For most of my life I have focused on death. Life has been a struggle, the drama, the ups and downs, pain, pleasure, success, failure, relationships and communication etc. As a child I would often close my eyes, become completely still, imagine that I stopped breathing and become open to a state in which I ceased to exist. I yearned for the silence, the eternal emptiness and fullness – God, from which I was born. I longed to be no-body, no-one, no-thing, free from the ego that taunted me with desire and attachment. After discovering the Tibetan book of the dead at the ripe old age of 13, I began a series of death meditations which included meditating on more ‘gruesome’ forms of death so that I could be liberated from the cycle of birth and death. The thought of death is comforting for me, I look forward to its sweet release. Don’t get me wrong, I love life, I love breathing, I love living, I love singing and dancing, but my focus was on dying, that is until I sat with my mother watching her die. Ma suffered till the last hour of her life and in her suffering, she taught me about living, life, love and gratitude. Death may be a welcome end, but Life is a precious gift. She gave me a most astonishing gift, the revelation that life is precious beyond all imagining, that all the tests and travails are gifts too, life is LOVE, death is TRUTH. Focus on Love, it always takes one to Truth.
It will be about 4 weeks since Ma – Aparna Choudhuri, passed away. She was a force to be reckoned with, all 4ft 10 inches of her. She was charismatic, fun-loving, kind, dedicated, controlling, insistent, joyful, vibrant, wise, well-travelled, versed in the ancient ways and more. A Mudra and Mantra Guru, a Vibro-Homeopath, Naturopath, EFT professional, Jin Shin Jyustu Practitioner, LiberatingTouch Facilitator, Bal Vikas Guru, Ma always had words of wisdom to impart and blessings to confer. She touched hundreds if not thousands of lives with the Mudra book that she authored and with her love of God. Her favourite mudra was the love mudra
https://youtu.be/uCVceeuxiGk – and her favourite mantra was “Samastha Loka Sukhino Bhavantu” – “May all the beings in all the world be happy”. She was constantly praying and serving till the end.
I sat, slept, ate, drank and breathed with her from the end of September 2020 till the day she passed – 23rd February 2021. Eddie and I would give her Jin Shin Jyutsu every day, massage her feet and body, sit with her while she had oxygen, help her with the book that she began writing in 2011 (we hope to publish this next year for her death anniversary) and discuss how best to serve the local community at any given moment. There was always something that needed fixing, or a person that needed help. It was lovely to support her do what she loved. She also loved teaching and learning and teaching some more. Her smiles in the morning were like the dawn spreading light. She had a magnetic personality, a unique sense of humour, and a kind heart.
The last few months
Ma was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in December 2019 and was given a few months to live, as far as she was concerned, she was going to overcome it and this she did till December 2020. At this point a shift happened in her awareness and we began to engage with the final phase of her life together. The last few months were tough. Really tough.
While witnessing her suffering, I became aware of how precious this time with her was. I was asked by a friend, if I would consider giving Ma medication that could end her suffering and I said no, it didn’t even occur to me despite her intense discomfort. At that moment, I knew that life is a gift and it needs to run its course, to complete naturally. I probably would have answered differently 25 or so years ago, at a time when I resisted suffering and pain. In my youth, I was comfortable with euthanasia and deeply uncomfortable with pain, disability and anguish. Over the years, I learnt to accept the latter. My mother taught me to embrace it with a depth of compassion, openness and understanding. Being with her, the knowledge that every moment is precious embedded itself deep within me. Every moment is a chance to know Truth and to Love deeply.
I wrote this message to a friend on the 17.02.2020, 6 days before she passed.
Ma is completely dehydrated, bed bound and in pain. Her condition is challenging to witness. It is now clear that she is no ordinary person, she is made of the same stuff as ancient yogis. Arpita, the opthalmic surgeon, and family friend came to visit last night and was deeply affected by Ma’s condition, as was Dr Damodar, they both said that in all their years of experience they have never seen anyone like Ma. They have never encountered anyone that is so willing to remain conscious, clear and has the fearless ability to meet her situation with the kind of strength she has demonstrated. They said they have only heard of such people and they are saints. Arpita even remarked, your mother has always been and will always be stronger than any situation. She is fading, exhausted, and will not budge an iota on her present course, so no medication, fluids, or intervention of any sort. She is resolved to merge in God, to undergo the physical pain and complete her destiny with all the conscious dignity and grace that she has. She is constantly blessing and sending love out to all. Day before yesterday, she organised the fees to be paid for one of the helpers’ children, she helped another single mother feed her children, so even in this condition she continues to serve and support.
I am so deeply grateful and affected by her strength.
Love love love
Ma continued to learn and teach, to adapt, be flexible and even change her belief systems in the last few months. I witnessed her consciously engage in the annihilation of her ego. She decimated her desires and broke through attachments. This was staggering. Her dreams were vivid, each one full of meaning, clearing her consciousness of lifetimes of debris. She was willing to shine a light in the darkest corners of her mind and set herself free.
