Dear Readers and Listeners, I wish you all a very Happy Krishna Janmashtami. For me, Krishna is a symbol of knowledge and the spirit of scientific inquiry. This story is dedicated to the seekers of knowledge. If you haven't become a member of this site and joined my mailing list, I would request you to do so. And now, enjoy this story. You could read or listen or do immersion reading (well, yes, it means reading and listening together). Do leave your valuable feedback. Your thoughts on my stories and presentation always help me to grow as a writer and podcaster. Take care.
Listen to the audio trailer:
Watch the video trailer:
Listen to this episode:
And here's the transcript:
Welcome to OBSCURUS, your weekly dose of paranormal fiction. Every Wednesday OBSCURUS features new short stories and serialized novels written by novelist, screenwriter, and voice-over artist Biswajit Banerjee. The realm of the paranormal stretches far beyond the usual horror story. So, while you will get to listen to lots of ghost stories on this podcast, there will also be many tales of lesser-known paranormal themes. To get us started, here's your host Biswajit Banerjee.
HOST TALK 00:00:47
Hello and welcome to OBSCURUS. I am Biswajit Banerjee, and I am your host for this show. This podcast episode is a special one. 30th of August is Krishna Janmashtami. For me, Lord Krishna is the embodiment of scientific inquiry. Although this episode will release after this beautiful festival of Sanatana Dharma, I wish my readers and listeners all across the world a very Happy Krishna Janmashtami.
The story of this episode is dedicated to this spirit of scientific inquiry. And it is going to be the longest episode so far.
And a disclaimer now — this story and other stories of OBSCURUS are pure works of fiction, and the names, characters, events, and other factors and components of these stories are imaginary. They bear no resemblance with actual persons, living or dead, or real events. Any such resemblance is coincidental and unintentional. Nothing in these stories should be construed as promoting ideas such as existence of ghosts and other supernatural beings or events. Also, these stories are for entertainment purposes. They are not intended to hurt the sentiments of any individual, race, community, religion, ethnic group, or sect.
Before moving on to the story, I urge you to visit my website biswajitbanerjee.com for information on my books, movies, and voice-over projects.
Also do visit my second website obscurus.buzzsprout.com, which is entirely devoted to this podcast. You will find all OBSCURUS episodes, their transcripts, and chapter markers on this website.
Okay, now, let’s plunge into the story. Soumya, a journalist, highly influenced by left-liberal ideologies, challenges Tarini Ma, a saint, and tries to prove the saint a fraud. Will Soumya succeed? Let’s find out.
Written and Performed by Biswajit Banerjee
At seven-thirty in the morning, the door of Tarini Ma's meditation room opened. Soon, her lean figure became visible.
"Glory to the Mother, glory to the Mother," the devotees cheered.
Tarini Ma raised a hand to bless the ones who had gathered in her Ashram for darshan. At least one soul in the crowd wasn't impressed with Tarini Ma or what she did. A journalist with around ten years of experience and strongly driven by the so-called left-liberal ideologies, Soumya thought of the Mother (well, she was also popular by the name 'the Mother') as a cheat.
Interacting with popular Hindu saints and interviewing them was an essential part of Soumya's research on Hinduism or what is more appropriately called Sanatana Dharma. Before focusing her attention on the Mother, Soumya had dealt with twenty-four Hindu saints in various parts of the nation. And she found none of them convincing. Tarini Ma figured at the end of the list she had prepared for her research.
Sanatan Dharma, Soumya had come to believe, had little to offer to humankind. This conclusion, however, was not based on her left-oriented education or work principles. She had tried her best not to let her left leanings vitiate her research. Her inferences were based on her studies and what she learned about Hinduism from the twenty-four saints she had spoken to earlier. Soumya wished to publish her research work on Hinduism in the shape of a book that would, other than her reflections, include analyses of her interactions with the supposed modern Hindu saints.
