<< 14 The Final Hours >>

Indradyumna Svāmī: After these questions, she asked if she could sleep a little. I led a very soft kīrtana, and she dozed off. That was about 1.30 p.m. Most devotees left the room at that time, and there were only three or four of us left. At 2:00 p.m. she woke up and looked over at me. She made an expression that indicated to me she wanted my encouragement. I nodded my head in such a way as to let her know that everything was all right. Then she put her head back on the pillow, and Gāndharvikā Giridhārī attempted to give her a little sweet milk from a spoon. Gāndharvikā looked startled when she was unable to get the milk into Vraja Līlā’s mouth. Vraja Līlā’s jaw had locked up. Gāndharvikā looked at me and said, “Śrīlā Gurudeva, this is not a good sign. I think she’s going to leave her body very soon.

I immediately went to the bed and began chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa into her ear. Gāndharvikā was chanting into her other ear. Mānasī Gaṇgā sat on the bed directly in front of Vraja Līlā, and Gāndharvikā gave her two big photos of Rādhā-Śyāmasundara to hold in front of Vraja’s face. Other devotees started to arrive in the room and joined in as I led the kīrtana. Suddenly I noticed that Vraja Līlā’s breathing was becoming very quick, a sure sign that death was fast approaching. The kīrtana became more intense. I continued encouraging her, “Vraja, listen to the chanting. Don’t be afraid. Don’t panic. I’m here. Just fix your mind on the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. Chant His holy names!” Then Vraja began chanting. Once in a while she would be seized by fear due to the traumatic nature of the moment, and I would call her back, “Vraja, come on! Chant the holy names! All glories to Prabhupāda! All glories to Rādhā-Śyāmasundara! Hare Kṛṣṇa!” Then she would lose her fear and again start chanting. At one point, Gāndharvikā reached over to the little altar next to the bed and grasped Vraja Līlā’s Govardhana-śilā. She held Lord Girirāja right in front of Vraja’s face, and Vraja looked at Him intensely with wide eyes. She would look alternately between her Govardhana-śilā and the pictures of Rādhā-Śyāmasundara. Sometimes she would reach out and touch the pictures.

After an hour and a half I was exhausted, but I knew there was no question of stopping. The kīrtana got louder and more intense. Vraja’s breathing remained fast and quick. Suddenly all of us could tell that she was going to leave at any second. By that time there were about twenty-five devotees in the room and, the kīrtana became one unified sound, “Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa...” Someone handed me a bottle of Rādhā-kuṇḍa water, and I put some on her head. Then all of a sudden, for a few moments, Vraja Līlā stopped breathing. I kept chanting the mahāmantra. While looking at the pictures of Rādhā-Śyāmasundara, she took four more deep breaths ...and was gone. At that same moment, Gāndharvikā fainted and was caught in the arms of one of the devotees while falling to the ground.

The kīrtana continued as we checked her pulse and I closed her eyelids. At that moment everyone broke down and cried. We cried in happiness that she’d left in such auspicious circumstances— but mainly we cried with the stark reality that she was no longer present. Suddenly the object of all our love and devotion that day, Vraja Līlā dāsī, had gone.

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