Letter 3

23rd November, 1945
This afternoon, while Viswanath was sitting near Bhagavan along with other devotees, Bhagavan was somehow reminded of an old widow and began to speak about her as follows: (I afterwards learnt that she is the younger sister of Muthu Krishna Bhagavathar who received Sri Bhagavan with kindness and gave him food at Kilur Agraharam.)

“That good lady not only gave me a hearty meal, but also, with a loving heart, gave me a parcel of sweetmeats offered as naivedya (offerings to God) to the household God, saying, ‘My dear boy, keep this with you carefully and eat the sweetmeats on the way.’

She came to see me twice while I was in Virupaksha Cave and used to say, ‘My dear boy, look what a state you are in! Your body is golden and you do not even wrap a cloth round it.’” When he spoke in this strain about her motherly affection, I could see that Bhagavan was overflowing with love.

His voice was choked with emotion. That sight reminded me of the saying that the heart of a Jnani is as soft as butter, and once more of the old saying, “bhakti poornathaya Jnanam” (The culmination of devotion is knowledge).

Sometime back, while reading that portion in Arunachala Purana where Gautama was extolling Amba, Bhagavan’s eyes were flooded with tears, his voice faltered and he put the book aside and sank into silence. Whenever any incident full of love takes place, or whenever passages saturated with bhakti are read, we often see Bhagavan thus overwhelmed with emotion. As one goes on observing, one gets confirmed in the view that prema and bhakti (devotion) are merely different aspects of jnana (knowledge).

About a week ago, a story appeared in the magazine Hindu Sundari under the heading “Paachikalu” (dice). It seems it was taken from the Skanda Purana. Once, even Parvati and Parameswara succumbed to the quarrel-mongering of Narada. “Lakshmi and Vishnu play dice, so why not you?” said Narada, and egged them on to play. Parvati was enthusiastic over the idea and persuaded Siva to play dice with her. In the game, Siva lost and Parvati was puffed up with pride and spoke slightingly of him. That is the legend.

After reading it, Bhagavan, his heart full of bhakti, asked me, “Have you read this story?” When I said, “Yes, Bhagavan,” he said with a voice choked with feeling, “The holy festival which is annually performed here on Sankaranti day, deals mainly with this quarrel between Uma and Maheswara.”

You know, every year, the divine marriage festival is celebrated here and during those days, if anybody were to speak about the festival in Sri Bhagavan’s presence, Bhagavan would usually remark with great feeling, “This is the marriage festival of Father and Mother.” You know the lives of Mahatmas are full of peculiar incidents. They express in their faces whatever rasa (feeling) is appropriate to the occasion. But what can one say in the presence of the all pervading vijnana rasa which integrates all the other rasas?

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