Those who read my blogs regularly will probably be thinking 'what - another farewell!?'
Yes, indeed it's true. Whenever I visit spiritual India, the holy places such as Sri Mayapur and Sri Vrindavana, I am blessed with many wonderful gifts, bestowed to me freely. This time I am being shown the fragile nature of material existence and the endless realms of transcendence, side by side.
Yesterday I was very fortunate to be present at the amazing passing away of my friend Nirguna. Words are insufficient to describe the rich and variegated interchange of love that took place in his room. I will try to describe it the best I can.
Nirguna came to Mayapur 6 months ago and during those last months he entered deeply into spiritual consciousness, a rare and blessed place. His dedicated friends and caregivers have provided him with everything he needed both to endure his inoperable disease and to cultivate peaceful spiritual consciousness.
On Friday night my friend and host Hari Sauri (I am staying as a guest in his house) came to my room and told me that he was going next door to be with Nirguna, since, apparently, his end was near. Would I like to join him?
I accompanied Hari Sauri down the stairs of his apartment, and out through the still warm night, scented with night-blooming jasmine and that ever-so-special aroma of the Subcontinent.
Nirguna's room was electric in it's intensity. Sweet Hare Krishna chanting accompanied by harmonium, clay mridanga drum and brass karatals (small cymbals) was in progress, as it is most days and nights. I sat and partook of the opportunity to do some last service for Nirguna.
I ended up staying until 3.00 am Saturday morning, and was privy to some amazing interchange of deep affection. At some stages it seemed that Nirguna's end was near, but it was not forthcoming.
Here is Hari Sauri discussing some truly amazing things with Nirguna who has awoken from what appeared to be a deep trance-like condition. The details of this exchange will be narrated by Hari Sauri elsewhere when he has time to write.
A very significant part of living in a holy place such as Sri Mayapur is the remarkable way in which one's desires, especially spiritual ones, are always fulfilled here. On the Friday night I desired to do some chanting for Nirguna, but did not express these thoughts.
I went back to my room at 3.00am and took a couple hours rest, returning at 5.00am. It wasn't long before I had an opportunity to sing for Nirguna, and before I knew it it had turned into a 7-hour kirtan.
Nirguna was receiving phone calls from many old friends in various countries who wished to speak with him for the last time. As a call came through we chanted softly and the phone was held to Nirguna's ear.
Sacred items were brought to his bedside, including photos such as this one, of the beautiful Sri Radha Madhava and their Eight Gopi Companions on the main temple altar.
The chanting ebbed and flowed like the celestial waters of the Ganges, and a palpable ecstacy was experienced by all. I was fortunate to be a vehicle to share the special benedictions of the Holy Names of the Hare Krishna Mantra, and did my best to do it primarily as a means of serving my friend Nirguna.
After his last affectionate exchanges with devotees, Nirguna went very deep into himself; and at 1.21pm, as I sung the prayers of obeisance to our spiritual master Srila Prabhupada during the final stages of the chanting, he slipped away.
By this stage there were close to 75 souls pressed close to his bed, singing wonderfully in hairs-on-back-of neck-raising uproarious joyful chanting, accompanying Nirguna on his continuing journey.
His body was washed, annointed with sanskrit tilak and mantras, decorated with sacred items, dressed in clean new cloth and prepared for cremation. Saffron and camphor-scented paste of sandalwood and large, fragrant holy Tulasi leaves were placed over his eyes, nose, mouth and ears, and 500 friends and well-wishers accompanied him to the Ganges in an uproariously joyful procession.
vayur anilam amrtam
athedam bhasmantam shariram
om krato smara krtam smara
krato smara krtam smara
"Let this temporary body be burnt to ashes, and let the air of life be merged with the totality of air. Now, O my Lord, please remember all my sacrifices, and because You are the ultimate beneficiary, please remember all that I have done for You."
(Sri Isopanishad, mantra 17)
And that concludes my report on yet another blessed day in Sri Mayapur.
Posted by Kurma on 4/11/07; 11:05:47 AM
from the dept.