On November 3, 2007 at 1.21 PM Nirguna Krsna dasa prabhu left his body and returned to the Lord’s eternal abode.

Nirguna prabhu a few hours before he left

Nirguna a few hours before his departure

A dearly beloved godbrother, Nirguna Krishna prabhu, left his mortal coil in Sri Dham Mayapur in November 2007. It was a singularly ecstatic event, a perfect departure of a saintly devotee, after a life of sincere service. I wrote a series of postings on Dandavats.com which I am reproducing here, in honour of Sriman Nirguna Krsna prabhu. I thought this would be an auspicious way to start my blog…

Four articles posted on Dandavats.com October 10, 2007 8:00 PM, Sridham Mayapur

Nirguna prabhu is in very good consciousness despite his body dwindling to practically skin and bone. He is only taking a little water, and that by shooting it into his mouth with a spray, but he is happy and looking forward to his departure. He told us this afternoon that when he first joined KC, he was told by the devotees there was no enjoyment in this material world, and at that time he didn’t really believe it. But now he said he understands it very clearly.

This afternoon the transcendental twins Jananivas and Pankajanghri prabhus spent some time chatting with him. He is having some nice realizations of progress in Krsna consciousness. He told us that initially when we join the movement, we are full of realizations and enthusiasm, we want to take sannyasa etc. But then after some time we retreat from that and we have to go through marriage, home, earning etc. But now he feels that he is making further and further progress to higher and higher levels, and now there is no falling back. It is very evident that he is fully detached from his body and everything connected with it, and he is centered on the only source of true satisfaction, Lord Krsna.

He is simply praying that Srila Prabhupada will come and take him at the right time. He is relishing readings from Caitanya Bhagavat by Bhakti Vishrambha Madhava Maharaja who has very kindly come to stay here until Nirguna prabhu leaves; 10th Canto readings of Krsna’s childhood pastimes, and some occasional readings of Srila Prabhupada’s pastimes. Some of the brahmacaris come to chant for him in the afternoons from 4-8 PM, many of the Mayapur youth are chanting for him also, and there is a small but enthusiastic squad of helpers to ease his last days in his broken body by providing almost constant massage to ease the pain of his paralysed legs. Janmastami and Samkalpa prabhus have worked hard to provide an ideal environment for his departure in the MIHET building, and have been very active in enlisting other devotees to assist.

Nirguna has been enlivened to receive calls from his godbrothers and sisters around the world. His number is 09332584165.

Its hard to say how much longer he will be with us, but he is setting a wonderful example of how to successfully complete this human form of life. If anyone wants to contact him for a last farewell before he moves to higher realms, India morning time is good for him from 6-9 AM.

Your humble servant, Hari-sauri dasa

November 1, 2007

This is a brief report on events surrounding Nirguna prabhu during the last week here in Mayapur.

Under Ramadevi’s inspiration and Samkalpa dasi’s organization we had a Govardhan Puja on October 24 for Nirguna prabhu in his room. It was a wonderful event. Devotees in the grhastha community made over 30 preparations and a miniture Govardhan Hill, complete with small signs showing the main pilgrimage spots. Center of attention were seven Govardhan-shilas, Who came to bless Nirguna prabhu and the devotees.

The event began with a reading of Chapters twenty four and twenty five from ‘Krsna’. This was followed by abhishek and kirtan, and then the hill was brought close to Nirguna’s bedside. He was glowing with pleasure to see it and he basked in the association of devotees as they chanted the glories of the holy name and circumambulated the hill. The event culminated with distribution of the prasadam to over 100 devotees. It was a truly transcendental event and Nirguna prabhu was extremely happy with it.

Shortly after this event Janmastami and Samkalpa prabhus, after consulting with HH Radhanatha Swami on the phone, re-organized the care and kirtan schedules to enable Nirguna prabhu to focus more in his internal needs. Nirguna was experiencing more pain and his medication was increased and this took a couple of days for him to adjust to.

