Mataji Ananda Vrindavani: Near Death Experience

*Mataji Ananda Vrindavani: Near Death Experience*

( – Mataji Ananda Vrindavani: Near Death Experience

Mataji Ananda Vrindavani is a senior devotee, educator, and member of the Sankirtana harinama group in Mayapur.

Hare Krishna, dear devotees.
Please accept my humble obeisances.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Ananda Vrindavani mathaji sharing the story of near-death experience and the mercy of Lord Jagannath. So, with Their blessings, She is briefly describing this experience, hoping that it may help someone.

It happened in January 2020 while we were living here in Mayapur. Let me clarify that I was perfectly healthy and had no plans of dying anytime soon. In fact, during that time, there was a devotee in the Mayapur hospital whom I volunteered to take care of. I thought I could serve her and gain some experience in how to face death properly, experience that might be useful for me in 20-30 years… I had no idea that on my scheduled day of duty, I would find myself unconscious in the adjacent room, needing the Holy Name myself.

But as it turned out, death can come quite unexpectedly, even when we are in good health and not anticipating it. During those days, I experienced a great deal of stress, which led to illness. For several days, I suffered from vomiting and couldn’t eat or drink.

After three days, the electrolyte levels in my blood dropped drastically, causing excruciating pain and frequent loss of consciousness. I was taken first to our Mayapur hospital and then transferred to a clinic in Ranaghat. Later, I learned that the lack of potassium and magnesium can lead to paralysis of all muscles and organs in a person.

I found myself in a state where all systems in my body were shutting down: my heart couldn’t pump blood, the digestive system stopped, toxins entered my blood, and my lungs struggled to breathe. I was gasping for breath, writhing in pain, and unable to think as the toxins affected my brain. I was in complete panic, realizing that this might be the end. Dimly, through a thick haze, I remembered that I needed to call for someone, say something, but due to my brain not functioning, I couldn’t recall whom to call. Those were dreadful hours, oscillating between unbearable pain and losing consciousness.

By that time, I had been practicing Krishna consciousness for 23 years. Many times, I preached to my students about the importance of remembering Krishna at the time of death. We discussed how to die properly, and I was confident that when my time came, I would simply focus my mind on Krishna. However, it turned out to be not as easy as I thought!

Unfortunately, throughout my life, I hadn’t put in the effort to chant the Holy Name attentively. Often, I chanted while multitasking, feeling too busy with preaching and various services, assuming that someday, miraculously, due to my service, I would develop a taste for the Holy Name. But it didn’t happen that way. One spiritual teacher once said that many devotees make a mistake of thinking that just by serving in ISKCON, neglecting the Japa, they will eventually attain pure devotional service. I was one of those devotees. And in the moment of death, I realized that my inattentive chanting had let me down.

We might think that we can intellectually remember Krishna since we sometimes do it during our lifetime. However, as my experience showed me, during death, our intellect shuts down, and only our mind remains. We can’t forcefully think of something; rather, our mind takes us to what was most dear to us during our life, what we considered our refuge.

So, after 23 years of spiritual practice, at the moment of death, I panicked, and my mind was filled with thoughts of my mother, not Krishna. I recalled how she provided comfort during my childhood illnesses, and in those moments, when I regained consciousness, I simply called out for my mom, completely forgetting about the Lord. Somewhere deep in my consciousness, I knew I needed to call someone else, but due to the overwhelming pain, I couldn’t remember who to call or what to say.
At that moment, the doctors informed me that I was on the verge of death and could pass away at any moment. The news was relayed to devotees in Kazakhstan, where a Sunday program was taking place. Fearing for my life, the compassionate devotees started a three-hour kirtan, praying to Krishna to help me. Through their prayers, Krishna showered His mercy upon me. The Holy Name is not confined by material space, and their kirtan in Kazakhstan reached me in the hospital in Ranaghat in this way:

Once again, I regained consciousness and let out a cry or a moan due to the intense pain. At that moment, an Indian nurse leaned over me and sternly said, ‘Why are you crying? Just keep chanting Hare Krishna!’

As I later found out after recovering, this nurse was a Muslim, and she even refused to accept books by Srila Prabhupada from me when I was discharged from the hospital. When I asked her why she advised me to chant Hare Krishna in the intensive care unit, she simply shrugged and said, ‘I don’t know.’

Somehow, hearing the words ‘Hare Krishna’ from her lips brought immense relief. I finally remembered what to chant at the time of death. Gathering all my strength, I attempted to chant ‘Hare Krishna,’ but unfortunately, all my muscles, including those for speech, were completely paralyzed, and I could only murmur incomprehensibly. I couldn’t properly chant ‘Hare Krishna!’ This threw me into despair, and tears streamed from my eyes as I writhed on the bed, surrounded by tubes and hoses.

