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Testament of faith

Prema Nandakumar

LETTERS FROM MIRTOLA — Written by Sri Krishnaprem and Sri Madhava Ashish to Karan Singh: Jyotsna Singh — Editor; Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Kulapati Munshi Marg, Mumbai-400007. Rs. 150.

The editor, Jyotsna Singh, has done well to include the detailed memoirs on Sri Krishnaprem by Madhava Ashish and Gertrude Emerson Sen midway through the book. These two accurate portraits will help the reader understand how the Englishman, Ronald Nixon, a Professor of English at Lucknow University entered the Bhagavata world. Sri Krishnaprem Vairagi (1898-1965) was a product of Cambridge University and had spent sometime as a fighter pilot in the First World War.

The Buddha drew him to the mysterious East, and Monica Chakravarti (Sri Yasoda Mai), wife of his Vice-Chancellor initiated him in Vaishnav sannyas. They founded an Ashram in Mirtola near Almora and installed an image of Radha Krishna for ritual worship. After the passing away of his Guru, Sri Krishnaprem continued to stay there with his disciple Madhava Ashish, spending his time in regular worship of the deity, contemplation and writing.

As a young man, Dr. Karan Singh became a disciple of Sri Krishnaprem and his association with the Ashram has continued to this day.

Each of the letters printed here brings out the crystalline faith Sri Krishnaprem had in his deity and his guru, and his personality is literally robed in peace and calm. He was full of intense faith in his chosen path.

When Sri Krishnaprem was once asked by an Indian professor why he followed the purificatory and pooja rituals so thoroughly at great personal inconvenience though he was born an Englishman, the Yogi replied simply: "For one thing, I believe that any self-imposed discipline, external or internal, is rather a good thing in this present age, when every kind of social and individual restraint is in process of being hurled out of the window. Also, quite simply, this happens to be the path laid down by those who have gone before me and reached the goal."

So perfectly Vaishnavite an answer, like Andal's phrase, "melayaar seyvanagal" and the Mahabharata refrain: "esha dharma sanatanah"!

His faith in the power of love, capacity to interpret dreams and respect for mantra as an instrument to gain spiritual states of being are all here.

With Madhava Ashish the subjects are more external: the state of the nation, party politics, the communal problem. But all of Letters from Mirtola bears witness to the glory and good of India's universal Sanatana Dharma. No man is an island; no seeker is an alien. All of us are in Brindavan, holding hands in the eternal Ras.

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