I have inherited.
My sister Arpita's concern and service
My brother Chitta's poetry and sacrifice
I have inherited.
My brother Hriday's philosophy and wisdom
My brother Mantu's patience and detachment
I have inherited.
My sister Ahana's music and immensity
My Mother Yogamaya's psychic tears and surrender
I have inherited.
My Father Shashi Kumar's inner confidence and outer triumph
One of the members of the family went out to see them and they said, "The boy that has been born in this house today will renounce the whole world." They were so right. From the dawn of his life, my brother Mantu has not had any desire to possess anything and he has no desire for name and fame. Renunciation is in his backbone. In his previous incarnation, he was a very close disciple of Sri Chaitanya. He used to sing and dance in the street.So these baouls appeared from nowhere to give the family that message. How did they know Mantu had taken birth on that day? They had inner knowledge and wisdom.
From time to time, he lost his occult power and then he became the happiest person because people would stop bothering him. On other occasions, he used to deliberately say the wrong thing because people used to ask him all kinds of stupid and useless questions. But he was very kind to our family.
On this particular day, my cousin's parents arrived at the occultist's home earlier than my parents. They begged him to cure their son. My occultist uncle said to them, "God is also inside the doctors. I am so glad that your son is in the hospital and not at home. God will do everything correctly through the doctors. I always say that God has created doctors and God is inside doctors. So do not worry."
A few hours later, when my parents came to see the same occultist, he said to them, "Doctors are useless! What do the doctors know? They will never be able to cure your son. I am warning you not to let your son take any medicine. Here, I am giving you blessing ash from the Feet of my Mother Kali."
Then the occultist collected some ash from his shrine to Mother Kali. He was a most devoted worshipper of Mother Kali. He gave the ash to my mother and said, "Put this on your son's head and heart and then bring your son back home. Do not let him remain in the hospital."
Because of his great love and respect for my parents, the occultist helped my brother Chitta. My mother took the ash and put it on my brother's head and heart. My brother recovered but, unfortunately, in two or three days' time, our relative's son died. So Mother Kali's force saved my brother. God knows why, but the doctors' treatment could not cure our distant relative's son. This incident happened when I was two or three years old.
The presiding deity of our family is Mother Kali. She saved me 1 and she saved my brother Chitta when we were near death.2 This story will be included in the second volume.
My mother did not believe in doctors at all. According to her, prayer is the only answer. So she went to one of our relatives who used to be a doctor. He had given up his medical profession to become a sannyasin because he believed that traditional medicine was useless. He felt that one had to go to the real doctor and the only real doctor is God. My mother said, "Since he has had the realisation that the real doctor is God, and he has given up his medical practice, I will bring him to see my Rani."When this relative came to our house, what did he do? He only placed his hand on my sister's head and started massaging it. The sickness left my sister. This is how the doctor who became a spiritual man was the only one to cure my sister, and not our family doctor.
My brother Hriday's nickname was Khoka, which means "the darling of the family."Only my parents and those relatives who were older than Hriday and Chitta were allowed to use these nicknames. We younger ones could not use them.
My mother said, "Fool, fool, fool! You do not understand why I am crying. It is because I want all my children, sons and daughters alike, to follow that path. I want all my children to remain unmarried and take sannyasa like Sri Chaitanya. I long for each one of them to be able to realise God in this life! Will God listen to my prayer?"Such was my mother's inner cry. She was crying for her children to be spiritual, to renounce the world. My brother thought that she was identifying with Sri Chaitanya's mother, who did not want her son to go away.
At the bank, there were four or five rooms where my father and Chitta would stay during the week. On Friday evening, my father used to return home to our village, and then on Monday morning he would go back to work. Occasionally Chitta would also come home. They used to travel to and fro by ferry.
My brother Mantu and I had a private tutor in addition to our school lessons. The tutor used to give us lessons near a little temple that our family had for the goddess Lakshmi. Sometimes, on Monday morning, from the corner of my eye, I would see my father go to the temple for blessings and then start walking to the small dock to catch the ferry. Quite a few times I tried to follow him in secret. I used to watch him for two blocks and then run after him. I wanted to do it secretly, but my brother Mantu and my tutor used to shout at me, so I was always caught.
When my father saw me, I would start crying that I did not want to study. He would say, "How can I take you with me all the time? You have to go to school!" My brother Mantu would go and tell my mother what happened. She also felt that I should study, but she knew it was a hopeless case. So she would send a servant with extra clothes for me to wear in town during the week, since I would be wearing only a pair of shorts and a shirt.
Like this, many times I used to go to town instead of going to school. For seven or eight years, from time to time, I did not go to school. I would learn from Mantu and my tutor. Then, when the examinations came, I always stood either first or did very well. Of course, my teacher was also very, very indulgent to me because my father was a big shot in the village!
When I was in town, the whole day I would just roam. I would spend time with my brother Chitta at the bank or I would go riding with the messenger when he went out on errands. I also liked to go to the Karnaphuli River to see the boats and ships. Again, I was fascinated by thieves, so I used to go to the court to watch them.
