14/02/2016 – 22/02/2016
Camp: New Delhi, 8 p.m.
This past week has swept us all into a tornado of unexpected urgency, surprise and surrender. Beginning from the holy birthplace of our Adi-guru, Lord Nityananda, in Sri Ekachakra Dhama, Guru Maharaj performed the abhiseka and prana-pratistha of Sri Sri Radha Vrindavana-Mohana and Sri Sri Nityanandacandra Gaurangaraya on the auspicious day of Advaita Saptami. On the morning of the temple opening, Guru Maharaj woke up with a fever. We were all worried about his health. Eventually, by about 9:30 a.m., the fever broke and his body temperature was normal. Despite his bodily fever that morning, Guru Maharaj seemed to seamlessly perform the various rituals and invoke the Lord into His arca-avatara. However, by about 4 or 5 p.m., the fever began slowly recurring. Although there was all hope of Guru Maharaj’s fever breaking that night, an ambulance was nevertheless prepared for emergency’s sake. By 2:30 a.m., it was clear that the fever was not going to break, despite the medicine, cold towel applications, and all attempts to bring down the body temperature. The ambulance had arrived by about 2:30/3 a.m. and the ambulance team began to put Guru Maharaj on the stretcher and strap him in. While being strapped in at 3 a.m. in the midst of apparent uncertainty, Guru Maharaj still took the time to explain to the temple president about the name of the temple and why the name was given. Guru Maharaj was talking about the new temple and how the name was Ekachakra Candrodaya Mandira. Further, there was another devotee and in this frenzy, Guru Maharaj was asking about the well-being of that devotee. Upon hearing Guru Maharaj’s concern for him despite such serious circumstances of Guru Maharaj himself, that devotee broke into tears. We got in along with Guru Maharaj on his stretcher. Then began the earthquake of a journey from Ekachakra to Durgapur, traversing through far from mediocre roads. Guru Maharaj’s feet kept falling off the stretcher that we was belted onto; he was sliding down the stretcher due to the bumps. But one thing was clear – he was in conscious, composed and even joking spirits, saying his characteristic “Aayaa ho” marching chant while trudging through the bumpy, rocky roads.
Upon reaching Durgapur, Guru Maharaj was admitted in the emergency room and was doing fine. He was soon shifted into a private room. I went into the private room to see Guru Maharaj and much to my surprise, I saw that he looked blue. We immediately called the nurses and doctors and after some discussion, it was decided to shift Guru Maharaj to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) . We still had some hope that things would get alright within a few hours. However, Guru Maharaj’s vitals began fluctuating and finally began deteriorating to such an extent that he had to be intubated with a tube being put down his throat which was connected to a ventilator machine. We feared an imminent deja vu of May 2015, to say the least.
Within a few hours, Guru Maharaj was conscious as ever, wishing to communicate with everyone. Due to the tube being down his vocal chords, Guru Maharaj couldn’t orally speak; however, that seemed to be no obstacle in his mission to make himself heard. Instead, Guru Maharaj used an alphabetical chart.
Preaching is technically supposed to go on uninhibited, throughout all circumstances. Guru Maharaj took communication to his transcendental level – preaching using the alphabetical chart. He was getting us all to explain the blue book to the doctors and nurses and have them fill out their details so that he could stay in touch with them. Further, Guru Maharaj told us to distribute clickers with mantra cards and teach the hospital medical staff how to chant. Guru Maharaj ensures that we are engaged in assisting him in the preaching mission of Srila Prabhupada and Lord Caitanya, no doubt there, for sure. He also clarified the Ekachakra temple name; the question was if it should be “Ekachakra Candrodaya Mandira” and/or “Nityananda Candrodaya Mandira,” so Guru Maharaj explained how Srila Prabhupada used the name “Mayapura Candrodaya Mandira” on the gate, but that in his books he used “Caitanya Candrodaya Mandira.” Late the next morning, Guru Maharaj was breathing alright and the doctors decided to extubate him on that same day. Upon regaining the use of his vocal chords which are so essential to communication, Guru Maharaj began asking a variety of questions to his own staff and the medical hospital staff. He also continued his preaching activity in the ICU. Guru Maharaj responded to some personal letters. He also sent in a foreword for Lokanath Maharaja’s book entitled, “Festivals.” Guru Maharaj didn’t want to waste a second of his time in anything other than his services. However, as the night went on, Guru Maharaj’s lungs began to slowly get worn out and he was not able to maintain safe levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in his blood. The following morning resulted in another intubation and turning on of the ventilator. Guru Maharaj became conscious after some time and again began preaching to all the doctors and nurses. It is quite significant to note that many of these medical professionals were Muslim and Christian but still open and receptive to Guru Maharaj’s preaching. That’s Guru Maharaj. He has transcendental reactions to seemingly critical situations.
