The villagers called him Saint Homibaba. His real name was Chandraprakash Mukherjee. Before he became a saint, he was common man like you and me. How did he become a saint is an interesting story in itself.
Chandraprakash had a pestering wife, who ranted about their poverty day in and day out.
‘Lakshmi has got a new gold chain. Her husband gave it to her. What have you given me since marriage? These dishes to wash and these old sarees’, Padma said that and banged the dented aluminium vessel on the ground. The vessel has already taken a lot of dents, what is one more dent to it?
‘People are prospering all around us. You are lazy. Why can’t you go out and do something worthwhile?’
Chandraprakash did go out that night, never to return. The night holds several secrets in its belly. It is only a matter of time, until the secrets gush out in torrents and torment the keepers of the secrets. It was a starless night. The universe has also conspired for his escape.
Chandraprakash decided to roam the length and breadth of this country. On his way to Kashmir, he met a Sadhu who initiated him into the monastic life. He stayed in a monastery, located on the banks of River Ganga. He stayed at the monastery for a few months. The disciplined life style took a toll on Chandraprakash’s laziness. He escaped from the Monastery.
For several months, Chandraprakash roamed around the country. He met all kinds of people during his travels, from daily labourers to youngsters. The daily laborers stretched their sinews in the sun, struggled from day to day to make their living. The youngsters did the opposite. They splurged their money in coffee shops, restaurants and malls, without a care about future. He read people as books. He learned about human nature, the ever greedy nature that covets for instantaneous wealth.
He travelled south and went to Chandoor. He decided to stay here for a couple of years, among unknown people. There are times when strangers show us more mercy than our loved ones.
Chandoor is a quaint village, nested beneath two hills. Modernity has not consumed the village yet. It still had lush green fields and sparkling water bodies. About fifty families made Chandoor as their home. Everybody knew everyone else. A loud sneeze was enough to reveal the identity of the sneezer.
The village also had a historic Shiva temple built by Raja Chandrachur Singh, which spread over an acre. The Raja died in the Battlefield while braving the Britishers against conquering his kingdom. The villagers heard the aarti at odd times in the night. They saw flickering diyas in front of Lord Shiva, in the absence of a living soul. Hence, the rumor started that the temple was haunted by the Raja and no one went close to that land.
Leela was a simple woman, with simple desires. All she wanted was a son. She prayed to hundreds of Gods to no avail. Her wishes were unheard and her womb empty as always. Every morning, even before the village woke up, she went to the Shiva temple to clean it and make penance for the sins committed in her previous life.
One day, she saw Chandraprakash, sitting inside the temple in front of the linga and meditating. She saw a person whose face showed intelligence. His long matted hair and beard signified his intimacy towards spirituality.
To be continued …
Chandraprakash’s travels took him to several beautiful places