Anandamath (Dawn over India)/Part 1/Chapter 12
Kalyani and Mahendra met after undergoing much sorrow and suffering. Kalyani was overcome with joy to find her husband back again. She virtually bathed herself in tears of joy. Mahendra sobbed like a child. Sighing, sobbing and moaning, both wiped each others tears. But the more they wiped them, the more the tears welled up. In order to stop the torrents Kalyani asked Mahendra to eat the food left by an attendant of the Mahatma.
In those days of famine it was not possible for anyone to have a sumptuous dinner. But whatever the country had to offer was not difficult for the Children to secure. Their forest was inaccessible to ordinary mortals. In the country around it was difficult to find fruit on the trees, for hungry people ate them at sight. But no one could find the fruits on the trees of this forest of the ashram of the Mother. Thus it was possible for the Mahatma's attendant to find fruits and milk for Mahendra's family. The only property the Children possessed consisted of a herd of cows. At Kalyani's request Mahendra ate a little. Kalyani fed the child with milk and she drank a little herself. She saved some milk for her daughters future use. Then the three, tired and worried, took a nap. Upon waking, Mahendra and Kalyani began to discuss their plans for the future. The problem was — where to go?
'We left our home,' Kalyani said, 'to escape danger, now I know there are greater dangers outside. So let us return home.'
That was exactly what Mahendra was wishing for. He thought it would be best to take Kalyani back to their home at Padachina, leave her and the child in charge of a proper guardian so that he himself might join the Children, and whole-heartedly accept the supremely pure and heavenly duty of service to the Motherland. He readily agreed to Kalyani's suggestion. And so, rested and hopeful, they started walking towards Padachina.
But in this impregnable fortress of forest they were at a loss to find their way. For a long time they roamed and made every possible effort to get out; but they always managed to return to the ashram. They found themselves caught in the meshes of a bewildering labyrinth.
Then Mahendra noticed a hermit who was standing nearby and laughing. Mahendra was angry at the young man's laughter, and said: 'What makes you laugh, young man?'
'How did you happen to enter these forests?' the young hermit inquired with a smile.
'It makes no difference how we entered — we did, that's all,' Mahendra said haughtily.
'If you did, then why are you unable to get out?' and the young man laughed again.
'You are laughing at us. Do you know how to get out of here yourself?' Mahendra asked disgustedly.
'Come with me. I will show you the way out. You must have entered these forests with some hermits of the ashram. It is impossible for strangers to know either how to enter or how to get out of here.'
'Are you a Child?'
'Yes, I am one; so come with me. I have been waiting here to show you the way out.'
'What is your name, holy man?'
'My name is Dhiren.'
So Dhiren led them out of the wilderness. Then he re-entered the forest alone.
Once out of the wilderness they found a sheltered meadow on one side. The public highway ran along the edge of the forest. Eventually they came by a stream that was singing its way through the woods. The water of the stream was as dark as black clouds, and as clear as crystal. On both its banks the stream was shaded by beautiful green trees. Birds of various kinds were singing on trees; and the music of the birds mingled harmoniously with the music of the stream. The shadow of the trees blended harmoniously with the colour of the water. Kalyani's thoughts, too, were deep as they became more intense. Sitting at the foot of a tree on the very edge of the stream, she asked her husband to sit beside her. She transferred the child to her lap; then placing her husband's hands in her own, she sat silent for a while.
'Why do you look so sad now that the danger is over?' she said to her husband.
'Kalyani, I no longer belong to my own self,' Mahendra said with a sigh, 'and I am at a loss to know what to do.'
'Why, what has happened?'
'Please listen to all that happened to me after we were parted.' And Mahendra narrated the whole story from beginning to end.
