Chapter 41 pp 391-394
About a year before we moved to Queens, I received a letter from one of the Kazal’s assistants in Deoghar, Hari Narayan Das. It stated that Kazal’s wife, Lakshmi Moni, had given birth to a son on Jan 15, 1971. The letter awakened old memories so long buried under the sorrow and loneliness and hectic life of the American Satsang. “A son ! Could it be ? Would he really come back ? Is it possible ?” The thoughts flashed in my mind one after the other. I put the letter away, told nobody and quickly arranged to fly to India.
On the train trip from Bombay to Deoghar, some of the practical problems in the concept of reincarnation became apparent: I had last seen an eighty-one year man more than two years earlier. I was going now to see a five month old baby boy who couldn’t enen talk ! How was one to know? After mulling over different kinds of tests, I finally settled for something simple: He’d have to recognize me and he’d have to hold the stick he’d given me up to his head … and then I hedged: even this wouldn’t really prove anything ….
It is something to relate now, but the was, I felt nervous and my heart was beating rapidly as I approached the crib in which the boy was sleeping. I tip-toed over and looked down at him. He immediately turned on his back, opened his huge dark eyes and laughed. Then, as I brought my stick over the crib and he reached up with his little hands and tried to pull it down to his head, something in my stomach began to melt. For that particular moment, I felt sure: “If you can come back into this mess,” I thought to myself, “I guess I can keep on fighting …. And maybe do a little better this time around….”
That clear conviction doesn’t always last. For myself and many others like me the question remained: “Is he or isn’t he?” Stories grew that supported bod: “… he has ears shaped exactly like Thakur’s – unique shape in Thakur’s entire family … he came out of his mother’s womb with eyes open …” From the scepotics: “… Thakur himself said he doesn’t need to come back for 10,000 years … no Prophet comes back so soon nor in his own family …..” Perhaps Borda’s observation with which Kazal enthusiastically concurred was the most reasonable: “If Thakur comes, no power can spress him, and if he doesn’t come, no artificial publicity can make anyone into him….”
When it discovered that the boy, named Ananya Chandra and nicknamed, Bapun, had a Patent Ductus Arteriosus and would require heart surgery at five, the controversy received new lif: “…. See, I knew he wasn’t. Thakur could not come with a bad heart….” But faith has its own reasons; ‘…. He’s come with the same physical abilities and disabilites as other people …. Didn’t Thakur suffer from disease all his life …” Whether he was or he wasn’t, the boy awakened curiosity and the American disciple who had never seen Thakur found themselves involved: “There’s something strange about that boym” Dede Dennis whispered one day, “I was sitting looking at him playing in his grandmother’s lap and thinking to myself: ‘Is it possible that this little boy is Thakur ?’ Immediately the boy turned and looked at me and smiled! And I swear he knew what I was thinking!” He’s damn intelligent, no doubt,” said Gary Dichtenberg authoritatively, “but he’s got a long way to go before he can be Thakur.”
Shortly before the trip to India to observe and test Bapun, I learned that Boro Ma had left her body. Though completely incapacitated thelast few years of her life, yet merely her physical presence had given a strength to Bor’da, her eldest son, in his unswerving efforts to hold the movement on course after Thakur’s departure. Her cremation took place in the same compound where Thakur’s had been performed a little more than two years earlier. Now, that blooms with flowers around the two marble covered memorials, and more than that, an ineffable peace seems to pervade the area.
I often went there in the evening to just sit and think. I was there just before leaving for America that year as the sun was setting behind Digheria Hill. Old memories poured into my mind of the day two years earlier when I sat in this same place in numb, lonely agony. Gradually, they gave way to a vision of the observatory on the hill and river valley flowing with Ganges water …. Slowly hope replaced despair.
On the plane flying back to America I realized one of the reasons I hoped Bapun would prove to be Thakur was that it would fill a huge gap in my emotional life. But more that that, I also felt it would give me a second chance … I could try to replace some of those painful memories with more exalted ones as I travelled along this road of learning to love without expectation.
Chapter 36 pp 348-360