(A soul with a purpose - Brother Bhaskara Rao)
A great multitude of people are born in the world, who lead meaningless lives and disappear into the womb of time like insects. Most people are only capable of polluting the five elements of Nature, but only a rare few can bring about purification in these elements by their mere presence. Such souls are known by many a name, sages, saints, realized souls and incarnations. When such persons descend on the Earth, some of their close companions also appear along with them. These souls enact their role perfectly well in the divine play and thereafter, quietly depart from this world.
Although living silently, they are constantly absorbed in divine contemplation. They neither seek accolades nor do they care for the name and fame that the world offers them. They neither deliver speeches nor write books, instead, their life itself speaks to the world. They were indeed the sages who have come to live right amongst us. Even to this day, we can find such exemplary souls and one such person is Yarlagadda Bhaskar Rao.
On April 12, 2018, this man, at the age of 96, renounced his earthly body and reached Mother’s feet. I’d rather talk about such a soul than ordinary people or mundane topics. Seeing the divinity in Mother when she was a child, her grandfather Sri Chidambara Rao said “I wonder who is destined to write your life story” to which she replied, ‘A wise illiterate, but not an ignorant scholar’. And that fortunate soul is none other than our beloved brother Bhaskar Rao.
Born into a simple farming family, he was blessed to transcribe the story of her life as narrated by Mother herself. This goes to prove that a pure soul can accomplish what a scholar cannot. Mother had once said, referring to him, “He is a Brahmin without the sacred thread”. His guileless nature and constant contemplation on Mother made him a true Brahmin.
There are many scholars in the world, but whether they are all endowed with a pure heart is debatable. Similarly, it is also debatable whether all illiterates are innocent. What is the use of being a scholar outwardly, lacking inner experience? Instead, isn't it more desirable to be full of experience deep inside, though an illiterate and lacking in worldly wisdom? A person’s worth is measured by the purity of his heart, regardless of the knowledge he has acquired from books. This is an indisputable truth in the spiritual world, as purity of heart alone takes a person closer to God and not his knowledge. That could be the reason why brother Bhaskar Rao, a person born in a very ordinary family in the village of Sengupalem, was chosen by Mother to write her biography, though there were many scholars surrounding her most of the time.
There were people who wrote about Mother, composed songs, delivered fine speeches and extolled her as the Mother of the Universe, but many of them left Jillellamudi after Mother passed away and took off on their own paths. Some even went to the extent of starting their own cults. But Bhaskara Rao stayed clear of such things and remained in Jillellamudi for the rest of his life and became holy by constantly burning himself in the soothing fire of devotion. He neither left Jillellamudi nor the chanting of Mother’s name until his last breath. He led an extremely humble and a very simple life, full of silent contemplation. He left his physical body at the age of 96, just as a ripe fruit would fall off a tree by itself. If not for a person like him, who else deserves to be called a yogi, rishi or siddha?
The sage-poet Valmiki had the rare blessing of presenting to the world the divine life story of Lord Sri Rama in the form of Ramayana. He was born a hunter, but he attained sainthood with his unyielding perseverance. There were many sages in the ancient past, whose names we do not even know of. But Sage Valmiki's name will be remembered forever.
Sage Vyasa was a great scholar, a Jnani, a great devotee and a realized soul. Owing to all these extraordinary qualities, he had the great fortune of depicting the divine play of Lord Krishna in Srimad Bhagavatam.
Mahendranath Gupta, who was an ordinary school teacher, was bestowed with the opportunity of recording the immortal words of Sri Ramakrishna. He was humble, extremely peaceful like his master and used to meditate on the Lord always. He was so reluctant to even use his name in the book, that when he had to write the author’s name, he only chose to use the letter ‘M’ in place of his name. So long as The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna exists, Mahendranath Gupta’s name will also be remembered along with it.
Again, coming to our times, Bhaskara Rao was chosen to transcribe Mother’s life narrative and hence in my opinion, he belonged to the same esteemed category to which Vyasa, Valmiki and Mahendranth Gupta belong. As Mother stated, he was a pundit without scholarly knowledge. His name will remain etched in history as long as Mother’s name remains.
