My Father Shashi Kumar Ghosh: Affection-Life, Compassion-Heart, Illumination-Mind

Riding with the bank messenger

My father worked for the railway for many years. After his retirement, he opened up a bank. The bank had many workers. They were very fond of me and I was fond of them. Quite often I used to ride behind one of the messengers on his bicycle. Many times I fell off because of my restlessness. Then my father would be extremely displeased with the messenger, not with me, because my father knew that my eagerness to go with the messenger would not permit me to listen to my father.

When I was five or six, I was dying to have my own bicycle. I went to a bicycle shop and asked them the price. I had no money, but I was so eager to buy! The bicycle shop owner said, "Yes, for fifteen or twenty rupees you can have a bicycle." I was so happy and delighted, and I went to tell my father and brother about it.

Before my brother went back with me to buy it, he secretly sent a messenger from the bank to tell the owner to say that he didn't have any more bicycles to sell right now. My family felt I was too young to ride alone. What could I do? I had to be satisfied with riding on the back seat of the messenger's bicycle.

My father did not like me to go riding with the messenger at noon because of the heat. He thought that I would become exhausted and fall sick. But quite often I managed to go anyway. If somebody asked me, "Where are you going?" I would say, "I am just going out."

Often one of the bank tellers would tell me 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 on which side of the building the messenger was. Then when I went out, the messenger would be waiting for me.

The messenger and I had a special signal that we sometimes used. If he was going in one direction, he would indicate that I should go in the opposite direction. Then I would say to my father, "I am going to buy sweets,' and make my father feel I was going the opposite way from where the messenger was going. When I ran out, he 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 toothstick. He was pedalling quite 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 were very tall and stout, and they had beards and moustaches. Three of them started shouting and screaming at someone else, but we thought they were screaming at us. I became frightened and fell off the bicycle, and then the messenger fell on top of me.

I started crying, and the messenger was very worried because I was the darling of the family. He knew that my father was compassionate; but he thought that my aunt would not only scold him, but perhaps even fire him.

When I came back 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. When she found out what had happened, she was so furious. The next day when she saw the messenger, she insulted and scolded him like anything. My brother also scolded him. That day the messenger took an oath that he would never take me on his bicycle again. But his oath lasted only three or four days!

Which bank has more money?

The name of our bank was Griha Lakshmi, meaning "House of Lakshmi." Adjacent to our bank was another bank called Mahalakshmi, which belonged to someone else. Whenever I sat behind the messenger on his bicycle while he took letters for delivery, I would always ask him which bank had more money: our bank or Mahalakshmi. His answer would depend on his mood. On the days that he said our bank had more money, I would be so overjoyed that I would give him candy. But when he said that ours had less, I used to become so sad that I would give him nothing. Quite a few times he told me very seriously that our bank really did not have as much money as Mahalakshmi.

Once I asked my father if this were 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.

My brother, who also worked at the bank, 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.

Who wants to study?

Father used to spend all week in town. He slept in the bank building, where there were many rooms. He came home on Friday evening, stayed for the weekend, and went back to work on Monday morning. From time to time I used to get inspired to go with him.

My brother Mantu and I had a private tutor. The private tutor used to give us our lessons right near the little temple we had for the goddess Lakshmi. The temple was about thirty metres long — about the size of three rooms — and there was also an upstairs.

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 and the private tutor used to shout at me, so I was always caught.

When my father saw me, I would start crying that I didn't want to go to school. He would say, "How can I take you with me all the time? You have to go to school!" My brother would tell my mother what had happened. She also felt that I should go to school, but she knew it was a hopeless case. So she would send the servant with extra clothes for me to wear in town, since I would be wearing only shorts and a T-shirt.

Like this, many times I used to go to town instead of going to school. Who wants to study? For a few years I never studied seriously. I would learn from my brother and my tutor. Then, when the examinations came, I would always stand first. 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 was fascinated by the thieves, so I used to go to court to watch them. I also liked to go to the river Karnaphuli to see the boats and ships.