I would either stay with my father and Chitta at the bank or with my maternal uncle. When I stayed at the bank, Chitta would cook for us. When I stayed with my maternal uncle, his wife would make delicious meals.
Often I would spend the whole week in the town. But if I insisted on staying in town for more than one week, either my mother would come to town herself, or she would send someone to bring me back. She did not like it when I stayed away too long.I would always cry when I had to go back home. Why? I was very fond of my mother, but at home I had to study. Studying was too much, too much!
In Chittagong villages, we have a superstition that if you eat a live fish you will be able to learn to swim very easily. So, first of all, she gave me a tiny fish to swallow. I put it in my mouth and, with great difficulty, I managed to swallow it. I suffered a lot, but I really wanted to learn to swim, so I gladly obeyed her.
Then my cousin put me on her back and she began swimming around in the pond. I was holding onto her and moving my legs. In a few minutes I learnt how to do frog-kick. After we had practised for some time, we came out of the water. My cousin lifted me onto her shoulder and carried me home to my mother. She was so happy and delighted with my progress.
My poor mother had been very frightened by my horoscope prediction, but my cousin was able to convince her that I would not die if I was thrown into the water because I knew how to swim.In spite of my cousin's sincere attempt to cancel my fate, my horoscope prediction was almost infallible.
On this particular day, the river was in its wildest fury. After a heavy downpour of rain, a storm continued to rage. In addition to this misfortune, the boat had sprung a large leak and it immediately started to sink. It was sailing in the heart of the wide river, at least three miles from either shore.
The passengers were panic-stricken. They, as well as the boatman, did not fail to invoke the great spiritual Masters as well as the cosmic gods and goddesses for immediate help. Rama, Krishna, Kali and Durga were all invoked. Tears were rolling down the cheeks of my elder brother, for he knew that I could not swim. The boatman pitifully cried out for help, but the neighbouring boats paid no heed. They, too, were caught in the storm and were possibly facing a similar calamity.
Slowly, but inexorably, the boat was sinking, sinking, carrying the panicky passengers with it. The fateful moment was not far off.
Suddenly, to the wide surprise of the boatman and passengers, a boat sprang up, empty, from the depths of the waters, right in front of our sinking boat-scarcely ten feet away. In no time, the boatman caught hold of me and threw me into the empty boat. Then all the other passengers hurriedly jumped into the boat, one by one. I was embraced by each and every passenger. They felt that it was my fate that had caused their lives to be saved, too. That was the day I was fated to die, but God decreed otherwise.
When the storm of nature was totally over, two boatmen shouted from a distance, "We are coming to help you!" But help was not needed now.When help was really sought after, it was not forthcoming from any human being. It came directly from God. And this kind of timely help we get only from God.
Once Mantu and I were playing that game with some other young boys. We were on opposing sides. Someone from my team hit the little stick in such a way that it struck Mantu a glancing blow on his left eye, and his eye began bleeding profusely. We were so frightened and shocked. We were afraid that he would be totally blind in that eye.
When we brought Mantu to our mother, she became hysterical. She saw so much blood pouring from his eye and she thought that he had lost his eye. Then the village doctor arrived. He found that the eye itself was not affected, even though the area around the eye was severely injured. So Mantu's sight was saved.That frightening experience lasted in me for hours and hours because of my love for my brother and his love for me. It was such a traumatic experience in my life.
Then one day I saw a two-wheel bicycle in a shop near our bank. I was so happy. I went inside to ask the price. I had no money, but I was so eager to buy that bicycle. The bicycle shop owner said, "Yes, that bicycle is for sale. For fifteen or twenty rupees you can have it." I was so thrilled. I ran back to the bank and told my brother Chitta. Chitta said, "No, no, no, they are not going to sell that bicycle."
I said, "Definitely it is for sale. They told me." I started crying for that bicycle. Then Chitta said, "When I have finished my work, we can go and make enquiries."
But my brother was very clever. In the meantime, he secretly sent a peon from the bank to go and give them two rupees or something like that to tell us that the bicycle was not for sale. When Chitta had finished his work for the day, I dragged him to the bicycle shop. It was only a few hours since I had been there, but the shop owner said, "I am sorry, but that bicycle is not for sale." My brother pretended to be very innocent.
What can you do? A beggar cannot be a chooser. My brother did not want me to have a two-wheel bicycle because he felt I was too young to ride alone. He was afraid I would meet with an accident. So I had to be satisfied with sitting on the back seat of the messenger's bicycle.So this is how my brother fooled me. I did not find out that he had fooled me until long afterwards, at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. There he told me the truth. At the Sri Aurobindo Ashram I was so unhappy because my brother Mantu had learned to cycle in Chittagong, so he was given a bicycle at the Ashram. But, poor me, I did not learn and also I am much shorter than Mantu, and so when I came to the Ashram, they did not give me a bicycle. This is how my brother Chitta prevented me twice from having a proper bicycle.