She was dying, she had stopped eating for the last 4 days and even drinking fluids was limited to a few teaspoons in a day. She had stopped all medication and was experiencing her condition with painful intensity. And yet, every morning, she arose ready to give all of herself to life, she glowed with love and light, with love and delight. These moments were about appreciating life and what a beautiful gift it is. I will be honest, when I saw her suffer, I would pray for the release of death, but then we had these sublime moments in the morning that would completely blow me away and I would be filled with gratitude that I had another day with this amazing being. You can tell that as she came closer to death the intensity of her experience with the light grew.
In her faint trembling sweet voice, she recited these lines spontaneously as they arose from her heart in the early hours… She often spoke of unseen good and how that is love and that love is all there is.
Today is a magical day,
It is a blissful day, Sai Ram
Sing with me, dance with me, play with me, Sai Ram
Whirling, twirling all around, play with me Sai Ram
Dancing to the tune of love
It is going to be dawn, the birds are chirping, the bees are humming, Om Sai Ram
Dance with me to the tune of Sai Ram
The light is around, where the light abounds, golden love surrounds,
it is beyond, it is beyond, beyond
Magical mystical wonderful love surrounds
Cannot imagine how it surrounds
The light is beyond, beyond, all around
It is all around never fading, never-ending
Magical mystical love of light
I love you
This magical mystical blissful love
Humble Gratitude oh Divine
I am the light, I am the glow, I am in that beyond, beyond
The light that heals, that light that seals, all love, all light and beyond
It is evermore, it is divine, a beautiful world of light…
No one can understand its brightness, its peace, its love, its joy, IT IS AS IT IS
Till the end of the world, it is eternity…Sai Ram, I love you
In human terms she suffered immensely for the last few months of her life, in divine terms, she remembered the Truth.
The final hour
When I relive those last minutes, I am grateful that I was there, present and accounted, that I held her hand as she exhaled her last breath, ever so gently, returning home. The beauty and sweetness of the ebb and flow of life.
She had been vomiting blood for three days, the acid from her stomach had stripped her lips, and through it all we constantly focused on God, on her Beloved Sai Ram. It was incredibly difficult to witness, but somehow, we made it, one breath by breath at a time, to the final two hours. The bleeding slowed, she was semi-conscious, she sat up, we sang bhajans (devotional songs), she attempted to walk, restless, her eyes met mine and I knew in that moment that she saw the Reality of ‘I’. I said to her, “Arise, Divine Ma Gayatri, you are the Light, arise, Become…” and then she placed her head on my heart for a minute or so and i caressed her head. At the end of that final hour, her eyes rolled to the third eye area, fixated, without blinking, she stared into the infinite, as Eddie went to lift her to lie her down, she slowly left the body, and he lay her to rest. Her breath left her gently, the sweetest exhale, I knew she was home.
The promise that Eddie and I made to Ma, to help her attain Moksha was kept. Thank you God.
Ma is not dead
Ma is not dead, she lives on, she lives in you and me, in the love we share, in the breeze that enchants, in the sun’s rays, the sweetness of the morning dew, in every smile shared. I miss her and I don’t miss her. It is liberating, she is liberated. Beyond blessed.
Thank you for reading this and sharing this journey with me.
Your life is a precious gift and no matter how difficult things get, love can carry us through it all.
I LOVE YOU
Ps. For those of you that would like to explore the mudras with Ma, tune into Mudra Wisdom (most of these were filmed in January 2021) at:
Pps. In the most troubled of times we can always set the intention “May all the beings in all the worlds be happy” It is a super powerful prayer. Try it <3 Love, love, love, r
pps. Wrote this on the 14th of January, Some of you may have already seen this, but for those of you that haven’t – here it is
I sit by her side
Witnessing the ebb and flow of life
The discomfort and pain surfacing and dissolving
It’s been weeks
Waves of uncertainty
The thought that she could be dying
has become a constant companion
Then in a single breath my thoughts
touched by that invisible sweetness of love,
She is not the body, not the mind…. She is Atma
A flame of Love
THAT burns bright even after the final exhale
I find myself rejoicing
The luminousity of being
Ripples through her, me, creation
This friendship is not limited to time or space
Lifetimes of striving
And here we are finally free
To be unencumbered
Communing with the ONE
I bow down
kissing her feet,
I imagine that this feeling I have now
I know it is beyond that too
This gift of love which knows no limits
Because of her
I wonder if she senses
The synchronous flow of Grace
I am – here
Her light can never ever be extinguished
These memories will fade
This form in front of me
Composed of the elements
will return to the elements
I grieve and let go,
surrendering to the sweetness
How precious is this moment
Standing at Truths door
The expansive wonder that IS
14 January 2021