Bamakhepa Story

Bamakhepa

 

 

A legend appeared to glorify our earth on the midnight of Shiv-Ratri (Hindu Festival dedicated to lord Shiva and Parvati, as of their Marriage Anniversary) in 1837 AD, (according to Bengali calendar, 12th Falgun (Month Name) in the year 1244). He, "Bamacharan Chattopadhyay" (Bama) was born in Atla village near Tarapith Temple, Birbhum District of West BengalHis father, Sarvananda Chatterji used to sing Shyama Sangeet (Songs offered to Goddess Kali or Shakti) on different occasions and possessed a small
amount of arable land. He was very poor but was very religious by nature. Bama's mother, Brahmamoyee Devi or Rajkumari Devi was a house wife. He had one brother and four sisters among whom he was the second child. Since his childhood he led a very religious life and was a great devotee of Maa Tara or Kali. He used to make idols of Maa with clay by his own and also offered food to those idols. He addressed Maa Tara as "Bado Maa" (the elder mother) and his own mother as "Choto Maa" (the younger mother). This shows how significant a position Ma Tara occupied in Bama's life, that he placed her even above his own mother. Sometimes he and his elder brother Ram also went out with his father to sing and learn Shyama Sangeet.

His father Sarvananda Chatterji passed away in 1855 AD(1262 in Bengali Calendar). After his death, poverty struck the family hard. To acquire some financial help for the family, he took the job of a priest at the temple of Mauliksha Devi in Maluti, but since he did not have any knowledge in chanting Sanskrit Slokas (praises written in Sanskrit), he was disqualified for the job and was assigned a job for cooking, but after that night he left the job and came back to Tarapith. He talked to the main priest of Tarapith temple and prayed to give him a job in the temple. He got the work of picking and collecting flowers in Tarapith Temple at the salary of Rs. 2 per month. He continued with this job for more than a year. Even till this time, he used to roam around in the hope of seeing Maa Tara, and he wanted to feed her by his own hand.
One day, while Bama was sitting on the bank of the Dwarka river, he noticed a sage crossing the river by simply walking over the water and he was utterly confused. This ;was the great saint Pishach-Sidha
(adorned with blessing of spirits, who has different types special natural power) Brajabasi-Kailash Pati (name of the Sage), Bama used to stand far away from the crowd that gathered around Kailashpati everyday, but he thoroughly concentrated on his preaching. It was in these preaching that he heard the term "Kundalini" (Supernatural power contained hidden within one's self) for the first time. He approached Kailashpati to guide him along the path ;that leads to Maa Tara.Kailashpati rejected his prayers several times in the beginning, but after a number of approaches, Kailashpati promised Bama to show the correct path. From then onwards, Bama regularly used to meet and stay with him in the Maha-Shamshan (great cremation ground). On one Amavasya (New Moon day) night, Kailashpati told Bama to get the permission of his mother to devote himself in Tantra Sadhana  (a type of spiritual Practice, followed by Tantric rituals), thus he wanted to pupilize Bama. Bama's mother Brahmamoyee Devi rejected his prayers and did not give him the permission, Bama left home and came back to the Tarapith Maha-Shamshan and made Kailashpati aware of the situation. Bama's mother also came there to the Maha-Shamshan and all three gathered together. Kailashpati enquired Bama's mother about why she was not giving his son the permission to become a Shamshan Yogi. He reminded Brahmamoyee Devi of an incidence when Bama fell sick in Tarapith Temple and was in a state of breathlessness, what she had told to Maa Tara for the well-being of Bama. It was only after this speech that she permitted Bama for the diksha sacrament or reception of teaching from priest)of Samshan yogi (A type of sage who is strongly related with cremation ground, perform his all spiritual practices, staying in cremation ground. Kailashpati gave Bama the red robe, the trishul (a traditional weapon with three pointed and sharp ends), the rudraksha (seed of a tree, which is known as tear of Shiva), the sindur (vermillion) and took him to a place which is known in Tarapith as the famous "Vashistha-Asan" or "Pancha Mundi Asan" (a seat where the skulls of five living things, namely, new born/adult male, an elephant, a black snake, a monkey, an owl, who died prematurely, are buried) It is very famous among the Tantriks and is an extremely powerful seat. Kailashpati whispered to him the Tara mantra and asked him to meditate without any kind of ;distraction. He was  advised to sit in this Pancha Mundi Asan and to meditate whole heartedly, on failing which he would face the penalty. Throughout his process of meditation, Bama faced several challenges that included being distracted by Yoginis, Spirits, and so on. Bama went through all these disturbances and finally he could view Maa Tara on the midnight of Kausiki Amavasya (a special new moon day). Maa gave all the powerful and magical power of Jivita Kunda (a pond in front of a temple where she was believed to be residing and was full of supernatural powers) to Bama. Then he mastered all the skills in Tantra Sadhana by the grace of his first guru Kaulacharya Mokshadananda (another senior disciple of Kailashpati) in Bamachar (a way of Tantra