My maternal uncle and aunt lived in town, and I would always stay with them. This uncle was very close to us. His wife was an excellent cook and could make delicious meals out of absolutely nothing. Often I would spend a whole week there. 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 else to bring me back.

When I visited my aunts in the villages, my mother would not allow me to stay for more than two days at a time. But quite a few times she allowed me to stay at my uncle's house in the town for a week. I would always cry when I had to go back home. Why? Although I was very fond of my mother, I didn't want to come back home because I hated to study. Studying was too much, too much!

My mother didn't like it when I stayed away too long. It was not that she thought I would become a bad student if I didn't go to school. It was just that I was her dearest child, and without me she used to feel miserable. That was the reason she did not want me to go to town.

During the school holidays my mother used to tell me stories from the Mahabharata. I could not read such big books, but I used to listen to her stories and tell them to my relatives.

Quite often it happened that her only aim in telling me stories was to put me to sleep when I wanted to stay outside and play or eat mangoes. In the late afternoon she would call me into the house and start telling me stories. After five minutes I would pretend to be fast asleep. Mother would be very happy; she would close her book and then watch carefully to see if I were really asleep. But I was watching her, too. Finally she would fall asleep, and then I would get up and run away.

After an hour she would wake up and send the cook and the servants looking for me. They knew what I was doing! They would find me inside the mango garden. I played that kind of trick many, many times.

My father's generosity

It is very hot in India, but since our bank used to serve many Europeans, my father was influenced by the European culture, and he always wore a real suit and occasionally a tie.

In the evening when he came home and took off his coat, I sometimes used to take money from his coat pocket: a few paise — much less than a few cents. I felt no need of asking him or telling him; I just took it. Whenever my mother caught me, she would always scold me.

Once I overheard my mother say to my father, "Do you know that he steals money?"

"What? He steals?" my father asked.

"I have seen him take money from your pocket," my mother said.

But my father just laughed and said, "My youngest son, my dearest son, has no right to take money from my pocket? Is that stealing?"

"What will happen if he starts taking money from others? I have to intervene before that happens," she said. She thought that if one day I stole from my father, then the next day I might steal from my brother, and the day after from somebody outside the family.

O God, for me even to think of stealing from others' pockets was impossible. But my father took my side. He said, "As long as he steals only from my pockets, I don't have to worry. He is my son, and I know that he will never take from others."

I used to take money quite often, but I never took very much. One day the thief was caught by the victim. My father asked me what I was doing. I said, "Oh, you are my father so it is all right!" My father only laughed and laughed.

One morning when he was planning to do something after leaving the office, he said to me, "Tonight I may not even come home, so the best thing is for me to give you two rupees now. Since I won't be here tonight or tomorrow, take these two rupees. You will need them." So my father gave me two rupees! That was at least twenty times more than I would ever have thought of taking in the first place.

This was the kind of father I had. He used to say to my mother, "Among our children, Madal is the only one who cares for material wealth. We have lost all our other sons and daughters. They all care for God, only for God, so they have gone out of our life. But I have all faith in this one. He is my true son."

My mother was so delighted that all her children were fond of the spiritual life. My father and mother at times used to argue about this. In reality, both my father and mother were extremely spiritual. But, unlike my mother, my father kept his spiritual life a top secret.

I also took money from one of my elder brothers from time to time. He was like another father to me — so full of affection. Otherwise, I didn't take money from anyone else except on special occasions, when I would ask my other brothers and sisters for a few rupees.

Four or five times a year there was a village fair. Before the fair I would go and ask my father for money. Then I would tie it up securely and put it in my pocket. Next I would beg money from my mother and brothers and hide that, too. After that I would go to my sisters with such a sad face, crying that I didn't have any money for the fair. My sisters would also get money for the fair from my father, but since they were older, they would get more than I did. They were always full of compassion, and they used to give me a large part of their share.

When I went to the fair, what did I do? You may find it hard to believe, but I would buy very little for myself — just some candy. I would use all the rest of the money to buy things for my family. When I came back in the evening after the fair was over, I would give them everything that I had bought, and they would get such joy. They were always so moved. After I did this a few times, whenever I used to cry and pretend that my father and mother had not given me money for the fair, my brothers and sisters would give me much more money than they had before. They gave me more than they kept for themselves because they knew that I would go and buy them things.

