In the Guise of an Old Woman

Neeb Karori Baba MaharajjiAfter the Navaratra in March/April 1980, many devotees travelled from Haldwani to the village of Neeb Karori with Sri Ma. According to Sri Ma's instructions, Hanuman ji was to be ceremoniously anointed with sindur [when the Hanuman murti is made of stone, it is anointed with sindur, an orange powder mixed with jasmine oil] the next day on Hanuman Jayanti.

This duty was assigned to Vinod Chandra Joshi, manager of Kainchi Ashram, and Pandit Kishori Raman Acharya of Vrindavan.

The next day the temple was cleared and decorated. Pandit ji arrived a little before noon. However, he had forgotten to tell the workers about the things that were needed for the puja offerings, so they were not ready.

Pandit ji regretted his mistake, but there was no way out. The articles were not available in the local shop, and it was not possible to get them from anywhere else so quickly.

In the absence of the necessary offerings, it was not possible to perform the rituals, so they decided to worship the deity by reciting mantras only.

Vinod and the devotees sat before Hanuman ji's murti, and Pandit ji and I sat at the door of the temple. Just then a heavily-built, ordinary-looking village woman passed through the crowd carrying a big cloth bundle. She came and sat between Pandit ji and me. Without speaking to anyone, she took out all the things needed for the worship—a coconut, red cloth, red thread, and uncooked milk—and gave them to Vinod.

Unable to understand who the old woman was, we all looked at her in surprise. It was very unusual. A woman living in this rural area would not know the intricacies of the Hindu rituals or possess everything needed to carry them out, nor were these things available within a radius of ten kilometers.

After the worship of Hanuman ji, aarti was performed, and the singing of the Hanuman Chalisa began. The old woman stood up and went out. Some women who had come with Sri Ma from Haldwani asked her to partake of prasad at the bhandara, but she said she had brought prasad with her.

Taking out puri and vegetable from her bundle, the old woman gave some to all the women present. She also told them that she had come from about seven kilometers away and soon disappeared amongst the large crowd. Nobody knew where she went.

The inhabitants of Neeb Karori village said she must have come from some other place. Nobody had ever seen the woman before, even in distant villages.