To the streaming tears of my mother's heart and to the brimming smiles of my mother's soul

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Part I — Poems

1.

To the Streaming Tears
Of My Mother's Heart
To the Brimming Smiles
Of My Mother's Soul

— Madal

I have inherited

My sister Lily's love and determination
I have inherited.

My sister Arpita's concern and service
I have inherited.

My brother Chitta's poetry and sacrifice
I have inherited.

My brother Hriday's philosophy
and wisdom
I have inherited.

My brother Mantu's patience
and detachment
I have inherited.

My sister Ahana's music and immensity
I have inherited.

My Mother Yogamaya's psychic tears
and surrender
I have inherited.

My Father Shashi Kumar's
inner confidence and outer triumph
I have inherited.

Part II — Experiences of earliest childhood

My mother's prayer

For my mother's centenary celebration we are using many statues and pictures of Lord Krishna and Radha. This is because my mother was born during the festival of Baisakh, which is dedicated to Krishna and Radha and the era of Lord Krishna's life when he lived in Brindaban. Also, my mother prayed to Lord Krishna that like His mother, Devaki, she too could have a special child.

My brother Chitta had a number of dreams that my mother would give birth to a great soul. When he told my mother, she said, "Perhaps Krishna has sent his dearest devotee into our simple, humble and prayerful family." But my brother felt that the child she was carrying would be not just a devotee of Krishna but a spiritual soul of the highest magnitude. That was my brother's prediction.

Madal is born

I was born in our village home. in those days people did not go to the hospital. The day I was born, our house in the town was burnt to ashes. Therefore, my grandmother said to the family members that this rascal would destroy the whole family.

My mother said, "No, my child is going to bring tremendous name and fame to our family."

A week later my grandmother composed a couplet in Bengali that said: "The Bhadra-born people turn everything topsy-turvy." The name of August is "Bhadra" in Bengali, but in the Chittagong dialect we say "Bhada." The words to the poem were:

Ek bhada jar
Ut put tar

My mother also composed a couplet in Bengali saying that he who is born in this month, Bhadra, is definitely going to beat the golden kettledrum. The golden kettledrum is being played in the Heavens by the cosmic gods. The poem was as follows:

Ek bhada jar
Sonar madal tar

They gave me the name Madal, which means "kettledrum," but my very first name when I was born, my horoscope name, was Ganapati. Ganapati is the elephant god. It is he who grants realisation.

Kettledrum

During my childhood, I was known by the affectionate Bengali nickname Madal, meaning kettledrum — perhaps because I was always making so much noise! Sometimes my grandmother would find my liveliness too much for her, and she would say, "This kettledrum will bring about the total destruction of the family!"

My mother would protest confidently, "Nonsense! On the contrary, Madal is sure to bring us abundant name and fame. He is destined to be played on by the gods and goddesses in the skies!"

Stories from the Mahabharata

When I was a little boy, I knew lots of stories from the Mahabharata. At that time I could hardly read, and to read a big book like the Mahabharata was an impossible task. My mother used to force me to sleep every afternoon. She did not want me to go out in the blazing Indian sun, so she would read from the Mahabharata and tell me stories so that I would fall asleep. For five or ten minutes I used to listen to her stories. Then I used to pretend that I was fast asleep.

My mother would be very happy; she would close her book and watch carefully to see if I was really asleep. Then she herself used to fall asleep. I was only waiting for her to fall asleep, and then I used to run away. In the garden there were so many trees bearing guavas, mangoes and other fruits. The servant used to help me pluck the fruits and I used to eat them.

In half an hour or forty-five minutes my mother would wake up and see that I was missing. She used to send the young servant to find me in the garden. Most of the time I was in the mango tree, getting mangoes for the whole family.

Then I would go back inside. My mother used to scold both me and the servant who would take me. She would say, "Why did you take him outside?"

The servant would say, "He was crying. What could I do?"

But my smile was enough to conquer her heart. As soon as she saw it, she would stop scolding me; she would forgive my deception. I played that trick many, many times.

During the school holidays my mother would tell me many more stories from the Mahabharata. I used to listen to her stories and then tell them to my relatives, who thought I was a great authority on the Mahabharata.

My first lessons in English

When I was about four years old, my eldest sister, Arpita, saw that I had no interest in learning the letters of the Bengali alphabet. So she began to teach me the letters of the English alphabet. I liked them very much, but when my mother discovered what Arpita was teaching me, she was so displeased. She wanted me to learn my mother tongue first. She did not care for the English language at all, although my father had a very good command of English, and his immediate bosses were all Englishmen.