Later on my father showed me the height of his compassion and affection. He was a gentleman and very well respected all his life. For years and years a barber used to come every morning to give him a shave and occasionally cut his nails. But in the last few years of his life, he used to have the barber come only to give him a haircut. Even though he had enough money, he said that the barber's daily visit was something extravagant and unnecessary. Then the amount that he would have paid for these things, he put in a container and kept on a shelf for me. Quite often I would come and take this money from him. Sometimes I felt sorry because my father was getting old and he was going to all this trouble for me. Just to be able to give me more change, my father started shaving himself.

Washing my father's feet

Early in the morning on weekends, my mother used to come with a glass of water and wash my father's feet with utmost devotion. It is an old Indian tradition. Even though my father had just taken a shower, still she would wash his feet. She also used to wash his feet before he went to the temple. My mother used to touch my father's feet in front of her children, servants — everyone. When my mother used to do that, our love for her would increase. We all had tremendous respect for our mother.

A slap from my father

Only once did my father ever strike me. When I was six years old I got a slap from him, and that was the first and last time. My mother used to slap me quite often, but my father did it only once. I will never forget the incident. Why will I not forget it? Because of a scar on my left wrist.

One Friday evening when my father was back from town, I was bragging that I had learned how to climb up the mango tree in the garden. He didn't 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 the servants, the cook and my brothers 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 wasn't 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.

Aiming at the heavens

When I was a little boy, I had a small torch — what you call a flashlight — and I used to enjoy using it to look at things. I used to shine it on the top of a mango tree and say I was aiming at the heavens. My brothers and relatives used to laugh.

In the Mahabharata there is a story about how the Pandavas tried to walk to Heaven, but each of them dropped dead on the way, except one. We had a cook who was a real joker. He would say, "In the Mahabharata the Pandavas failed to walk to Heaven. Now Madal is sending the torchlight first so we can follow."

My father didn't appreciate that kind of joking. He would say, "Don't discourage my son! Don't discourage children!"

A close escape from death

Once our family was performing the Kali Puja, the festival of Mother Kali. At the time I was about seven years old. Many sacrifices were offered. The most important was the sacrifice of a live goat. Someone would hold the legs of the animal tightly, while the goat's head was placed at the end of the scaffold. For the sacrifice to be successful, the priest had to perform it with one stroke of his sharp scimitar. If the priest failed on the first stroke, it was said that the devil's doings would befall the family that was performing the festival.

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!"

My only ambition

Because my father had been a train inspector, we could travel free all over India. Eleven human beings my father could take free: two servants, one cook and eight members of the family.

I used to enjoy riding on the train so much. The trains were long, with many seats inside. In those days they were not so crowded. Now they are very crowded; there is no room. Indian trains were like bullock carts — twenty, thirty miles per hour.

My only ambition was to become a ticket collector or inspector like my father. He started out as an ordinary officer of the Assam-Bengal Railway. Then he became head inspector of the whole line. But God didn't fulfil my desire.

Whenever we went on the train, everybody in the family used to fall asleep during the trip, but I could not wait to see the next station. There people used to carry things on their heads, and they had a peculiar way of shouting, "Tea! Betel nut! Ancient Indian cigarettes! Real cigarettes!" and other things. My mother, brothers and sisters all used to sleep, but there was no sleep for me!

Life is nothing short of a joke! Who ever thought in those days of having trains in my name? Now there are two Sri Chinmoy Peace Trains. One runs between America and Canada and the other circles Mount Etna in Sicily.

The lion and the goats

My eldest brother Hriday and my brother Chitta always used to get a hundred out of a hundred in mathematics. They took after my father. My sister Ahana descended to sixty and Mantu to forty. I descended to thirty-three. Fortunately, in the Indian system thirty-three is passing. Sometimes with greatest difficulty I would get forty.

I used to memorise everything in the book, but the teacher would change the questions on the examinations, 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 were goats.

