by Patanga and Premananda
This is about the many oneness-experiences me and Premananda had since (and even before) we met. We are starting with Patanga´s stories. (I hope I can recollect the main ones!)
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Stories from Patanga
It was before my first April Celebrations in 2006. I had been reading a short résumé about the life of Sri Ramakrishna's monastic disciples. A certain name struck me the most, that of Swami Premananda. I identified with the character himself, plus the name "Premananda" was ringing inside my head for quite a few weeks, for no rhyme or reason apparent. I even thought Guru might give me a spiritual name, etc. However, I felt it was not yet time for me. So I was back to the question: why this name rings so much inside me?
I then went to New York for the April Celebrations. It turned to be the one I felt the most that I was living inside my heart. I would often come back to my accomodation after seeing Guru physically during long functions and sit on the shrine with my backback still hanging on my back. I just kept on meditating, praying or talking inwardly to Guru until exaustion. Those were really golden moments.
On a certain day I was helping to bag prasad with a number of boys. Right in front of me was this particular boy, called Jan. I liked him very, very much, even though we did not speak much and there were many others around. He mentioned a tendency to repeatedly push himself beyond limits and then suffer for it - a tendency which we both have in common.
A few days later, by the end of Celebrations, Guru called for "Husiar's helper", which was Jan. He was not there. Anyway, some other time Guru called again and there he came. Guru gave him the name Premananda! The very name that had been ringing inside me for weeks and weeks!
Often people see Premandanda and myself walking together and ask "Are you brothers?" In the beggining I would try to explain, but after a certain hundred times I just say a smiling "Yes!" Which is not far from truth.
Occasionally somebody would tell me "So are you in Oslo now?" (Premananda lives in Oslo), or "I liked your singing yesterday" (I was not singing yesterday, but Premananda). This escalated to certain heights!
One day after a morning function on the Christmas trip in Singapore, as I was taking prasad, the person who was leading the meditation looked at me clearly and said: "I shall make your announcement tonight". I was completely stunned. She really was looking at me. But announcement? She must have read my face of wonder and tentatively asked: "You are Premananda, … aren't you?" "No", came the answer from me and some other boys around. That evening an announcement was made that concerned Premananda!
The funny thing is that we do look alike, but not too much. I have brown hair; he has blonde hair. I have darker skin than him; he has a very fair skin. I think it must be something in the consciouness/vibration/heart-oneness/etc that makes people mistake us for each other.
During Celebrations of August 2013, I went to see ayurvedic physician Dr Kumar. When he saw me he bowed most soulfully and said "Namaste, Premananda". Premananda was going to him frequently those days, so it is not a matter of long term memory!
By this time I should come to the point where we came to mistake one for the other too. Premananda had this experience in Malaysia, on the Christmas trip of 2010. As he came out of bathroom, he saw himself on the large bedroom mirror and, surprised, thought it was me! To settle the matter, during the Christmas Trip of 2012 in San Diego, I came out of the bathroom and, looking at the bedroom mirror, surprised myself to think that Premananda was right in front of me!
When organizing roommates for the annual Christmas Trips, Shubhra thought to herself: "I think these two are going to like each other". Barely did she know we are good friends!
That also comes to the point where we seem to have the same kind of experiences in other spheres: Centre life, health, etc. Sometimes they are equal, sometimes alternate. It is, however, hard to remember these facts as I write now. For example, we both had chronic health problems (exaustion) for the last few years. I started first and got better first. He started later and got better later. Other years times we would talk on the phone, only to find out we were both unwell or just recovered from some flu.
Premananda was born on the 13th of May, I was born on the 27th of October. (These are some of Sri Chinmoy's most favoured numbers - 13th April 1964 is the day he arrived on the West, and 27th August 1931 is his birthdate.)
We are almost the same height and weight. We both sing in Kailash's group. We are both very fond and feel connected to the teachings of the Christ, even though neither of us ever went to church. When looking at him Premananda’s grandmother would often joyfully exclaim eyes alight “You are going to be a priest!” People frequently tell me, Patanga, that I look like a priest.
Premananda is very skilled in communication and acting. I, however, am right on the opposite! We both like learning Bengali for Guru´s songs. But now Premananda is an expert! (And we both learned a little Japanese during youth)
Another funny thing is that I do not feel the need to talk to him very often. I live in Brazil, and he in Norway, and we do spend quite some time together in New York or on the Christmas Trips. But it seems that the connection works from afar and I do think dearly of him very often. Premananda is one of the three people that really feel like being my actual and most tangible family (a family within the family of disciples). With most people there is a certain need to be polite, etc. But with him I just feel so confortable.
Some stories by Premananda
In November 2006 the annual Christmas Trip went to Turkey. This was my first ever Christmas Trip. One evening in the hotel in Antalya, I happened to sit with the Brazilians during dinner. I think after less than a minute, Filipe, who later got the name Raviratha, surprised me by exclaiming exuberantly, “ You look just like Israel!” (You can guess who Israel is, he later received the name Patanga). Ashirvad agreed joyfully, “Yeah! It’s true”, and seemed the other Brazilians were in accordance, too. Even though I had briefly seen Patanga on the Celebrations of the year, and finding him an exceedingly nice and proper fellow, I somehow in my mental conception world, clearly thought him to be European, perhaps with some Asian roots, but clearly European, and not even a thought about him being from the Americas, so at the dinner table I had no idea who they were talking about! Many times during the meal Raviratha would exclaim things like “Wow! Your smile! It’s just like Israels”, and “Wow! The way you did that is just like Israel”, and again “It’s so amazing! You look just like Israel”. This was followed by Ashirvad exclaiming joyfully “Yeah!”, and the other Brazilians agreeing in various ways, from nodding to some Brazilian words and the like. Their joy was infectious, and I could tell they all liked this Israel very much! I couldn’t wait to meet him!
I was not able to attend April celebrations 2009, due to difficulties in Oslo during the construction of our second café. However, many of my friends swore that they had seen me there. No doubt, they had seen Patanga.
Arriving to the Christmas trip in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia a few days before Christmas 2010, I was so happy to find that I was sharing a room with Patanga, even thought it was just for one night, in transit to Pangkor Island, Malaysia. I really hoped that we would continue to be roommates on the Island, and was thrilled when that was so. A funny experience from there is one time when I was doing some chores in our room when I turned around... I froze as I was suddenly looking at a living me, less than a metre away, even though there was no mirror there. After what seemed like a few long drawn-out seconds, my image started moving on its own, while I was perfectly frozen. For an instant I thought this must be some kind of spiritual experience, my image getting a life of its own. Then the normal sets and configurations of our present physical reality re-awoke in my mind, and it dawned on me that it wasn’t me standing there. After the initial shock, I’d remember that there ensued much hilarity when I realized it wasn’t me, but Patanga!
Actually, many times it has happened that I have seen Patanga walking down the street, resulting in me being in mildly shocked awe for a moment, because I’m seeing myself walking there. Then it dawns on me with joy “Ah, it’s Patanga!” It’s funny how this situation has repeated itself so many times, and will most likely continue to repeat itself. No wonder people mix us up. Anugata once found himself in the same momentarily perplexed state as me when he saw us together. A split second after realizing what he was seeing, he jokingly exclaimed “Oh my God! I’m seeing double!”