Most of the devotees left after touching the Mother's feet. The ones remaining sought her spiritual favors for one reason or the other — the cure of an ailment, accomplishments in education, getting a job, success in business, getting a good partner, and several other issues that have little to do with spirituality.
The last one remaining was Soumya.
"Yes, my child, tell me how can I help you?"
Help yourself, you impostor — her mind spoke as she approached the Mother.
"Of what service can I be to you, my child?"
"You are no more than forty, I guess. And I am around thirty-eight. Why are you calling me your child?"
One of the Mother's sevaks standing just behind her objected. "This, I must tell you, is no way to talk to the Mother."
"Oh, please relax, Krishnapada. Let her ask questions. So, you wish to know why I am calling you a child?
"Yes ... Mother."
"From the way you spoke, it is clear you are forcing yourself to address me as 'Mother.' Please don't do that — you can call me Tarini Devi or simply Tarini."
"Okay, so you don't mind my addressing you as 'Tarini?'
"What is the problem addressing her as 'Mother?' She is one of the most respected saints in the world," Krishnapada said.
"What did I tell you, Krishnapada? Didn't I ask you to take things easy?" The Mother said.
"But she is disrespecting you, Mother."
"Listen now, Krishnapada, you won't say another word to her no matter what she says to me. Understood?"
"Names or the way one is addressed carry little value. What matters is the evolution of one's consciousness; you are free to call me 'Tarini.'"
"And now let me explain why I called you a child although you are just about three or four years younger than I in terms of physical age."
"Please do; I am really interested in finding out why."
"When you become a sadhika in the true sense of the expression, the processes of the physical world tend to lose their meanings for you. Aging is a material process, and a true sadhika or sadhaka will not go by your physical or material age to judge your level of wisdom. Please understand — the expression 'level of wisdom' means the degree of evolution of your consciousness or what you may broadly refer to as your soul. Even the top educational qualifications and professional accomplishments cannot make you wise from a spiritual perspective. You become spiritually evolved only when you learn about your true self and your connection with the divine through Tapasya. And to a yogi, anyone driven by unevolved consciousness appears like a child. Now, you should know why I called you a child."
"So, you are suggesting my consciousness is unevolved?"
"Well, yes, but I don't have the slightest intent to project you as unintelligent. Apparently, your intelligence quotient is very high. It is not difficult to sense you are a genius in the material sense. But your material intelligence does not make you wise in terms of spirituality. Therefore, please do not treat the word 'child' as a derogatory expression. Rather treat it as an expression of love."
"Do you think your words will impress me, Tarini?"
"To tell the truth, I can sense you are a baby in the cosmic sense. So, there is a low probability that my words will impress you."
"I find your words insulting, Tarini."
"Well, you find them insulting because you are a child, Soumya."
"How do you know my name?"
"What a stupid question," another of the Mother's sevaks said, "the Mother has yogic powers - she knows everything."
"Oh, no, you need not come between me and the child, Haribhakta," the Mother said to the sevak who just spoke, "please allow her a free talk with me."
"Although Haribhakta's intervention is uncalled for, he is spot on, Soumya. A lot of information comes to me through yogic powers. For example, I also know you are writing a book on Sanatan Dharma. You have already interacted with twenty-four Hindu saints before coming to me. Once your interaction with me gets over, you would be publishing a book on Hinduism. Tell me if I am wrong."
"Listen, Tarini, you still don't impress me. What you know about me is through social media. Social media platforms carry all kinds of information these days. Somehow, you got the information that I would be coming today. So, you did your research."
"Don't jump to conclusions like a child. This is a problem with unevolved souls — they jump to conclusions."
"By calling me a 'child' or an 'unevolved soul,' you can mock me, but you cannot hide the truth."
"A saint doesn't mock anyone. Anyway, what truth are you talking about, Soumya?"
"You are a fake, Tarini, like most sadhus and sadhvis."
"Again, you jumped to conclusions. Right now, I will go and prepare prasad for the afternoon ceremonies. Maybe you can come some other time."
