By Jamuna Rangachari January 2009 How would you like your mortal remains disposed of, and how would you like to be remembered? Seekers discuss this through the concept of a ‘spiritual will’ When I Am Gone……The author drafts her own spiritual will When you think of me, please pray that I adapt well to my new life, wherever or whatever it may be.Some practical aspects which I would like taken care of, after my death, are: • I would like all my functional organs to be donated as far as possible. Please contact the nearest hospital for expediting the process.• Please try to ensure that the cremation is done in the most environment friendly manner. As wood is extremely scarce, an electric crematorium seems the most practical option now, but there could be more environment friendly options emerging in the time to come.Since I do not personally believe in rituals, I request you to not indulge in any ritual for me. I will, however, not deny that I would like to be remembered fondly especially in the first few days after my death. I would be happy if you would all jointly read some spiritual text and sing/ play some instruments together in these few days. From wherever I am, I will look at you and smile. If these few days set a pattern for more days of this nature, then I would consider it a bonus.We Hindus have a practice of a thithi every year for remembering and praying for the departed soul. Here again, I would not want any rituals. If you, either jointly or individually, spend the day of my demise as I would have liked you to, that will be more than enough.One thing you could do is reach out to somebody and try to make a difference to his/her life. Remember, money is also a means, but personal involvement is the best possible gift one can give.Some ‘gyan’ which I would like to reinforce: Swami Vivekanda succinctly summed up Vedanta as, ‘In a few simple words, Vedanta is the knowledge that I and my brother are one. My brother – the beggar, the cripple, the blind man and the criminal – and I are one. This is Vedanta – beholding the One in all.’If he were here today, he would have surely pointed out that we are doing a great disservice to our religion if we dont understand that people of all religions, caste, creed, race are one and the same. Jesus, too, said in the Sermon on the Mount, ‘The kingdom of God is within you,’ which means God presence is in each of us.I have no doubt that this tenet alone is sufficient for an entire lifetime. I hope you make a sincere attempt to apply this wisdom in your life.Another principle to remember is to be vocal if you see injustice happening. Whether it is genocide or an individual being denied justice, the principle is the same. Travesty of justice can never happen if the collective will does not permit it. Never forget you are a part, however minuscule, of the collective. Last but not the least, please read the below text to all our family and friends from my side: • Please forgive me for all the lapses I may have committed, knowingly and unknowingly. By so doing, you will be freeing both of us from a burden which I may not be able to mitigate anymore.This, I request you too. Please do forgive me if I have hurt you in any way. As I sign off, I remember the prayer.Kara charana kritam vaak kaayajam Karmajam vaa Shravana nayanajam vaa Maanasam vaa aparaadham, Vihitamavihitam vaa sarvametatkshamasva Jaya Jaya karunaabdhee Shree Mahaadeva Shambo O Lord, please forgive the wrong actions I have done knowingly or unknowingly, either through my organs of action (hands, feet, speech) or through my organs of perception (ears, eyes) or by my mind. Glory unto Thee, Oh Lord, who is the ocean of compassion.It is advised that we say this prayer every day before we retire for the day… I hope I am able to treat each nightfall for the rest of my life as the end of one chapter, and each day as a new beginning…with death being just a different kind of end.Maybe then I will be able to die with the sign of faith that Iqbal applauded, when he wrote, ‘If you ask me about the sign of faith When death comes to him He should have a smile on his face.’An Austere MahasamadhiThese extracts from Swami Chidanandajis samadhi instructions illustrate the guru’s high-minded and ego-free nature. This clear-cut directive and various instructions contained therein, is given for your attention and necessary action without deviating even one whit from it in action as well as in spirit. I thank you for your compliance. I have the sole and maximum authority over the body both from the point of view of long ownership, and a prolonged duration of sole tenancy of full 84 years, a period that nears the last decade that is required to complete a century.The body will not be brought over to any place desired by the Divine Life Society authorities or important persons or devotees of the Divine Life Society organisation. Only these instructions