Thursday, January 28, 2010

Chapter 13: Revered Usha Bahenji meets Sushila Bahenji


Invariably people with similar perspectives, mindsets, bhavas and devotion for one's favoured deity gather together. Relishing the madhur rasa,the collective identity of the gopis serves as an element in their devotional strength and their love for Krishna is reciprocated and thus made complete. The coming together of revered Bahenji and Sushila Bahenji was based on the similarity of their bhavas or love flowing towards the Lord.


Sushilaji's father left Lahore as 1946 set in and willingly joined the post and telegraph service in Ambala. He began staying at his brother's house with his two daughters. Sushila Bahenji took her younger sister Nirmala Sharma to the Sanatan Dharm Girls School for admission to the first class. At this end the lawyer's daughter at whose bhavan Pandit Jai Narayan stayed on took Sushlilaji to make friends with Usha Bahenji.


The protagonist of our biography was president of the Congress. She asked the lawyer's daughter to get Sushila Bahenji to the Party's meeting. All members were present next day and Sushilaji also came. Several discussions ensued on patriotism, politics and spiritual topics. Ushaji's sweet voice, lovable and impressive persona moved Sushilaji. A mere introduction turned into serious friendship but Sushilaji could not be influenced by her political life in particular.


At this end there was a scarcity of teachers in the Girls School. Sushilaji was convinced by the Sanatan Dharmis to join as a teacher and Ushaji also took charge of the school again when they requested her father. Both the friends worked as collegues now. Their friendship became so intimate that the absence of one made the other uneasy. They met in the school and later for satsang (congregation gathered to worship and sing bhajans) and worshipping the deity at the temple.


Always eager to catch up with each other, their discussions were soon confined to spirituality. Dark-hued Krishna, his leelas or divine play, Shri Radha, the beloved and gopis, her kayavyuhas or replications, became the centre of their talk. They appeared as two distinct individuals but were in essence a singly entity.


Once Sushila could not attend a Congress meeting. The next day when Ushaji asked the reason for her absence hesitantly Sushila showed greater interest in the sermon on Vaisakh (the second month of the twelve lunar months of the Hindu calendar) at the temple. Bahenji was certain that religion had more weightage than politics. Now because of spirituality their kinship became more intense and transformed into satsang.


They often met, discussed shringara bhakti (a certain spiirituality that can only arise by indulging in love) and the Lord's divine play. Krishna existed intensely in their hearts when they sang his praise and dwelt in their longing for him. They began to know their friend not as a separate singular god-like body but mystically visualized him as the world around them.


On the other hand Pandit Jai Narayan had taken deeksha (instruction esp in disciplehood to a teacher) from Shri Purnanandji Giri. A desire to live as a renunciate, tugged him intermittently. Consequently he resigned and the entire family had to shift to Kandhla, their ancestral village. Sushila Bahenji was to give an examination and both the like-minded friends got a chance to live together. Enraptured by Lord Krishna, their nights transformed into dawn but they constantly relished his rasa.


Work pressure increased for Usha Bahenji. Creating poetry was her innate virtue and it was her disposition to talk of God's glories. Due to love for her nation she had to work for the Congress and run the school at the other end. Alongside she was steeped in spirituality and passionate assurances of Krishna.


After giving the examination, Sushila Bahenji had to shift to Kandhla (Muzzafarnagar). Their conversation on the divine play of Krishna transformed into correspondence soon enough. A letter was penned every day to be posted and a reply was sent from the other end.


Sushila Bahenji and her family came to live with an uncle in Delhi for some reason. Her love for Krishna gradually escalated and singing Krishna's glories was at its zenith. An ardent longing to relish the joy of Krishna's presence tugged Sushilaji and she wanted to run to him.


One morning in October 1950 there was absolute silence in the house located on Baird Road, Delhi. Scouting around, asking relatives, a vigilant search was on. Sushila Bahenji was nowhere to be found and they even inquired at Usha Bahneji's residence in Ambala.


Hungry for Krishna she had fled to Vrindavan, to hear the dark god fluting in its blossoming pastures. She knew nobody except Shyam, the colour of the condensed sky and spent the night in a field in front of the Madan Mohan Temple located on the banks of the Yamuna. In joyous abandon she braved the biting cold without any woollens on her.


While having darshan of Bihariji she met a family of Bengal and they took her along. Moved by her loving tenderness, they were instrumental in getting her a ticket for Delhi. Spending some days in Vrindavan and Mathura, Sushilaji returned to Delhi. The religious rapture she experienced on coming close to Radha-Krishna here, lent a certain stability.


Straight away she went to Usha Bahenji. Everyone was thrilled on getting news of her arrival. Usha Bahenji felt that love for Krishna,the focus of our ardour, should not be flaunted ,"Don't toss your heart in the street." She considered Shri Thakurji whose needs she attended, as a svarupa or living presence of Lord Krishna. Pointing towards him she asked,"Cant you clearly see Krishna in him?"


Even on seeing her religious devotion it was tough to ascertain the access she had to the most intimate transcendental exchanges of Radha-Krishna. Ushaji had close contact with the greatest of saints but yet remained an enigma due to being secretive about her sentiments and her austere simplicity.


Apparently Usha Bahenji did not support this act of Sushila Bahenji's but truly respected her sentiment",My beloved Krishna, you took her along. What greater good fortune could she have! And there is no point being jealous of this fact."


We can figure out her intense closeness to Krishna by Sushila Bahenji's comprehensive compilations of Ushaji's experiences. Once this diary fell into Ushaji's hands and she added a word or two as correction to make the writings easily understandable. Otherwise she was so averse to publicity and propaganda that no one truly understood her as long as she lived.


On confronting her Ushaji said," What was the need to flee in this manner?" For the very first time Sushilaji felt that Krishna,the supreme lover, she had been hungering and ardently longing for was visible in the svarupa of Thakurji whose seva she did. And he invaded her heart with his passionate eyes, melodious flute-play, romantic smile and loving assurances. Steeped in the terrifying rush of his love, he was easily attainable for her now.


Her father came to fetch her in Ambala.Sushila Bahenji went to Delhi and further on to Kandhla once again to live with her parents absorbed in the same bhava.


Steadily seriousness set in and stability suffused her religious sentiments. She became introspective and experienced the deeper ecstasies of devotion. The learned liken this blissful state to an unchanted japa, the upholders of justice and Vedantas call it the eternal Brahma Jyoti and yet the realm of lovers (Krishna is conceptualized as the ardent but often faithless lover of the love-struck soul) is strange.


Krishna alone produces from himself the spectral revelation wherein worshippers come to find the god within themselves. Thus the ultimate lesson of Krishna for his devotees is that the search for the other is the search for the self. The multiple is ultimately one. And yet this search for purity and peace cannot be made except with energy, and joyfulness and love.


Revered Usha Bahenji and Shri Sushila Bahenji shared a lifelong association and we will narrate its episodes from time to time.

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