Mohammed Khalid is no more now. Years ago, he was working in the advertisement industry. During my initial years of struggle in my profession of journalism, he was a moral support. He considered me as a friend, though he was 20 years older than me. We used to call him Mammuikka (Ikka=brother). I lost touch when I left Trivandrum around 23 years ago. Recently, few months ago, I received a call from his wife Fatima.
Fatima Itthatha (Ittha=elder sister) informed me that Mammu was suffering from lung cancer. He was admitted at Christian Medical College in Vellore. His sons wanted to take him to Europe or US, but there was no scope for further treatment. He refused to leave India. His days were numbered.
“I will be there at once, Itthatha – in a day or two.”
I made a Tatkal railway booking to Katpadi. Next day morning I checked into a hotel in Vellore, had bath and breakfast and went directly to the Hospital.
“Hello Uday…it has been really long time…25 years? Where is your shock of hairs? You are becoming bald and old yaar!” Mammu welcomed me and was beaming with a full-scale smile and happiness in his face. His smiled didn’t reach his eyes. He appeared extremely weak, tired and very thin.
“Can I hug you? My disease is not contagious” he tried to crack a joke. We hugged.
“How are you Uday? I heard that you have got married…how many kids have you?”
“Three daughters.” I said as I sat near him.
“Oh my god that’s a lot…” he laughed. “just kiddin!”
Fatima came into the room:”It was difficult to get your phone number…Lot of conflicting reports on your whereabouts – from Bangalore to San Jose… ”
“Now I am here” I said.
“Can I get a tea for you?”
“I am good. Not now…”
“So, how do you feel now, Ikka?” I asked him.
“I am very happy that you came. But sad that I won’t be able see you again after sometime…”
“Oh – as if it is in your hand…”
Mammiukka turned to his wife: “Fatima, your time is up for the physiotherapy session, right?”
“Yes- since Uday is here, I thought of skipping it for today…”
“No need, I shall be with him till you come, I am totally free,” I said and switched off my mobile. I understood that Mammu wanted to tell me something and he doesn’t want Fatima there.
“Uday, I have severe, intolerable pain, yaar…I cannot show it in front of her. Her crying face is more painful to me than my pain. Sometimes, during sleep, I make sound out of pain. When I get up in pain, I could see her helpless eyes and crying face…it is extremely painful…” tears rolled out his eyes.
I couldn’t say anything.
“I know she is putting up a brave face…I don’t want to die Uday….I don’t want to leave her and go. I love her a lot…”
I still didn’t say anything.
“I have read all your articles in your website. I also know you have helped lot of people to get the right direction, solace and happiness…You will help this old friend, won’t you?”
What shall I say? At this juncture, whatever that I say would be just superficial. I have not experienced this situation. It is very easy to write or talk philosophy. But walking the talk would be extremely difficult at times like this.
“I have been a good man in my life, helped everybody around me…Then how come such painful and miserable death?”
“I cannot say anything Ikka. My mother was a pious woman. She followed all our rites and rituals and was an ardent devotee of gods. Still she had a painful death…I couldn’t help but see her die in front of me. I couldn’t do anything other than sitting totally helpless..it happens…there are no apparent reasons for most of the happenings in life…”
“Sometimes I feel like that God is biased or not listening to our prayers…”
“Do you think people die because God didn’t love them?”
“You have heard of Naranath Branthan, right? ( Naranath Branthan or The madman of Naranam is a character in Kerala folklore. He was the son of Vararuchi)”
“Yes- I do”
“Once Goddess Bhadrakali (Durga) appeared before him and offered to grant boons to him. Naranath Branthan declined to accept the offer. But the goddess persuaded him to ask something. He then asked the Goddess to make his lifespan increase by one minute. The Goddess told him that she didn’t have the power to do so. Then he asked her to decrease his lifespan by one minute. The Goddess was unable to grant that too….’birth and death is not within my power – it depends upon karma and life cycle,’ the Goddess said…She cannot disturb the system set by the existence, the cosmos.”
“Uday, this is exactly why I wanted to meet you. I know you learned lot of mythology and researched in mysteries and miracles in life. You have exposure to ancient sacred occult, mantras and tantra…Can you help me Uday, please…I don’t want to die….I don’t want to see Fatima crying anymore…I am still desirous of living with her…I expect a miracle can happen…” Mammu started weeping holding my hand.
I couldn’t say anything. Just like any other human being in distress he is being overly optimistic and superstitious.
