Serene Religiosity is the Mantra ~ Punjabi Great Granny Radharani Mehra

by on May 5, 2013

I am happy enough to learn recipes that are three decades old, but never ever imagined that one day I would actually see a pickle that was prepared more than three decades ago. I checked more than a dozen times before I began to believe it, and I must confess, I am still in a state of incredulity. Nimbu ka achaar, or lemon pickle, prepared by Smt Radha Rani Mehra looked appetizing despite its dark colour which was due to its ageing, had a pleasant flavour and a rich sour taste. A simple preparation made with whole lemons marinated in salt and lemon juice for 2-3 weeks and sun-dried. Made in many North Indian families, this pickle is an excellent digestive. Smt Mehra, aka Chaaiji, a term used to mean mother in Punjabi, said that it also helps in cases of nausea, diarrhea and dysentry.

 

Contentment and Religiosity -Radha Rani Mehra

As our conversation proceeded, it became more and more linear, since every reply of hers was steeped in religiosity. Serenity and acceptance are her mantras, and she truly lives a life which reflects her faith in the dictum that every moment of life is chosen by the divine and hence one must live it with faith and surrender. She is blessed with 4 children, 11 grand-children and 13 great grand-children.

 

Namaste Chaaiji! Can we start at the beginning?
I was born in 1932 in Benaras in a good Punjabi family. My family was very affluent and we almost led a kingly life. But I lost my mother at the age of 2 and father at the age of 8. I was the youngest among 7 siblings.

 

Who took care of you?
My eldest sister was like a mother to me. We moved to Amritsar and she brought me up very lovingly. I had all the comforts and hardly did any work at home. It is from her that I learnt to believe in God and look upon every moment and event as his wish.

 

How old were you when you got married?
I was married in 1947 (to Sudarshan Mehra) at the age of 15. After my marriage I went to Kashmir and then came back to Punjab. My husband was a businessman and took good care of me. He passed away in 2007.

 

And what about your Guru? How did you meet him?
In 1950, I met my Guru Maharaj of Anandpur. I was drawn to him and experienced many miracles. My husband did not initially believe in him. I remember one incident when he actually abused one of Guruji’s disciples. I warned him saying that one can abuse God but never his disciples. At that time my husband got into some trouble but was saved. He then started believing it was my prayers that saved him and after that, he too surrendered to my Guru.

 

Your family, especially your daughter-in-law, speak very warmly of you. She says she has learnt to love unconditionally from you.
If you are firm on your chosen path, then your heart is filled with nothing but love. I have always enjoyed my relationships. We are a part of a large extended family, almost with 400 members, and I share love and rapport with all of them. I have been blessed with very loving children. My daughter-in-law, Meena, takes such good care of me. At the age of 38, I experienced the joy of being a grandmother, and now, I am a great-grandmother. Life is good.

 

Meena (daughter-in-law): I believe that the quality of love that exists in her life does not exist even in my generation. She gives so much love that you have no choice but to reciprocate it. And the link simply continues in life. When I fell unwell a few years ago, my daughter-in-law left her job and stayed at home to take care of me.

 

That is wonderful. What is the one trait you really admire about your mother-in-law?
Meena (daughter-in-law): Contentment. She has grown up in riches and lived lavishly. Yet she is content even in this flat of ours today. In fact, living with her has made me realize the power of contentment. The other thing is that she will never ever criticize anyone in public. If she has to tell any of us anything, then she will do so in private. It is a lesson in dignity.

 

Thank you Meena, these are indeed the pearls of wisdom which hold a family together. My last question – Chaaiji, tell me how you spend your days now?
I have always found a lot of happiness in just being at home. I follow a simple routine waking up at 5.30 am every morning. After a bath, I sit down for my prayers for one hour. This is followed by a simple breakfast, after which I generally rest. I used to do a lot of knitting and stitching earlier. I enjoy listening to devotional talks and music on television. I also enjoy the monthly satsang with other women at my home.

 

Your advice to youngsters!
Do not try to fight or change destiny. Every time I tried to do that, I was taught a lesson by life. So accept things for what they are and keep fulfilling your karma.

 

First published in May 2013 in Harmony – the magazine for senior citizens for the column – The Great Granny Diaries. Part-2 of this post is Matar Ka Parantha, an authentic Punjabi recipe from the kitchen of Radha Rani Mehra. She is the ninth grandmother featured in this column.

 

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