The Mysterious 'Mrs A' - Chapter 2: Making of Swamiji
The Mysterious 'Mrs A' - Chapter 2: Making of Swamiji7 mins 37 7 mins 37
Hriday Narain Tiwari was born in the village of Ahirauli in District Deoria, Uttar Pradesh. He was coincidentally born on the 15th of August 1947, the day when India became free from British rule and also sadly the day when it was partitioned. The importance of the day was lost on HN’s parents as they remained insulated from the bloody vagaries of partition or perhaps they were the least bothered whether the British ruled India or the Indians. Otherwise, they could have chosen a better and more patriotic name for their third son.
It is not clear whether they sent HN to school for studies. Most probably he was not, as with most children in those days and times. When I visited his birthplace for my investigations, hardly anyone knew him or about him. I, therefore, presumed that HN had a very mundane and uneventful childhood; definitely not the life you would hear about spiritual gurus.
I could, however, pick up a few strands of his life from his village. The family had fallen on some bad times and had shifted out of the village to Delhi. HN’s father, I could gather, was rustic and had little or no dreams for his family. He moved to Delhi and became a mason, Raj Mistri, as we call them in North India.
HN, it seems, grew up in Delhi without being sent to school and soon took upon his father’s profession. When he came of age, he married Lilawati who bore him a daughter and a son. I gather that for a long time HN spent a routine life, just like his father. There are no remarkable tales about his spiritual prowess or his miracles. He was just a mason working on various construction sites and earning a living enough for subsistence. I was, therefore, wondering how this man could suddenly turn into a God-man? Was there a turning point in his life when divine inspiration struck him like lightning?
We human beings all have this habit of turning towards Gods and Godmen, hoping to further our spiritual aspirations or improve the quality of our lives. Rich or poor does not seem to matter. Look around and you will see the vast sea of humanity flocking to churches, mosques, gurdwaras, synagogues, and temples in the frenetic hope of getting some divine help to tide over their problems. Day-to-day living is definitely challenging for human beings, though these challenges can be different for different people.
I vividly remember one lesson that I learned at Swami’s ashram. Swamiji had this daily congregation designed to bring out the despair and frustrations in his disciples. They would allow a fixed number of disciples to gather at a particular spot in the ashram every morning to meet Swamiji personally and tell him about their problems. Swamiji would then dole out solutions for each of their problems and they would go away with satisfied smiles on their faces or a frown on their brows depending on what Swamiji told them. The whole process was fascinating to me.
As a preparation for these sessions, those who wished to meet Swamiji had to register themselves a day in advance. They allowed a limited number of disciples per day for these sessions to provide them with sufficient time to explain their problems. This group of ten would then reach the designated spot in the ashram at least two hours before the session started. At the spot, volunteers would be present to collect and collate information to facilitate the smooth flow of the proceedings. A senior disciple who was very close to Swamiji managed this team of volunteers.
The process itself was simple and effective. As soon as the registered devotees had assembled, the manager would make some announcements on a megaphone. He would first ask people with health problems to step forward and stand in a separate formation. Then he would call out to people who had domestic problems (family fights, father-in-law, mother-in-law problems, etc), and then devotees whose wards have problems relating to education or jobs or marriages. He then called out to people diagnosed with severe mental issues, and so on.
Hearing him call out thus, I would always wonder how we humans have only a few problems. All our challenges and issues with our lives can fall under just five or a maximum of ten heads as the spiritual supervisor demonstrated. Yet, we find it so difficult to manage these few problems on our own? I thought God had provided us with enough capacity and ability to resolve our mundane issues on our own, but this spectacle before me proved that I was wrong. We are much more frail and fragile than we think ourselves to be. Or is it just that we look for quick and easy solutions, surrendering our own abilities to resolve?
I was thus thinking about HN and what made him grow spiritually so suddenly? A lucky break led me to his Guru, a woman called Geeta Devi. Like all of us, HN too must have got tired solving his problems and therefore sought refuge under Geeta Devi hoping for divine intervention.
Geeta Devi is no more. She passed away five years ago and strangely this was when HN seems to have got his lucky break. Geeta Devi’s ashram still stands near Mehrauli in Delhi, but you will find very few devotees there. It is a small building with a large green area surrounding it. I went there to collect some more information about HN.
Geeta Devi was, I gather, the only child of her parents and was born in East Bengal which is now Bangladesh. She seems to have found her home in Delhi after 1971 when India liberated East Pakistan by defeating Pakistan. Many people fled from their original home to seek refuge in India and Geeta Devi was one of them. Her remaining devotees still speak highly of her powers to heal wounds (internal and not external). They say that she was born with these powers and their parents barely knew about their own daughter’s divinity till much later.
It all began when Geeta Devi began attracting her own kind in Delhi. The impoverished refugees would flock to the girl for solace and she would provide them with solutions and happiness. Come to think of it, I believe that very few of us go to religious and spiritual places for solutions. It is as if we know that these things do not work as advertised, yet, they could help us focus afresh on our lives. I do not know what solutions Geeta Devi provided, but it definitely helped the poor people who came to her.
Here, we must admit one truth. We men and women are most reluctant to believe anything, be it God or miracles by messengers of God. But we also believe that disbelief in Gods and Godmen does not resolve our seemingly intractable problems. There is always a lurking doubt in our minds that maybe there is a solution that could be on offer with these divine instruments and there can be no harm in seeking their help sometimes. We are driven in our decision to visit and test the efficacy of Gods and Godmen to a large extent by the reviews of our friends and relatives based on their own first-hand experiences. We then sit down to categorize and classify places and persons having the maximum upvotes as the best places and persons to go to in an emergency. That is why some temples are believed to be powerful and some not so. The deity could be the same.
Mostly fuelled by the votes of her impoverished disciples, Geeta Devi’s popularity grew in leaps and bounds and there was no stopping thereafter. The rich and the poor began patronizing her and soon she had her own little ashram in Mehrauli. Amongst such disciples one was HN, and even he did not know that his life was about to be transformed.
Geeta Devi and HN somehow gelled and soon HN was transformed from a struggling mason to a devout disciple of Geeta Devi. I do not yet understand what Geeta Devi saw in HN, but she definitely took a very strong liking for him and initiated him into her inner circle. Gurus have this inherent ability to sort out their disciples, deciding whom to choose for further intensive training and whom to let be an ordinary disciple. The devotees I met at her almost abandoned ashram in Mehrauli told me that such was HN’s influence over the Mataji (as she was fondly addressed) that he virtually deserted his own family and began staying at the ashram.
Swamiji thus had a ringside view of Geeta Devi and her ways and he liked what he saw and soon learned to become a spiritualist himself. He must have been an avid learner for soon disciples began seeking his blessings to the extent of even avoiding a darshan of Mataji!
HN was well and poised now for bigger and better times!