It was a chilling morning. All the three of us were performing the ritual of offering water to the departed soul of our father. We were standing waist deep in the river water, which flowed, through the side of our hereditary palace.
I was very surprised and happy to see the young priest, hardly 35 years of age, speaking out the meaning and the philosophical and social relevance of each and every step of all the rituals connected with the last rites of my father who had left this earth for the heavenly abode. I was surprised, in this materialistic world, most of the people who did this sort of rituals, do it just to survive or to mint money. Two extremes. I was happy because, I was looking for a person with a modern outlook who could talk to me and explain to me about Garuda Puranam, the ancient scriptures, which speaks about life after death.
The priest continued….
“Take one handful of water, face the south side and say softly..’Vishwamitra Gotre…”
Rama Varma was my father’s name. He belonged to the lineage of the erstwhile Kshatriya Sage Vishwamitra.
We repeated. Then he told. “Don’t be so loud when you speak his name. Be soft…soft…He is around here in the astral form. He is on a long journey to join the almighty. Let us help him by offering water and food so that he does not face any difficulty all through his journey.”
The ritual went on till noon. I started to get very objective in thinking. My father was lucky that he passed through the thin layer between life and death so smoothly, remembering the name of Lord Vishnu. I wondered what his feelings were right now! Was he happy? Was he sad?
I didn’t feel hungry. My mind was elsewhere searching for the unknown. I went to the room where my father had breathed his last. I lied down beside the cot. The room was dark. Suddenly I felt very light and airy. I got a feeling that I was floating in air. I felt very good. The room took on bright hue all of a sudden.
I was standing. My God, to my horror, I was seeing another me, reclining at my feet in deep sleep. I was seeing another me! I felt uneasy and had no idea what was happening. Suddenly one of my aunts entered the room and put on the light. She was coming towards me. But she did not see me. Oops! She just walked through me towards the toilet. I could hear her saying to herself “Poor child, he must be really very tired”. I got amused and could not help but smile. I looked down and to my surprise, I found that my feet were not touching the floor. And when I walked, I was floating and moving lightly.
I went out to the main hall where a location was marked with holy ashes in the shape of my father’s body. That was where he was laid down for performing all the rituals yesterday before the cremation. I could see a spiral glow around the very area. But that was thinning very fast and was going towards the south.
Then I went towards the center of the large building, where there is an open courtyard. On one of the parapets, the priest was relaxing. I tried to call him, but he seems to have not heard, though his eyes were wide open. Then he sat up and prepared himself for another round of tobacco chewing. Then the realization dawned on me that none of them were aware of my presence.
All of a sudden I heard a scream coming from the room where my father had breathed his last. That was the scream of my aunt who had gone to the toilet. Thereafter I found myself standing inside the room in front of the other me who was reclining on a mat on the ground. I was shocked to find that my aunt was crying aloud and my brothers were running towards the room. My mother was sleeping in the opposite room tired and exhausted. I tried to make my presence felt but no one is hearing me.
I felt a cool breeze waft in through the door. Then I saw my father entering in a white hazy form. He stood by my side and touched my back lightly. His face was very calm and peaceful. He seemed to be fully charged yet sober. There was an aura all around him and a glow from within him. I felt happy and secure. He said, “It is not yet time for you..” . I asked him how he was feeling. He just smiled gently. There was a wealth of meaning in his smile. Never before had I seen him smiling so warmly during my entire lifetime of 40 years. I still possess one precious photograph of him, smiling heartily. This snap appeared in one of the dailies along with the news of his retirement.
There seemed to be a total chaos in the whole palace. Everybody rushed into the room. I saw my brothers struggling not to collapse. My sister could not control herself and she collapsed. My cousins and uncles are trying their best to control
the situation. Everyone around was wondering, the faces betraying their pain, and helplessness.
I asked my father, “What wrong did you do for you to be so submissive to all those around you? Don’t you think that the circumstances have forced you to wear a mask of well-being and suffering internally? I felt that you had so many pre-occupations. You suffered everything along with my mother and went on absorbing everything bad that came to us. ”His face turned sad. The smile vanished. I continued “We could never understand your pain or sufferings. You never let us share it with you and lessen the pain for yourself. But you carried it all on your shoulders.”
He spoke …… But his lips were not moving.
“My dear, be aware that the lifetime is meant for educating oneself so that you proceed to a higher plane when you come here. Go. Go back and be with your mother.”
The words were just echoing and as though travelling in slow motion. He continued but my questions remained unanswered.
“Also tell her that I am happy here and she is the one who has helped me to learn several things about life and the sacrifices that had taken me to a higher plane. Tell her that I would help her to have a peaceful balanced life and always be with her in spirits.”