As I contemplate on what the true qualities of a scholar are, I am reminded of a verse from Bhagavad Gita,
vidyā vinaya sampannē brāhmaṇē gavi hastini
śunichaiva svapākēca paṇḍita samadarśina
(Bhagavad Gita - KarmaYoga - 5:18)
In this verse, Lord Krishna describes the qualities of a pundit as ‘One who treats alike a scholarly Brahmin, a cow, an elephant, a dog as well as a person who eats dog’s meat’, which means a true pundit is a jnani who sees everything without discrimination, but not the one who has mere scriptural knowledge. This profound idea of defining a pundit as the one who perceives everything with equanimity is derived from Bhagavad Gita.
How does one cultivate equanimity? One cannot attain that state by merely assuming so or by delivering speeches about socialist and communist ideas of equality. The ability to view all things as equal and ONE does not come easily but only through direct experience and vision.
“Seeing plurality is ignorance whereas seeing oneness is knowledge” is one of the greatest teachings of Sri Ramakrishna. Mother of Jillellamudi also said “Seeing oneness in all the different beings around is Godhood”. This state can be reached only when one attains maturity in his sadhana and not by mere talk.
We have not seen the sages Vyasa or Valmiki. But we are amazed by the greatness of these scholars based on what we have read about them. However, we have had the fortune of learning about the remarkable qualities of Mahendranath Gupta, his single-minded devotion and unwavering commitment to his beloved Master Sri Ramakrishna, from the folks who have seen and lived with him. Parmahamsa Yogananda has aptly stated that, looking at Mahendranath Gupta, one would get the feeling that a saint from the Vedic times had reappeared.
In this age, Yarlagadda Bhaskar Rao is one such blessed soul who had the fortune of writing Mother’s biography titled Amma Jeevita Mahodadhilo Tarangalu, that too, as dictated by Mother herself. Interestingly, others were unable to hear her words even while they were in the same room. It is told that only he could hear Mother’s words and also visually experience all the characters and situations depicted therein. Such miraculous incidents were so common in Mother’s presence, that it does not need a special mention. It turned out to be a fine work of art considering that he was a common man with no literary skills. Other than being fully immersed in the task of writing, not once did he ask her to repeat what she said. The work turned out into 15 notebooks and there was not a sight of a single correction or mistake. If writing so many books in such a manner is not meditation then what else is?
“That which is spoken is Bhagavata and the one who makes me speak is Ramabhadra”, considering himself to be a mere instrument in God’s hand, the renowned poet Pothana composed Srimad Bhagavatam in Telugu with total devotion and utterly egoless attitude, dedicating his work to Lord Sri Rama. With a similar attitude, brother Bhaskara Rao wrote Mother’s biography and became the Pothana of our generation. Mother had once declared that “Bhaskara is the personification of pure devotion”. Coming from Mother herself, this proves the purity of his soul.
What are the qualities of true devotion?
It is not about taking a bath, visiting a temple or performing rituals. Nor is it sitting in front of the Lord with our mind wandering elsewhere.
Sage Narada defines devotion as the Supreme love for God, in his Narada Bhakti Sutras - sa tvasmin parama prema rupa. It is not ordinary love, it is eternal, one-pointed and beyond all known bonds. With this kind of love and devotion nothing else will matter. Your heart continuously dwells only on your favorite deity and gradually becomes one with it and melts away in it. Tears flow with no awareness of your surroundings and no bodily consciousness is felt. Even the feeling of ‘I’ dissolves and becomes meaningless. This is the definition of true devotion. In the age of Puranas, gopikas demonstrated this true love and more recently, Sri Ramakrishna was in this state perpetually. It also applies to his devotees including Mahendranath Gupta, which is why he could write the biography. Brother Bhaskar Rao was also in the same hallowed state, which earned him the privilege to write Mother’s biography.
There is a verse about devotion in Lalita Sahasranama - bhaktipriya bhaktigamya bhakti vasya bhayapaha.
