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Monday, 22 July 2013


(Published in Woman’s Era June (First) 2013 Page 15)

The seating pattern in the class was alphabetical. So she sat next to me in class V in Bulandshahr, UP, in the year 1958. I remember her even today as a very pretty girl, fair and petite with very attractive features but a strange kind of sadness always enveloped her. I don’t recall having ever seen her smiling. She was very quiet too. Even when spoken to, her replies were in monosyllables only. As a nine year old, I could care two hoots for a girl who was not interested in talking or playing with me; I had many more friends to keep me occupied.

In the school, we also had a system of midday meals when the entire class would sit in the same order and nice, hot healthy meals were served to us which we had to finish. If Miss Varma, the principal of the school, noticed any unfinished plate in her rounds, the student had to undergo rigorous punishment. This created tremendous pressure on all of us to finish the meal before we could run off to play for the remaining time during the lunch break.

One day, as I quickly finished the daliya (porridge) and was about to buzz off, she who used to sit next to me here also, pushed her untouched plate towards me and asked me, “Please, can you eat this too?”
I frowned, “Why? Why don’t you eat it? If Ma’am sees us, both will be punished.”
“No. I can’t eat,” she looked desperate.
“But why?  Why not?” I was getting impatient getting delayed for the playground.
And suddenly what she said froze me, “How can I eat anything when my children are hungry for two days?”
“Your children? Are you mad?” was my stunned response.
“Yes, my children. I have four of them. They live in Ayodhya,” she said with sadness welling up in her eyes.
“I used to live there near Saryu River where my husband used to row a boat for his livelihood. I died in child birth when my fourth child was born.” Tears were flowing down her cheeks now.

I noticed Miss Varma moving towards us from a distance and quickly exchanged my plate with hers.

“Ranjana, why are you so late in finishing your meals today?” admonished Miss Varma.
“Sorry Ma’am. I had gone to the toilet first,” I replied as I carried on eating.

Woman's Era Page 15
Later when I shared the incident with my mother, she confided in me that she knew about it. Bulandshahr being a small town my classmate’s  father being an eminent lawyer, my mother had heard about it but what she did not know was that she was my class-mate.  She said, “Actually her parents have already visited Ayodhya and checked up the whereabouts of that boatman. Yes, it is a true story and he has four children, the youngest son being about 10 years old.”  She continued while cautioning me, “It sometimes happens that some people do remember their previous births but they forget it in the course of time. Don’t tell her anything about this. After all, nothing can be done.”
And I wondered why her parents could not bring over her children to stay with her. Today I understand how difficult it must have been for them.

Next year, my father got transferred from Bulandshahr and I left the place never to meet this classmate of mine. But even today at times I wonder whether she still remembers her previous birth or time has erased her memories of past-life. Do re-births really take place? Are we all carrying some baggage of our previous lives with us? Why is it that I meet a person for the first time and feel as if I have known her for ages?  Or I meet a person for the first time and simply dislike him even without talking to him. What is it in him that puts me off? Do we have “old” connections with the “new”?


Monday, 1 July 2013


This episode took place sometime in April 1970, but the memory of the experience is so deeply etched in my mind even today that I can recall it vividly although 43 years have since elapsed. 
My Aunt and I had gone to Kedarnath Temple. When we reached the shrine, I told her, “Taiji, you go. I am not interested in going inside the temple”. As she frowned at the crazy idea, I quickly added, “I am enjoying the scenic beauty outside.”

The high mountains all around were reaching out to kiss the azure blue sky: their lush green beauty was mesmerising me. There was no crowd, no people anywhere and I stood alone in a corner outside the temple gate leaning on the small wall around the shrine, feasting my eyes, my mind, my entire being on the nature’s unparalleled beauty.

Suddenly, a tall well-built man with long flowing beard and moustaches appeared from nowhere: his hair was tied up in a knot on top of his head and he was wearing large rudraksha beads around his neck. A tiger skin was wrapped around his waist. He walked straight to me and put a tilak on my forehead with a little force and announced in a powerful voice, “Jab Bhagwan swayam aa kar ashirwad dete hain bachcha to sab manokamnayein poori ho jaati hain. (Child, When God himself comes and blesses a person, all his/her wishes are fulfilled.)”
Saying thus, He disappeared with the same speed with which He had come.

I woke up with a sudden jerk, shocked, confused and dazed. The entire episode was so real, it shook me up. It took me a little time to realise that I had actually gone off to sleep with my head on the book while studying for my post-graduation examination. The feeling was so real, so life-like that I got goose pimples. Who was He? Where did He come from? Where did He go away? Who knows?

Not finding any answers, I pushed everything out of my mind, rubbed my eyes and started studying again. But today all of a sudden, perhaps after seeing the Kedarnath tragedy again and again on media, I recalled the entire dream once again after 43 years. Yes, the temple in the dream looked like this only. 

Incidentally, I have to date not visited Badri Nath-Kedar Nath Temples. I never perform any pooja or prayer or worship. I do not visit any temple for prayers. But I always feel that God is within me, wherever I go and in whatever I do. I do not have to seek Him outside; I only have to listen to my Inner Voice to be able to relate to Him. 

(This is a real life experience)