Death is the dress of life


 - We gratefully acknowledge the writer Aravind B

web-design : saibabaofindia.com  "SBOI" |


Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Death is the dress of life
Smashana Vairagya is very powerful and poignant.
A funeral

It was with a heavy heart that I rode my bike to the mortuary of the general hospital in Puttaparthi. 11:30 am had been the muhurtam (auspicious time) that had been fixed for the cremation. The person who had left the earthly abode was a very dear ‘uncle’ who had showered on me love like a father. He had occupied a special corner in my heart by simply giving me a large corner of his. And he had passed away peacefully in his sleep the previous night. It was a death that happened in a moment - very easy for the departing soul but very difficult for the souls left behind; souls which were carrying the bodies of relatives, friends and well-wishers. I joined at the head of the funeral procession, singing bhajans and hymns. Soon, yet another body was consumed by flames as a beautiful life completed its sojourn on earth.

Death! What an enigma it is! It is one of the greatest mysteries that continues to confound man. It inspires both awe and fear; inspiration and dread. While the ‘fear’ and ‘dread’ parts can be easily understood, the reader might wonder as to why the author chose words like ‘awe’ and ‘inspiration’ for describing death. Smashana Vairagyam (detachment of the crematorium) is an automatic detachment that anyone attending a funeral experiences. The detachment overpowers the individual as a powerful reminder of the temporary nature of everything that we see around. In its wake, the problems that seem to torment us, differences that we promote, negative feelings that we harbour - all just melt away into relative insignificance. That is when one is lost in awe of the Creator and gets inspired to make his/her life worth something.

Of course there are other kinds of vairagya (detachment) that we automatically experience - Abhava Vairagya (detachment due to non-availability which is akin to calling grapes as sour), Prasooti Vairagya (detachment of a lady due to her labour pains at childbirth), Udaara Vairagya (detachment due to a temporary abundance which will disappear once the object of attachment becomes scarce) and Puraana Vairagya (the detachment one gets while listening to divine stories which I often experience when I pen down my articles) - but personally, I feel that the Smashaana Vairagya is the most powerful and poignant.

A Question

Every time I attend a funeral, a chain of questions form in my head.
“What kind of death do I wish to die?”
“How would I like to be remembered after I am gone?”
“How would I like to lead my life till my ultimate moment comes?”

The average lifespan of a human which is about 70 years is just a teeny weeny blip in the history of mankind. But all of us want those years to mean something - for ourselves and the world around. Answering the above three questions would also give us answers on what our lives mean for ourselves and for others. For each of the above questions, I have a little story to narrate for these are the stories I keep mulling upon when it comes to my thoughts on my death. They are powerful reminders on what we should do in life and give us a peep into the magnanimity and magnitude of God’s love.

Of course the answers to all the questions are linked to my God and best friend, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba (my Swami). And if anyone dives deep into the questions, he/she will find that the answers have to be spiritual. For, as Swami asks during the Birthday discourse on the 23rd of  November 1975,
“How can you expect anything impermanent to give joy which is permanent to you (body and mind) who are also impermanent?”

“What kind of death do I wish to die?”

It was the day of the festival of Onam on the 27th of August, 2007. Among the devotees who were awaiting the arrival of Swami on this special day was Mr.G.K.Raman. Mr. Raman, a long-standing devotee of Swami, was seated in the verandah of the mandir by virtue of him being the Sathya Sai Trust convenor in Tamil Nadu. He was also the director of Sundaram Finance Group. He had not slept well the previous night and that was evident from his swollen eyes.

A concerned person seated next to him told him,
“Why don’t you take some rest today morning? You can come for the evening darshan and programme...”
“I must have Swami's darshan. Then I will go. Swami will come at 8:30. Till then I will sit - it’s not a problem”, he answered with a smile.
The person was surprised at how Mr. Raman seemed to predict the time at which Swami would come. But then, his surprise soon grew into marvel as Swami made an appearance in the chair at about 8:30am!

Swami completed the darshan round and entered the portico where Mr. Raman was seated. Even as he saw his Lord, he bent forward in prostration - or that is what his neighbors thought. A few moments later, they realized that he was not rising back and a tap on his back made him collapse completely, all in Swami’s physical presence.
What a way to say goodbye! In the Divine presence of the Lord. Mr.Raman collapses and is tended to by
several people even as Swami enters the verandah. 

Doctors - the best in their fields from the SSSIHMS - came there immediately. They tried very hard, pumping at his heart and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Swami sat watching the whole seen quite steadily. The Veda chanting continued, the mandir was agog with devotees and yet the verandah was in a state of freeze. Nobody had witnessed anything like this before. 

A file photograph of Mr.G.K.Raman and his wife with
Swami - courtesy Radiosai.
I had a camera in my hand but could not pluck the courage to go closer and take a picture. Mr. Raman weakly opened his eyelids and saw Swami briefly before closing them peacefully. Swami then asked for a glass of water to be brought. He gave it to Mr. Raman's son to offer to his father. He told the students to start bhajans and said that there would be no discourse in the morning. Mr. Raman had passed away peacefully! This whole episode has been captured in the 27th August 2007 page of the Prasanthi Diary.

Now go back and read the statement that Mr. G.K.Raman made to the concerned neighbour in the verandah of the mandir to understand its poignancy. That is how I wish my end would come to me - with my full awareness, in the presence of my Lord and Master.

“How would I like to be remembered after I am gone?”

