by Sunayani Sen Gupta, published in The Harmonist 2003

My mother asked Baba whether Narayan-shilas contained gold. Baba confirmed that some of them do and He mentioned that He always carried a dozen of his favourite shilas with Him where He went.

Narayan shilas or shaligram stones are representative of Lord Vishnu and are the living image of Lord Sri Krishna. My mother said that they were available in the Gandaki river in Nepal and Baba confirmed this saying that the jagrit or "living" ones float on the river.

How can a piece of stone float on the water, Mr. Sengupta asked. Baba replied that the typical characteristic of a genuine shila is that it floats, thereby showing the living presence of Godhead within it.

When I asked Him if there were non-floating shilas too, He said that the ones that did not float were apparently not jagrit but could be revived and charged with life in the hands of a true Mahapurush.

The concept of a "living" shila seemed slightly intriguing to me and as if to answer my query Baba said that shilas had human-like qualities. They could move on their own, they communicated and sat in front of people and they even had distinct personalities of their own.

In answer to my mother's query about the types of shilas He said that He had one that was a symbol of Gauri-Shankar and the stone was so powerful that if It were held at the correct angle in front of the TV screen, the TV would automatically switch off. These are extremely rare shilas and are actually "parasmani" or in other words, they are touchstones.

Then Baba narrated a truly incredible and fascinating story. A few years ago, Sri Nripen Chakravarty, the then Chief Minister of Tripura had come to meet Baba and had quizzed Him about shilas. The politician was a Leftist and a firm non-believer and had therefore not believed Baba's explanation about shilas.

However when he returned home he found a Narayan shila reposing in solitary glory right on top of the books that he always kept on his bedside table for reading at night!

Meanwhile Baba had discovered that one of his dozen shilas had gone missing.

Sri Chakravarty called to tell Baba about the shila, adding that he had no idea how it got to his house. Baba laughed and told him that the only rational explanation was that the CM had taken the shila back with him when he had come to meet Baba.

The gentleman was disturbed since he had certainly not pocketed the shila and yet he could not give a logical explanation for It's presence on his bedside table! However, the very next day the Chief Minister restored the shila to Baba.

The following day, the CM called up once again to say that there was a tremendous commotion in his residence. The gardeners had taken him to the sizeable pineapple field at the back of his house. There, sitting on a half eaten pineapple was a salagram shila!!

The pineapple fields behind the CM's residence produced the sweetest pineapples in the country and this particular shila was extremely fond of this fruit. Baba said that He had to go and bring the shila back.

He also brought back the half-eaten fruit and made prasad of the fruit to be distributed amongst all the devotees.

The story was intriguing to say the least and more than anything else, it seemed that the Gods too were very human with human-like qualities in them. The shila had acted like a naughty child who had run truant!

It somehow seemed easier to interact with a Godhead that acted like a living person!

Jai Guru !

Jai Jai Sri Radhey !