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THE BANDOPADHYAYA FAMILY OF DEEGHALKANDI

9. Death, A Passage Of Life

 

A few days after the death of their father, Yaminikanta, the twenty-four-year-old daughter of the third son also passed away. One could imagine how agonizing the situation would have been to see the daughter pass away before the very eyes of the mother. How can the mother, who had bore her for nine months in her womb, control herself? But there was a deviation in the happenings in this house. They placed the body of the dead young girl in the courtyard and started ‘Jayaguru Kirtan’. Soulful singing from the depth of their heart. The sorrow and pain slipped away with this kirtan and the heart was filled with unexplainable peace and joy. The mother suddenly saw something and burst out laughing loudly. Everyone stood still, astounded, like a statue. Seeing her daughter-in-law’s unwarranted behaviour, the grandmother retorted, “Being a mother, standing beside the dead body of your daughter, how can you laugh? What will people think?” Her daughter-in-law replied, “O mother! I don’t feel a drop of sorrow inside me. What can I do? My insides are exploding with waves of joy. Thakur must have adorned the throne of my heart and is taking me through this ocean of bliss. How wonderful is this experience!”


Death was waiting to visit them again. A few days after the earlier incidence, Sambhu, the eldest son of Surendranath, suffered from typhoid and was sick in bed. He was unable to join in for the morning and evening prayers. He used to lead the prayers but now, because of the fever he was not able to lift his body up. Lying on his bed, he folded his hands and prayed earnestly, singing all the mantras and stotras he knew. He joined the chorus as they sang ‘Jayauru Kirtan’. In spite of this pain and suffering, he held Sri Sri Thakur in front of him, and within the depths of his heart. Day in and day out he kept singing in his feeble voice, his favourite song, “Jayaguru! Jayguru! Your name fills me with immeasurable joy.” Slowly, the movements of his body declined, his voice became weak, unclear, hardly any strength, but the chanting of ‘Jayaguru Mahanaam’ continued.


Death knocked at their door. Everyone knew the end was near. They carried him to the same tulsi plant in the courtyard and sang ‘Jayaguru Kirtan’ in one voice. Sambhu’s face lit up and everyone saw a glint of a smile on his face. He raised his hands up, folded, as if he was offering his last prayers to someone and the very next moment his hands dropped down lifeless. Everyone continued the kirtan with more vigour as if the kirtan took away all their pain, all their sorrow and sufferings and showered joy on them. It was difficult for Sambhu’s brothers, sisters, cousins and other children in the family to bear this pain, but Sambhu’s mother pacified them and they all joined in the kirtan.


Sri Sri Thakur was informed of Sambhu’s passing away in a letter. Bhuban Maharaj wrote a letter to the family members describing the distress and grief Sri Sri Thakur went through. The gist of the letter was as follows, “You are all so fortunate. I handed over your letter to Sri Sri Thakur. After reading it, he gave it back to me and started crying uncontrollably like a child. He covered his face with both his hands and sat with his head dropped down for about fifteen minutes. Then he looked up at the assembled gathering of devotees and said that one-by-one, your family has lost four of their kin to death and even then, your faith in him has never ceased to grow stronger. He has no idea how he could ever return this. He also said that your family was passing through such a serious testing time. Indeed, you all have been blessed by Gurudev. Sri Sri Thakur will make sure you all pass through this fire of danger and pull you towards his lotus feet. Thakur was so hurt that he couldn’t even gather the strength to write this letter. He kept on saying that his heart has been torn apart. He directed me to write this letter. He will write to you later.”

Three days after they received the above letter, Sri Sri Thakur’s self-written letter reached their home.

Howrah

2/7/39

Dear ones.

Parama subhashisat rashayah santu nityam

I received your letter, written by Binay and Adheer, and came of know of Shambhunath’s eternal journey to Kailash. I am not worried for Shambhu. I am aware of life’s journey beyond death. Shambhu has not gone away from my sight. I know his identity, why he came and why his life’s journey ended in his childhood. I am happy seeing him in his present state. But my heart becomes heavy thinking about you all. I am pained and ashamed. No doubt Binay and Adheer have written about their brother and sister-in-law (Shambhu’s parents) with pride but I am not able to calm myself.


Your inner eye hasn’t opened yet. You don’t even know what happens after death. Even then, how are you able to bear the tragic death of your son? How does a mother tolerate such a devastating occurrence? You have surrendered yourselves at the feet of your Guru. I could not save your son. I feel so ashamed that I don’t think I can show my face to you. But when I read your letter, I was beyond myself with pride and joy. I feel so fortunate to have you as my disciples. My becoming a Guru was worth it. I applaud your trust and your faith in your Guru. I feel like hugging you all tightly to cool my burning heart, to treasure you safely in the innermost chambers of my heart. The ideals that you have demonstrated are rare. O dear! My hands tremble. I don’t know in which auspicious or inauspicious moment I arrived at your home, but from that day onwards your family has been ruined. Only destiny knows what all is in store for you in the future. The signs don’t look good. Maa Mahamaya is making you go through such severe tests! By testing you, she is putting you in the fire, melting you, removing the impurities to turn you into pure gold. Only she knows about her plans. But my blessings are with you to come out roaring as winners with flying colours. To not let yourself be overwhelmed under any circumstance. To carry out your duties in both good times and bad. Don’t get distracted from your goal. May you become immortal in this mortal world by spreading the glory of ‘Jayaguru Mahamantra’. May you be blessed with strength in your limbs, joy in your hearts and bhakti within. May the throne of your Gurudev adorn your heart.

Please tell your mother her Brajabala and Shambhunath are with me. I have employed them in the service of the Lord. I will bless you all and take you to that land of eternal joy. We will all be united in that world again. As long as you five brothers live together with love for each other, you will find me in your midst. My blessings are always with your family. With this I end.

Your well wisher,

Sri Nigamananda

This is similar to a chapter that took place during Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s Navadwip Leela.

…to be continued

Inspired by Krushnapriya Mohanty’s essay, “Deeghalkandi Parivar.”







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