'I, too, have suffered much in your absence,' Kalyani said. 'I don't want to weary you with that sad tale. But this I must tell you. In the midst of such danger, I don't know how I could have fallen fast asleep yesterday, but I did and dreamt a strange dream. I felt as if for some unearned merit of my own I had arrived at a really wonderful place. There was no earthly thing there. It was full of light — light both soothing and caressing. I found no other human there. I saw only radiant forms of light. The place was overpoweringly quiet. I could hear only the mute whispers of a distant, very distant music. And the place was delightfully fragrant with the perfume of myriads of roses, jasmine and gardenias. On a blue mountain that was bathed in this supernatural light an illumined figure was seated. There were other figures near it. The light was so bright that I could hardly see. But in front of that figure I saw a female form most radiant too. A veil of dark cloud surrounded her, so her radiance was a little dimmed. She was sad and emaciated and in tears; and yet, her beauty was beyond words. She pointed towards me and spoke thus to the form above:
"There, there she is! It is for her sake that Mahendra hesitates to take refuge unto me."
Just then a flute struck a beautiful tune for a moment; and the supreme form of light said to me; "You had better leave your husband and come unto me. This woman veiled in darkness is the mother of you both. Your husband must serve her wholeheartedly. He cannot serve her properly as long as you stay with him. So come — come unto me." I cried and said: "How can I leave my husband?" Then the flute sang again and seemed to say: "I am your husband, I am your mother, I am your father, I am your son, and I am your daughter — so come, do come unto me."
I forget what I said in reply; and I woke up from sleep.' Kalyani became silent.
Mahendra too was silent with surprise, wonder and fear. Birds sang overhead; nightingales flooded the forest with their intoxicating music; the cooing of the cuckoos reverberated through the entire woodland. The river sang below. The fragrance of the flowers wafted on the wings of gentle winds.
Here and there sunbeams played hide-and-seek with the dark waters of the river. Palm leaves murmured against the winds. Ranges of blue mountains could be seen in the distance. Mahendra and Kalyani sat quietly for a long time.
'What are you thinking of?' Kalyani broke this silence.
'I am wondering what I should do,' Mahendra said. A dream is but an illusion. It rises and disappears only in the human mind. It has no reality, it is only a bubble of imagination. Let us go home.'
'Please go where duty calls you.' And Kalyani transferred the child to the lap of her husband.
'And you — where will you go?' Mahendra asked.
Kalyani hid her face behind her hands and said: 'I, too, shall go where my duty has already called me.'
'Where is that? And how can you go there?' Mahendra asked, much startled.
Kalyani showed Mahendra the little container of poison.
'What, you want to take poison!'
'Yes, I thought I would take poison, but —'
Kalyani thought in silence. Mahendra continued to look at her face intently. Every moment dragged like a year. As Kalyani did not finish her sentence, Mahendra asked: 'You started to say something, Kalyani. Please tell me what you had on your mind?'
'Yes, I was thinking seriously of taking poison, but I would not wish to enter heaven and leave you and Sukumari behind. No, I cannot die!'
Kalyani dropped the container of poison to the ground; and soon they were engaged in discussing things of the past and the future. In the meantime, the child had picked up the little box of poison, and had begun to play with it. She placed it in her left: hand, and struck it with her right hand; and again, she would place it in her right hand, and strike it with her left. Then with both her little hands she pulled at the lid. The box opened and the pill of poison fell on Mahendra's dress. Sukumari thought that the pill was something.to play with. Throwing aside the box, she picked up the pill of poison and put it into her mouth.
By sheer chance Kalyani saw her daughter put something into her mouth, and noticing the empty box lying on the ground, she cried out: 'I am afraid Sukumari has swallowed poison; I am afraid —' And she thrust a couple of her fingers into Sukumari's mouth.
Sukumari thought that Kalyani was playing with her. So she pressed her teeth tight, and smiled at her mother. But the pill must have tasted bitter, for Sukumari soon opened her mouth, and the mother pulled the pill out. The pill fell to the ground and the child began to cry.
Kalyani rushed to the river, soaked the border of her sari and rushed back to her daughter to wipe her tongue. While she was doing so she asked Mahendra: 'Do you think any amount of the poison has reached her stomach?' Parents think of danger to their children rather than of their own safety. Wherever true love exists, fear, too, is ever present. Mahendra had not noticed how large the pill originally had been. And yet he examined it and said: 'I am afraid she has swallowed quite a lot.'
Kalyani readily believed what her husband said. Then she too took the pill in her own hand and looked at it carefully. Meanwhile, the child began to grow pale from what little of the pill she had swallowed.
