The joy of living is clouded when the seeker has no dynamic goal or ideal. If there is a goal, then life gathers a sharpness, a glow of its own accord. – Chinmaya
The best in us can come out only when we have a noble goal. And very many times, we find our noble goal in the company of the enlightened masters.
January 23rd happens to be the Samadhi day of Pujya Mataji Krishnabai of Anandashram. Krishnabai was born on 20th September 1903 as the third child of Venkat Rao and Indirabai. On the premature death of her husband in 1923, she was very angry with all the gods for having made her a widow. She tried to end her life by consuming heavy doses of opium, but soon her relatives came to know of it and she was brought back to life. She passed her days in intense bereavement, finding no direction or purpose in life. To give her some solace, her relatives took her to various saints.
In 1928, she came in contact with Papa Ramdas of Anandashram, and in him, she found her Master, her goal, her God. From then on, her entire life was dedicated to the service of her Guru, her beloved Papa, who was all and beyond all. After the first eventful meeting, her spiritual progress was so fast, “like a rocket,” as Papa Ramdas would put it, that she reached the goal in a very short time – in just three years.
Mataji’s sadhana, as directed by Ramdas, was constant chanting of the holy Ram-naam. Her burning aspiration to realise God, the true nature of her beloved Papa, made her scorn all worldly enjoyments. She wanted nothing but God. She was literally God-mad. Nothing in the world would distract her attention. People teased her; some even tried to molest her. Thanks to the blazing purity of her heart – she came out unscathed from the fiery ordeals to which any ordinary individual would have succumbed.
On a Purnima day, listening to the inner call, she left behind all her belongings and came to the Ashram carrying only the clothes she wore at that time. Papa, who was observing a vow of silence, wrote on a slip of paper, “Mother, you have come to your home. This Ashram shall, in future, be your permanent place of residence.”
In the Ashram, before Papa got up early in the morning, Mataji would be up and would first do three pradakshinas of Papa and would place her head at his feet, praying to bless one and all in the universe with realisation. She would then attend to Papa’s needs such as arrangements for bath, breakfast, etc., and then she would go down to do her work in the kitchen. But her mind would always be on Papa.
Mataji would give Papa his bath as he found it difficult to bathe because of rheumatism. While pouring water on his head, her attitude would be that of a devotee performing abhisheka to the Lord.
In all matters, Papa’s word was final. By her behaviour, she taught other devotees also that Guru should be implicitly obeyed. She did not like anybody arguing with Papa on any subject. She would say, “Why do you argue? Do you know more than Papa? Be always humble and submit to what Papa says. That alone will do you good.”
When writing about Papa, if anyone wrote ‘Beloved Papa’ she would immediately correct, “That is not the way you should write. There must always be an adjective showing his attributes like ‘Infinite and All-Merciful Papa’ etc. You should never think of Papa as an individual or as the body. Keep always in mind that He is God Himself.”
Mataji was once asked, “Papa’s body, we know, is also subject to the law of nature and has to perish sooner or later. How can we say he is God?”
Mataji replied, “Papa is not merely this body. Though Infinite and Eternal, Papa is in this body, works through this body which is purified and made divine. You must worship this body also as God Himself, because it is through this body you are initiated, guided, helped and blessed.”
While serving Papa, Mataji would wash her hands several times and ask others to do the same. If it was making Papa’s bed, one had to wash the hands before touching the bed. Then the sheets were removed, mattress lifted to a bench and the cot dusted and wiped with a clean towel, which was then put aside. The hands would have to be washed again before touching the bed.
Mataji would explain, “Any service you do to beloved Papa must be perfect in all respects and everything must be scrupulously clean. You should never be half-hearted or careless or shabby while serving Papa. Hence you should maintain the highest standard of cleanliness, purity and devotion in whatever you do, so that every act of yours becomes a worship of beloved Papa.”
Mataji would observe from a distance the visitor-devotees or inmates of the Ashram and lament, “Look at these devotees! They remove their chappals with their hands and immediately come inside. They touch Papa with their dirty hands. Papa, of course, does not mind these things. In fact, His mind is not on these things at all, except, sometimes, when He expresses jokingly how devotees massaging His legs would blow out their noses with their hands and continue their massage without washing their hands and Papa would laugh. Beloved Papa sees only their devotion, but I am not that kind of a person. I cannot stand such dirty habits.”
