Sr. Rani Maria FCC is being beatified today in Indore, at the presence of a lot of Bishops and eminent dignitaries. Blessed Rani Maria is more remembered for the attitude of her family members who were particular in forgiving the offender unconditionally. We see that it ended up in the transformation of the murderer. All over the Christian Churches, especially in India, this week’s homilies could be on the relevance of forgiveness and reconciliation. But it is sad to say that there are not many live examples for these churches to show for model.
Perhaps it could be the consistent prayers and careful steps taken by Swami (Fr) Sadanand CMI that turned out to be the cause for Sr Rani Maria's early beatification. It was through him that this great transformation of the murderer became possible. The Journey of this ascetic priest begins from his enthusiasm to visit the places where Sr Rani Maria lived and the spot at which she was murdered. He later thought of meeting the criminals behind this murder. He collected all relevant details from her convent and started to those remote villages of Madhya Pradesh, where she spent her life.
Though Swamiji could meet the master brain behind the story, even though he said that it is with a message of reconciliation that he has come, he was not accepted. Swamiji returned to his Ashram in Narasimhapur a little disappointed. Five years after the murder of Sr Rani Maria, Swamiji was called to give a retreat to the novice sisters of Clarist order, in Rani Maria Ashram in Udayanagar. There, he could read the depth of fear that is still haunting these sisters.
That is what that prompted Swamiji to continue his mission of reconciliation. He moved to those villages where she worked and began collecting data on her mission. The villagers were of the unique opinion that she was nothing less than a saint. Swamiji could read from their wet eyes, how related was this nun to them. This is the point where Swamiji's respect for her turned to devotion. A sense of fear was hovering over all those villages too.
Determined to do something to ease the tension, Swamiji travelled to Indore Jail, with an intention to meet the murderer, Sri Samandar Singh, who had been left astray by the landlords after he served their purpose. Thanks to the help of his friend who was the Superintendent of Narsinhapur Jail, Swamiji could meet him there, without much difficulty. It was after a week of preparations with fasting and prayers that he moved to Indore Jail.
There Swamiji came to know from Samandar that the moment he was sentenced to life imprisonment he was written off by his family and friends. When Swamiji first met him there, his face was dark with disappointment and frustration. Swamiji told him that he is forgiven, and he is there just to pass this message. They talked for long. As Swamiji, started walking back, he heard a soothing voice from behind, "Come again."
Swamiji visited Samandar Singh again and that relationship grew very strong, because he was the only visitor to meet Samandar Singh from outside the Jail compound. In his third visit, Samandar Singh was found calm and composed. He told Swamiji, that the severe headache, which was disturbing him since the murder of Rani Maria has disappeared. With tears flowing down through his cheeks, he shared with him the full story of her murder.
Swamiji, remembers that Samandar later sent five letters to Swamiji, all in his own primitive village slang. It all revealed the transformation that happened within him. On the holy Rakshabandhan day, as arranged by the Swamiji, Rani Maria's sister nun Sr. Selmi and two nuns visited Samindar Singh in the Jail and Sr Selmi tied Rakhi on his wrist, as a mark of continuing intimacy in between. He was given a few gift packets also that day. The episode virtually filled the eyes of all the witnesses there, with tears.
Following the mercy petition submitted by the family of the diseased Sr Rani Maria, Governor Balram Jakhar accepted their request and Samandar Singh was released in 2006. The story continues saying that Samandar Singh visited Pulluvazhy, Kerala, to meet all the family members including her parents. Swamiji says that Samandar could not control himself there and burst into tears.
On this auspicious day, let us hope and pray that a sense of forgiveness and reconciliation master the country.