HIS LIFE AND TEACHINGS
THE SHIVA DANCE: GURUBHAI'S LOVE
After his return to Bangalore it became necessary for him to go to North India to see the Swami Brahmanandaji. In dealing with the land on which the Ashrama was situated, there arose a technical difficulty. The land was registered in the Bangalore Revenue and Municipal Records in the name of the "President, Ramakrishna Mission Institute, Bangalore." Though the Swami was the President for the time being there was no formal deed of trust or appointment in his own name. The Public of Bangalore had placed the Ashrama at the disposal of Swami Brahmananda when he opened it in 1909. And it was Swami Brahmananda who sent the Swami to Bangalore. The Swami therefore held himself as an Agent of the Swami Brahmanada. To make his position clear and to give it a legal status, it became necessary to get the Swami Brahmanandaji either to execute a Power-of-Attorney in his name or to make other disposition. With this end in view he left Bangalore.
Two of the Swami's devotees at Mavelikara (Mr. Madhuram Pillai, now Swami Ambananda and his brother Damodaran Pillai) had expressed a desire to visit the Belur Mutt and the northern Thirthas. The Swami graciously asked them to accompany him. They joined him at Madras. Reaching Calcutta early, the party stayed there for the Dasara Celebrations. The Swami's love for the devotees who had followed him made him request the most Holy Mother to bless them with initiation. The Mother consented and on the day of the Mahalaya Amavasya both of them were initiated by her. They were also fortunate enough to have her Holy feet washed and the Charanamritham taken home. All of them stayed in the Belur Mutt. On the Vijaya Dasami day the devotees witnessed an extraordinary spectacle, one which ever remains green in memory – a Shiva dance by the Swamis of the Mutt. It was first proposed that Swami Premanandaji should take the place of Shiva. But he insisted on Swami Nirmalananda's taking that place. All agreed. The Swami was installed as Shiva. Swami Premanandaji garlanded him and all the Swamis danced the Blissful dance. It was a sight for the very gods to see!
Regarding Swami Premanandaji and the other Iswara-Koti disciples of the Master, Swamiji once said: 'Oh, they are all gods who have come down to the earth taking human bodies. Ah! This D – was telling that they were of the – party. So Premanandaji called them over one day to his room at Dacca, closed the room and tried to make them realise their folly. But they would not be convinced and they began to discuss with him. Then Premanandaji told them: "You have become learned by studying English, is it not so?" So saying he pressed the shoulder of D – who was one of those discussing hotly. At once, his arguing attitude left him and his life was completely changed, trans- formed. Is this the work of an ordinary man?"
And was it a mere fancy of Swami Premanandaji to instal Swami Nirmalanandaji as Shiva and dance round him? Did not Premanandaji actually see the great Shiva – Rudra – Hara – Mahadeva – manifest in him ?Was any heart more tender and larger than his? Had it not a corner in it even for the worst sinners.
One day – a Rathayatra day – the Swami was sitting in the Verandah of the first floor uf the Belur Mutt, facing the Ganges. Boats were passing up the river with passengers going to attend the Rathayatra festival at Mahesh. In one of the boats were some persons of ill-repute and public women, singing and making themselves merry. The boat was passing quite close to the Mutt. One of the devotees who were near Swamiji remarked: "Look at these young men! They have no respect or reverence for the Mutt and no sense of shame to pass close by it in such company and in such profligate manner. They ought to have behaved better in front of this sacred place." At this Swamiji said: "My child, you know very well, how full of misery this world is! If they contrive to forget their misery and woe even for a short time in this manner, they are to be pardoned and congratulated." Vast and pure as the heavens, his heart had not a single harsh fibre in it. It loved all, it blessed all.
Swami Premananda's love for the Swami was such that in all the days of his stay there he had the Swami's favourite dishes carefully prepared for one and all in the Ashrama, The Swami's love for his gurubhai took the shape of ardent devotion. Most touching was the scene of his taking leave of his brother. The Swami, his face glowing with emotion and tears running down hia cheeks, fell prostrate before Premanandaji. Rising they exchanged a few words. Then again the Swami made his Sashtanga Pranama. He rose, Then Premananda said something. Immediately the Swami fell down at his feet again. It was as if both of them were unwilling to be separated from each other, as if the Swami wanted nothing else for the time being, but prostrate himself before his worshipful brother again and again. The devotees present have recorded that it was only after the sixth Pranama that the Swami could be induced to tear himself away from that Iswara-Koti.
From Calcutta they came to Benares and paid their respects to the Swami Brahmanandaji. Spending a few days with him, the devotees desired to proceed to Rishikesh and other Thirthas. The Swami also had programmed to go with them. When this intention was communicated to Sri Maharaj, he set his face against the Swamiji's leaving him. "You have seen those Thirthas many a time. Now you have come to me. Your friends can go and see the places without you. They will come back safely. The season is not quite good and you may fall ill if you go." So the devotees had to go alone. Swamiji, of course, made all possible arrangements for their convenience and safety and he remained with Maharaj. Regarding the Bangalore Ashrama, Maharaj, thinking over the matter and taking legal advice, gave a general Power-of-Auorney in favour of the Swami. "I, Swami Brahmananda, Chela and disciple of Thakur Paramahamsa Ramakrishna of the sect of Sanyasin, at present residing in Ramakrishna Adwaita Ashrama, Mohalla, Luxa in the City of Benarey x x do hereby nominate, constitute and appoint Swami Nirmalananda, Chela and disciple of Thakur Paramahamsa Ramakrishna, at present in charge of the Ramakrishna Ashrama, Bangalore City, to be my true and lawful attorney for me and on my behalf x x to carry out the full purport and intentions of these presents for the due and proper management of the said Ramakrishna Ashrama Bangalore City and properties standing in my name tor the benefit of the said Ashrama or any other Ashrama which may be established in any place in South India x x ". With these words the power was drawn up, signed and delivered on the 25th of October 1914.
The two devotees went up to Rishikesh. Swami Turiyanandaji was then residing there On the day of their arrival, he had gone somewhere and returned late in the nighr. They could not meet him that day, but hearing of their arrival, he went to their residence at 5 o'clock in the morning, and called out to them "who is it that has come from Tulasi Maharaj?' The devotees approached him and made their pranamas. "Where is Tulasi Maharaj? Why has; he not come with you?" They explained the circumstances which detained him at Benares. Then with glistening eyes he asked "should I not also see your Swamiji?" The devotees were themselves greatly moved seeing the expression of love and longing in the Swami's face. He was very kind and helpful to them during their stay. Taking leave of him they returned to Benares via Allahabad and other places. But before they reached Benares Swami Turiyanandaji had arrived there. Though in weak health, he had come all the way down just to meet his beloved brother, the Swami Nirmalanandaji. That, alas! was their last meeting.
Staying there for a few days more, the Swami and party took leave of Swami Brahmanandaji and Turiyanandaji and returned to Bangalore.