Jayapataka Swami Guru Maharaj
From the Dairy of Maha Varaha Prabhu, long standing Personal Secretary of Guru Maharaja:
Revisiting Jayapataka Swami in ICU
Screams. Tears. Despair. Anxiety. Stress. Tension. Depression. These are some feelings that patients and loved ones share while in the midst of the ICU environment. One or two dead bodies are transported out of the ICU and past the waiting area practically on daily basis. Just today, two patients left their bodies within a span of ten minutes. Patients experience so much pain, sadness, and irritation on an hourly basis. It almost seems that the comatose are experiencing greater relief than the conscious. Doctors are well conditioned to such patient responses in the ICU. They do not expect many signs of optimism from their patients. However, there itself enters H.H. Jayapataka Swami, an extremely unique case for all doctors in the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences in Delhi. His willpower, determination and overall response have had lasting impacts on all participants of this month-long crisis. Read on to find out some anecdotes of Guru Maharaja’s response to various situations in the ICU.
27th May: When Guru Maharaj was in the ICU for the first time, a patient was dying on the neighbouring bed, so Guru Maharaj had a disciple read the 15th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita to the dying patient. Guru Maharaja was praying for that patient every day. On the day that Guru Maharaja was readmitted to the ICU, the same patient was about to leave the body. Coincidentally, some devotees had brought tulasi and maha garlands for Guru Maharaj on that day. Dr. Vinaya thought these were for that patient who was leaving the body. By just being by the side of Guru Maharaj, this patient was able to leave his body receiving mercy directly from Vrindavan!
31st May: I went around 9 AM into the ICU. Dr Tanmai was holding a paper with the whole alphabet for Guru Maharaja and Guru Maharaja was pointing to the letters. He was trying to say something so I told the doctor that I would help. Guru Maharaja said many things including asking for prasadam.The previous day, we were allowing visitors to go only up to the glass door to have darshan as we could not risk exhausting Guru Maharaja with too many devotees speaking with him. Today, in response, through his signs, Guru Maharaj mentioned why we were holding the visiting devotees at the main entrance gate for darshan and then sending them away. He signalled, “Why is nobody coming close to me?” Through more signalling, he said that he wanted to see devotees. I promised that we would allow devotees to go close to him. Generally when we are sick, we like to be left undisturbed by anyone. But Guru Maharaja, even in this condition, he always prefers devotees’ association. The fact that he cannot use his voice is not a hindrance to his desire to associate with devotees.
2nd June: Just as the visiting hours of the ICU unit were about to end, Guru Maharaj was trying to say something through the alphabet chart to Ruci Prabhu and me. I was telling Guru Maharaj, “Okay Guru Maharaja, you have met enough people. It’s time to take rest. And also, the security guards and Dr. Sarin have imposed a strict rule on us that we are not supposed to be inside the ICU past the visiting hours.” While I was persuading Guru Maharaja to take rest and explaining the strict rules, Guru Maharaj was still trying to say something. At the end, we thought, “Alright, what does he want to say?” Guru Maharaj said, “There is a men’s room here. So when the doctors come, you all go and hide there.” We said that there was no men’s room and that they were only outside. Then Guru Maharaja lifted the forefinger of his left hand and pointed toward his right and there indeed was a men’s room! None of us had noticed the bathroom except for Guru Maharaja. We then told him that the bathroom was only for the staff and not the public. Even though he is lying on a hospital bed in the ICU, Guru Maharaja still has his alertness and sense of humor to play around with. Physical conditions seem to not affect him at all.
3rd June: I came to the hospital around 8:45 AM and started my chanting. While I was chanting at the ICU attendant waiting lounge, around 9.30 AM, Dr. Anamika came from behind and greeted me saying, “Hi”! I replied, “Hi. Hare Krsna!” She continued, “Swamiji is fine. During the morning rounds, they will discuss about the extubation. But you know, I have never seen a patient like him in the ICU. He is so bright and very active. His level of tolerance is super high. Very cooperative. I am so amazed.” All the doctors are sharing similar sentiments about Guru Maharaj! To add to the activities, today, Guru Maharaj even said that he wants to see devotees every 30 minutes.
4th June: For the past days, Guru Maharaj has been communicating using the alphabet chart. Today, the head nurse was saying, “I am tired seeing him spell each word. Some of my staff are even tired by holding the chart! But he is going on and on and is not tired. “Even though the staff may be a bit tired, Guru Maharaj is displaying the results that the ICU staff desires – he is slowly getting better and better!