In the last few days Nirguna’s physical condition has undergone significant change. At the beginning of Kartika-vrata a few devotees gathered in his room to offer lamps and chant the Damodar-astaka prayers. As they did so, Nirguna’s blood pressure dropped dramatically to about half the normal level of 120. He had some delayed breathing and Dr. Avinasa informed us that if any further reduction occured he would most likely leave within a few hours. Yet during the night his condition stablized and in the morning he was alert, taking small amounts of fruit juice and caranamrta and asking for devotees to read to him.

For the last few days his body has continued to function at a low level with his blood pressure maintaining at about 66. The doctor feels that he has perhaps 3-4 days more if he continues as he is. If his blood pressure drops to 50 then it will be the end.

At the same time Nirguna’s consciousness is completely clear. He is peaceful and alert and he appears transcendentally effulgent. Two days ago he informed one of the ladies that he had had a dream in which he glimpsed Srimati Radharani and the gopis. He felt they might be indicating for him to come with Them, but he wasn’t sure.

Yesterday morning, October 31, I read to him the story of Ratnaranjini dasi’s departure, which inspired him a lot. So last night I asked him a little about his dream. I told him that “If you get an invitation, you should accept it. You have no reason to remain here.” He replied, “I am ready to go immediately but I haven’t had an invitation yet.” I asked him why he thought that was, and he said he thought that perhaps Krishna wanted him to teach some more lessons. When I asked him what he thought those lessons were, he replied, “For the devotees, I think He wants to give them more opportunity to give some service. And to show them an example (of how to leave). For me, I think He wants me to learn patience. He will do things in His own time and I have to wait for that.”

He expressed some apprehension that he might not recognize when Krishna would come. Although I have no experience to speak from, I still felt confident that Krishna would make things very clear for a great soul like Nirguna and I told him, “Don’t worry prabhu, there is no doubt that Krishna will make it very clear for you, don’t have any doubts about that.” He seemed satisfied with that reply.

I also spoke with him about Kurma prabhu, who Nirguna met and spent a week with last year on the Polish tour. Kurma arrived here two days ago and Nirguna was very happy to see him. Kurma is going to put his mother’s ashes in the Ganges. I contrasted her departure with Nirguna’s, pointing out that Kurma’s mother had slowly declined over 27 years with Parkinson’s disease and had left in a completely unconscious state in a nursing home, so heavily medicated that it blocked out not only all her pain but also her awareness. Although Kurma had made nice arrangements with a tape continuously playing, deity garlands, tulasi leaves, Ganga jal etc., in her last days she was not aware of anything around her.

I told Nirguna prabhu that Kurma had commented to me on the striking contrast between his mother’s exit and Nirguna’s, saying how fortunate Nirguna was to be surrounded by so many loving devotees, the holy names, being in Mayapur in full consciousness. This was surely the reward for so many years spent in dedicated preaching service, and a sure indication that Krishna is very pleased with him. Hearing this, Nirguna smiled a smile of reassurance and confidence.

Now we are hoping that Nirguna prabhu remains at least for a few days more because his old friend Ekanatha prabhu from Prabhupada Village in NC, will be arriving in two days time. Nirguna prabhu has bequeathed his house and some funds to the Bhaktivedanta Archives, thus providing vital support to one of the most important projects in ISKCON, the preservation of Srila Prabhupada’s Vani.

Either kirtans or readings are going on throughout most of the day by the mercy of the devotees, except when Nirguna prabhu is resting. Devotees have responded wonderfully to provide full spiritual support for this beloved disciple of Srila Prabhupada.

During the whole period of his final sojourn here in Mayapur Janmastami and Samkalpa prabhus have provided exemplary support and facility for Nirguna prabhu, turning over half their house for his care. Nirguna has entrusted himself entirely to their care, who, along with several full-time carers, have done a brilliant job of looking after his needs, both physically and spiritually. Their teenage son Prahlad has also been inspired by his parents’ example to consistently help with massaging Nirguna, doing kirtan for him and many other services small and large.