It was beyond my mother's imagination that one day I would come and live in America, but God gave my sister divine insight.

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.

The monkeys

When I was a child, we had a dog named Bhaga, a white hare, many birds and a few monkeys. One monkey was named Madhu. I was very fond of the monkeys, but they used to bite. When a monkey starts running towards you, you have to fall down and pretend you are dead. If you act as if you are dead, if you lie down and stop breathing, then it will never, never bite you. So many times I did that when I was six years old, but a few times I was caught and the monkey would bite me. Nobody in my family escaped except my mother.

My mother was not bitten even once because the monkeys felt kindness in her. When monkeys are tame, they show affection. Always when my mother was sitting down doing something, the monkey would go and sit on her lap in a mischievous way. No matter what she was doing, the monkey would be with her, without biting. Only my mother escaped.

Who wants to study?

When my father became the owner and manager of a bank, he 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 in addition to our school lessons. The tutor used to give us our lessons near a little temple we had for the goddess Lakshmi. 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 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 study. 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 study, but she knew it was a hopeless case. So she would send a 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 seven or eight years, very often I did not go to school. I would learn from my brother and my tutor. Then, when the examinations came, I always stood 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 Karnaphuli river to see the boats and ships.

My maternal uncle lived in town, and I would also stay with him. 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. She did not like it when I stayed away too long. I was her dearest child, and without me she used to feel miserable. But quite a few times she allowed me to stay at my uncle's house for a week.

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!

My mother in the eyes of a lion

When I was ten years old, I went to visit my maternal uncle who lived in the village of Kelishahar. There was a chain of mountains nearby, about a mile away. I was extremely fond of roaming in these mountains.

About two o'clock one afternoon, my friends were all in school, so I decided to go for a walk alone on one of the mountains. I had been to that mountain many times accompanied by my friends and relatives. This time, being alone, I got more joy from my adventure, so I roamed further and further until I was in the thick of the dense forest which covered the mountain. Formerly, when I had gone with my friends and relatives, they had wandered only through the outskirts of the forest, as these were more accessible.

I was very fond of a certain kind of fruit called jujub. There were many jujub trees in the forest, so I climbed one of them and ate to my heart's content. When I climbed down — Lo and behold! — facing me, only ten feet away, was a mountain lion! The lion and I were face to face.

My immediate reaction was that the lion, far from showing a ferocious look, was all mildness. Furthermore, I saw my own mother's face reflected in the lion's eyes, although my mother was in our home village, Shakpura, six miles away.

This scene lasted for several minutes. Seeing my mother in the eyes of the lion, I felt no fear and raised no cry. I was calm and serene. The more I looked into the lion's eyes, the greater was the affectionate feeling I was receiving from the lion.

After about five minutes, very slowly I started to move away, turning my back to the lion and walking toward my destination. When I had covered a reasonable distance, perhaps a quarter of a mile, at a slow and cautious pace, I turned back to see if the lion was following me. There was no sign of the animal. Then I ran for dear life.

I covered a mile in a short time, crying and shouting for help: "Save me! Save me! I saw a lion!" When I finally came to my aunt's house, I was trembling and screaming. My aunt felt as though I had died and had come back to life by some miracle. Some of the villagers showed sympathy while others scolded or mocked, but my aunt was holding me with such affection, as if I had really been killed by the lion.

Although it had been decided that I would go back home after spending four days at my uncle's house, my mother arrived quite unexpectedly that same day. While she was having her siesta, she had seen in a dream that her youngest son was attacked and killed by a lion. She came with her servant to her brother's home, practically insane with grief, assuming that her son had died.

I was literally bathed in the sea of tears shed by my mother and aunt in their joy at seeing me alive and safe.

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 other servant also cooked. God alone knows what my mother cooked! Her cooking was sitting in the temple for hours and hours praying and meditating. I do not think she ever cooked.

Normally we would all eat together, but on Saturdays and Sundays, when my father was home from town, my mother would not 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 is very, very thin.

Reminiscences

My mother hated to listen when people used to criticise others. In one of my recent Bengali songs dedicated to my mother, I mention that my mother would not tolerate criticism of anybody.

Another thing I remember about my mother is that she was adverse to drinking water, even a glass of water per day. The doctors used to beg her, but she would not.

Faith in God, not in doctors

My mother's faith was always in her worship, in God, never in doctors. Whenever anybody in the family was sick, my sisters and brothers were responsible for calling the doctor and nursing the patient. My mother would immediately go into the temple. Day and night she would pray, but she would hardly come to see the patient. She was with her God, inside the temple, praying because she did not believe in medicine. She was worried like anything, but she thought that medicine could not help; only her prayer to God and God's Compassion would cure us.

