India and her miracle-feast: come and enjoy yourself, part 8 — Traditional Indian stories about Bama Kshepa
Introduction by the AuthorI have decided to narrate a few traditional stories which are well-known in India. These stories are not my own creations; they are about spiritual Masters who used to show their occult power as easily and as often as we drink water. I am one of those who do not appreciate miracles, for quite often miracles only feed curiosity, and there is a yawning gulf between curiosity and aspiration. Again, there are some Masters who think that it is advisable for an individual to start his spiritual journey, even if he has to start with curiosity. Eventually the same person will enter into the world of true aspiration.
Sometimes occultists want to prove that modern science does not have the last word with regard to God’s creation. They want to show that the infinite wealth of the inner world can easily silence all the achievements of mankind in the outer world. To be sure, what we call a miracle is nothing but a common occurrence in the world beyond our senses. Inwardly we can learn from these great Masters, from their fascinating miracles, from their soul-stirring lives. That is why I am interested in telling these stories.
— Sri Chinmoy
The widow's marriageOne day a young, beautiful girl and her father came to see Bama Kshepa. The young girl bowed down to the Master and offered him some Indian sweets which she herself had prepared. Bama was extremely pleased with her and said, “I am blessing you. You will be blessed in the future with a beautiful son.”
The girl cried out, “Father, Father, look what this sadhu is saying! How can I have a child when I have lost my husband? I am a widow.”
Bama said, “You are a widow. So what! You will be remarried. My words will prove true.”
In three months’ time a very rich young man fell in love with her. Although in those days it was not at all appreciated if a widow remarried, this girl did get married in a special Hindu Vaishnava manner. Needless to say, in a year’s time after she got married, she was blessed with a beautiful son.
A suicide attemptOnce in the thick of the night a middle-aged man named Nimai was tying a rope to the branch of a tree and was about to hang himself. He could not support his family, and for this reason the members of his family had tremendous disrespect for him. Therefore he wanted to commit suicide.
At that moment Bama appeared in his subtle body and said, “What are you doing? You rascal, don’t you know that committing suicide is the worst possible sin? Don’t you believe it?”
Nimai said, “All right, I will not commit suicide, but I will never go home again.”
Bama said, “You don’t have to go home. Come and stay with me, in your real home. God will take care of your family, I assure you.”
Bama’s words proved true. Very soon, two of Nimai’s older sons got jobs and were in a position to support the rest of the members of the family.
The dying manA young man suffering from a serious case of tuberculosis was brought by his relatives to Bama. The young man’s days were numbered. Bama said to them, “Why did you bring him to me? Am I a doctor? You rascals, you will never give me peace of mind.”
Then the Master stood up and started strangling the patient. Everybody was stunned. The man was already so weak. The disciples started crying because if the young man died, the Master and all of them would be in serious trouble.
But Bama continued to strangle and abuse the man like anything, saying, “When you do bad things, unbearable things, don’t you know you will pay the penalty?” Then he said, “All right, I have forgiven you,” and he threw the man down on the ground. Everybody thought he was dead.
But in a few minutes, to everyone’s astonishment, the young man stood up and said, “I am so hungry. Please give me something to eat. I have never felt this kind of hunger in my life.” The dying man was now totally cured. The relatives left the Master’s house offering utmost gratitude to Bama, whom they affectionately called the “insane spiritual Master.”
The leperBama had a dear attendant named Nanda, who had developed leprosy. Even then, Bama used to take food from him regularly and not from other disciples. Gradually, Nanda’s case became extremely serious. His hands and arms were totally covered with infected wounds and it was a very ugly sight. So he stopped coming to his Master’s place.
One day, Bama’s attendants said to their Master, “Master, you have the capacity to cure your dear disciple, Nanda. Why don’t you cure him?”
Bama said to them, “All right, bring him today.”
When Nanda came, Bama started striking him, saying, “Can you count on your fingertips how many times you have done unthinkable things? I say you can’t, you rascal. I have forgiven you and I am curing you, but in the future never, never do anything immoral or undivine.”
In a month’s time Nanda was totally cured. Then he once again started preparing meals for Bama and serving him with utmost love and devoted surrender.
The stomach ailmentOne day Bama saw a man in the street suffering from severe stomach pains. He had a very serious ailment in his abdomen. When Bama passed by him, he asked Bama to cure him. Bama scolded him most mercilessly. Then he touched the man’s stomach and said, “Now you are cured, but lead a good life.”
The man said to Bama, “O Master, I know that you are a God-incarnate soul.”
Bama immediately replied, “I am not a God-incarnate soul. I am the dust of the dust of my Divine Mother Tara. It is the dust of Her dust that has cured you. I am a mere instrument.”
The disciple-thiefBama had a close disciple who was in the habit of stealing. From time to time he used to steal money and material things that belonged to Bama. Once he stole a very large sum of money, and both the disciples and the Master were furious. Bama asked a lawyer-disciple of his to press charges against the individual.
The day the case was supposed to go to court, Bama quite unexpectedly came before the judge and pleaded with him to forgive the disciple.