As well as this a large team of care-givers have come forward. Althogh it’s not possible to mention everyone, some of those who have sacrificed significant, and in some cases, all of their time and energy for assisting Nirguna prabhu in his departure are Dr. Avinasa who flew in from Bombay to attend to his medical needs; Gaura Krsna and Hari Bhakti Vilasa prabhus who have attended to all of Nirguna’s physical needs, carefully bathing him every morning, changing his dressings, massaging him for hours a day, sleeping nearby on constant call and myriad other services; Dharmveer prabhu, Yasodadulal prabhu, Madhuryalila mataji, Prema Bhakti mataji, Santi Parayana prabhu, Ram prabhu, Grahila prabhu, Gauranga Simha prabhu, Giri Gopala prabhu for a variety of support both physical and spiritual; Jananivas and Pankajanghri prabhus who come every afternoon to spend a few hours sitting with Nirguna prabhu; and B. V. Madhava Maharaja, who gave up his tour schedule to come and read and chant to Nirguna prabhu until his departure.

There are many other devotees who deserve a mention, especially the teenage students resident here in Mayapur who have spent hours chanting for the pleasure of Nirguna prabhu every afternoon. I will suffice to say that all of the devotees who have given their time and energy to assist in numerous ways are all great souls who are privileged to serve a true mahatma, Nirguna prabhu, who is achieving his life’s perfection in a most exemplary fashion.

All glories to the all merciful Sri Sri Nitai Gaura, Who are the life and soul of Their devotees! All glories to Their holy dhama, Sri Mayapur, which bestows all benedictions upon Their deserving devotees! All glories to the Vaisnava devotees of the Lord by whose transcendental association we can safely traverse this pit of illusion and return back home, back to Godhead! And unlimited glories to His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada by whose mercy alone all of this is taking place!

Your humble servant, Hari-sauri dasa

November 3, 2007

H.G. Nirguna Krsna dasa

H.G. Nirguna Krsna prabhu, who has been residing in Sri Mayapur dham for the last six months with a terminal case of tumor, departed his mortal coil in the most auspicious and glorious manner at 1.21 PM November 3, 2007.

He was surrounded by loving devotees immersed in the Holy Names, and clutching Sri Giriraj Shila in his hand.

The cremation will take place on the banks of Mother Ganga within the hour.

All glories to Sriman Nirguna Krsna prabhu, whose life and soul was serving the lotus feet of his spiritual master Srila Prabhupada, and distributing his books. The sankirtan movement has lost the association of one of the stalwarts of book distribution and while we lament his absence, we rejoice in the glorious manner of his departure in full Krsna consciousness.

A fuller report will be issued in a few hours time.

Your humble servant, Hari-sauri dasa

November 9, 2007

Nirguna Krsna prabhu gets his invitation

On November 3, 2007 in Sridhama Mayapur, at 1.21 PM, a great soul, Sriman Nirguna Krsna prabhu, departed back to home back to Godhead. This is a very personal account of the glorious passing from this world of Nirguna Krsna prabhu.

While recounting the salient events and my own interactions with him, I don’t meant to in any way minimize the experiences that many other devotees had; it is simply that I can only write about my own. It was a unique experience for me. It was the first time I have personally been present as one of my friends and Godbrothers left this world.

I say friend but my relationship with Nirguna prabhu did not develop along the normal course. Normal friendships are based on meeting, sharing common activities, building intimate exchanges and creating memories and attachments over years of interaction. In the normal state of such relationships there is a great deal of lamentation when they are broken.

But I didn’t get to know Nirguna prabhu until after he came here to Mayapur to die. Our relationship developed only over the last couple of months and it quickly became intimate and close. Yet I didn’t feel any lamentation when Nirguna prabhu left. Rather the opposite; I felt uplifted and inspired and I experienced his passing as a source of jubilation. It was the first relationship I have had that was based on knowledge of the fact that it was going to end very shortly.

My role in it was to assist him to attain his goal of leaving in consciousness of Srila Prabhupada and Krsna. Many other devotees participated in this, and I am proud and privileged to have played a small part in it. He was highly successful in his aim and therefore I have no lamentation at all.

One of the main concerns Nirguna prabhu had in the weeks leading up to his departure was whether he would get some direct indication from Srila Prabhupada or Krsna about his destination. He very much wanted this, but had not had any such experience in the nearly six months he had been in Mayapur. Jananivasa and Pankajanghri prabhus promised him they would pray for him to get this indication from Srila Prabhupada but it remained a source of some anxiety for him.

