Author: Beloo Mehra (2020). Published under the title ‘When Young India Awakes’ in Sri Aurobindo’s Action, Vol. 51 (2 & 3), February-March 2020, pp. 16-21
CONTINUED FROM Part 12
(The February-March 2020 issue was a double issue, so Yuvaan’s story also ran longer than earlier issues. The whole story published in Feb-March 2020 issue is presented here on matriwords in three parts – 13a, 13b, and 13c.
CHAPTER XII – Continued
Next morning Yuvaan woke up very early and was ready by 5am. He felt a great urge to have another darshan of the Lord at the Dwarkadhīsh temple and remembered that the morning mangala ārti starts at 6:30am. Since he had more than an hour, he decided to walk toward the sea to take in the beauty of the Dwarka coast. The hotel receptionist had told him about the Sunset Point on the coastline where on a hillock stands an old Shiva temple of Bhadkeshwar Mahadev. Walking on the ramp toward the temple, Yuvaan realised that it was still early for the morning ārti and darshan at the temple. He made a mental note to visit the temple in the evening and enjoy the morning just admiring the beautiful sea coast. He found a rock just outside the temple premises and sat there to simply feel the quietness and peace that was all around him.
Shiva by the sea, Krishna in the town; Gopala in Brindavan, Dwarkadhīsh in Dwarka; stealer of butter and hearts in Brijbhoomi, and Yogeshwar and giver of Gita in Kurukshetra – these were the recurring thoughts in Yuvaan’s mind as he sat there by the sea. What an amazing culture this is! A culture which gave to the humanity so many forms and names by which to call and meet the Lord of one’s heart.
He took out from his backpack a small booklet titled – “Sri Aurobindo on Hinduism” which he had picked up from the bookstore at Sri Aurobindo Bhavan in Baroda, just a few days back. This was a compilation done by a disciple staying in Baroda, which he thought would give a good wide view of what the Master had written on deeper aspects of Hinduism. This was also going to be an important step in his ongoing learning about his culture, his religion, his country, Yuvaan felt.
“Indian religion founded itself on the conception of a timeless, nameless and formless Supreme, but it did not feel called upon, like the narrower and more ignorant monotheisms of the younger races, to deny or abolish all intermediary forms and names and powers and personalities of the Eternal and Inﬁnite.”[i]
“The one Godhead is worshipped as the All, for all in the universe is he or made out of his being or his nature. But Indian religion is not therefore pantheism; for beyond this universality it recognises the supracosmic Eternal. Indian polytheism is not the popular polytheism of ancient Europe; for here the worshipper of many gods still knows that all his divinities are forms, names, personalities and powers of the One; his gods proceed from the one Purusha, his goddesses are energies of the one divine Force.”[ii]
“Indian image-worship is not the idolatry of a barbaric or undeveloped mind; for even the most ignorant know that the image is a symbol and support and can throw it away when its use is over.”[iii]
His mind and heart kept ruminating on these words… all divinities are forms, names, personalities and powers of the One…Krishna in his various forms and names is the One, Shiva in all his forms and names is the One….Krishna and Shiva as the One….Krishna and Shiva…these two words seemed to occupy his entire being it seemed, and the only sounds were the waves of the sea and the chirping of a few birds now and then….And then it was all quiet. Completely still.
Minutes passed and he woke up with a start from what must have been a deep meditative state. Giving a glance at his watch, with quick steps he started to walk toward the temple in the town to meet Sri Krishna.
And there He was! Beautiful in all His Splendour, the All-attractive Krishna, the stealer of hearts and butterballs, the Divine Teacher of Gita, the King of Dwarka. Witnessing the ārti was a mesmerising experience for Yuvaan as he stood there with his eyes fixed only on the Lord. His heart seemed so full, full of love and a strange peace and delight. Tears of release and joy flowed through his eyes…there was no sadness, no pain, nothing could touch him, nothing he wanted – that’s what he felt at the moment. All was as it should be, all was perfect, all was peace and bliss.
The ārti was over, and the crowd in the temple was thinning down. But there was nowhere to go for Yuvaan. He didn’t want to be anywhere else. He found a corner spot in the outer hall of the temple and sat there. His eyes and heart were full of all the divine beauty that Krishna was, that He is.
