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Toshani’s Last Rites
by Amogha das
[from Free Forum]
November 30, 2001
Dear Devotees of Srila Prabhupada and Lord Sri Krishna,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All Glories to Srila Prabhupada....
I wish to thank the many devotees who have e-mailed condolences and words of kindness and praise for my beloved daughter. It is a very difficult time for us, and your words have helped greatly.
The devotees in Kuala Lumpur saw her off with great kindness, attention, and reverence. We are forever indebted to them. Apparently the group of brahmacaris who helped us are never usually in KL, but traveling around Malaysia distributing books and preaching.
Somehow by Srila Prabhupada’s mercy we came here just in time to be with wonderful devotees, who took care of everything. The effulgent brahmacaris brought all auspicious items, including Tulasi branches, Vrindavan dust, ghee, Tilak, Ganga water, and others.
As we decorated Toshani and placed the various auspicious items on her body, the temple President, Uttama Caitanya Prabhu, chanted Vedic mantras while others devotees chanted Hare Krishna kirtan. There were about twenty devotees present. Some brought flowers. One brought a red rose with a long stem to put in her hands. Before the final ceremony, we had bathed her body, and dressed her in a colorful silk sari. The hospital nurses had placed her hair in a topknot, making her look something like a yogi in meditation. With "Krishna Krishna" on her forehead in tilak along with the other Vaishnava tilak markings and covered with auspicious ghee, sprinkled with Vrindavan dust, flowers around her face, Tulasi branches all about her, and a rose at her hands, she looked like a very senior saintly person rather than a child.
As we were instructed, our eldest daughter Radhika placed the first burning wood branch dipped in ghee. Whilst devotees sang Hare Krishna, each family member circled her seven times counter clock wise and placed a burning piece of wood. Then we all walked away and faced south while the devotees lifted her casket and took her to the fire. We were told not to look back after walking away.
The next day we returned to collect her ashes. The ashes were in a tray, which the attendant brought to us, and my wife and I tipped it into three clay pots. It was heart-rendering because we could see pieces of bones, and a few of her teeth, still solid like fossils although fully burned. Two large pots were for immediate dispersion and one small pot to take to India to the Ganga, covered with silk cloth.
The devotees instructed us to take the larger pots to running water immediately. The brahmacaris drove us to the local Krishna farm. We bought some bananas from a devotee’s shop along the way to feed Krishna’s beautiful cows. We purchased one bunch of bananas for each of fifteen cows, but we ended up feeding the bananas to them one by one. Some cows were more eager and pushed their way in to gobble more, and others waited meekly at the back. We fed them all bananas, which they seemed to relish very much. It was quite an unusual experience, a mix of happiness and sadness.
Then the brahmacaris led the way up along the river through the rainforest to the waterfall. Being surrounded by the saintly brahmacaris including Simhesvara Prabhu seemed very auspicious. One devotee instructed me to place her ashes down stream a bit from the waterfall. I carefully descended over the rocks and water, and with tearful prayers for her protection, broke the pots and let her ashes go down stream. Then we bathed in the waterfall by leaning into it. It was the appearance day of Radha Kunda.
Mohini Rupa felt it was befitting Madhava Toshani to walk there to the waterfall in the forest, as she had seemed to be a yogi in the past. She always used to sleep as a young child with her feet in full lotus position, as she lay on her side. Her early childhood scribbles contained Sanskrit and Bengali characters.
At the Kuala Lumpur temple we sponsored a feast for her on the Sunday. I placed a display of pictures of her on my computer outside the temple, along with pictures of Srila Prabhupada, Deities she worshiped, and Lord Jagannath, moving as a constant slide show. Janananda Prabhu said many kind things about her to the congregation, and read out my letter.
At her school in Australia, a school assembly was held in her memory. I believe there are about three hundred students. The staff prepared a display of her pictures and a banner— "Celebrating the Life of Toshani." The school principal, current teachers and staff, as well as several who were no longer at this school, came together to share memories of her. There were many laughs and many tears. A letter I wrote was read out as well. The school placed a framed picture of Madhava Toshani, riding on her favorite horse, in the foyer, where historical trophies and mementos are displayed.
It has been such a sudden shock to us. Today was the last observance of Kartika and the singing of Damodarastakam. Even after two weeks I find myself unable to do much of anything. She was my eccentric, happy, devotional friend. For her, every day was a celebration from the moment she woke up, another day to talk to and play with her toy men, to chant Hare Krishna with her tapes and CDs, and to order me around. In her eyes I was always a hero.
On our last night together, she was calling for her mother, who had gone out. To quiet her I showed her every picture on my website...of Gaur Nitai and Radha Krishna Deities, Lord Jagannath, Rathayatra, Srila Prabhupada....and the show on my computer, "The mercy of Radha Gopinath," telling how Srila Prabhupada brought Radha Gopinath to Australia. She sat alert and attentive, always eager for anything about Krishna. I had no idea the next day she would be gone.
Madhava Toshani means "pleasing to Lord Madhava."(from a song by Bhaktivinode Thakur) She left this world in the month of Damodara, during the waxing phase of the moon, chanting Hare Krishna.
Some pictures of her appear on my website, www.iskcon.net/gauranga. I will add more information and pictures when they are available.
Thank you again for your kind words and prayers.
Amogha das, Mohini Rupa devi dasi, and Radhika.
© CHAKRA 5 December 2001
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