The death of my father and the most unprecedented Mercy of Lord Nityananda
The death of my father and the most unprecedented Mercy of Lord Nityānanda – my story and realizations.
Gaur Kṛṣṇa Dāsī: In this lifetime, I have never met with death face to face. Finally that opportunity came to me recently, when my father got really ill and weak and finally left his body in our hands. As an aspiring devotee (who is trying to become a devotee of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa) and after much deliberation upon the recent events, I want to share my story in case of my father’s death with hope to inspire other devotees to consciously try to save their parents and relatives no matter what their current positions is. By the way, it is said in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 4.21.46 that the duty of the son (putra) is to deliver his father from hellish life if he falls into it.
My now deceased father had heart attack some 3-4 months ago. During the attack, in his critical state when he lost consciousness and we thought he was leaving his body, I chanted around him: “Nitāi Nitāi Nitāi…” In the meantime, emergency came, took him to hospital and somehow brought him back to life and consciousness but only to a degree, because after that he sometimes didn’t recognize us and was speaking much nonsense. Moreover, when he returned from hospital, he was unable to even sit on bed, what to speak of getting up or walking. He became completely dependent on others.
Since my brother worked, my mother is also old and in need of help, all care for father became my duty. I tried to avoid it as much as I could, but finally after much resistance I realized there was no escape; for some reason he was in my hands, and I had to take full care of him and sacrifice a lot of my time ecslusivelly for him. Of course, the bothering thing about him was that he was like a tyrant his whole life: he literally terrorized both me and whole family, and actually everyone he came in contact with! So my father and me never had any relationship at all: he could not normally talk with anyone without getting into bitter quarrel, threatening or any other violent behaviour. Therefore I was constantly afraid of him and his violence so I definitely wanted to avoid any closer interaction with him. However, it looks like Lord Nitāi literally forced me into all this, since there was no desire on my part to participate neither in helping his almost dead body or saving his soul from gliding directly into hell or lower animal species.
During those 2 months that I had to take care of him, I was forced to serve him in some very humiliating ways. I wondered what kind of good karma or sukṛti did he have and what kind of bad karma and lack of sukṛti do I have to have to do all this for a person who was terrorizing me in every way my whole life. But somehow i accepted my current low and humble position and was able to move forward forgetting about his past and myself. I took it as my duty and tried to do it the best I could, even to the point of total exhaustion.
During those two months, I gave him prasādam whenever I could, and chanted around him whenever I remembered the Name. It was very hard to remember the Holy Name around a person who was a practical atheist and who was radiating with all negative and contaminatng energy you can imagine. It was reflected in my sādhana as well: I struggled for my sādhana like crazy; it was so distracted throughout the day, all was done in a state of great distress from running here and there and being always alert to help his almost dead body and obscured mind in any way possible. Also, the question “Will he contaminate me - or - will I purify him” was also present. It turned out that none of the above was the case but simply the sweet will of the Lord manifested.
I remember once he was very upset and angry and didn’t want to calm down. I didn’t know what to do and was freaking out. Then I started shouting very loudly in his room: “Nityānanda! Nityānanda! Nityānanda!”- many times, so that even neighbours could have heard it very clearly (actually several building blocks, LOL!). After a while both he and my mother became peaceful and gave up their nervousness. Incredible!
Note: my family is against my ‘Hare Kṛṣṇa religion’ so I don’t mention the name Kṛṣṇa because they go nuts! But still I have many other Holy Names at my disposition, haha!
Also while I was escorting him to hospital on different examinations, I was mentally chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra all the time. The last time we were in hospital was on Rādhāṣṭamī. We spent 7 hours in the hospital that day! I was chanting by him almost all the time. It was 5 days before he left his body. He was very weak and I was on a verge of total exhaustion.
Also, just to mention it here: few years ago, I gave up all merits that I got from my observing of Ekādaśī - and offered it on my father’s behalf. I was inspired to do this for all members of my family and many others (one by one, of course). I don’t say this to show off, but to inspire other devotees to do the same because it really works!
