeanour, the entire scene became serene. She began to speak, ardently citing examples of shlokas from the Upanishadas and Puranas and left the scholars spellbound.

Labbu Ram, a luminary asked her after the lecture if she had read the shlokas earlier otherwise how could she refer to them so easily. When members of the association questioned her father he proudly revealed that when this girl child was about to be born he would read out episodes of the Shastras and Puranas to her mother. The same reminiscences would spontaneously gush forth when she gave a speech.

At the other end a certain event made her put in her resignation. Her father happened to be a great upholder of justice. The regime of Sanatan Dharam had to be followed with practicability which invariably led to differences of opinion and he resigned from the Sabha. Bahenji also supported his rightful reasoning and stepped down from her post. The Sabha were aghast at this decision since students drawn to her unique style of teaching abandoned the school and headed for her residence.The Sanatan Dharmis requested her father once again and she took over charge of the school on his approval.

Freedom Movement of India

The freedom movement of India was at its peak and independence had been accepted in principle. Partition of the nation was certain. Hindus in present day India and Muslims in current Pakistan were on the move. Several people left for Pakistan while others headed for India. In the multitude of uprooted people, Pandit Jai Narayan Sharma working in the Post and Telegraph Department came to Ambala along with his family. His daughter Shri Sushila Sharma became a close friend and colleague of Bahenji. In the course of time they became inseparable since their mindsets were identical.

Shri Sushila Bahenji (right) with Bhaktimati Usha Bahenji

Sushilaji attained a divine and transcendent love which is the perennial quest of mankind and soon reached the deeper ecstasies of devotion. It seemed that her taking charge of the ultimate reality (revered Thakurji), had been predestined. Sushila Bahenji is the one doing Thakurji's seva and attending to His needs with the utmost of dedicated devotion at present.

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