Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Memorial for Mother Mitravinda

Tears at times have all the weight of speech.
- Ovid, 43 BCE

I dash to the templeroom door the moment the conch shell blows. No time to offer obeisance, just drink in every moment of Radhe Shyam as the curtains close. They're wearing Mother Mitravinda's lace and raw brown silk outfit, with accents of green giving Them a glow.

The templeroom is a sea of people as I settle down in the middle of it. I take a deep breath: brace yourself, Bhakti. No need to cry. You can feel appreciation and grief in your heart without having to cry, Bhakti... I tend to feel emotions so deeply and intensely, and especially lately I feel as though tears are my shadows, following me everywhere.

At moments, my eyes shine at poignant memories and realizations. But I hold myself still and manage to make it through the memorial without breaking down - I simply bask in the glory of Mother Mitravinda.

And then... the curtains open for Sayana Arati, and Radhe Shyam radiate their beauty into the deep night, to the sea of people.

And I break down. Crying and crying, I remember and hold dear in my heart Mother Mitravinda's service to Gaura Nitai and Radhe Shyam - her utter devotion and dedication... and how she engaged me.

The memorial continues out of sheer demand after the arati to continue appreciations. I take steadying breaths, telling myself, "Bhakti, when you share, just hold your composure, okay?"

Gaura Shakti finally calls me, and as I sit down in the speaker's seat, I am overwhelmed by how many people had stayed. And so I say how often we tend to appreciate someone when they leave us. Knowing this, I wrote a letter to appreciate Mother Mitravinda and drove over to hospice one morning to read it to her. You can read it here: A Letter to an Inspiration. Halfway through, my composure crumbles. I regain it again, but I feel a little mortified to have expressed such emotion.

Appreciations continue on until a quarter to 11. When I first sat down in the early evening, I knew there would not be a dry eye in the house by the final word. And of course, as I look around now, there isn't: grown men, gurukulis, children. Mother Mitravinda was just that amazing, that beautiful, that touching, that inspiring.

But for some reason, I hadn't included myself in the "dry eye in the house" prediction. Yet I realize now that this is the space to weep for her, here in Radhe Shyam's temple, surrounded by these beautiful vaishnavas. Tears are not my shadows, but my lamp to see.

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