My mother's care for smallpox

When I was four years old, I had the worst possible case of smallpox. The smallpox attacked my eyes, ears and nose — everything. The doctor said it was a matter of weeks: I would die or I would go blind or become deaf. The case was so serious.

My mother said, "With God's Blessings and my prayers, I will not allow my youngest son to die or to become blind or deaf."

The doctors said, "We don't want your son to die, but he is going to die. Our medicine won't work."

My mother accepted the challenge. She used to wash my face with coconut water. Her prayer and coconut water saved me. I am not dead, I am not blind or deaf. I may have the marks on my face, but my case would have been infinitely worse if the smallpox had not left me. I was cured only because of my mother's prayer to God and her concern and affection for me. She saved my life.

"My prayer is stronger than smallpox"

At one point during my illness, my smallpox was getting worse day by day. Not only the doctor but also the family priest felt that I would not survive.

One night the priest dreamt that I had died. He ran to our house immediately, in the dead of night, and knocked at our door. My mother, quite alarmed, opened the door. The priest rushed toward me while I was fast asleep inside the mosquito net. My suffering had been most pitiful until then, but I awoke suddenly, screaming a healthy cry. Upon hearing me, the priest started striking his chest with his fists, in joy or dismay or both, and tearing his hair out at the roots. "O God," he cried, "You have deceived me. But my heart is overwhelmed with joy and gratitude at Your deception."

My mother wanted to know why the priest had come at this late hour, so the priest, still trembling, told her all about the dream he had had. My mother replied, "Venerable sir, my prayer is infinitely stronger than a child's smallpox."

The doctor or the occultist

Once my brother Chitta was very, very sick, and a relative's son was also sick. He was a distant cousin on my maternal uncle's side. Both were in the Chittagong General Hospital, and both cases were getting worse. My parents and my distant cousin's parents both went to an occultist uncle of mine for help. This uncle was very spiritual, and he was very fond of both my father and my mother. He had never paid any attention to studies; he did not even go to primary school. But since he was a very great occultist, many people used to go to visit him when they were in trouble. If a cow was stolen, he would tell the owner to go to a particular village to find it.

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 asked for his help with their son. My occultist uncle said to them, "God is also inside 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. Don't worry."

A few hours later when my parents came to see the same occultist, he said, "Doctors are useless! What do the doctors know? They won't be able to cure your son. 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."

Because of his great love and respect for my father, 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 doctor's treatment could not cure our distant relative's son.

Curing typhoid fever

My sister Lily once had a very serious type of typhoid fever. The village doctor, who was our family doctor, tried to cure her, but he was not successful. As you know, my mother did not believe in doctors, and she said that prayer was the only answer.

Then my mother went to one of our relatives who used to be a doctor. He had given up his 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 the relative came, 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 one to cure my sister, and not our family doctor.

My mother's wish

Once my mother was attending a performance by a local theatre company of a play based on the life of Sri Chaitanya, the great Bengali spiritual Master. At one point in the story, Sri Chaitanya's mother was shedding tears because her son had taken a solemn vow to renounce the world and follow the spiritual life. My own mother, in the audience, became racked with sobs. My brother Chitta attempted to console her: "Mother, don't cry! Sri Chaitanya was disobedient to his mother, but we will never be so. We will remain with you always. Have no fear."

My mother protested, "But you don't understand why I am crying. It is because I want all my children, sons and daughters alike, to follow that path. I long for each one of them to be able to realise God in this life!"

Such was my mother's inner cry.

The human mother and the Divine Mother

When I was only one year and three months old, my eldest brother, Hriday, left the house and went to join the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in South India. It was a terrible shock to my parents. My brother had just graduated from Chittagong University, and he was thoroughly versed in Indian philosophy. Right from his childhood, Hriday had been spiritually inclined, and he used to pray and meditate all the time. So he disappeared and became a disciple of Sri Aurobindo.

When my parents came to know his whereabouts in two weeks' time, my mother begged my father to take her to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. She was convinced she would be able to change her son's mind and bring him back.

My father was so sad and mad that he refused. He said, "He can desert us. I don't need him. I don't want him."

When my father did not want to go to the Ashram, my mother started fasting. She fasted a day and a half. Then my father's heart melted. A day and a half was enough; then he agreed.

