The passing away of a special soul
Saranagati (dasi) GRS (Mayapur – IN): I would like to share with you the auspicious passing of HG Biharini devi dasi. In the early hours of Saturday 8th May 2010, during the auspiscious month of Purushottam, Biharini devi dasi peacefully left her body at her home close by to Jagannath Mandir, Rajpur, Sridham Mayapur. Biharini Mataji was a disciple of His Holiness Jayapataka Maharaj, wife of HG Krishna Dayal das, and mother of five sons. Many of you may know the family very well… all five sons have grown up in Krsna Consciousness, always guided and encouraged by their mother and father.
Biharini devi dasi had a strong mood of seva to Lord Jagannath; wherever and however, in sickness or in health. She would always be cooking or making garlands, always serving, always giving. In her service for Ratha Yatra and festivals she would cook for thousands, sometimes five thousand, at a time. Never tiring, always fasting, she was selfless in her mood of service. And despite suffering with the body for the past 5 years, right up until her departure she still desired to go to the Temple, and gave Prasad to whoever came to her home… she was a mix of passion and goodness.
You all know her son Gaura Kirtan das… he has spent most of his life in Gurukula, yet still he was guided by his family, raised in a strong spiritual atmosphere, with his parents always encouraging whatever way was best for their children. A few months before her departure, Biharini Mataji was showing much separation from her son, and was very emotional. Gaura Kirtan prabhu reassured her that she should not worry, she should always chant and see Lord Jagannath in her heart. He told his mother that she should ask the Lord to either fix her or take her fully.
Within a couple of months her condition changed for the worse. Three days before her departure, Mataji told her husband that someone was calling her (even though she had lost her voice, due to paralysis following a stroke, she still used sign language to communicate in such a way that everyone could understand her). Biharini Mataji communicated to her husband, “Come come – they are trying to take me.” Krishna Dayal prabhu asked his wife what happened. Mataji said, “They are trying to take me.” Krishna Dayal Prabhu asked “What did they look like?” Biharini Mataji described that they had four arms, were telling her to come and were trying to take her. Around this time she also told her husband not to be there in the room with her.
During the twenty-four hours before Mataji left Srila Prabhupada’s japa tape was playing, and Krishna Dayal Prabhu and his son, Gauranga das, were reading aloud from Srimad Bhagavatam and Bhagavad Gita. Someone brought Caranamrta from Jagannath Mandir. Everyone was sitting around – it was like Biharini devi dasi had a ‘last glance’ before she left; like she was attached, but at the same time choosing. She called Champakalata, her granddaughter, to sit on her lap. Biharini Mataji accepted water from everyone, and in the evening she appeared to feel a little better. The family noticed some symptoms that mataji may leave her body, and they decided to remain awake; but it was like time played the game and put everyone to sleep; and within 15 to 20 minutes they woke up and Biharini Mataji had left her body.
It appeared that the passing of Biharini devi dasi was felt by all those close to her. At this time Gaura Kirtan Prabhu was in Puri, so his brother, Nilachala das, called him at 10pm saying that their mother was not in a good condition. At around 1/1:30am he was startled by a loud noise, dogs barking and he felt a heavy energy. Jumping up he said to his friend, “Maybe my mother just left.” Narahari Thakur das and Sri Vrajadham das, Biharini mataji’s two sons who live in America, didn’t sleep the whole night either; as with those relatives in their uncle’s house in Kolkata… there was a strong energy. [I also awoke at 1:15am, freezing cold.] As soon as the family ‘woke up’, they touched Biharini’s body – it was still warm. Biharini mataji’s eyes were half-closed and her mouth was open. [When the soul goes out through the mouth one goes to the heavenly planets – as a devotee we have no attachments so we go back to Godhead; if one leaves with the eyes and mouth open it means that you have unfulfilled desires; and if you leave through the anus you go to the hellish planets.] After mataji’s departure you could still feel her presence very strongly – unfortunately she was gone; fortunately, so was her suffering. There was a big kirtan… devotees from all around came and helped in any way that they could.
When I arrived at their home devotees were singing kirtan. Mataji’s body was decorated with lotus garlands from Sri Sri Radha Madhava and from Jagannath Mandir. And Krishna Dayal prabhu was preparing the area where Biharini devi dasi’s body would be put into Samadhi.
