23rd March, 2014, Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh.
One of my most beloved mamaji, maternal uncle, suddenly fell ill and then left his body on 22nd March. He was almost 85 and died peacefully at home, in the presence of his whole family. I pray to Lord Krishna to bless this noble soul.
We rushed on 22nd March early morning to leave for Dharamsala by car, which is approx 500km from Delhi in the northern Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh.
I had following realisation on this day
1. As the his death got confirmed my wife, Priti, suggested that she could accompany me, leaving children with nana & nani, their maternal grandparents. This Mamaji was close my heart, of course he was affectionate towards Priti as well, but the connection was via me. She agreed to accompany because she knew he was very close to my family. My first realisation that had it been Priti’s mamaji I would have refused to go come what may. I would have chosen to stay behind. I realise that this is what I had been doing since beginning, a cold, rather stone, hearted person. I felt ashamed but the words sorry or thank you still didn’t out of my mouth at that time.
2. Ay 4am in the morning I had to suddenly look for an alternative car as my car could not accommodate 6 people and the driver. None of the taxi guys were picking the call and then finally I had to call a friend’s no. who too didn’t pick my call at that hour. I then called up his wife, who picked it after 3 rings and then after hearing me, told me in 3 seconds flat to pick up their Innova and leave my car at their place.
More shame in the heart : Without elaborating too much on this topic let me confess that I would always feel very irritated to get such calls and requests. Yes, it became a bit different for devotee friends, but for my material friends my thoughts and feelings continue to remain the same. For the first time I could see the hypocrisy and narrow-mindedness in my dealings towards non-devotees, that too based on their external behaviour and my own judgment.
3. As we left, I decided not to inform my mother, who was accompanying us in the car, about death of her brother as she gets very emotional and the whole journey will become very difficult with her crying, etc. Usually I get very irritated with her, as her only agenda in life is to enjoy it and despite my best, rather worst, efforts she remains a `karmi’ (materialist) at heart. As we drove on and I started seeing and judging how she is behaving and that she is only interested in gossip and eating. Then strangely I saw her like a small child, who is innocent. I also realised that how, as in case of others, I have been thoroughly judgmental in my behaviour towards her and never realised the pains she went through her life. And rather than guiding her with love and affection, I became rude and cold, trying to behave like a class teacher, whom she could never confide anything. All such discussion will result in some lecture from me to her. I felt very ashamed and promised myself to amend it from today itself.
4. As we finally reached Dharamsala at the home of my Mamaji, I could not stop my tears. I had not met him for many years, twice in last 10 years. I realised how much he will call me to this place where I was born and with so much affection in his heart. I wanted to go but in last 2 years I started thinking about how will I eat at their home, they eat non-vegetarian food, etc. and how it will hurt him if I were to dictate my terms on eating or stay somewhere else. I was such an ass that I could not see the affection and only thought about externals. Despite many instructions that in today’s time food can not purify us and we have to win people with love not by strict rules, thus I became kind of outcast from the whole set of relatives and friends, thinking myself as pure and others as foolish materialists condemned for worst in their future. I also closed the gate to preach to all of them. I was really heartbroken that I kept on deliberating on such issues and could not spend more time with someone who was so full of love and affection towards me and may could have preached hm to Chant the holy name in his last leg of journey. His love for me remained same whether I was tasting failure or success in life. Like my nanaji, maternal grandfather, he never judged me. What a great lesson I learned but at such a great cost and a guilt which I will probably carry for the rest of my life.
I promised myself that I will pray to six goswamis, to guru parampara, to please soften my cold heart, to beg for it each time I take darshan of Deities, to beg my Guru and my fellow god brothers and sisters.
I know that all my chanting has been just audible words coming out of my mouth. I can understand what all hints Guru Maharaj, very subtly, and Shyam Sundar Prabhu, very strongly, have been giving me but I am such a foolish person that I didn’t even consider them for a second, completely blinded in my quest for knowledge.
I searched and got these lines from Nitai Gaura Nama, written by Sri Lochana Das Thakura.
Hence I beg at the lotus feet of all the devotees who read this blog to kindly pray for me so that I too can join this great movement of Mahaprabhu where the only weapon is love and compassion for others, and nothing else, nothing else and nothing else.
I also beg at the feet of dear friend and guide HG Shyam Sundar Prabhu to not give up on a rascal like myself and continue the hard task of `softening’ my stone like heart.
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.