"Yes, I would certainly see more of you, Tarini. Can I come tomorrow?"
"All right, you can come and meet me after the evening aarti; I hope you understand what aarti is."
"Of course, I understand; you mean the lamp ceremony. What do you think of me, an ignorant fool?"
"No, you don't appear like one. But left-liberals are often ignorant or pretend to be ignorant of the terminology used by the followers of Sanatan Dharma. Well, the rest we can discuss tomorrow."
"Can I record our conversation tomorrow?"
"Sure. How else will you get materials for the book?"
After finishing the regular desk job for the newspaper company she worked, Soumya arranged her bag. A high-fidelity digital voice recorder and a list of questions that could flummox anyone claiming to be a spiritualist - everything she needed for the meeting with Tarini Ma was in her bag.
"So, you are going to meet her again today?" Mr. Anand she worked with asked her as he spotted her arrange her bag.
"Yes, I am."
"Do keep in mind she is a shrewd woman, extremely shrewd."
"Oh, don't worry, Mr. Anand; I have dealt with smarter people."
"Good to see your confidence, Soumya. This woman must be exposed."
"Rest assured, I will expose her and all the twenty-four so-called saints I interacted with before her."
"Won't you also expose the faith they follow?"
"Absolutely, Mr. Anand."
"This book is going to be super-controversial."
"For me, what matters is rationality. Controversies don't frighten me, Mr. Anand. This faith and its proponents should be countered.
"Let's hope you get National Prize for non-fiction writing for this book."
"Thank you for the encouragement, Mr. Anand; I should now be on my way."
The two of them — Tarini Ma and Soumya — sat on a bench adjacent to a little lake along the periphery of the Ashram. It was called 'Gopal Sarovar' by the devotees. The Mother had asked all her guards and followers to stay away from her during the interview. Soumya took out the digital voice recorder and put it on with a smile that reflected her confidence.
"Do you believe in God, Tarini?"
"What? Are you an atheist?"
"Again, you jumped to a conclusion, Soumya. One needs to believe in something or someone when one is not hundred percent sure of the existence of the thing or person in question. God is my 'sakha' — I don't need to believe in His existence; I know He exists."
"God is your sakha? You mean God is your friend?"
"Yes, my dear, God is my friend — you can establish three types of bonds with Krishna, the Supreme Soul. You could treat Him like a parent, or a child, or just a friend. Not that you can't establish other relationships with Him. If you so like, you may think of Him as your lover, for example. But, I see him as a friend — friendship is probably the sweetest bond on earth."
"A while back, you said you know He exists."
"Yes, I did say so."
"Can you prove His existence?"
"Yes, I can. But, I don't need to."
"That means you can't, Tarini."
"Okay, let me ask you this, Soumya — can you prove your existence?"
"Sorry, Tarini, but this is the stupidest question I have heard in years."
"Is it? Why?"
"Well, you can see me, hear me, smell me, touch me, and even taste me should you choose to become a cannibal. And then you ask me if I can prove my existence."
"So, Soumya, what you are trying to tell me is one can perceive you with the five senses, and this is what proves your existence. Right?"
"During a dream, you can perceive yourself and others around you with the same five senses. But after waking up, you realize all your perceptions were nothing more than constructs of the deeper levels of your mind. So, what was real to you in the dream world appears false in the real world. How can you be sure the material world, the so-called real world of yours, is not a bigger dream? This bigger dream may break one day, making you feel stupid because you thought of what you perceived in the bigger dream as real."
"All you are trying to do is to complicate a simple matter, Tarini. Rationality is far removed from your words. What you are telling me is nothing more than philosophical jargon."
"Oh, really. Let me now present to you another argument that will rank as rational by your standards. Our bodies are made of matter. Do you dispute that?"
"Right. Now tell me — at the microscopic level, aren't we made of atoms?"
"Let's go deeper. Aren't these atoms made of electrons, protons, and neutrons?"
"Now, protons and neutrons can be further subdivided into quarks. So, it wouldn't be wrong to say we are made up of electrons and quarks."
