In New York with Guru

In 1985 Guru offered a New Year’s message to us all:

Don't expect!
Don't expect!
Give, give and give
If you want to really survive.

Sri Chinmoy

We were in New York at this time and unusually short of pocket money – Subarata had $20 only, and I scarcely any more. Subarata had befriended a new Russian disciple, and upon learning that her new friend had arrived in the United States with even less money than ourselves, resolved to follow literally the advice of the New Year’s message and give her new friend her only twenty-dollar note. Which she did.

At the end of our precarious stay, Guru called Subarata down from the bleachers to say goodbye and told her he was very happy with her, alluding – how could he have known? – to her self-giving spirit. Then he gave her an envelope. Later, when she opened it, she found $700, all in crisp and clean one-hundred-dollar bills. This simple incident deepened her trust that Guru knew everything of her life, and deepened her belief in the invisible, secret truth of grace, that devotion and obedience will take care of everything in our lives – if we dare to believe.

One year I remember I joined one of Fred Lebow’s walking races. Even in those days my right knee was not straight enough, so my style was not good. Fred Lebow saw it, but he was my friend, so he did not say anything to me. He just said that I was not walking properly.

Behind me was my dearest Subarata. Although my knee was bad I was going quite fast, but it seems that Subarata was doing something wrong. They said that the judges would give one warning. In my case, the judge did not tell me anything; he just observed me. Then he disqualified me and I was out of the race. Twenty or thirty metres behind me was Subarata. I was so happy to see her! Alas, when she came to the place where I had been disqualified, she also was disqualified! I said, “What is this?” She was walking absolutely perfectly. I did not see anything wrong. In my own case, God alone knows what I was doing; but poor Subarata was also out of the race. I was so sad that, like me, Subarata was also fired! Both of us were out.

When we had races around the lake at Rockland State Park, where we now have our marathon, Subarata always used to try be four or five metres behind me.

Sri Chinmoy 1

Subarata had a dauntlessness in her, evident not only in her running but in being unfazed by lofty challenges. When Guru completed seven million Dream-Freedom-Peace-Birds – those lovely, swiftly executed flourishes of his various pens that captured the freedom-delight of the human soul – we wondered how to honour this extraordinary milestone. Subarata contacted a New York circus and, against all odds, somehow managed to arrange for a very large elephant to be transported to our Aspiration-Ground. In the driveway, Beulah the elephant was draped regally in a purple sari and much ado was made of the occasion – singing, stilt-walking, a delighted Guru posing with the great beast, and much else that has faded from memory.

Time mythologises and sanctifies our departed Centre family members, those who helped us along the Path but are no longer living amongst us – and so we forget their trials and struggles. But like us all, Subarata too had her battles. Her Irish temperament often led her to quite extreme decisions and actions, many of which revealed both her own impetuousness and Guru's disarming love.

I remember once how in a troubled time of her life as a disciple she wrote a letter to Sri Chinmoy to announce she had decided to 'leave the path' and seek other ways to happiness. 

Sri Chinmoy read her letter and called her down from where she was seated. "Since you have decided to leave the path," he announced, "I shall also leave our path and join your path as well." This disarmed Subarata and she started laughing, the shadows in her mind dispelled. Sri Chinmoy always knew exactly what to say to Subarata to convey his love and concern and to bring her devoted heart quickly forward.