On about October 28 Nirguna prabhu had an experience which I mentioned in my November 1 report on Dandavats.com, about a ‘dream’ of Srimati Radharani and the gopis. Later I clarified the details of this with Madhuryalila mataji, who had the initial exchange with Nirguna prabhu about this event.

Madhuryalila explained that it was not exactly a dream in which he saw Srimati Radharani. Nirguna had a strong sense of Their presence, but did not actually see Them. He felt They might be inviting him but he couldn’t be sure about it. He told Madhuryalila that he thought “I might be a manjari.” Although it wasn’t a direct darshan or interaction, he felt greatly reassured and enlivened by the experience.

On October 31 evening I had asked him, “I heard you had a nice dream.” He smiled warmly in sweet rememberance and said “Yes.” Then I suggested to him that if he got an invitation, he should accept it. He replied that he was ready to go, but he had not received an invitation and he gave several reasons why.

The following two days were fairly quiet. Nirguna’s bodily functions were beginning to shut down and he was largely withdrawn from external consciousness. On November 2nd morning I went to see him and was happily surprised that he asked me to read to him. However, after only ten minutes he appeared to sleep fairly soundly so I stopped.

I returned during the evening kirtan and spent a couple of hours with him. Many devotees were gathered, chanting earnestly for his elevation and successful exit. Dr. Avnisa from Bombay indicated that he may have one or two days more but he was close to going. At 8.45 PM I decided to go home and rest for a few hours but before leaving I asked Janmastami prabhu to let me know if anything happened.

No sooner had I taken rest when Janmastami prabhu rang at 9.45 PM and told me, “The doctor says Nirguna is near to leaving.” Immediately I jumped out of bed, pulled on my kurta and pants (which was quicker than putting on a dhoti), woke up Kurma prabhu who was staying as my house guest, and together we went over to Janmastami’s.

Many other devotees had begun to gather. Jananivas prabhu was there as was Bhakti Visrambha Madhava Maharaja, and the chanting began in earnest. As soon as I entered I went to Nirguna’s bedside and leant forward close to his ear. I had an expectation that since he was nearing the time of his departure he must have had some indication from Srila Prabhupada or Krsna. “Nirguna prabhu,” I asked, “did you get your invitation?”

I was a bit surprised when he replied, “No, I didn’t get any invitation yet.” “Don’t worry prabhu,” I re-assured him, “You will definitely get it.”

Shortly after this I got a request to inform Nirguna prabhu of a message from Ramadevi. As a trained mid-wife and one of the few devotees in the Mayapur community with any kind of medical training, Ramadevi had taken a leading role in caring for Nirguna prabhu in the preceeding months. She worships Giriraja-shila and she had kept her Giriraja in Nirguna’s room for several weeks so that he could have the Lord’s darshan everyday. He liked this very much and told her that when he first joined Krsna consciousness in 1975, the first picture he had seen of Krsna was the cover of a BTG showing the Lord lifting Govardhana hill. He thought, “Who is that cute little boy?” Nirguna had also told Ramadevi that he was hoping he could leave his body on Govardhan Puja day. It was for this reason that she had organized a special Govardhan Puja in Nirguna’s room on October 24.

Somehow, now at the crucial time, she couldn’t be there. She was in hospital herself in Kolkata for an operation on her kidneys. Her message was short and simple. “Tell Nirguna prabhu that Giriraja is with him. He is holding him above everything and He will take Nirguna to wherever he needs to go.” I told this to Nirguna prabhu and without opening his eyes he nodded.

For the next eight hours we chanted non-stop, all through the night. Nirguna was surrounded by loving devotees, he had the Sri Sri Krsna and Balarama shilas of B.V. Madhava Swami above his head, and another small 1.5″ Giriraja-shila upon his chest. The chanting became especially focused around midnight because it was the appearance day of Radha-kunda and we all felt that would be an ideal time for him to go. But the time passed and he remained with us.

