Updated: Jun 10
7. Together in Life and Death
Sri Sri Thakur arrived at the home of the Bandopadhyaya family and sat on the chair meant for him. To welcome Sri Sri Thakur to their abode, the family got together for aarti, prayers and worship, as if everyone had surprisingly forgotten the sick Brajabala. By the touch of the magic wand of their Guru, the cloud of gloom and despondency disappeared. The place reverberated with echoes of laughter and life. In the afternoon, all of them took Sri Sri Thakur for a boat ride. The whole atmosphere resounded with chants and cries of ‘Jayaguru Mahanaam’. It appeared that everyone had forgotten everything and was getting soaked in the bliss of that moment. Their eyes only held the form of Sri Sri Thakur and their hearts overflowed with love for him. Suddenly Thakur said, “Listen, can you all sing in the same manner while lifting and taking a corpse in its last journey to the grave?” Everyone cried together, “Bol Hari Haribol.” What kind of a request was that? Was he preparing them to face the unfolding of life?
In the evening, all preparations for aarti were over. Sri Sri Thakur took his seat. Suddenly news came from the inside quarters of the house, “Brajabala’s only wish is to have darshan of Sri Sri Thakur and to sip his charanamrit.” Sri Sri Thakur got up, went near her bed and stood there silently. He looked at her with a steady gaze for some time and returned to his seat. He then said in a serious, thoughtful tone, “Why did you invite me now at a time when you have such a serious sick person at home? You didn’t even inform me.” There was absolute silence. Not a single soul could muster up the courage to answer this question. Sri Sri Thakur broke the silence, “Tell me, if Brajabala breathes her last today, will you all be able to enjoy my presence here?” Everyone assembled there replied in a single voice, “We will Thakur, we definitely will feel happier with you.” Such an example of steadfast faith, devotion and surrender is rare.
“You had shared your property with us one day,
Why should we be affected if you take it back today.”
Everyone sat down for prasad after aarti. The next day, Brajabala’s condition deteriorated. Her final moments were near. What were they supposed to do? Should they cook the bhoga? They all went to Sri Sri Thakur and asked the question. Sri Sri Thakur replied that Brajabala would leave her body only after 2pm. So, they could go ahead and prepare lunch for everyone. After everyone had prasad, Sri Sri Thakur went to his room. The rest of the family quickly finished their chores and assembled around Brajabala’s bed. She only was on her last few breaths. So, they lifted her and placed her near the tulsi plant in the courtyard. She left her body exactly at 2 ‘o’ clock in the afternoon while constantly chanting one name, “Thakur! Thakur!”
How harrowing and scary it is to see your own child slowly passing away in front of your eyes! But everyone was amazed at the scene in this household. No one had tears in their eyes and no one cried. It was as if Sri Sri Thakur had stolen the sorrow and pain from everyone’s heart and replaced it with unbelievable peace and stillness. The heart wrenching cries were replaced with the chanting and singing of ‘Jayaguru Mahamantra.’ The men in the family calmly carried Brajabala’s body to complete the last rites. The rest of the family took their bath and got back to preparing for evening prayers with Sri Sri Thakur. How strange! Sri Sri Thakur is merciful. By his grace, even the most unbearable pain can turn into joy.
In the evening, Bhuban Maharaj gave Sri Sri Thakur a detailed description of all that was going on in the household. Tears rolled down Thakur’s eyes. How unique this family was! The agony and suffering of the death of a dear one became insignificant. Was this possible anywhere else in this world? Everyone was busy in the preparations for the evening aarti. Sri Sri Thakur ascended his seat and said, “I heard from Bhuban about the passing away of Brajabala. Happily, engrossed in preparations to worship your Guru Maharaj, all of you have made such a grave matter seem so light. You have bought me over and I am forever indebted to your love and warmth. I am giving my word that whenever you call me, you will find me near you, to take away all your pain and suffering and immerse you in the ever-flowing nectar of joy. You will go through dangers of much larger magnitudes, but I will help you face them with patience and courage.
…to be continued
Inspired by Krushnapriya Mohanty’s essay, “Deeghalkandi Parivar.”