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The Longing To Be Free
Bhakti means intense longing and love for the Master and His instruction and wisdom. This Bhakti is also known as Supreme Devotion and Surrender to God and to the Guru. Bhakti also means Dharma. Dharma is the act of loving Truth more than mundane life itself. Bhagawan Nityananda of Ganeshpuri was the very embodiment of this Dharma, this Bhakti.
In Bhakti are all the other attainments. The journey to God-Realization is the process of Liberation from the ignorance that has kept you separate from God. Bhakti is the easiest and quickest way to make this journey. With Bhakti, it is your intense desire and longing to be free by way of the Grace and Blessings of the Sadguru that does all the work. It is this intensity of longing, also called Mumukshutva in the Vedas, that causes God to come looking for you.
There are many thousands of people on every continent on the globe who practice this Bhakti in their feeling for Bhagawan Nityananda and His lineage. Even though he is no longer in the body, people of every race, color and creed who worship his form share that they experience him in meditation and in dreams. Many who did not know him in his physical form share that they have been healed from illness by him in a dream or vision. There are those, even today, who he directs to living Shaktipat Gurus to receive Shaktipat and perform Sadhana.
Those who gather in his name to celebrate his Divine Presence in Chanting, Meditation, Prayer and the taking of Prasad, all share that the presence of Bhagawan Nityananda is clear and palpable. Truly speaking, he has never left. He dwells in perpetuity, in the hearts of those who love him and remember him daily. This is true Bhakti.
The Endless One
There was a devotee named Padmanabh S. Prabhu from Murdeshwar (in India). He was known to most as Murdeshwar Mama. Mama means Uncle. In India, it is customary to call an elderly gentleman “Mama.”
Lord Vishnu is the deity manifested by Lord Shiva who also shares equal status with Shiva. Lord Vishnu is often shown reclining on a snake with a hundred heads. The snake is known as Shesha. In that reclining pose on top of Shesha, Vishnu is called Sheshashayana Vishnu (Shayana means sleeping or resting).
Murdeshwar Mama once made a statue of Bhagawan Nityananda in this Sheshashayana pose. He then took the statue to Ganeshpuri to present it to Nityananda Baba. Bhagawan Nityananda was living in the old Ashram then. When Murdeshwar Mama arrived, he placed the statue in front of Baba and bowed before him for his approval. Baba Nityananda was in a very jovial mood and began to speak about this Sheshashayana form of Vishnu.
This form of Vishnu is also known as Ananta or The Endless One. In Karnataka, God is also worshiped as this Endless One. Beginning on the fourth day of the month of Bhadrapad (from the Hindu calendar), Lord Ganesh (also known as Ganapati) is worshipped. This month of Bhadrapad is also called Ganesh Chaturthi. In India, Lord Ganesh is worshipped during Bhadrapad often by making a clay murti (statue) of Ganapati and then meditating on, praying and chanting to it as a means of cultivating intense devotion for God and, for those seeking Liberation, this is done in the hopes of finding ones’ Guru. Some keep their Murti for 1, 5 or 10 days. Then they immerse the Ganesh Murti in a river or the ocean.
The 14th day of Bhadrapad is called Ananta Chaturdashi. In Karnataka the Konkani speaking Brahmins celebrate this day as a festival of Lord Ananta. Now, Murdeshwar Mama was a Konkani Brahmin. When Bhagawan Nityananda began speaking about the Sheshashayana form of Vishnu, he also spoke of Lord Ananta and began describing the significance of The Endless One. Bade Baba also described how one should worship him and what offering should be made. According to Bade Baba, “One should offer a 14-course lunch to God Ananta.” Lord Ananta becomes happy and satisfied with your Devotion and Surrender when this is done. Understanding the man’s need for increased spiritual merit to address his pot of karmas, He then asked Murdeshwar Mama, “Will you give Him this lunch?”
Mama was a poor man. So he quickly responded, “No Bhagawan. I cannot afford to give Him this 14-course lunch.” As soon as he said this, Bhagawan Nityananda fell silent. Until that point in the conversation, Bade Baba was in a great mood.
Until that moment, Murdeshwar Mama did not realize that Bhagawan Nityananda was offering him the privilege of making offerings to Bade Baba, for release from his karmas. He quickly realized his mistake but he thought it was too late. It is very rare that Bade Baba gave someone an opportunity to serve Him in this way.
What Murdeshwar Mama should have said was, “By Your Grace, O Deva, I shall do as you say. By your will alone, I will be able to offer you this.” Instead, Mama made the mistake of saying, “No.” Mama felt he had missed his one and only chance. Having realized this, Murdeshwar Mama fell at Bhagawan’s feet crying and begging his forgiveness. With great humility, Murdeshwar Mama then said, “O Dear Deva. I shall offer you this lunch and you shall be my guest as Lord Ananta.” Baba just said “Humph,” which was His typical way of saying, “Yes.”
Ever since that day, Murdeshwar Mama celebrated Ananta Chaturdashi in Ganeshpuri and offered food to all the devotees in attendance. His Bhakti became intense and the bond of power between him and his Guru, Bhagawan Nityananda, became stronger and stronger.
Even today now that both Bade Baba and Murdeshwar Mama have passed from this place, this festival is celebrated by his daughters (as Mama had no sons) and those disciples of Bhagawan Nityananda who know that Bade Baba promised Murdeshwar Mama that He would attend this lunch.
Till this day, in Ganeshpuri and the village of Murdeshwar, they attend and partake of the lunch as Prasad (blessed food). Each year on Ananta Chaturdashi, devotees of Bhagawan Nityananda do experience His Divine Presence at this lunch and take this celebration as a great privilege to be with Bade Baba and to have lunch with him.