He brought the whole family to the Ashram. My father used to get free railway passes since he was head inspector of the Assam-Bengal railway line. He would get free passes for eleven in our family plus two servants. On other occasions, people who were not our relatives became our relatives for the ride. Young girls and boys from our village would pass as daughters, sons and cousins. After my father's death, we went only once to the Ashram, and at that time we had to pay.

In those days, if you were not seven years old, you were not allowed to come to the main building of the Ashram. We stayed in a rented place, and I was not allowed to come to the main building. Every day the Ashram Mother used to come to the balcony and people used to meditate with her. I used to cry a lot, so my cousin Nirmala-di would take me three or four blocks away, making the sacrifice so that my mother could see the Divine Mother.

My mother was overjoyed to see my brother, but my brother was miserable because he knew my mother had come to take him away. The day came for my mother to have an interview with the Divine Mother. My mother was all prepared to beg the Divine Mother to give her eldest son back so that she could take him home. My mother didn't know English. But luckily one of my sisters who knew English was behind her. With the Mother was her General Secretary.

My mother said in pure Bengali, "I am so grateful to you, Divine Mother, that you have taken responsibility for my eldest son. He is now at your feet. Now I am praying to you to take care of all my children. They are still quite young, but when they grow up, please promise me that you will take full responsibility for all of them, as you have taken my eldest son under your protection and guidance."

The Mother of the Ashram immediately said, "Yes, they are all mine."

Look what happened! My mother had gone only to take her son back. Instead of that, she was begging the Divine Mother to take care of the rest of her children when they grew up.

When my sister and mother came back to the house where we were staying, my mother said, "Look what I did! I went to take my eldest son back home. Instead of that, I have offered all my children to the Mother."

Everybody laughed and was so deeply moved. Even my father was deeply moved that his wife was so devoted to the Mother.

So the heart says one thing; the mind says something else. I always say that the heart will eventually win. The mind came to take the eldest brother away, and what did the heart do? The heart did just the opposite.

And the Divine Mother did keep her promise. Over the next eleven years, all of us went to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and became permanent members.

One brother replaces another at the ashram

When my eldest brother came back to Chittagong for a few months, another brother went to replace him at the ashram. This is how it happened. My eldest brother, Hriday, had promised to my mother that if she or our father died, he would come back for a few months. When my father passed away, Hriday returned for eight or ten months with the permission of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. They gave permission so that my brother could keep his promise.

When Hriday arrived, my mother was very sick. The family knew that she would soon follow my father to the other world. However, Chitta wanted to go and join the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.

My mother said, "I am dying. It is only a matter of months. Will you not feel sad if I die in your absence?"

Chitta immediately said, "All right, I will not go."

She asked him, "Did you buy the ticket?"

He said, "I bought the ticket to go on such and such a date, but definitely I am not going. I don't want you to die in my absence."

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. When the day came, she said to my brother, "Please listen to my request."

Chitta asked, "What is your request?"

She said, "You were supposed to leave for the Ashram today. I asked you not to go. I am your physical mother, but I know your Divine Mother has to take care of all of us."

My brother said, "I have returned the ticket."

She said, "You must buy another ticket and go."

That was her heart's wish. She said, "Now that your eldest brother is here, this is the time for you to go and be in the physical presence of the Divine Mother." My mother compelled my brother Chitta to go to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. So he went on that day. A few months later she passed away.

My mother's compassion-heart

When my father retired from his job as chief inspector of the Assam-Bengal railway line, he opened up a bank. The name of the bank was "Griha Lakshmi," which means "House of Lakshmi." One time our bank was robbed by a cousin of mine. He was my maternal aunt's son. His father and mother had both passed away, and so my father assumed responsibility for this nephew and his wife. They came to live with us. If ever I were to write a novel about my cousin's life, I am sure it would get the Nobel Prize!

On this particular day, it was the Durga Puja festival. All our relatives came to our village home to observe the day. My father entrusted my cousin with the job of guarding the bank, and my cousin used the opportunity to steal a very large amount of money and other very costly things, and disappear. That was how he guarded the bank!

In those days I used to like the Chittagong court like anything. There I used to see jailbirds and lawyers. The court was on the top of a hill, and I was very fond of the hill. Two years later, with my mother's permission, I went to the town with the servant to go to the court. I planned to spend the entire day there and come back in the evening. I was watching incorrigible rogues and thieves coming to the court for their trial.

All of a sudden, this same cousin, who was about fifteen or twenty years older than I was, came and grabbed my hand. I got the shock of my life to see him again. He had been very, very fond of me and my family.

He said, "Please tell your mother: I confess that I stole your money, but now I have spent it all. I am living only on potatoes, and my wife is still staying at your place."

