My parents stay just a km away from my house. Last month they shifted from an ageing hsg. society to my recently purchased house on rent, after I and my younger sister persisted. A high drama on disposing of their old furniture and giving way to some new went on for a few days. Then, finally, we all, meaning my Sister’s family from the US and mine, could manage a small get-together on my dad’s 80th birthday. We both thanked our elder sister, who had come from Canada in the month of April. If not for her stupendous job of clearing the old files, photos, books, and whatnot, we both would have had a tough time.
Now my parents had unearthed some of my grandpa’s old notebooks in this process of shifting. While she was reading some of them aloud, I realized his depth of understanding of Bhagavatam, Bhagwat Geeta and Rama Gita. He had made notes and some just translations on all these topics. His English was Cambridge style, his Telugu was as if some old Telugu literature.
It was in the year 1975 when I saw my paternal grandparents in my full-grown conscious state of 7 years of age. He was probably only 70 years but looked close to eighty. Given that medical care at that time was just average and no multivitamins were being popped at night, he had graciously aged performing as a star postmaster from the pre-independence to post-independence era.
In 1971 when my father took a job in govt service in Mumbai, he promised his dad that he would soon call him after he would find suitable accommodation. Little did my dad know that his turn for govt accommodation would take some years and getting a good private home on rent was impossible with so many mouths to feed.
After a period of 4.5 years, my grandparents came to our govt accommodation, where there was greenery around and a room for themselves. It was fun going for walks with them and bowing to the full-moon chanting some mantras and many such activities. Whenever we would get a hand on any puranic Amar Chitra Katha, we would give it to him to read it aloud for us. His style of narration with devotion and sometimes with tears in his eyes left a lasting impression on our young minds on bhakti. One day I woke up early in the morning at 4 am, and just out of curiosity, went into their room. He had already bathed by then and was sitting on his asan with his white dhoti on. He had closed his eyes and was applying bhasm tripund on his forehead and arms. I was sitting opposite him, but he hardly noticed. He did some nyasa, some regular puja / japa and then he started chanting the whole of Bhagavad Gita with closed eyes. I only inferred all this at a later age after maybe my 10 grade, in retrospect.
He would eat two meals and remain in his room for his reading, writing, and translation jobs. When he was working and post-retirement, he would go through bhavan’s journals, where KM Munishi’s articles on Krishnavatara used to be published. He would translate those articles combining his knowledge from other sources into authentic Telugu script. So, by the time he came to Mumbai, he had four huge register-like books which were his version of Krishnavtara in 4 volumes. He stayed with us for 2.5 years or so and then passed off due to oesophagus cancer in our govt. hospital. Throughout the 3 months that he was suffering, he put up a very detached and brave face. But, surprisingly just a day before he passed off, he scribbled the name of a homoeopathic medicine named ‘drosera’ and gave it to my mother asking her to get it from his age-old practice kit of homoeopathic medicines. I remember his scribbled font vividly, the small slip and my mom desperately searching for it at home. This incident always reminds me that how much ever one prepares for death, he is always afraid of the unknown.
As we grew up hearing some stories of our grandfather and his forefathers, two stories caught my attention. My grandfather, who was engrossed in household duties, ran away suddenly from home to seek guidance from Bhagwan Ramana Maharishi and returned after a few days. The rishi, as we all know, would mostly be in silence and if needed, communicate telepathically.
Another story is of 3 generations before my grandpa. This great forefather walked all the way from coastal Andhra to Navdvipa to master some shastras. Navadipa, mentioned in Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Charita and Varnasi or Kasi, were celebrated for their highly educational activities during those days. He mastered five shastras and got the title of Alankara in a very short time period. Pleased with him, the king ruling the coastal Andhra at that time gave him three villages. My grandpa and his brothers inherited the Mandasa village as their …property pre-independence. Thanks to this village, my grandpa and his brothers could complete their graduation in arts and law even though their father passed away at a very young age.
Hearing and reading stories of all the enlightened people and the role of their gurus, I used to think, ‘will I ever get to a guru who is really god realized’. My search or rather Swamiji’s grace, finally concluded in 2018 when I read most of the books he had written and met him in early Jan 2019 for the Kundalini camp. Being under the umbrella of an exemplary guru, who conducts himself in ways to further his teachings, I pray to all these forefathers of mine to bless me on my journey ahead.