Anandamath (Dawn over India)/Part 1/Chapter 5

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In this jungle there stood an old structure, surrounded by broken walls. Archaeologists could easily detect that it had first been a Buddhist vihara, then a Hindu temple and then a Mohammedan mosque. Now it seemed to have been finally converted into something else again. The building was two-storied and its compounds were so formidably surrounded by wild trees and creepers that no one could suspect its existence from a little distance, even in broad daylight. At places the broken buildings had been repaired. One could see that human beings still lived in this impregnably dense forest.

Inside a room of the main building a huge log of wood was burning. It was in this room that Kalyani regained her consciousness. She opened her eyes to see the white-haired and white-bearded Mahatma seated beside her. Kalyani looked around with wonder as if in a dream. She had not yet regained her memory.

'Mother,' said the Mahatma, 'this is the temple, the mosque, the vihara and the gurdwara of Mother India. Cast aside all fear from your heart.'

At first Kalyani could not realise what was happening. But as memory returned, she bowed in humility at the feet of the Mahatma.

He blessed her; fetched a bowl of milk, warmed it over the fire and said: 'Mother, feed your baby with this milk, and drink the rest yourself. I shall then talk with you.' Kalyani was happy indeed to feed her baby.

'Now, do not be at all afraid,' said the Mahatma, 'I must leave you alone for a little while.' So saying, he disappeared.

Upon his return he found that Kalyani had finished feeding the baby; but she had not drunk any milk herself. In a tone of surprise, he said: 'Mother, I see that you did not drink any milk yourself. I am going out again. I will not return until you drink that milk.'

As he was about to go, Kalyani folded her palms in supplication and bowed to him. 'Please do not ask me to drink any milk,' she said. 'I cannot drink milk.'

'What objection can you have to drinking it? I am a forest hermit. You are my daughter. What secret can you have that you do not want to tell me? When I saved you from the jungle I found you suffering from hunger and thirst. If you do not drink milk now, how can you expect to live?'

'You are a holy man,' said Kalyani with tears in her eyes, 'I must tell you. My husband is not fed yet. How can I eat or drink until I know that he is fed?'

'Where is your husband?'

'I do not know. When he went out to look for milk, we were carried away by that famine-stricken mob.'

The Mahatma asked question after question in an endeavour to find out who she was, and who her husband might be. Kalyani, according to the custom, was unable to utter the name of her husband. But from what she said the Mahatma guessed who she was, and said, 'So you are Mahendra's wife, my little mother!'

Kalyani said nothing, but in the modesty of her assent she looked at the floor, and in deep silence put a piece of wood in the fire over which the milk had been heated.

'Please, do as I tell you,' said the Mahatma. 'Please drink this milk. I shall go out to get news of your husband. But I cannot leave this room until you have finished drinking the milk.'

'Is there water anywhere?' asked Kalyani.

The Mahatma pointed to a pitcher of water in a corner of the room.

Pouring a little on the palm of her hand, Kalyani requested the Mahatma to sanctify it with his touch. When the Mahatma had blessed the water, she drank it and said: 'I have now drunk nectar, Master. Please do not ask me to drink anything else, for I will neither eat nor drink anything until I get news of my husband.'

'Mother, please banish all fear from your mind. Stay strictly within these protected walls in safety. I am going to find your husband.'