Sep 24, 2013

"Lady Turns Lioness!" from Sermons in the Stroms

Once I had to accompany a party of Revenue Officials who were to visit several villages of Zalawad District in Saurashtra to supervise 'shrama yagna’. We reached a village and some villagers there told us that there dwelt a mataji who was a gifted person, that she remained in trance for indefinite periods and that from time to time gods and goddesses manifested in her. We were also told that once she fully fed the inhabitants of seven villages with but a meager quantity of 40 pounds of pudding.
In our company of six was a pious Deputy Collector who is well noted for his honest and upright disposition. Deservedly, he has been elevated now to the position of District Development Officer. At his instance all of us went to meet the mataji.
In the hall of her cottage which was called madhi, the mataji was seated on a raised cushion seat arranged on a pile carpet. With sunken eyes and cheeks, her slim form was somewhat emaciated. She was gorgeously dressed and appeared to be about 20 years old. Amongst others seated near the mataji was a young man fanning her. Salutations and respects over, we took our seats in front of her. One of the local men introduced the Deputy Collector Sahib to the mataji and the sahib in turn made me known as a wandering sadhu. Thereafter, we were treated with milk and tea and a little later we left for elsewhere.
On the way, the Deputy Collector Sahib, remonstrating against my silence before the mataji said to me that they all had expected me to get into conversation with her and that in my presence they themselves could not take a lead as that, according to them, would have been something contrary to ethical expectations.

