The Ever-Lingering Fragrance of Life Lived in God - by Anita Raina Thapan
There are beings who come into your life and suddenly time loses its significance. When they came and how they come becomes irrelevant because their imprint on the heart and mind is so marked that nothing can erase it. And so it was with Beloved Dada.
When Dada gave one time, he gave of himself, totally. For those blissful moments when his whole heart was opened to you, when his eyes looked deep into your being, filling you with blessings and divine Grace, you had a taste of eternity. Often I came out of meetings amazed that three hours had passed. I had lost all concept of time. After such meetings, there was a powerful need to sit in silence in some secluded place or simply to get lost in the crowd. One had to slowly emerge from a zone that was out of the ordinary.
Many years ago when I was part of the team that initially worked on Dada Darshan Museum, there would be meetings with Dada that would start at 10.00 pm. The meetings would sometimes go on well past midnight. Dada’s indefatigable zest and patience for question after question, his limitless reserves of energy were extraordinary. He still had his sprightly walk back then. I understood how such energy is the expression of a pure mind, uncluttered with emotions and thoughts that drain the rest of us. The joy of life that we experienced in his presence gave us a new perspective on life – the same world, in his presence, seemed a divine realm, filled with love, kindness, goodness, good sense.
I loved the unapologetic and forthright declarations of Dada against the eating of meat and the cruelty that a non-vegetarian diet implies, particularly in the contemporary context. I understood that strong convictions alone make one fearless and that those convictions have a power of their own. When sent out into the world, they slowly gather momentum and widen their embrace slowly bringing more and more people across the globe into their fold.
Once while writing the biography of Dada, I was staying with a friend in Pune. Outside her apartment block, I found a dog covered with mange. I knew what medicine was required to treat the hapless creature. But, two weeks of treatment was necessary and I was leaving the next day. The friend I was staying with was also leaving the same time as me. Wondering what to do, I went for my daily meeting with Dada. He immediately saw that I was a bit distraught.
“Something is troubling Anita today,” he remarked gently.
“No, Dada, all is well,” I replied, not wanting to talk of something trivial when he was giving me his precious time.
“No, No, something is the matter.”
I burst into tears and told him about the dog and how rotten I was feeling about not being able to treat him and how he would die such a painful death.
“We will find someone to give him the medicine,” said Dada. He asked Krishna to call an elderly gentleman who was an animal lover. Dada instructed him to accompany me home after my meeting and see the location of the dog. I bought the medicine and we started treatment that day itself. The medicine had to be given twice a week over the next two weeks. Four times this kind gentleman visited the site and gave the medicine to the dog in a piece of cheese. And each time he sent me a message confirming that he had done so. I was overwhelmed by the kindness and love of the gentleman, but, above all, of Dada. Never have I seen such serious concern, empathy and compassion for something that has made me the butt of scorn or amusement for much of my life.
Before leaving Dada on that day, I asked him to name the dog. Dada promptly said, “Moti.” And so Moti survived and for several years after that I saw him on my trips to Pune. And I marveled at how this blessed dog had been given the gift of a new life thanks to Dada. Dada was like Ramana Maharshi who gave animals as much, and sometimes more, importance than the human beings living in his ashram.
On another visit to Pune, we were sitting in Dada’s room and I was facing his altar with the pictures of so many great saints of different traditions. Night had fallen and as the light in the room was switched on my gaze fell on the picture of Jesus Christ. And I said, “What a beautiful face! So much character in that face.”
“Yes, there is so much shakti in it”, said Dada, “And it is for you!”
I was stunned and thought I hadn’t heard correctly.
“Pack it up for her, Krishna,” said Dada.
“No, Dada,” I protested. “Please, I am so happy just to see it.”
“It is for you,” insisted Dada.
Krishna said she would make a copy of it, for it had been on Dada’s altar since ages. But Dada was adamant. And so that blessed picture of Jesus Christ, a picture of divine peace, calm and shakti came to me. It now rests on my altar and every morning I gaze on it and think of Dada.
I remember a particularly stormy monsoon evening in Delhi when I drove to meet Dada who was visiting the city. I was taken upstairs to meet him in private. I was seeing him after a long break and when I saw him and sat down at his meet, I burst out weeping. I don’t what overcame me but I wept for quite a while. And then he said, “What is it?”
“Give me param vairagya Dada,” I asked.
“That,” he said, gently, “only your Guru can give you. Yes. Only your Guru can give you that.”
Talking to him was a great learning. I would ask him a question and there would be long pause. Then he would start to respond. Sometimes even while responding there would be a long pause and I learnt to wait patiently because otherwise one would not get everything that he had to say. In his characteristic gentle and kind way if one asked another question before he had finished, he never ticked you off, he just went on to the next question. And so I, too, learned to slow down. As he often pointed out, when you do something, do it as though you have all the time in the world, because then you will be relaxed and focused and it will get done well and soon. Never hurry. Everything about him was just that and yet how much he packed into his day until the very end.
He is physically absent but his voice, his words, his presence remain vibrant and powerful in the world within. And that no one and nothing can take away. He has left each of us a treasure and sharing it with one another will be the joy and fulfillment of the coming years.