In spite of their concern, quite often I managed to go out anyway. If they asked me, "Where are you going?" I would say, "I am just going out."
Often one of the bank tellers would let me know when the messenger was leaving. With his eyes he would signal me when it was time for the messenger to go to the various banks, and also he would indicate on which side of the building the messenger was. Then, when I went out, the messenger would be waiting for me.
The messenger was so kind-hearted. His name was Manindra. He was very short and fat. One of his legs was a little shorter than the other, so he used to walk with a limp.
The messenger and I had a special signal that we sometimes used. If he was going in one direction, he would use the special signal to tell me to go in the opposite direction. Then I would say to my father, "I am going to buy sweets," so that my father thought I was going the opposite way from where the messenger was going. When I ran out, my friend the messenger would come and pick me up.
Two or three times, the messenger and I both fell off the bicycle. Once it was absolutely the worst experience. The messenger took me to a place quite far away to get a particular kind of toothstick, which is very bitter. He was pedalling very fast, and small branches along the side of the road were striking me.
When we came to a Punjabi-Sikh colony, something really serious happened. The Punjabi-Sikhs are so tall and stout, with beards and moustaches. Three of them started shouting and screaming. They were shouting at somebody else, but we thought that they were screaming at us. I became frightened and fell off the bicycle. Then the messenger fell on top of me. The three men saw that we were frightened and did not come near us.
I started crying and the messenger became very worried about what would happen to him when my family came to learn of our accident. He knew that my father was very compassionate, but he thought that my aunt would not only scold him, but perhaps also fire him. My uncle, my mother's brother, was the assistant manager of a printing press, and quite often I used to sleep at their house when I stayed in town. My uncle used to call me "Rabbit" because one moment I would be near him, and the next moment I would be somewhere else.When the messenger and I returned that evening and my father heard the story, he was very sad, but he did not scold me. Then he took me to my aunt's house to spend the night. When she found out what had happened, she was so furious. She had something in her hands and she just threw it on the ground. The next day she came to the bank and insulted and scolded the messenger mercilessly. My brother Chitta also scolded him. That day the messenger took an oath that he would never take me on his bicycle again. But his oath only lasted three or four days!
Once I asked my father if this was true. My father said, "No! We have more money. He is just a clerk. What does he know?" I was so happy to hear that.
Chitta overheard our conversation and he was very amused. Then another clerk came over and said, "It is good to say that we have less money. Then there will be no robberies!"
My father said, "All right, if you feel that way, we will be happy to say that. But I wish to tell you that we really do have more money. I am not saying this just to console my son."After that day, I believed my father and was so proud that our bank had more money.
One Friday evening when my father was back from town, I was bragging that I had learnt how to climb up the mango tree in the garden. He did not believe me, so I wanted to prove that I could do it. I took a big machete and ran into the garden. I wanted to climb up the tree and cut off a small branch from the top to show him.
As soon as I climbed up to the top, the first thing I did was cut a big tendon on my wrist. I started to cry, and the servant who had followed me into the garden climbed up and brought me to my father. My father was always calm and quiet; his soul's quality was peace. But this time he was so upset that he slapped me. Then he told Chitta, Mantu, the servants and the cook to all run and fetch a doctor. There were three or four doctors in the village, so he said, "Whoever finds one of the doctors first, bring him here!" When a doctor came, he said it was not so serious. But my father was upset because I was bleeding profusely.Never, never did my father get angry with me. All kinds of complaints he used to get from my mother about my behaviour, but he was so indulgent to me and always took my side. He never, never struck me except for that one time.
After the sacrifice of the goat, it was customary that fruits also be sacrificed to Mother Kali. In this case also, to make the sacrifice successful, the priest had to cut these fruits in half with only one stroke of the scimitar. Then he would fling the fruit out to the spectators, and the lucky ones would catch it.
When the time came for the sugar cane sacrifice, it was placed on the scaffold that earlier had held the goat and the fruits. The top portion of the sugar cane has a few leaves and is not edible, but the main body of the sugar cane plant is most delicious. I noticed that some of my friends, who had been standing near the top portion of the sugar cane, had quietly moved around the back of the audience to the other side, so that they could stand near the other end of the altar. They knew that the body of the sugar cane would be flung in that direction.
The priest had grasped the scimitar in both hands and swung it above his head, even extending his hands behind his head in order to get better leverage to perform the job successfully. Just as the priest was beginning to swing, I jumped over the scaffold. In the nick of time, he halted his swing.
A wave of panic swept those who were watching. I had escaped from a great calamity by just a hair's breadth. Had the priest not been able to stop his swing, I would have been in the other world. Fortunately, the divine in the priest had immediately endowed him with the needful life-saving skill.
My father, approaching me in a calm and quiet manner, embraced me with both arms. There was not a trace of worry or anxiety in his face — only tranquil joy streaming forth.