"What are you driving at?"
"Please be patient; you will soon understand what I am trying to tell you. Now, these electrons and quarks can be further subdivided into ..."
"Sorry, stop there. It appears you don't know electrons, and quarks cannot be further subdivided. They are indivisible."
"That's what we thought molecules were at one point in time. And when we learned molecules are made of atoms, we started thinking of atoms as indivisible. Today, people like you say electrons and quarks cannot be divided further. Well, you are wrong.”
“At least science at the moment does not support the idea that electrons and quarks can be divided further.”
“No, you can’t say that — there are many scientists who will differ from what you say.”
“Well, I am not sure, but go on.”
“Allow me to talk a little more about electrons and quarks. You may be aware that an electron, apart from being a particle, is also a wave in what may be described as an 'electron field.' Likewise, reliable studies suggest quarks are, in reality, waves in what you may call 'quark field.'"
"Now you have moved to wave-particle duality. What are you trying to prove?"
"Strange that your rationality has not been able to make you understand what I am talking about — I have tried to drive home two things. Number one — there is no way you can tell when and how the matter begins. Keep dividing matter into smaller and smaller components. There will come a stage when you would be dealing with infinitesimal dimensions. And it is common knowledge that infinitesimal is undefined. So, are we to believe that our most fundamental constituents are mathematically undefined? But we know for sure our bodies are defined. We can perceive them with clarity, can't we? How can we, who are undefined at our fundamental levels, become defined at grosser levels? And Number two — wave-particle duality also shows elements of uncertainty at the microscopic level. How can these uncertainties add up to give the certainties at the grosser levels?"
"Are you suggesting both the infinitesimal dimensions and the wave-particle duality are indications of lack of definiteness?"
"Well, you don't need a strong scientific intuition to understand that infinitesimal dimensions and wave-particle duality are not indications of lack of definiteness — they are lack of definiteness. This is what Sanatan Dharma teaches us — nothing is definite. Even the statement 'nothing is definite' is not definite, which would mean there is 'definiteness.' So, the truth cannot be understood through material rationality."
"Are you trying to demonstrate your command over quantum physics?"
"No, I am here to demonstrate how naive left-liberals like you are. Unfortunately, you people have painted a dirty picture of a system that is the cornerstone of science, philosophy, and spirituality. Sanatan Dharma is far beyond the intellectual capacities of leftists like you. Understand this — you people are fooling around. And do not think you are trying to promote science over irrationality. Devotion to God and perfect atheism — both are equal parts of Sanatan Dharma. And you jokers call the Dharma irrational and backward. Some faiths ask you to behave in certain ways and suggest that those who do not act in such ways should be killed. Those are the systems that are anti-science and irrational. But, you left-liberals do not possess the courage to attack and destroy such venomous faith systems. The moment you begin to speak against those systems, the followers of those systems will be out in the streets demanding your decapitation. And Sanatan Dharma, which is no faith system and rather says you should be a seeker of knowledge and not a believer, becomes your target. You people feel safe attacking it and spreading all kinds of lies about it because you know that true followers of Sanatan Dharma will never attack you for criticizing the system — they are peace-loving and rational in the true sense of the expression. Let's get back to the question I asked you — can you prove your existence? The answer is no, Soumya. You can't prove the definiteness of your fundamental constituents. So, to prove that you exist in terms of material science is an impossibility. Now, that you cannot prove you exist, do not ask me to prove God exists. Do you have any other questions, Soumya?"
"Well ... no, Tarini."
There was at least a dozen more questions in Soumya's list. But she didn't see any point in bringing them up. Whatever Tarini had explained so far more than answered all her questions. Tarini stood up and said, "Thank you, Soumya, I hope to meet you again, bye."
As Tarini Ma slowly walked towards the Krishna temple in the center of the Ashram, Soumya stood there like a statue — beaten and exhausted.
The defeat wasn't easy to digest. Shameful ... what a shameful way to be outclassed by a woman Soumya believed she would destroy with her supposed rational arguments.