will be carried out. It will be carried out by those persons who constitute my junior helpers, and almost always travel with me and accompany me during my tours outside Headquarters ashram. Normally, they are Swami Sharanagatananda and Swami Yatidharmananda. The body shall be disposed of the same day of my departure of it, provided this is not late evening at sunset or after sunset. In which case, it should be disposed of early dawn just before sunrise. This is in order that people could have their bath after sunrise, immediately after the disposal is finished.The body shall not be buried under the ground. Bhu-Samadhi should not be given. The disposal shall be done in the manner of the bodies of the sannyasins belonging to Adi-Sankaracharyas Dashanami Sannyasa Order and the sampradaya generally prevailing.Wherever the departure from this world occurs, nearby local people will identify a place with a flowing river nearest to the place of demise. By proper arrangement the mortal body will be shifted by suitable road transport to the bank of the river decided upon. With minimal spiritual rituals, the body should be taken to the midstream and bestowed Jal-Samadhi. The entire rite from start to finish should be done within three hours of the arrival of the dead body at the river bank site. Chanting of Gurudevs name, chanting the mritunjaya mantra five times and culminating with the chanting of pranava (OM), a minimum of 16 times, will be the only chanting permitted upon this final moment. The name Chidananda will not be articulately uttered by anyone present. After the group or the party that has very kindly done this task has taken its purifying bath, they will arrange feeding of Brahmins, feeding on a large scale of schoolchildren, poor beggars, feeding of leprosy patients and feeding of cows, dogs, cats, monkeys, birds and ants, which should be done with earnestness and sincerity. This is pleasing to the Lord Almighty, our creator. During feeding of human beings, suitable dakshina should be given to one and all.Divine Life Society branches and DLS devotees will be informed only through the columns of the Divine Life Journal of the next month issue after the demise. There will be no information by telegram, telephone or Speed Post letter or courier letter. All schoolchildren of the Muni-Ki-Reti Primary School will be treated to a very tasty and sumptuous feast, and with dakshina to all. The teaching staff will also be included. No other ashram would be informed. A tokri of fruit and prasad will be sent to the local police thana in our neighbourhood. All the drivers of the taxis, tempos and three-wheelers will receive suitable prasad, both consumable and usable for a longer duration upon a more permanent basis. Now I lay me down to sleep,I pray the Lord my soul to keepIf I should die before I wake,I pray the Lord my soul to take-A child’s prayerLearning to die has always been the litmus test of spiritual growth. As more and more discover the truth that they are immortal, and death is only another, and perhaps, better form of life, their approach to how they would like their mortal remains to be interred undergoes a substantial change. Instead of a blind compliance to tradition, seekers are drafting their own unique spiritual wills decreeing how they would like to go, and how they would like to be remembered. A child’s prayer Bharati Nirmal, co-founder of the TAO Anand Spiritual Centre at Thane, Mumbai, says, “It is excellent to write about your own death in your ‘spiritual will’. One should read and review it at certain intervals! That brings about a clarity about how satisfied you really are in life, and how intensely you are able to live your present moment. Only if one can feel fulfilment in every moment, can one completely accept the end of the physical body, and embrace death with love!” Her sentiment is echoed in the well-known Tibetan Book of the Dead, which says, “Learn to die, and thou shalt learn how to live.” Learning to liveThinking about the inevitability of death makes us much more grounded and connected to what is truly important.The fact is – there is really nothing unique about death. Death comes to all who are born. Which is why the Buddha asked for a mustard seed from a house which had never seen death, to make a grieving lady understand the futility of trying to put life back into the dead. Surely then, leaving behind a legacy of the spiritual kind is as important, if not more, than one of a physical kind?Akila Jaikumar, writer and computer professional from Hyderabad, concedes this to be an important step, saying, “The entire exercise makes me think about whether I have enough years left on this planet to spiritually evolve to a satisfactory level. There is still so much to do on the path – learn the art of surrender, dissolve the ego, serve without expectation
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