Monday, December 4, 2006

Chapter 18


Within the next few weeks I returned to London. The first thing I did was to hunt in my cassette collection for some of the tapes I had purchased while I visited Nemili many years ago. I finally found one. I went into my room, and sitting crosslegged on the
ground and with all my attention focused on this great goddess, I listened to the tape.
Soon, I was totally transported to the shining, luminous world of Sri Bala. It was as though she was giving me a darshan, seated on a golden swing with a mischievous smile on her lips!

That was a Friday evening. I remember this very clearly because this child appeared in my dream that very same night.

This vision was unlike many I had experienced before. My sleep was disturbed that night by the sound of someone entering my bed room. I opened my eyes but could not see anyone. However, I was able to sense someone was there. I could hear the
shuffle of feet as this person came over to the far side of the bed and got into bed with me. I could hear the soft creaking of the mattress and feel a presence beside me. The next thing I felt was a column of air snaking up my spine. It was as though
someone or something was sending a waft of powerful energy through my entire back. I felt I was floating somewhere and then, spiralling down into a great bottomless void . As I did this I could see a light at the very end. There was a man doing Puja
and a girl’s voice said “ You will go to see Haran Aiya.” That was when I realised that the person next to me was indeed Raja Rajeswari herself.
My voice choking with emotion, I called out “ Amma, Akhila Kodi Brahmaanda Nayakiye Neeya Idhu?.” ( Is it You? The great
Goddess of the universe?) .

I knew then I was not dreaming. However, a strange fear seemed to grip me. Where was I? What was happening to me?

It was as though my unspoken thoughts were understood. The presence was no longer beside me on the bed. Instead, there was shaft of light in the doorway of my bedroom and there, in that soft light I saw my second daughter.

She was saying “ Hey mum, I just finished my homework. Can I come and lie down beside you? .”
I remember heaving a sigh of relief and going back to sleep.
I awoke the next day and only then remembered. My daughter was not even here in London. She was thousands of miles away studying at an University in New Jersey, U.S.A.
So, the person in my dream had really been the mischievous Baala who had made her presence felt both as Raja Rajeshwari and as a young girl in the form of my daughter so as to not make me frightened of my “ dream within a dream”.

A few days later I received some bad news. My daughter had been admitted to a hospital in New Jersey with bacterial meningitis. I was frantic with worry. I had just finished six days of prayers to Lord Muruga for Skanda Sashti and beseeched Him to help my daughter. While she had been diagnosed just in the nick of time, the doctors told us to wait for a couple of days since further tests needed to be done and their results analysed.

I tried to be optimistic, yet could not really get rid of a nagging thought at the bottom of my heart. So, the next morning, while awaiting the results of the brain scan, I made a long distance call to the house at Nemili.
The phone number I had was an old one and I was not too sure if anyone would even pick up the phone at the other end. To my surprise the phone was answered almost immediately by the elderly priest Shri Nemili Ezhilmani.

I told him he would not know me but that I was calling from London and had visited Nemili 3 years ago.
I reminded him about the black and white drawing I had given him. At this, the priest immediately remembered me. He said he had kept that picture in the puja room very carefully!
I quickly informed him about my dream and the gentle “ reminder” Bala had given me during Navarathri.
The man’s response was surprising. “ Oh you must understand that our Baala likes to play tricks on people. She loves to shock them and then appear in dreams as a young girl”.
“Don’t worry”, he said “ I shall surely pray for you and your child. Nothing will happen to her health. Just take confidence from me.” He also added “ Do write a personal letter to the Goddess, and tell her your problems. She will sort it out for you. Mail it to
my address and I shall place the letter at her feet and send you the prasadams.”

I thanked him profusely and said I would write a letter immediately. However, I also told him that my mother who lived in Chennai would contact him. Perhaps he could perform a special archana in my daughter’s name on her birthday ( November
16th) that was just going to fall within a few days.

However, Sri Ezhilmani said that archanas were not performed at Bala Peetam. He reiterated that just the phone conversation with him was sufficient and I should just have complete faith in Shri Baala.

I sat down at my computer immediately and poured out my heart in a letter to Bala. I sealed it in an envelope and rushed to the post office to mail it.
When I re- entered the flat the phone was ringing. I hurried to pick it up. It was my daughter calling from the hospital.
“Mummy, I just got the results of the CAT scan. The doctors feared there might have been an abcess in the brain. But everything is clear. There will be no long lasting after- effects from the meningitis.”
From the very depths of my heart I thanked Shri Bala!!

I was leaving London again within the next few days to visit my daughter and called my mother to see if she could possibly send me the temple prasadam . However, my mother was bedridden due to a leg ailment and although she said she would try her best, I did not really think the prasadam would reach me before I saw my daughter in the U.S.

Anyway, I reasoned to myself, Bala is always within me. I don’t really require the prasadam. I reassured my mother and told her not to exert herself.

I landed in Boston and was staying with my elder daughter. My health suddenly took a turn for the worse and instead of leaving immediately to visit my younger daughter in New Jersey, I had to wait a few days until I got better.
I spent a lot of time each day in prayer and started reading the Abhirami Andhadi. There are one hundred verses in this great work where the ending word of each verse forms the starting point for the next. I spent some time every day revelling in the glory
of the Goddess as well as appreciating the unshakeable faith and devotion exhibited by the poet Abhirami Bhattar.

My husband flew in from London a few days later as we had planned to drive down to New Jersey to visit my younger daughter over the Thanksgiving break.
He arrived one evening just as I was finishing the last verse of the Abhirami Andhadi. I opened his suitcase in order to unpack it.
There, right on top of all his clothes was a yellow cloth bag with the smiling photograph of Baala embossed on it.
Hardly believing my luck I opened the bag, Along with the prasadams were a few sloka books and a small medallion with Baala’s image.
But I had thought it would not have possible for the prasadam to reach me within the week! After all Nemili was a good two hours away from Madras.How was this possible?

I called my mother to thank her. Apparently the whole thing had been a remarkable coincidence. The prasadam had come in on a Friday and on that very day some members of the family were travelling to London. These people had, in turn, passed it on to
my husband just as he had been leaving London to come to Boston.

Once again, that little child- goddess has set in motion a train of events that achieved the desired results!!
I was overjoyed and made my daughter wear the precious medallion almost immediately, when we did see her!

It was following the Thanksgiving break and after we had returned to Boston that I resumed my spiritual diary once again.
As mentioned earlier, there was a strong urge for me to finish recounting all the events over the past year.
As I finish this portion of my narrative, I do realise that one more question deep within my heart has still not been answered.
In my letter To Baala I had asked her “ Dear Baala, please tell me what I should do with all my paintings. You have given me the talent. Now I desire to be of service to You. Please tell me how its going to be possible for me to help humanity during my life

I realise that my Guruji has given me clear instructions to hold an exhibition of all the paintings. Swami Paaramarthananda has adviced me to set up a web site with my writings. The latter is very nearly set up. But the real question is “ How am I going to
achieve this task of raising money”.

It is my intention to visit Chennai in late January 2006. I plan to place all my writings and photographs of all my paintings at the feet of this tiny, but most powerful goddess and seek her help.
I am aware that I am destined to meet “ Aiya’ of Rochester at some point in my life.
Until then the purpose of these writings and my paintings will elude me.

( I just noted I have finished writing this final segment at 4 p.m. on December 4th. From reading the little pamphlet sent to me
by Nemili Ezhilmani, the number FOUR is Baala’s special number!).