An inner quest to reach out to a pramhansa
Amid of Kolkata humidity my seeking made me to book an AC chair ticket from Howrah to Bardhaman which later proved to be a spiritual adventure. As my health was on slop I couldn’t help but to wake up at 8 am, with my honey lime water I was going through the train schedule on IRCTC website. There were many trains which ply on regular basis from Kolkata to Bardhaman. Guess what, I booked my ticket which was scheduled at 9:05 am. By then it was 8:15am already, and I was hanging in my pajamas. I just dropped everything then n there n rushed to get ready. It was around 8:30am, I was locking my room in Belur math while holding my Unibic biscuits, salted peanuts, hair brush, n my so called handbag. Juggling with my challenges from not getting a cab, n walking distance from Vivekananda Athithi Niwas to the main gate of Belur math, I was constantly thinking about paramahansa Swami vishuddhananda and his great penance,
By 8:35am I was literally running to cover up the walking distance to reach the main gate of math, luckily found a guy on bike, and without any hesitation I asked for lift. I was in a total new geographical setting, starting from the language to food and roads, everything was a new experience. My fast paced heartbeat was a constant reminder to catch my train. Finally got a cab but the gigantic Kolkata traffic welcomed me with open arms, my cab driver assured me that I will be able to catch my train as it’s a faaka road( empty road). It was a jaw-dropping statement; If this is faaka road, then what’s traffic jam for them. So as he promised I was at Howrah station by sharp 9:05am. I was supposed to cross thousands of layers of crowd to reach to my described platform. I kept running madly, and reached on platform no 4 instead of 5, and was told that the train to my left was going to Bardhaman. By the time I could think of anything, it started off. My survival instinct played its role and I was in the same frame as that of kajol from the Hindi movie DDLJ. I just plunged to board a speed picking train and yes I succeeded in the first attempt. It was such a relief.
Now here were a number of surprises awaiting me like I had boarded the wrong train, with no Ac coach. It was to take 2 to 3 hrs to reach Bardhaman, and not 1hr 5 min which was my actual express train’s travel time. It was a local passenger cum freight train, with no seats to sit. So I almost sat on the train coach’s floor by someone’s bag near the main entrance, the guy whom the bag had belonged might haven’t liked it and took it away. I was helplessly witnessing everything. Keeping faith in my heart I murmured “ if this is your wish I am ok ”. Luckily after some 25-30 minutes, the train stopped at a village platform and I got a seat near a window. It was a blessing. I noticed an old couple sitting next to me. The Lady was nice and humble; I could see the great experiences lines on the male’s face with multi layers of wrinkles. He was sitting with a buttoned open shirt. What else could one do at such a compartment bearing three- four times of its capacity, and that too in such a humid weather. At 12 noon I reached Bardhaman. I just thanked the almighty.
So here starts my roller coaster ride. After finishing my tea in two sips, (yes Kolkata’s region is the only region which considers 2 sips of tea as tea; We in north India leave this much tea in our tea bags after finishing our cuppa ) I decided to take an e-rickshaw for a richer experience.
In no time we were at the location mentioned by Google & maps ; Gps. There were all possible sites but no traces of ashram. I was completely shattered when all the young and old folks were in denial, that there had never ever been any ashram. Even they were not familiar with the name of Swami Vishuddhananda. I had no clues for what made them to suggest me the nearby Goddess Kali temple. I presumed, “ah! Being a worship place they must know about Swami Vishuddhananda.” Now my target had been adjusted, I was keener to know “does anyone in Bardhaman know about this paramahansa who crossed all the parameters of a yogi/mahatma and attained Paramahansa, that too from the highest degree of spiritual school. With this thought I started my journey towards Goddess Kali temple. Precisely in 15 minutes I reached there and with all hopes and twinkles in my eye, I entered the temple premises. Secretly chatting Ma’s name and requesting her for some insight. I met the authorities of that temple and again, got no information. Yet they suggested me to visit a nearby ashram. It’s certainly not of Swami Vishuddhananda still I might get some information. Again in the e-rickshaw, I set off to a new destination.
Short in while I was amid of rice fields, far from the town life, I could see goats near a water bawri (small water pool) it was almost 1 in noon, crossing small villages of west Bengal, I had many beautiful sights to behold. In a soaring temperature I found a few old ladies sitting outside their houses wearing sari without blouse in a typical Bengali way. Around 1:30 pm I saw a pink-peach building from afar and again my heart was filled with hopes and expectations. I tried to be more realistic and warned myself to not nurture unrealistic expectations. This is my personal experience, whenever I stop thinking about having or achieving something that’s the moment when it happens to me. Similar experience happened this time too. Standing in-front of that building with not even a single word or info in English /Hindi, I was scared if this rikshawala dropped me here and go how I will reach back to town. To ensure he stayed back, I requested him to join me in the ashram and in a prompt reply he said “madam aap pata kijiye mai aapko wapis le ker he jaoonga” (you please go and check I will surely take you back to town). Ah I felt so humbled and went inside the ashram.
