The Night Visitors
Excerpt from Nothing Ever Happened Volume One
By David Godman
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One morning, around 2.00 a.m., I heard voices outside my door. I knew it could not be my wife because I had given her strict instructions that I was not to be disturbed while I was inside my puja room. It then occurred to me that it might be some of my relatives from the Punjab who had come to visit us. The train from the Punjab usually arrived at Madras in the evening, but it seemed quite possible to me that the train had arrived several hours late and that the passengers had only just managed to reach our house. My curiosity piqued, I decided to open the door to find out who they were.
Imagine my astonishment, on opening the door, when I saw not a group of relatives but the shining forms of Ram, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman standing outside. I couldn’t understand what they were doing there. I had spent most of my life calling on Krishna, never feeling much attraction to Ram, or any interest in Him. Nevertheless, I prostrated to them all with great awe and reverence.
I rushed off to wake my wife who was sleeping in the next room. ‘Wake up! Wake up!’ I shouted, shaking her very vigorously. ‘Ram, Sita and Lakshman have come to visit us. Go to the kitchen and make them something to eat and drink. I will look after them in the puja room.’
She looked at me as if I were mad. ‘You are just having a dream,’ she said. ‘Go back to bed and get some sleep. You have to go to work in the morning.’
‘No! No!’ I insisted, pulling her out of bed. ‘They are really there. Come and see for yourself if you don’t believe me.’
I took her into the puja room but she couldn’t see any of them. I could see them very clearly, but to my wife they were invisible. She went back to bed, complaining about my fantasies and hallucinations as she went.
When I was alone with the gods again, Sita raised her right hand in a gesture of benediction and began to speak.
‘We have come from Ayodhya to visit you because Hanuman told us that there was a very great Krishna bhakta here in Madras.’
I looked at her raised hand, casually noting all the lines that were on the palm. That image must have imprinted itself permanently on my memory because every time I recall that vision, I clearly see all the lines on that hand just as they were on the day she appeared before me. Their bodies were not, so far as I could ascertain, normal human bodies because I could see through them and dimly take in what was behind them, but they were all exquisitely beautiful. After some time I noticed that Garuda, the giant eagle who serves as the vehicle of Vishnu, was standing outside on my veranda, attached to a chariot. The Gods took their seats in the chariot, which then began to fly away. I watched as it moved across the sky, getting smaller and smaller as it travelled further and further away.
There was no perception of time while all this was going on, but I assumed that the visit had lasted for just a few minutes.
I was therefore surprised to hear my wife banging on the door and saying, ‘Hurry up, it’s late! If you don’t leave soon you will be late for work.’
I checked the time and found that it was almost 9.30. The vision must have lasted about seven hours. I left for work with the divine images of my nighttime visitors still revolving in my mind.