"Why do you look so broken, Soumya?"
"Nothing, Mr. Anand."
"It seems the interview with Tarini Ma didn't go well yesterday."
"Well, I don't wish to talk about it."
"Not talking about it will not help reduce the pain of defeat in your heart."
"How can you say I was defeated?"
"Oh, come on, Soumya. The defeat is written all over your face."
"Mr. Anand, why are you rubbing salt on my wounds?"
"Look, Soumya, I am trying to help you. No one can understand your pain better than I?"
"You are speaking as though you suffered from the same kind of defeat."
"Yes, indeed, I went through the same suffering. About six years ago, I interviewed that woman with the same intent as yours. I was also foolish and arrogant enough to think I would outwit Tarini with my rational arguments and then publish the interview along with my analysis of what she said. But the truth is — oh, how painful it is to admit it — that the supposed saint outwitted me."
"Oh, so, you experienced the same pain."
"Indeed, do you have a plan up your sleeves now?"
"I can give you a plan, Soumya."
"And what is that?"
"Are you aware that Tarini had three unsuccessful marriages before she joined the monastic order?"
"Well, I heard about that."
"Why can't she be depicted as a worthless woman who couldn't be a homemaker?"
"You mean I should attack her personal life?"
"Why not? People in this country get swayed by emotions quite easily. If you can establish her as a symbol that goes against family values and the cherished moral standards of the nation, she may lose her followers."
"But Mr. Anand, why didn't you do it?"
"To tell the truth, I didn't dare to do it. Such a campaign, you would appreciate, is fraught with risks. What if the campaign does not accomplish the intended purpose and proves counterproductive? What if her followers start a counter-campaign and make you a socially despicable figure? And, of course, the Ashram and Tarini's followers could file dozens of legal suits, including defamation cases. My attempts at revenge might backfire. And then there was the issue of my public image as a journalist."
"But I want revenge, Mr. Anand. That is the only thing that will make me feel better," Soumya said.
"Do keep in mind — it is a huge risk."
"I don't care — either she or I will be destroyed in this fight."
Over the next couple of months, Soumya intensely researched Tarini's personal life. Some spicy information also came her way — Tarini's first and second husbands suffered heart attacks months after the divorce and died. The third husband was a vocal critic of Tarini and was willing to help Soumya in every possible way in her campaign against the saint.
Soumya also found out some information about Tarini's life after she became a saint that wouldn't be flattering to her disciples and followers. Many of the Krishna devotees, her disciples, had been accused of molestation of little boys and girls. Two of those devotees were also found guilty by the trial courts. Although they had preferred an appeal in the High Court of the State and were out there on bail, all the information put together could damage Tarini's image as a saint and spiritual teacher. It might even destroy her popularity to irreparable degrees.
The risks behind such a campaign could not be discounted, but all Soumya wanted now was revenge. Tarini had made Soumya look and sound like a fool when she interviewed the supposed saint. The Mother, with her arguments, had demolished Soumya's plans of bringing out a book on how irrational Sanatan Dharma and its followers are. Publishing the interview was out of the question — without a doubt, Soumya would lose her credibility as a journalist. Though the public didn't know how Tarini defeated her that evening, Soumya couldn't run away from herself. Soumya's heart of heart reminded her repeatedly how the Mother trampled her supposed rational arguments underfoot. The only way to shut up the heart of the heart was to make the saint bite the dust.
The findings of her research would, for sure, cause discomfort to the Mother. And if the campaign was handled correctly, the Mother might be left without her followers, something she could never bear.
If Tarini was brought down to earth, Soumya's revenge would be complete.