How miserable his wife had been when he robbed the bank. She cried bitterly and my parents and sisters all tried to console her. Everybody wanted my father to sue my cousin, but my father said, "He is like a son to me. He has done something wrong, it is true. But if my own son had done something wrong, would I sue him?"

When I told my mother that my cousin was living on potatoes, she was so furious. "Why did you talk to him?" she demanded. I said, "He came up to me and grabbed me and told me about his suffering."

My mother said, "So much money he took." She was finding it difficult to believe that the money was all gone. Then she said, "Perhaps he has squandered the money." In a few moments, she began to shed tears for my unfortunate cousin. "My sister's son has no money. Alas, he is living on potatoes." That was my mother's compassion-heart.

Tragic consequences

My eldest maternal uncle, Ambika Charan Biswas, felt so miserable because our bank had been robbed by a close relative. He 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 extremely fond of him.

This uncle thought that because such a large amount of money had been stolen, my father would become poor. My father tried to reassure him by saying that he had money invested in other banks and also that he had lots of property.

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

The missing signature

I had a distant maternal uncle who was a great occultist. His name was Tara Charan. Once my mother had to go to him. She had been to see him many, many times, but that time there was a serious problem. It involved my father and my mother's second cousin, whom I called uncle. Unfortunately, my uncle was wicked to the backbone. He was a vagabond who did not do anything. He had a wife and children, but it was my father who had to take care of them.

My father gave this uncle money to open up a small grocery store so that he could support his family. But my uncle used to squander money and would not pay the bills. My father felt very sorry for him, and wrote to him on a postcard, "Whenever you are in financial trouble, you tell me, and I will immediately send money." Then he signed the card and put the date. From time to time, my father did send money privately to my uncle, but my father did not own the business.

In due course, my uncle went bankrupt and his creditors began to hound him. All along, he had kept my father's postcard because he planned some day to use it in court to prove that my father was responsible for his debts. Now that his creditors were suing him, my uncle said to his lawyer, "I have written proof that my venerable cousin, Shashi Kumar Ghosh, will help me whenever I am in financial difficulty. Now I am not able to pay the creditors, so it is entirely his responsibility." And he handed his lawyer the postcard. The lawyer thought that they would definitely win the case.

The case went to court, and it seemed that my father would be obliged to pay all the exorbitant debts my uncle had incurred. My father at that time was running his own bank, and he was quite well to do. But there were many people to whom my uncle owed money, so my father was unwilling to pay.

When the final day of the case dawned, my mother went to my maternal uncle, the occultist. He was very fond of my mother and our whole family. My mother was crying bitterly. She told him about the postcard with my father's signature that was now in the possession of my uncle's lawyer. Both morally and legally my father would be held responsible, especially morally, because he wrote the postcard. When my maternal uncle heard the whole story from my mother, he said, "Don't worry; nothing will happen. I will take care of it." My mother had faith in him and told my father not to worry.

In the court, my uncle's lawyer said, "Shashi Kumar Ghosh has promised my client that he will be fully responsible for any financial obligations. Here is the proof of his promise. Now he is refusing to honour it."

O God, when the postcard was shown to the judge, what happened? My father's handwriting and everything was there, but the signature was missing. The signature had been totally deleted.

From a distant Indian village the occultist had removed the signature just before the judge looked at the postcard.

The judge looked at the postcard and immediately said, "There is no signature."

My father and our family lawyer could not believe their eyes and ears. They had thought it was a hopeless case. They also looked at the postcard and saw that the signature was indeed missing.

Then the judge said to my father, "Let me see your handwriting. Kindly write out what is in the letter."

When my father started to write, something extraordinary happened. Instead of his own hand, all of a sudden he saw my occultist maternal uncle's hand holding the pen and writing in a completely different way. Occultly my uncle wrote in such a way that there was no resemblance to my father's own handwriting.

The judge said that since there was no resemblance to my father's handwriting, my father did not even write the postcard. It must have been written by somebody else. My uncle started cursing the judge. Then our lawyer said, "Even if he wrote it, as you insist, where is the signature? His signature is not there. And the postcard was with your lawyer, not with us."

So we won the case.

Part III — My mother's passing

"You are more important"

My mother died of goitre, a big tumour on the left side of her neck. In America goitre is not at all a serious disease, but in a poor Indian village, what could we do? My mother suffered for three long years.

One incident is so vivid to me. Both my father and mother were bedridden. The two patients were staying in separate rooms. When the doctor came, my mother wanted my father to be treated first, and my father wanted my mother to be treated first.