My father then took the priest aside and said, "You have saved my son's life. Whatever reward you want I shall immediately give you — money, property or anything else I have. I shall give it to you here and now."The priest, still trembling from the experience, said to my father: "Reward! What reward? I have saved my mentor's dearest son! What greater joy can there be on earth than to save my deeply esteemed mentor's youngest son!"
I used to memorise everything in the book, but the teacher would change the questions on the examination day, so my memorisation did not work.When my brothers were in college, my father used to tell them mathematical equations from memory while he was lying down relaxing. He would help them solve their problems with such speed and accuracy that he always astonished them. Such brains my father had! That is why my aunt used to say that my father was a lion and my brothers and I were goats.
When my uncle was alive, so many times he begged my father to give up smoking for the sake of his health. My father did not listen to his repeated requests. But on the day my uncle died, my father said, "What kind of love do I have for him if I cannot give up smoking?" On that day he gave up smoking for good. He never touched cigarettes or Indian hookahs again.
Among my brothers and sisters, nobody was interested in smoking. One of our servants instigated Mantu to smoke. Mantu was outside, sitting on a swing. After inhaling the cigarette smoke for a few seconds, my poor brother's head began rotating. He fell down from the swing and got hurt. His right eye was badly damaged.
When my eldest sister, Arpita, discovered that Mantu had been smoking and that he had fallen down and hurt himself, she commanded him to come inside the house. She took him into one of the rooms and bolted the door from inside. Then she started beating him black and blue. Mantu was crying and crying. In comparison to Mantu's height, she was like a dwarf! He was much stronger than Arpita, but out of respect for his eldest sister he did not fight back. He had to accept her beating. Then he took an oath that he would never smoke again. That was his first and last time smoking.Luckily, I never wanted to smoke. When I saw my brother's fate at the hands of my sister, I said, "Who wants to be beaten?" This is how I got the smoking lesson in my life.
My father got the point. He said to Chitta, "I am not going to die soon. You give it to him!"When my father uttered the word "die," I felt miserable and tears came into my eyes. After that, I did not take my brother's dhoti.
Just before my father's death, when I was ten years old, a middle-aged Muslim got a bone stuck in his throat. He went to so many doctors, and they all said he had to undergo a serious operation. He could not eat anything and he was in absolute agony, but he was afraid of having a serious operation. The Muslim found out that my father had the capacity to remove bones from people's throats, so he came to see my father along with two or three of his friends. By that time, the Muslim had become very, very weak because he had not been able to eat for so many days, and he was crying and screaming in agony.
Usually, when Muslims came to our house, they were not allowed to go past the courtyard, which was sixty or seventy metres from the main house. So this Muslim was told to wait in the courtyard. At that time, my father was bed-ridden and he was near death. Everybody was annoyed that at such a time someone had to come and bother him.
Chitta and my uncle thought that because my father was on his deathbed, he had lost the occult powers he once had. So they casually asked him if he still had this particular capacity. My father said, "Yes, I have the capacity. Is there anybody suffering from that problem in the family?"
They said, "It is not anybody in the family, but somebody else — a Muslim." Both Chitta and my uncle were dead against my father using his capacity to help the man. They said, "We do not want a Muslim to come into your room."
My father said, "He can stay in the courtyard and I will cure him from my bed. Just ask him to lie down."
So Chitta went and gave the man the message from my father. My father rubbed his throat three or four times, breathed heavily a few times and coughed. Then my father said, "Go and see!"
When Chitta and my uncle went out into the courtyard again, they found the Muslim crying with joy. The bone in his throat had completely disappeared. He wanted to give my father some money, but my father would not accept it.
That was my father's last act on earth. He did not know the Muslim; this man was not even an acquaintance of my father. But just because he was suffering, my father helped him.Two or three days later, my father died.
My brother Chitta was fully responsible for everything. So many goats were sacrificed and food was prepared to serve all the villagers.
Many people came and asked my brother for money. He would give them money and half an hour later they would come and ask him again, as if they had not received anything. My brother was so upset.
My maternal uncle saw that these people were harassing my brother and so he said, "I am the head of the family today. If people want to ask for money, they should come to me and I will give them. You do not have to worry. I will be responsible. I do not want them to bother you anymore."So for that entire day, my maternal uncle was in charge of the house. When people saw that my maternal uncle was in charge, nobody came to him for money. They had already taken once or even twice from my brother because he did not have the heart to refuse them. But they knew that they could not fool my maternal uncle.
My brother Chitta was concerned that if the war continued, it would be difficult to find enough rice and other food for the entire family. So he sent one of our servants to the town to buy about forty huge bags of rice. He bought enough not only for our family but also to sell to the poor people at a very cheap price. The servant brought them back to our village by boat and others came to help him unload them. I tried to lift one bag, but I could not even budge it.
