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Rukhiba's memories

The house in which I was born was quite ordinary like a hut. My grandma (mother's mother) used to live there. Her name was Rukmini, but village people used to call her ‘Rukhiba'. She was poor and uneducated, but her understanding and practical knowledge was extensive. People used to seek her advice on various matters. She was an idol of compassion. Her heart would melt at the sight of others misery and sorrows and she would try her best to help them. She was an extremely devout woman. Every night, she used to go to the Ranchhodji temple and would sit there for hours in a state of deep devotion. She was completely devoted to Lord Ram. Her heart was very pure and innocent. Very often in emotional state, tears would trickle down her face. In that way, she was very affectionate.

Rukhiba’s death occurred in an extraordinary manner. I must have been about seventeen years old at that time. There was the lunar eclipse in the month of Vaishakh. She had gone to the temple after a holy dip in the Sabarmati River. She had fever by the time she came home and lay in bed. That was the last fever of her life. She said that early morning she saw remarkable scenes in her feverish state. She further described that two men wearing ‘Pitambar'(yellow colored silk dress) and looking like ‘Sanyasis' accompanied by a woman wearing lovely silk clothes came near her bed. They said that it was time for her to depart and they had come to take her away. Rukhiba explained that she could not immediately accompany them. She had no worldly attachments. Nor was she sorry that she had to leave her physical frame and bid farewell to her relatives. She knew that every single person who is born has to die one day, but she has one thing remained to be done. Her son was at Baroda. She expressed her desire to see him once before leaving her body. Once she would fulfill her final wish, she would leave happily with them and discard her body in peace.

What she said was hard for ordinary people to understand but she said that those three persons agreed to her request and believed in her words. They affirmed to her that they would return three days later to take her with them. They also advised her to summon her son from Baroda at the earliest. Acting upon her utterances, Ramanbhai arrived from Baroda. She was still in bed with fever. Seeing Ramanbhai, Rukhiba was satisfied. She instructed to light a lamp that afternoon. She made me sit by her side and asked me to recite the ‘Gita'. She talked very affectionately to everyone who came to see her that day. That very day she passed away after midnight. She was the first person in my knowledge who had discarded her body, knowing well in advance the timing of her death.

On that very day, a potter in the town had a dream that a plane had descended at the outskirt of the village and three-four divine looking figures had taken away Rukhiba with them. In any case, Rukhiba had passed away. She left her physical frame behind. The cage (body) was still there but the bird (soul) had flown away. Mysterious are the ways of Nature. No one has ever been able to understand them. Even great scientists with tons of knowledge fail to comprehend it. Nature continues to function according to its own set rules. Not a single mortal can escape from its influence. Only he who seeks God's protection can free himself from its impact and understand the mysteries of nature.

I too joined Rukhiba's funeral procession. Her body was placed on the pyre that was prepared on the bank of the Sabarmati River. Rising flames engulfed her body. Sitting on the quiet riverbank, I began contemplating on the mortality of human body and transient nature of life. I resolved to scale the highest peaks of spiritual advancement without any attachment and to judiciously use my discretionary power for the same.

 

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