My mother said to the doctor, "Please go and cure him. I am insignificant."

But my father said, "If I die, nothing will happen. 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."

Both said that the other one was much more important. Finally my father won and commanded the doctor to take care of my mother first since my mother's case was more serious. The doctor was like a member of the family, very close to us.

So many doctors treated my mother. My father had only one or two doctors, but my mother had doctor after doctor. 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. Both of them had been related to me in my past incarnations.

My mother prepares for her departure

If somebody is very spiritual, then, when the time of his death comes, he will say to his relatives and dear ones, "Pray to God to take me away. I have finished my play here on earth. Read me spiritual books — the Scriptures, the Mahabharata, the Bhagavad-Gita. Let me hear only divine things, spiritual things, which will help me start out on my journey."

When my mother was dying, the members of the family read out to her from the Gita constantly during her last few days. My mother's attitude was: "Now I am going to the Eternal Father. Let me prepare myself."

"Her time has come"

Sri Aurobindo had two or three secretaries. One of the secretaries was a former doctor. His name was Nirod Baran. He was a great poet, author and supreme authority on Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. One day he said to Sri Aurobindo, "Hriday's mother has been suffering for such a long time. Can you not cure her?"

Sri Aurobindo said to him, "What can I do? Her time has come. It is God's Will for her children to come here."

My eldest sister, Arpita, was at that time a permanent member of the Ashram. On that same day, while she was enjoying her siesta, she had a dream. In the dream she saw that my mother had passed away.

That day, at the very hour when Sri Aurobindo said, "Her time has come," my mother passed away in Chittagong.

The day of my mother's passing

On the day of my mother's passing, I was at my maternal uncle's house, five and a half miles away from our house. Early in the morning, my mother said, "This morning I am leaving the body. Where has Madal gone? Send for him." Then a cousin of mine came to give me the message. My cousin knocked at my uncle's door and said that my mother was dying. I had known that her case was serious, but now she was dying.

As soon as I got the message, I started running. Right from the start, tears were running down my cheeks because I was afraid I would not see my mother's last breath. Finally I reached our house and went into her room. My mother's life could be measured in minutes. She was unable to speak, but as soon as I was at her side, she took my right hand very gently. She could not lift my hand, but she held my hand and then she placed my hand in my eldest brother's hand. That meant she was telling my eldest brother to take responsibility for my life.

My eldest brother said, "Yes, I will take responsibility."

Then my mother gave me a smile, her last smile, and in a few seconds she passed away.

The light of my mother's soul

In our Hindu custom, you cannot keep a dead body for more than a day. In a few hours' time, the body has to be burnt. My mother died around two o'clock. A few hours later, at about six o'clock, my mother's body was taken to the family cremation ground and there it was burnt. All our relatives and dear ones were swimming in the sea of sorrow and grief.

I used to sleep with my mother until the age of six or seven. Then I stayed alone in my own room. The night after she passed away, it was pitch dark. We had no electricity; we didn't use a lamp or candles. My brother Mantu was in another room, and my sisters were upstairs. I was inside a mosquito net.

All of a sudden, the room was flooded with light, and I saw my mother. My mother's soul was all light. I did not know then what the soul was, but I saw clearly that my mother was blessing me and showing me utmost affection. She was telling me not to worry, saying that everything would be all right. From now on she would help me and bless me in a different way.

I often talk about spiritual, divine light. I have told so many stories in which people have said that they had an experience of light when they were meditating with me; this subject is now an open book to me. I have a free access to the inner worlds where light is always available. But that was my very first experience of divine light.

My relative's dream

When my mother was leaving the body, a very close relative of mine saw in a dream that my father was coming from the soul's world in a golden chariot to receive her and take her to Heaven.

When my father died, one of my uncles who was away in the city saw another uncle of mine and a few other people who had departed from this world coming to take my father in a golden boat.

If our dear ones and friends who are in the soul's world maintain their same sweet feelings for us, then, at the time of our passing, they come to receive us and help us to enjoy a life of bliss in Heaven. In the case of almost all religious and spiritual people, the relatives do come.

Part IV — Blessings from the soul's world

My mother's visits

From the soul's world, 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. Sometimes she comes many times in one day. 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.

Once after I was speaking to 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."

Heavenly visions

Some mornings when I am taking exercise, Mother Kali and the soul of my physical mother are there. These visions are more real to me than my own name, Chinmoy. Chinmoy is just a fleeting name, an earthly name. But my God-realisation-experiences, visions and illuminations, which come from my Beloved Supreme's infinite Compassion, are infallible and immortal.

