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The passing away of Ratnaranjini - a touching story
Indranila - Mon, 23 Aug 2004 01:45:27 +0530
Recently I read a little book called "Simple for the Simple" by Bhakti Ballabh Puri Goswami from Scotland. He describes the story of his wife, Ratnaranjini, who died after a long battle with cancer. She was bedridden for about two years and during that time was deeply absorbed in reading, hearing and chanting. Sivarama Swami writes in the foreword about her last months:
|Bit by bit, certain details emerged and I witnessed a living picture of a Vaisnavi becoming self-realized. Before I could ask any more, before I could visit her again, she left. All of a sudden I found myself constantly thinking of Ratna. A simple devotee, who served the Vaisnavas and the mission of Srila Prabhupada, had clearly understood her svarupa and gone back to Godhead. She was not a sannyasi, not a guru, and not a big book distributor. Yet by her simple faith, she seemed to have easily achieved the goal of life. |
These thoughts began to haunt me all the more because I could not discuss it with her. Ratnaranjini was evidence of Srila Prabhupada's promise. "Chant 16 rounds, follow the regulative principles and you will go back to Godhead." Without extraneous effort, as a consequence of her service, it just happened. Automatically.
One evening, as a few devotees at the temple were talking about Krishna Consciousness and eternal service in the spiritual world, all of a sudden Ratnaranjini said that she was liberated and had an eternal service. She said that she was a young girl, 7-8 years old, and her service was to help Yashoda Ma pack Krishna's lunch. Everybody was quite astonished. Later in her room, she broke down in tears and said, "I don't want to be a sahajiya. It just happened. I did not try to think of anything, it just all happened, and I'm not sure about it." The following days she revealed some more details about her service and her identity, e.g. that her name was Rati, but left many questions unanswered. Often she was deeply absorbed in meditation, and in the last few weeks before her death she would only respond to the name Rati, not Ratnaranjini. Her departure from this world very auspicious.
Prior to her illness she was a simple, humble and ordinary devotee who served in the background and cared for the temple devotees like a mother. Her main service was the bookkeeping for the temple. She would often say, "Troubles only come when we are not busy enough. When we are fully engaged, then where is the time for all the little so-called problems that the mind likes to try to disturb us with?.... Just work hard, busy all the time, then there is no time to listen to the mind."
I find her story very touching and inspiring. But I kept wondering, did she really attain her svarupa "automatically, as a consequence of her service"? I don't see it so much as a consequence of her hard work in the temple but of the intense hearing and chanting during the last two years of her life. Her realization came when she was constantly absorbed in krishna-katha, and not when she was doing the bookkeeping, cleaning or preaching in the temple. I would appreciate any insights about achieving spiritual perfections "automatically." A quote from ACBSP I wrote down many years ago:
"The devotee should patiently follow the rules and regulations of devotional service so that the day will come when he will achieve, all of a sudden all the perfection of devotional service. This patience (dhairya) is the fifth positive item for advancing in devotional service." (Narada-bhakti-sutra, 5)
Jagat - Mon, 23 Aug 2004 04:16:08 +0530
A brief answer is "kripa-siddha." There are a number of stories like this in Kapoor's book on saints of Braja.
It almost doesn't have anything to do anything. It's some kind of previous life's samskara. These are the cases where diksha, etc., etc., seem to count for nothing. It just takes a little spark and the flame bursts out. Iskcon only provides the cultural ambience that make it possible.
The existence of people like this give meaning to a movement like Iskcon. It should cherish such incidents and recognize these devotees as full saints and worship them.
If you look at Catholic saints, you see that many of them are like this. They aren't the priests and popes, but the blessed children who see the Madonna, the St.Theresa's who are obsessed children--sort of like the Sister Agnes in the film "Agnes of God," sweet innocents who become potent channels for God's mercy. (A great film, by the way, shot in Montreal.)
When a religion gets embroiled in sordid politics and sinful activity, it has a desperate need for some miracles or saints. Iskcon cannot get sufficient mileage out of Vishnujana, Jayananda or Gaur Govinda. It needs a woman saint. And it needs one from now, today, and not from the "good old days."
Very interesting story, Indranila, thanks.
gopidust - Mon, 23 Aug 2004 07:47:32 +0530
It made me cry a little to hear of this girl because a similar thing happened to me in Vrndavana which I now understand was simply causeless mercy. It happened all of a sudden like lightning but I can't say what happened to me. But all of a sudden I was in my rasa. And I stayed that way for some time and then was in it off and on. I don't know the technical terms all I know is what happened to me. So I want to go back there of course and see what happens again sometime. Rati ki jaya!
There are lots of relatively unknown(to men)women devotees who leave their bodies and go back to Godhead all the time by the way. It would be nice if someone compiled all the stories into a book.
gopidust - Tue, 24 Aug 2004 00:11:01 +0530
What happened to me happened after I met my guru. It was completely unexpected and therefore it must have been "causeless mercy".
The reason why? Because of my determination to give up illicit sex even though it is impossible for me. And I may finally have done it, I will have to see. But my guru felt compassion for me and gave me his mercy. And of course "he" is a "she" spiritually.
Srimati Gurudevi ki jaya!