Swami Maheshananda Saraswati, BSY

One aspect of the Sita Kalyanam program that made a great impression on my mind was the transformation of the widows. Paramahamsaji has started a new program in which widows from the villages come and chant Maha mantra in the Akhara for several hours a day and receive a payment for this work. When I first saw these women several months ago I felt pity. They were afraid of human interaction and could not look you straight in the eye. Instead they would cover their faces with their veils and walk as if they were outcasts. My intellectual mind wondered what the purpose of Paramahamsaji's program could be.

However, when I saw the widows again on Sita and Rama's wedding day, they had undergone a total transformation. They were dressed up in pretty saris and wore make-up. They ran towards the stage to be part of the marriage ceremony and to sing songs to tease Paramahamsaji.

It is an Indian tradition for the bridesmaids to abuse the bridegroom's party, left, right and centre, using strong words. It is a free-for-all. Nobody minds what is said on that day because the abuse has a joyous feeling. The bridesmaids abuse the bridegroom's party because the bride-to-be, who is their companion, will be leaving them to live with her husband.

The ladies who were part of Sita's party sat close to the stage, singing and abusing Paramahamsaji, Swamiji, Swami Satsangi and the people of Rikhia who were part of Rama's party. For Swami Niranjan they used the word bhagore, which means one who flees, for Swami Satsangi they used the word kathore, which means hard taskmaster. There were other words for Paramahamsaji. It was wonderful to see their joy and their spontaneous dance, and at the same time to see the expression of childlike joy on Paramahamsaji's face. He was so happy and his eyes conveyed compassion and love.

The second impression was watching the tricycles being donated to young crippled boys and girls, some staggering to the tricycles, some walking on their hands and being lifted up. Paramahamsaji's expression was like an ocean of love and compassion, and he broke into spontaneous clapping when a child was lifted onto a tricycle before cycling it away. This was putting into action the high ideals that we only think about.

The last impression was when Paramahamsaji dressed up as a Maulana and called himself Maulana Satyananda Hussain. When the Maulana from Munger came to greet him, Paramahamsaji stood up, holding up his pants with one hand. He greeted the Maulana and then said, “I have not worn pants for sixty years. I am afraid they will fall down, that's why I am holding them up.” Then he sat down immediately.