When I see my mother and talk to her in the inner world, it is far more real to me than when I talk to my disciples. On the outer plane there is always a barrier, but in the inner world there is no barrier. The souls have a free access to each other.

My Mother's Day blessing

One morning, while I was taking exercise, I heard Ranjana, my secretary, on the phone talking, talking, talking. She had called her mother for Mother's Day. For so long, I was hearing her voice. I said to myself, "O God, luckily my mother is not on earth. Therefore I don't have to spend so much time on the phone."

I was doing wrist curls on a special machine. Then, what did I see? O my God, I saw two ethereal hands twisting my wrists. Then I saw it was my mother who was twisting them. Here I was saying that I did not have to talk to my mother on the phone because she is in the other world! So this is how we observed Mother's Day.

Conversation by candlelight

After I lifted 240 pounds with one arm, the disciples gave me a cake with three tiny blue candles. When I was looking at the first candle, I was having a conversation with my mother. When I was looking at the second candle, I was having a conversation with my father. Then, when I was looking at the third candle, I was having a conversation with Ahana, one of my departed sisters. There in Heaven I was talking with my father, my mother and my sister Ahana. Each one had a different opinion with regard to my weightlifting, and I was enjoying hearing their different opinions.

Ever since I was a child, I have always taken my mother's side blindly. Whether she is right or not, who cares? So this time also I took her side. When the discussion ended, I blew out the candles.

Encouragement from the soul's world

The morning that I lifted 360 pounds with one arm for the first time, my mother's soul came. My eyes were wide open, and she was facing me. As I was lifting the weight, she was watching me very seriously, not fearfully, but with such seriousness. Was I lifting the weight, or was I only looking at my mother? I did not know if she was happy or displeased.

On the fourth attempt — which was my best lift — I saw both my father and my mother even before I had started concentrating. This time, my mother was smiling and my father looked very serious. Then they both proudly left.

I never do five lifts in the morning; it is always four. But today, after the fourth lift, I was so happy that I wanted to do another one. O God, I couldn't do it! This time, my mother and father had gone away.

If you see this kind of thing — father and mother — how can you concentrate? You get such joy, it either ruins your concentration or you get extra energy.

A family gathering

One morning I started weightlifting around 7:30. On my first attempt, which I always use as a warm-up, I got the weight up a little. So I was filled with confidence that I would achieve my goal. However, on my second attempt, the weight did not move at all, and I became furious. I said to myself, "Today I have decided to lift up 400 pounds with one arm. Who will dare to stand in my way at this time?"

On the third lift, I saw my whole family seated by the wall to my right. Some had already departed from this world and some were still alive, but I saw them so vividly! They were more real than actual human beings. My mother and my sister Lily were seated side by side. Above them were Ahana and Arpita. Hriday, Chitta and Mantu were above them. Finally, on the very top, was my father. All of them were in a very soulful and very intense consciousness.

As soon as I finished my third lift, they all smiled soulfully. But the brightest smile came from my eldest brother, Hriday. His whole face beamed with joy. He said, "Madal, you are our Lord's genuine pride."

Then my sister Lily asked me to try again. "I am more than satisfied," I told her. "No, try again!" she begged. So, at my sister's request, I did try again.

My whole family remained seated in the same position, and once again they were watching me seriously, soulfully and intensely. The most poise I saw in my mother. Being the mother, she could have been full of panic, worry and anxiety, but she was only intense and serious.

Then I lifted the 400 pounds again, and this lift was even better. I was so happy, and my family members were all so excited. Their happiness far, far surpassed my own. My happiness was nothing in comparison to theirs.

My father came to me and put his palms on my head to bless me. "I wanted you to do this," he said.

Then my mother came to bless me. I had to bend down because she is so short, whereas my father is tall. On the video you can see how I was bending so that she could bless me. How affectionately she was blessing me, with tears of joy in her eyes. She was pouring her love and affection into me.

Then my eldest brother, Hriday, came and pressed my shoulders with his hands.

Next, my brother Chitta approached me very happily and proudly. He said, "Bravo! Bravo!"

Then my eldest sister, Arpita, came and said, "Useless, useless, useless!"

"What is useless?" I asked her.

She replied, "I cannot pray to God for your weightlifting. I can only pray to God for you to have a few good disciples. Your weightlifting will give me joy only after you have got a few good disciples. Alas, where are your good disciples?"

Then came my sister Ahana, whom we used to call Mary. She came and told me, "Earth does not know who you are and perhaps will never know who you are. But we in Heaven know who you eternally are."

