—Sri Han Ram Joshi
It was on the memorable Jhanda Mela (Annual Flag Hoisting) day in March, 1933, just four days after the Holi festival, that I decided to go to village Raipur with a couple of friends for the darsana of Mataji who had been staying there since about ten months. In the outskirts of the village we met an old woman who told us that Pitãji (Baba Bholanath Mataji’s world!y husband) and his attending Brahmachari (Kamalakanta) had gone to Dehradun to see the Jhanda Mela at Gurudwara Ramrai, and that Mataji was in the dharmasala. We thereupon decided to go there for Her darsana. In front of the Sivalaya there was a cemented raised platform under a mango tree. We saw a grave, fair, and saintly looking person sitting on that platform reading a book. He wore spectacles and was dressed in a white dhoti and a white woollen shawl. I took courage and enquired from him about Mataji who was reported to be mostly in samãdhi. He was pleased to inform me that Pitäji had gone to Dehradun and that Mataji could be seen in the dharamasla a few steps above the temple, after Her coming out of samädhi. I then asked him what had brought him to the Raipur temple, whether he was one of Mataji’s devotees. He smilingly told me in a sweet voice that he was Jyotish Chandra Roy from Dacca, Personal Assistant to the Director of Agriculture, Bengal Government and had come for Mataji’s service, having taken four month’s leave from his office. As I found out later, he was popularly known as ‘Bhaiji’.
Bhaiji stated further that Mataji, Pitäji and he had left Dacca very suddenly after the completion of Mataji’s 36th birthday celebrations at the Ramna Ashram. They had reached Dehradun on June 7th. The following morning they had shifted to Raipur. He then enquired about myself. I told him that I was posted in Dehradun as Inspector of Co-operative Societies since September; 1930, and that on November 30th, 1931, I had lost my wife who had left behind two sons, aged six and two years. About two hours passed in this conversation. My companions became impatient to return to Dehradun. I suggested to them that if they wished, they could go back in the two tongas we had left behind in the village outskirts, but as for myself I would leave Raipur only after having Mataji’s darsana. I accompanied them to the tongas. When I returned to the temple, Bhaiji took me to Mataji, the Divine Universal Mother, who was sitting on a mat in a corner of the dharamasälä wearing a white dhoti, covering Her head—in the customary manner. I paid my respectful homage by sãstänga dandawat pranama (obeisance by full prostration) and placed before Her as my humble offering a dozen sugarcanes which I had purchased at Raipur as I had forgotten to bring offerings from Dehradun. Bhaiji conveyed to Mataji in Bengali all he had heard from me about myself. Mataji did not talk to me directly on this occasion. She only smiled when I placed the sugarcanes before Her. Bhaiji gave me a few as prasäda.
At my first darsana, Mataji’s enchanting and smiling face transformed my mind altogether and brought me the firm conviction that what I had believed to be impossible to be achieved by anyone, namely, the state of ‘sthitaprajña’ (perfect sage) as described in Chapter II of the Bhagavad Gitã, She actually was in that very exalted condition. This, I must say, was a great inspiration to me as I had no preconceived notions about Her spiritual attainments, not having heard from any quarter anything about Her sadhana and supernatural powers.
I returned to Dehradun late in the evening and related to my mother all about my visit to Raipur, assuring her that on the following Sunday I would try to take her for the darsana of the Great Saintly Lady. This rather surprised my mother as she was under the false impression that ever since the death of my wife I had, in all probability, developed atheistic views.
The following Sunday, instead of taking my mother to Raipur, I suddenly decided to visit Mussoorie to find suitable agents for the disposal of the sugar that was being manufactured in the open pan sugar factory at village Badripur (Dehradun). On reaching Landour Bazar, Mussoorie at about 9 A.M. I was amazed to see Bhaiji in front of the Mansaram Bank, coming from the opposite direction of Santana Dharma temple. After paying my respects to him, I told him that he should have informed me before coming to Mussoorie as he had promised when I had met him at Raipur. Bhaiji thereupon remarked that the ways of the Divine Mother were quite peculiar. She had no pre-conceived plans for Her movements from one place to another. On leaving Raipur, She had ordered him to go straight to the Kãli Ban dharamasalã at Dehradun and from there the following morning to Mussoorie on the way to Uttarkashi. It was because of this that no message about their sudden move from Raipur to Mussoorie could be conveyed to me. He then took me to the Sanätana Dharma temple dharamasa1á and introduced me to Pitaji who was standing at the gate. Pitäji embraced me and immediately took me to Mataji.
At this second meeting, Mataji addressed me directly in Hindi. She first asked what had brought me to Mussoorie and then intimated to me that She and Her party were to leave the following morning for Uttarkashi. I was also told that at that moment they were going to the hill top of Landour Bazar (Depot), from where the whole Himalayan range including Badrinath could be seen. I decided to accompany them. Mataji then wanted to know what I would do with the sample bags of sugar I had brought to Mussoorie. I told Her that the sugar would go with them for their use on their way to Uttarkashi.
Before we left for the Depot I consulted Bhaiji about the coolies, pack-ponies and dandies required for their journey, and detailed instructions were given to my friend, Sri Jamna Datt Sanwal of the Mansaram Bank, for making all arrangements. Mataji was then bare-footed and so I tried to persuade Her through Bhaiji and Pitäji to use a dandi for visiting the hill top. Two dandies were also arranged for Pitäji and Bhaiji. Mataji at first declined to get into the dandi but Pitäji and Bhaiji finally persuaded Her to do so. On reaching the Depot I ordered from Military Dairy two seers of fresh cow’s milk and offered them to Mataji, who sipped only a little of the boiled milk after considerable coaxing, and the rest was distributed amongst all those sitting around Her. She then asked me to sing some songs. I obeyed, though I was not a singer nor did I have a sweet voice. However, it appeared to me that Mataji was listening with great interest. Late in the evening we came back to Sanãtana Dharma temple and Sri Sanwal told me that he had made all necessary arrangements for the journey of Mataji and Her party to Uttarkashi. I then sought Mataji’s permission to leave for Dehradun on foot as the motor road would have already been closed. Mataji advised me to pass the night in Mussoorie, but as I had not informed my mother I decided, though reluctantly, to walk down to Dehradun at that late hour. This time I was promised that Mataji would certainly give me timely information on Her return from Uttarkashi. in the meantime I should be on the look-out for a suitable place for Her stay in Dehradun proper or nearabout.