GRATEFUL FAMILY

The hospice’s first resident patient from ISKCON, Babasaheb Narayan Patil, the father of Acharya Ratna Dasa, was also able to depart in an exemplary way, with support from the community. Acharya Ratna, a brahmachari serving in Kolkata, received a call from his brother informing him that their father was very ill, possibly dying. When Acharya Ratna traveled to their village in Maharashtra, he found his father in a helpless condition, unable to sit or stand, eat, move his limbs, or talk. Babasaheb could not even recognize his son.

Acharya Ratna thought of all the sacrifices his father had made for him – how his father had always shown him love and affection and encouraged him in his spiritual life, even when he had decided to quit his career as a software engineer and join ISKCON as a full-time brahmachari. He also remembered Babasaheb’s pious activities – how he had often arranged spiritual programs and served saintly people, inviting sadhus into their home, giving them charity, and seeking their blessings.

Acharya Ratna meditated long and hard on how he could serve his father in his time of greatest need, and then he heard from the Pune temple president about Bhaktivedanta Hospice. Acharya Ratna phoned Dr. Vishvarupa, who told him to bring his father to the hospice immediately.

When asked about the charges, Dr. Vishvarupa replied, “The official charges are Rs. 2,000 per day plus medicine, but as a full-time temple devotee, you have given your life to serve Krishna. Don’t worry about the finances; just bring your father.”

Family members and neighbors were apprehensive about Acharya Ratna taking Babasaheb so far, but in the end, he, his father, and five relatives all undertook the journey from their village to Mathura, where they were met by two devotees and an ambulance to transport his father to Vrindavan.

“At the hospice,” Acharya Ratna later recounted, “the staff welcomed us, oriented us, situated my father, and arranged for our stay, prasada, and all necessities. Dr. Anantasimha spoke confidently with the family, guiding us on how to take care of my father in a loving, caring, and sensitive way, and Dr. Vishvarupa spoke to us about the nature of the soul, the glories of Vrindavan, and my father’s good fortune. The family’s doubts were all answered; everyone felt sure that we were in the right place. His room was very nice – sunlit, well ventilated, and spacious enough to accommodate both him and the rest of us. We could hear the sweet chirping of birds outside, and from the window we could view the surrounding shade trees and get glimpses of cows from the nearby goshala. My father’s bed could even be brought into the bathroom so that we could bathe him.”

Before arriving, Babasaheb had developed a bedsore, but with the nurses’ care and an air-circulating bed, it healed. He had been coughing, but his chest soon cleared and he could breathe normally. And as the staff tended to his physical needs, his family would give him caranamrita, sacred water that has bathed the deities, from Vrindavan’s main temples; sprinkle him with holy waters from Radha-kunda, Syama-kunda, Manasi-ganga, and the Yamuna; and anoint his body with the sacred dust of Vraja. Devotees from the community would bring garlands and caranamrita from the deities of Krishna-Balaram Temple. They would come and read aloud from Srila Prabhupada’s book Krishna and talk with the family. It was the holy month of Karttika, so devotees were visiting Vrindavan from all over the world, and many, including sannyasis and senior devotees, would visit Babasaheb. There was often kirtana in his room in addition to the hospice’s regular morning program, afternoon Krishna book readings, and evening kirtana, bhajana, and singing of the Damodarashtaka prayers, a highlight of Karttika. Recordings of Prabhupada singing played softly all through the night. The atmosphere was both home-like and spiritual, and as Acharya Ratna’s family could see Babasaheb becoming more peaceful every day, their anxieties were also relieved.

When Babasaheb’s health became more critical, devotees assembled to hold all-night kirtanas, and prayers were offered from several temples in India. Bhakti Purushottama Swami offered a special puja to Nrisimhadeva at ISKCON Mayapur, in West Bengal, and Radhanath Swami phoned from America, explaining to Babasaheb the glories of Vrindavan and service to Radha-Krishna, and chanting the maha-mantra in his ear. Giriraja Swami also called, and chanted for almost ten minutes.

Two days later, Babasaheb Narayan Patil departed amidst devotees chanting the holy names. Dr. Vishvarupa performed the final rites, and the next day the hospice hosted a memorial of talks and kirtana, followed by a feast.

With a choked voice, Acharya Ratna’s brother told those assembled, “We could not have served our father so nicely at home. Even relatives won’t do as much as the devotees did here at the hospice. Bhaktivedanta Hospice and its devotees have made a permanent home in my heart.”

At home, the family members had been confused and bewildered, but at the hospice they gained courage and strength and felt themselves fortunate to have been in Vrindavan and helped their loved one depart.

(Source http://btg.krishna.com/bhaktivedanta-hospice-aid-journey-home)