It was in 1995 that Mr. Nandedkar came to know of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. He was attracted to Swami primarily because of Sai bhajans. “Sai bhajans” is literally a revolution that is happening in the musical and spiritual world. Sai bhajans encompass all kinds of devotion to all forms of God and also give scope for all genres of music. And that made a powerful impression on Mr.Nandedkar, a lover of music and an excellent player of the harmonium. His love for music and God found fulfillment in his devotion to Swami.

However in Abu Dhabi, where he stayed, he was not allowed to play the harmonium during bhajans because of a policy. The policy in the centre there was that unless a person was a regular for at least 3 months, he/she was not allowed to lead the singing or play an instrument. And so, he would go to any house in which bhajans were being held so that he could play and sing in the community bhajans. However, slowly, his passion and intensity paid off and he was allowed to sing and play in the centre too.

His love for bhajans became legendary. In fact, during the Akhand Bhajan (24 hours bhajan singing) he would volunteer to play the harmonium for the whole programme. One particular day in 2001, Mr.Nandedkar, was in his usual self, playing the harmonium. At one particular point during the session, he simply burst into a bhajan, singing the glory of Swami as the Divine Mother - Parthishwari Jagat Janani.

Everybody at the session swore that his singing on that day was something very special. Many were in tears following the bhajan. As the bhajan ended, many even wished that Mr.Nandedkar would continue singing and not stop at all. Like every other bhajan, the Devi bhajan also came to an end. As is the practice, Mr.Nandedkar had to hold the key for the next bhajan. But the same key droned on and on. When everyone looked towards Mr.Nandedkar, he was lying on the harmonium, a blissful smile on his face but no breath in his nostrils! He had completed his life along with his bhajan!

They say that the manner in which a person dies speaks about the manner in which he has led his life. In the case of Mr.Nandedkar, his death indicates the passion, beauty and devotion with which he led his life.
And that is how I feel I want to be remembered when I am gone - as a person who did anything he did like it was the last time he was doing it in his life! I am sure Mr.Nandedkar sang each bhajan as if it were his last bhajan and, finally, that feeling turned out to be true with Parthishwari Jagat Janani.

“How would I like to lead my life till my ultimate moment comes?”

Keya aunty has been an ‘aunty’ ever since she joined the primary school at Puttaparthi as the Hindustani classical music teacher. She has taught several batches of students including my Sai brother Amey and my wife Pooja. In fact, it was Keya aunty who was the major participant in Pooja’s heart-throbbing tryst with possible punishment.

She moved into her seventies and that was when she contracted cancer of the lung. But she was the least bothered. She did not take any medication or meet any doctor. She continued to sing and teach, placing complete faith in Swami. Life seemed to go on smooth for her till a fatal psychological blow struck on the 24th of April, 2011 when Swami shed His mortal coil.

Keya aunty was shattered and suddenly, it seemed as though cancer was eating her away rapidly. She agreed to see doctors of all systems of medicine - allopathy, homeopathy, ayurveda. Nothing helped but she was not bothered a bit. What bothered her the most was the question whether she would see her Lord once again. She kept praying to Swami,
“When will you come? When will I have your darshan again? Please lord... come to me.”

She grew weak and a nurse was appointed to assist and help her in her daily life. The nurse slowly grew accustomed to Keya aunty praying aloud to Swami, talking to Him and asking Him when He would grant her darshan. One evening, the nurse was surprised when she heard Keya aunty exclaim,
“Swami! Finally you have come!”

She rushed into the music teacher’s room. Keya aunty was on her knees, on the floor, stretching out her hand. She seemed to be shocked that the nurse was standing still. She looked at her and said,
“Go get a chair for Swami to sit.”
The nurse could not see Swami but Keya aunty seemed to be holding His hand firmly. She just rushed to the other room to get a chair. When she returned with a chair, Keya aunty was prostrate on the floor, tears from her eyes on the floor and a beatific smile on her lips. She had got the darshan she had pined for and, apparently, saw no reason to continue life after that. She lived for Swami and finally, passed away, pining for Him.

That is how I wish to lead my life till my last moment arrives - in pining, waiting and loving my Lord, my Swami. I don’t know about what it will do to others, but these answers surely will make a world of difference to my life and give

 meaning to it.



Source: http://aravindb1982.blogspot.dk/2013/09/death-is-dress-of-life-sathya-sai.html


More by Sai student Arvind




- The rainbow hues of Swami's laughter...

- God's Omnipresence: Experiences of great proximity to Sri Sathya Sai

-The Shivarathri of my life...Sai Experience

-The day Swami bled to see His children smile...

-Vibhuti manifestation miracles in Puttaparthi

-An amazing experience with Sathya Sai and the Suka Naadi-  Sai Baba - by Sai Devotee Arvind B

-Dreams of Swami are True - by Aravin B 

- God has a sense of humor: Incidents with Sri Sathya Sai Baba

- If you were God, what choices would you make - a thought experiment - by Aravin b

- How Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba became my family deity

- A beautiful solution which Sri Sathya Sai demonstrated in an interview to give up a bad habit

- The Lord's Support - inspiring story of Krishnadasa

- Pining for God is more important than experiences with God - a lesson from my Master

- How Swami became my God - My childhood experiences with Sri Sathya Sai Baba

- Every word of Sathya Sai is as true as the Veda -
an experience of a Sai Student

- Death is the dress of life



Text & photo source - copyrights: Sri Sathya Sai Sadhana Trust - sssbpt.org  - Radiosai.org  Prasanthi Diary -  Sri Sathya Sai Media Foundation - h2hsai.org .  | Web layout - Photo graphic design : saibabaofindia.com  "SBOI" | - We gratefully acknowledge the publishers Sri Sathya Sai Sadhana Trust &  Sri Sathya Sai Media Foundation