The lawyer-disciple said, “You asked me to be so strict with him. We have filed the case, and today I am here with the judge. What will the court think of us?”
Bama said to his lawyer-disciple, “Rascal, do I have to be afraid of your court?” Then, pointing to the judge, he added, “Here is another rascal. It seems he is not going to listen to my request.”
The judge knew Bama’s spiritual power, so he said, “No, sadhu, I am at your command. The court listens to me, but I listen to you. You take back your disciple-thief.”
The Master said to the judge, “I am so grateful to you, I am so proud of you. Now again, I can chat with my dear disciple. He has stolen my money, but who needs money? I need his devoted love and service.”
Meditating on one's shoesOne day a certain gentleman bathed in a holy river and then sat down to meditate on its bank. A few minutes later Bama came to the spot and watched the man for some time. Then he entered into the water and, from there, started sprinkling water and throwing sand on the gentleman.
The man said to Bama, “What a rascal you are! Can’t you see that I am meditating? Is this the time for you to disturb me?”
Bama replied, “What a liar you are! You are meditating on what? Are you meditating on God or are you meditating on the beautiful, fine shoes that you are going to buy today from the shoe shop? I don’t approve of that kind of meditation.”
The man was so surprised. He said, “Please, please tell me something about meditation.”
But Bama only said, “Meditation is not meant for you for quite a few years.” Then Bama started running away.
The man followed him, but Bama ran so fast that he could not catch him. When the man reached Bama’s village, he asked people where the Master’s house was and went there. But Bama told his disciples, “I will never speak to him. Let him meditate on his shoes. You people meditate on God.”
The gentleman felt sad and miserable, and he went away without seeing Bama. Bama knew that this was the only way he could inspire the man to meditate sincerely.
Dogs are human beingsOne day Bama and his dogs were eating together. Sometimes his dogs were eating food from his plate; sometimes he was reciprocating by eating food from their plates. On seeing this unusual scene, some young boys said to Bama, “How can you do this, and why do you do this? Are you a human being?”
He said to them, “Just because I am a human being I can do this. Now, come here near me.”
The three boys came and stood before him. Bama placed his finger on the spine of each boy, one after the other. Using his occult power, Bama brought forward a human face and consciousness on the face of each dog, and a dog’s face and consciousness on the face of each human being. Immediately, each boy saw that the dogs were all human beings whereas the other boys who were watching were dogs. They were so astonished and baffled.
Then Bama explained, “You think that a human being can eat only with other human beings. But look at the animals around you. Are they not also human beings? Again, aren’t human beings also animals? I wanted you to see this; that is why I used my occult power in this way.”
Bama's affectionBama was quite often unkind to people outwardly. Inwardly he was all kindness and concern, but his outer behaviour was quite often shocking. Therefore, nobody expected kindness from him, especially in the outer world.
One day a certain doctor and some of his admirers came to Bama. Bama was extremely kind and affectionate to the doctor and pleaded with him to eat something. The doctor said that he was not hungry and that he did not eat food at odd hours. But Bama pleaded and pleaded. His disciples were so surprised, for Bama never did this kind of thing. He always remained in his own trance. Who had eaten and who had not eaten — these things never bothered him. Since he kept pleading with the doctor to eat something, the doctor finally did so and then went home.
On reaching home, he found that his only daughter had just died. She had had a stroke and in ten minutes’ time she had passed away.
Bama had known that this tragedy was going to take place in the doctor’s family and therefore had become so kind, so affectionate and so loving. He showed tremendous concern for the bereaved family even before the tragedy took place.
Bama's magic circleBama lived across the river from his family. When his mother became seriously ill, he did not go to see her because he was practising austere disciplines. Then she died. Bama’s family wanted to bring the dead body to the other side of the river so that Bama could offer his last expressions of love and devotion to his mother. But a hurricane was in full swing and it was raining heavily. Therefore, they decided not to bring the dead body to the other side.
From his side of the river Bama saw quite a few people crying and lamenting, so he knew that a dead body had been brought to the river bank to be cremated. He wanted to see who had died, so he jumped into the water and swam across the river. Lo and behold, he saw his younger brother in the crowd of people. His younger brother had not informed him about his mother’s death, for Bama often did peculiar things, and he was afraid that Bama would do something unpleasant and embarrass the entire family.
When Bama saw his younger brother crying and weeping, he immediately realised what had happened. He didn’t say a word. He just grabbed his mother’s dead body and put the body into a nearby sack, which he placed on his shoulders. Then, chanting “Tara, Tara,” the name of his beloved Goddess, he brought his mother to the other side of the river where he practised his yoga. His brother and relatives were compelled to come to the other side by boat during the hurricane.
When they arrived, Bama said to his younger brother, “On the thirteenth day we must feed thousands of people.”
His brother said, “How? You know how poor we are.”
But Bama replied, “You don’t have to worry about it.”
His relatives, who did not appreciate Bama’s craziness, started laughing. They knew that Bama had practically nothing to eat for himself. Bama got furious and said, “I tell you, I will feed them.”
