88. Events after her Passing Away
Revered Mahapurush Maharaj (Swami Shivananda) was pacing up and down all by himself in a sombre mood, sometimes on the verandah of the first floor of the Belur Math facing the Ganga, and sometimes in his own room, his gaze directed towards the Shrine Room, the Ganga, Dakshineswar, Kashipur or the Udbodhan He alone knew what was passing within him It was still dark. When the first rays of the morning sun emerged, the old devotee Bhuvan Babu approached Mahapurush Maharaj, bowed down to him by way of Pranam, and said, “Maharaj, the Mother’s radiance is illumining the Udbodhan. What a wonderful effulgence is emanating from her face! It would seem that she has not left us at ail. Her look drives away all sorrow from one’s mind.”
Very quickly they arranged for the Pooja and Bhog of the Master at the Belur Math, so that these services were over before the body of the Mother was brought to the Math for cremation Revered Khoka Maharaj (Swami Subodhananda) was actively seeing to all the arrangements. The picture of the Mother, which was till now kept in the bedroom of the Master’s shrine, was now brought out from there, and with the permission of Mahapurush Maharaj placed on the left side of the Master’s altar on a separate pedestal decorated beautifully with flowers. From this instant, the worship of the Mother in an external sense started at the Belur Math At noon the holy body of the Mother, decorated with sandal paste and garlands and carried on a beautiful cot was brought across the Ganga on a boat and placed in the grounds of the Belur Math The daughters of the Mother, with tears in their eyes, bathed the body with the water of the Ganga and dressed it in new garments. It was then placed before the stairs leading to the Master’s shrine and worshipped with flowers and the performance of Aratrika. Then they took many ‘foot-prints’ of the Mother. The body was now taken to the bank of the Ganga, and placed on the funeral pyre of sandalwood at the place where the Mother’s shrine at the Belur Math now stands. Swami Saradanandaji performed the rite of circumambulating the pyre and lighting the prye. Swami Shivanandaji, Swami Subodhanandaji, Swami Nirmalanandaji, M. (Mahendranath Gupta) and many old devotees together with many others who had collected there, stood round the pyre with their hearts full of sorrow, and watched this ‘Yajna homa’, in which the holy mortal frame of the Mother was offered as oblation in the all-consuming fire. Swami Nirmalanandaji chanted a Vedic Mantra. The pyre soon began to blaze. They then offered oblations of Dhupa (incense), Agaru (a scent) and Karpura (camphor) in the pyre. Soon it was all finished. Then to quench the fire, they started bringing the Ganga water in pots. All of a sudden it started raining. So revered Saradanandaji Maharaj asked them to stop pouring the water in pots. This shower of rain quenched the fire of the pyre and cooled the children of the Mother who had been so far bearing the heat of the sun. A few of the sons collected the pieces of bones, the mortal remains, in a pot. But lo! there was very little of it to be thus collected, as the whole body had been well reduced to ashes. Whatever could be gathered was put in a copper urn and taken to the shrine room of Belur Math, and placed near the picture of the Mother. An elaborate Bhoga was offered to the Master and the Prasada, consisting of Luchi, vegetables and Rasagollas, was distributed amongst the assembled. At nightfall a son offered Dhupa (incense) at the site of the cremation Yajna. Revered Subodhanandaji deputed a Brahmacharin to offer regularly from the next day, light and incense at that spot at the proper hours.
When the Mother’s body was brought to Belur Math at noon on the day following her demise, it was found that her face was still effulgent, though it had been carried a considerable distance in the hot sun. It was observed to persist till the body was placed on the pyre. And those who had the good fortune of touching her feet, found that they were still soft. Decorated with flowers, those two feet of hers looked beautiful and charming like land-lotuses. Revered Rashbehari Maharaj in describing this divine radiance of the Mother’s body has said, “After a long period of illness, her body had become thin and pale. It was so when she left the body also. Under Revered Sarat Maharajji’s instructions, her clothes were changed and the body was placed on a clean bed. Incense was burnt. They were all sitting at a distance steeped in sorrow, when one of them happened to notice that rays of light were emanating from the face and spreading around. At this he shouted out in excitement, ‘Look, look, the face of the Mother has become luminous!’ All eyes were turned towards her face. They were all speechless and looked at one another, saying, ‘What is this? Whence has this effulgence come? We have never seen it before.’ The heart of everyone was filled with joy divine. They started singing songs about the Mother.”
On the thirteenth day of the Mother’s demise, they held a big celebration at the Belur Math. The place resounded with the chants of worship, reading of the scriptures and singing of
Bhajans. Prasad was distributed to all. It was the rainy season. When it became very cloudy on the day previous to it, everybody was worried. But the Revered Mahapurush Maharaj gave his word of assurance, saying in a loud voice, “Have no fear. Don’t you know on whose account this celebration is being held? Through Her grace everything will go on smoothly.” And actually the next day the sky was very clear and everybody could join the function and partake of the Prasad without any hitch.
A day or two after the Mother left her body, a respectable couple, who were the Mother’s disciples, came to the Math at nightfall and started narrating to
Mahapurush Maharaj their tale of woe, sobbing all the while. They were living far away and had come all this distance at great pains to have a last Darsan of the Mother. But their hopes were dashed to pieces as the Mother had passed away before they could arrive. Mahapurush Maharaj was all sympathy for them and gave them consolation. They felt a little pacified. After that Mahapurush Maharaj got into a divine mood and said: “The Mother is now encompassing everything. She is now in all beings. One can see her everywhere. Whoever will call on her with one-pointed mind will have her Darsan. So far she has been limited to one place. Now she is everywhere. There is no room for sorrow. As soon as
one calls her with eagerness from the bottom of one’s heart, one will have her Darsan.” That message of hope uttered by Mahapurush Maharaj touched many a heart and brought comfort to them