I then burst out……
“I had lot of doubts and questions to ask you. But you never gave me a chance. Can I have some wisdom from your higher world so that these queries are answered?”
He did not answer but his silence prompted me….
I asked “You were a Shakti upaasaka and you had been a very staunch follower of Shiva and Shakti. You have been visiting Mookambika Temple almost every year till your age of sixty. After that you began to concentrate on Vishnu. You almost stopped your visits to Mookambika and started visiting Guruvayoor instead. Was distance the only reason?”
He smiled again and said “What different does it make? It is a fact that these changes had taken place. Let me also tell you that those were some natural changes that I did not even notice. Now, to clear your doubt, just touch me and concentrate.”
I touched him and tried to concentrate. I started to feel happier inside. The space all around me started getting bright. Very bright. I saw a huge ‘mass’ of light materializing in front of me. The light emanating from that was much much more powerful than the sun we used to see. But surprisingly, this light was very cool and the whole atmosphere was very comfortable. The light started to become bigger and bigger as though ready to explode any minute. The light started to engulf us and I felt that I was a part of that energy field.
My father continued….
“This is the cosmic energy field from where all the other energies emanate. There is only brightness. No colors. Like that, whether it is Vishnu or Shiva or Shakthi, all are same. Only one fact you need to know is that there are two types of energies and they are the Static Energy and the Dynamic Energy. Only a combination of these can enhance the energy level. Each on its own is ineffective for any activity.”
I thought or deduced that, during my father’s 60 years of active life, he had concentrated more on the combination of Static and Dynamic energy which was required by him. The balance life he spent meditating on Vishnu, who offered him peace of mind.
My father continued “So understand, my dear child, the energy is one. One, and only one! Whatever way you generate it. Your body is energy. Earth is energy. Everything around you is energy. So death is only a change of the form. Now go back. I shall always be there when you need me.”
I asked “Then why are people afraid of death? Don’t you think that when someone dies, he or she leaves a big void and that creates a deep sorrow in the minds of the people who are left behind?”
He looked a bit concerned but continued “There is no need to be afraid of death. One need’s to educate oneself and increase their knowledge to keep the fear away. Now, about sorrow, tell me how many people continue to live in sorrow all through their life after the death of one’s near and dear? None. They cannot. This is because, they have to move ahead with their lives and face the reality of the future. One gets sad only when they remember the departed. To remember, one has to forget.”
I tried to digest these profound thoughts.
Another form started to emerge beside my father. That had an amber aura. Slowly it became clearer and clearer. It was the priest who was helping us to do the rituals. I got a shock. He spoke but his voice was very metallic.
“Do not pester your father. Let him have a smooth transition till his next birth. He needs more of introspection and analysis of life to advance within this plane.”
My father slowly brushed him aside and told “Let him speak to me. I was expecting him and I understand his state of mind.”
The priest smiled and gestured to me to keep it short and told “You can ask certain questions to me also. I shall try to answer whichever is within my scope of awareness.” I agreed in gesture. He smiled and slowly faded away.
I asked my father “What do I pursue once I go back?’
“Try to find out what is the purpose of your birth and try to work towards that goal. May be, you will not be able to satisfy your goal one hundred percent. But your effort will take you at least some distance. You should be concentrating more on how to reduce the distance between you and your goal.”
He started to fade away and instinctively he told “I will give you a clue to understand your goal. Keep your eyes and ears open for messages from anywhere, and anybody. Your present path of trying to understand the astral world looks very positive. Opportunities will come your way. Use them to propagate your thoughts. Just go on.”
The light started to diminish and it slowly vanished.
Then I saw my father floating away slowly and there was pain and pride at the same time on his countenance. My father’s presence had left a deep impression on my mind. I was not sure if I wanted to go back or whether I would be able to go back. Then an element of fear crept over me. My attention went back to the chaos.
A local doctor of traditional medicine who treats in allopathic was being ushered in to the room where my ‘body’ was kept. There was total silence in the air. Everybody was expecting the pronouncement of my death officially. The doctor went through the usual decisive tests, stretched himself and looked at my brother with a long face.
All the people started to leave the room one by one. My death was announced. Another series of activities started. The cremation of my body.
Unexpectedly I started getting a strange feeling of heaviness and started falling through a large colorful tunnel. The colors were very bright in the beginning but it started to get darker and darker. I felt a sort of wetness on my face. I tried to wipe it off.
I opened my eyes to find the room very dark and no one around. I heard somebody opening the toilet door. My aunt came out and asked me. “You are tired, aren’t you? Take some lunch and sleep for some more time. I shall call you when the next ritual starts.”
I rubbed my eyes and came out of the room. The Priest was relaxing and I went towards him and asked “Could you explain to me near-death experience or after death experience?”
He smiled and opened the Garuda Puranam.
Back to the real world… Life goes on…