HYMN TO HOLY

 – Smt. Leelavathi J. Shenoy

I am a humble worshiper of Mother.  Though by birth I am the younger sister, nearness and familiarity have only increased in me the sense of awe and majesty of the gracious presence.  To sublime virtues in her are found added a vivacity and freshness of constant love, gentleness and generosity.  It is sheer rapture to gaze upon the animated countenance during interludes of Samadhi.  Before and after Samadhi, speech would flow from her like a spring of ambrosial sweetness.

Lakshmi’s charm, Saraswathi’s eloquence, Parvathi’s grace meet in her.  In her complexion of pearl-like whiteness there in blending of lovely hues and magic tints, in delicate shades, and subtle gradations.  The virtues, her gentleness,, her spontaneity, her sympathy, her sensitivity, her intensity and her innocence, seem to achieve perfection in the total charm of her wondrous personality.  Her chief care, then as now, is for duty and her highest teaching is obedience to the moral law.  She gives a sense of freedom from the ensnaring network of worldly occupations.  Her girlhood suggested to our pious family purohit, the grand-imagery of the ceaseless celestial flame.  Praise of her, he said, was offering to the sacrificial fire.  Before touching the spirit, she gladdens the heart of the devotee at mere darshan.  Her loveliness gives assurance that with it is entwined a divine purpose.

There is no diminution visible of her patience upon earthly contact with human want and suffering.  She can at any time withdraw into a splendid isolation of being, admitting of no penalties of contact with profanities of the world.  Her love purifies and exalts without itself being sullied by anxiety or anguish.  For those who come to her, what is dark in them gets sudden illumination.  When she opens her lotus eyes, there is efflorescence of a soul in the richness of a new realization, the plenitude of spiritual power finding the rapture of a solemn dedication.

In early years of which I am writing, she looked like an angel of peace.  She was the comfort of her mother, the pride of her father, the guardian goddess of our home.  When she parted her ruby lips to speak her premature wisdom, she revealed her flashing teeth of pearly whiteness.  She could soothe the mother’s grief as well as curb the father’s temper.  From tender years she began receiving the timid homage of the children of her own age.

At the fourteenth year when she was given in marriage, she had a slender frame of ravishing beauty.  She had ripeness of understanding and seriousness of outlook.  She had matured wisdom, discernment and discrimination.  Exceedingly handsome, she from girlhood showed, exceptional confidence in herself, far beyond her years.  Though she read little, strangely enough, she was familiar with sastric injunctions and esoteric meanings of religious rituals.  She had marvelous powers of organization and arrangement, and artistic regard for details.  She had precise knowledge of the ithihasas and the puranas.  She had inborn sense of rhythm and music.  She remembered and could accurately recapture and sing in appropriate tunes a vast repertoire of devotional songs, holy hymns and kirtans in a variety of languages.  She had powerful memory and spontaneous wit.  She had fondness for animals and was familiar with the characteristics of birds.

Later I came to know that rarer powers were in her than what is imported by this assemblage of qualities.  Treasures of experience are in her; pearls of wisdom too in her universal consciousness.  Clearly her proficiency and powers are divine attributes, not human inheritance.

To Bhagawan’s home at Tellicherry I accompanied her and enjoyed their hospitality and affection for several months.  There I had my first impressions of the exemplary home; the exemplification of the exalted duties of the wife.  In the role of the wife I saw her in her domestic avocations.  I saw her in the morning hours worshiping the tulsi plant; I saw her bending her graceful body in humble prostrations to Bhagawan; consecrating the holy shrine with sacred hymns; encircling the image of Sri Krishna with a chaplet of fragrant jasmine flowers; I heard her sing kirtans at the evening bhajan in her home; with palms, soft as leaves of fresh lotuses, I have seen her showering flowers in propitiation of deity before pictures of its holiness.

After the routine of these appointed occupations, she retired into an inner chamber for prayer and meditation.  Those silent sessions of solitary retirement lasted far into nights and sometimes would touch the fringes of the golden morn.  As sign of holy maidenhood, her sacred person was encircled by a mysterious aroma of camphor, tulsi and sandalwood.

Purity invested her home with the air and atmosphere of a hermitage.  To it came unknown ascetics as to a temple of divinity.  Those versed in the Vedas came to do obeisance to her.  Her insight into the human mind and the nature of its working was revealed in the recovery she effected of an unfortunate woman, an inmate of her home with serious mental derangement and nervous prostration.  This victim to mental malady was restored to absolute normalcy of physical health and mental efficiency by her.  The patient’s moods were at times so stormy and her behavior so violent that they were strange and frightening.  It was surprising the way she responded to Mother’s love and kindness.  The cure was complete through the simple ministrations of her endearments, showered in tender solicitude with touching abundance.

Hour after hour in her home I experienced happiness as though from an inward spring of perpetual gladness.  It was the very home of peace and purity and piety.  One day, like a mass of thundering cloud, the temper of a serving woman mounted to a high pitch of rage, directed against another serving woman of the household.  There was exchange of words and stormy scenes.  Only a flight of steps above was the prayer room where Mother was in meditation at the while.  The silence was so profound as to forbid the slightest sound or movement.  The loud altercation seemed a sacrilege and violation.  Repeated appeals were of no avail.  In the increasing fury of words all attempts at pacification failed.  Symbolic of divine intervention in remediless situations and dire calamities, all on a sudden, the more vociferous of the two in the quarrel became abruptly silent.  Her frame trembled, the pupils of her eyes quivered; her wandering eyes cast all round a glance that intense grief had made vacant and repentant tears had dimmed.  She stood mute and motionless, as if there occurred sudden deprivation of speech and motion.  She was the picture of sorrow and repentance.  The quiet of the place super induced by Mother’s meditation should have cast its spell and hushed her into silence.  Tranquil vibrations had inspired awe and inherent solemnity had instilled reverence.

Those early days are here recalled as part of a happy dream.  My own marriage and departure to Bombay took me far away from the holy presence.  This period of separation too was educative.  There were enriching experiences.  Years brought sorrows too.  I have returned to Mother with chastened heart to receive the higher instructions.

The occasion on which I could summon courage by the grace of her to face the greatest calamity of my life was the death of my husband.  The impact of grief I felt, but its impetuosity was restrained by an inward calm, which I was unaware of until then, but which Mother had already made part of my nature.  When grief rushed with storm of sighs and torrent of tears, I could repeat her name and all I felt was strength and solace thereafter.  There is solace in her name and there is strength in her teachings-upon the evanescence of life and the immortality of the soul.

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