“I am ready to do anything that you suggest. We can do any rituals in any temples, mosques or churches…Any poojas (offerings to god) – Mahamruthunjaya or anything…You know, I have enough money…I can do anything to live longer with my Fatima…I just don’t want to end my life leaving her alone Uday…”
“Didn’t you understand the meaning of Naranath Branthan story? Nothing, absolutely nothing can pre-pone or post pone the death. There was a bus accident and lot of people died. Somebody was saying in TV channel: “by God’s grace, I escaped death” – isn’t it sheer ignorance? Do you think that God’s grace was not there for those who died in accident? People die due to absence of God’s grace? God’s grace is same for everybody. But struggle, misery, pain, and death are part of life that we need to face.”
“Don’t talk philosophy Uday. It can’t help me now. Please suggest something which I can do to leave longer with her.I love thins life.Please try to help me.”
“As per Indian tradition, a Grihastha (family man) we pray only this: “Anayasena maranam, Vina dainyena jivanam, Dehi me kripaya krishna, Tvayi bhaktimacancalam” (A painless liberation or death, a life devoid of misery, please grant these my Krishna, and an unwavering devotion towards you.). Instead of Krishna, you can use Shiva, Ayyappa, Allah, Jehowa or any of your favourite god!”
“I know and I surrender to Allah. Still, I am a human being with fearful mind. You mean to say, nothing else can be done to save me…I was hoping you could help me, please…”
What would I do? How can an ordinary man like me help him? I have never faced such situation in life. It is so painful – one has to experience it to understand. I wanted make him smile but his wish is way beyond my reach. I do not know if I can talk rubbish or philosophy at this point of time. I have never handled such situation.
But I understood that I have to change his conditioning. May be, may be, it was my purpose of visit. After a moment of silence, I suddenly said: “Ikka, I know there is a deathless and fearless state…And our ancestors have advised us how to go to deathless state…” I said.
“Yes- that is what I want to hear…” his eyes become alert.
“There is a prayer in Brhadaranyaka Upanishad: “mrtyorma amrtam gamaya” meaning “Lead me from death to immortality.” And it is a state that easy to achieve…”I said.
“Yes- yes…how can I achieve it?”He said eagerly gleaming with hope.
“That’s easy Mammuikka…the moment you realize the difference between the real you and manifested you, you are done…it is as easy as that…”
“What’s real you and manifested you?”
“Don’t you know? The real you is divine. The manifested you = conditioned you. You are born divine. Everything in this universe is divine, except, yes EXCEPT your mind. It is your own creation. Your mind developed from inputs that you get from around. And inputs conditions the mind. The conditioned mind takes rein of you and controls you. It gives a name for itself – the entity known as EGO….”
“I know that…”
“The ego mind then manipulates and converts you into a fearful and insecure human being. You will just become an insecure robot controlled by this ego mind. The ego becomes stronger and stronger everyday by inputs from media, society and superficial living. This robot, which is controlled by non-divine entity known as ego is the “manifested you”…”
“So, how can I see and experience the real me?”
“What was the last dream that you saw and remembered?”
“Oh, I have all those nightmarish dreams Uday. Recently I saw a tiger is chasing to eat me and I was trying to escape by running and…” he explained the dream.
“Ok, in your dream, you are being chased by a tiger. And you are running for life. So, there is a person, who is running – that is experiencing it in the dream. And the experience appearing real, otherwise how could you feel fear, palpitation and sweat?”
“The experiences in the dreams are mostly real…For instance, if you are kicking in the dream you may raise your legs.So you were running; it was real at that point of time.”
“Yes…” he turned bit impatient.
“Who is seeing that? One person should see that…Just like you are seeing a video shoot of yours.”
“One person is experiencing. Then, the second person is seeing it. The seer, right? The seer is just a reporter of the event; he is not affected by that. So, the no.1 in you is experiencing the incident with all its intensity. The no.2 in you is seeing it, without any strings attached to it. You no.2 is indifferent, yet compassionate. Right?”
“Yes. You mean to say, dwaita or dual personality?”
“No philosophy here. I am just discussing your own experience. You were really just lying in this bed and dreaming. You are neither there running, nor seeing it. You are here and now, just in the bed. That’s the no.3 in you. Did you understand that?”
“So, tell me who is the real you? 1, 2 or 3?”
“I think all three together…’
“No, in fact, there is a no.4 in you too. It is wakeful state. The no.1 = the experiencer. No.2 = the seer. No.3 = the dreamer who was lying in the bed and sleeping. And No.4 = the you, who is woken up and now talking to me…”
“Now tell me, who are you?”
“I am no.4”
“Now, think about a possibility of the no.5 – a person in the fifth dimension who can see the entire life of you – from birth to death.”