My brother also bought other kinds of food. He kept everything in a temporary shop, and every night one servant would stand guard in front of it. One night, it was the turn of the servant who bought the rice to be the guard. His name was Phoni. That night, very nicely he stole a few bags of rice!
It seems that he took it to another village. There he sold it to one particular shop. It happened that this shop was very near my aunt's house. Quite innocently, my aunt went to that shop a few days later to buy rice. The shopkeeper told her, "Today I am giving it to you at a very cheap price because somebody from Shakpura has sent his servant with a very large amount of rice to sell to me."
My aunt knew that my brother had bought extra rice and so when my aunt saw him two or three days later, she said: "Why did you give your rice away to be sold? Was it wise? Now you do not have enough in reserve in case of emergency."This is how that bad fellow was exposed. In order to sell the rice to the unsuspecting shopkeeper, he said that my brother had authorised him to bring it there and he was supposed to take the money back to my brother. But he never returned. We never saw Phoni again. Phoni came from that village where my aunt lived. It was our aunt who brought him to our place. We took him as our servant on her recommendation. So this is how relatives can sometimes do us a favour!
Then when he saw that my brother was maintaining his poise, the man abruptly left our shop. A short while later, he came back. My brother was still seated there, reading from the Upanishads. The man fell at my brother's feet and begged his forgiveness. He said, "I am the culprit. It is I who borrowed a large amount of money from your father and I never repaid him. What is more, he never asked me for the money. Please forgive me."My brother Chitta simply smiled at him and remained silent.
When Hriday arrived, my mother was very sick. The family knew that she would soon follow my father to the other world. Hriday said to my mother, "I will stay here as long as you want me to."
She said, "Then stay for a year." He was so happy that she only said one year and not more.
Then Chitta wanted to go and join the Ashram. He said to my mother, "Now that my eldest brother has come back, I would like to go to the Ashram."
My mother was so sad. She said to him, "Can you not see how sick I am? I am dying. It is only a matter of months. Will you not feel sad if I die in your absence? And I will feel miserable if you are not here with me."
Chitta immediately said, "All right, I will not go."
My mother asked him, "Did you buy the ticket?"
He said, "Yes, I bought the ticket to go on such and such a date, but definitely I am not going. I will cancel it. I do not want you to die in my absence." So Chitta returned the ticket.
My mother was so happy that Chitta had postponed his departure, but she knew that after she passed away, all her children would go to the Ashram.
So Chitta totally forgot about the date on which he had planned to leave, and he did not mention it again. But my mother did not forget. Two weeks later, when that particular day came, the day he was supposed to go, my mother was so sick. She was lying down. Even then she had to think of him. She called my brother to her side and said, "You are not going today?"
Chitta said, "How can I go? You told me not to go, so I cancelled the ticket. I wanted to fulfil your last desire."
My mother said to him, "No, I want to fulfil your desire. Who am I? I am only an ordinary human being. I want you to go, I want you to go."
My brother said, "I have returned the train ticket."
My mother said, "I want you to buy another ticket and go. I want you to go to the Divine Mother. I am your physical mother, but I know your Divine Mother has to take care of all of us."
That was her heart's wish. She said, "Now that your eldest brother is here, and your other brothers are here, this is the time for you to go and be in the presence of the Divine Mother. You should go, you should go."So my mother compelled my brother Chitta to go to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. This is my mother's heart. He wanted to please her and she wanted to please him. You see what a compassionate mother I had. And he went on that day. A few months later she passed away.
At that time, his dearest friend opened up a school for young girls and asked Hriday to be the Headmaster. Hriday had his Bachelor's Degree from the University of Chittagong and he was a great scholar. So some of Hriday's time was occupied with teaching.
When my mother died shortly after Hriday came back, I was not being treated well at school. The other children were mocking me. In India, when your father or mother dies, you have to perform so many austerities. For one month, you cannot eat meat or fish. You cannot sit on a chair, you cannot use a bed or pillows. You have to wear a thick cord from your shoulder to waist and shave your head. We had examinations at the time, so I had to sit on the floor and write my paper. There were more than one hundred students and everyone was making fun of me. They looked at me like a stranger. The teachers were very kind and compassionate to me. They knew that I was suffering. They would scold the other students, but then, in two minutes, when the teachers walked to the back of the room to check that nobody was cheating, again those boys would start mocking me.
Here I was, the darling of the family, and I was being treated like an outcaste. Tears were welling in my eyes and falling on my papers. I will never forget. Even then, somehow I managed to pass my examination. And these are the same boys who came and ate at our place after one month when we observed the obsequies. At that time they behaved well.
My older brothers and sisters did not suffer in the same way because people of their age were full of concern and affection for the members of our family. But my family knew that I was being tortured, so my eldest brother said to me, "Come and study with me for a few months at our school." Even though the school where he taught was for girls, a few selected boys were allowed.I studied under my brother for three months, up until we left for Pondicherry. Many years later, two girls from that school came to Pondicherry. They remembered me because I was the youngest brother of the Headmaster, but I did not remember them at all. Their names were Minu and Pakhi. After staying at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, they went back to Chittagong and got married.