My mathematics teacher at the Ashram was so nice! He was my brother's close friend and also my family's friend. He always liked me even though I could not learn mathematics well. He tried so hard to teach me, but I was useless. Later he translated the play that I wrote on Sri Aurobindo into Bengali.

Once when I returned to India after I had been living in America, I met my mathematics teacher in a music store. There was only one chair, so he stood up.

I said, "What? What?"

He said, "You have to sit!"

I said, "You are my teacher. I have such love and respect for you."

He said, "How can I sit when now I know who you are?"

He was going to buy a harmonium, but he went away without buying one. I was in the store buying a flute. I asked the owner if my teacher had showed an interest in any particular harmonium. The owner said, "Yes, he showed interest in this one, but he didn't buy it because it was too expensive."

So I bought that harmonium for him. I put it in a rickshaw and went to where he lived. Then I left the harmonium right in front of his door.

The next day he came to my house. Naturally, he knew I was the culprit.

My mathematics teacher's brother had been a pillar of the Ashram. He died about twenty years ago. About five years ago my teacher had a dream. In the dream his brother came to him and said, "Go and see Chinmoy tomorrow morning."

The next morning he came up to my house and was calling, "Chinmoy!" He told me, "In the dream my brother asked me to come and see you." He had such love and respect for his brother. He asked, "Is there any special significance in his request?"

I said, "Your brother didn't tell you that he has taken incarnation?"

He said, "No!"

I said, "Definitely, he is now in Russia!"

"My brother? At least twenty times, when he was seriously ill, he told me that he would go to Russia."

I said, "That is why your brother asked you to come to me. He wants you to know that he is now in Russia."

He was so happy because this was the very thing that his brother used to tell him.

The Muslim bribes

My father was an honorary judge in our subdivision. He was a great judge. Although he had many, many Muslim friends, he would never take anything from Muslims because he was an orthodox Hindu.

The night before he was to preside over any serious dispute between Hindus and Muslims, very often the Muslims would secretly bring some buffalo milk and Indian sweets and leave them at our door. Our family drank cow's milk, but my father also liked buffalo milk. So the Muslims would bring him a very large quantity of buffalo milk and also many Indian sweets.

My father would not know who had brought the milk and sweets, but he would never accept bribes, and certainly he would never accept anything from Muslims. He would say, "Who has done me this favour? Take away the sweets and buffalo milk!" My father would not allow anyone in the family to touch the milk and sweets.

The next day in court, the first thing he would say was, "Tell me the truth. Who has put buffalo milk and sweets at my door?" Of course, nobody would confess. Then he would decide according to the merits of the case.

Buffalo milk from a Muslim friend

My father had four or five Muslim friends who were his great admirers. One of them came to learn that my father liked buffalo milk. So many times he would bring buffalo milk to our house. This man had many servants, but he had such appreciation and admiration for my father that he used to bring the milk himself. My father also went out of his way to show this Muslim friend tremendous respect and love. When other Muslims used to come to our house, my family didn't appreciate their coming. Even if they were of a high class, we were very careful. We used to offer them a seat, but as soon as they left, immediately the servant would wash the chair with cow dung to purify it. But when that particular Muslim would come to bring buffalo milk, my father would show him such respect. He never asked the servant to purify the house after the Muslim had left. Then, against my mother's will, my father used to drink the milk from that particular Muslim.

Tales of the kitchen

Before I accepted the spiritual life, I used to eat fish and meat to my heart's content. The Western world eats mainly chicken and beef, but we ate duck, goat, lamb, turtle and pigeon.

My sisters used to cook. A brahmin servant and one ordinary servant also cooked. God alone knows what my mother cooked! Her cooking was sitting in the temple for hours and hours meditating and praying. I don't think she ever cooked.

Normally we would all eat together, but on Saturdays and Sundays, when my father was home from town, my mother wouldn't eat with me or my brothers because of her respect for my father. She would eat all by herself or with my sisters while the father and sons were eating together.

On my mother's side of the family everyone was thin. My grandmother and grandfather were both thin. On my father's side they were all fat. I was blessed by my father. He was stout. All of my brothers and sisters were also like my father, except Mantu, who was very, very thin.

