Namaskar, my dear Adbhut friends.
Wish you all a happy Navaratri.
Today, I am presenting a small story about the power of Ma Durga’s Nama Jap. Instead of just sharing the story, I thought of narrating the story through this podcast.Our folklore is full of stories brimming with devotion towards our Bhagawan and a treasure trove of moral teachings. It is just that, we in our busy lives and also in a quest for the new and foreign, tend to forget our beautiful literature. And such beautiful stories are left ignored and forgotten forever. So this is my humble way of reviving those simple stories and retelling them more concisely without meddling with the gist.
I am doing this via podcast. This podcast is my first attempt. I hope I can deliver the essence of the story. Your encouragement is my energy elixir. Please listen to the podcast to listen to the story. So let’s dive into this beautiful story.
This is an extract from ‘CHOKHER JOLE MAYER PUJA’ [Worshipping the Mother with Tears]
BY SRI SRI SITARAMDAS OMKARNATH
So this story is set in one of the typical villages of our motherland, the great Bharat Varsha. As we all know, it is auspicious to wear bangles. Every female member of the family is supposed to wear bangles. In those days, bangle sellers used to carry their merchandise of bangles in chests. The bangle seller used to visit house to house in different villages and not just sell the bangles but also help the ladies wear them.
Haricharan was one such bangle seller. He started in the morning, covered different villages by walk, and returned home in the evening. Haricharan was a great Bhakta of Durga Ma, ever since Guru gave Deeksha and advised Haricharan always to chant Ma Durga’s name. A simpleton, he followed his Guru’s advice wholeheartedly and chanted “Durga Durga” day and night. Because of Hariharan’s extreme devotion, the whole village started calling him Durga Das and sometimes teased him for his overt obsession with Ma Durga. Durga Das never bothered about all these things and went about his simple life selling bangles to all the women folks of the nearby villages. He used to address all the girls and ladies as Durga as he helped them wear the bangles. And as they say, life went on.
One such hot summer day, Durga Das covered one village and was walking to the next town. Durga Das was passing through fields and lush green vegetation. As usual, Durga Das was carrying the chest’s load on his head and chanting Ma Durga’s name all along. He came across a beautiful pond. As he was passing by the pond, he heard someone saying in a soothing melodious voice. “Oo, Bhai! Oo Bhai! Will you not stop by and give me bangles?” Durga Das was startled to hear someone speak as it was a very deserted area.
He turned back hesitantly and saw a girl emerging from the pond. This divine resplendent mesmerizing beautiful lady stunned him. He could not decide whether she was a lady or a girl. At times she looked like a maiden, and at times she looked like a married woman. He had never seen such a beautiful lady even though he had helped so many ladies from the royal households to select bangles.
Setting aside all his confusing thoughts, he said, “Why not Ma? Please come, sit here, and choose what you like. They sat under a nearby Banyan tree. Durga Das carefully selected the best bangles and started fitting on onto the beautiful lady’s lovely hands. He was speechless and slightly shocked to see this beautiful lady in such a lonely area. So he just chanted Ma Durga’s name all along as he fitted those beautiful bangles.
The lady also teased Durga Das for his obsessive/ addictive, compulsive/neurotic behavior and asked him. “Have you seen Durga then?”
“No, Ma, Am I such punyaatma to get Ma Durga’s divine darshan?” He said.
“Then, what’s the use of this chanting?” She demanded.
“I don’t have an answer for all these complicated things. I am a simple village rustic, believing firmly that one day I will see her for sure if I chant her name earnestly.
“Oh, No! I don’t have any money with me. I better return these bangles to you. Please remove them.” The beautiful lady said as Durga Das completed the fitting.
“Ayyo, ayyo, No ma. How can I take away the bangles from a married woman? Sakhashat swarupa of Ma Bhagawati. No, I will never do this. I do not want any money for these bangles. Please consider them as a gift from your maternal home. Saying this, Durga Das closed his chest and got up to go.