“That’s nonsense. How can a no: 5 see a full life time and be inside me?”
“Hmmm. Till now you didn’t even think of the possibility of four beings of you in you….ok, I am not arguing with you now…There are multiple dimensions and layers in this cosmos that may not be seen or felt. When you see rainbow, you see only seven colours, you cannot see ultra violent and infra-red.”
“I know there are many things that our mind and intelligence cannot understand.”
“Good. Do you know what is the maximum length of a single dream? Scientifically max 2 minutes, almost 2MB…But sometimes, it appears that you see the whole life story…”
“So, the no.3 in you saw a dream that lasted for 2 minutes.”
“But while seeing the dream, it appeared like you are experiencing it for hours together, or a whole life time…you are seeing the dream in a zip file of size of 2MB or just in 2 minutes”
“Similarly,there be a person in you or along-with you, who can see your entire life – say 70 years”
“Hmmm. I am confused”
“Ok, now tell me, do you have any idea of how many RBCs (Red blood cells, or erythrocytes) and WBCs (White blood cells, or leukocytes) in your body?”
“May be, trillions …more than the total human population in the earth. But does any of the RBC know that it is a part of a system called the human body of Mammu?”
“If any one of these RBCs or WBCs does not do its duty or function properly, then the body will have problem. If any one of your body cells does not multiply or die in time, what will happen?”
“What has happened to me, tumor or cancer. Right?”
“Yes.This is a nature rule. Why should we think that the same rule shouldn’t be applied to human being?”
“Can you explain?”
“Earth is a system, a living planet. Earth is born around 4.2 billions of years and may have a life expectancy of another couple of billion of years; we do not know for sure…Human beings are like RBC. If one person turn greedy or one person does not do his/her karma properly, the whole earth is affected…”
“Mammuikka, we are all connected. The conditioned-mind wants to separate you as an ego-driven-individual. The separation causes fear and anxiety. When we understand we (like RBCs) are all connected and part of the same cosmic force, then the ego disappears…”
“I have a doubt here…You said, one person’s greed or wrong doing can destroy entire earth or a system…But is that so? Won’t god stop it?”
“Why should God stop it? If there is a cosmic law, why should God break it? If your RBC does a mistake, will you be able to rectify it? No. You will suffer. Similarly by a bad karma by a human being, the whole world will suffer. The earth will suffer. It is said that fluttering of a butterfly in Amazon can cause a Tsunami in Indonesia – hard to believe, but such is the delicate balance of the universe…”
“Yes- this I know…the earth, every planet, Sun, everything move in a balance – there is no connection other than the unseen electromagnetic forces…this forces are created by God…”
“I don’t believe GOD as creator. (See https://udaypai.in/who-created-the-universe-is-there-a-creator/ ) That’s just your Semitic belief. But science knows that is a law to sustain this delicate universe, which can be perished even at a minutest thing. Everything in this universe, including the God and even his creator, has a life expectancy too.That’t the beauty of the universe – everything is perishable.”
“Yes- everything will die. The nature is perishable and nobody can do anything about it…. One day everything will disappear…That includes the universe and its creator…” I said.
“Now, come back to your dream…there was a witness who really see the manifested form of yours…in fact you have seen multiple version of you, in you..You can easily develop that witness status.”
“First, try to be a silent witness to your breath…Be aware about your breath. Then be a witness of your thoughts…”
“I know that…being aware of thoughts would reduce thought process…I have practised it in meditation methods…”
“Yes…then try to witness as you go to sleep…you will be aware that you are going to sleep…”
“Difficult, but not impossible…”
“Then you can witness your dreams…”
“Yes- that’s what you said earlier, witnessing dream…”
“But it happened without your awareness. The witness was there without your awareness….as you practice, you can be a witness to your dreams…”
“Last step…witness your death…”
“Possible, the real you can witness the death of manifested you, if you can liberate the real you from the manifested (conditioned) you…See, as I said, the witness in you can see your entire life as a third party. Instead of 2 minutes of 2 MB dream, the witness can see a 70 years of a terabit dream that appears as life…When we become aware, naturally, we will transcend the limitation of time.”
“So, there is anything else I can do now Uday?”
“Mammuikka, we are not immortal who can fight to the death. We now are aware of our mortal nature. So do not miss a single moment henceforth. You will naturally be aware…Didn’t you read the Zen story of Strawberry?”