My father's swami cousin

My father's aunt had a son who had accepted the spiritual life and had been initiated as a swami. She was always crying for her son, so at her request my father had to go to see her son at his Guru's ashram and beg him to come back to his mother.

Swamis lead a very austere life. They renounce the world and live off alms. Once a seeker is initiated as a swami, he is not supposed to touch anybody's feet except his Master's. But when my father went to the ashram, as soon as his cousin saw him, he ran and fell at my father's feet. The Guru said, "What kind of disciple do I have? What are you doing?"

My father was older than his cousin, so his cousin said, "This is my older brother. I have to touch his feet." The Guru gave the disciple a compassionate and blessingful smile.

My father told the Guru, "His mother has requested that I bring her son back. She is dying for him. Please allow him to go home for a few months." The Guru kindly consented.

Because of his fondness for my father, the cousin left his Master and returned home.

My father's aunt lived only a month or two after that. The son stayed until his mother died. Then he said to my father, "I have only one boon I want from you in this incarnation." My father knew what it was and said, "Granted!" His cousin would never have to come back to stay with his family again. He would always stay with his Guru.

Once a year my father used to go and see his cousin at his Guru's ashram. Once when I was nine or ten years old, our whole family went to see him with my father. His Guru was very kind to our family.

When I came to America, every day this uncle of mine used to pray that I would not drink wine or lead an undivine life and become corrupted. He had heard that America was such an unspiritual place. He wrote me a very affectionate letter warning me not to be spoiled in America.

This uncle was extremely affectionate towards our whole family. He gave special names to my brothers and sisters, calling them cosmic gods and goddesses. He died a few years ago at the age of eighty-nine. After his death, he came to me and showed me tremendous affection and compassion. Now he knows who I am.

My maternal uncle

My maternal uncle was my father's greatest friend and admirer. He was so fond of our family. All our requests he used to fulfil. My father was also very fond of him.

One day my father's bank was robbed by my mother's nephew — her sister's son. My father and mother had brought this boy up, and when he robbed the bank my maternal uncle felt miserable. He felt miserable because the bank had been robbed by a close relative. He also thought that because our bank had been robbed, my father would become poor. My father said, "We have plenty of money in other banks and also property."

But my uncle eventually became insane because he had such affection for all the members of our family. He finally committed suicide by jumping under a train. My mother was thin and weak, but when she heard that her brother had died, it was such a shock that she practically turned a somersault in the air! That day such spirit entered into my mother. She had the energy of a three-year old. She cried so bitterly. They were so close to each other. What kind of suffering!

On the day my uncle died, my father went to the crematory hall. When everything was over, my father's eyes were flooded with tears.

When he was alive, my maternal uncle used to beg my father to give up smoking. My father would always do anything that my maternal uncle asked, but in this matter of smoking my father didn't listen. When my uncle died, my father was so sad. He said, "I could not fulfil your request while you were alive. But today I have to listen to you." On that day my father gave up smoking.

True friendship

Once someone brought a lawsuit against my father. It was a real joke! The man was unnecessarily harassing my father. The man who was supposed to defend my father was very close to our family. He came to our house before he and my father went to court and ate with us. But later at the court he went against my father. This man died a few months later. He had a young son and a young daughter. There was nobody to look after them. My father said, "Once upon a time he was my friend. He could not remain my friend, but I have to prove that I was his friend." So my father paid for the son's and daughter's schooling. He even paid for the son to go to college. That fellow had brothers and other relatives, but they didn't care for his children.

My father and the occultist

My father had a distant relative who was a great occultist. The occultist was very spiritual, and he was very fond of both my father and my mother.

This relative never paid any attention to studies; he didn't even go to primary school. But since he was a very great occultist, many people used to visit him when they were in trouble. If a cow was stolen, he would tell the owner to go to a particular place to find it.

This occultist helped my father many times. Once my father went to him when my brother Chitta was very sick. Both Chitta and a relative's son were seriously ill in the hospital. The occultist said to my father, "Doctors are useless! They won't be able to cure your son. Here, I am giving you blessing ash from the feet of Mother Kali. If you put this on your son's head, he will be all right."