Mother is fond of devotion and she is not bound by anything other than devotion. What is Bhakti? Bhakti is nothing but love. To forget oneself and be completely immersed in true love for the Divine, is the highest level of devotion. When we are in this state, Mother is always around us and within our hearts. Even while we are asleep, she protects us. She remains with us always. Hence she is bhakti vasya - one who surrenders to true love and bhakti gamya - one who is also the goal of such devotion. If one's heart is full of devotion then there is no need to fear anything. Then they naturally attain the state of fearlessness - bhayapaha. Such is the power of true devotion.
Rain or shine, brother’s thoughts were always with Mother. He only responded when others spoke to him. Otherwise he remained silent. His responses were calm and concise. One day while fixing his torn shirt he apparently heard Mother’s divine voice, “My child, why do you need a shirt?” From that day on till his last day, he never wore a shirt.
One’s body is like a shirt to the soul. “You no longer have births, there will be no need for you to take up a physical body after this life” is what Mother’s divine words meant. If this is not liberation then what else is? What even the great yogis could not achieve, he could attain with one-pointed devotion to Mother due to her grace.
Nobody has ever seen him become angry throughout his entire life, spanning 95 years. He never once uttered a harsh word. How is it possible for a common man to have such mastery over his senses? Could Mother’s words spoken as a child, ‘a common man with wisdom is the one that will write my story’, have gone in vain? He never performed any rituals, wrote no poetry nor delivered any lectures. Unless somebody in Jillellamudi told us, one could never know who he was. Even if he sat right next to us, whether at the dining hall in Jillellamudi or elsewhere, we wouldn’t know. One could easily mistake him for some random old villager. He was such an egoless soul immersed in devotion for Mother.
Mother left her mortal body in 1985. A few decades earlier, she had mentioned to brother Bhaskara Rao that a divine aircraft would come to take her when it is time to give up her earthly body. Mother’s words appear to be very casual and ordinary, so many people tend to ignore them. But years later, when her words come true, they wonder “Oh, is this what Mother had meant back then!”.
After many years, in 1985, when some people in the ashram were having dinner, brother exclaimed that a flying chariot had landed on the dining shed and that everyone should run for shelter lest it should collapse. However, nobody else heard any such sound of an aircraft. It was the exact time that Mother left the earth for her heavenly abode.
When ordinary people die, it is believed that lord Yama arrives and drags them away in distress, giving them a taste of hell. Our scriptures mention the unpleasant ‘after life’ journey for people living a sinful life. On the contrary, they also describe how messengers of God come to cordially receive Jnanis, Yogis and Siddhas and take them on a pleasant journey after their demise. When the divine incarnations and their associates leave this world, the scriptures say that flying chariots come to take them to their respective worlds. This is in sync with the words stated by Mother to brother Bhaskara Rao, who, though could not see them, was at least able to hear the sound of an ‘aeroplane’.
When Sri Ramakrishna’s disciples Balram Bose and Ram Chandra Dutta passed away, some of their relatives who were blessed with yogic vision, were able to witness the aforementioned activity. Most of us living a life at will and with no discipline will likely be escorted by Lord Yama and his attendants, with whips cracking on our backs. Hence it is important to start living a life of purity at least from now on.
Brother Bhaskara Rao is a great karma yogi. He played a humble and a sincere role participating in all of Mother’s events silently. On April 12, 2018, when Sun was just about to enter Aries, his house of exaltation, he concluded his play and moved on to Mother’s lotus feet. His soul had merged into the universal light. Just as it is natural for the Sun or ‘Bhaskar’ to become one with light.
To have the fortune of constantly meditating on Mother is a true blessing that only very few extraordinary souls are entitled to. It is only possible for those who have for many births lived a life of purity. So, what is the way for ordinary people like us? Even if we cannot constantly connect with Mother, having souls like brother Yarlagadda Bhaskar Rao in our thoughts will help us realize the purpose of our life. I bow to this humble and silent karma yogi, who was Mother’s loving child.
All rights reserved. This article has been translated by Annapurna B, which was originally posted in teluguyogi.net on June 18, 2018. The content or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express permission of the publisher.