The Passing of Yogamaya Dasi
Posted November 17, 2006
After six weeks of intense hearing, chanting and prayer with a group of 25 to 30 devotees, Her Grace Yogamaya devi dasi finally left our association.
On Saturday, Yogamaya prabhu woke just after midnight. As she was in some discomfort the devotees present began a soft kirtan. Yogamaya also joined in this kirtan and, although her shortness of breath made it very difficult for her to chant, she continued with determination.
After some time Yogamaya dasi's pain subsided and she became calm. The kirtan continued but, rather than go back to sleep, Yogamaya continued to try and join in. At this time we advised her not to chant but to just listen to the holy name, so she could rest her body. Although she agreed to do this, when the kirtan started she once again joined in. We all smiled in amazement seeing her steady determination; however, we were very concerned, as she was still very short of breath.
After sometime Sumukhi dasi told Yogamaya that the devotees had done all that they could for her material body. Now all that we could do was help her go to Krishna. Yogamaya said, "Yes", and was noticeably ready to begin her final journey.
Yogamaya then asked that the curtains be closed...
Sumukhi: Would you like me to close the curtains on Jillian Comrie? (Yogamaya's name at birth)
Sumukhi: Okay, Yogamaya, I have closed them for you, there's no more Jillian Comrie.
Yogamaya: Yes, I can't lament...
Sumukhi: Yes, Kalasamvara told you not to lament.
Previously Kalasamvara das had spoken to Yogamaya on the phone. He had heard about her lamentation and told her that even though lamentation is natural at this time, she should mediate on the lamentation of the previous Arcaryas and mediate on their prayers in the song book, taking shelter of their mood. He told her it is time to forget about her mind and dictations, and just to meditate on Krishna, who is her friend.
Sumukhi: Krishna is here for you, Yogamaya, and I'm going to tell the devotees that you are going back to Krishna. The devotees will be so happy. Guru Maharaja will be so pleased with you.
Yogamaya smiled, and the devotees then tried to move her as she was quite uncomfortable.
Sumukhi: You are so uncomfortable aren't you?
Yogamaya: Yes, there is so much suffering in this material world.
Sumukhi: There is no happiness in this material world. Srila Prabhupada has taught us that happiness is just a relief from suffering.
Sumukhi: Real happiness is with Krishna, and that's where you're going.
Yogamaya: Yes, there is no happiness in this world.
After some time Yogamaya became absorbed in chanting japa so much that the devotees didn't feel like disturbing her. At 3:00 a.m. she asked what time it was. Sumukhi suggested that maybe this was good time to go back to Krishna. Yogamaya agreed but continued chanting japa. It was a very sweet exchange between two close friends.
Around 3:20 a.m. we decided that the devotees should take rest, leaving me to stay with Yogamaya. We felt that to try and communicate with her now would merely distract her from her intense absorption in the holy name, and if she were to leave it would be perfect. Yogamaya was deeply absorbed in chanting, and in a sense she had already left us. Yogamaya continued to chant japa, despite our requests that she rest. The previous night she had been having intense dreams and complained that the morphine was affecting her ability to focus. It seemed now she was determined to remain fully conscious. After some time I noticed her breathing becoming more shallow and her chanting more difficult. At intervals she would stop chanting though her lips never stopped moving. Recently, devotees caring for Yogamaya had been mentioning that she was chanting in her sleep, and sometimes chanting while waking from her sleep.
Soon Yogamaya's breathing became extremely shallow and I perceived that she was about to lose consciousness. Her eyes were half closed and she was no longer conscious of my presence. I turned up the Prabhupada CD that was playing by her bed and chanted with her.
Midway through her mantra, stopping with a final Krishna... her mouth opened and she stopped breathing. I waited for the next breath but soon realised that it wasn't coming. I couldn't see any symptoms of life. It was 4:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 11, 2006.
All along I had been anticipating some last-minute panic or sudden pain, where devotees would come running to have kirtan or assist Yogamaya as she struggled to maintain her consciousness. The doctors and nurses had been telling us that it would be very likely that Yogamaya would fall into a coma before departing. But there was no such dramatic scene. Yogamaya just chanted Hare Krishna till her final breath. As from the very beginning of her illness, Yogamaya has shown the result of many years of focused and determined sadhana-bhakti and dedication to the sankirtan mission. All along she had been so peaceful, fully surrendered to her situation. Her non-offensive attitude has won her the blessings of so many devotees, many of whom gathered to help her in her final months with us.
Yogamaya's cremation was on Monday, November 13.
Once again I would like to thank all the devotees for their kind help
and prayers. Without such wonderful association it would not have been
possible for Yogamaya dasi, Draupadi dasi and myself to have made this
journey. We remain eternally indebted.