My father went to the hospital and put the ashes on my brother's head. Because of his great love and respect for my father, the occultist helped my brother Chitta. But when the relative whose son was also in the hospital went to the occultist, the occultist said, "God is also in the doctors," and he did not help him.

Unfortunately, the doctor's medicine did not do the needful. The relative's son died, and my brother recovered. So the occultist's ash saved my brother, whereas the doctor's medicine could not cure our relative's son.

There is another very striking story about this occultist. My father felt sorry for a particular family that had opened up a shop and gone bankrupt. People were bothering them to pay their debts, so my father wrote them a postcard promising to give them some money. The family kept the postcard and planned to use it in court to prove that my father was responsible for their debts.

A friend of my father heard about this and told the occultist about it. The occultist said, "I will take care of it." The friend had faith in him and told my father not to worry. When the particular family brought the postcard to court, the judge saw that there was no signature on it. So he said that my father could not be held responsible. From a distant Indian village the occultist removed the signature in the court in the town, just before the judge looked at the postcard.

Once my father and a friend went to see the occultist very late at night, around midnight. Village people usually go to bed around eight o'clock, so by that time everyone in the village was fast asleep. The occultist happened to be meditating, and he saw inwardly that my father and a friend were coming. He had tremendous respect for my father, so he woke up his mother and said, "They have been travelling for a long time and they have not eaten. Please cook something." When my father and his friend arrived, the food was ready.

One day this occultist went to Calcutta, and people begged him to give a talk. His first sentence was, "Without God everything is a broomstick." The word he used for broomstick was in the Chittagong dialect, which the Calcutta people did not know. They thought it was a mantra, and they started repeating it.

In the audience were five or six women from Chittagong. They started laughing. The Calcutta people were furious that the Chittagong people were so rude, and the Chittagong people were so embarrassed that the Calcutta people were repeating the occultist's 'mantra!'

When the occultist was a young man, his parents forced him to get married even though he did not want to. When he saw his wife in the palanquin, he cried, "Bondage, bondage!" and jumped out. Then he ran away. What a calamity he created!

In later years he allowed his wife to come back to him, but she never cared for meditation — never! When he died, the occultist's disciples tried to persuade her to take his place, but she refused. She said, "No, I cannot accept your pranams and all your devotion."

The carbuncle

Once one of my relatives developed a big boil. We call it a carbuncle, and it is very painful. It was not bursting at all, so the doctor said that my relative needed an operation. But when it was time for the operation, he was frightened to death. Although he was suffering unbearable pain, my relative said that anything was better than having an operation.

We had a Muslim servant who considered himself a doctor. He had no degree in medicine, but he used all kinds of herbs and natural remedies. The servant went to my father and said that he would be able to cure our relative. My father said, "Nobody has faith in you. Do you really think that you will be able to cure him?"

The servant had such respect for my father. With folded hands he said, "How could I tell you lies?"

The servant took an eggplant and removed the pulp. Then inside he put all kinds of things — mustard oil, ginger and other herbs and spices from the kitchen. Then he said his own mantra and placed the eggplant not on top of the carbuncle but alongside it.

Then what happened? The carbuncle burst! It did not take even ten minutes.

My relatives wanted to give the servant some money. He said, "I can't take anything," but they kept insisting. Finally the servant said to my father, "I am always ridiculed and sometimes insulted. If you want to return my favour, please tell people who criticise me that I know a little about medicine. That will be enough of a reward."

My father was like the head of the village; he always got so much appreciation. He told everyone that the servant knew how to cure carbuncles and other ailments. From then on people took the servant seriously.

The bone in the throat

My father had the capacity to remove bones that were caught in people's throats. If someone had been eating meat or fish and if a bone got stuck in his throat, my father knew how to remove it occultly.

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 couldn't eat anything and he was in absolute agony, but he was afraid of having an 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 screaming and crying 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 bedridden and he was near death. Everybody was annoyed that at this time a Muslim had to come to bother him.

