Be Chaste to Bhagavatam - Part 5

Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,
Please accept my humble obeisances! All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev!

This is in continuation of the previous mails transcribing the speech by HG Devakinandan Prabhuji in the Bhaktivedanta Hospital, Mumbai, on the occasion of the first disappearance anniversary of our most beloved Gurudev H H Mahavishnu Goswami Maharaj. In the previous offerings, we saw what should be our mood to approach Srimad Bhagavatam.

1. The mood of approaching Srimad Bhagavatam. 
2. The purpose of studying Srimad Bhagavatam is to be always chaste to Krishna. 
3. The royal road for relishing Bhagavatam is to desire to sincerely hear Bhagavatam. 
4. Attention leads to attraction.
5. Pages of Bhagavatam come alive. 
6. The litmus test of being with Bhagavatam. 

In the last offering, we saw the first litmus test of being self-satisfied. Here we continue the second litmus test.

b) We will not be agitated: Maharaj said that those who are agitated, they are not studying Srimad Bhagavatam. They are using Srimad Bhagavatam. If we are really praying and honouring Bhagavatam, we will not become agitated and if we do become agitated on account of onslaughts of material nature, we will automatically have the presence of mind, by the inspiration of the Lord in the heart, to approach Bhagavatam immediately.

In the last few months of his stay in this world, in Nasik, in Bhaktivedanta hospital, Maharaj constantly made us read Srimad Bhagavatam to him. When the pain became too much and whatever medicines were administered, the real panacea that always came was when Maharaj said, "Chant Bhagavatam." So systematically, throughout the night, we would take turns and read Bhagavatam. I recall one late night in Nasik when Maharaj was in and out of consciousness. I thought he was already asleep. So I lowered my tone of Srimad Bhagavatam so that he would take rest. Immediately he opened his eyes and said "Louder! Why are you becoming softer? Are you hungry? Are you sleepy?" And up to then six hours he had not spoken. So I had no idea even that he was conscious at that point. So then I started reading louder and one more time in the hospital, I was chanting Bhishmadeva's prayers. These prayers are very very dear to Maharaj. Maharaj always had a great inclination for Bhishmadev and it is very significant that Maharaj also by Krishna's mercy left in the period of Uttarayana which Bhishmadev considered also most auspicious. Maharaj moved from Suite 1 to Suite 2 to Suite 3 and 4 every time he moved in and out of the hospital. So when he finally came to the last one where he ended his time, when we entered there, there was one photo above the bed and it was Krishna in His Leela of Rathaangapaani and in Srimad Bhagavatam you know that Krishna in that picture is carrying the chariot wheel and He is rushing towards Bhishmadev and when we saw Bhishmadev's picture and said to Maharaj, Maharaj laughed and said, "Now is the time to end everything because I am like Bhishmadev. We played musical chairs. Krishna made us move from room to room, but He made me end up in this room with Bhishmadev." One night, when Maharaj was in deep sleep, I was chanting Bhishma’s prayers. At one point one of the slokas I started chanting and I was going to end it, when I had a bit of a choke in the throat and Maharaj caught up immediately and he ended the last two lines for me and he said, this is very nice verse and he went to sleep again. I thought, 'This is really amazing!' Maharaj was following every verse as I was speaking it and externally I had no idea that he was actually awake. No idea. And after he heard the verse, I had no way of communicating with him either because he refused to speak. 

