Radhika’s Reflections
On
The Mother of all Good and Evil
by
Swami Sampurnananda

PART 1
Of Vibrations and Waves

TREE

The tree stood solid. Vast before me
A branch hung low, teasing me,
Daring me to have a tug at it.

Playfully I pulled it
And started off a wholly unexpected chain:
Flexing itself, the branch coiled in,
Like an elephant’s trunk

And then it disappeared. A beat or two
My heart skipped: the branch had gone first and then the tree -
And, in its place there was a huge, vibrating energy....

Shaken, I awoke in wonder
What a vision I’d been under!
Under an interlinked canopy of power we live
More than this my search for vision cannot give.

Radhika woke up with a start.  She felt as fresh as a young colt and ready to go. Was it a dream? Was it some experience? For sure, she was lying down.  Was she awake? Had somebody slipped a pleasant gift in between her sleep and waking? She was eager to tell somebody.

But whom to tell? Everybody would laugh at her.  Or just get bored.

But Maharaj would be interested. He’d appreciate the value of the dream or the gift she had received.
Then, there was this bother: she couldn’t just rush to Maharaj. She would have to wait till her mother allowed her to accompany her to the ashrama.

Her mother went to the ashrama often and met the big swami there.  Their talks often bored Radhika, for they talked about very dull things.  Mostly it was a one-sided conversation. Her mother would talk of their family and the problems she faced there, while the big swami would listen seriously.  Radhika was not sure that he was not laughing behind her mother’s back - his eyes seemed to twinkle.  Radhika liked him, but from a distance. She was rather in awe of him.

But her favourite was the little swami whom she called Maharaj. It was the big swami who had sent her to the little swami.  He must have seen her discomfiture during her mother’s meetings with him.  One day he said to her, ‘Radhika better, you go and talk with Maharaj. He will tell you stories and good jokes.’

She had gone gladly and had immediately made friends with Maharaj.

‘Ma, are you going to the ashrama today?’, she asked her mother.

‘No, Swamiji is out of town. He is coming tomorrow. Let us go tomorrow evening’, her mother said.

Radhika had to wait. She had to suppress her urge to burst forth with her story to her little Maharaj.

Next day she gushed to Maharaj, 'Maharaj, I have to tell you something that happened to me. It was so nice. I felt so wonderful. But I am puzzled too’.

Maharaj just smiled and said, ‘Radhika, go to Mother’s shrine and tell her first. Then you can tell me. I will have finished my work by then.  Talking alone with Mother will be good.’

Radhika was a bit disappointed at not being able to talk with Maharaj. But she liked to sit in front of the picture of Holy Mother Sarada Devi.  She understood that Sarada Devi, Sri Ramakrishna’s wife, was considered to be mother by all the swamis and devotees who came to the ashrama. They called her Ma very naturally and soon Radhika had fallen into the habit and quite at home with it.  She understood that all considered Sri Ramakrishna to be their guru and called him Guru Maharaj.  The presence of Guru Maharaj and Ma were taken for granted in the ashrama and, like everyone else, she liked to sit in front of their pictures and talk inwardly with them. She particularly liked to sit in front of Holy Mother’s picture and talk mentally without any spoken words.  It was like a game. Sometimes, when she opened her eyes, for a second it seemed that Mother was looking at her very affectionately.

 

Today she sat and gazed at Mother’s picture. It was Mother in her “granny” pose. Maharaj had told her that if she wished to talk with somebody but could not do so immediately she could just talk with Mother inwardly.  Mother would convey the conversation to whomever it was that she wanted to talk to. She could not fully understand how it happened, but Maharaj was earnest about it and she trusted Maharaj.

Now she tried to tell Mother about her strange dream experience.

Ma, what does all this mean?
I saw the whole universe vibrating.
Ma, I can’t explain fully what I saw.
It all started as a play.
Did I start that play by pulling at that low-lying branch?
No, Ma !
It looked as if it dared me to pull it.
I pulled it.
Then it played a trick on me.
It suddenly started behaving like an elephant’s trunk.
The branch coiled up.
I felt a strange feeling. Not fear – more like wonder.
Then the whole tree played a trick. The whole tree disappeared.
In its place there were vibrations.
I looked everywhere.
There were vibrations everywhere.
I woke up in wonder.
Ma, all around me I see trees, objects, friends, mummy, daddy, Swamiji and Maharaj.
But then I saw all of them as vibrations.  Have they turned from vibrations into trees and this entire world?
Is there a wonderful energy, which has transformed itself into all these things?
Was it joyful?
Well, it must be. Because I didn’t feel any fear.  I felt a sense of wonder.
Ma, it was real.
So now, are all these trees and people wearing different masks?

Surely, one wonderful being is going about as dull or dashing, happy or morose, sick or healthy and all such opposite combinations! They are like a conjoint Siamese twin eternally fighting with each other!

Ma, are you winking at me?

Aha, that is the clue! Are you that low-lying branch?

I have to hold you and pull you, like the branch. Then the entire universe will show itself.

Ah, that is Maharaj closing the door!  This is another clue. I will speak with Maharaj.  He took me to Mother so that Mother will lead me to the secret of this dream game.

And Maharaj is always vibrating with joy. It is fun to talk with him.

Radhika did pranams to Mother and got up. Maharaj was in the hall below, waiting with a smile.
She did pranams to him.  He accepted it with his usual, wonderful grace.

She then told him of her dream experience. But speaking about it made it fall flat. She felt better when she told Mother about it inwardly.

‘Maharaj, why does it sound so flat?’ she asked.

‘Radhika, this is what I understand. Sri Ramakrishna used to forbid people from narrating their spiritual experiences to others.  Why, he used to sometimes discourage them from narrating them, even to himself. Anyway, Swamiji will know what to do about this. I will inform him.  Later, he will tell you what you can do.  Meanwhile, keep thinking about it.

Of all the things you have heard about what is inside you, which do you like to repeat most often?’

‘Education is the manifestation of perfection already within.

 Religion is the manifestation of divinity within’, Radhika quoted.

‘Yes, all answers are within.  Keep thinking.  Ask questions of yourself and of the Mother within you. You will get the answers’, Maharaj said.

‘Maharaj, are you going to tell Swamiji?’, Radhika asked.

‘Yes, he will tell you the best thing for you’

‘Mahraj, I am a bit afraid.  Will he scold me?’

Maharaj smiled. ‘No, don’t worry.  Swamiji loves you. He will talk with you.’

He then bade her good bye.

She returned home thoughtfully.

Next day when the telephone rang at 9 a.m. she lifted the receiver. She was surprised to hear Swamiji’s gentle but firm voice.

‘Radhika, do you know tomorrow is Mahalaya?’ (A holy day usually preceding the nine holy nights called Navaratri).

`Yes, Swamiji, I am looking forward to repeating the Chandi (a scripture about the exploits and praises of God as Mother) and other songs in the early morning’, Radhika said.

‘That is nice. Do you know the Chandi?’

‘No.’

‘Do you want to learn?’

‘Yes’

‘Good. Then come to math for the next nine days. Bring the Chandi with you.  This year we are chanting it every morning.  Learn the tune and then chant it slowly at home.’

‘Yes, Swamiji.’

‘Do you know why I am telling you all this’, Swamiji asked.

