Pishima – the sister of Srila Prabhupada.
Ananga Manjari: At the last stages of Pishima’s (Prabhupada’s sister) life, I took it upon myself to care for her.
She had deteriorated so much so that when I woke up one morning, I went around Prabhupada’s samadhi and I prayed,
“What can I do for her? Take her because she only wants to be with you. I can’t stop her suffering anymore. I can’t make her comfortable anymore. I can’t even make her laugh anymore. Please take her. Even if this is offensive I just want relief for her.”
Afterwards, I went to her room and she was unconscious.
She wasn’t responding at all.
There were a couple of Bengalis in there testing her heart and trying to give her some Horlicks and milk but she wasn’t responding.
When I came in the room they just shook their heads, crying and they left, leaving me all alone with her.
She was sitting on the edge of the bed slumped over and I was rubbing her back a little bit and chanting japa with the other hand trying to figure out what to do.
As I started chanting I noticed her fingers move as if she was chanting japa.
Then I knew she could hear me.
I asked her in my broken Bengali, “Pishima, do you need to go to the bathroom? Do you need water or milk? Can I do anything for you?” No answer.
But I knew she could hear me, so I put on Prabhupada’s recording of “Nitai-pada-kamala” because that was our relationship.
I went up to her and asked, “Pishima, you hear Prabhupada?” Pishima grunted, “Ha”.
Then I knew that’s all she wanted.
I propped her up with lots of pillows trying to make her as comfortable as I could.
I put the mosquito net around and I kept playing Prabhupada’s music.
Every once in a while I’d go up to her and ask if she needed anything and got no answer.
Then again I asked if she wanted to hear Prabhupada and again I got the same response, “Ha”, every time.
In the evening, the Bengali devotees had called her relatives since they knew this was going to be her last days.
They all came in the room and someone brought all the gurukulis into the room.
They were singing a loud kirtan jumping up and down and others were howling and crying.
It was such an extreme from Prabhupada’s singing all day to this raucous carnival.
I got the feeling this wasn’t what she wanted.
I felt she needed peace and calm.
I ran outside trying to look for someone to help and ran into Nitai Chand who was a big sannyasi everyone was afraid of.
In my passion I just blurted out to him,
“You have to go to Prabhupada’s room and you have to tell everyone to sit down and be quiet. They can play kirtan but it has to be subdued.”
With a surprised look he said, “Okay”, and he ran to the room.
I thought, “Woah, I didn’t expect that.”
He went into the room and commanded everyone to sit and be quiet which they did.
The kirtan then went on nicely as I held her hand on one side and her youngest son held her hand on the other side quietly sobbing.
Then Pishima’s eyes started fluttering and her mouth started moving.
I thought maybe she was going to say something or that she needed something.
I went very close to her face and she whispered, “Hare, Hare, Hare, Ha”, and that was it.
I just stood there in stillness and thought, “Oh, my God. That was her last breath.”
Right away in my mind’s eye, I saw this vision of her actually moving up, her subtle body, just like you see in films where you see the ethereal see-through body.
The physical body is still lying there, but the ethereal body rises up.
Then her eyes started to open.
She was looking up at the ceiling of the room and she started raising her hand.
I had to actually move out of her way.
I was still holding the other hand as she was looking up at the corner of the room with her hand reaching out and Prabhupada came down with a big smile on his face.
His hand was held out in the same way as her hand was reaching out and they held hands.
Prabhupada was also ethereal but it was Prabhupada as we know him.
He came down with a smile on his face, she looked at him, and I could see their backs as they started floating up to the corner of the room.
I remember my eyes were moving and they both turned around smiling and gave me a nod and a look as if to say, “Everyone’s coming. Come on. We’re all going to go.”
And then they disappeared. The first thing I thought was,
“They left me here. They left me here.”
I wanted to go with them.
I looked down and I realized that I was still holding her hand but she wasn’t there anymore.
I could feel the difference of energy because while she was still in her body, I was praying,
“Whatever youthful energy I have, whatever strength I have, whatever goodness or piety or anything I have, let her have it now. Give it to her. Give her this strength and comfort.”
I was giving her everything I had in my heart and when it stopped, I realized that energy was coming back to me.
She was giving me so much and she was now with Prabhupada where she wanted to be.
A little later on, after putting a fresh sari and tilak on Pishima, everyone came back to have another darshan with her by putting flower petals around her and offering prayers.
I was standing there looking at her body thinking, “She looks effulgent.”
Earlier she was looking like a dried up prune just withering away.
But now there was light coming from her body and I said to myself, “She’s glowing!”
Normally as devotees we don’t use the word “glowing”.
We’d say “effulgent” or “bright faced”.
I thought I was hallucinating because there were so many emotional things going on.
As soon as I thought that, two pujaris walked into the room and one said to the other pujari, “She’s glowing”.
Immediately I thought Krishna had let me hear that for a reason because I doubted what I saw.
I thought it was my imagination.
But when they used the same word, “glowing”, I knew it was true.
It was all true.
Krishna, Prabhupada and Pishima allowed me to see that and that is another experience that has kept me going as a devotee.
I have great enthusiasm that at the time of our death, for everyone who tries to do something for Prabhupada, he’ll come and take us by the hand; anyone who’s been touched by him.
Later on I had experiences with my father and mother who weren’t too fond of the devotees.
My father deep in his heart was a devotee but my mother was against the devotees.
But when my mother was about to pass, she said, “Is Krishna going to help me?”
Then she said, “Krishna is here now. I am going to go and have a picnic with him.”
She left with the devotees chanting.
This is the amazing mercy and it’s all coming from Srila Prabhupada.
We’re all taking part in his movement and these stories that devotees have of him, glorifying him, their emotions with him, their instructions from him, are going down in history through these tapes, videos and books and I am very grateful for that.
I believe this is the Caitanya-caritamrita and Bhagavatam being expanded.
And thank you.