In Subarata's room
When we moved into our present Centre on the perimeter of Auckland’s downtown, we lived in a space at one end of the large building. The night-life revelry and sounds of music from the after-midnight bars made it hard to sleep, though eventually we learnt how to simply accept this fact, not to be disturbed or resentful, not to wish things were different. It was good practice in learning equanimity.
Subarata had a small adjoining side room crowded with treasures and memorabilia from the path. In the small flat where I live, it is Subarata’s room that contains so many enduring memories. One small bookcase there is jammed with items, memorabilia from her life with Guru – a small silver casket containing plum stones from his mouth; orange peel from prasad given by his own hands; tokens of her devotion; many little poignant things that she treasured.
In one such photo she stands beside her beloved Master, who obligingly, smilingly, wears an “Auckland„ embossed orange jersey. There are over forty photos on the walls of her room and quite a few framed notes from Guru. “Subarata, you are wonderful, always wonderful. I am very proud of you,„ reads one; another, “My Love for you is Infinite. My Concern for you is Eternal. My Blessings for you are Immortal.„ There are quite a number like this. She also had a treasured pillow, one upon which Guru himself had left the imprint of his head during a hotel stay in Auckland.
In one corner a small musical box. You wind up the mechanism and it plays Gurur Karma Amar Dharma – ‘My Guru’s work is my sole code of life . . .’ – in tiny charming tinkling notes, slower and slower as the spring uncoils. The sweet childlike tones and melody bind the years together in a leitmotif, a refrain of memories and feelings. On the front of the music box a smiling picture of her Guru in sailor’s cap, sitting on the deck of a boat. I remember, I was there. It was Christmas long ago in Tahiti, and for half an hour I held an umbrella over our seated master, shielding him from the sun. Someone shouted ‘dolphins!’, and everyone rushed to the side of the boat to watch a gleaming trio frolicking in the sea. Then someone asked Subarata, Irish-born, to sing Molly Malone, and after some persuasion she did. Several of her friends joined in to help. When they sang ‘singing mussels and cockles, alive, alive oh’ everyone joined in. It was a very happy day. Like this, each little thing on her shelf carries such sweet echoes of the long ago.
Among Subarata’s many keepsakes is a brass “Lifting Up the World with a Oneness-Heart" medallion, a memento from an early time when Guru lifted the two of us together. Our combined weight was a hefty 274 pounds, a considerable lift for Guru at that time. Guru joked with Subarata that she had weighed 200 of those pounds, “your better half only 74 pounds", and this humorous observation caused much mirth.
When Subarata passed away Guru said, “Do not grieve too long, she is alive, she is alive. Do not look for her around you, she is inside you, a part of you". How remarkably true that turned out to be. If this is so with another human being, how much more powerfully this will prove to be so with a great Master. He who has initiated us inwardly, meditated countless times on our souls, planted aspiration, light, countless blessings in our hearts, assigned inner beings or emanations to counsel and protect us – a part of his own inner reality – and pledged responsibility for our realisation to God. “When I am united with the Universal Consciousness, I am in everybody", he once said. Can’t you feel it?
On Friday, October 11, 1985, at 11:30 a.m. at Aspiration-Ground, Guru’s weightlifting career really began in earnest with a one-arm 106 1⁄4 lb overhead lift. I have a fading photo of that long-ago moment on my bedroom wall.
On the Christmas Trip of 2002 in New Zealand, at the Auckland Centre, Guru passed by the adjoining room where this photo hung prominently on a wall. I mentioned to Guru that this was where Subarata had lived and he immediately went inside. Guru stood in front of this immortal picture – Subarata was there in the photo’s front row of disciple witnesses, and Guru had written our names and a lovely message all over it – and he lingered there for a long time. Then he looked at all the other weightlifting photos where light had descended into matter. Guru entered, inspected everything, photos and shrines, commented on various things, and then sat and meditated on what had been Subarata’s bed, summoning her, surrounded by dozens of her teddy bears and race medallions from her ultra days. It was a heart-melting, poignant moment – and I knew and felt she was there.
Later, on December 1st, he commented: “Jogyata, on very rare occasions I sit on a disciple’s bed. You can see how long I sat on your better half ’s bed. I meditated so powerfully, so powerfully, so affectionately on her bed. I poured and poured and poured affection, love, sweetness and fondness on her earthly life."
Referring to an earlier incident, he continued: "That day at the elevator when I screamed ‘Subarata!’ I told her to come in ten minutes, so she came. Savyasachi was driving me. She and I had a marathon conversation. She was so happy, so proud that I had come back to New Zealand."