Death is a strange phenomenon. Specifically for a Spiritual seeker. During the Mahabharat War, Bhishma had been put on a bed of arrows by Arjun – having shot him many times. But Bhishma didn’t leave his body. He hung around alive till after the war was over and willingly left his body on the Ekadashi (the 11th day on the Lunar calendar). Death on Ekadashi is said to be most beneficial as the energies are aligned in a way that dissolution is a real possibility.
This is the story of my Mother. I am narrating it not to claim anything for anybody, but as my love for her. That experience has touched me very profoundly. Having her as a Mother, first of all, was a serendipitous event in this lifetime for me and my siblings. For me personally, we shared a bond. To me she was the highest Sadhak (Seeker) that I have seen in real life witnessing a journey through the toughest situations that life can throw at someone.
When I was born, my Mother nicknamed me “Gopal” (name for Krishna). When asked why she named me Gopal, she would remind us of a story in the scriptures. An old man whose son’s name was Gopal – whom he loved dearly above all other people – was in his last stage and about to die. As he was taking his last breath, he longingly called out for his son “Gopal!!”. As he was dying, Krishna came to fetch him instead because unknowingly he had called for Him. “And, so he got to make it to Vaikunth with Krishna”, she would say. Vaikunth was her goal. Vaikunth was an experience she took from her stays in Vrindavan where she met her first Guru Shri Mukund Hari Ji and got initiated.
In my life, I have not seen anyone as devoted to his/her Sadhana as my Mother. It didn’t matter when she slept – 10 pm, 1 am, 2 am – she would get up sharp 4.30 am in the morning and after her bath she would sit down for her prayer to her “Thakurji” (a form of baby Krishna), which would last 2 hours. She would keep silent (“Maun vrat”) during that time. She would also make breakfast for us during that time, while her Japa was going on. Through summers, blackout, winters, bad times, good times, sickness, health.. whatever it was.. nothing stopped her from taking her morning bath and then doing her Sadhana. Nothing!
Her devotion to her Krishna and scriptural understanding was such that anyone who came asking for food at our door, would get fresh 3-4 course meal with money to go. Sometimes, even though we were tight on money after my Father’s demise. We would get angry and frustrated because those would be “fake Sadhus” asking for alms. “Why do you do this, Mummy? You know they are fake!”. She would say “I do it because they are asking for food at my door. And, how do I know, one of them could be Krishna himself”.
Alzheimer’s – or rather loss of memory hit her in the late 1990s. It became bad as the years progressed. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop her Sadhana. Then in 2003, I sold our family house which my Grandfather had built and was highly attached to it. He, in fact, had directed my mother to make sure the house was never sold. I had a strong feeling all those years that he hadn’t “passed on”, and selling the house such that it is brought down, may break that attachment, so he could pass on. There were many other reasons to sell the house and I pulled off a miracle when I not just settled a law suit with my Aunt, but also sold the house within 15 days and got a new apartment for my Mom to stay. It was then she started having hallucinations and her health started deteriorating. She subsequently came to stay with us in the US for around 4 months and left for India sooner than we had wanted. Her situation had been stable but was going downhill. After reaching India, her stable situation didn’t last much. Within 3-4 months, she had lost most of the cognition and soon became bed ridden.
The last 5 years thereafter were like that – in total oblivion and loss of cognition, although an inherent awareness – and bed ridden. She was cared for by my sister and her maids. She would often get violent, very uncharacteristic of her in her normal self.
The autumn of 2009 was on in Boston with the beautiful colors on the trees. I was travelling to Boston and staying at a room leased there. I am a pretty balanced person when it comes to living alone. But for 3 nights in a row, I felt something dark around me. As if a dark energy was trying to approach me. And, it would always set off a train of thought as I would wake up from my sleep “My Mother, who had done so much of Sadhana, was in a such a suffering. Why was a person like her going through all this?”. After the third night, I got up in the morning and called my sister in India. “I don’t know what it is, but something doesn’t make sense. I don’t know why I am thinking of this after so many years of her going through this, but I feel it shouldn’t be happening. Call up our friend, who is a Pranic Healer to come and see if something is wrong with Mom. This lady is sensitive and she will sense if something is amiss”. My sister was taken aback by this, but she called her anyway.