She became restless and began to cry bitterly. In a moment she fainted. Kalyani, becoming frantic with fear and distress, told Mahendra: 'There is nothing more to think about. Here ends the life of Sukumari! I must now follow her and thus respond to the call of my duty.'
And Kalyani wasted not a moment in swallowing the pill of poison. 'Kalyani, O my Kalyani, why did you do that? Why did you do that?' Mahendra cried over and over again.
'Words will only beget words — so this is goodbye,' Kalyani said as she fell at her husband's feet.
'Kalyani, why did you do that? You are most cruel, Kalyani, most cruel! Oh! why did you do it?'
'I have done well,' Kalyani said faintly. 'I was afraid that for my sake you might refuse to follow the path of your own duty. I was about to shirk duty myself: and so I lost my child. If I shirk my duty any longer, I might lose you too.'
'I could have kept you at some place and joined you after winning the independence of India — yes, joined you for the complete happiness of my life. Kalyani, you are the whole of my being. Why did you swallow the poison? You have thus cut off the hand that gave me strength to wield the sword for our Mother India. Kalyani, what am I without you? I am nothing — absolutely nothing without you.'
'Where could you have taken me?' she asked, 'We have no place to go. In this frightful famine and plague we have lost our parents and all our friends. Who could shelter us now? Where could we go? Where, O where could you take me? I have been a burden to your progress. Death is a happy event for me. Bless me so that I may meet you again in that realm of Light.'
Kalyani again bowed at Mahendra's feet. Unable to speak Mahendra cried like a child.
'Who can countermand the will of God?' Kalyani said faintly, but with sweetness and affection. 'I have His command to depart; and I cannot stay here on earth even if I want to do it with all my heart. Had I not swallowed poison, some other agency would certainly have killed me. By choosing death this way, and in your presence, I have done well. And it is your duty to fulfil the conditions of your vow with the utmost fidelity. Faithfully with all your body, mind and soul, you must now serve Mother India. Fight for India's freedom with all the forces at your command. This is your path of duty — your dharma. Solely through this path salvation awaits you. And in fullness of time, and by virtue of your noble and unselfish deeds, we shall meet again in that kingdom of Light, and live there together till eternity.'
Sukumari, on the other hand, was safe for the moment. The small amount of poison she had swallowed was not fatal. Mahendra placed Sukumari on Kalyani's lap, and in a flood of tears embraced them both lovingly. Just then one could hear a gentle, but deep voice singing Bande Mataram in the woods, From the very depth of her subconscious self, Kalyani beautifully sang the first line of this hymn to the Mother. 'Kalyani, sing Bande Mataram again,' Mahendra begged.
Kalyani sang it again, her voice attuned to the music from the forest.
Mahendra was enraptured with the heavenly melody of the song. In prayer he remembered God, his only friend left on earth.
Out of the fullness of his heart Mahendra himself began to sing the Bande Mataram in the rapturous joy of devotional fervour. He heard this hymn sung all around him, and its melody echoed to him from every part of the forest. He felt as if the birds on the trees were singing the Bande Mataram. He felt as if the stream were singing it. All of a sudden he sat transformed. He rose above all pain and all sorrow. Tears vanished from his eyes. Gently he mingled his music with that of Kalyani and both sang soulfully. The entire forest joined with them in the chant.
Kalyani's voice became fainter and fainter. Still she continued to sing the Bande Mataram. Slowly her voice failed. Then came the moment when she neither spoke nor sang. Her eyes were closed. Her body became cold. Mahendra felt that Kalyani had breathed her last.
Then, like a man possessed, Mahendra repeatedly cried Bande Mataram loud enough to shake the forests, to frighten the wild animals in their dens and to rend the skies. Someone then embraced him lovingly and began to chant the same song with him. Thus in the infinite forest, at the behest of the Infinite, and before the body of the dying Kalyani on her journey to the Infinite, two comrades sang from the very bottom of their hearts and from the depth of their souls. The birds and the beasts became quiet again. The forest became a fitting temple for this song of the Mother. Mahatma Satya sat with Mahendra's head on his lap.