My brother and uncle thought that perhaps because my father was on his deathbed, he had lost the capacity to remove bones from people's throats. So they casually asked him if he still had the capacity. He said, "Yes, I have the capacity. Is there anybody suffering from that problem in the family?"

They said, "It is not anyone in the family, but somebody else — a Muslim." My brother and my uncle were dead against his 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."

My father rubbed his throat three or four times, breathed heavily a few times and coughed. Then he said, "Go and see!" When the family members went out to the courtyard, they found out that the bone in the Muslim's throat had disappeared. The Muslim was crying with joy. He wanted to give my father some money, but my father would not accept it.

That was my father's last act for a Muslim. He did not know the Muslim; he 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 father's occult power

My father had other kinds of occult power as well. He could look at a pumpkin while it was still on the vine and say how many seeds were inside. When we would cut it up and count all the seeds, it would be exactly the number he had said. That I saw only twice, but other members of my family saw it many times. My father could also take away very severe headaches. When I was a little boy, I used to beg him and beg him to teach me occultism. He never did, but by the time I was thirteen or fourteen years old, occultism descended on me like a torrential rain.

The dhoti

My brother had a special dhoti. When I saw that particular dhoti, I wanted to have it, and I started crying for it. How could my brother tell me that it was for our father when he dies? I was such a fool! I went to my father and told him that my brother had such a nice dhoti and he would not give it to me.

My father got the point. He said to my brother, "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 didn't take my brother's dhoti.

The two patients

At one point my father and mother were both sick. The two patients were staying in separate rooms. Whenever the doctor came, my father would say, "I am not needed. If I die, my wife will take care of the children. But if she dies, the whole family will collapse. So please go and take care of her."

But my mother would tell the doctor, "Please go and cure him. I am insignificant." Each of them used to send the doctor to take care of the other one. Finally, my father would compel the doctor to take care of my mother first.

So many doctors worked on my mother. My father had only one or two doctors, but my mother had doctor after doctor. She was sick for a year and a half. She suffered so much!

My father lived to be 62, but my mother never reached 50. My mother died only one year after my father. This is the proof of their deep soul's connection.

The day of my father's death

The day my father died, he told my brother, "Give me anything you want me to eat." For quite a few days he had not eaten, and everybody was very concerned about him. But on the day he left the body, he told them to give him whatever they wanted him to eat. One of my father's very close friends was Govinda Das. On the day he died, my father said, "I am leaving. He is going to follow me very soon." His prophecy proved correct. A few days later Govinda Das also left the body.

Consolation from Krishna's Conch

After my father was cremated, we came back home and everybody was crying and crying. Who would console whom? In three hours' time a Bengali newspaper called Panchajanya, or "Krishna's Conch," came out with an article all about my father. When I looked at the article, I received such consolation. As soon as I read how nice and how great my father was, I stopped crying. Even then, for weeks I would look at his picture early in the morning and cry. I would appreciate, admire and adore him, saying, "Oh, I am his son."

Food for the deceased

In India they observe quite a few rituals when someone dies. For a month after someone dies, the family will put all kinds of food in front of the house in case the person who has just died is still hungry.

Our family put food out when my father died. Very often we saw a dog come to eat it. At first we got annoyed, but then the village brahmin gave us sound advice. He said, "No, your father has taken the form of a dog and is eating the food."

After that we used to be very moved whenever a dog came. I observed this at least six or seven times with tears in my eyes, thinking, "Oh, my father is eating." The dog would eat the food, and I would look at the dog with such affection.

This was just a village custom, but we observed it for one month after my father died, and also after my mother died.

My cousin's "marriage"

When somebody dies in an Indian family, it is a custom that for the next three days the relatives cannot get married.

The day my father died, it happened that one of my second cousins was supposed to get married. Early in the morning it came out in two newspapers that my father had died, and my father's dead body was outside in the courtyard. But my cousin's parents became very clever. They pretended they did not know that my father had died. They thought they would be able to deceive everybody.

