During Diwali this year we planned to spend our Diwali with the Holy Mother and Thakur Sri Ramakrishna by visiting the holy places where God through them had done His leela. It was the most awesome experience of our life because we’ve been reading about these places daily and trying to follow Thakur’s teachings in our life. Mother gave our eyes this blissful experience that is captured in our hearts and will stay with us throughout our life and beyond.
While there, we met various devotees who like us were on pilgrimage to that holy place but all for different reasons. It was when I heard from each of them, I realised what pilgrimage meant to different people. One of the families I met was there because this was one of the places in their All-India pilgrimage trip, so they spent two days at one place, three days at another, so on and so forth, and had to finish their journey by visiting their guruji (Spiritual Teacher). Another family of two sisters was there who would visit that place every two to three years, mostly to meet holy people (Sadhus and Sadhavis) who were known to them or their family or belonged to their home town and spend time with them. Another family we met who visited that place every year as a ritual because that is what they had pledged to do, and meet their guru who had initiated them (initiation means a mantra is given to repeat as a japa for you till realisation comes forth in you). Then there was a lady who visited the holy place because her guruji (Spiritual Teacher) had instructed her to visit every year for Kali Puja. And let me emphasize, none were wrong, all were doing what their minds prompted them to do.
I was asked by few people whether I had been initiated or not? Initially I evaded the question, but later shared that none other than the Divine Mother herself had initiated us by Her grace. Our motive of this Pilgrimage was very simple: we try to live, read, experience, and breathe the Word of Sri Ramakrishna and Mother Sarada Devi daily. I believe they are living with us in our home, our hearts and out of that love for God, we wanted to see the places where God came in human form, was born, and lived as an Avatara, and performed His leela (sport) and touched the places by His physical presence. What a great privilege for all the living human beings of this age and those of times to come, that an Avatara had been here just 175 years ago and His presence is immaculately preserved for the devotees to see and experience. For me nothing more is required in this life time for a Pilgrimage, for I’ve seen with my own eyes the presence of an Avatara and that of His team that every Avatara brings along with Him when He makes mother earth pure once again with His touch. The aura of Swami Vivekananda can still be experienced in the room where he passed his last days at the Belur Math and left his body. His home is preserved in its original glory at the time of his existence in it. The houses of the devotees (the Anatarangs) of Thakur where Thakur and Mother blessed them with their presence are preserved with the things they used during their stay, made us feel as if it was like yesterday. No words can describe the joy we experienced.
Every Avatara brings with Him His own people – anatarangs (the inner circle ones). These souls are ever free and are called Ishwarkotis. As told by Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda was a Sapta Rishi (one of the seven celestial rishis), a part of Shiva Himself, just like Hanuman. Then there were two householder devotees Balrama Basu and Sri M. (Mahendranath Gupta, the recorder of the Kathamrita) who were also the anatarangs of Sri Chaitanya. Swami Saradananda and Swami Ramakrishnananda were the disciples of Jesus – John and James. Swami Brahmananda also called Rakhal Maharaj was the cowherd companion, Rakhal, of Sri Krishna in Vrindavan.
I realised that to enjoy something of someone, you have to love that person first; instead of knowing someone and then loving her which is a completely different experience. Therefore, today I want to reiterate through my experience that we have to first develop love for God. Let us not see what He can do for us in times of need but love Him for who He is. May God bless you with a deep devotion for Himself and may you experience His love – Shalini Mehta.