Different devotees lead kirtan while Jananivasa, Kurma and many others danced and chanted in the room with great enthusiasm and intent. It was difficult to stay awake at times but there was no question of sleep. Nirguna was about to leave and we were determined to be there for him at this final stage.

Nirguna himself was fully withdrawn throughout the night and did not open his eyes or even move. He had his hands folded together over his upper chest. His blood pressure had dropped to less than 50, his pulse could hardly be detected and his finger and toe nails had turned a dull greyish color, with no warmth left in his extremities. Dr. Avnish regular checked his condition, including shining a light into his eyes and confirmed he was about to leave at any time.

Right after mangala-arati Janmastami prabhu announced to all the devotees in the temple room that Nirguna was close to leaving and everyone was invited to come and chant for him. Many devotees responded and the room soon filled up with 70-80 devotees all eager to give him a transcendental send off.

Then something wonderful happened.

About 5.30 AM (November 3rd), Madan Mohan prabhu, a Mayapur resident formerly from Saranagati farm in Canada, began leading the kirtan. He is a regular member of the Mayapur hari-nama party which tours the Mayapur campus every afternoon with a loud and enthusiastic kirtan. He started to sing a particularly attractive tune that they sing every day, and which Nirguna must have heard regularly in the months since he came to reside in Mayapur.

Immediately Nirguna’s mouth opened and we saw his tongue begin to move. He was singing along with the kirtan! Suddenly his eyes popped open wide. His face shining with great pleasure, smiling brilliantly, he suddenly stretched open his arms wide and high as if he were dancing with jubilation to the kirtan!

All the devotees crowded forward crying “Haribol, Haribol!” excited to see Nirguna suddenly fully externally conscious and participating in the kirtan. It was something utterly unexpected for someone in his state of bodily existence. For the next couple of hours Nirguna interacted with the devotees. He joined his hands together at the back of his head as if he were simply relaxing rather than being ready to leave his body.

At around 6.30 AM Kurma prabhu began to lead the kirtan. He has a rich, melodious voice, and he sang for all he was worth–for an incredible seven hours straight! Sticking to the one tune, he allowed the holy names to reverberate throughout the room as well as in the hearts and minds of the devotees. He had spent nearly two weeks sharing a room with Nirguna prabhu in 2006 on the Polish tour and got to know him quite well. He had developed a desire to lead the kirtan for Nirguna the evening before, and now Krsna gave him full vent.

At about 8.00 AM I decided to slip home for a shower, having been up all night long. I came back about 8.30 AM. Nirguna prabhu was still fully alert although his blood pressure and pulse readings were almost non-existent. He complained of severe pain in his feet and several devotees eagerly took them in their hands to massage and give him relief. Dr. Avnish also gave him a shot of pain killer on his request and Nirguna settled back a little.

During this whole time he had the small Govardhan-shila sitting on his chest. I thought it might be better to put the Lord in his hand and so I took Him and placed Him in Nirguna’s right palm, wrapping his fingers around the Lord’s tiny body and encompassing Nirguna’s hand in mine to help him keep his grip. As I did this, a devotee came up to me and said that Ramadevi had rung again and had repeated the same message she sent the night before and asked me to tell it to Nirguna. Because I had already told him the previous night, I decided not to repeat it.

A minute later Nirguna suddenly spoke out loud, “Get your piece and go!” I was puzzled. I didn’t know to whom it was addressed, nor was I sure if he was saying “piece” or “peace.”

“Get your piece?” I asked him. “A piece of what prabhu?”

“Giriraja,” Nirguna replied. “A piece of Giriraja.”

I gripped his hand holding the Govardhan-shila. “Get your piece of Giriraja and go?” I asked him.

“Yes,” Nirguna said.

I was unsure who this comment was directed at, but I felt it must be Nirguna himself. “Who has told you this prabhu?” I asked him.

“Giriraja,” he said with surety.

“So Giriraja has told you to get your piece of Giriraja and go?” I asked.

“Yes,” Nirguna said, beaming with transcendental pleasure. He took the Giriraja-shila from his right hand and gripped Him firmly in his left hand, smiling with great love and affection at Him.