I was fortunate enough to be able to assist in bathing mataji’s body… to assist in some small seva just one more time. It was a most wonderful seva… assisting the devotees who have such love for Mataji. Mataji’s presence could be felt so much as we supported her body as it was anointed with tumeric, ghee, oils, etc. Her sweetness emanating as we tried to serve Mataji, her sweet mercy serving us so much more than we could endeavour to serve her.
Biharini devi dasi was such a special soul… it was only a year that I knew Mataji, but in that time I learnt so much from my visits to Mataji… her mood of service, her tolerance with the body… her patience. Although we couldn’t communicate too much -my spoken Bengali being limited – Mataji was very expressionate… always offering me Prasad. After visiting Mataji I would always feel very blessed, very honoured to have been allowed to serve in some way… many realisations came from my association with Mataji as I observed her role within the family – mataji being very much in control, the heart of the home. I learnt so much about what it means to serve, to be selfless, tolerant and patient… and detached.
For a few weeks before her departure Mataji was showing more concern about the paralysis in her right arm and leg. The last time that I visited Mataji was one week before her departure, this time Mataji lay down and looked at me with eyes and heart open, frowning eyebrows with a small puzzled expression as if to say… she was surrendered, she didn’t know what else to do. Taking her hand in my hand I placed my forehead to hers and felt her love, her sweet mood.
Shortly after the bathing and dressing mataji’s eldest son arrived. Gaura Kirtan prabhu expressed that he felt shocked; he didn’t feel like she had left… it being unfortunate that he could not speak to her, fortunate that he was her son. His mother’s body was carried to the area prepared for her Samadhi. There was a ceremony with offerings to Mataji as her body was placed in Samadhi. Devotees came from all around to join in the kirtan and pay their respects. It was like the whole ceremony was not controlled by anyone – just by the Lord and nature. As the Temple programme finished, so did the ceremony, and then the family took bath in Ganga; after which they served a big feast of Prasad to all of the devotees.
For eighteen days the family followed rituals which culminated in three days of remembrance. [Devotees do not need to follow rituals – they are always chanting and performing devotional service – so usually they only follow for three days. In this instance, as Purushottam month comes once every three years, and if you follow the rules and regulations as set out in Hari-bhakti-vilasa – especially during the last five days – then it is 8 times more beneficial than following Kartik vrata, the family extended their vrata of chanting for Biharini devi dasi’s deliverance.] Day one HG Jananivas Prabhu came to Ganga to assist in a personal ceremony for the family. Day two saw remembrances at the family’s home at Rajpur. Many devotees attended and joined in the kirtan. HG Devarsi prabhu performed a shanti-homa yajna, and the family were blessed by the presence of guest speakers… HG Jananivas Prabhu, HG Pankajanghri Prabhu and HG Sankarsan Nitai Prabhu… all of whom spoke very sweetly about HG Biharini Mataji. HG Jananivas Prabhu recalling when He would stay at Jagannath Mandir after Snana Yatra taking care of Their Lordships Jagannath, Baladeva and Lady Subadra; His Grace would hear mataji singing for the pleasure of the Lord, as she sat in front of the closed curtains with her sons. HG said that Biharini mataji had gone back to Vaikuntha and during the pushpanjali offering His Grace recited a pranama mantra for Mataji which is used for one who has entered the Spiritual World, and His Grace expressed that the family should accept Biharini mataji as their Guru in Spiritual life and her service attitude.
Following the remembrances, there was an offering of arati and pushpanjali, after which the family offered a big feast to the devotees, which left them feeling ecstatic and very satisfied.
On day three the family offered another feast of prasadam to all the devotees of the Mayapur community.
The family were strongly supported by friends and all of the devotees out there… the family would like to express their gratitude to everyone… especially to HG Jnanivas Prabhu and HG Pankajanghri Prabhu for Their continued guidance and support.
Biharini devi dasi’s presence is still felt very strong… she is still at home… she is still there in Samadhi.
“…Mothers are irreplaceable and once they depart a void in our world manifests. Your Mother is on a magical journey though and is doing just fine. With that in mind we can smile and keep so many memories of love and care and continue on our journey with positivity.” Deva Das, friend of Gaura Kirtan das
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