My sister Lily was next. First she looked into my left eye, then into my right eye, then into my left eye and finally again into my right eye. Then she placed her hand on her own heart and offered her most prayerful gratitude to God.

The last one to come was my brother Mantu. "Enough," he said, "Enough in this life."

After the conversation, when the Heavenly scene was over, I offered my gratitude to my Lord Supreme and to my Mother Kali. Then I invited a few disciples to come to my house, and we all watched the video together.

She wanted me to do more

When I first lifted 604 pounds with one arm, my physical mother appeared before me in the inner world, full of compassion, to watch. After the fourth attempt, she wanted me to do more. I said, "I am tired. I am satisfied with this."

Oneness-Family-School

In October 1988, when I was in Washington to meditate at the Pentagon, I visited Atmatyagi's little school. Although the school was at that time smaller than the smallest, I said that the lofty vision that it embodies will one day cover the length and breadth of the world. I gave it the name 'Oneness-Family-School'. I answered questions from the children and did some drawings with crayons.

When I was that age, I was very, very restless, plus I was what you call naughty. I used to pinch my elder brothers and sisters. Sometimes my mother caught me red-handed! But just a few tears in her eyes and I used to stop immediately. Her tears had infinite power.

My mother remains silent

In June 1991 I went to International Falls for a special ceremony. The mayors of Fort Francis and International Falls, two towns on the border between America and Canada, declared that the train that runs between them would be a Sri Chinmoy Peace Train. The General Manager of the Railway was also there. It was the fulfilment of my childhood dream to follow in the footsteps of my father, who was the main inspector of the Assam-Bengal railway line.

At 5:30 in the morning on the day of the ceremony, my father, my mother, my brother, two sisters and two of my friends all came to me in the hotel room where I was staying. All of them are now in the soul's world. My father was so happy, so proud. Together we were enjoying our hearts' fulness-delight. We were having a long conversation, but my mother remained silent. When my father comes, she does not speak. She is full of devotion, so she does not open her mouth. But when my mother comes alone, she talks and talks.

How happy we were on that day, for trains are in the life-blood of our family.

Our Little Dog Kanu

On December 23rd, 1992, our little dog Kanu left the body. My students and I, especially Ranjana, were all plunged into a sea of grief. Ranjana's affection for Kanu and Kanu's affection for her can only be imagined and never be described. I had such a hard time giving her the message about Kanu's death. It took me a very, very long time to prepare myself to give her the news. With greatest difficulty I consoled her. I thought that she would be happy if Kanu took a human incarnation instead of going back to the animal world. I thought I would speak to the Supreme to grant him a human incarnation, but she cried and said, "No, I don't want my Kanu to have the same type of experiences that we are seeing in human life — insecurity, jealousy and all undivine qualities. I want him to remain in the soul's world."

At that moment my mother's soul came. My mother said, "Don't worry. You know how much affection and love I have for your Ranjana. I will do it for her. I will keep your Kanu with me." With boundless affection and fondness she came and took the little soul.

In the soul's world Kanu looks quite different from his last days on earth. He is no longer sick. In size now he is three times as big and ten times as restless. He has so much life-energy. At first my mother used a blue leash to make sure that he did not run away. After some time, she did not have to use the leash anymore. He has become very devoted to my mother and to the other members of my family who are in the soul's world. My mother has got a really priceless possession.

Whenever my mother's soul comes to visit me, she brings Kanu, and I see him lying on the couch or on my lap exactly the way he used to do while he was with us.

We shall all die one day, but the sweet memories of our dear ones will make our minds pure, our hearts beautiful and our lives divine.

The dawn of the New Year

On the first day of this year I was in Nadi, Fiji. My father's soul came to me and we had a marathon conversation. Then I became inspired to draw birds representing my father, my mother and my sisters and brothers as part of my series of one million birds. Although these soul-bird drawings are part of my one million, they are not like the other birds. These bird drawings are something special in my own life. In these birds I have put the consciousness of my father, my mother and my sisters and brothers. I can see it very vividly, very vividly.

Strangely enough, when my students counted the number of little birds in my mother's drawing, they found the exact number to be 3,127 — and I happened to be born in 1931 on August 27th.

The heart's oneness-connection

This year, on February 9th, my mother's soul came to me and offered me a most beautiful and significant message on the completion of my one million soul-bird drawings, which I have dedicated to her:

"Madal,
On earth I was my heart's
Sleepless affection for you.
In Heaven I am my soul's
Breathless concern for you.
You are the beauty
Of my heart-art.
I am the fragrance
Of your soul-song."

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