In the last few days when he withdrew his senses, including the sense of speaking, he did tell me 2 or 3 months ago that, "It is my desire that at the end I should only have my sense of hearing intact. I pray to Krishna that Krishna would allow me to hear Bhagavatam and hear the Holy name" and he gave me the benediction that, "If you come and it is my time, then you do one of two things only. You chant the Holy names or read Bhagavatam." So I said, "How will I know which one to do?" and Maharaj said, "At that time whatever that comes will come naturally because the Holy name is nondifferent from Bhagavatam." And at that time when Maharaj was leaving, it was 2.00 p.m when I came into the hospital and at that time Maharaj’s movements were erratic. His breathing was very difficult and he was very up and down, up and down. But at that point in time, he cast very loving glances at all of us. We had the picture of Shri Radha Neel Madhav, his beloved deities in Rajkot. We had the picture of Shri Radha Gopinath and Srila Prabhupada. His eyes kept moving from the side of the bed where the deities were, to the other side where we were and he held our hands in such a way, not as if he was in difficulty, but as if he was consoling us. He kept pressing, releasing, pressing, releasing. He kept touching our heads. We thought we should be doing that for him because he is the one in difficulty. But he kept doing it to us. 

About 3.00 or 3.10 p.m. as we kept chanting the Holy names of the Lord, Maharaj's breathing changed. Instead of being irregular, it became extremely regulated and at that point of time, HG Vaishnava Seva Prabhu who was there throughout the three months that Maharaj left Rajkot and winded up his time, very very loyal servant to Maharaj, he was there and he alerted me and he said Maharaj's breathing has changed. So at that point in time, Maharaj's hands became very tight. He no longer stroked us. Now he held my wrist very tightly. So we started chanting stronger and at that point of time, myself, Vaishnava Seva Prabhu, and Sundara Gopal Prabhu we heard this very strong rumbling sound in Maharaj's stomach and just two days ago, I was reading a purport in SB 2.2.21. In the purport, Srila Prabhupada writes extensively of how a devotee, a bhakti yogi at the end of his life, is automatically given the strength by Krishna to control his life air without separate effort so that the life air does not move out of the mouth but it actually moves out from the top of his head. I just read that and left it. When the rumbling sound started in Maharaj’s stomach, something hit me because I and Vaishnava Seva Prabhu had read the purport and we looked at each other. We thought, 'Is something going to change now?' 

At that point in time, the sound of the air started moving. We could actually hear it start from the stomach right up to the throat. At the point, when it reached his throat, Maharaj's facial features changed. He suddenly closed his mouth extremely tightly. Before that he was chanting and chanting and then all of a sudden he closed his mouth very tightly. He clamped it. He did not have his dentures with him and it was a tight clamp. His eyes became very wide and he looked very piercingly at Shri Radha Neel Madhav. Then again he looked at all of us and at that point of time, we heard the sound and then it disappeared and then Maharaj opened his mouth and because we were next to him, and we were bending down, we could see that his tongue was moving vigorously chanting, 'Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.' So at that point in time, he took one very long breath, second, a long breath and third shorter breath, and then his face took on a countenance I can't describe it to you. Those who worked with Maharaj and knew him, there were times when Maharaj became very grateful or humbled before the Lord’s presence and he had an expression he would have at that point and the same expression came on him now. Before that he was very strong and controlled and then he became extremely peaceful and he looked very humbled. At that point in time, he took his fourth breath, and then everything became very still. Before the four breaths were taken, when he was closing his mouth, he became so still that at that point in time, I thought that Maharaj has left us. I started saying, Hare Krishna! Hari bol!. At that point in time, I could not grieve but I felt so… I do not know the word. I felt so happy and transcendentally proud to see that Maharaj has shown us how to live in this world, as he has done for 90 years and now he was showing us how exactly to leave this world and as he was leaving, I remember saying to everyone that he is with us and he is preparing and we should do our part because Maharaj always told us that no one person can go back to Krishna alone. He always said, "Devaki, when the right time comes, I will hold your hand and you hold mine and we will help each other to go back." So I remembered that and I thought what did Maharaj want me to do now? He encouraged me throughout my life to take up Bhagavatam. The least we can do now is to reciprocate with our loving spiritual master. So we chanted more, there was a Mataji who was reading Bhagavatam behind and at that point in time, the atmosphere became very glorious and Maharaj took his last breath. 

Krishna willing, we shall continue to offer the other points spoken by Prabhuji in the upcoming mails. 

Thank you very much. 
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev, 
Vaijayantimala devi dasi,
Abu Dhabi.