6th June: I was doing the night shift along with Acyutananda Pr, Goloka Pr and Haridas Pr. At 12:30 AM midnight, we got a call from the night shift doctor, Dr. Anamika. She said that Guru Maharaja’s carbon dioxide level had gone little high but that he was not allowing them to put on the C-pap mask which would help in his breathing. For half an hour, from 12 to 12:30 AM, the ICU staff was trying to put on the mask but Guru Maharaj kept pushing it away. Dr. Anamika called Acyutananda Pr who told me to quickly go and try to persuade Guru Maharaj to have the mask on. Guru Maharaj kept saying that he didn’t want the mask on, that it was too tight and hurting him. He wanted to sleep for two hours and then have the mask put on after 3 AM. However, Dr. Anamika was trying to explain to me how the carbon dioxide was high and that they had to put the mask on because otherwise, they would have to intubate Guru Maharaja, again. Medically, it had to be done. So I was in between the directions of doctor of the body and the doctor of the soul, trying to negotiate the best deal for Guru Maharaja. In the midst of this scene, with a very weak and distorted voice, Guru Maharaj told me to tell Dr. Anamika that he was praying for her. When I told Dr. Anamika, she was so touched and said, “Guru Maharaj, I pray for your recovery every day.” Even though it was the middle of the night with his sleep disturbed and fighting in between the doctors and staff regarding the mask, Guru Maharaja was showing his compassion to the others. Generally, patients in the ICU ward going through such horrible health difficulties would be requesting others to pray for them. However, Guru Maharaj is the complete opposite. And this is surely not the first time that he is doing this. He is always like this; so much compassion flows through him, regardless of the circumstances. Finally, at about 12:45 AM, Guru Maharaj agreed to have the mask put on.
7th June: In the morning, Devagauranga Prabhu was brushing Guru Maharaja’s teeth. Guru Maharaja asked for the name of the patient on the next bed who was in a coma. Devagauranga Prabhu asked the male nurse for the name; it was Pratibha. Guru Maharaja said, “Tell the nurse that I am praying for Pratiba everyday.” Guru Maharaja’s compassion seems to be limitless.
8th June: Simhesvara Prabhu, Regional Secretary of Malaysia, visited Guru Maharaj and as soon as he walked in, Guru Maharaj asked, “How are you?” He asked about when the temple opening would be at Seberang. Simhesvara Prabhu came out after seeing Guru Maharaja and said that if someone is staying in a bed for a month and sees his close relatives or friends, the first thing the patient would do is pour out all the difficulties and depression. Guru Maharaja showed absolutely no depression, no complaints – no signs of any of that. Instead, Guru Maharaja was asking the news about preaching and the temple.
Guru Maharaja’s humorous spirits are certainly not down, either. Today, Ruci Prabhu went to s
have Guru Maharaja. Guru Maharaja specifically wanted one of the servants to shave him to make sure that there were no cuts. Ruci Pr had shaved the beard and only the upper lip portion was remaining. Guru Maharaja still had the nasal feeding tube attached to his nose. At that time, Guru Maharaja jokingly said, “Watch out for my trunk!”
Further, for the last two to three days, Guru Maharaj has requested to have his prayers/contact book. Many doctors, nurses, and staff have become close with Guru Maharaj, have wanted to be in touch with him and have wanted Guru Maharaja to pray for them. They have been voluntarily giving their information. Doctors, nurses, and staff are all chanting the Hare Krsna Mahamantra! One security guard told us that she chanted 12 rounds the other day. Staff are all jokingly calling her as “Guru Maharaja.”
Guru Maharaja has also personally distributed clickers from his ICU table, encouraging everyone to chant. The clickers are even running out!For example, Dr. Chetan came by in the evening to see Guru Maharaja. At that time, he specifically wanted to receive a clicker from Guru Maharaja’s hand. Guru Maharaja made the effort to give it with his right hand to the doctor.
Another interesting point is that Guru Maharaja’s bed is the first one in the ICU. When the family members of other ICU patients enter the ICU, they always offer pranams to Guru Maharaj first and then walk forward to see their own family member patients. When Guru Maharaj is awake and they come to offer pranams, he always blesses the visitors.
Ekanatha Pr went to see Guru Maharaj in the ICU one day. He told Guru Maharaj, “You know, every day, you are sleeping with Giriraj and Saligram Sila on your head to protect you.” Guru Maharaj looked at Ekanatha Pr and replied, “It’s good because every day, three to four people are dying. Whoever dies within the close proximity of the Saligram Sila gets liberated.”
The ICU is clearly not a fun place to be in. The intensity of the environment is certainly palpable. However, Guru Maharaj’s response to these conditions is nothing less of transcendental. All the doctors commented by saying, “He is so serene despite being in this ICU environment. He has such a bright face and he has extremely strong determination and willpower.” In the words of Dr. Anamika, “I’ve never seen a patient like Swamiji in the ICU”! As one can see, with Guru Maharaj in the ICU, the whole environment has been transformed. Even though, for the majority of his stay in the ICU, he was unable to speak, he still has been able to transform the lives of so many doctors, nurses, and hospital staff. It truly is amazing – the power of vaisnavas to preach just by their own example to freely spread the glory of Lord Krsna. One thing is for sure – the ICU slowly transforming into the IKCU: The Intensive Krsna Conscious Unit!
Thank you so much to the worldwide community of devotees and please do continue your intense prayers for Guru Maharaj. All glories to Srila Guru Maharaj! All glories to Srila Prabhupada! Sri Gaura Bhakta Vrnda ki Jay!