Radhika swallowed.  ‘Swamiji, Maharaj must have talked with you about me’

‘Yes, you had a good experience. But don’t fritter it away.  Work on the Chandi in the morning and also come for Kali Kirtan (singing of songs on the Divine Mother) in the evening whenever you can.”

Next day she got up early and after her bath went to the recitation of the Chandi.  She sat through the whole programme.  She could follow the general meaning of the verses by skimming through the book and felt exhilarated as the chanting went on.  She was charged with power.

The evening Kali kirtan was a different affair. While she had felt a disciplined, powerful pull in the morning, at night it was like an intoxicating draught.  The steadily progressing tempo of the music, from slow to fast, drew her in.  Surely this must be how a snake feels when it hears the charmer’s tunes!

‘Nibida adhare Ma to chamake O ruparasi’

‘In dense darkness, O Mother, Thy formless beauty sparkles’....

The song echoed in her mind.

Everything happening around her seemed to relate to the experience she had had.

She tried to put her thoughts and feelings into coherent words.

What was happening to her?

In her dream she had experienced with a sense of wonder what seemed like a sense of power.
Now she felt a sense of exhilarating energy during the chanting of the Chandi and the singing of Kali kirtan.

The song describing her Mother’s mysterious form - ‘In dense darkness, Thy formless beauty sparkles’ - pulled at her heartstrings.

Was there dense darkness before the vibrations began?

Surely a wonderful formless something lay amidst the darkness!

But it was not a sinister darkness  -it was like the darkness she used to share with her mother when mother’s arms lovingly enveloped her.

Yes! That is it! The song is right.

A mother-love is enveloping the dense darkness before the vibrations and is also in the vibrations themselves.

This was not experiencing a wonderful thing; it was a person. It is all Mother!  Divine Mother!

She whispered, ‘Ma’ and her whole body shook with emotion.

The picture of the “granny” pose of Holy Mother Sarada flashed vividly into her mind.

At home, Radhika did all of her tasks absent-mindedly.

She ate her food, but said very few words while eating.

Her mother asked with some consternation, ‘What is this, Radhi?  You are having your favourite Sundakka Vathakozhumbu today. Are you not happy?’

‘Oh, I didn’t notice’, Radhika said.

Her mother quickly hid her surprise.

Radhika thought that Swamiji must have told her mother something about her. That is why her mother was not asking very many questions.  Radhika was not in a mood to stand any questions or talk today.

But suddenly her brother, Rajan Krishna, burst in excitedly.

‘Radhika, we have developed wonderful new software!  Come quickly!  I am going to do a trial run.  I want you to be the first person to experience it.  It is wonderful!  Come quickly!’, he cried out.

Radhika understood ‘we’ to mean her brother and Maharaj, who were friends.  Their talk was mostly of computers.

But she was not in a mood to talk today.

She said, ‘No Raja, not today’.

But Rajan knew how to draw out his sister.  He said, ‘Radhi, it is a nice inter-active game. You will like it’.

‘No Raja, I am not in the mood today’.

‘This game is one for all moods.  It will interact with you according to your mood.  You just see! Now how will describe your mood?’ Raja asked.

Radhika laughed and said, ‘Raja, you are impossible’.

‘What is your mood, tell me’, Raja insisted.

‘Well … thoughtful’ she said.

‘Now, come on!’  He dragged her to the computer.

They sat down, each with a mouse and looking at a large screen.

He clicked ‘play’ and said, ‘Now enter your mood’.

She entered, ‘thoughtful’.

‘Let’s put on our headgear’, he said.

As they put the headgear on, she saw that it had a new item – strange-looking goggles.

‘Type the words you are thinking.’   Coming through her headphones, her brother’s voice sounded clearer than before.  ‘In dense darkness, O Mother, Thy formless beauty sparkles’, she typed.

Suddenly she heard some weird sounds.  Her brother’s voice cut in, ‘Sorry, the audio has to be adjusted’.

Then everything went dark around her.

Suddenly there was a streak of dazzling lightning.

She could hear very faintly a chant, a melodious long drawn-out ‘Aum.’

Darkness again.

A slightly thicker flash with a slight rumble, which sounded like a tabla (an Indian percussion instrument)- or was it damaru (another percussion instrument) saying ‘Hrim?’

Then she saw movement in the darkness.  Waves were forming and taking a shape....

No, they disappeared.

Some irregular shapes seemed to be forming, but then subsided.

She saw something floating before her – some words – `from the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Chapter 36.  Naren singing before Sri Ramakrishna’.

A soothing voice asked, ‘Want to interact?’.

‘Yes’, Raja said.

Now she found herself walking, her brother by her side.  Sweet music was floating towards them. She could hear a sweet voice singing, ‘Nibide Adhare Ma Chamake O Ruparasi’.  She had never heard a sweeter voice.

It was coming from a room, which they entered and found to be Sri Ramakrishna’s room at Dakshineshwar.

The room was full, but somehow they found a place.  Nobody noticed them.

Radhika was the only girl there.

Narendra was singing:


In dense darkness, O Mother, Thy formless beauty sparkles;
Therefore the yogis meditate in a dark mountain cave.
In the lap of boundless dark, on Mahanirvana’s waves up borne,
Peace flows serene and exhaustible.
Taking the form of the Void, in the robes of darkness wrapped,
Who art Thou, O Mother, seated alone in the shrine of samadhi?
From the lotus of Thy fear-scattering feet flash Thy love’s lightnings;
Thy Spirit-Face shines forth with laughter terrible and loud!


Radhika looked at Sri Ramakrishna. He was still, so still she was sure his heart had stopped beating.

But there was a pervading and palpable joy.  What was happening?  Oh, yes, she remembered, he is in samadhi.

As she looked at him keenly there was suddenly terrible laughter.

She blinked a second and looked again.  She saw a feminine form and wondered, was it her own
mother? Was it Kali? Was it Holy Mother?

The form looked like all three rolled into one.

Radhika looked again.  It was Kali, walking naked on the river Ganga.  How gracefully she walked! 

How breathtakingly beautiful she was!

Then Radhika saw that Kali was giving birth to a baby.

Something stirred within Radhika.  She was seeing childbirth for the first time.

Then she looked at the baby.   It was beautiful and very adorable.  She wanted to caress it.

The Mother gave it to Radhika to caress fondly.

How wonderful it was!  The vision looked like her own mother and the baby - why, it was looking as she herself had looked in her baby photographs!

Then, suddenly the mother snatched the baby from Radhika’s hands.

Radhika looked at the mother in surprise – she had become a terrible woman now, opening her mouth and putting the baby’s head into it.  Terrible fangs had appeared and were closing on and crushing the baby’s head.

Radhika shuddered. She felt like fainting.

Oh, no!  The Mother was opening her mouth!

Radhika shuddered in anticipation of a terrible sight. 

She closed her eyes for a second.  When she opened them again she saw what she had feared.  What a horror!  She quickly closed her eyes again....

Strange to say, when she again opened her eyes, everything was different. The mother was looking pleasant, although she was still nonchalantly chewing the child, which dangled from her mouth.

Surely the poor baby had been pulverized!  Had the cruel mother bitten off the head completely?  Apparently not.  No, the portion of the baby inside her mouth had become a void!

Radhika looked closely at the Mother’s mouth: was it void or was it full of subtle vibrations?