Early in the morning on the thirteenth day, many, many people began bringing all kinds of food to Bama’s house. They said that they had had a vision of a goddess that previous night. The goddess had told them that Bama was her dearest son and that, because his mother had passed away, today there was going to be a religious festival. The goddess had commanded them to bring food to Bama’s family so that the family could feed all the relatives, well-wishers and villagers who would come.
As soon as everybody had come, all of a sudden it started raining very, very heavily. Bama’s brother came to Bama and started crying, “O brother, you wanted to feed so many people. Now, by your grace, food has come, but we have no place to feed them. It is all open space. How can we feed people when it is raining so heavily? We can’t feed them in our house because it is too small. Food we have, but we have no shelter. So everybody is sad and unhappy.”
Bama said, “All right, come with me.” His brother followed him to his house. Some onlookers started laughing at Bama, while others showed him respect. No one knew what this crazy man was going to do and his presence created a commotion. Then Bama took a small stick and made a very big circle and said, “All of you come inside this circle. If you are inside the circle, you will not be affected by the rain at all.”
When they all came inside, everyone was amazed, for it continued raining heavily right outside the boundary of the circle. But inside, all of them were perfectly safe; inside the circle they ate to their heart’s content. But as soon as the meal was over and they walked out of the circle to go home, they got thoroughly drenched. So they all came back into the circle and stayed there for a couple of hours until the rain finally stopped.
Bama eats the temple prasadBama used to frequent a temple dedicated to the goddess Tara that was owned by a queen. One day he went into the temple and ate all the prasad that had been offered to the goddess. When the head priest and the guard saw what Bama had done, they struck him mercilessly.
That night the queen had a most frightening dream. She saw the goddess Tara weeping in front of her. On the one hand, she was so delighted to see the goddess, who was the goal of her life. On the other hand, she was so sad to see the goddess weeping.
The goddess Tara showed the queen her back, which was bleeding. “My dearest son, Bama, ate the food that was meant for Me in the temple. Your priest and your guard have beaten him mercilessly. If the son can’t eat his mother’s food, who can eat it?”
The queen did not know who Bama was, but the next morning she asked the priest and the guard to bring him to her. They looked for him, but he was nowhere to be found. It took them three days to find Bama. He was still suffering from the pain of the beating, so they were very kind, affectionate and apologetic to him. When they brought him to the queen she looked at him and felt miserable.
The queen said to Bama, “From now on this temple is yours. Before we place food in the temple, we shall feed you first. This is what the goddess Tara wants from me. I shall have to feed you first before I offer food to Her in the temple.” Bama was very happy and delighted. From that day on, his poverty was over.
Far above human standardsA few months after the queen had offered her temple to Bama, the Master one day got inspiration to pass water and sprinkle it all over the temple.
The priest and the guard were horrified, but Bama just said to them, “She is my Mother, I am her little child. What else do you expect me to do if I don’t pass water on Her? I have a right to do these kinds of things. What does the little child do with the mother? The child passes water.”
The priest and the guard thought that if they made complaints to the queen, the queen would be really angry with Bama for his bad behaviour. They were already jealous of him because the queen always showed him tremendous concern and love. So they went to the queen and told her what had happened, expressing tremendous anxiety, worry and fear.
The queen scolded them mercilessly. “You fools!” she said. “This is a matter entirely related to the Mother and the son. Bama’s Mother is the goddess Tara; he is his Mother’s dearest son — her darling little child. Mother and son are one. This is none of our business; we should stay totally out of it. Let the problem be solved by the Mother and the son. They are dearer than the dearest to each other, so mind your own business. Don’t make any complaints against Bama. He is far above our human standards.”
The beautiful womanOne night Bama was lying down in his room meditating. His disciples were fast asleep in the adjacent rooms. Suddenly a beautiful girl came into Bama’s room on tiptoe and started massaging his feet. Bama made no sign that he was awake. Then she said to him, “Bama, you are so beautiful.”
Bama sat up and told her to get out of the house immediately. But instead of leaving, she embraced Bama most passionately. Bama screamed and shouted at the top of his voice, and the disciples came running in. Bama gave the beautiful woman a smart slap and asked the disciples to compel her to leave.
The woman placed at Bama’s feet the money that had been given to her by the zamindar who had sent her to test Bama’s spiritual celibacy. But the Master returned the money to her and told her, “You can return the money to the zamindar, since you have not been successful in your attempt.”
Bama Kshepa's passingThe day of his passing, Bama Kshepa showed tremendous affection to his dear disciples and also to his dogs. His dogs were shedding bitter tears in silence. Their oneness-heart with their Master could only be felt and never described. Finally, Bama uttered in a loud voice only one word — “Tara!” — which was the name of his supreme goddess. Then he breathed his last.
Commentary: Outer beauty and material wealth Bama always shunned. He did not care for religious principles as such. His only religion was his love for his deity, the Divine Mother Tara. His legacy to humanity was his soulful oneness with the human world and the animal world.