Mataji wanted to do all the seva of Papa herself. But when some devotees requested her to permit them to do seva, she would agree as she was anxious that they should also get the benefit of serving Papa and thus gradually many devotees started doing various types of services to Papa such as preparing food, massaging, washing his clothes etc.
Mataji herself did not think anything impossible, at least in her willingness to be of the utmost service to Papa in various ways. When she found that Papa did not have a good secretary, she decided even to learn English, and even to learn typewriting to serve Papa!
In September 1961, Papa had some trouble with the liver, and the doctors suspected that it was malignant. On hearing this, Mataji then and there decided to start a 11-Crore Naama Japa Yajna, praying to beloved Papa himself for his good health. Luckily, the disease was not serious and Papa’s health improved and the pain in the liver became considerably less.
On July 25, 1963, at around 7 pm, when Papa attained Mahasamadhi, Mataji sat beside the body the whole night massaging his feet, refusing to eat, drink or sleep. She was seen frequently weeping unable to control herself. When asked why she should weep so much when she had realised that she and Papa were one and that Papa, being Eternal, had not gone anywhere, Mataji would reply in a choked voice, “I and Papa are one. Yet he had a separate form and I am missing that form. Though all are Papa’s forms, the particular form whose company I had all these years is lost to the sight. When can we see another such form?”
On another occasion, Mataji remarked, “I am weeping only because nobody amongst you took advantage of Papa’s presence all those years. How unfortunate! Everybody took things easy; nobody took things seriously. Now that Papa has left, who will light up the path for you as he did?”
After the Mahasamadhi of Papa, Mataji made it a daily feature to have beloved Papa’s book read by someone in Papa’s room and in the bhajans hall. She also made the group sitting in her room chant Ram-naam, and this became a daily routine. When devotees asked her any question, she would reply, always adding that she was just passing on to them what had been taught by beloved Papa.
Mataji was allergic to praise. When praised, she would feel extremely uncomfortable and would try to avoid that person. Once she was heard saying painfully, “When you all praise me, I feel as if many pins are pricking me.”
Pujya Mataji was very happy to possess nothing. So whatever extra things she received over and above her minimum necessities, she would give away immediately. Twice she gave away even half of her sari she wore to two women who were badly in need of them.
Papa casually remarked laughing, “Krishnabai, you are giving away everything. One day, you may give away Ramdas also!” He laughed again and again. Mataji did not speak a word then. But after Papa’s Mahasamadhi, when Mataji was giving the holy ashes to the devotees in small packets, she remembered what Papa had remarked some years earlier in jest.
Mataji did not like the word ‘charity’. She used to say, “If you call it charity, it has a tinge of superiority complex in it, that is, you look upon the recipient as someone below your status as if you are doing a great favour in giving anything to him. That attitude should not be there. You must give to the other person as an ‘offering’ to Beloved Papa and pray to him to accept it. Then it becomes real worship.”
Many times people came to her for money narrating false stories of family tragedies. When she was informed of how she was fooled and cheated, she would laugh and say, “Beloved Papa! What all types of people you bring here!” She would forget the matter altogether without the slightest hatred or regret.
Someone asked, “Mataji! Please tell us how you could progress so fast in spirituality. She replied, “It was all because of Papa’s grace and blessings.”
When again asked, “So many have been striving for God realisation. How is that Papa showered His grace only on you?”
Mataji’s answer was, “Beloved Papa asked me to chant Ram-naam constantly. I did exactly what He told me; rather He made me do exactly as I was told. I only felt that I should obey implicitly whatever he said. I never argued with Him, but implicitly obeyed Him. That might have been the reason He took me into His Eternal Swaroop so soon.”
Again Mataji was asked, “Why are we not progressing then?”
Mataji would say,” You should know the reason yourself. Do you feel that you want Beloved Papa and nothing but Him? Have you started loving Beloved Papa as your own? To get the realisation of Beloved Papa’s Eternal Swaroop is not so easy. It requires the highest type of internal renunciation. You people still cling on to the narrow family circle and consider that the family alone is yours. Unless you expand your vision and mentally accept everybody as yours, how can you be entitled to get that grand universal vision? Beloved Papa will surely give you that vision if you fulfil this condition.”
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