To my utter surprise where not even a single word was in Hindi I found a gentleman fluent in the language, clad in white kurta and dhoti, all white hair, fair complexion with an impressive voice, came forward to help me. He took all my info and offered me water to drink and asked me to have parsadam first. Ah I was empty stomach since morning, so I accepted his humbled request n proceeded towards the ashram’s kitchen. It was simple food with lots of love, care and respect. I ate the bangla rice with potato vegetable, drumstick curry and yellow daal (lentils). I felt I was a special guest so I got a sweet dish too. It was some west bengal local sweet dish prepared with flour and then soaked in chashani (sugar syrup). Believe me I’d never had a sweet dish which was so much sweet. I feel it tasted double sugary because of their overwhelming love for me and I am truly grateful for that. By the time I returned to ashram’s reception i found 4-5 people standing there. One of them was my rikshawala bhaiya. He was talking to those people and when he saw me coming he told them. I reached and Asked if anyone had heard about Vishuddhananda ji. They all said no in one go. I was so disheartened and murmured “ah! He was born and brought on this land, attained what is impossible for a human being and attained paramahansa that too from Gyanganj and his own people are not aware about him”. The moment I uttered the word gyanganj a guy started saying something in Bengali language exclaiming gyanganj-gyanganj. In excitement I too said yes-yes Gyanganj, “Do u know something about it? Please tell if u know something.” Then the other person asked me whether i had their contact number or not, I said in my knowledge swami ji used to visit in 3 ashrams, one in kashi, the other in bondul and another was in bardhaman and no ashram has any contact no. When I was trying to show them my search by mistake a fan page got opened and yes it had a guy named Anirudha mukherji’s contact no. That too from bardhaman I was shocked, why the hell on this earth didn’t I check this fan page before coming. I contacted Mr. Anirudha Mukherjee who was the only one aware about those ashrams and he gave me an address and talked to my e-rishawala, explaining to him the address. On a happy note I thanked all the Debanand ashram’s people for their great hospitality and delicious lunch. Yet again, I was all ready and excited to be in the place where a human scaled the spiritual heights with his sheer hard work and dedication, and became a God himself. It was 3 pm I was waiting outside the ashram which was locked from inside. Finally Mr. Annirudha mukherjee came in a pink shirt and blue denim. He introduced me to baba’s great grandson Mr. Debashis Chhatopadhyay. Who stays at Bardwan ashram. We sat for some time, had a spiritual discussion and finally decided to go to Bondul ashram.
I hired a cab to save time and started for Bondul ashram. After 45 mins or so we reached Bondul What an energised place it was. Mr Mukherjee guided me towards the hall. Its main door was closed where swami vishuddananda used to give discourse to his followers. It was a quite big hall. Some stuff was being put in one corner near the main door. With vishuddananda and his wife’s images, there were a few more portraits all old and black-white. There was a wooden bed with its legs designed in a very old style and a black-white portrait of swami kept on it. I was given a blanket to meditate. With a grateful heart I started moving towards baba’s image where he used to sit. Out of devotion I came on my knees and just bowed to the greatest master and touched the age old floor with my head. The moment I touched the floor a mild fragrance of roses started coming out from the floor itself. This fragrance was something which I’d never smelled before. It was not of some incense sticks, If that’d been of some incense stick, it should have been there when the door of that hall was being opened. This place had no modern routine of using fragrant substance for cleaning. Infact the floor was so old that it had small- small cracks, I was wondering how they might be doing the cleaning. I raised my head still being on my knees and looked into baba’s eyes and said “baba you have been known as the Gandh baba( fragrant saint). If it’s you who is blessing me with making your presence felt please let me know when I bow down the 2 nd time under your grace”. I again bowed down and smelled the same fragrance. I stood up in shock . Oh my gosh yes it’s here. I started looking here and there and found no one who could answer my queries. This time my logical mind came in and said it might be your illusion. I decided to check it again. And this time it was a normal old floor. No fragrance. I realised my mistake and started asking for forgiveness. I tried to understand baba’s grace through my intellect. With teary eyes I was on floor doing dandwat pranaam seeking forgiveness. I was all on floor n there were no traces of fragrance. I sat there and decided to meditate and arranged the blanket which was given by ashram’s care taker. I sat for about 20 minutes or so and words can’t describe what I got from there. With overflowing emotions and high energies I bowed down in reverence and yes I was again blessed with the same mild rose fragrance. I was thrilled, and didn’t know how to pay my gratitude.
Even right now, while writing down my experience I still have tears. Whether I am in this body or not this experience will stay with me forever. Few things are beyond this 5 element’s world. They never age, wither or fade away. They are eternal. Its baba’s grace else I am not even qualified or entitled to have this enduring and beyond this world experience. My heartfelt gratitude to the louts feet of Swami Vishuddhanada paramhansa.
After having this divine experience I went to the temple which was on the other side of the hall building. The temple was having the banlingam and to the other side was baba’s live statue. I did the parikrama and again sat for meditation absorbing the greatest vibes of that pious place. After spending almost an hour in that ashram, Mr. Mukherjee took me to Swami Vishuddhananda’s house and showed me places and streets where this great sage had spent his childhood. After paying my homage we decided to return to Bardhaman. Mr Anirudha told me that he was getting calls from baba’s great grandson Mr. Chattopadhyay. He was very concerned about my safety till i’d returned to Kolkata. He told Mr. Mukherjee to help me board the train and inform him. Oh I was so touched by their concern and care. I am thoroughly grateful to Mr. Anirudha Mukherjee and Mr. Debashis Chhatopadhyay who took their time out and were there to guide me, on each step.
By 6:15 pm I was at the railway station in Bardhaman. With a completely renewed, elite and healed soul, I bid adieu to Mr. Mukherjee and sat in my coach. Like me, my coach too was all new. I was hallucinating with my experiences and didn’t realize when I reached back to Kolkata. Here I completed my pilgrimage successfully. To have a better understanding about swami vishuddhananda I am sharing wiki links and other useful links. May you all always be blessed with baba’s divine grace.