Sadhana). One of the pandas of temple named Nagen respect him from his heart. Bama used to call him Nagen Kaka (Uncle). Also an assistant named Gadai was always there with Bama and looked over all the requirements of Bama like food, flowers etc and also over his ashram/hut. Bama fought for the increment of salaries of the temple servitors, and donated all the amount of what his disciples would give him towards the payment of tax by the villagers. He also contributed a significant portion of people's donation to the freedom struggle through his disciple named Tarakhepa. Swami Gyanananda, Swami Nigamananda, Shankar Baba, Tara Khyapa (pre-monastic name Pramatha), eminent revolutionary poet Mukunda Das were among the disciples of Bama. He never gave Diksha just for the sake of celebration. If he only felt or found that someone was the right person for Diksha, he would give the mantra by touching him or through his dream.A great miracle happened after his mother died in Bengali year 1264. He loved his mother, but since he was a Shamshan-Sanyasi, he very rarely visited his home in Atla, even though he cared for his family. Villagers brought her dead body on the other bank of river Dwarka, but they were not able to cross the river due to over flood. So they summoned Bama for help. Taking the holy name of Maa Tara, Bama jumped into the Dwarka river and swam across the river. He carried his mother's dead body over his shoulder. Then, he cremated his mother's dead body in Tarapith Mahashamshan. Two days before the Shraadh (last rites of the dead), Bama's younger brother Ram called upon him and informed him that he was not able to do this ceremony on a large scale, and would be able to treat only a few people. But, Bama told him to invite each and every person in the area without getting worried about the expenses. He himself also invited a lot of people personally; since he was confident that all arrangements would be done smoothly by Maa Tara. On the day of the Shraadh, Tara Maa came with Bama, in the disguise of a young girl and brought plenty of fish, sweets and curd. All the invitees were very happy to see these arrangements. And& last but not the least, another ;miraculous incident happened when the whole area was flooded with heavy rain and storm but not a single drop of rain fell in Atla during the Shraadh ceremony as he had marked a “dandi”(a boundary) around Atla.Bama Khyapawas a ardent devotee of Maa Tara He lived in the Maha-Shamshannear the TarapithTemple (since Maa Tarais also a resident of Shamshan or cremation groundalong with ghosts,
yoginisand spirits. He was a perfect Yogiand a Kapalik(who retained human Skull bowl, and bones for worship); tantriche had; the absolute power to accomplish almost anything. He became mad during the worship of Maa, he worshiped the goddess in his own way, and not according to the usual rituals as described in age-old iconography. In the beginning, most of the priests in the temple opposed him, but he proved in his own way that he was doing the right thing and what ever he did, Maabecame very happy. Sometimes, he behaved in such a way as if Maahad come there and were present in the surroundings, so, from this point of time, he was well known as Mad saint or Khyapa. This resulted in his becoming the spiritual head of Tarapith, Bamataught that only consistent devotion, faith of mind and soul is enough for worshiping. There is not any need to follow the rituals of iconography. When he became famous, that he possessed a tremendous super natural power, lots of people from far places came and met Bama to get his blessings, to find solution to their different problems like illness etc. Bama mostly tried to help them out, but later he used to get irritated as more and more people continued to come to get rid of their problems. Once he got very upset and was about to hit Maa Tara in the temple and revile her; but as soon as he entered the temple, Maa Taraslapped him so hard that he was thrown out of the temple. Once more, he did not follow the set rules of the temple and consequently, was even roughed up and bitten by the temple priests for taking food meant for offering to the deity. He pledged that he had not taken any food, still his Maa Tara did not show up to feed him. Then after three days, Maa Tara appeared in the dreams of Her Highness of Natore State (now in Bangladesh) and ordered her to make a proper arrangement to offer food first to her mad child Bama and then only to her. Maa cited the reason that a mother could not eat before his child has eaten and nobody should obstruct him from doing anything in the temple. It is believed that Ma Tara gave a vision to Bama khepa in the cremation grounds in her ferocious form and then pulled him close to her chest.

Samadhi Mandir of Bama-Khyapa in Tarapith Maha-Shamshan
Samadhi Mandir of Bama-Khyapa in Tarapith Maha-Shamshan
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