The Passing of our Dear Godsister Amekhala
Srutakirti and Amekhala aboard a freighter traveling from the Ukrainian Festival to the Russian Black Sea Festival, 2007
Dhanesvara das: Dear Devotees,
On April 23rd in the morning, on the cusp of Brahma muhurta and Sunrise with the Sun traveling in the north, the day of the demigods, Amekhala left this world for her next opportunity to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Amekhala, the wife of our well-known godbrother Srutakirti Prabhu, was a very sweet person and well-liked by everyone that knew her. I first met her and Srutakirti both almost five years ago in Odessa, Ukraine. We had arrived almost simultaneously at the train station to attend the Bhakti Sangam Festival, the wonderful fall festival on the Black Sea that attracts more than 3,000 devotees each year.
Both Srutakirti and Amekhala were so easy to be with. One might have expected that due to his celebrity status that Srutakirti might be a bit formal, but that was not at all the case. Nor was Amekhala. Since it was my very first days in Ukaine I was happy to have the association of these nice English-speaking devotees for camaraderie, and I instantly felt comfortable and happy in their association. You will hear many devotees express this same opinion about them.
Since they were almost constantly traveling and preaching, it was only at the Black Sea festivals (Ukrainian and Russian) that I would see and associate with both of them. During prasadam many topics of discussion would come up and I would always appreciate how Srutakirti would express some quality of Srila Prabhupada in relationship to the topic, and as well how Amekhala would express insights that were uniquely different from mine, and which made me appreciate her sensitivity and compassion. We are sad not to have her association any longer in this world, but hope that we have the good fortune to associate again with her in some part of Srila Prabhupada’s eternal service.
Srutakirti Prabhu wrote of her final days and passing: “She has had hundreds of devotees pass through the hospice in the last few days she was there. Of course she wanted that her leaving in the UK be a reason for everyone to come to the Manor to glorify Srila Prabhupada, a way to bring the community together. Something that was very important to her. She spoke with everyone, smiling brightly and was more and more peaceful. She had different visions or dreams. Each one allowing her to be more peaceful. All her fear had gone. She hadn’t had any food or drink for days and was just sucking on ice cubes. It was the only thing that didn’t come back up.
“She had many wonderful thoughts and realizations she told us. Many times she mentioned the trick was to realize we are not the doers. Krishna was in control. She said she understands that Krishna love us because if He didn’t He wouldn’t put so much effort into trying to help us.
“She saw Srila Prabhupada with a dozen beautiful gardenia garlands around his neck, looking very regal. She said she always thought that he was disgusted with her but now she knows he loves her a little. She saw Mayapur twice. Each time she saw a very young Lord Caitanya, she thinks. Each time He ran away and she knew it wasn’t time yet. She also saw a little blue boy who also laughed and ran away. She said she is nothing and doesn’t want anyone to think she is anything.
“She ended by saying with pride that even with at temperature of 107F she still recognized everyone. She is very happy, peaceful and glowing and ready to carry on. We are all praying. I am very happy she is no longer suffering and taken by Srila Prabhupada to her next destination.
“She took her last breath at 5:56 a.m. It was without any strain. If you blinked you would have missed it. There was no gasping for a last breath and no pushing from her last breath. It was simple, profound and ladylike. We were happy that Radhanatha Maharaja made it here in time to visit her and speak about her in class on Friday evening.”
Her friend and our Iskcon astrologer, Patita Pavana Prabhu, wrote the following about her passing:
Now let us have a look at the stars under which Amekhala left our limited vision. As stated, she departed during the Uttarayana or “northern path of the Sun”. Bhishma, the great warrior and mahajana, had to rest on a painful bed of arrows for over a month in order to leave during Uttarayana. Amekhala met all criteria for liberation—as per Krishna’s instructions to Arjuna—and then much, much more. Not only was the Moon in the auspicious shukla-paksha phase, or waxing fortnight, but Amekhala left on the auspicious dashami day preceding holy Padmini Ekadashi, the day of Lord Hari.
As noted above, the month, still running, is the rare intercalary Purushottama-masa, Lord Vishnu’s favorite which occurs once in three years. She left this world exactly at the juncture between Brahma muhurta and Sunrise with the Sun in his northern progress, or daytime of the demi-gods.
In Vedic astrology, the Sun is called the atmakaraka, or “planet of the soul”. Lord Surya Narayana, who appeared in the lagna or “house of self” in the chart or kundali of her disappearance, is only one degree from the highest point of exaltation, which is 10º Aries, Mesha rashi.
The phenomenon of the Sun occupying at or near his point of extreme elevation at sunrise—atmakaraka in the atmastan—occurs only for a few hours in a solar year. Who but the self-realized could depart under such conditions?
The bright kundali is decorated with several other telling details, such as Budha in ucchamsa in conjunction with the Sun, but are too technical for a general explanation.
Who can describe the glories of leaving this Earth under such rare stars and exalted muhurta? Even great yogis are denied leaving this world during such conditions. The final statement is the most profound. Only the rarest of souls would be allowed to leave at such a moment because such a fortunate mahatma is certainly granted the eternal shelter of Shri Krishna.
As Srutakirti Prabhu pointed out, Amekhala wanted her departure to be an example for us, her Godbrothers and Godsisters languishing behind in the world of birth and death. In that our Godsister has succeeded beyond the powers of all imagination.
Amekhala’s life and transition to the next world forces us to ask ourselves about the spiritual identities of those who follow Shrila Prabhupada. Prabhupada often said that his disciples–his “nice boys and girls”–are “not ordinary mahatmas, but they are sudurlabha mahatmas”. In fact, Prabhupada, who appeared to the average man as a mere householder-turned-Indian-Swami, was not even an ordinary Jagat Guru. Shrila Prabhupada was the Acharya of World Acharyas. The closer we disciples and ISKCON members can co-operate with one another, the sooner history will verify his position as a shaktyavesh avatara and personal direct associate of Lord Chaitanya’s sankirtan.
Therefore it follows that understanding the most exalted position of our spiritual master means understanding the position of those who serve His Divine Grace with every breath, even their last one. For me, this is the parting message of our beloved and rare Godsister, Shrimati Amhekala devi dasi, beloved daughter of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
All glories to the Lord’s wonderful devotees! All glories to Srimati Amekhala Devi Dasi!