Radhe Radhe !
Mataji’s (yes, she is the only one whom i lovingly called simply as ‘Mataji’ – although she protested always) final journey has been recorded by none other than her own Sri Gurudev. He writes –
At the hospital bed of Sadanandi dasi – reflections while trying to assist
my dying secretary in her final journey
Oh eternal soul
Trapped in a dying body
Now it’s time for you to go.
Cut the rope of your remaining attachments
By the sword of devotion
And go – please go
Don’t fear- yes, there were many tests on the way but you passed them all
Radha and Krsna are by your side – They are already waiting.
That is about as far I came in my little address to Sadanandi. I had just
entered the emergency ward and stood before her bed. It was obvious: She was
in her last stage fighting with death. Then suddenly I was overwhelmed by a
hurricane of emotions and, in the midst of tears, broke down.
Even in her state of coma, Sadanandi looked like an angel. She was breathing
heavily – apparently not noticing her surroundings. But I could sense – she
was still there. The soul was awake, even in her finished body.
The rest is quickly told: we sang for 8 and half hours the maha-mantra.
After a quick bathroom visit I saw how two nurses took out the second
patient, who had just died. His wheel-bed rolled by. Good that he heard the
Sadanandi’s Mother was there caressing her head and arm – crying and
preparing for the final good-bye.
‘When will death come?’, I asked the doctor when he removed the artificial
life-prolonging machines one after the other.
‘Within the next 24 hours!’, he answered with a sad smile (everyone liked
Sadanandi immediately). ‘There is nothing we can do for her any longer. The
internal bleeding just can’t be stopped. Her liver is dead, kidneys don’t
work and then there is this dangerous virus, and….. Only one strong pain
killer is still administered.’
After 7 hours of maha-mantra, the male nurse Till came and wanted to speak:
‘I congratulate you. What a wonderful atmosphere! I have never seen this
before. Most people who come here die alone. It is me who has to be their
best friend, their lover, father, mother, brother, sister – everyone in one
– because there are not many people who dare to confront the great unknown –
‘Why is that?’, I asked.
‘Most probably because they are reminded of their own death – and then their
whole present life is questioned. Death always puts one disturbing question
with three fat question marks behind everything we do in our life. Is it
really worth it???
I was surprised of the depth of Till’s answer – who quickly added: ‘I wish
that when my time comes, people like you are around me, singing.’
Dear readers, how can I write down what happened next – who of you will
believe me? Please try:
One kirtan was so wonderful that I felt inspired to leave this world in my
mind, and go to Goloka Vrindavana. There, under a wish-fulfilling desire
tree, I entered the presence of the Divine Couple and presented Sadanandi’s
case: ‘Here is Sadanandi, my wonderful disciple. She was initiated in the
parampara where Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared and where Srila Prabhupada
spread Krsna consciousness. All her devotional life was filled with service,
she was kind to all devotees and tried her best to increase her attachment
to You. She loved Your own home, the sacred forest of Vrndavan, and….. (as
I tried to find a point which was best describing Sadanandi, an idea came to
my mind) Yes, her most frequently used word was ‘thank You’ referring to all
the spiritual gifts she received. Kindly, kindly accept her.’ At that moment
the Divine Couple seemed to smile, and Srimati Radharani took a flower and
handed it to Sadanandi. Then she said: “We are already waiting for you”.
(Please don’t get me wrong: I am not claiming to be directly in contact with
the Lord. It was in meditation only.)
Yayoo, yayoo, yayoo….. I was quickly pulled back to emergency room. One of
the monitors suddenly made noise to indicate that her heart beat had
accelerated. Maybe that was a good sign? It was around 10.30 PM when we left
the room. Something in me told me that Sadanandi dasi would prefer to start
her final journey in my absence. It is known that those who die suffer great
pain when they see people around them to whom they are most connected.
In the meantime, Gaurahari and Rangadevi had arrived to replace us. And at
00.30 AM – the beginning of the new day – the telephone rang in
Gaura-bhavan: Instantly I knew; Sadanandi had just left!! Gaurahari was on
the phone and described the last minutes of Sadanandi in these words: “as we
were doing kirtan, Sadanandi’s breath became longer and longer. Her mother
had for a moment fallen asleep and her head rested on the shoulder of her
daughter. All of a sudden I felt inspired to glorify Srila Prabhupada and
her Deities with ‘Jaya Prabhupada!’ and ‘Jay Sri Sri Radha Govinda!’ and
then I sang glorifications to Krsna-Balaram and different places she liked
to go in Vrndavan. Sadanandi’s breathing became very peaceful and, all of a
sudden, she opened her eyes wide and looked at me. She must have felt: now
is the time! I kept on singing ‘Jaya Prabhupada!’, ‘Jaya Gurudev!’ and ‘Jaya
Radhey!’ when she finally breathed her last.
Right after her departure there was an amazingly loving atmosphere all
around us and we felt that Sadanandi had gone on her divine journey back
home, back to Godhead…”
In closing this little article I want to say a deep heartfelt thank you
first of all to Elfie, the wonderful mother of Sadanandi, and then to our
little team in Gaura-bhavan who showed such a wonderful example of the
community of care: Gaurahari, Rangadevi and Bhanu-nandini dasi. Now I want
to also thank all the devotees who have visited her, like Gadadhar das and
the devotees from the Dharma castle, Amara prabhu, Nrsimha-priya, Suzanne,
Katja, Mr Klebig, Helmut, Marei … etc etc
And I want to extend a hearty thank you to all the devotees who have prayed,
done kirtan etc. Really, I am moved. I think all around the world devotees
prayed and produced a supportive atmosphere of blessings. Thank you, thank
you, thank you. At this time we are naturally grieving, but in our hearts of
hearts we feel simultaneously happy. The journey went just like Sadanandi
always wanted her departure to be. Radha and Krsna were really with her all
And death lost its horror.
Ps. Let me end with a wonderful verse which comes to mind when I think of
“Though engaged in all kinds of activities, My pure devotee, under My
protection, reaches the eternal and imperishable abode by My grace.”BG 18.56
To a devotee who is thus engaged in Krsna consciousness the Lord is very,
very kind. In spite of all difficulties, he is eventually placed in the
transcendental abode, or Krsnaloka. He is guaranteed entrance there; there
is no doubt about it. In that supreme abode, there is no change; everything
is eternal, imperishable and full of knowledge. (Srila Prabhupada’s purport
to Bg 18.56)
A personal word to the readers:
It is natural that one feels an increased sense of renunciation and
sincerity of purpose when a near and dear one leaves the body.
I am aware that most of you know Sadanandi personally – so deep feelings
will naturally move your heart – and lots of grief. But there is a
wonderful dimension in all of this: Krsna’s plan.
In addressing you personally, it is important for me to share one point
which became very obvious to me: Her whole departure was really under the
care of Krsna. He kept His promise, that he will protect His devotees.
Of course, during the last year we were sometimes pained to witness the
failing struggle of Sadanandi to regain her health, but now in retrospect
all makes sense:
Some old karmic debts were used by the Lord to detach her from this world
and attach her to Him.
One of her last sentences to me was: “I think that I am ready to go now.”
And a little later: “Yes, I want to go. More service is waiting.”