But when the bride's family came to learn that my father had died, they did not want their daughter to be married that day because of my father's death. My cousin's family and the bride's family quarrelled and fought like anything. Finally the bride's family agreed to the marriage and my cousin's family was very happy. But what the bride's family did was this. The girl had a brother who had the same kind of beautiful face as his sister. Her family put a sari on the son and decorated his body so that he looked like the bride.

It is an Indian custom that the husband and wife don't see each other before the day of the marriage. The parents make all the decisions for their children. When my cousin saw the beautiful face of his bride, he was very happy. My cousin and his bride were riding in the palanquin together during the three-and-a-half-mile journey from the bride's house to his house.

After some time the brother made his voice sound like a woman's voice and asked if they could stop for a minute so he could respond to nature's call. The palanquin bearers let him out, and he took a few steps very slowly. Then suddenly he threw off the sari and ran away. The others saw that it was a boy, but they could not catch him. My cousin was so furious that he refused to marry that particular girl. Eventually he married somebody else.

My father's desire

When I am talking to someone on the outer plane, at the same time I am talking to so many people in the inner world. Once after I scolded some of my disciples, both my mother and father came to me from the soul's world. My mother said, "Yes, you are their real father. On the one hand, you show them affection and love, and on the other hand you are quite strict."

My physical father comes to me only rarely, on very significant occasions. My mother comes on every occasion — for every little thing. If I have a toothache or high fever, my mother will come. She has a very free access. No matter what mood I am in, she comes. She comes with good news, bad news, sad news, any news just for a chat. She will come God knows how many times — seventy or a hundred times a year, or even more. But my father comes only on rare occasions — perhaps five or six times a year. At those times he stands before me full of compassion and concern.

One day in October 1973, my father came to speak to me. When my father comes, he appears as I remember him, although the soul can take any form. When he came to me on this occasion, he said that he would not be satisfied with my writing only two hundred books. He wants me to write one thousand books! I said, "Am I doomed to stay on earth such a long time?" He laughed and laughed. He knows quite well how many years I will stay on earth.

Out of one thousand books, he said, perhaps only thirty books need not be spiritual in the strict sense of the term. Can you imagine, only thirty books he excluded! My joke books and a few others fall under that category.

One thousand books: a father's desire, a father's dream! He said I should write one thousand books just because I have the capacity to do it. He didn't tell me outwardly how many years it would take, but intuitively he gave me the message. He is one hundred percent sure that I will be able to do it.

I am ready to take up that challenge. You may think that it is impossible for me to fulfil my father's desire, but you have to know that I have another father, a Supreme Father, my real Father, my only Father. Is anything impossible for that Father to do in and through me? Now, to my utter surprise, I am almost fulfilling my father's desire. I have covered a long way: over 861 books go to my credit.

A father's pride

A week before my father's centenary, I gave a concert at Carnegie Hall. Immediately after the performance I saw Sri Krishna, Shiva, my parents and my other relatives all on the stage. They were all so happy, delighted and excited. I was seeing them not only with my third eye, but even with my physical eyes. My father was very happy with the centenary celebration we were holding for him. He is very pleased and very proud of his youngest son and his disciples.

Shashi Kumar Ghosh

Shashi Kumar Ghosh

Shanta nayan bishal hiya

Nitya paritosh

Taba sata barshiki aj

Paramanande saj ar baj

Ekadhare tumi guru gambhir

Shakti sadhak karuna sheha nir

Langhi moru langhi pahar

Durbar manush dosh


Shashi Kumar, Shashi Kumar,

Shashi Kumar Ghosh —

Tranquillity-eyes, vastness-heart

Always in satisfaction-light.

Today we celebrate a hundred springs

From the core of your Eternal Life

With stupendous sound-life

And auspicious silence-soul.

In one form you are a power-worshipper

Immensely self-poised in your central being

And a compassion and affection-flooded nest,

Covering the desert-vast

And transcending the mountain-foibles

Of your feeble fellow travellers and compeers

Here on earth


14 April 1982

From:Sri Chinmoy,My Father Shashi Kumar Ghosh: Affection-Life, Compassion-Heart, Illumination-Mind, Agni Press, 1992
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