I called up later to ask “What happened?” She spoke excitedly “Bhaiya, she came and as soon as she looked in to Mom’s room, she sank into the sofa. And said, Why didn’t you call me earlier? Your Mom is a magnet for other beings. Your Grandfather is still around her and not letting her go”. It was November then. She had stopped chewing food and had to be given mashed food. Our friend went with the aim to work on the Grandfather to help him “pass on”.
My visit was planned for the end of December for two weeks. It was 24th December and I had gone to meet my friend at his office in the Statesman building. He worked at Associated Press and right across his office was a book shop – Oxford Book (no longer there now). He wasn’t there so I went to this place and started looking at books. Had recently done Inner Engineering with Isha yoga, and had been reading and internalizing Sadhguru. Came across a book of his called “Mystic’s Eye“. So sat down to read. Had gone through the first few pages when my friend landed. I bought the book and left. That evening I got a call from my cousin in CHandigarh that my Uncle (his father) was in a critical state. His tumor had burst. He has only a few hours or days left, he said. “So, if you want to meet him, then come”. I left the next morning on 25th December. I reached Chandigarh in the evening and went to meet my Uncle. He was heavily sedated, but it was good to see him. I have had a great respect and love for him all my life!
Went home and as I was lying in my bed, I was reading the Mystic’s Eye. It is a Question and Answer book, where meditators are asking Sadhguru some questions and he is answering them. I was on a chapter called “Beings of the Beyond”, and it deals with “Disembodied Beings” and life “after Death”. He talks at length about one disembodied being, who was haunting the Ashram around the Dhyanalingam consecration time.
Let me tell you about the woman on the roof. We have done many things with such beings, but this particular one hung around for more than a year and a half, maybe two. After Dhyanlinga consecration, my body was in a certain state of instability, and I did not want to meddle with her because they have – what can I say – no sense of judgment. They have a longing. It’s like somebody who is in a deep state of desire has no judgment about life. He just has a longing for something. Somebody wants to drink, he wants to drink. Somebody wants to rape; he wants to rape. It’s not because they are good or bad that they’re doing it. They have no judgment about life; they only have longings….
……but this is a woman who retained her feminine form well, with a heightened sense of femininity. No woman in the world will be like that. She is extremely beautiful and is in much larger proportion than normal. She also creates an illusion of wearing beautiful dresses and presenting herself well. Her vasana is femininity, which is always in counter to masculinity. So if you try to meddle with her, naturally she will come as a woman. She won’t know any other way to approach. This can lead to so many unnecessary situations, but she would not do anything on her own. If I had to invite her into the shrine to dissolve her, in a moment it would have been over.
Many times, ailing people, when they are very old, ask me to visit them. I don’t go unless I see there is enough maturity in them, and I see they are asking me to release them, not to make them well. Their prarabdha is nearly finished. People ask me to come and see their father, grandfather, or somebody when they are sick or old and dying. If I visit that person, within seven to eight days he will be gone. People who find their parents have reached a very ripe age and are suffering will send me a picture of them. If I look at the person’s picture, within seven days he’ll be gone. I do those services also! (Laughs). That’s all we did to the “lady on the roof”. She had put on a very subtle body, and it was so much easier to pull her pins than yours. With her, nothing was needed because there was no physical body.
It was late – probably past midnight, maybe 1 am – at that point. It had been a long day and I was tired. As I was lying to sleep and closed the book, I wondered, if I could send my Mother’s picture to Sadhguru in an email to help “release” my Mother.
Got up in the morning, with the thought of last night’s words of Sadhguru still ringing in my mind. Was ready soon to go to see my Uncle at the hospital. I was planning to stay for 2 more days. As I was walking into the ICU area, my sister called. “Bhaiya, Mom is not getting up!! She was extremely restless the entire night.. had a very hard time… and now just isn’t responding!” I laughed and said “if she didn’t sleep properly last night, OBVIOUSLY she won’t get up early. Let her rest”. But my sister wasn’t so sure “But Bhaiya this is different”. I assured her with complete confidence that everything will be ok. But I realized it wasn’t “business as usual”.