“One day while walking through the wilderness a man stumbled upon a vicious tiger. He ran but soon came to the edge of a high cliff. He slipped down. Somehow, he caught hold of a vine and swung himself over the edge of the cliff. Dangling down, he saw, to his dismay, there were lot of tigers on the ground below him! Looking up he saw two mice – one white and one black – begin to gnaw on the vine he was clutching on. He knew that at any moment he would fall to certain death. That’s when he noticed a wild strawberry growing on the cliff wall. Clutching the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other and put it in his mouth. He never before realized how sweet a strawberry could taste. ‘This lovely strawberry, how sweet it tastes. Delicious,’ were his last words.”
“Aha…philosophically it is good…The intense “present”. Here and Now. I have read about this. But do you practice it?” he asked
“Me? It is not possible to be in the present always, though I try my level best. However – I have a better way out…”
“Once GOD appeared in front of me and granted me a boon.”You ask whatever you want” – I said.
“What boon did you ask for?”
“Unshakable and pure devotion to the divine” as “all I want is to reach your feet” – we call it Vishnu Pada or feet of the cosmic power…”I said…”What more can I achieve Mammuikka? What more can I ask for in this universe? All I can do is pray for a graceful death. We have to accept everything in our life, let’s accept the death too.”
Mammu closed his eyes for a moment. Then got up, hugged me and said: “I didn’t understand all…but I understand.”
His eyes were filled with tears: “I know Allah is there, he sees everything and knows everything. Praise be upon Him”
“Please do not fear death Mammuikka…I am extremely sorry that I can’t help you…You have been loving everything around you….now, share your love with the death too…you are going back to your own source, where else you will go? The divine is caring you so meticulously that even before you are born your food was in-stored as mother’s breast milk. The divine will take care of your death too…”
“Yes- real me will be with the source. The manifested me will disappear…”
“Yeah, that’s Maya”
“Maya, who is she?” he asked and winked at me: “your new girl friend?”
“Oh, I wish it was. Maya is the manifestation of the real. We Hindus call it Vishnu maya. The way we believe and live as if the manifested world is ACTUAL; the entire manifestation is a maya….”
“Oh, that maya…ok, ok…”Mammuikka smiled. Suddenly he asked as if he wanted to change the subject: “Do you remember our Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin) trip yaar?”
“Yes, how can I forget it?” It was a funny trip indeed. We 14 guys in 8 bikes rode in night while it was raining heavily and had bath in the ocean early morning.
I saw his wife coming back.
“Let me go Mammuikka. Let me say bye to you now…Your smiling face will be in my memmory always…”
“Yes Uday…will we see again?”
“Of course, yes – but may not be in this dimension; may be in some other space and time…but definitely we will meet up…”
“I don’t know Mammuikka. It is an experience to be experienced…”
“So, you don’t believe in re-birth?”
“I didn’t say that. I don’t know, that is.”
“You didn’t try to understand?”
“Why should I try to understand something that I cannot understand or experience? However, based on my scientific knowledge, the carbon dioxide you breathe-out will be converted as carbohydrates through photosynthesis in plants. So we are becoming part of pranic force for plant’s food. Also, after the death, the body decomposes into soil, or ashes become manure – food to billions of micro-organisms. It again gets recycled into different things that go in to human body. So, nothing is being created or destroyed. Everything in this earth is re-cycled or changes the form…You are here now. And you will be here only…”
“So, we will meet though in a different dimension?” he asked hopefully.
“Yes…And then we will go for another trip to Kanyakumai. We can get new model bikes. It would really be a fun!” I smiled at him.
He smiled, hugged me again. Then I left saying bye to him and his wife. I couldn’t stop tears while I was walking back to the hotel. Poor man, what else can I do?
Gita says, birth is dress changing by soul. That’s true. But that comparision won’t work with ordinary people like me. In this manifested life, we fell pain and sorrow when somebody near to us die.
The beauty of the universe is that everything is insecure. Still, we waste all our life seeking security. Life is very fragile, but we take it for granted.
I was not in India when he passed away. I saw his obituary in the website of local vernacular newspapers.
Last month I have received a phone call from Fatimaithatha…She said: “Uday you have been telling him about your dream project of research in ancient Indian scriptures…”
“Oh, I shelved it…”
“I don’t have enough money for it, Ithatha”
“That’s why I called. We know you are not the type who can make money in life…So Mammuikka has left some money for you to establish a research centre…”
“Oh, I am sorry Ithatha, I can’t accept it….I don’t accept anything other than coming from my karma…”
“But it is for social service…”
“I would like to do social service with my own hard-earned money. This set of mind could be my subtle ego…Still I can’t accept Itthatha, I am sorry…”
“That was his wish, Uday…”
“I understand…but he would have been equally happy if you can donate that money to a good Yatheemkhana (Muslim Orphanage). He was a good man and he should be remembered.”I said.
January 21, 2013
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