I was visiting Baroda, when one night I received a call from Mumbai, “Shila is very sick and is admitted in the hospital.” Pressing engagements held me from visiting her. Three days later another phone call informed me of her death. I buried my head in my hands, grief-stricken.
Shila loved Bhakti Yoga, and I was her spiritual guide. Lately, inspired by Radhanath Swami’s life and teachings, she had expressed her desire to accept formal vows of initiation from him. Since I knew Radhanath Swami well, I had dutifully forwarded her photo and her request-letter to him. Now in the Himalayan town of Hrishikesh, Radhanath Swami was reviewing the thousands of initiation requests he had received, for as soon as he returned to Mumbai he planned to award initiations. Sitting alone in Baroda, my soul cried thinking of Shila’s unfulfilled desire.
Caught-up in pressing responsibilities at Baroda, I knew I couldn’t make it even to Shila’s funeral ceremony. Hurriedly I called a few acquaintances in Mumbai to ensure her last rites went as per the Vedic protocol, for her better afterlife.
Two weeks later I returned to Mumbai. One day as I conversed with Gaur Gopal Prabhu, a close associate of Radhanath Swami, the topic came to Shila. He exclaimed, “Yes! Shila! While we were at Hrishikesh, Radhanath Swami put her photo on the altar and requested all of us to sing Kirtan for the benefit of her departed soul.” I was cast into mixed emotions of joy and wonder.
How unfathomable is Lord Krishna’s affection for his devotees! One acquaintance in Mumbai I earlier called from Baroda had rung Gaur Gopal Prabhu in Hrishikesh to ask details of authentic funeral rites. Later that day Gaur Gopal prabhu mentioned in passing to Radhanath Swami that a lady named Shila who aspired initiation from him had departed. Radhanath Swami frantically searched for Shila’s photo from the trunk-load of initiation requests he had received, and arranged for a Kirtan in her memory. And in that kirtan Radhanath Swami poured out his affection for his disciple—whom he had never accepted formally, nor met personally.
–Dr. Bhaskar Hosangadi