As I walked in, my Uncle was up and greeted me strongly. We talked like before, as if nothing had happened to him at all. He was sad that he was in the hospital, for he was a “Karma-Yogi” – always on the go! As he was asked to rest again, I came out. It was around 12 noon. I thought for a moment, with my Mother’s state in the back of my mind. I said to my cousin “I have done what I could, which is to meet him. I cannot do anything more for him. Infact I am being a hindrance to you guys. I don’t have a car and you have to bring me back and forth over and above your other work! I think I should leave for Delhi.” They agreed and I left. I had to leave my cell phone with someone and I went to get the Shatabdi ticket, which I surprisingly got on a Saturday at that late hour!
That night, when I reached Delhi, and took the Metro to my sister’s place, there was a calm. I sensed something was coming, but didn’t know what. There was no rickshaw at the Metro station so I walked the 3 kms to my sister’s house. As my Brother-in-Law opened the door, he said “Your Mom is in Coma”. I muttered “What?”, almost expecting it. As I saw her, picked her arms and legs, it was as if she was dead already. Her body was completely dead. The only sign of life was her strong and heavy breathing. Innn and Ouut. Hard and strong breath. Nothing else. No life on her face nor anywhere in the body.
As we slept that night, I realized that this was her last. The next morning I got up and went to her. She was still continuing with the same rhythmic breathing. I put my hand on her forehead and recited the Mantra that Sadhguru had given to us – saying that it will also help us connect to and feel his energy around us. “Brahmanand Swaroopa…..”. As I finished my first recitation, her pattern suddenly broke and she took a very deep breath. And then resumed her rhythm, albeit a completely different one. I was taken aback. Hurriedly left to take my bath.
As I came back after my bath, I saw my Brother-in-law taking her pulse and talking to his Brother at the same time. He is a Doctor in Chandigarh. “Given what I have explained to you, what do you think about her state?”, he asked. “48 hours?” he asked to confirm. His brother had said that he wouldn’t given her more than 48 hours.
As people realized the enormity of the situation, everyone swung into action. It is strange that one word from a Doctor means more to us than what we can see right in front of us!
“Give her Ganga-jal (Water from Ganga)”
“Read the 18th chapter from Bhagwad Gita”.
Came the advice from around the room – from maids and sister. We got the Gita out, went out to get the Ganga jal.
As we started putting in drops of water in my Mother’s mouth, my sister whispered to her “Mummy Ganga Jal daal rahe hain aapke muhn mein” (we are putting Ganga Jal in your mouth). As if she understood, she moved her lips to gulp the water. My sister looked at me startled. I didn’t want to encourage any feeling or thought of any ” other worldly” stuff, so remained calm. Got the Gita, and started reading the last chapter. My sister suddenly remembered my Mother’s “Thakurji”, whom she didn’t recognize now. After all those years of regular Sadhana!! As she put “Thakurji” next to her on the pillow, my sister whispered again “Mummy, Thakurji rakh diye hain aapke paas” (Have kept your Thakurji next to you). Tears were coming down her cheeks. My sister was again startled, she pointed to me. I looked up, saw the tears. It was uncanny! But I had to focus on the Gita.
At that time, I felt like an Actor and the Witness in the scene. It was as if a movie was being directed, and I knew it. But strangely I was also acting IN IT! It was a feeling as if I knew what was going on, yet, I was having an adventure.
As I neared to the end, amidst a lot of flurry, Gayatri Mantra playing on the player gently with people being summoned into the room, I heard my Brother-in-law asking my nephew to get a tissue. “I can’t sense a pulse” As he put the tissue under her nose, he couldn’t see it move. “She is no more”, he announced.
I was still 3-4 verses from the end. I kept on reading Gita, without looking up, as my sister called out “Bhaiya, Mummy’s gone”. As I completed the Gita, I looked up at my Mother’s face. A face that had seen a lot. A lot of hard times, beautiful times, tough situations and great, enlightened, ordinary and bad people – yet reflected Grace. Now it was inert.
