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09. Ramanama
At Amki I could not get goat's milk for Bapu. I tried my best to procure it but failed. So I had to inform Bapu who said to me, "What does it matter? In the place of goat's milk coconut milk will do as well, and fresh coconut oil will serve the purpose of ghee."
Bapu showed me how to prepare them and accordingly I gave them to him. As he usually took eight ounces of goat's milk he took the same quantity of coconut milk too. But he could not digest it and so had an attack of diarrhoea. The frequent motions made him weak till in the evening when he was coming back to the hut he felt a reeling sensation. Generally symptoms like yawning, perspiration, coldness of hand and feet, etc. precede such a reeling sensation in his case. He yawned, but there was only four feet more to the hut and I thought he would be able to get there, but I was mistaken. Bapu who was walking with my support was al­ready collapsing. I held his head with care and shouted for Nirmalbabu. He came and we both helped Bapu to bed. Then it struck me that I should send for Dr. Sushilabehn who was in a village nearby; I feared that I would be taken for a fool if Bapu's illness suddenly took a serious turn, and if I did not send for her in time. I wrote a chit and just as I was giving it to Nirmalbabu for despatching, Bapu woke up from his faint and called out, "Manudi," (that was Bapu's term of endearment for me), "I do not like your calling Nirmalbabu. As you are still young, however, I can excuse you. But at such a time I expect you to do nothing else but take Ramanama .with all your heart. As for myself I was already engrossed in taking His name. I would have liked it immensely had you started taking Ramanama instead of shouting for Nirmalbabu. Now don't inform Sushi la or call her. The real doctor is my Rama. As long as Rama needs service from me, He will keep me alive. When He does not, He will call me back to Himself."
A shiver passed through my body when the words "don't inform Sushila or call her" struck my ears. I snatched the chit from Nirmalbabu and tore it to pieces. Bapu saw this and remarked, "So you had already written to her." I had to admit the fact. Then he said, "Today the Lord has saved us both. On reading the chit Sushila would have left her work and immediately run to us. I would not have liked it at all. That would have made me angry with myself and with you. Thank God, I was tested today. I am convinced that I shall not die of sickness if Ramanama has penetrated deep down into my heart. This rule is for everybody. One has to suffer for one's mistakes and in that spirit I went through the pain. One should have Ramanama on one's lips till one's last breath, but it should not be repeated parrot-like; it should spring from the heart as in the case of Hanuman. When Sitaji presented a pearl necklace to him he broke the pearls to see if the name of Rama was written in them. It does not matter whether the incident actually took place or not. We may not be able to make our bodies as strong as that of Hanuman but we can certainly make our souls as great. One can achieve the devotion of Hanuman if one is intent on acquiring it. If one cannot reach that height it is enough if one makes a sincere attempt. Has not Mother Gita taught us to make every effort and leave the result in the hands of God? We should try our very best to follow that teaching.
"Now you have understood what my attitude is towards the sickness of anybody, be it you, me or anyone else." And that very day he wrote to an ailing sister: "There is only one panacea in the whole world and that is Ramanama. But His name can only prove effective if the rules pertaining to it are strictly adhered to. But who cares to observe the rules?"
Strangely enough the above incident occurred on the 30th of January 1947 according to my diary, exactly a year before his death.
That unshakable faith in Ramanama remained with him till his last breath. I did not then imagine that on the same day a year later, I should have the heart-rending experience of hearing Rama, Ra.... ma as the last audible words of the great departing soul. Mysterious indeed are the ways of the Lord.