Monday Morning Greetings 2021 #48 – She’s Already in the Hands of Śrī Radha

November 29th, 2021

This story begins in Govardhan and ends in Goloka Vrindavan.


Mukunda Murari spent Kartik in Govardhan as my guest, camping in my living room. I was thus privy, so to speak, to his “Mahābhārata”—his two-week challenge to somehow get Hemangi Priya, his mother-in-law, who was diagnosed with incurable stage four cancer, to Vrindavan to leave her body. The challenges seemed insurmountable. He not only had to quickly secure three visas from the Indian embassy in Moscow, which were under very restricted COVID immigration policies, but he also had to get Aeroflot to accommodate a bedridden patient needing numerous special accommodations, including eight business class seats for Hemangi Priya’s bed, doctor, and travel companion. His most pressing concern, however, was that if this wasn’t done immediately, she would soon be too frail to travel. As the time approached to leave, and with so many contingencies still hanging in the air, Mukunda sought out Śrīla Radhanath Swami, their guru, for some spiritual support. His counsel was almost poetic: “Regardless of what happens, whether she makes Vrindavan or not, by her sincere desire to go to the holy dhāma, she’s already in the hands of Śrī Radha.” It is hard to describe how much solace Hemangi Priya and Divya-shakti, her daughter, felt from hearing these words.


After much drama, including the total lack of information anywhere on the logistics of picking up a bedridden person on the tarmac, either from the airport or the airlines, a random security guard finally suggested to try Gate 10. After anxiously waiting two hours, an ambulance from the tarmac arrived, transferred her to another ambulance from Vrindavan, which then took her to the Bhaktivedanta Hospice in Vrindavan for her final journey.


I am quite close to Hemangi Priya and her family. I would thus go every day to chant japa by her bedside. She initially could acknowledge me, but after a few days her condition deteriorated to the point where she was incapable of communicating with anyone. This morning I again chanted there from 7:00 to 9:30 in the morning before returning to my room. Only a couple of hours later I got a message from Mukunda that I should come immediately. By the time I arrived Hemangi Priya had passed from this world. Divya-sakti was anxiously waiting for me eager to share what had transpired. When she began to speak and reflect on what had just happened, I watched as her separation and sadness turned to relief and almost joy:


“I spontaneously began to bathe her head gently with Radha Kunda water. I had no inkling that her condition had substantially worsened, as she has been breathing heavily for almost the last two days. For no overt reason, I began to read to her the lyrics in Russian to Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura’s bhajannitāi-pada-kamala”, which describes the mercy of the lotus feet of Lord Nityānanda. I began to sing the song repeatedly in Bengali and on its third recitation, exactly at the time when I got to the line, “Without the mercy of Lord Nityānanda, one cannot attain the lotus feet of Śrī Śrī Radha Krishna” a hospice aid tapped me on the back and handed me a 14×16 inch lamented picture of the Divine Couple, something I had requested the hospice to bring to our room almost ten days before when I first arrived. I placed the picture on the table next to a similar sized picture of Śrīla Prabhupāda that was kept directly before her eyes. “Look Mama,” I said, “Radha-Krishna has come!” Although she had been non-communicative for several days, a tear rolled down the corner of her right eye. Again, I can’t understand why, but I spontaneously began to sing another bhajan about the mercy of Nityānanda, this time one by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura: “dayāl nitāi caitanya bole nāc re āmāra mana!” I began repeating the refrain “nāc re āmāra mana, nāc re āmāra mana” again and again. “O my mind, please dance! O my mind, please dance! O my mind, please dance!” My mother then opened her mouth widely and left this world listening to the name of Dayāl Nitai, the presiding deity of the temple in Moscow that was her shelter for years.[1] I looked up at the digital clock on the wall. It read exactly 12:00 noon, which stirred a beautiful thought in my heart: “Maybe my beautiful, loving, devotional Mama has entered the Lord’s midday pastimes!”


Hemangi Priya, aged 62, was an extraordinarily beautiful woman from a very aristocratic and educated family, and by all accounts a very humble person. Despite her background, by fate her life wasn’t easy. She thus felt great solace in the shelter of guru and Krishna. She woke early every day and with deep feeling, and without fail, chanted her quota of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra before leaving for work. One thing that stood out for those who knew her well was that they never heard her say even once anything bad about anyone. Perhaps that is why her guru so confidently declared even while she was still in Moscow: “She’s already in the hands of Śrī Radha!”


Hemangi Priya ki jaya!



[1] The presiding deities of ISKCON Moscow are Śrī Śrī Dayāl Nitāi-Śacī-suta.



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