BY JEYANTHY PILLAI
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA – He left us on 18/7/09, coinciding with Kamika Ekadasi. He was playing futsal in Klang. About 40 members all over the country were attending the Congregational Development meeting which his team had organized. They came from all over the country. That morning he had told them in their meeting that all the branches in Malaysia must come together and spread the movement. States which were not active should gear up as well he told them. Representatives from neighboring countries like Thailand, Bali and Singapore were also present.
After that was lunch and they had a short break before the futsal game. He was doing a full fast even without water. He apologized that they overlooked that it was ekadasi that day and it also clashed with a National Council meeting and a Bhagavad-gita contest, when they planned the meeting.
He scored the first goal during the game and then was called to play again as the goalie was very good. He scored another goal. He raised both his hands and then started paying obeisances to those whose feet had he had accidentally kicked in the game. The last time he went down, there was a thud, he didn’t come up after that. (I remember him saying once before that “Our culture is a falling down culture” referring to the obeisances the we offer.) The devotees turned him and found that he was bleeding in the chin and gasping for air. They gave him CPR and rushed him to a nearby clinic. In the car, he was given a little water which he managed to swallow. The devotees chanted all the way but he left his body soon. His limbs was turning cold, but his neck was still warm. Time was 5.15pm The doctor in the clinic told them to rush to the Hospital. He was pronounced dead on arrival at Pantai Medical Centre in Klang.
His family wanted to keep his body for the night and then about 9.30am the next day it was sent to the Sri Jagannatha Mandir, ISKCON KL. His body was placed in coffin just outside the temple and his guru HH Jayapataka Swami Maharaj’s photo placed above his head on a pedestal. Dozens and dozens of long garlands and hand bouquets just kept coming. The coffin was up to its brim with them leaving only space for his face to be seen. Devotees paying their last respects were given red rose petals to be showered onto his feet.
Crowds swelled to about 1000 people until 3pm when the cortege left the temple. We had unending kirtans. He had written in his will: “There should be maximum loud ecstatic kirtan (not placid) and minimal rituals.”
At about 2.30pm the coffin was brought in headed by the brahmacaris and followed by his relatives who had never been to the temple. About 50 of them. The curtains opened as the coffin reached the altar and the kirtans grew louder and more ecstatic. They circumambulated the altar 3 times and then was taken out to a waiting hearse which was decorated with huge garlands and a wreath made of red and peach coloured roses with his photo placed in the center.
Three buses were chartered for the devotees who had come from outstation. The Hindu Sangam president, devotees from the Gaudiya Math, devotees from Singapore, well wishers in the community as well as devotees who had left the movement and joined the Ritvik group were seen in the temple. A few cars were seen carrying the remaining flower bouquets to the crematory. The cortege proceeded slowly along a the path where devotees threw red rose petals from an earlier car. His dad was seen carrying the funeral pot in the hearse.
Dying To Live
“That the soul is unborn and it never ceases to exist. It does not die when the body dies. We are eternal, we are full of knowledge, and we are full of bliss. That is the nature of life. Wherever there is life, that is the essential quality. So, for the soul, there is no death. From a spiritual perspective, death means forgetfulness of our true identity.
Avidyä, ignorance. In ignorance simply means identifying with what were are not. As long as we think that we are this temporary material body and mind and intelligence, we are trying to experience pleasure and fulfillment through this medium. We are not this body. We have never been this body. We are eternal souls, and the real happiness that everyone is searching for is within our very selves. So, this cloud of forgetfulness is likened to death for the soul.
Now, Bhaktivinoda Thäkura explains in one beautiful prayer “He reasons ill who says that Vaishnavas die, When thou art living still in sound! The Vaishnavas die to live, and live to spread the holy name around.” Now when Bhaktivinoda Thäkura and all of the great saints say that devotees die to live, they are not simply talking about death to this gross physical body made out of flesh and bones and blood and so many other elements.
We are speaking of death to the very root cause of all of our misconceptions and sufferings and what is that, that is ahankära or the false ego. This false ego has given us the misconception in which we have forgotten our true, blissful identity. The ätma, the eternal soul is deeply buried in this grave of ignorance. In an apparently dead state, the ätma is in a grave that is covered by the earth that we have accumulated from this foreign land; lust, envy, anger, pride, greed, illusion, the desire to exploit, the desire to possess, the desire to accumulate, this is the dirt that we have collected since time immemorial in which our true-self is buried as if in a grave, but when the false ego, the misconception dies, then the true-self, the soul is resurrected in its full glory.
This gross body, we know, that death is inevitable, but the false ego continues to cover over the soul birth after birth after birth after birth and is depriving us of our real inheritance as the children of God. Death means to let the false ego go and to live in the light of real truth.”
–HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj
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