I felt elated. It seemed that what he had hoped for all these months had now happened. “So now you got your invitation?” I asked him.

“Yes,” Nirguna confirmed. He was smiling all the while and it was clear that now he had Krsna in his hands and he was now fully in Krsna’s hands.

“So now you can go,” I told him. “Just withdraw from all of this and go to Giriraja.”

Nirguna settled back once more, Janmastami at his left side telling him “Go to Srila Prabhupada Nirguna prabhu,” myself at his right, a whole group of devotees, both men and women, holding his feet massaging them, and everyone chanting ecstatically, following Kurma’s lead.

Then I told him again what Ramadevi had said, “Ramadevi rang to tell you that Giriraja is fully protecting you and He will take you wherever you need to go.” Nirguna nodded with great satisfaction and contentment.

Around this time HH Radhanatha Swami rang with a farewell message. The ear phone was place on Nirguna prabhu’s left ear and he listened intently for several minutes as Radhanatha Maharaja spoke words of encouragement.

About ten o’ clock I was so tired I went home to take a little rest. I asked Janmastami to let me know if any further change occured in Nirguna’s condition. It was hard to say exactly when he would leave so I thought I might get an hour’s sleep. No sooner had I put my head on my pillow when Janmastami rang. “Dr. Avnish says Nirguna is going to go very soon. You had better come back.”

I rushed back over and joined the crowd around Nirguna’s bedside. I took his hand along with Giriraja in it, in mine and began to chant with the chorus. Kurma was still in full throat and the atmosphere was intensely focused on Nirguna’s imminent passing.

At around 1.15 PM Dr. Avnish informed me that Nirguna was going to leave very shortly. He went forward and checked his vital signs. At 1.20 PM he told me, “Now he only has one or two breaths left.” I watched intently. I had never see anyone leave their body before and I didn’t know what to expect. Kurma at that moment suddenly changed from the tune he had been singing for the last nearly seven hours and started singing the standard Hare Krsna tune, Srila Prabhupada’s favorite. The kirtan reached a terrific crescendo. Voices swelled, devotees were shouting “Haribol, Haribol!” “Nirguna prabhu ki jaya!”

I saw Nirguna take a gasping breath and then nothing for at least a minute. Then suddenly one more. And then nothing. His death wasn’t marked by something that happened, it was rather simply a cessation of his presence. At 1.21 PM Dr. Avnish signaled it was over. Nirguna Krsna prabhu had left. He was now beyond our sight, gone with his Lord Giriraja to enter the Lord’s eternal lilas.

The body quickly assumed that waxen lifeless look. Devotees offered obeisances, touched his feet and kept on chanting.

During the course of the next three hours the body was washed, decorated with clean cloth and pujas were done. Devotees carried it in procession on a bamboo stretcher around Srila Prabhupada’s samadhi and then out of our compound to the banks of the Ganges. By this time it was getting dark. About thirty devotees accompanied the body along with the wood for burning it on two boats to a place a kilometre upstream.

It took a half hour to construct the pyre and the body was laid face down on it and then covered with more wood. Janmastami prabhu circumambulated it and then set the fire. Within minutes Agni-deva was consuming Nirguna prabhu’s mortal remains. Those lotus feet which we had so eagerly massaged just a few hours ago, and for days and weeks before, were now reduced to ashes. Most of us returned to the temple after an hour leaving a small crew to tend to the fire until it burnt itself down, and then the remains were placed in Mother Ganga.

The following afternoon a special remembrance gathering took place in the Panca-tattva temple extension. We were fortunate to have HH Radhanatha Swami attend, along with 150 devotees. For two hours we heard sweet rememberances and realizations, all in glorification of Sriman Nirguna prabhu. It was a fitting tribute to a transcendental event, at once purifying and edifying, our hearts cleansed and uplifted by the association of this great soul, Nirguna Krsna prabhu who by his life and death showed us the perfection of Srila Prabhupada’s gift.

All glories to Sriman Nirguna Krsna prabhu! All glories to Srila Prabhupada! All glories to the assembled devotees!

Your humble servant, Hari-sauri dasa

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