So then came the day of his departure. It was Sunday, the auspicious day of appearance of our beloved Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and also an auspicious day of Śrī Ananta Caturdaśī. Now I want to say that even on his last day, he was cursing and calling us ill names (us-family members). Actually he was a person just like Jagāi & Madai, there was no sin he didn’t commit. Without going into details of his past sins, there are actually 2 reasons why his sins should be known, at least general ones: 1) to point out at the unprecedented mercy of Lord Nityānanda who erases all sins whatsoever even for a person who never showed any desire or interest for spiritual life and who actually persecuted religious or spiritual people, 2) to show the proof of my sinful past lives because in this life I was forced into association of such a sinful person for such a long time and couldn’t escape this torture.
So on the day he had to leave his body, he was extremely angry and defiant. Again I had to find a way to calm him down and make him eat something and take his medicines. Later on, I was inspired to offer an incense stick to Lord Gaurāṅga and was chanting in front of Lord Gaurāṅga’s picture. I usually chant in front of Nitai-Gaur Nam writing visualisation video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIBgp1c-4S0
So I went into my father’s room with incense stick while silently chanting Tulasī devī mantras and he inhaled the fragrance through his nose; I could hear how he smelled it even though he was in half-sleep state. Then he opened eyes and saw me there with stick and looked at me. I asked him: “Does it smell nice?” He said: “Yes.” This calmed him down completely. He left his body on our hands in the afternoon that Sunday while he was breathing heavily his last breaths (due to insufficient lungs function and very weak heart). Again I was chanting “Nitāi Nitāi Nitāi”… Just Nitāi! I knew that only Nitāi will have mercy for such a fallen soul and I knew He would certainly save him from his bad destiny in the future. Of course, the privilege of chanting during leaving body often even devotees can’t afford many times, so I wondered why in a world this sinful man has this great privilege?!?
At his funeral ceremony I chanted “Nitāi Nitāi Nitāi” again, and when the procession on the way to the cemetery started, I was inspired to take a candle lamp and walk right behind his corpse in a coffin, thus being at the head of the funeral procession. There were approximately 80 souls in the procession. While we were walking slowly, I chanted (mentally/silently) “Nityānanda Nityānanda Nityānanda”… I also chanted “Gaurāṅga” and “Hare Kṛṣṇa” mantra. At one moment, while chanting “Nityānanda” I felt spiritual ecstacy and wanted to throw away my lamp and umbrella (it was raining slowly) and wanted to loudly chant and dance in ecstacy! Can you imagine?!? O Lord!!! But I sobered up quickly and continued to act 'normally’ ie. according to time & circumstances. This was the most impressive moment for me. Some other people who were in procession, told me they felt something special in that procession. They thought it was very touching to see me walking first in a procession (as a youngest child of my late father) but they actually felt something else on a subtle level, because this funeral procession turned into a subtle kīrtan procession!
I can’t tell you how endlessly happy I was for everything that Lord Nitāi arranged through my father’s illness and death even against my will and against my desire to do something for his poor soul. To be completely honest, I actually wanted that my father suffer in hell for a while for all disgusting sins he committed in his life. I thought it was just! Just see how cruel and merciless I am! But alas! All this was actually for me! It was me who had to see who Nitāi really is!!! It is me who should become humble, merciful and compassionate like Lord Nitāi when seeing Him being forgiving and merciful to the most sinful souls!
Now the most interesting part: the same day I informed my Vedic Jyotish śāstrī friend, about the day and time of death of my late father. She informed me that he attained mercy of Lord Balarāma, that all his sins and offenses are pardoned, and that he attained heavenly planets!!!!! She also was surprised with what she saw in his death chart (puṇya chakra-chart of merits). I thought she made some mistake in calculations, because it was impossible for a person such as my late father to attain such a reward after living the most abominable sinful life until the day he left his body! She wrote me back and assured me that it is truth.
Note: Previously while he was still alive, she also advised me to chant around him and serve him till he leaves his body, because for some reason he became dependent on me, so I should use a chance and try to save him somehow. She also advised me to keep on chanting and fasting on Ekādaśī for his further promotion after death.
But still I couldn’t believe her, so I took time to personally study the basics for interpretation of death chart (puṇya chakra). And lo and behold, the puṇya chakra of my father looks like a puṇya chakra of a pious saint person who is now forced to enjoy results of 'his’ pious deeds in the heavenly planets!!!!
Mind-blowing! I still can’t come to my senses and hardly believe all these things. However, before he left his body, I asked Lord Nitāi to show me some sign about the destiny of my father after he departs from this planet. And He did! First through his puṇya chakra, then the day after his funeral there was a rainbow at the cemetery.