She closed her eyes in deep thought.

Revulsion, wonderment, fright and many other emotions were agitating her mind.

When she opened her eyes after a long pause, she saw Rajan looking at her worriedly.

He asked her, ‘Radhi, were you upset? The computer graphics are perhaps too realistic.  Are you all right?’

Radhika slowly remembered where she was.

Was it all only a computer game?  It had been all so real!

Even supposing it was all a game it was a meaningful game.  Trust her dear Anna to thrill her!

She smiled at him and he smiled back in relief.  The warmth of the brother-sister relationship drew her thoughts to more familiar things.

Nevertheless, she decided she must tell this mad thing to Maharaj and try to get to its meaning.  Just exactly what was the meaning of a mother swallowing her own child?  Why was it like Radhika’s own child – she had so felt like caressing it!  Was she herself the child?

When she met Maharaj, he took the initiative, Krishna told me about the first trial run of the programme ‘I know you are full of questions for me. I cannot answer all of them. Rather, I have some questions for you, which you can take as homework  - for your mind.  If you like, you can write down the answers.’

‘Maharaj, first let me ask some questions’ Radhika pleaded.

‘All right.’

‘Why did Divine Mother Kali kill that child? Why, it was almost like my own child!’

‘This question has two answers,’ Maharaj said.

‘All right. What is the first answer?’ Radhika asked.

‘Kali killed because it was hers to kill.’

‘But that is cruel! She can’t do that! That is evil!’ Radhika cried.

Maharaj smiled. He said, ‘Bring that slate’. Radhika brought a piece of writing slate, which she noticed, in a corner.

‘Draw a picture’ Maharaj said.  Radhika drew a picture of a baby. It looked good.

Maharaj took the slate in his hand and kissed the baby by softly touching its cheek.

He then asked her, ‘Will you draw another picture?’

‘Radhika asked for the slate back from Maharaj. She rubbed off the picture and drew another one. 
This time the picture was of a puppy.

‘You have just killed my baby,’ Maharaj commented softly.

Radhika was jolted.

‘What do you mean?’ she asked.

‘You have killed the baby you drew.’

‘It was just a drawing’ Radhika said.

‘In the same way, the baby was just a creation of the Mother,’ Maharaj said.

‘I can draw the baby again’ Radhika said.

‘So can Mother.’

‘But why should she kill at all?’

‘Why should you erase your drawing?’

‘Because you wanted another drawing, I had to erase the first.’

‘Because Mother wanted to create another baby, she swallowed hers.’

‘Why should she want another baby?’

‘Why should you want another drawing?’

‘Well, Maharaj, …  This time you wanted another picture.  But even if you hadn’t, I would have erased the first one,’ Radhika said.

Maharaj said,’ Yes. Why would you do that?’

 ‘Maharaj, I like to draw different things. Drawing is my hobby. It gives me pleasure. It is like a game to me.  Some foolish boys play cricket. I play tennis, football and chess.  Most of all I play at drawing figures,’ Radhika said.

 ‘You have answered your question yourself, Radhika. Mother’s sport is her own. She creates the whole universe and in a moment destroys it.  It is her play’, Maharaj said.

 ‘But it is death to us’, Radhika said.

Maharaj smiled and asked, ‘Who are you? You are Mother’s playmate. You are not an insignificant being. You are not something smaller than a mosquito that would be bothered by a mosquito. You are a big bull’.

 Radhika was a little puzzled. ‘What is this business about a bull and a mosquito?’ she asked.

 Maharaj said, ‘Well, there was once a bull with big horns. A mosquito sat on the tip of one of them. 
Suddenly the mosquito’s conscience troubled it. Listen to this poem.

Once with two long horns
Lived a Nandi bull
Reclining on a horn tip
A mosquito stretched itself full

Its conscience suddenly troubled it,
You see, it said, ‘Sir, Mr. Bull’,
I will fly away in case
I am wearing out your horns full.

 ‘Oh, no, you are all welcome’
Smiling, said the big bull.
‘My horns are infinitely strong.
Come all of you in strength full’

Say ‘yea’ to all evil.
‘Resist not evil.’
Next to the mighty bull.
Puny evil is nil.

‘Maharaj, that’s a good story but not too good a poem, Maharaj. I have seen better poems of yours.  But what are you trying to tell me?’

 ‘You are like a big, strong elephant. A splash of pond water can’t do a thing to you. But you think you are a mosquito and so are afraid of evil,’ Maharaj said.

 ‘But perhaps I am a mosquito’, Radhika said.

‘No. You are an elephant    pretending to be a mosquito. You have taken your part so seriously that you have forgotten that you are only acting.’

‘All right. Well, what is the other answer you promised to give me?’ Radhika asked.

‘Ask the question again,’ Maharaj said.

‘Why did Mother Kali kill that child?’ 

‘Did she kill it?’ Maharaj asked. 

‘What do you mean?’ 

‘Remember you saw that void or vibrations’ Maharaj said. 

‘Yes, that was puzzling’ Radhika admitted.

‘The baby as well as the whole universe was in a state of vibration. That is, all were in a fine form. It is called the causal form. Afterwards, when the gross form of the baby, and the whole world, were produced by the Mother from the fine form. Then all went back into the causal form again.  All forms come from dense formless darkness and then they return to it.  A big black hole becomes a big bang and from there becomes the entire universe.  Then it goes back to being a massive, universal black hole,’ Maharaj said.

‘What comes first?’ Radhika asked. 

‘It is a case of the Chicken and the egg, the tree and the seed.  You can stand away from the tree and see it.  Or play with the tree and its seeds. Juggle with the egg and its mother’ Maharaj said. 

‘What about evil? Should I not fight it?’ Radhika asked. 

‘Play your part well.  If you think you are an egg  - that is, if you are playing at being an egg  - then pray to the mamma hen to hatch you.  Similarly, fight evil.  Roar at evil, if you see it as real. But don’t be too afraid of the mask you are wearing.  Then you can’t act well. You will be too frightened or too enraged to act.’ 

‘Maharaj, you seem to be talking sense. But I have to think hard.’

 ‘Yes, think hard. Mother wants thinkers.’

 Now it suddenly seemed to Radhika that the Chandi was making more sense. She began to look forward to next day’s Chandi reading.

 She started to go, but suddenly remembered something.

‘Maharaj, you said you would give me some home work.’

 ‘Yes.... Think about these questions:

1. What is good and what is evil?
2.  Is there anything so good that there is nothing evil in it or anything so evil that there is? Nothing good in it? That is to say, are good and evil absolute?
3.  Who creates Good and who creates Evil?
4.  What is Shakti? Why is Shakti called Mother?


These questions will do for the moment. They are actually what is currently in my mind. Let us see what answers we each get. Now goodbye Radhika.  Good luck.  Try to work out the answers through your new programme.’
 Radhika started for home. Her thoughts had already gone to good and evil.

 What is good? Anything that I like is good. Anything that gives me pleasure is good.

Anything that I don’t like must be bad. Anything that gives me pain is bad.

But what about bad people?  They like bad things. They get pleasure from bad things.

Somebody may like to smoke. Is smoking a good thing then? There are awful drugs to which some people are addicted.  Is drug addiction good for them?