Yuvaan didn’t know how long he must have sat there. When his eyes opened, he noticed a smiling set of eyes looking at him, full of affection and warmth. He had no idea when this kind looking gentleman, dressed in white dhoti and light blue kurta and wearing a tulsi mala had come and sat in front of him. He must have been in his 40’s, guessed Yuvaan.
“Jai Dwarkadhīsh,” said the gentleman in a sweet, low voice.
“Jai Dwarkadhīsh,” Yuvaan replied folding his hands in a Namaste.
“You, from Delhi?”
“Yes… but I have been travelling recently….”
“I was in Kashi, Rishikesh, and then in Baroda…”
“Out on some pilgrimage, it seems…”
“Well… something like that, not sure…where are you from?”
“Oh, I am from here only…this city of Dwarkadhīsh is my home too.”
“Wow…that is great.”
“Yes, but all the Greatness is His alone. He is All.”
“I suppose you are correct.”
“I know I am correct,” he smiled.
Yuvaan just smiled back.
“Are you hungry?”
Yuvaan looked at the time, it was around 9am and he realised he could use some breakfast and coffee.
“I know just the place we could go for some puri-subzi and coffee,” said the gentleman standing up and straightening his dress.
“Sure, that would be great, all of a sudden I am feeling quite hungry,” smiled Yuvaan as he picked up his backpack and accompanied his new acquaintance.
They walked through a few narrow lanes and alleys, and in a few minutes were seated at a clean table in what seemed like a very popular local eating joint. The place was almost full of people of different ages – eating, talking loudly, laughing etc. The aroma of coffee and spices, the quick steps of the waiters, the familiar activity and the comforting sounds of life immediately relaxed Yuvaan.
As they waited for their puri-subzi to come, Yuvaan started the conversation.
“I am Yuvaan.”
“Wow, that’s perfect…I mean your name,” smiled Yuvaan.
“Yes, my mother was a great devotee of Dwarkadhīsh. I used to go to the temple twice a day with her, every day.”
“What an incredible experience it must have been growing up in a place like this!”
“Well…it is incredible only when you are blessed by the Lord. Without His blessing you nothing is possible.”
“Ah, here comes our food…I am starving!” said Gopal and laughed a big laugh, almost like a child who is served his favourite food.
Closing his eyes Gopal did a pranam to the thali after the waiter left their table.
And that’s when Yuvaan felt that there was something so sincere and special about Gopal, while on the surface he behaved so casually. Gopal’s whole demeanour changed the moment he closed his eyes, he seemed to go somewhere deep inside, and a kind of peace descended on his face. As Yuvaan wondered about it, Gopal opened his eyes and, in his child-like manner clapped his hands with joy and exclaimed – “Let’s eat!”
“It is delicious,” said Yuvaan as he was half-way through his meal, “I could order another plate.”
“Me too,” Gopal gestured to the waiter standing nearby and ordered two more plates.
“This place is about the same age as me, 42 years,” Gopal said wiping his hands with a paper napkin. “It opened two months before I was born.”
“Yes, my mother actually started this place.”
“Oh, really?… Nandgopal Bhojanalaya – now I see the name connection!”
“Yes, she was a great cook and for many years did most of the cooking herself here. And slowly trained a small group of helpers. My grandparents were very helpful, especially my grandfather who helped her manage the finances etc.”
“Wonderful family business this is…so do you still own this place?”
“Well, it was always Dwarkadhīsh who owned this place…that’s what my mother and grandparents taught me…we only help run this place for Him.”
“This is so nice…I don’t know what to say.”
“But that’s the truth, isn’t it? I mean, who ever owns anything? Ah…there’s our coffee…tell me, what brought you to Dwarka?”
“When I was in Baroda, I met someone who showed me a few passages about Krishna that were written by Sri Aurobindo…”
“Ah…so that’s why you were in Baroda, sorry, Vadodara…because of Sri Aurobindo.”
“Yes, you know he lived there?”
“Of course, Ram, my older brother, is a voracious reader, he reads as many spiritual masters as he can find. We have a big collection of Sri Aurobindo’s works, some in English, some translated in Gujarati, some in Hindi. But me…I hardly read these big volumes; they are not for me. I am just happy being in the temple, around my Lord, near Him,” he smiled again in his child-like manner, his big smile reflecting through his clear eyes.
To be continued…in part 13b
[i] CWSA, Vol. 20, p. 192