In any case, I don’t think this is just an 'ordinary case’ but very extraordinary. In a way, the justice that is being held by law of karma is broken in his case. How can one be rewarded with life in heaven and take a body of deva with predominant sattva-guṇa, after he spent his whole life deeply in tamo and rajo-guṇa until his very last breath? But his anger is shown in his puṇya chakra anyway – his Mars is there in his 12th house which among other things signifies the state of mind (what he/she was thinkig of) during person’s last breath. If he was not angry, he could have even become liberated because he has some positons for that and the merciful aspect of Jupiter on his 12th house. Jupiter signifies mercy of God and His will/desire to show mercy to someone.
Note: I’ve seen many puṇya chakras so far, and this 'merciful glance of God’ or auspicious placement of Jupiter in puṇya chakra could not found in many charts of those who were held saints or great benefactors during their life – and vice versa. :) So through all this I learned to withold any judgemental attitude toward anyone because I have no idea what is actually in another person and what kind of plan Kṛṣṇa has with that person. It is said: if God decides to forgive the most sinful person, who are we to recall his/her sins after they are pardoned by God?
So now, my late father must enjoy in heavenly planets for some time and depending on what direction he takes there, he may come back to Earth again. As per myself, I don’t care where in a material world he must incarnate again: if he doesn’t become a devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa or Viṣṇu, all is in vain.
What to say?… I still can hardly believe what I wrote here as a sort of testimony, but it seems to be true no matter how crazy I sound even to myself because I am a rational person who wants to understand everything and I want proofs for everything before I accept something as a fact. I pray that Lord Nitāi purifies my faith and confidence in Him because He proved His power and mercy many times already and I am still faithless. In this regard, I refuse to take any credit for my father’s auspicius death or to be called 'putra’ – the one who saves father from hellish life, because I am unqulified to do that or anything good. Also it must be known that the chart at the time of death is not a reflection of just the last moment; it is being formed through long time, or actually whole life. We know nothing about life of other people or will of God. It was simply the will of the Lord to deliver my father for reasons known only to Him and therefore He used me to accomplish His plan through chanting His Holy Names, taking some prasādam, inhaling some incense, or offering the results of Ekādaśī on his behalf. All glories to the most merciful Lord Nityānanda Rāma! Nitāi Gaur Haribol!
Death is the final exam of our whole life and the final test of our devotion. For example, from this experience I realized how death comes quickly and surprisingly and when death approaches, it is a very confusing moment, you cannot function properly mentally or in any way. In my case, even though I was sober and could clearly see death was approaching my father, because his breathing was decreasing through 1-2 minutes before he actually stopped breathing, but still I couldn’t chant all the time. I chanted, then stopped… like remembering, forgetting… My mind was struggling between rememberance and forgetfullness. Plus, as I already mentioned, it is very hard to remember Kṛṣṇa in a non-devotee atmosphere, and vice versa. And interestingly, I can’t recall if I chanted at the very last breath of his, even though I was fully aware that death was there and he was certainly leaving that time. I can’t remember, actually I don’t think I chanted at that particular moment. Maybe that’s because he was not allowed to go to spiritual world just like that - without becoming a conscious and pure devotee of the Lord. But nevertheless, he amassed enough sukṛti and got enough of purification for attaining better and brighter future; he actually got the most he could get from the mercy of the Lord.
I was reflecting upon this and remembered some statements from śāstra that from Paramātmā comes both rememberance and forgetfullness (which means that no mistake can be made by Paramātmā), and that it is actually very hard to remember the Holy Name at your last breath due to many aggravating factors. It is also said that unless one is 100% pure, they won’t remember Kṛṣṇa at that crucial point. In other words, unless we chant all the time, and unless we remember Kṛṣṇa & His Name (one & the same) all the time, it is very hard to remember Him at the moment of death when we suffer in body and when our mind is confused and obscured. Yes, of course, there is no rule for independent causeless Mercy of the Lord and we all count on that anyway, and we SHOULD count on it because if we don’t beg for Mercy, how can it be given to us? Only a humble and sincere soul, aware of his fallen status can beg for the Mercy of the Lord. And this Mercy is readily invoked and given by our dearmost Lord Nityānanda, the saviour and unconditional purifier of poor souls fallen in this material pool of endless suffering.