So good and bad doesn’t depend on me alone. Good must be good for many people. What many people like must be good.

Well, then if many bad people gang up together and like bad things, can it be called good?

No. That can not be. That alone is good that good people say is good. What they say is bad, is bad.

Who are good people?  Well, my mummy is good; so is Daddy, Maharaj, Swamiji  - and Sri Ramakrishna and Holy Mother must be good, too.

Who is the best?
Radhika thought hard.
Well God must be the most good.
Good must be what God says.

Then she suddenly remembered the street corner huckster who kept shouting, ‘Sinners, all of you are sinners! ...God says you are all sinners. Accept Christ. Then only you will be purified.’  (She smiled to herself when she remembered how her brother Raja tackled him).

 Did God really say that? Then he must be a horrible God. He cannot be God, in fact.

How to tackle the situation when somebody says something and insists that is what God has said? I will know automatically if something is good or bad and I will reject it if I feel it is wrong. But I have already accepted that I cannot be the judge of what is good and bad. Suppose I am a bad person. Then I will think all bad things are good.

 Radhika tried to imagine herself as a bad boy. She tried to imagine herself as a person who lies, cheats, beats others and kills cats and stones dogs. It was a difficult thing to imagine. She thought hard.... There cannot be anybody so bad.  Everyone has something good about him.

She thought hard ...  ‘There cannot be anybody so bad. Everyone has something good about him.
 Then she remembered: ‘Yes, there is conscience, which is good.  We somehow act against it. We kill our conscience before we kill any body. An evil person is a sort of patient. He harms himself and. others too.

 So good is ... what is agreeable to my conscience?

 Then, what about God? Well, good is that which God says and which my conscience agrees to.
 But some people do evil and say their conscience doesn’t trouble them.

Well, they must be liars, they must be mentally sick .... Some of them perhaps even don’t know that they are sick.  Suddenly she felt a surge of pity towards bad people.

Then another thought flashed like lightning. She remembered the incident involving that poor Hindu girl in Kashmir about which her brother was telling his friend.

 A Hindu girl in Kashmir was made to run naked in the streets. Then she was gang-raped and finally... made to sit on a power saw and sawn vertically in... two...

The onlookers... enjoyed the show.

 Radhika gritted her teeth as she remembered her brother’s rage when he narrated the story. All her pity evaporated. She wanted to learn Karate thoroughly and then teach it to all girls. She wanted to get a gun and shoot that leering crowd ... She wanted to pounce on the asuras (demons) and grind them with her teeth as Kali does in the Chandi. She felt an affinity with Draupadi, the famous Hindu heroine, who was so badly treated in the Mahabharata. And who finally had her cathartic bloody vengeance.

‘Come on Radhi, get back to good and evil,’ she told herself. I have become very angry now, so angry that I am not able to think about good and bad any more. What did Maharaj say about becoming so afraid or so enraged so that I cannot fight? He told me I am fighting people wearing masks, but must fight without becoming afraid or too... enraged.

Masks  - what masks? Are bad people simply wearing masks?  Are they really good people inside?
Her mind again went to the Kashmir terrorists masking their faces and hijacking planes, killing, looting and raping. Rage overtook her again.  Then her mind went back to the Chandi. The narration of terrible Kali’s battles somehow brought her some peace.

She reached home and felt perfectly peaceful with her mother and brother in the happy surroundings of their home. But she felt uneasy at the thought of her father bravely going on with his business in Kashmir and her uncle, also in Kashmir among the brave army jawans (soldiers).

Soon her inimitable brother was again asking her to try again with the computer programme. They strapped themselves in their chairs and put on their head-gear...Rajan clicked ‘play’, and said, ‘Radhi, enter your thoughts.’

‘What is your mood?’ the computer asked. 

‘Confused,’ Radhika said. 

‘Good. Then I can try to clarify. What do you want ... clarified?’ the computer asked.
‘Why is there evil and misery in the world? Who is responsible for it?’ Radhika asked. 
The screen suddenly went blank.

 Then a street scene appeared, with a poor, emaciated beggar girl, looking very hungry and carrying an empty bowl.  She knocked on the door of a house and said to the lady who opened the door, ‘Ma, I am hungry. Give me some food.’

‘Get out!’

The house door banged shut.

The girl walked to the market and went into a grocery.  ‘Sir, give me some rice. I am hungry’ she pleaded. The shop’s errand boy appeared with a stick.  ‘Out, if you don’t want to be beaten. Why do you trouble us?’ he thundered.  ‘These beggars should be abolished,’ the shop owner remarked to a friendly customer.

The customer looked at the beggar girl and said something to the shopkeeper and they both laughed.  The beggar girl went away.

Then she saw a cart on which rice bags were being loaded. She noticed that some rice had spilled onto the street. She bent down and laboriously collected each grain, while the shopkeeper and the other customers watched her and made nasty comments.

The girl was intent on the grains of rice, full of eager anticipation of a handful of cooked rice after days of hunger.

Radhika looked down the street and noticed a young man looking intently at the beggar girl.
The beggar girl started to walk again and the young man followed her.

Suddenly a horse ... galloped wildly by. People ... jumped away, including the beggar girl. She stumbled and fell as the horse disappeared.

The girl picked up the begging bowl.  The rice, which had been collected with so much difficulty, had all fallen into the sewage water in the gutter.  The devastated girl just sat on the roadside and started sobbing.  The young man looked stunned, and the screen showed a balloon over his head, with the words, ‘Oh, my God, why have you done this to her?’

Then the screen went blank again.

‘Have you any questions to ask?’ the computer asked.

Radhika was ... unable to answer for some time.

‘Who is that young man?’ she finally asked.

‘That was Swami Swarupananda, a disciple of Swami Vivekananda.  This incident finally made him renounce the world and become a monk,’ said the computer.

‘Did he give some food to that girl,’ Radhika asked.

‘He might have. We don’t know’

‘Did this really happen?’

‘Yes. We have created the image from the barest details given by Sister Nivedita,’ said the computer.

‘I asked why there is misery in the world. What is your answer? Why this scene?’ asked Radhika. 

‘What is your question with regard to this scene?’ the computer asked. 

‘Well, why was that girl so miserable?’ 

‘There are several answers to that question, each according to different view-points.’
 
‘Give me any one answer’ Radhika said. 

‘It is her karma.  Because she had bad karma from actions either in this life or previous lives, she had to face this misery,’ the computer said. 

‘Why did she do bad actions in her previous lives? When did the whole thing start? When was her first life? Why did she start doing bad things at all? Who made her do it?’ Radhika asked. 

‘An individual has the choice to turn to good or bad. You have to face the consequences of your choice,’ the computer said. 

‘When did she first choose? Who created me with a bent to choose good or bad?’ Radhika asked. 

‘Buddha enquired into the cause of world’s miseries and found desire to be the cause. Renounce desire in order to snap this chain of births and deaths. You will be illumined.’ 

‘I asked about the first life and who made me with the bent of mind to choose good or bad.’

‘Our present birth is a link in an endless chain, of which we cannot trace the beginning.  The theory of karma is a statement of fact: every effect has its cause within itself. So we ourselves are the cause of our present state, and we ourselves should get out of the pit we have managed to fall into,’ said the computer. 

‘You are not giving me a straight answer’ complained Radhika. 

