It was a regular day, seated at my seat with my wavering mind trying hard to come back to ground zero where my great Guru smiled through the walls of His photograph. Fate had not been to kind and my jumping mind needed some really serious answers to solve its problems and it was not going to rest till the solution percolated through the pores of my thoughts. It had been quite a few sessions of aggressive worship yielding no tangible results.
"Go to Tarapith"
The thought struck me like a bolt from heaven. It was strong enough to vanquish all the other thoughts that played havoc within my poor mind. "Really?" I thought, "Now that’s a good idea but will it work?" My mind raged on as the worship for the day came to a close. Would it ever be possible? It wasn’t too long that I realized fate aligning with the divine words and I found myself heading down the highway to the small town of Tarapith, a week later against all odds. It was just unbelievable, this was for Real and something was bound to happen. But what... let’s keep an open mind. Anything can happen, and I have been instructed to go so nothing negative can really happen. With deep excitement and a tinge of doubt, the events unfolded almost orchestrated by the Lord Himself.
"Come to me, Bathe Me"
I found myself within the sacred chamber early in the morning staring straight at the inner shrine. We took our places in front of the Goddess and looked at the priest waiting for him to perform his part. But little did I know that there was a change of plan. The priest ushered me closer to the Goddess and handed over the oils and rose water to me beckoning me to go ahead and perform the sacred rite of bathing her. I took to it like a fish to water, feeling the moment of being the temple priest [a job I would have loved to have], as I caringly washed her and anointed her. I almost heard Her call out telling me to bathe Her earthly form. What a divine role that was and how I completely enjoyed being the priest for those few minutes. My hands trembled as I touched Her form, my mind went blank and my words failed as I stammered through my sacred verses. He gave me all the time I wanted, as I gently wiped her clean and covered Her in a saree we had brought for Her and stared Her straight in the eye, thanking Her for this phenomenal experience.
"Come to me, hug me"
The priests soon took over and continued the rituals while the crowd look on occasionally shouting her name "Joy Tara Ma" and I joined them with enthusiasm proclaiming her glories to the world. I was overwhelmed and I shook just staring at her form. After the rituals were through, the priests ushered out everybody from the tiny garbha griha within which she rested. We were told to stay back and when the crowd was cleared he told me to get closer to her again. This time I was not clear on what was coming next. He emptied a box of sindhur into my bright red hands and directed me to smear it over her third eye. It was the culmination of a divine experience as I placed my humble palm over her divine forehead and touched it. I shook in my knees as he pushed me to her, telling me to hug her tight. And what a lovely hug that was as I held her close to me with the only sound that came out of my mouth "Tara Ma" as I sank myself into her lap.
"Visit my son in the cremation ground"
I walked out of the temple with my family, reeling out of the experience. Something had happened in there, something for real and something for good. I had transformed and Ma Tara had called me over to bless me and hug me tight to reassure me that all was really well. My mind was amazingly silent, no thought dared to even make its presence felt. I blankly asked my folks if they would like to come along to the cremation ground and I met very reluctant faces. It didn’t matter, I walked back alone to the temple and down to the cremation ground as I asked for directions. Bare feet over dusty earth, I probably was walking over some poor soul's bones that lay buried in the earth of the shamshan. The fresh air of the morning made it look green while the sacred pyres lay silent.
"Am in your heart, always"
Bama Khepa rested in his Samadhi, and I walked up close to it. A couple of people charged at me asking for dakshina, but went silent in just as much as the same speed. I sat with him for a good while, reciting the sacred Mrityunjaya and then I circumambulated his shrine, bowing at all the four directions before I came to stand in front of him. Tears rolled down my eyes and I thanked him and the divine Mother for granting me this opportunity. Tara Ma had taken her seat in my heart, and it felt warm in there. My earthy problems looked small, like stray thoughts in the mind, like unwanted noise and it was so easy to throw them away. I was home, and my mother hugged me close. I had nothing else to fear. I looked at the cremation ground and it felt as much at home as any place else. I loved it there and I felt at peace. Ma Tara was with me and her warmth continues to keep the flame in my heart burning.
I came back home, to the south of India, calm, complete, quiet. What an adventure that was!
Tara Ma, Her beauty - unbeatable, Her grace - unmissable, Her presence - rejuvenating, Her brilliance - all embracing, Her home - Tarapith
Joy Ma Tara!!