By Hari-sauri dasa
This is a brief report on events surrounding Nirguna prabhu during the last week here in Mayapur.
Under Ramadevi’s inspiration and Samkalpa dasi’s organization we had a Govardhan Puja on October 24 for Nirguna prabhu in his room. It was a wonderful event. Devotees in the grhastha community made over 30 preparations and a miniture Govardhan Hill, complete with small signs showing the main pilgrimage spots. Center of attention were seven Govardhan-shilas, Who came to bless Nirguna prabhu and the devotees.
The event began with a reading of Chapters twenty four and twenty five from ‘Krsna’. This was followed by abhishek and kirtan, and then the hill was brought close to Nirguna’s bedside. He was glowing with pleasure to see it and he basked in the association of devotees as they chanted the glories of the holy name and circumambulated the hill. The event culminated with distribution of the prasadam to over 100 devotees. It was a truly transcendental event and Nirguna prabhu was extremely happy with it.
Shortly after this event Janmastami and Samkalpa prabhus, after consulting with HH Radhanatha Swami on the phone, re-organized the care and kirtan schedules to enable Nirguna prabhu to focus more in his internal needs. Nirguna was experiencing more pain and his medication was increased and this took a couple of days for him to adjust to.
In the last few days Nirguna’s physical condition has undergone significant change. At the beginning of Kartika-vrata a few devotees gathered in his room to offer lamps and chant the Damodar-astaka prayers. As they did so, Nirguna’s blood pressure dropped dramatically to about half the normal level of 120. He had some delayed breathing and Dr. Avinasa informed us that if any further reduction occured he would most likely leave within a few hours. Yet during the night his condition stablized and in the morning he was alert, taking small amounts of fruit juice and caranamrta and asking for devotees to read to him.
For the last few days his body has continued to function at a low level with his blood pressure maintaining at about 66. The doctor feels that he has perhaps 3-4 days more if he continues as he is. If his blood pressure drops to 50 then it will be the end.
At the same time Nirguna’s consciousness is completely clear. He is peaceful and alert and he appears transcendentally effulgent. Two days ago he informed one of the ladies that he had had a dream in which he glimpsed Srimati Radharani and the gopis. He felt they might be indicating for him to come with Them, but he wasn’t sure.
Yesterday morning, October 31, I read to him the story of Ratnaranjini dasi’s departure, which inspired him a lot. So last night I asked him a little about his dream. I told him that “If you get an invitation, you should accept it. You have no reason to remain here.” He replied, “I am ready to go immediately but I haven’t had an invitation yet.” I asked him why he thought that was, and he said he thought that perhaps Krishna wanted him to teach some more lessons. When I asked him what he thought those lessons were, he replied, “For the devotees, I think He wants to give them more opportunity to give some service. And to show them an example (of how to leave). For me, I think He wants me to learn patience. He will do things in His own time and I have to wait for that.”
He expressed some apprehension that he might not recognize when Krishna would come. Although I have no experience to speak from, I still felt confident that Krishna would make things very clear for a great soul like Nirguna and I told him, “Don’t worry prabhu, there is no doubt that Krishna will make it very clear for you, don’t have any doubts about that.” He seemed satisfied with that reply.
I also spoke with him about Kurma prabhu, who Nirguna met and spent a week with last year on the Polish tour. Kurma arrived here two days ago and Nirguna was very happy to see him. Kurma is going to put his mother’s ashes in the Ganges. I contrasted her departure with Nirguna’s, pointing out that Kurma’s mother had slowly declined over 27 years with Parkinson’s disease and had left in a completely unconscious state in a nursing home, so heavily medicated that it blocked out not only all her pain but also her awareness. Although Kurma had made nice arrangements with a tape continuously playing, deity garlands, tulasi leaves, Ganga jal etc., in her last days she was not aware of anything around her.
I told Nirguna prabhu that Kurma had commented to me on the striking contrast between his mother’s exit and Nirguna’s, saying how fortunate Nirguna was to be surrounded by so many loving devotees, the holy names, being in Mayapur in full consciousness. This was surely the reward for so many years spent in dedicated preaching service, and a sure indication that Krishna is very pleased with him. Hearing this, Nirguna smiled a smile of reassurance and confidence.
Now we are hoping that Nirguna prabhu remains at least for a few days more because his old friend Ekanatha prabhu from Prabhupada Village in NC, will be arriving in two days time. Nirguna prabhu has bequeathed his house and some funds to the Bhaktivedanta Archives, thus providing vital support to one of the most important projects in ISKCON, the preservation of Srila Prabhupada’s Vani.
Either kirtans or readings are going on throughout most of the day by the mercy of the devotees, except when Nirguna prabhu is resting. Devotees have responded wonderfully to provide full spiritual support for this beloved disciple of Srila Prabhupada.
During the whole period of his final sojourn here in Mayapur Janmastami and Samkalpa prabhus have provided exemplary support and facility for Nirguna prabhu, turning over half their house for his care. Nirguna has entrusted himself entirely to their care, who, along with several full-time carers, have done a brilliant job of looking after his needs, both physically and spiritually. Their teenage son Prahlad has also been inspired by his parents’ example to consistently help with massaging Nirguna, doing kirtan for him and many other services small and large.
As well as this a large team of care-givers have come forward. Althogh it’s not possible to mention everyone, some of those who have sacrificed significant, and in some cases, all of their time and energy for assisting Nirguna prabhu in his departure are Dr. Avinasa who flew in from Bombay to attend to his medical needs; Gaura Krsna and Hari Bhakti Vilasa prabhus who have attended to all of Nirguna’s physical needs, carefully bathing him every morning, changing his dressings, massaging him for hours a day, sleeping nearby on constant call and myriad other services; Dharmveer prabhu, Yasodadulal prabhu, Madhuryalila mataji, Prema Bhakti mataji, Santi Parayana prabhu, Ram prabhu, Grahila prabhu, Gauranga Simha prabhu, Giri Gopala prabhu for a variety of support both physical and spiritual; Jananivas and Pankajanghri prabhus who come every afternoon to spend a few hours sitting with Nirguna prabhu; and B. V. Madhava Maharaja, who gave up his tour schedule to come and read and chant to Nirguna prabhu until his departure.
There are many other devotees who deserve a mention, especially the teenage students resident here in Mayapur who have spent hours chanting for the pleasure of Nirguna prabhu every afternoon. I will suffice to say that all of the devotees who have given their time and energy to assist in numerous ways are all great souls who are privileged to serve a true mahatma, Nirguna prabhu, who is achieving his life’s perfection in a most exemplary fashion.
All glories to the all merciful Sri Sri Nitai Gaura, Who are the life and soul of Their devotees! All glories to Their holy dhama, Sri Mayapur, which bestows all benedictions upon Their deserving devotees! All glories to the Vaisnava devotees of the Lord by whose transcendental association we can safely traverse this pit of illusion and return back home, back to Godhead! And unlimited glories to His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada by whose mercy alone all of this is taking place!
Your humble servant, Hari-sauri dasa