‘There is no straight answer,’ said the computer.  By the way, the beggar girl might have been a boy or an animal or a plant in previous births. But, according to the theory of karma, choice of good and bad is possible only in a human birth.’ 

‘Where does God come into this picture?’ asked Radhika

‘Swami Swarupananda as a young man thought all these thoughts and more. He found his answer in renouncing the world and going to Swami Vivekananda. Let us too go to Swami Vivekananda at Chicago in 1893,’ the computer said.

The screen changed and Swami Vivekananda appeared on the stage, talking: 

‘But here is another question: Is man a tiny boat in a tempest, raised one moment on the foamy crest of a billow and dashed down into a yawning chasm the next, rolling to and fro at the mercy of good and bad actions--a powerless, helpless wreck in an ever-raging, ever-rushing, uncompromising current of cause and effect; a little moth placed under the wheel of causation which rolls on crushing everything in its way and waits not for the widow's tears or the orphan's cry? The heart sinks at the idea, yet this is the law of Nature. Is there no hope? Is there no escape? --was the cry that went up from the bottom of the heart of despair. It reached the throne of mercy, and words of hope and consolation came down and inspired a Vedic sage, and he stood up before the world and in trumpet voice proclaimed the glad tidings: "Hear, ye children of immortal bliss! Even ye that reside in higher spheres! I have found the Ancient One who is beyond all darkness, all delusion: knowing Him alone you shall be saved from death over again." "Children of immortal bliss" --what a sweet, what a hopeful name! Allow me to call you, brethren, by that sweet name--heirs of immortal bliss--yea, the Hindu refuses to call you sinners. Ye are the Children of God, the sharers of immortal bliss, holy and perfect beings. Ye divinities on earth--sinners! It is a sin to call a man so; it is a standing libel on human nature. Come up, O lions, and shake off the delusion that you are sheep; you are souls immortal, spirits free, blest and eternal; ye are not matter, ye are not bodies; matter is your servant, not you the servant of matter.

Thus it is that the Vedas proclaim not a dreadful combination of unforgiving laws, not an endless prison of cause and effect, but that at the head of all these laws, in and through every particle of matter and force, stands One "by whose command the wind blows, the fire burns, the clouds rain, and death stalks upon the earth."

And what is His nature?

He is everywhere, the pure and formless One, the Almighty and the All merciful. "Thou art our father, Thou art our mother, Thou art our beloved friend, Thou art the source of all strength; give us strength. Thou art He that beareth the burdens of the universe; help me bear the little burden of this life." Thus sang the Rishis of the Vedas. And how to worship Him? Through love. "He is to be worshipped as the one beloved, dearer than everything in this and the next life."

The screen went blank. The programme’s logo appeared and asked, ‘Radhika, shall we continue with your question’

Radhika was not in the mood any more, for Swamiji’s voice and appearance had so captivated her that she wanted to savour just that.

The computer said, ‘Perhaps you should take a few minutes’ break and then read through what Swami Vivekananda just spoke and we can then continue our chat’.

The text appeared on the screen. Radhika read it.
‘Any questions?’ asked the computer. 

‘Yes, Swami Vivekananda calls us lions and souls immortal and then talks about worship of the Ancient One, meaning God, with love. Is he talking Advaita or Dvaita?’ 

‘What do you know about Advaita and Dvaita?  Forget them now.  I will summarize what we have seen so far.

‘You are not a mosquito  - You are a bull, you are a lion, a divine being, a child of immortal bliss. Know that, and then you can tackle these waves of good and bad, joy and misery. But don’t make the horrible mistake of considering yourself to be a body. To get rid of this body idea, develop the idea of God. If you are not able to forget the pains and pleasures of the body, then counter it by bringing God into the picture.  You are divine.  God is within you. Worship God in the temple within... In the same way, Mother is within you. You are the lion carrying Mother Durga.  So busy yourself in loving Her. Play with Her after filling yourself with Her love.  Fill yourself with Her strength as well. For you have to play with Her.

It may turn out to be a tough game at times. Good luck in your game.’

The computer shut down. 

Rajan Krishna said, ‘We have programmed it to shut down if it has heated itself too much.’

Radhika was deep in her own thoughts....  Next day, after sleeping over them, she went to the Chandi recitation. She met Maharaj after the recitation and told him what the computer had said.  Then she said, ‘Maharaj, I am a bit confused now. My thoughts are running round with Mother and karma and I being a child of Immortal Bliss and so on. Can you help me put it all in order?’

Maharaj smiled. ‘You are the one to arrange your thoughts. It is not only your thoughts, which are involved  - your feelings are, too! Analyze them and then put the analysis in order, too.  Now, try.’ 

‘Well Maharaj, It all started with my seeing or experiencing those vibrations.’

‘Yes.’

‘Then I tried to find what they mean. The present mood of Navaratri Durga Puja is showing them as Mother Power, Mother love and power which is behind everything in the universe, including all good and evil.’

‘Yes, go on.’

‘Then I looked into what causes evil. I ran into karma theory and then Swami Vivekananda’s solution that, if we fill ourselves with love of God, ... these waves of good and bad will cease to bother us.’

‘Yes, very good.  Now how do you want to proceed?’ Maharaj asked.

‘I want to know more about this idea of a power behind all good and evil and why that was named Mother,’ Radhika said.

‘Yes, anything else?’

‘Yes, I want to know if anywhere in Vedas or anywhere else there is mention of these vibrations,’ Radhika said.

‘All right. There is a nun, Pravrajika Gayatriprana of the Ramakrishna Order in Hollywood who has made a compilation called Swami Vivekananda on the Vedas and the Upanishads....  Her work comes in handy in studying your questions. I had mentioned your questions to her. See what she has replied,’ Maharaj showed the printout of the email the sister had sent.

It read:

Dear Swami,

Radhika seems to have had an interesting experience. Your new programme linking it to Mother Worship is also quite suitable to the occasion of Durga Puja going on now. Facing the terrible is a great challenge and we need help in coping with the meaning of Kali. Can the meaning of this experience be brought to the everyday level of our waking, working experience?  I feel sure that it can be; that is one important part of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda message. 
To my mind, Swami Vivekananda expressed just how this is done in the lines:

Awake, O hero!  Shake off your vain dreams!
Death stands at your head  - does fear become you?
A load of misery, true though it is  - 
This Becoming  - know this to be your God!
His temple - the cremation ground, among corpses
And funeral pyres; unending battle -
That verily is his sacred worship.
Constant defeat - let that not unnerve you.
Shattered belittle self, hope, name and fame.
Set up a pyre of them, and make your heart
A burning-ground.
And let Shyama dance there.

... Another powerful statement of the meaning of Kali is The Voice of the Mother from Sister Nivedita's Kali the Mother.  These are actually the words of Swamiji after his experience at Kshir Bhowani, when he was inspired by Kali.  They are full of the spirit of selfless service and self-sacrifice.  As for Nivedita’s own life, she went through total self-immolation...trying to bring India behind the vision of Sri Ramakrishna and Swamiji.  There again, the inner inferno was translated into heroic action, the hallmark of Mother's very own children, as far as I understand. 

By the way you and Radhika may find it interesting that the French Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin had a wonderful experience of The Spiritual Power of Matter, which enveloped him like a huge, dark Mother in a sandstorm in a desert in Northern China.  A great, great experience! 