With her influence, Soumya ran the campaign on print and electronic media on a war footing. Some headlines read — 'Guru of the Ashram of Love and Sex,' 'Three Times Failed Wife Becomes a Holy Mahatma,' 'The Pains of Tarini's Third Husband — Real Face Behind the Saffron-Clad Sanatan Dharmi,' 'The Anti-Family Saint,' 'Sex-Life of Tarini's Followers — Children at Risk,' and 'When She Failed as a Wife.' Numerous television shows were aired wherein experts observed how dangerous a trend Tarini had set up. If people followed her example, they would lose faith in family values, thereby destroying civil societies. Some suggested that Sanatan Dharma was showing its true colors.
The left-oriented international media journalists also covered the news items, and Soumya soon became a journalist of international fame.
The campaign brought smiles to Soumya and her leftist friends. Indeed, Tarini suffered a massive dent in her popularity and lost many of her disciples.
"Soumya, you are a hero; you made the saint look like a cartoon."
"Well, Mr. Anand, a large part of the credit for this success goes to you. You were the one who gave me the idea of attacking her personal front."
"Oh, come on, Soumya; you executed the idea successfully — all the credit goes to you. How comforting it is to see the woman lose her fame. But she is going to hit back today in the public meeting. Are you aware she has arranged a public meeting for making a speech?"
"Of course, Mr. Anand. She will address the public at 4 p.m. I will be there, for sure. Would you like to join me?"
"Yes, Soumya; I will join you."
The Ashram had arranged the public meeting in a large hall in the city's center called 'Swami Vivekananda Auditorium.' The hall was packed with the devotees, disciples, and followers of Tarini. A couple of hundred media persons were also present. Arrangements had been made for live television coverage.
Soumya and Anand took seats in the corner.
Sharp at 4 p.m., Tarini commenced her speech.
"My Dear Fellow Atomic Souls, I will be brief and to the point. A vicious media campaign has been run against me by the left-leaning champions of news production. Those of you who have seen deeper into the matter must have realized that this campaign hasn't just targeted me; it has targeted the Sanatan Dharma as a whole. People who have little idea about Sanatan Dharma and the scientific inquiry it stands for condemned the system. Well, Sanatan Dharma is too beautiful and scientific a system for these self-proclaimed intellectuals to even have a surface understanding of it. Today, I will not speak about how the followers of the Dharma must try to protect it from such evil influences. I intend to talk only about myself at this hour. Influenced by the campaign, many of my followers have turned against me and now reckon me as a fraud. Well, I am not here to change your changed views about me. I am here to give you some glimpses of my personal life. And don't worry, it will not take more than a few minutes of yours.
"Yes, it is true I was married thrice. But the question is, why should that be brought to the fore now. If my marriages didn't work, it doesn't mean I am bad. And my first two ex-husbands didn’t die because I divorced them. They died because of natural causes. By the way, they died after they were remarried. The Sanatan Dharma is the path of a seeker. Each Sanatan Dharmi must find her or his own way. Didn't my dissolving the marriages an indication of my free and liberal approach to life? These leftists speak about women's emancipation. But when they see true examples of women's emancipation, they are inclined to suggest that the women who broke their shackles are some sort of vamps. Yes, I broke my marriages. They were limiting my freedom. These marriages were like jails to me. And I must say — before each of these marriages, I had made clear to my prospective husbands that I would lead the life of a saint after marriage and that there would be no bondage on me. Each of them agreed because they were attracted to my physical beauty than anything else. Eventually, they tried to force their conservative ideologies on me when they realized that I could never be a traditional wife. It is then that I broke the shackles.
"Now, you may ask me why did I marry three times if I didn't wish to lead a conventional married life. Well, the answer is — I looked for a spiritual companion, one who would be by my side in my spiritual endeavors. But I admit it was a mistake to look for spiritual companions in people driven by materialism. While I do not blame my ex-husbands for expecting me to be a traditional wife, I also do not blame myself for breaking the shackles and leading an independent life. If you are a true feminist, you will support me. And if you are a true rationalist, then my past life will not deter you from following me or learning from me.