Then I heard the voice of a doctor addressing the nurse, asking who I was. She replied, ‘She is from ISKCON.’ And then, miraculously, the doctor sat down next to me and started singing, ‘He Krishna, Karuna Sindhu, Dina Bandhu Jagat Pathe, Gopisha, Gopika Kanta, Radha Kanta Namastute!’ and then he began chanting ‘Hare Krishna.’

Thus, the kirtan of devotees in Kazakhstan manifested itself for me through him in the hospital in Ranaghat. Feeling immense gratitude towards this person, as well as profound remorse for my foolish life and offensive chanting, I left my body.

I was fearful because I realized I had failed the test completely. I thought to myself, ‘What a fool I have been to treat the Holy Name so superficially throughout my life.’

I scolded myself! And at that moment, I suddenly saw my Deities whom I had been worshiping for 23 years: Jagannath, Baladeva, and Subhadra. Baladeva and Subhadra were in the distance, and I could only vaguely see their silhouettes. But Lord Jagannath stood very close and was vividly visible.

Suddenly, I saw that all the Deities of Lord Jagannath were actually one Lord manifested in multiple forms. Then I saw Him in a human-like form. It was Lord Jagannath, but at the same time, He was Krishna Himself. He had arms and legs, a beautiful figure, and a straight posture. His skin was as blue as the flax flower, and His face was very attractive, with huge eyes and a mysterious soft smile. He didn’t say anything, but suddenly, He showed me my entire life from the moment I joined ISKCON and began practicing Krishna consciousness.

My whole life passed before my eyes like a movie reel, and I saw that during this entire movie, while I played various roles, Lord Jagannath stood by my side, invisible to my material eyes. At that moment, I was in shock, realizing that Krishna never left me for a moment since I started chanting His name. He was always there, protecting me in dangerous situations when I felt alone and overwhelmed by my problems.

When I began preaching to Muslims in my country, their religious leaders threatened to behead me and pursued me relentlessly. Eventually, they left me alone, and I thought I had managed to hide from them, but it turns out that Jagannath protected me from their attacks. Several times, I faced the possibility of imprisonment for preaching in scientific circles, and I was dying of fear, thinking that Krishna had abandoned me and that it was the end for me. But in the end, they left me as well, and as I later learned, all the officials involved in my case were dismissed from their positions.
And this was also the protection of Lord Jagannath! One night, a maniac attacked me, but suddenly, a massive woman emerged from the darkness and chased him away with loud cries. It was also Krishna’s protection. Another time, when I was facing imprisonment again, I cried in fear all night. Lord Jagannath appeared in my dream and showed me that everything would be fine. And it turned out to be true.

Reflecting on my entire life unfolding before me, I understood that Lord Krishna never abandons His devotees, no matter the circumstances we face due to our past sins. Even when we feel utterly alone, helpless, and defenseless, Krishna always stands by our side, protecting us in ways unseen.
Moreover, Krishna revealed the most important aspect of my life while the tape of my existence was playing: He showed me that the most significant moments were the kirtans in which I participated. It was astonishing because I saw in detail every kirtan in which I chanted throughout my life, even those with only 3-4 devotees. He didn’t show me what I considered important material events, but rather what was important to Him and to me as a soul: THE JOINT CHANTING OF THE HOLY NAMES. During each kirtan, streams of radiant energy in gold, blue, and pink hues rose from the chanting devotees and reached the heavens, filling the entire universe.

It was strange how even small kirtans performed by a small group of devotees possessed such incredible power. The Holy Name is boundlessly potent, and our attempts to chant it are so dear to Krishna!

Observing my life from this alternative reality left me in complete awe and bliss. Then, it all ended. I returned to my body to, like Ajamila, receive another chance – a chance to approach the Holy Name of the Lord differently.

Perhaps, by the mercy of Krishna and His devotees, all my anarthas and material consciousness will be purified by the power of the Holy Name of Krishna, and I will learn to chant it sincerely and purely.

Now, I would like to express my gratitude to my spiritual teacher, Shrila Shivarama Swami, for his numerous instructions and lectures on the Holy Name; to Janmastami Prabhu for inspiring me daily to chant attentively and sincerely; to Jivanath Prabhu and the devotees of Harinama for the daily opportunity to participate in sankirtan; to the spiritual teachers in ISKCON, who glorify the Holy Name and narrate Krishna katha; and, most importantly, to Shrila Prabhupada, who bestowed the greatest mercy upon the fallen souls.

Hare Krishna!
Mataji Ananda Vrindavani

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