Radhika read the letter.

Then Maharaj said, ‘I have extracted a portion on Mother Worship. You read these words by Swami Vivekananda and also works of Sister Nivedita. These are your tasks for the next few days till Kali Puja. Let us not talk about all this till then.’

Radhika read the extracts containing Swami Vivekananda’s words on Mother worship.

Mother-Worship
                        [The oldest portion of our Vedic books] is composed of hymns and these hymns are to the gods whom the Aryans worshipped. I may be pardoned for using the word gods  - the literal translation is "the bright ones".  These hymns are dedicated to Fire, to the Sun, to Varuna and other deities.  The titles run, "Such and such a sage composed these verses, dedicated to such and such a deity."  After the fourth or fifth comes a peculiar hymn, for the sage is a woman, and it is dedicated to the one God who is at the background of all these gods.  And all these previous hymns were spoken in the third person as if someone were addressing the deities; but this hymn makes a departure  - God is speaking for Herself.  The pronoun used is I.  "I am the empress of the universe, the fulfiller of all prayers."
                        There was another idea [than dualism of good and evil] in the old Vedic hymn to the Goddess: “I am the light. I am the light of the sun and moon; I am the air which animates all beings.”  This is the germ, which afterwards develops into Mother-worship.  By Mother-worship is not meant [any] difference between father and mother. The first idea connoted by it is that of energy  -  "I am the power that is in all beings."
                        Mother-worship is a distinct philosophy in itself.  Power is the first of our ideas.  It impinges upon people at every step; power felt within is the soul, without, nature.  And the battle between the two makes human life.  All that we know or feel is but the resultant of these two forces.  People saw that the sun shines on the good and evil alike [Matthew, 5.45].  Here was a new idea of God, as the universal power behind all  - the Mother-idea was born.  This idea of God is something new.  In the Vedic hymns Varuna and Indra shower the choicest gifts and blessings on devotees, a very human idea, more human than people themselves.
                        This is the new principle: there is one power behind all phenomena.  Power is power everywhere, whether in the form of evil or as savior of the world.  So this is the new idea: the old idea was human-God.  In our thought of God there is human limitation, personality.  Here is the first opening out of the idea of one universal power; with Shakti [the feminine power] comes the idea of one universal power.
                        "I stretch the bows of Rudra when He desires to destroy evil", says Shakti.  The Upanishads did not develop this thought, for Vedanta does not care for the God-idea.  But in the Gita comes the significant saying to Arjuna: "I am the real, I am the unreal." [9.19]; "I bring good, and I bring evil." [10.4] But soon the speaker patches up truth, and the idea goes to sleep; I am the power in good so long as it is doing good works.

                        In the religion of Persia there was the idea of Satan, but in India, no conception of Satan.  Later books began to realize this new idea.  Evil exists, and there is no shirking the fact.  The universe is a fact; and, if a fact, it is huge composite of good and evil.  Whoever rules must rule over good and evil.  If that power makes us live, the same makes us die.  Laughter and tears are kin, and there are more tears than laughter in this world.  Who made flowers, who made the Himalayas?  -  a very good God. Who made my sins and weaknesses?  -  Karma, Satan, self.  The result is a lame, one-legged universe, and naturally, the God of the universe, a one-legged God. 
                        The view of the absolute separation of good and evil, two cut and dried and separate existences, makes us brutes of unsympathetic hearts.  The good woman jumps aside from the streetwalker.  Why?  She may be infinitely better than you in some respects.  The ethics built upon such a concept is an ethics of brutality.  The saint hates the sinner and the sinner struggles against the saint....  This view brings eternal jealousy and hatred in the world, eternal barrier between person and person, between the good and the comparatively less good or evil person.  Such brutal views are pure evil, more evil than evil itself.  Good and evil are not separate existences, but there is an evolution of good, and what is less good we call evil.  Yet even this leads onward.  For finally, the wicked self-sufficient mind will die, crushed under repeated blows, and then we shall awake and know the Mother....
                        The old idea of fatherhood of God is connected with the sweet notion of God presiding over happiness.  We want to deny facts.  Evil is non-existent, is zero. The "I" is evil.  And the "I" exists only too much. Am I zero?  Every day I try to find myself so and fail. All these ideas are attempt to fly evil.  But we have to face it.  Face the whole!  Am I under contract to anyone to offer partial love to God only in happiness and god, not in misery and evil?
                        The lamp by the light of which one forges a name and another writes a check for a thousand dollars for famine, shines on both, knows no difference.  Light knows no evil; you and I make it good or evil.
                        This idea must have a new name.  It is called Mother, because in a literal sense it began long ago with a feminine writer elevated to a goddess. Then came Sankhya, and with it all energy is female.  Activity, according to Sankhya, belongs to prakriti, to nature, not to Purusha or soul.  The magnet is still; the iron filings are active.
                        Of all feminine types in India, the mother is pre-eminent.  The mother stands by her child through everything.  Wife and children may desert a man, but his mother, never!  Mother, again, is the impartial energy of the universe, because of the colorless love that asks not, desires not, cares not for the evil in her child, but loves him or her the more.  And today, Mother-worship is the worship of all the highest classes among the Hindus.
                        "I am the Power that manifests everywhere", says the Mother  - She who is bringing out this universe, and She who is bringing for the following destruction.  No need to say that destruction is only the beginning of creation.  The top of a hill is only the beginning of a valley. 
                        Be bold, face facts.  Do not be chased about the universe by evil.  Evils are evils.  What of that....
                        As soon as you know the [inner] voice and understand what it is, the whole scene changes.  The same world, which was the ghastly battlefield of maya, is now changed into something good and beautiful.  We no longer curse nature, nor say that the world is horrible, and that it is all vain; we need no longer weep and wail.  As soon as we understand the voice, we see the reason why this struggle should be here, this fight, this competition, this difficulty, this cruelty, these little pleasures and joys; we see that they are in the nature of things, because without them there would be no going towards the voice, to attain which we are destined, whether we know it or not.  All human life, all nature, therefore, is struggling to attain to freedom…  The saint is going towards that voice  - he or she cannot help it; it is no glory to him or to her.  So is the sinner. The charitable person is going straight towards that voice, and cannot be hindered; the miser is also going towards the same destination; the greatest worker of good hears the same voice within, and he or she cannot resist it, he or she must go towards the voice; so with the most arrant idler.  One stumbles more than another, and those who stumble more we call bad, those who stumble less we call good.  Good and bad are never two different things, they are one and the same; the difference is not one of kind, but of degree. ...
                        After all, it is only Mother's play.  Nothing serious, after all.  What could move the Almighty?  What made Mother create the universe?  She could have no goal.  Why?  Because the goal is something that is not yet attained.  What is the creation for?  Just fun.  This world is all alike the play of the Mother.  We forget this and begin to quarrel and endure misery.  We are the playmates of the Mother.
                        Look at the torture the mother bears in bringing up the baby.  Does she enjoy it?  Surely.  Fasting and praying and watching.  She loves it better than anything else.  Why?  Because there is no selfishness.  Even misery can be enjoyed when there is no selfishness, when we have become the witness of our own lives. 
                        Pleasure will come  - good; who forbids?  Pain will come; welcome that, too....    "What can you do to me?"  -  why can we not say that to misery?  To be brave is to have faith in the Mother!  Eternal, unquestioning self-surrender to Mother alone can give us peace. ...