One day, while reading the letter, I saw two English words followed by the names of our family members. The first word was "permission", but I did not know the second word at all. Poor me, my English was only Chittagong primary school standard. In Bengali, we also use the word "permission", so that is how I was familiar with it.
I knew that Chitta had applied to the Divine Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram for us to be accepted into the Ashram as permanent residents, but I could not tell from his letter whether his request had been accepted or denied. So for two miles I was worrying and worrying. On the one hand, I did not see the word "not", so there was hope that we had been accepted. But, on the other hand, I thought there might be another English word which meant that we had been refused.
When I arrived home, I rushed to my brother Hriday and gave him the letter. I was full of apprehension. Then I saw my brother smile. He was so happy. The second word was "granted". The Mother was allowing our whole family to come and join the Ashram.Then, after we arrived in Pondicherry, in two weeks she made us permanent members. Usually it takes two to three years to become permanent.
God, out of His infinite Compassion, gave me the insight to see our youngest brother the way he is supposed to be seen. I was so fortunate that I knew who he was. I loved him dearly. He, too, reciprocated. We love each other deeply, soulfully, unreservedly and, perhaps, unconditionally, too.
'Chit' plus 'moy' = 'Chinmoy'. 'Chit' is consciousness; 'moy' is full: full of consciousness, consciousness all-pervading.
As I have said before, I had a number of dreams before Chinmoy was born. When Chinmoy was two years old, I had a vision. A most luminous figure appeared before me in my dream and said to me: "The youngest and dearest Madal of your family is a supremely great soul. I am giving you the responsibility to serve him." This Command in my vision gave me joy far beyond my imagination. The following day, early in the morning, I grabbed Madal and placed him on my shoulder, and took him to our mother to tell her my dream. On hearing my dream, my mother gave me a sweet smile: "From the age of ten or eleven, long before you people were born, I used to pray to God to grant me sons like Sri Krishna and daughters like the cosmic goddesses so that I could love them and serve them all my life." This was our mother, Yogamaya, mother of affection, mother of compassion and oneness-heart. My mother's prayer was sanctioned by God and Chinmoy came into our family.
In 1933 our eldest brother, Hriday, joined the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. He was then twenty-one or twenty-two years old. He was a most brilliant student. My father was furious. He would not even look at our brother before he departed. Then my mother took an oath that she would fast unto death if my father did not bring her to the Ashram. It took two days for my mother to soften my father's heart. At the end of two days, he surrendered to my mother. He brought my mother and my whole family to the Ashram.
My mother was very, very happy to see the Divine Mother and Sri Aurobindo. Her heart was deeply moved. She saw them as direct incarnations of Lord Shiva and his consort, Parvati. On her return to Chittagong, like a child she told her friends all about her sublime experiences.
Again, the human in her had a mysterious role to play. It wanted to bring her eldest son, Hriday, home with her. Although she had such love and devotion for Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, she wanted her eldest son to come back and stay with her in Chittagong. There was a tug of war between human attachment and divine attraction.
Before she left the Ashram for Chittagong, she was about to tell the Divine Mother to ask her son Hriday to go back to Chittagong. But instead of that, she said something else, which was translated from Bengali by the Secretary of the Ashram, Nolini Kanta Gupta: "Mother, I am so grateful to you that you have taken full responsibility for my eldest son. I have six more children. I wish you to take them on your path."
The Divine Mother said, "Yes, yes, I shall take full responsibility for all your children."
Then our mother said, "They are quite young. Kindly allow me to keep them with me for a few more years. In a few years, when they grow up, I will send them all to you."
The Divine Mother said, "That is very good. All of them will come to me in the course of time."
So this is what the heart says and what the mind does. Our mother was fully prepared to ask the Divine Mother if she could take Hriday back with her to Chittagong. Instead of that, her soul came to the fore and she begged the Mother to take responsibility for the rest of the family.
I came to the Ashram to become a permanent member in 1942. The rest of the members of our family in forthcoming years joined the Ashram. Chinmoy visited the Ashram in 1933, when he was not even two years old, after Hriday had become a permanent member. Then he came in 1936, 1939, 1941, and at the end of March 1944 he became a permanent member. Our mother left the body at the beginning of the year 1944. In three months' time, Chinmoy came to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and became a permanent member. On the 13th of April in 1964 he left for the United States, obeying an inner Command.
In 1944, during the Darshan time, the Mother herself introduced Chinmoy to Sri Aurobindo, saying, "Hriday's youngest brother, Chinmoy...." Usually the Mother never did this kind of thing. Although some of us came long before Chinmoy and joined the Ashram, Mother used to refer to us as Chinmoy's brothers and sisters. Always Mother used to introduce me as "Chinmoy's brother." We have been in the Ashram now for at least forty years. Even now, when they talk about us, many members in the Ashram say, "Chinmoy's brothers and sister." Such affection, such love he enjoyed both from the Mother and the members of the Ashram.