On the bodily front, the medical battle continued. What to do next? It was clear that airlifting Guru Maharaj to another location would be the option, but where was the question. It was decided in consultation with Guru Maharaj to go to Chennai and all arrangements to go were made to; the flight was to fly from its base in Delhi to Durgapur, pick up Guru Maharaj and then land in Chennai the following morning. The next morning, the air-ambulance was just not willing to take off from Delhi. Delhi is in its winter now, but somehow, it was very cloudy and rainy that day. I went to see Guru Maharaj that morning and through the alphabetical chart, he told me, “I take this as Krsna’s plan.” Guru Maharaj continued saying how Dr. Goenka (Guru Maharaj’s doctor from Kolkata) was respected and recognized by Dr. Sarin and how we should go to Kolkata instead of Chennai. Then he said, “If things don’t work out, then we can go farther.” Guru Maharaj went on to say how it was Ekadasi. It was also a Thursday and Guru Maharaj never likes to leave for any place on Thursday afternoons, following in the footsteps of Srila Prabhupada. Further, Guru Maharaj always considers the Rahu kaal and baar bela which are the astrological inauspicious and sinister times of the day – these times always fall in the afternoon to sunset on Thursdays. Lastly, Guru Maharaj said, “We should leave before noon.” I asked in astonishment, “Before noon to Kolkata?” and Guru Maharaj confirmed. Then began another round of discussion between Guru Maharaj and his health team (remember, at this point of time, Guru Maharaj is still communicating using the alphabetical chart). Finally, by the late afternoon, arrangements were made to go to Delhi to the same Institute in which he was admitted last May – the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS).
Guru Maharaj was airlifted that evening from Durgapur to Delhi and admitted into the ICU of ILBS, safely. The next few days were quite calm. Although the ICU is a restricted entry zone, Guru Maharaj wanted devotees to come and be with him as much as possible, as often as possible. During the day time, they would switch off the ventilator and just have the tube with some oxygen connected, known as a T-piece. During the nights, they would turn the ventilator back on just to make sure that Guru Maharaj wouldn’t get tired. Guru Maharaj was always on top of everything going on, asking detailed questions about the various medical stats and vitals in his body, ensuring that his prasad was made exactly as the dietician had suggested and keeping an eye on time to make sure it was brought and administered on time. He would also speak with the doctors and nurses about various topics, ranging from chanting to his experiences with Kerala prasad delicacies.
On Nityananda Trayodasi, I brought a tablet to show Guru Maharaj the astoundingly beautiful srngara of the presiding deities in Mayapur. While Guru Maharaj was taking a thorough darshan of Nitai, Panca Tattva, Radha Madhava, Nrsinghadeva, and Srila Prabhupada, one if his doctors came up to the bedside. Immediately, Guru Maharaj motioned at me to show the darshan to the doctors. This led to their questions and my attempts to explain to them about Mahaprabhu. I was explaining how these deities are life-size, how Mahaprabhu is about seven feet tall. Then the doctors took darshan of Radha Madhava and I said that they are very tall, about seven to eight feet. Guru Maharaj then called me to correct me about the heights. He began explaining in detail, how Madhava is 5’10”, Radharani is 5’6″, Astasakhis are 5’4″, Gauranga is 7″, Nitai is 6’9″, Advaita is 6’6″, Gadadhara is 6″3′, and Srivasa is 6″0′. Guru Maharaj indicated how the last three heights were more or less accurate. Guru Maharaj is completely absorbed and engrossed in Mayapur and Mahaprabhu’s lila, regardless of any external material discomforts. To see one truly practice what he preaches is such a fortunate sight, exceedingly inspirational for millions of devotees. Many devotees from around the world had sent 30 second “Get Well Soon” video messages to Guru Maharaj. Guru Maharaj was very pleased to see and hear those as well.
This morning, Guru Maharaj shared how he had dreamed about Radha Gokulananda, Gaura Nitai, Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra, and Sita, Rama, Laksmana, and Hanuman. Just at that moment, Syama Rasika Prabhu showed a video message to Guru Maharaj from Srutidharma Prabhu (president of Bhaktivedanta Manor), and Guru Maharaj went into ecstasy, laughing, saying how this confirmed his dream. Strange enough, this morning and I happened to be watching the Mangal Aarti of Radha Londonisvara and Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra on Mayapur.tv. I’m sure that these deities are taking care of Guru Maharaj. The Lord truly does reciprocate with His devotees; we were fortunate to have been able to experience and witness it today.
Guru Maharaj was extubated (tube was removed from his throat) and has been breathing on his own for about three hours. I am sure that other servants and secretaries will have tons to share from their own perspectives. These next 48 hours are extremely crucial as the tube has been removed and Guru Maharaj will have to be breathing on his own. We request everyone to sincerely, intensely, and faithfully pray to the Lord for Guru Maharaj during this important hour.
Yours in the service of Srila Gurudeva and Srila Prabhupada,
Syama Madhusudana Dasa