Late Shadows

I never knew that Subarata was really ill, nor did she, till late on that year 2000 trip to Brazil. In her last year before that fateful Christmas Trip of discovery, she would often feel strangely tired and some afternoons would sit on the floor against the wall in our living area, wrapping around herself a favourite blue blanket that featured seascapes and joyful leaping dolphins. I would often sit beside her and put my arm around her – we would sit in silence in the quiet afternoon. There was a somberness about it all, whether through some foreknowledge of what was to come, a premonition, or because the existential seeps through these hours of doing nothing, of just sitting, like evening shadows stealing in, and you begin to feel the underlying and troubling mystery of human life, its brevity and chaos, its impermanence and randomness, the randomness of the falling sword.

The world outside seemed faint and faraway – a passing plane, sirens, the murmur of life – but what was strong was that anxious concern and tenderness of the heart that humans have after many shared years together. Guru wanted Subarata to be childlike and devoted and happy, and made me feel that I should always remember this.

I will always remember her sitting against the wall with her blue blanket, her closed, tired eyes, the leaping dolphins, the afternoon silences that deepened and changed our lives.

During Subarata’s last months, Guru invited us both to come to his house each evening. Then, in the last weeks, I would go alone whenever possible, and always at Subarata’s urging. Guru would stop everything and meditate a little, then often he would hold a flower, a rose, against his heart while looking at the Mother Kali image on one wall. Then he held the rose to his third eye and meditated, eyes closed, before giving it to me to give to Subarata. Sometimes he wrote a blessing and a message on a card or an envelope, and when I returned to Subarata’s bedside she would ask me to read it aloud to her several times. She would place the flower and Guru’s handwritten message on the blanket over her heart and leave them there all night, and I would give her a detailed account of everything that had been said and spoken.

Earlier on she got some joy watching the videos that Guru delighted in, the Honeymooners and Lucille Ball and Car 54. Then later she only saw videos of Guru, or listened to Guru playing the flute. As Guru had instructed, there were many Transcendentals on the walls of this room in Vyakulata’s house, wherever Subarata could look and see them.

In her last note to Guru she writes in her painful, wobbly handwriting: “You are my Sunshine, my only love, my dream. Despite Your endless problems You can still think of me with such love, and why?... I can’t even meditate, I just love You, my sweetest Guru.„ He replies on the same card, “My dearest Subarata, I am with you. I am within you. I am for you. Try to remain happy, peaceful and dynamic. My infinite joy, my infinite gratitude and pride. Your Guru."

Obstructions loom large within and without. Nevertheless, like a kite I shall rise without fail against the wind.

Sri Chinmoy

In those days of March prior to Subarata’s passing, Guru had been away in Romania and Bulgaria, and Subarata’s departing soul came to Guru many times while he was on the flight home. We had kept Guru informed throughout, and both Ashrita and Guru were in the aircraft cockpit. Guru let Ashrita talk to us, as Guru was directly communicating with Subarata’s soul.

Several days later at PS 86, Guru held a special memorial function. There were many soulful song performances, recitations of aphorisms, stories. Guru stood in front of Subarata’s photo and placed his hand on her heart and concentrated upon her.

Later in the evening he held up forty-five white roses, one by one, each for a year of her earth-life, each time calling her name slowly. Then he gave an account of those last hours and days:

“Before our Subarata’s final departure, I spoke to her on the phone. I called her and she said, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you only; I love you, love you, love you only, only, only.’ Then I said, ‘I love you, my Subarata, I love you, I love you, and our Lord Beloved Supreme loves us infinitely more than we can love each other and more than we can love Him. He loves us infinitely more.... ’

“Many, many times her soul came to me during the last week...and then when I was on the plane at 6:33—you can call it evening, you can call it night, I call it evening—her soul came to me for the last time before leaving the body, before her final departure. I saw that our Lord Beloved Supreme had sanctioned her departure, her soul’s wish....„

Guru spoke of how the body can live without the soul for only eleven hours at most—“according to some occultists„ —but Subarata’s physical had stayed alive for more than eleven hours in the absence of her soul, and a new record had been set.

Guru spoke of his human sadness: “The Divine has sanctioned it, but the human in me plays its own role, knowing perfectly well she is no more with us on earth.„

Again, “She was happier than the happiest when the soul left the body for the last time, like a five-year-old child, playing, singing, dancing inside the Heart-Garden of the Supreme.

"The human in us will definitely miss her, but because we are spiritual, the divine in us—if we know how to pray devotedly, sincerely—is bound to feel her, to see her moving around us, encouraging us. The souls of all her dear ones and friends all over the world are bound to feel her presence, encouragement and inspiration."

"For inscrutable reasons she left the body.... For us she only had forty-five springs. But in the Heart of the Supreme, one second is Eternity; and again, Eternity is one second.... A most beautiful flower, before all the petals have blossomed, has gone. She is now with Someone who loves her infinitely, infinitely more than we can ever imagine.... She is with Him, and she will be in His Heart-Garden throughout Eternity."