After meeting the said mataji, I somehow began to feel that she must be one of those pitiable women who have fallen in the hands of spiritual quacks who live on by spreading false stories of divine incarnations, manifestations and occult powers of their mediums. The type of religious fervour obtaining in Gujarat, Kutch, Saurashtra, Malwa, Mewar, Marwar, Maharashtra and Karnatak make their operations easy and effective. Like elsewhere, in our Country too, seekers of worldly objects and perishable pleasures predominate and it is they who foster fanaticism and add to the false spiritual reputation of such parties by indulging in fanciful and coincidental inferences.
We went to many other villages and on our return, somehow, we had to cross that same village once again and hence it was proposed in advance that in case we got another opportunity to meet the mataji that I should get to talking with her with a view to eliciting information about her daily routine life and spiritual experiences.
On reaching the village, we were again received by the village headman. Just then, one of the attendants of mataji came to us and informed that her holiness desired to meet the Deputy Collector Sahib. The Mamlatdar Sahib who was also with us, treated the message as a happy windfall. All of us went and as before seated ourselves in front of her. A Chief of another village who was with the mataji at that time, on her behalf complained to the Deputy Collector Sahib that the uncle of mataji was trying to take over the lands which were in her name and that it was to bring that matter to his notice that she had called him. The Deputy Collector Sahib instructed the Mamlatdar to look into the matter, take suitable action and report to him.
Later, the Mamlatdar Sahib said to mataji, 'Sawamiji desires to ask your venerable-self some questions.' She was pleased and with visible eagerness consented to hear me. I asked her, "If we may know, do please tell us some-thing about trance and the nature of celestial manifestations— of which, we are informed your holiness has super-abundant experiences of sorts." My question was quite pertinent and it was motivated purely from an honest desire to know all about such abstruse spiritual matters from one who claimed knowledge and experiences. All the same, I was aware that certain spiritual experiences of transcendental order are indescribable and also that spiritual gain and progress are not to be divulged to or demonstrated before one and all. Hence, if she chose, she could have very well declined to answer my questions and none of us would have felt odd about her refusal. But she flared up and with suppressed anger retorted with animation. "What do you think—could such things be asked?". An old lady who was also with her then, poking her nose in, said, "This mataji is verily the Universal Mother and by merely sitting serenely in her presence everything is got. What then is the sense in bothering her with such testing questions. In the-past four to five hundred years we have not heard of so exalted an incarnation of Divine Mother as she. She is the living and wakeful Creatrix of the world." It all ended in our leaving for another nearby village.
In that village, through most reliable sources, we came to learn the shocking details of how she was pinned-up as a Goddess overnight. Our authentic informants told us that she belonged to a family of ‘Barots' and that she was betrothed to one Ganpatbhai of Rajkot. The parents of Ganpatbhai were advanced on different occasions different sums of money collectively totalling to about Rs. 4,000/- or so for the purpose of their son's education, upkeep and house repairs etc. It was later agreed to be treated as a gift in the event of the marriage materializing and as a loan repayable with ordinary interest should for any reason whatever the marriage fail. With the passage of some years, Ganpatbhai completed his education and his parents decided to unite him in wedlock with the girl to whom he was betrothed. Accordingly, they began to make requisite arrangements and in consultation with the bride's party the date for the marriage was also fixed.
In the meantime, however, this Ganpatbhai got entangled in a love affair with another girl. So much so, that he wanted to avoid marrying the girl of his parental choice. But at the same time, he did not want that his love affairs should drive his parents to suffer any economic liability whatever. For if he did not marry that girl, his parents would have had to defray to the bride's party over Rs.4,000/- and that they were not in a position to do all at once. It was a matter of family prestige and life's delicate problem. He was in a dilemma. He met his fiancée and talked over the matter with her; and in collaboration with a mutual friend they hit upon a plan.
As per their pernicious plan, he went through the marriage ceremony and the bride was brought to Rajkot. That very night, he put into action the other half of the plan. Leaving the bride in the bedroom, he went down running to where his parents and other relatives were and with a tone and gestures to suit the occasion, (generally, Barots are born actors and composers) told them that his wife had turned into LIONESS and was lying on the cot.
With mixed feelings of awe and astonishment all of them ran up to the room where she was, but they found her in the original human form seated on the edge of the bedstead. With their approach, she got up —pulled down her veil, covered her face and stood still with her head hung down.
As though he could not contain the amazement of her prowess to change forms at will, Ganpatbhai burst out reciting — extempore verses eulogizing the might and glory of the lioness which in Hindu scriptures is portrayed as a divine vehicle of the Goddess—the omnipotent Creatrix of the Universe. Later, he ordered for ghee lights, incense sticks, vermillion and flowers. When they were brought, he showered the flowers on her. sprinkled the vermilion over her body —anointed a little on her forehead, waved the lighted incense sticks and the ghee lights for some time, fell prostrate at her feet and begged her to forgive him and his family members who in ignorance of her celestial status took her who is worthy of worship by all creatures—into their domestic fold as a wife.
The bride, in her innocence at first viewed the whole thing as an after-marriage ceremony; but when her husband fell prostrate at her feet praying for her forgiveness and addressed her as mother, to her young mind which was then full of high expectations of a primary matrimonial life, the strange conduct of her husband appeared to her as acts of a mentally deranged person. To add to her predicament plus perplexity, all those who had assembled there also fell prostrate greeting her with shouts of 'AMBE MATA KI JAI' (glory be unto Mother Divine). Her upper garment was already drenched with tears and with prospects of being discarded by her husband becoming clear to her, she fell flat fainting. Her swoon was interpreted as trance and when after regaining consciousness she began crying, that was explained away as tears of divine separation and ecstasy.
The news of descent of the Goddess was announced in the neighborhood and some devout people came to pay their respects. All of them spent a wakeful night singing the glory of the Goddess. The reverential attitude of the crowd had a transforming effect upon the bride, who, feeling that the opinion and the experience of the audience can't be wrong, resigned to the situation and began taking part in chanting hymns.
On the following day she was taken to her parental village with great pomp and show. On the way, curious crowds of miracle mongers thronged to have a glimpse of her. Finally, a hermitage was raised for her from funds collected by donations. Thenceonwards, she began staying in that village enjoying the worship and veneration of the peasant population of Saurashtra.
My contacts in Saurashtra now inform me that after the recent exposure of Devuba's dupes, this mataji like many of her other contemporaries, has also lost her hold on her one time blind followers.
The same sources inform me also that Ganpatbhai—the creator of a fake lioness — has since been deserted by the blonde to marry whom he had thrust false and misleading greatness upon the girl who was formally betrothed to him. It is believed that he is also showing signs of low lunacy. Evil-doers always suffer and our guilty Ganpat who ruined the life of an innocent girl didn't escape the penalty.
FALSE FAITH AND FANATICISM arising out of gross misconception of religion, renunciation, realization, blessings, miracles etc., need to be resolutely uprooted and the sooner we do, the better for us and our country which throughout the world is known as a land of RELENTLESS TRUTH SEEKERS. 

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