Chapter Five : Saint or Statesman
The Man had thought it extremely fit, under the circumstances, to rope in yet another worthy adherent, who had espied the legend, though not for the reasons of the deception, which would baffle even the seasoned investigators to the end. The legend has it, according to the inner order: that he knew beforehand who was to come to him and he would draw them magnetically towards him. This explains as to why people around him, if at any time, cultivated in their minds doubts about the real identity of the man and did not dare to leak it or discuss it in the open, which resulted in the suppression of the truth about the man. His perception and his acumen met their destiny and the result, it seemed, was inescapable.
He ordered Mr. Durga Prasad Pandey to go to Ayodhya, giving specific indications about the type of residence he wanted for just two months. After all, there were people close on his heels, the old lady who cooked his meals inadvertently hinting at the great personalities, though not naming him as Netaji himself.
The lawyer astutely chose sacred Ayodhya again - an excellent place for the ‘nameless Saint’ to move to stealthily from Basti, the security would be ensured though.
Apparently, the lawyer appeared to have known the man through and through by now. Here intrudes the Hindi belt, which would be able to convey the outward meaning, the deeper purport of his statements in English and Bengali: even if he spoke in his dreams. To the lawyer, the Swamiji did not seem to speak as a philosopher, nor as a pundit trying to explain his own exclusive doctrine, but rather out of depth of his own heart. As what? A saint or a Statesman?
As far as the lawyer was concerned who penetrated to the innermost depth, here was the man of a giant intellect, who spent his life gathering knowledge of many things - a man no mortal could meet for he disdained the world, a personality who extended his life to almost a hundred years. Here was a man who could not be ever betrayed, nay for any price.
And so the lawyer began his search in dead earnest through the labyrinthine lanes of Ayodhya city, until his discreet inquires - his wanderings ending at Prahlad Dharamshala of the Purohit of Ayodhya, a most unlikely place for detection after the close encounter with the world at Basti.
For once, the emissary of the man chose a rather crowded spot in a densely populated and built up area through narrow meandering lanes but with a convenient escape route skirting Kaccha Ghat of Ayodhya on the banks of the Saryu and where cremations take place for centuries. The entire strategy once again was, come what may, the man would avert detection from the inquisitive gaze.
Enter Purohit Ram Keshore Mishra, son of the Late Prahlad Mishra.
When asked he said that he came to know about the ‘Nameless Saint’ when Mr. Durga Prasad Pandey brought him here as a tenant for two months.
Mr. Pandey had requested and told that he required one of his Dharamshallas, for a period of two months, so as to provide accommodation for his Guru. First he refused, as the Kartwik Mela was approaching and the Mela was the real source of livelihood. To this Mr. Pandey said that he was inclined to pay all that he would make during the days of the Mela. Further he said that his Guru was an old man and that he would make some other arrangements within two months.
He also said that after he handed over the keys to Mr. Pandey who had arranged for the rooms to be cleaned and white washed. ‘Baba’ arrived two days before Deepawali although the house was let around Dussera. This was in the year of 1974.
He further said that he went to see the Baba, after about 20 days of the Kartwik Fair. It was because of sheer curiosity as he had not met any Sadhus before. A Muslim escort accompanied Sadhuji (later I came to know from Mr. Pandey that this muslim gentlemen was one Imdad Hussain from Basti. He was paid Rs. 30/per month as his wages). Panda Mishraji asked the muslim attendant to convey his presence and wished to see him personally. He addressed him as Bhagwanji. Others later became auccustomed to this manner of addressing him. In return Hussain asked him to come the next day at dusk.
Panda Mishra did not know the name of the muslim attendant. Next day he was asked to sit on a chair kept in the courtyard, while the door of the room was closed in which Babaji sat.
During the first encounter Panda Mishra paid his regards for the Darshan. He gave blessings from behind the closed doors. As it was already known that the Swamiji did not give face to face Darshan, Mishra did not request for it.
Again after two or three days, Mishra told his wife that the Baba was a great soul and a Great Saint. She agreed and as he was telling his wife about Swamiji, an interlude occurred, the Man said:’ Its good that you have come and brought Maa. It is all the grace of God - Durga Maa. Here on, you are Nanda Baba for me and she Yashomati Maiya. Please take me in this light and keep protecting me, as I am in your hands now. I have come to this city of ‘Mahaveerji’ for Saadhana (meditation). And you have to ensure that my Saadhana is undisturbed. I am under your refuge. [The titles of Nanda Baba and Yashomati, bestowed by the Man upon Panda Ram Keshore Mishra and his wife, was not without meaning. As the mythological legend goes, Lord Krishna was entrusted into care of Nanda Baba and Yashomati by the Lord’s parents to save Him from the murderous hands of Kanshas who controlled the entire society and its administration of that time].
Ram Keshore Mishra: He spoke with unusual modesty and at this stage began a religious discussion with us. He wanted to know if I performed any religious rites including prayers. The answer was negative. He felt sorry that, being a Brahmin Mishra he had failed to perform his religious rites. He advised Panda to follow the discourse and in a way initiated him in the religious path.
Mishra further said that he believed that Baba was a great man, whether a politician or a saint. He used Urdu words, while speaking in Hindi. His accent however, bordered on the Bengali form. He could have been Assamese also. Mishra could easily pick one’s accent because of the fact that people from all provinces came and stayed in his Dharamshala.
While Swamiji stayed he spoke only on religious subjects and it was evident that the Swamiji was a Saint of High Order as he commanded vast knowledge. He stayed for two and half months and left the place although no one saw him leaving.
Durga Prasad Pandey had already informed a day earlier that the Dharamshala would be vacated the next day. Panda was informed by others that Durga Prasad Pandey, along with one of his relatives from Faizabad, Mr.N.C.Mishra, a lawyer had come in a car, late in the evening and Swamiji left with them at around 8 or 9 p.m.
As usual the car was heavily curtained and sped away to his new abode – Brahma Kund Gurudwara in Ayodhya itself.
End of Chapter Five
To be continued next Sunday ...
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