Then Radhika read through the pages Maharaj had marked for her in the first volume of the Complete Works of Sister Nivedita.  These included portions of Swami Vivekananda’s experience in Kshir Bhavani in Kashmir, Swami Vivekananda’s view on Mother Worship and the booklet Kali the Mother, all of which provided more details of his experience of the Mother.

Her school had re-opened. She did her regular work without much strain. Her life was going as if on autopilot, without much trouble.  She had taken control over the part of her life dealing with Vibrations as Energy of Mother Kali.

When she had read all that Maharaj had asked her read, she spent a day trying to marshal what she had read coherently. Though she felt a unity in all that she was reading, she wanted to put them into her own words  - but how?

She then remembered the homework questions Maharaj had given her and set herself to answering them.

She smiled to herself when she remembered that she was not confining herself only to the books that Maharaj had asked her to read. She was also reading Harry Potter and Dr. Who, which were indeed highly entertaining and gripping, although she also found them greatly irritating.

In fact, one of the swamis in the Ashrama, the dear little Kumar Maharaj, used to scold her for reading what he called ‘trivial’ books.  Kumar Maharaj was a good soul, was rather out-spoken and prone to telling people what he thought of them. He was a very dynamic and did what was asked of him, giving 200% of heart and soul.  His tongue-lashings, however, were reserved for people for whom he cared.  Radhika had felt that lash quite a number of times. Sometimes did things ... to provoke his tongue and thus to enjoy its sharpness, like the taste of chili curry that she craved!

But she more or less completely obeyed the words of her Maharaj. He had not forbidden her to read those books. Rather, they shared books. She had also heard that Maharaj, though senior, had also been at the receiving end of Kumar Maharaj’s tongue.

Everything    seemed to be happening to her with some purpose and she found the same idea in the Harry Potter and Dr. Who books...

Was she justifying her weakness? Perhaps so, she thought. But then - so what!  I am Mother’s brave daughter, her lioness!

She set to writing down the first question.

What is good and what is evil?

She tried to think of an answer in the light of whatever she had thought and read recently.

That which God says, and to which my conscience agrees, is good. Both conditions should be fulfilled: God should say it and my conscience should agree to it. Both must invariably go together. If either of these conditions is not fulfilled that means it is not good. Sometimes it can appear to be good but, under such circumstances, it is not so.

She had already arrived at this answer. But was there anything more to be said?

What does Swami Vivekananda say?

He says, Unselfishness is religion.  So to be unselfish must be good. Then, is selfishness evil?

Well, if I hit somebody and take away something belonging to her it must be bad. But suppose I desire something and fulfill it without harming anybody else – that is not bad.

Well, it may not be bad, but is it good?

For example, I have the idea of putting my experiences in a small book and sending it to my friend Jay in England who may agree to send it all the members on his Internet list.

Is that a selfish act? If so, is this bad?

Well, it is not entirely a selfish act. There may be boys and girls who face the same questions all over the world and this writing may help them to think about and tackle these questions better.

But is that the real reason I intend to write this piece?

No, not exactly, she admitted, I want to express myself. It seems there is something within me that wants to be let out and unless I get it out, I can’t sit quiet.

That means I want to contact and reach out to people. Suppose I keep these pages to myself?

Is reaching out the only criterion of a good act?  By itself, does expressing myself make it a good act or not?

Well, each soul is divine within, perfect within. To bring it out must be good.

So that is good which brings out the divinity or perfection from within.

What about unselfishness?

Bringing out divinity or perfection always benefits one and all.

This writing out and reaching out may be one form of bringing out divinity or perfection. It is certainly something I will learn from.  I will learn from the reactions of other people.

What is evil?

That action which harms others is bad.

Those actions that cover divinity or perfection within are bad.

They are of course bad, but are they evil? Radhika had trouble with the word ‘evil’. That sounded so absolute.

She had trouble with those evil characters like Satan or Devil or the Harry Potter version of Satan, Voldemort, the one who must not be named.  These words divide people into those who have the potential of divinity within them and those who have the potential for devilry, that is, into followers of a good God and an evil Satan.

She had just read Swami Vivekananda’s saying that this sort of absolute division causes more evil than evil itself.

She remembered having read or heard somewhere that there is a progression: Devil, Evil, Vil (e), Il (l) and I.  So I is the last vestige of evil. That is evil where I persistently sticks on.

So, what to conclude?

Bringing out divinity from within is good and un-selfishness is a primary quality of divinity. Something is not divinity if it harms any body.

Radhika concluded that here can only be good and less good.  There is no evil. One who has covered his divinity is mistakenly called absolutely evil, while the situation is, in fact, divinity under heavy wraps.

Yes - she gritted her teeth as she admitted it - it applies to Kashmir terrorists, too.

Now, the next question:

Is there anything so good that there is nothing evil in it or anything so evil that there is nothing good in it? That is to say, are good and evil absolute?

According to all that she had read and thought so far, good and evil are not absolute. The question is one of divinity or perfection more or less manifest. But what about those events, which are called evils in the world - say Kashmir terrorism, September 11, 2001, the holocaust or Hitler or the near extermination of Native Americans or Slavery? Are these absolute evils?

Is there anything good in these?

Well, take the case of terrorism.  Maharaj pointed out that, if we can at all see anything good in it, the suicide squad terrorists don’t care about what happens to their bodies, which is the first step on the spiritual path in most religions.  They have transcended the sense of bodily enjoyments. Of course, they did all their violent acts in anticipation of heavenly enjoyments, including enjoying the houris, the pretty young virgins of heaven.

(She winced when she thought of the houris. What happens to the women who die?  Do they become houris? In that case, their lot seems to be the same or worse than in earth!)

Anyway, for the sake of argument at least there is one good aspect about these terrorists.

Good and less good sounds better than good and evil. I suppose a Buddha’s power of goodness would have overwhelmed even Hitler. How very charming that in many of our Hindu holy books the demons who are killed by God finally merge with God or become their vehicles!  Hatred of God can also be a path to God because it concentrates our attention so totally on God.

Next question: Who creates good and evil?

Well, forget good and evil. As far as I have read in Vedanta there is no absolute creation. God exists and this universe exists, in the sense that it continuously dissolves into finer ingredients and becomes gross again and again and God somehow presides over the whole thing.

Anyway this is just a short answer.  I have to think a lot about this. So this much for the present.

Next question: what is Shakti? Why is Shakti called Mother?

I can give only a short answer for now. Shakti is that power behind good and bad and everything in the world. And get me right; goodness is nearer to Shakti than the less good or bad. And Kali or Shakti is not an absolute evil power, as some westerners portray Her.

She is beyond good and evil. But steps to reach Her start from where we are, i.e. from less good and proceeds to good and finally to Her.

Kala means time and Kali is the one who starts everything into motion and launches them into the ocean of time.

Why is Shakti or Kali feminine?

Swami Vivekananda says that this idea was conceived, or better, a woman seer, a mother, saw this truth. So this idea is called Mother.
....
Radhika submitted her answers to Maharaj.  He read them and then said, ‘a little above average for the first answer.  Only an average grade for the second and third and just a pass mark for the last answer.  It really requires a very long answer. I am actually working on it By the way, Radhika somebody passed me an anecdote about the Dalai Lama. There is something in it for you. Read this’ He passed to her a bit of paper.