"Usually, a sannyasin or a sanyasi does not talk about her or his pre-sainthood life — the life that we monks refer to as 'purvashram.' But in the face of the malicious campaign that attacked my personal life, I was left with little choice but to talk about my 'purvashram.' As regards some of my disciples and followers being child molesters, let me tell you that these are charges with no substance. Except for two, all my disciples who faced such charges were exonerated by the law courts. I have no doubts that the two who are still facing trial in the High Court of the State will also be cleared of the charges. Remember - Krishna devotees do not molest children; their vision becomes so ethereal that they spot a little Krishna in each boy and a little Radha in each girl. Shame on those who tried to run such sick campaigns against my disciples.
"And now, let me tell you that my journey of devotion to my aradhya, that is, Lord Krishna, has reached its point of culmination. Exactly, at 4.30 p.m. on the 4th of August, my atomic soul will leave this body. So, I will be losing myself to a state of Samadhi five days later. But I will keep sending my spiritual vibrations to one and all from my astral form.
"That's all I had to say, heartfelt thanks to all of you for coming over. Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare."
The announcement that she would leave for heavenly abode by attaining Samadhi five days later seemed to bring back all the lost popularity.
"Glory to the Mother, Glory to the Mother," voices emerged from all sides.
"Mother, please do not go into Samadhi. What will happen to us in your absence?" A woman said.
"No, Mother, forgive us if we have sinned. Do not leave us like this," An old man remarked.
Soumya and Anand watched the new craze for the Mother unfold before their eyes.
"How shrewd! This woman has played a masterstroke," Soumya said.
"Oh, didn't I tell you she isn't easy to beat?"
A couple of days later, Soumya visited the Mother's Ashram around the time the evening aarti got over and requested for another interview of Tarini Ma.
"The Mother is preparing for her Samadhi; she is too busy for an interview now," Krishnapada said.
"How shameless you are," Haribhakta remarked, "after slinging all the mud on her, you have come back for an interview."
"Please don't be rude to her, Krishnapada and Haribhakta," the Mother's voice came from behind a crowd of devotees. Soon she emerged and walked up to the temple door where Soumya and her two attendants were standing.
"Mother, she wants to interview you again," Krishnapada said.
"No problem, I will fulfill her wish."
"But Mother, she ran such a malicious campaign against you," Haribhakta said.
"Don't forget she is almost at the bottom of the ladder of the evolution of consciousness. How can you expect anything better from a left-liberal journalist like her? Anyway, let her have her wish fulfilled. I am ready for the interview, and do not be around when she is interviewing me."
Then the Mother looked at Soumya. "Come, let's go to the same bench close to the Gopal Sarovar."
After pressing the record button of her digital voice recorder, Soumya asked, "Are you serious about going into Samadhi?"
"What do you think, Soumya? I am playing a joke on my disciples and followers?"
"So, you will be dead after three days?"
"In your language, it is called death. Those who understand the equations of the atomic soul with matter know that there is nothing such as death. What you call death is nothing but another phase of life. This universe supports only life."
"Well, Tarini, you are a master of words."
"I would rather be a master of the self, Soumya."
"Listen, Tarini, this drama of the Samadhi may work on your foolish followers. But I understand this is nothing but playacting."
"Yes, Tarini, this is a cheap trick of yours. You lost your popularity; your followers thought of you, and rightfully so, as a cheat. The Samadhi you announced is just a gambit to win back the lost faith of your followers and disciples. I can guarantee you are not dying at the time you said you would be leaving your body behind. And I can also tell you what you will tell your followers after they find you alive after 4.30 p.m. three days later.
"Umm-hmm, tell me what you think I will tell them."
"Okay, you will tell them some rubbish, such as you got instructions from Lord Krishna to stall your plans for the Samadhi and continue in the material plane to preach spiritual wisdom for some more time. This is what another saint called Swami Ramsevaka did a couple of decades ago. Disgusting — you supposed saints are such brazen creatures."
"Well, I guess we should end the interview now. You could come over after three days to the Ashram to check for yourself what happens."
"Oh yes, I will be there to see the drama."