She reacted, “Wait, don’t go away. I am not taking the bangles for free. My paternal home is in the same village you are headed to next. My father’s name is Umapada Bhattacharya.”
She gave the details of the address of her paternal home and asked Durga Das to collect the amount from her father and further warned Durga Das. “My father will deny and say that he doesn’t have any daughters. Please don’t listen to him. Tell him to take the coin from the sindoor box kept below the Puja mandir in the room. Tell him that I have instructed him to give that to you. Now hurry!! Don’t delay!!
“Okay, Okay. I will do as you say, Ma.” saying this Durga Das picked up the heavy chest and started walking towards the village.
Here at Umapada Bhattacharya’s house, the scene was of abject poverty and misery. Umapada, his wife Annapoorna, and their son Shivaram were facing tough days. They lived in a dilapidated big mansion and went hungry most of the days. Most of the time, villagers used to send them something, at least for Durga Ma’s bhog.
But things were not always so bad. Umapada used to be a priest in the village temple and offered prayer services to the village folks. The mansion and the Bhattacharya family had seen beautiful, prosperous days when the whole family used to pray day and night and followed all the rituals with utmost reverence. They spent their days immersed and soaked in Ma Durga’s devotion.
Present-day, the situation had become very adverse as Umapada stopped taking any alms from the village folks from the past few months. There was not even a grain of food to offer as bhog. Shivaram was always hungry and crying.
On that day also, he did all the Puja with devotion and started meditating. There was nothing to offer for Durga Ma’s bhog. Tears started flowing from his eyes. “Ma, open your eyes, Ma. Show me your presence. Just like Tulasidas Maharaj Ji got darshan of Shree Ramachandra multiple times like you helped Sadhak Ramprasad in mending his fence. I want to experience the bliss of your darshan before I die, Ma.” He had started doubting the very existence of the Divine.
Dejected, Umapada decided to end his life. Opening his eyes. he reached for the Umapada got/reached for the khadaga to kill himself. Right at that moment, there were three Sadhus who came asking for Bhiksha. They said they were hungry and wanted to eat something. Umapada and Annapoorna were already at their wit’s end. They didn’t know what to do.
They made the sadhus sit in the room and started wondering what to do. Both were crying at their fate. They both thought it would be the biggest sin if they could not offer anything to the hungry sadhus.
To add to their woes, Durga Das landed up at their doorstep demanding money for the bangles. Shivaram came running to inform Umapada about Durga Das’s arrival and his demands.
” Hey, Ma, What’s this new Pariksha?” Umapada came out to talk to Durga Das.
“See Mahashay. I don’t have a daughter. So how is it possible?”
“Hey Ma, how many times do I have to tell these people. Durga Das was talking to himself and then started explaining Umapada.
“See Shreeman Mahashay; your daughter has already warned that you would take such a stand. She said you would completely deny her existence, and she also advised me not to heed you.”
Helpless, Umapada asked, “Where did you see my daughter?”
Durgadas said, “At the pond near the field.”
Umapada asked again, “What is this new affair! So how does she look?!”
Durgadas said, “Sakshat Durga pratima!! I have never seen someone so beautiful! Oh yes, she said to ask you to give me the coin kept in the sindoor box at the foot of your Duga Ma.”
“Oh yes, She also asked me to tell you to give me the coin kept in the sindoor box at the foot of your Durga Ma.”
“No, I don’t have any money. I haven’t kept any coins in the sindoor box.”
“Please check once, Shreeman.” Durga Das pleaded.
Heeding to Durga Das’s pleas, Umapada hurried towards the Pooja Room. And to his amazement, he found that a sindoor box was lying at the foot of the Ma’s murti. He opened it to see a coin in that box! Still, in a state of surprise, he took the coin from the sindoor box.
Lo and behold!! There is another coin in that box!! He took that as well, only to find another one!!! What is happening? How can coins come from an empty box! In minutes, Umapada’s palms became full of coins!!