In 1936, when we visited the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, the Ashram Secretary, Nolini Kanta Gupta, wanted to know Madal's real name, because Madal is a nickname. I was a little bit puzzled. What suitable name could we give to our youngest brother? Our eldest brother's name is Hriday Ranjan. My name is Chitta Ranjan. My younger brother's name is Manoranjan. Then Prana Ranjan was coming to my mind to give as Madal's real name, but it was not satisfying my heart. All on a sudden, I got an inner message. A divine voice echoed and re-echoed in my heart: "Chinmoy, Chinmoy!" My human mind never thought that this name would one day be accepted, loved and adored by countless truth-seekers and God-lovers.
Unfortunately, I have forgotten quite a few stories of Madal's childhood life. One evening our parents and all of my brothers and sisters were sitting together enjoying evening conversation. It was a family soirée. Out of the blue, our sister Meri (Ahana) asked Madal whom he loved best of all the members of the family. Madal gave no reply. He just came and sat on my lap. Here my sincerity speaks. I have not been able to help him in any way, but my love for him will always remain fathomless.
Right from his childhood, Madal had a tremendous desire to write books and print books. I am so grateful to God that He has fulfilled my youngest brother's desire. In 1955, when Madal's first book in English, Flame-Waves, was published, his Bengali teacher, Prabhakar Mukherjee, who was all affection and love for Chinmoy because he was by far the best student in his Bengali class, in his introduction wrote:In 1946 the poet [Chinmoy] rendered Sri Aurobindo's Bengali story, Kshamar Adarsha, 'The Ideal of Forgiveness', into Bengali verse — no less than 200 lines. The poet Nirodbaran took it to our Master, who remarked: 'It is a fine piece of poetry. He has capacity. Tell him to continue.' " [That was Sri Aurobindo's remark.]
The poem was published in a journal, Partha Sarathi, in March 1948 with an appreciative editorial note. He had written this poem when he was 14 years old. At such a tender age he showed his great talent. No wonder he has become a celebrated poet! We noticed all along in Chinmoy the influence of Tagore, Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo. When Chinmoy was in his teens, we saw in Chinmoy Tagore, the manifold capacity; Vivekananda, the indomitable hero; and Sri Aurobindo, the founder of Integral Yoga.
Among Chinmoy's divine qualities, what pleases us, and perhaps the whole world, most is his fountain-heart's childlike quality.
When he was an infant, his head and abdomen were comparatively larger than the rest of his body. His horoscope name is Ganapati, so our grandmother used to say that he was definitely going to be another Ganapati — Siddhi Data — the giver of realisation and also the scribe who noted down the Mahabharata from the sage Vyasa in one sitting. Ganapati also has a big head and stomach. Our grandmother said that Madal was going to be a great writer like Ganapati. Many, many years ago she prophesised this. She was right. Now we hear that in America Chinmoy has written hundreds of poems in a 24-hour sitting.
Right from his childhood, Madal had tremendous eagerness for learning. He was always inquisitive. He wanted to know more, more, more and he had always a volley of questions to ask my mother. My mother used to say, "When you grow up, you will know everything, you will have all the answers."
One day Madal asked our father what our grandfather's name was. Our father said Ramachandra. Then Madal asked what Ramachandra's father's name was. With great difficulty, my father told him. Then Madal had to ask what was the name of Ramachandra's father's father — our great, great grandfather. My father said, "I do not know. How am I supposed to know all this?"
My little brother said, "How can it be that you do not remember your great grandfather's name? That means your father did not have a grandfather."
My father said, "My son, janina, janina — I do not know, I do not know. How am I going to know all this? How am I supposed to remember?"
Madal said to our father, "I cannot believe it! How is it possible for you not to know? When I grow up, I will know everything!"
My father said, "Definitely you will know everything."
Our mother used to make complaints against Madal. She would say, "He is always breaking things. He is becoming so wild." Our father never accepted her complaints. He used to say, "He is doing quite well."
Madal had a childhood hobby. He was able to tell time without seeing the clock. That he proved to us many times. When he was a little boy, he could not read the time on the clock properly. But when we used to ask him what the time was, he could tell without seeing the clock. The clock would be in some other room, but he used to look at us and tell us the time correctly. He never made a mistake. This gave tremendous surprise and delight to all the members of our family.
One day he said to me that he was going to fly in the sky. I said, "How?" He said, "That I do not know, but I am going to fly because I want to go and play with the moon and the stars. And when I come back, I will definitely pluck and bring down a few stars." We used to enjoy his soulful and innocent adventures.
He was not satisfied with anything. It was not dissatisfaction in the ordinary sense. It was the transcendence of his achievement that he used to long for. In his athletic life, he was a great champion. For sixteen years uninterruptedly he stood first in sprinting. Yet he was not satisfied, for he felt that he used to do better during his practice time. He really wished to do better than what he actually performed during the competition. Eagerness to transcend our capacity and not eagerness to defeat others gives us great satisfaction. He is advocating the same thing among his disciples and his followers: success is not their goal, but progress is their goal.
