(A conversation with Sister Vasundhara)
It has been two years since I last visited Jillellamudi. The ashram has undergone considerable change during this time. It has now become very beautiful with new constructions and grown up trees. We drove right into the ashram and stopped in front of sister Vasundhara’s house. We knocked on her door, hoping to talk to her first, before heading to Mother’s Temple.
Meanwhile, brother Mallu’s wife came out from the neighboring house and greeted us with a smile.
“Has she not come, the lady who came with you earlier?” she inquired, looking for her over my shoulder.
I replied, “Who? P? No, she hasn’t come. She is in USA”.
“When will she come?”, she asked.
“I do not know, but when she does, she may come here”, said I.
Though we meet some people only once or twice, they leave a lasting impression on us. She thus ended up remembering P, though their meeting was for a short while. Only they both must know the reason behind that.
In the meantime sister Vasundhara opened the door.
I gazed at her intently. She always appeared to me like a goddess, glowing with a divine aura around her. Never once did she appear to me as an ordinary person. Tears welled up in my eyes and I silently bowed to her in my mind.
After we all refreshed and sat down, the conversation began.
“It has been a while since you came”, said Sister.
I replied, “Yes, it has almost been two years”.
Sister greeted each one of us warmly. As we conversed, I told her about my accident. I also assured her that I am fine now and that it had healed in a short time.
She remarked, “You probably are not diabetic, which is why you recovered quickly”.
I said, “It could be”.
Watching me sit on the floor, she said, “Your leg seems to fold well”.
“Even if it doesn't, I won't give up easily. I will try to bend and fold it somehow!”, I said jovially.
Sister continued, “I too stumbled and fell down during the ceremony of laying the foundation stone for the new apartments and broke my hip joint. I stayed in Hyderabad for three months as I was told not to move. It feels somewhat better now, but I still wear a belt on the hip and walk slowly”.
I introduced Sri Ram Murthy and N to her and she inquired about their whereabouts.
She asked about P and R, who had come with me previously. I told her that they are no longer in our group and that they are not talking to me due to some minor differences.
“In the past, a woman named R came here a couple of times. She too lives in America. She mentioned that she knew you. A good woman indeed. She grasped Mother’s philosophy in a very short time. When she came here for the first time, she visited with her parents. Maybe she wasn't satisfied, so the next time she came all by herself”, said Sister.
“Yes, I know her. But now she does not talk to me either. She was angry with me and has quit talking”, I said.
Sister said, “She is in India now. I believe she is from a village in Krishna district. One of her friends said that she might come today or tomorrow".
I replied, “Oh, I see”.
“She hasn't talked to me in a year. She used to call me sometimes but gradually discontinued”, said Sister.
“That is true! Certain people become close to us at certain times and then out of the blue the same people distance themselves from us”, said I.
“Yes, I too have observed it. I cannot recall how many such incidents I have witnessed in my life. It is all a test of time. We become acquainted with many in the torrent of time, live together for sometime and then they just disappear into oblivion. That is it!”, saying so she remained lost in thoughts for sometime.
Then after a while, she contemplatively said the following.
“Everything in life is momentary. It is present for that moment. That’s about it. For that moment it is true, and for the very next moment, it becomes past. That's it.”
I concurred, “Yes, I too have always felt that it is the case with anything. For something which is present for that moment and slips away the next, unable to let go of it we feel anxious, but the moment we withdraw our mind from it, there is nothing there. Everything is fleeting. I believe this to be the ultimate truth. Who will remain with us till the end? As soon as their needs are fulfilled, they disappear. As long as they understand the truth and walk in the path, I do not care if they talk to me or not”.
She agreed, “That is true”.
After that Sister spoke about several things. She mentioned about the days from when Mother was alive, how some infection came about to sister’s right leg preventing her from moving and while on the Madanapalli tour, with Mother’s blessings how she was able to walk on that very leg without any medicines and many more such incidents.
She continued further, “Mother has healed numerous people in countless situations. Even those who were deemed impossible, had been cured by her. But never once did she take upon herself the credit for this nor did she ever commit to having done it. Instead, she used to say, ‘Your time has come, that is why you were healed’.
In a rare few situations she would reveal herself. Till date, have you ever heard anyone say that this creation is theirs? We have indeed heard Mother say so. ‘This creation is mine, it has no beginning’, Mother had once said. We would be astonished upon hearing such words!”
“We have been wanting to come here for a long time, but only today, we are finally able to come along with Guruji”, said N.
Sister said, “Many a time, Mother used to say, ‘One cannot come here at their will. And unless I summon them, none can come here”.
Saying thus, she asked N, “I have a poetry book written on Mother by someone, will you read it”.
N smilingly - “I only read the poems written by our Guruji, others…”, she left the sentence half complete.
I wonder if Sister heard her words or not, she pulled out a book and gave it to N.
For sometime, we talked about brother Bhaskar’s passing away in April, his hearing the sound of the aircraft when Mother left her body and his writing of Mother’s biography and other such incidents from back then.
I handed a copy of Lalita Sahasranama Rahasyartha Pradeepika to Sister and told her that I wrote this book recently. But I could not ask her to read it. For someone who has served Mother for so long, what would be the need for reading books anymore?
I got up to leave, to head for Temple and everyone joined me. We sat for some time in the temple, had lunch and then took some rest in a room.
In the meantime, we saw a few devotees of Ramakrishna Samiti who had arrived from Karlapalem. There was a Brahmachari with them and looking at his attire and perceiving him to be a Brahmachari from Ramakrishna Mission, I myself initiated the dialogue. He said that he came from Hyderabad Mutt and was residing in Ramakrishna Samiti, Karlapalem.
I told the Brahmachari that I used to visit Hyderabad Mutt sometime around 1984 and back then Swami Paramarthananda and Swami Ranganathananda were living there and that I knew them both very well and that Swami Gambhiranandaji is my Guru. They were all very happy to hear me.
I asked him about Swami Vinischalananda. He said that Swami Vinischalananda was the current president of Rajahmundry Ramakrishna Mutt. I told him that Swami was a native of Guntur, his name prior to taking sanyas was Shastri and not only did I know him since his boyhood days but also we were good friends.
I asked him about Swami Yadunadananda. He mentioned that Swami was in Tamil Nadu these days. I told him that Swami Yadunadananda’s prior name was Tyagarajan and that he used to learn martial arts from me while I was in Guntakal and in that sense, he was my disciple. It was in our house that he first saw the pictures of Sri Ramakrishna and Sarada Ma.
Then the topic drifted towards Revered Swami Nandananda. I told him that it is due to Swami Nandananda, who spent all his life in the service of Sri Ramakrishna, that one can hear the name of Sri Ramakrishna even in the remote villages of Andhra Pradesh now and that he used to love me dearly and treat me as his grandson.
I gave them my book. They invited me to come and visit Ramakrishna Samiti in Karlapalem. I told them that I would try.
In the evening, we again spent some time with Sister, had coffee served by her and talked about other things. Later we went to Mother’s room on the first floor of Ashram, sat there for a little while, saw all the rooms and the things used by Mother and returned to Sister’s house. She gifted us clothes and blessed us.
By then it was 6 p.m. in the evening. We slowly got up and headed towards Brother Apparao’s house.
All rights reserved. This article has been translated by Annapoorna B, which was originally posted in teluguyogi.net on June 20, 2018. The content or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express permission of the publisher.