It was an anxious wait for Soumya. Was the Mother really going to get into a state of Samadhi? Would she really die? No, it was all a drama, she reasoned. This was the only way she could win back the trust of her followers.
The country was waiting to see what the turn of events would be. There was a high degree of media interest in the event. The devotees thought the Samadhi of Tarini Ma would be the biggest event of the century.
The 4th of August — the day of the Samadhi finally came. The devotees and disciples of Tarini Ma began to arrive in the Ashram. The priests were getting ready for the rituals connected with the Samadhi. Some close disciples of the Mother chanted hymns and drew rangoli. Some disciples renewed their requests to the Mother to not go into Samadhi. "Mother, you are our life; you gave us life. Do not leave us," an elderly lady said. Soumya was glued to the television. She flipped through the channels — all news channels were showing the rituals being performed at the Ashram.
And then Soumya's eyes fell on the wall clock. 3.15 p.m. — so, only a little over one hour was left for Tarini's Samadhi. It was time to rush to the Ashram.
Soumya arrived at the Ashram around 4.45 p.m. She made her way through a massive crowd and reached the steps that led to the entrance of Tarini Ma's meditation room. Slogans like 'Glory to the Mother,' 'Hare Krishna,' 'Ma's soul will meet the Supersoul today,' 'Ma, you will always be in our hearts,' and 'Ma is Lord Krishna's gift to the world' filled the air. What Soumya saw next was quite a shock. The Mother 'Tarini Devi' was standing just a couple of feet away from her, close to the steps.
"Soumya, the Samadhi didn't happen ..."
"Oh, there you are; I am not surprised, Tarini. The Samadhi wouldn't happen — I knew that. What a fraud you are! Now, you will stand completely exposed."
The entrance door of the Mother's meditation room opened, and Krishnapada and Haribhakta came out of it.
Krishapada said with tears in his eyes, "The Mother has entered into Samadhi."
And Haribhakta said as his voice broke, "Blessings of the Holy Soul will be there for all of you for all times to come."
A high-pitched scream was heard. Some devotees had begun wailing in grief. Soumya looked at where the Mother was standing - she was still there.
"Yet again, you jumped to a conclusion, my child," Tarini Ma said, "what I wanted to say was — the Samadhi didn't happen at 4.30 p.m. It happened at 4.32 p.m. — two minutes later than I had thought it would happen. Be blessed, my child, take care."
The Mother's figure disintegrated into countless glowing spheres. Then each of these spheres broke into tiny particles of light before vanishing in the air. Apparently, she was the only one who saw this happen.
Mr. Anand quickly walked up to Soumya's cubicle.
"Is it true, Soumya?"
"What, Mr. Anand?"
"That you just tendered your resignation to the boss?"
"One hundred percent true."
"Have you gone crazy, Soumya? This is the best newspaper company in South Asia. You won't get better opportunities for growth as a journalist in other companies."
"I am not a journalist anymore, Mr. Anand, and I don't wish to be one again in my life."
"But why? Because you think Tarini defeated you?"
"No, because Tarini Ma opened my eyes. And yes, please be respectful while mentioning that saint."
"Don't you understand — this Samadhi could be a gimmick. She might be in hiding somewhere, eating chicken curry."
"From the Mother, I learned not to be impolite - that's why I am not willing to use harsh words in response to the sickening things you just said."
"Have you ceased to be a rational person?"
"Look, who's speaking? Do you think you are a rational person? Mr. Anand, you so-called left-liberals are a bunch of jokers; you guys are the exact opposite of what is rationality."
"What are you planning to do now?"
"Well, I will pursue Sanatan Dharma."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"That means ' I will be a seeker of the truth. Take care; bye."
Soumya smiled and walked out of the newspaper office.
Thanks for listening to OBSCURUS. If you like what you heard, please subscribe and visit biswajitbanerjee.com for more information about Biswajit's books, movies, documentaries, and other creative pursuits. We shall see you next Wednesday with another episode of OBSCURUS. Till then, take care!