As a little boy, while he was growing up, he was not only adored by the members of the family, but by all the relatives and neighbours. He was sweet, he was kind, he was affectionate and, at the same time, mischievous. Whenever something broke in the kitchen, before he was asked, Madal used to scream at the top of his voice that he did not break it. Our mother used to say, "Then who broke it?" Madal would answer, "I did not break it, I did not break it. My hands broke it, not me." Then our mother would ask, "Whose hands are they?" Madal would say, "They may be my hands, but I am not the one who dropped it. It is my hands that dropped it." Then he used to offer a cute smile to my mother and run away.
Our father used to say, "I am so happy to have a son like this, who brings such life, vitality and enthusiasm into our family. The rest of my children are all saints. They do not believe in life-energy. But this youngest son is all life, all vitality and enthusiasm."
Madal's request was more like a loving command to all the members of our family. Father, mother, brothers and sisters used to get tremendous delight by fulfilling his requests. All his requests we used to take as his loving demands.
In 1963, on the 13th of January, Chinmoy went to give the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Secretary, Nolini-da, a book containing a poem he had written for Nolini-da's birthday which had been translated into twelve languages. Later that morning, Norman Dowsett came to congratulate Nolini-da on his birthday. Nolini-da said to him: "Now see what Chinmoy has done for me." Norman said, "Yes, I see it. It is very beautiful." Nolini-da went on, "In ancient times, people used to pay homage to kings in as many languages as possible. So I am a king!" Then both of them exchanged delightful smiles while leaving the room.
How much love Chinmoy enjoyed from the members of the Ashram! In two days' time, he was able to get the poem translated into so many different languages. Most likely it was all because of Nolini-da's highest position in the Ashram.
His first poem I shall never forget. One evening, while we were walking along the street by the Bay of Bengal, a line of poetry came to him. He did not want to write it down. He asked me and I wrote it down. I taught him the rudiments of Bengali metre, how to write poems.
Tagore received appreciation when he was young from other poets who were older than he was. In exactly the same way, when Chinmoy was quite young, he got appreciation from our great Ashram poet, Dilip Roy, who was one of the foremost disciples of Sri Aurobindo. Chinmoy sent two hundred poems to him and he corrected them in a few places and said some very nice things about them.
Chinmoy did not continue studying in the school. That was an unfortunate experience for the whole family. When he gave up, his eldest sister became so sad. She shed so many tears because she feared that her youngest brother would be illiterate. She suffered a great deal. But Chinmoy did study on his own at the library for hours and hours, and he had mentors like Prabhakar (his Bengali teacher), K.D. Sethna and, finally, our Ashram Secretary, Nolini-da, to cultivate in him his English literature capacity.
One day Chinmoy was coming out from the main Ashram building. A young man by the name of Romen caught him on the street and said to him, "You must write poems in English." Chinmoy said that he would not and could not because he did not know English metre. Romen said, "I am going to teach you." Then he compelled Chinmoy to bring him to our house for two or three hours. He taught Chinmoy English metre and Chinmoy was able to write his first poem in English, "The Golden Flute."
Chinmoy sent this poem to Mother India for publication and the manager was very, very pleased. He sent Chinmoy twenty-five rupees for the poem and Chinmoy offered it to the Mother. After Chinmoy submitted his third poem to this same manager, the manager happened to be paying a visit to the Ashram. When he came to know who Chinmoy was, that it was he who had written "The Absolute," he dropped his cane and embraced him. "Did you write it? Did you write it?" he asked. "Yes, I did," Chinmoy replied. This manager could not believe that "The Absolute" could be written as only Chinmoy's third poem in English.
Chinmoy's first book was Flame-Waves. The Mother appreciated it very much. His second book was The Infinite: Sri Aurobindo, and the third was The Mother of the Golden All. When the Mother read this book, she said to him, "You have put into verse my daily program. It is excellent." Chinmoy's fourth book was Chandelier.
I was so fortunate to massage Chinmoy's head and feet. Whenever he did not feel well, he used to ask me to massage him. I massaged his head and feet and he used to get relief. I am so proud of having that job.Before, Chinmoy was in our hands. Now he is in the Hands of the Supreme. But those who are helping him deserve our very special blessings and gratitude. We pray for his victory and the victory of his spiritual children.
Hiya ure dhai batasheKi jani kahar parashe
Dharani nachiche harasheAbanite aji esechi
Naba abhijane nemechiMaya bandhan menechi
Lila abhijane chalechiHasiya esechi hasiya jaibo
Hasabo sarba jibeAnanda rase dubaba dharani Jagabo supta shibe
From:Sri Chinmoy,My brother Chitta, Agni Press, 1998
Sourced from https://srichinmoylibrary.com/mbc