It was the most Blissful moment of my entire life as I looked at her face then.
No sorrow. No relief at the end of her suffering. No happiness that she was out of it. Just an experience of bliss. The world was moving, but I was in complete stillness. Nothing moved for me. I was totally fixed.
After a few minutes, I “came back”. Now it was time to take care of the “soul”.
Calls poured in from different places on how to deal with the body. Had to go and get the doctor to certify the death and that it was natural. We also contacted the Cremation ground and got ready to take the body over.
As we were bringing the body down the elevator to take her for Cremation, and had just put it in the van, I nudged my sister standing next to me. “Do you feel this heavy but blissful air around us? It is very heavy!” She nodded “Yes, something is there”.
The next few days were days with moments filled of unexpected joyous situations. After some days a thought was there in my mind. I had seen my Father die when I was 14 years. I still remember, I used to feel him around until a month after his demise. In this case, I didn’t feel her at all. I asked my sister and her maids. The one who had taken care of my Mother for last 5 years 24/7 also admitted, that strangely she just didn’t feel her presence at all. And she was really surprised by that!
The next year, in 2010, I had gone on Dhyan Yatra – pilgrimage to various places like Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, Uttarkashi, Guptakashi etc – along with the Isha group. We were two groups, and as we split on our way to these places, our group landed near the base of Kedar on 23rd September to start the climb to, Spiritually, probably the most profound place in India today. It is where Shiva first started expounding the basics of Yoga and Spirituality to others. Parvati, his wife first and then to the Sapta-rishis.
We came to know that morning, that it was also Sadhguru’s Enlightenment Day. Many years before, he had attained to Enlightenment on this day. As I walked up, I excitedly texted to my sister “What a coincidence, climbing upto Kedar on Sadhguru’s Enlightenment day!”.
After 2 minutes she replied. “That’s not all to the coincidence. Today is Mom’s Shradh as well. Go deliver her completely”.
I just couldn’t stop my tears from it all. The whole area was full of Grace. The entire experience was amazing as I walked up to THE Kedar. That evening, even though I was completely worn out after the climb, I went to perform Mom’s Shradh prayers and then offer food to the Yogis there.
She had been “delivered”, that I had known at the time of her death, but now it seemed like a confirmation.
Two weeks back, my sister and I were talking again about that time. Everything seemed clear to me about that day, except one thing. We could all see that she had stopped her Prana from leaving her despite her certain death by sheer will. Just holding on to it. She wasn’t waiting to see me come back, or she would have left that night itself. She was waiting for a certain “time”, that was obvious. Didn’t quite know what was so special about that time?
My sister quickly replied “You remember I had asked the Pandit for the date (Tithi) for Shradh? At that time he had asked for the time of Mom’s death. I had told him “around 12.10″. So he asked again. Was it before or after 12.10, because the tithi changed at 12.10 from Dashmi to Ekadashi that day. Then I told him that as I saw her take the last breath, which was very clear to me, I looked up at the clock on the wall right away. It had struck 12.13, so it was after. That is why he had said her Shradh was on Ekadashi”
“That means she was waiting for Ekadashi to set in. And left immediately after she crossed into it?!” I said excitedly. “like Bhishma? “.
A day later I called my sister again. “you know what that Ekadashi is called?”
“When Mom left?”
“I checked today. it is known as Vaikunth Ekadashi. Scriptures say that is the day when the “door” to Vaikunth is opened. You know, SHE MADE IT!”
And, by the way, that is why it is also known as Mokshada Ekadashi. Because it is ideal for liberation. Spiritual seekers consider it more important than all other 23 Ekadashis!
Sadhguru continued in that book about the “lady on the roof”…
I brought her into the shrine because I wanted her to leave in a very conducive atmosphere and not get into a state of fear or disturbance. I just brought her inside and asked her to bow down to the shrine. When she did, I just pulled the plugs and dissolved her. It’s finished; she is no more.
Yes, it is indeed finished. My Mother is no more.