My Voice - 2018


Does a Soul Linger on the Earth after the Death of a Physical Body?

By Usha Gandhi

Do you ever wonder if a soul lingers on the earth after the death of a physical body? Well, read the following story of my dad. Life is beset with problems and death is an ultimate crisis. Death is like a hanging sword when it will fall on us no one knows.

Shri Krishna says: Death is undeniable and unavoidable. Knowing very well that nothing else is certain in life but death, we do not plan for it.

On the flipside, we plan for everything, every day - but many of our plans remain plans.

Well, my mom was a planner by nature. One day she pulled out a small bag from the Tijory- cupboard, and told me, “Remember, this one for the big day. It has to be brand new."

“I don't like this color mom. And no jewelry?" I uvach – biting my lips.

“Forget about the color. And you better be here when I die or I will come back as a ghost and haunt all of you."

“What kind of ghost mom – A Pokémon kind ghost or a 'Paranormal'?" An inquiring mind posed a genuine question to that she responded with ghostly smile.

My baby brother, a cardiologist/comedian snapped back. “You better choose the right time. If you die during summer months, I will not be coming." Because of their razor-sharp wit, our small home always remained “houseful" – it was a good place for a laughing yoga.

My dad had a plan too – different than mom. His plan was to live a purposeful life.

From the early age, dad led a spiritual life in a secular world. Living a life of purity in the materialistic world is challenging but not impossible - dad is a shining example of it. He was an ideal family man. His devotion to his family and extended family was remarkable. He had lost his father when he was six, studied under the street light and oil lamp but remained # 1 student. He had immense empathy for his young widowed mom and helped her in everything she did to support the family. He never forgot anyone who helped him. When he started working, he started paying back his debt [even though they did not want it back]. Honor and gratitude was the name of the game. In spite of his scanty teacher's salary and a big family, he never stretched hands but became a helping hand for many. A lesson to learn from his life is to, “cut your coat according to the cloth." He loved my mom dearly and had planned well for her in case she survives him.

I lift following two lines from one of dad's letter to me.

?? ?? ?? ?? ???????? ???? ?????? ???? ?? ?? ???? ??,

??? ??, ????, ??? ????????, ?????? ????? ??? ???? ??? ??.

This loosely means:?After the death of a physical body, spirit makes a journey from this physical world to the spiritual world [to heaven or another world]. Kabir compares this journey as going to 'Sasural' [home of in-laws] to live with 'Pati' [husband]. We dress up our daughters in beautiful clothes and ornaments while sending her to Sasural. Also, send lots of goodies for her in-laws so she can live there happily forever.

Saint Kabir is telling us that during our journey to the next level all we need to take with us our good karmas. That will please the Almighty.

My dad had an understanding of the philosophy of the Saint and lived by it. His life was sum total of good deeds. One who lives a purpose-full life, ought to experience a peaceful death. Dad was the one could or should have died peacefully, but he did not.

My dad had one worry that was eating him up. During his bonus years, he had created a close bond with a couple of street dogs. Every morning dogs would show up wagging their tails and he would give them milk and biscuits. He worried who will take care of his dogs after his death. Not only that, he just did not want to leave them behind or leave without them. Every adult understands that we have come alone and will leave alone. We cannot take anything or anyone with us. Yet, dad struggled during his last hours.

One of my sisters lives in the same city and not far from them. She and her children were willing to take care of the dogs, however, that was not working for dad. He knew that none of them could/would come early in the morning and religiously.

Finally, when Lakshmiben took the responsibility, he breathed a sigh of relief. Lakshmiben was our home-helper who served my parents faithfully and lovingly till their last breath. She always showed up every morning, at 7am sharp.

My father and mother lived long and blessed lives of eighty-four years. However, I lived regretting not spending much time with them. Soon after marriage, I left everyone and came an ocean away.

During my last visit dad had completed eighty. I had promised him that I will be back soon and spend more time with them.

You know the adage - for man proposes, but God disposes; We Human beings are free to make any plans but it's God that decides their success or failure.

As it turned out, during his final departure, I wasn't there to sing his favorite bhajans [devotional prayers] and to give him grand farewell as I had promised him.

A few months after his death, I went to India.

Lakshmiben gave me a full report about dad's final days and death, including the details about her dreams; stopping in between to clear her throat and wiping tears.

After his death, for fifteen days my dad appeared in her dream - without a miss. One can take it if a dead person appears in a dream once in a while but to have a vision of a dead person every night is creepy, regardless how much we loved the departed soul or vice versa.

After fifteen days, Lakshmiben shared the information about her dream with my mom.

My mom was very insightful. She solved the problem.

After death, a spirit transits to the spiritual world, however, this transition must not have been smooth for his spirit as the worry about his dogs was holding his spirit back to the physical world.

We humans' are earthbound creatures. Hundreds of things tie us to the physical world. During our lifetime, we perform endless activities and, therefore, create mountains of action. We create many relations and experience every known emotion, repeatedly. During dying time, some feel they left things unsaid or undone. Many dreams or missions remains unfulfilled. Many die worrying about families they leave behind. All these things become the hindrance in their journey. The spirit stays tied to the physical world and crossing over does not become a smooth transition. A person dies a physical death; however, the spirit lingers on earth.

The fact is that dad had found some solace in Lakshmiben taking the responsibility. However, from the story of Lakshmiben, it appears that it was not enough.

Mom instructed Lakshmiben that at night, before going to bed she should talk aloud and give assurance to Dadaji that his dogs are happy and she comes and feeds them religiously and will take care of them as long as they live. He should not worry about his dogs.

Bingo. Mission accomplished. From that day forward no more vision of Omdadaji in the dream.

Regardless our understanding of reality, it is difficult to let go of a loved one. Grieving is normal. It is an affirmation of love. However, some people are unable to come to terms with the loss and grieves beyond normal grieving period as it happens in the famous parable of Buddha and the mustard seed. By not letting them go we make the deceased one feel guilty. Our loved ones do not want to see us upset and unhappy. Neither have we wanted them to feel guilty for leaving us.

It is very important to honor the death-wish of a loved ones so that their soul gets liberated from the mundane world and all the bondages that were created during lifetime and help them achieve an eternal peace.

This story assures me that my dad is resting in peace. That gives me peace as well.