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Kirtida Mataji Leaves Her Body
CHAKRA (Dallas, Texas) - June 26, 2001: At 3:05 a. m. on Wednesday, June 20, 2001 Kirtida devi dasi, a disciple of H. H. Tamal Krishna Goswami, left her body in Radha Kalachandji Dhama in Dallas, Texas from esophageal cancer. Mother Kirtida was observed by devotees, family and former co-workers in the medical profession to be blissful, fearless and in control of her mind up until the time of her auspicious departure. She left her body with the Govardhan Sila of H. H. Rtadvaja Swami placed on her forehead while continuous kirtan was being performed. Mother Kulangana, a senior devotee from Bhaktivedanta Manor, personally observed Kirtida’s departure, and remarked:
“I woke up at about 2:30 a. m. and came into the room. There were four devotees there. I immediately saw there was a great change in Kirtida. Her face was grave and concentrated, and her eyes deep inside… There was a very sweet kirtan. She had great difficulty to breathe. I stared at her with great concentration. She was in bliss; not fear. She took several breaths and opened her mouth. ”
All along Kirtida had wanted to leave in the early morning hours about the time of brahma-muhurta.
The man in charge of the cremation, who left and then returned hours later, was astonished. He said people just come and leave the bodies; they never stay the whole time. He was very impressed and also was amazed at how quick the whole process unfolded.
Kirtida had been able to stay with devotees across the street from the temple since mid-May, after a previous operation in London and radiation treatment at a Dallas hospital failed to stop the cancer’s spread. For the last ten weeks before her departure she ate no solid food other than coconut water, and for ten days prior to leaving her body she only took about a half cup of ice per day to cool her throat. Finally, for the last five days she took nothing other than a few drops of Radha Kund water daily.
For weeks devotees performed twenty-four hour kirtan daily. Beginning from June 8th until her departure Tamal Krishna Goswami chanted with her and read Krishna lila many times daily, staying continually whenever it appeared she might leave her body. Maharaja canceled going to an important academic conference and all other affairs when Kirtida’s date of departure went much longer than the doctors had predicted. Devotees from England, Singapore, Holland, Italy, Germany, Puerto Rico, Hong Kong and other places came to be with her to assist in any way they could, but many remarked that it was she who uplifted them. She constantly said, “I’m feeling such ecstasy” and others felt it in her presence.
Although she was quiet and unassuming, Kirtida was known to many devotees around the world because beginning in 1991 she spent a lot of time in Vrndavan when health problems made it apparent that she could leave her body at any time. When she first arrived in Vrndavan, in fact, doctors predicted she would live only six months. However, she received spiritual strength in the holy dhama and was able to live in Vrndavan for six years. While there she took many devotees on tours of the holy places. Having been a surgical nurse at leading hospitals in Dallas and South Africa for over thirty years, she also did voluntary service in the Vrndavan gurukula dispensary and was extremely popular with the students and staff members. She purchased a flat in Vrndavan and made it available to devotees, especially those of the China mission, as much as possible. In short, her mood in Vrndavan was that of service: service to the Vaisnavas, the holy name, the holy dhama and the guru.
Even in a weakened physical condition Kirtida began chanting extra rounds and going on parikrams. She frequently went on Govardhan parikram barefoot and walked faster than most any other devotee; once she finished the twenty-six kilometer parikram in about four hours. While in Vrndavan, as she had done in Dallas, she donated feasts on auspicious days and associated and served the Vaisnavas as much as possible. She sought the association of senior devotees such as Mothers Jadurani dasi, Kulangana dasi, Karta dasi and others. She eschewed politics and constantly saw the good in others.
Kirtida received first initiation in Vrndavan from her guru on the Kartika Purnima day in 1991. Later, upon receiving second initiation she regularly worshipped Sri Sri Radha Kalachandji on her visits to Dallas. Over the years, she donated many Deity outfits and had a hand in their design, production and delivery. Even after her departure, in fact, she has made an arrangement that the Deities Sri Sri Radha Kalachandji will receive new outfits regularly.
A few months before her departure Kirtida assisted Savitri Priya dasi, who left her body at home near Bhaktivedanta Manor near London, chanting the holy name at the time of her departure in the association of devotees who were engaged in kirtan. Kirtida spent much time with Savitri Priya and used her experience as a nurse to regulate the amount of painkiller to the minimum so that her consciousness wouldn’t be clouded at the final moment. Gurubhakti dasi, a medical doctor and godsister of Kirtida, cared for her in Dallas as much as possible in her final weeks although her practice is in Houston.
When Kirtida first came from the Dallas hospital to Radha Kalachandji dhama about forty devotees performed kirtan as she arrived at the home of Rasikendra dasa and Padaduli dasi. At that moment, a nurse assigned by a local agency arrived to assist her. When this nurse, named Jerry, saw the love of the devotees she was profoundly affected. A Christian, Jerry nonetheless began to chant Hare Krishna and within days had even learned to put on tilak and wear a sari. She was amazed at how blissful Kirtida was and how she could live so long while not eating anything.
After Kirtida left her body all the devotees gathered and continued kirtan. She was clothed in a beautiful new white sari that she had personally picked out long before, and she received numerous colorful garlands and auspicious articles. A silk chaddar which had belonged to her spiritual master was also placed on her body. Many devotees were struck at how effulgent her body appeared. Devotees then began to glorify her for several hours while the crematorium details were being arranged.
Mahatma Prabhu, the senior devotee who is famous for his kirtan tapes, commented, “Kirtida must have passed through some tremendous tests from Krishna, because it is apparent that He has so wonderfully arranged everything for her auspicious leaving. ” Noting that Kirtida, who was in her early sixties, was the first devotee to leave their body in the Dallas community, which has a lot of middle age and older devotees along with many children and new babies, Mahatma added. “Krishna is so kind He lets the most advanced devotee leave first to teach others: like Jayananda, Gauri and Kirtida. ”
After some time Kirtida’s body was taken to a local crematorium in a van driven by her godbrother Mathuranath dasa. The cremation process took five hours during which seven devotees, led by the temple president, Nityananda dasa, performed enthusiastic kirtan in difficult conditions. The place is merely a big garage with some ovens. It was about 90 degrees outside but inside the garage it was even hotter, and the furnace made a loud noise but undeterred, the devotees continued chanting until the end.
The man in charge of the cremation, who left and then returned hours later, was astonished. He said people just come and leave the bodies; they never stay the whole time. He was very impressed and also was amazed at how quick the whole process unfolded. There are many certificates and legal procedures to follow. The devotees were aiming to begin the cremation before noon, since in Vedic culture it is most auspicious to do it by then. Overcoming myriad obstacles of modern American bureaucracy, they were able to begin the cremation right about noon. Later some Hindu groups asked how that was possible because it generally takes them three days to arrange a cremation. The man said that in his thirty years of experience he had never seen everything unfold so quickly.
To commemorate her passing, feasts in Kirtida’s honor were held at temples in Dallas, Houston, Hong Kong, Bhaktivedanta Manor in England, and Durban, South Africa.
A lot more can be written about Kirtida and her departure, but this is just something brief to inform the devotee community.
If devotees have further recollections or stories about Kirtida, or want more information please contact Sarvabhauma dasa, c/o Sarva1@aol.com
Mother Kirtida Prabhu Ki Jaya. !
© CHAKRA 27-June-2001
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