Is this some hypnosis? Am I dreaming, Ma? Umapada looked up to the beautiful face of Ma and said, “O the daughter of magicians!! What kind of magic is this?!!!”.
Just when Umapada was only trying to understand all that was happening. Few people brought in bags full of rice, flour, pulses, vegetables, oil, fruits, and sweets, enough for more than 10 to 12 people. Village Zamindar had sent all the items for Ma’s bhog.
He started crying…”Oh! Karunamayee. You are the savior of all the Bhaktas.” Quickly recovering, Umapada bowed down to Ma and went out to inform Sadhus sitting in the room to be a little more patient as he would ask Annapoorna to prepare lunch immediately. But to his utter dismay, the room was empty; the Sadhus left home without partaking anything. He was shattered, and he rushed out to the verandah where Durga Das was waiting.
“Baba! Where have the sanyasis gone?!”
Durgadas replied, “No one came out of that room! No one has gone out of your house!”
Umapada said, “The house does not have a second exit! Have I been hallucinating the whole day?! Am I daydreaming ?! Ma Ma!! What mystery is this?! DurgaDurgaDurga!!! Ma! What kind of a test is this?!! Ma, as you put me in a predicament, it is you who takes me out of it as well!!!
Calming himself, Umapada offered the sweets and fruits sent by the Zamindar as bhog. They fed Durga Das sumptuously and paid his hid due.
“Now tell me, Baba! Where did you meet my daughter?! Take me to that place right now!!”
Durgadas was also in a state of shock. He did see the guests in the room but could not figure out where they vanished! But keeping those thoughts aside, both of them ran towards the pond.
By then, the word had spread in the village about all the happenings between Umapada and Durga Das. So the entire village accompanied them to the pond.
Umapada asked, “Where did you see her, Baba!”
Durgadas replied,” Right here! At the pond’s shore!” But, it was all deserted. There was no one near the pond.
“O Ma! After destroying my doubting mind, where have you disappeared!! Show yourself unto me once! Come once, Ma! Show mercy, Ma. I couldn’t fathom your love, compassion and, strength, Ma!!!” Umapada, like a child, was uttering Ma Ma and wailing.
Durgadas, at last, could understand who was the one who had worn bangles from him. He understood the whole chain of events now!! He also started crying profusely!!! ” Ma, I got you, and yet I lost you!!” He repeated this over and over again and beat his chest!!! “O Ma!!! You were so close to me, yet I could not recognize you!!!! O Ma!!! Give us your darshan just once again, this time, Ma!!!! Prove to the world just once that I am telling the truth that you indeed have worn bangles from me!!!
Slowly, from the dark waters of the pond emerged a pair of hands, red like sindoor and soft like the softest of creams. The Shimmering hands were adorned with beautiful colorful bangles fitted by Durga Das.
“There She is!!!!! There She is!!!! There is our Ma!!!!” Both of them cried out together and collapse becoming unconscious.
The village folks who witnessed this beautiful miracle rushed to tend to Umapada and Durga Das and shouted in a union.
Bolo Ambe Mata ki Jai! Durga Mata Ki Jai
I love this story as it beautifully elucidates the bond between the Bhagawan and the Bhatka. We can see how Ma Durga keeps supporting Umapada by sending someone or the other with food items for bhog. It shows the path to the Divine is through steadfast Bhatka/devotion in two different ways. One is Umapada, who connects with the Divine through ritualistic Sadhana (I prefer to use the word ‘Sadhana” as I am able to find an equivalent English word giving the exact meaning) like Japa, Puja, Homa, and Yoga. The other one is the innocent village bangle seller who blindly believes and follows his Guru to reach Ma Durga. All he does is chant “Durga Durga” with every breath and sees Durga in all beings.
As it is known in these hectic modern times, Namasmarnam and listening to stories of Bhagawan are the best paths of devotion. So thought of sharing this little story of Ma Durga during the festive Of Navaratri. May Ma Adishakti Jagadamba bless us all with good health, peace, and Joy.
Kalyani S Kakade