It read: Someone asked the Dalai Lama "Your Holiness, don't you think the Tibetans have suffered enough from the Chinese?  Isn't it time to condone violence to protect Tibet?"  His face at once became full of concern and he said, "Don't you see?  The Chinese are the same as everyone else.  They want to be loved, just as we all do. But they don't know how to behave in a loving way.  If we don't love them, who will?"  Everyone was blown away.  This is the acme of spirituality.

Then he gave her surprising news: in a month’s time Swamiji was going to Kshir Bhavani in Kashmir.
When Radhika went home, a surprise awaited her.  Her father was going to take her and her mother for a holiday in Kashmir, their native place. She had been clamouring to see her birthplace for a long time. At last she would be seeing it and she could also go to Kshir Bhavani.

Then another thought struck her: she had been hearing about spiritual initiation since her childhood. Her mother had been initiated by the big Swami some years ago. Could she too be initiated and would it be possible to have it done at Kshir Bhavani?

She asked her mother about it and soon she brought the welcome news that the Swami had agreed to initiate her and would have a few words with her about it. She went with trepidation.  Swamiji just asked her to prepare herself mentally and to keep thinking about Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda and especially about Holy Mother Sarada Devi as well as about Kali.

‘I hear you have been reading and thinking a lot about Kali. Good. Now Mother’s Birthday is coming in December. By Her grace you will have initiation around that time and in Kshir Bhavani, a very holy place.  You are very lucky  - but be careful; you must not neglect your studies.’

Maharaj was happy to hear about these developments.

He said, ‘In my training centre I was asked to write a dissertation on Holy Mother, entitled, How did Holy Mother Develop Motherhood of God? It kept me thinking about Holy Mother for almost a whole year and again for many months before I came here. Please read it and type it out to send to Jay, if you have the time.  Meanwhile, I will try to write what I can about Shakti worship in India and in the world and how it is connected with the idea of the Motherhood of God and such topics.’

Then he suddenly said in a serious tone: ‘Don’t neglect the tasks your teachers have given you. Try to be helpful to your Mother.
Give up Harry Potter and Dr. Who for a few days at least’.

Then he winked as she saw Kumar Maharaj approaching.

Radhika understood that Kumar Maharaj must have asked Maharaj to giver her that advice.

She replied, ‘Maharaj, I have already finished all four Harry Potter books.  I have about thirteen Dr. Who books to read but I have given them to Sumathi Pandey with strict instructions not to give them to me for the next few days, even if I ask for them’

...Kumar Maharaj looked pleased.

He said gruffly, ‘That is good. Now study well and also get ready for your initiation. Maharaj doesn’t usually agree to initiate anybody under 18 years of age. You are an exception. So pray to and thank Holy Mother. And look after your health.’

Radhika murmured ‘Yes Maharaj’.

She stood fascinated at the different types of people the Ashrama attracts. Swamiji for one, gentle, kind but firm. Her Maharaj, a lovable, ... dear person; and here was Kumar Maharaj, with a hard exterior but soft inside, like a jack fruit or a tender coconut which is anything but tender on the outside.

Her thoughts went to Holy Mother, ‘Ma, how many types of sons you have!’ she asked within?

END OF PART 1

Afterword:

 When Radhika went to the Ashrama a few days later, Maharaj said to her:  ‘Radhika, I hear you are planning to send what you wrote to the Internet.’ 

‘Yes, Maharaj.

‘Yes, why not. The Internet is a great medium.  It is Liberty Hall. Anybody can express their ideas and try to circulate them.  Those who want, can take and ponder them.  But your little work may raise some questions. I think it should have a sort of afterword which tries to answer, in a small way at least, some of the possible questions.’ Maharaj said. 

‘Yes, Maharaj.  What are the questions?’ 

‘One, where does your thinking lead to?  It starts with your experience of a wonderful energy, which pervades everything. Then it leads to a Power behind all that is good and also bad in the universe.  By a happy chance that led you to Mother, especially to Mother Kali. You have tried to understand her, the great Good, the great Love, which knows no evil, which is Fullness itself and has no room even to recognize evil and hatred.

However, you have included some grisly details about Kashmir terrorism which may lead some people to think that you are obsessed with it.’ 

Radhika interrupted. ‘Kashmir terrorism is making me suffer.  People all over the world talk of evils, but few recognize the bad that is happening in Kashmir. Thousands of Hindus have been driven out systematically by genocidal killings. Even many people in our own country don’t seem to care for us.  Even Hindus, don’t want to know about our plight.

That is why I mentioned it. But I am not obsessed with it  - though I think I have every right to be. I have tried to be objective and given importance to the thoughts more than to the lurid facts’ 
Maharaj smiled, ‘I know you have; but many other people judging you from what you have written may not know that. Anyway, what you say about Kashmir is true.  The whole of India has suffered the same fate in the world media.  Somebody once said: the third world or India as seen by the West: Good news is no news; bad news is good news.

That is, if anything good happens in India that is not newsworthy in the West. If anything bad happens that is good news. Nowadays things have become even worse.  What comes in the Western Press now is twisted. The Western press aside, even in the Indian Press, discerning people find the same state of affairs. So in your own way you are trying your bit to correct this distortion.

But anyway, don’t forget that spirituality is our forte. Dwell on spirituality and philosophy, both in your emotional and intellectual life. That is the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda way. Swamiji has prophesied great tidings for India, so take heart.’ 

Radhika said, ‘Why have you stopped, Maharaj?  Please continue with your analysis of my writing.’ 
‘I suggest you follow our religious calendar.  Your experience led you to Kali, whose worship follows Durga Puja.  Holy Mother Sarada Devi’s birthday comes next, in December, followed by the birthdays of Swami Vivekananda and Sri Ramakrishna. You can follow your experience along these lines.

Then you can discuss everything in the light of the philosophical schools of thought. Your brother’s new programme will not only be fun, but also helpful in studying philosophy. Study the Sankhya ideas of Prana and Akasha and what Advaita and Swami Vivekananda say about it. Since you like history, study that too with this programme. 

Anyway, the most important thing in studying and understanding anything is your spiritual development. So at the moment that should be your whole aim, especially since you are going to be initiated.  How nice that your initiation will be in Kshir Bhavani.  You know what happened to Swami Vivekananda there:  Mother gave him the understanding that everything happens by Her will. That includes the Muslim invasions, the horrors of colonialism and the present terrorism.  So pray for all and send thoughts of love to all four directions.  We can use our little intellects to reason why, but unless we do our little bit and are ready to let our little loves and hatreds die, we cannot be heroes and heroines.  Mother’s children are heroines.  Go to Mother’s and Sri Ramakrishna’s shrines and pray that you will be fully awakened.  Sri Ramakrishna is the Nitya Kalpataru, the wish-fulfilling tree for all seasons.

Mother is that low-lying branch which came down for you. Now cling to her and ask her blessings. You will have a spiritual awakening, which will overfill the emotional and intellectual cup in your hands to overflowing.’

Radhika went to Mother’s shrine. Mother seemed to be welcoming her with a gentle smile and kind glance.