Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 05 Mar 2023


Grace During Father's Illness and Death

[By Dr. Nikhil and Devi]

Recently, my father passed away after a long battle with cancer and lung fibrosis. Throughout this trying time that began in 2019, I experienced the ceaseless grace of Swami. I recall that some time around November 2018, when I was speaking over the phone to Swamiji, all of a sudden, Swamiji asked me when I was planning to visit my parents in Pune. I replied that I had no plans to visit at that time since it was the middle of the academic semester. I said that the earliest I could go was during the summer vacation in 2019. He told me that it was necessary to visit them and asked me when exactly I would be able to go. Realizing the seriousness, I said that I could go in May, but if He wanted me go earlier, I could do so too. He paused for a moment and then said that May was alright.

During the next few months, my father kept complaining of some health issues on and off. My parents were consulting good doctors and the situation did not seem very serious at that time. Some time before May 2019, we booked tickets to Pune and were scheduled to arrive in Pune on the 3rd of May. Around the 28th of April, my mother called with the shocking news that my father had colon cancer and that he was to be operated the very next day after I reached Pune. We called and thanked Swamiji for alerting us beforehand and for timing the diagnosis perfectly. Throughout the journey, I felt the presence of Swamiji with me. When I entered the hospital, the first thing I saw was the picture of Shri Shirdi Sai Baba in the elevator, assuring me that Lord Datta was with me. In the waiting room outside the operation theater, were images of Shri Swami Samartha and Shri Shirdi Sai Baba healing sick people. It left no doubt in my mind of Swamiji’s constant grace with me.

It was a major surgery, but it went off smoothly. The doctors were positive that they had caught the cancer at an early enough stage and they were hopeful of a complete recovery. I stayed with my father in the hospital every night for about ten days, until he was discharged. During the night, he would be sleepless and in a lot of pain. I would be on my toes to attend to his needs. Often times, we would get into philosophical discussions. The nights were long, and both of us would be awake. So, those discussions were the best use of time.

In the next few years, several minor and major complications arose. My father had to undergo another major surgery, two rounds of chemotherapy, one round of radiation therapy, treatment for suspected tuberculosis, and bio-therapy. With each treatment, came a whole host of expected and unexpected side-effects. In fact, my father would jokingly say that his case was probably the best example of Murphy’s law, which says, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. These treatments and their side effects caused him immense suffering. The side-effect of the biotherapy was the worst. It caused lung fibrosis leading to his hospitalization in September 2022. After getting discharged from the hospital, his health improved slightly. My parents turned to homeopathy to treat the cancer and the lung fibrosis since any other aggressive treatment was ruled out due to his delicate condition. Unfortunately, even the homeopathic treatment led to severe side-effects, and finally, he was admitted into the ICU on 12th February 2023.

Within an hour of receiving my mother’s call about my father’s admission to the ICU, I started from my home in Coimbatore. Due to Swamiji’s grace, I had got a flight the same evening, and went straight to the hospital from Pune airport. Throughout my journey to Pune and during the period of my father’s hospitalization, I felt the constant divine presence of Swamiji. I was not touched by worry because I knew that He was with me. I was listening to Swamiji’s bhajans and bathing in the ceaseless stream of His divine love. I was thinking, “Whatever has to happen, will undoubtedly be for the best. The whole creation is under the total control of my Swami, who is the embodiment of divine love for all souls. My father’s health and his life; my own health and my life, are not my concern. My eyes are fixed on Swami alone. All I have to do is drift along the blissful river of His divine love.”

After more than a week in ICU, it became obvious to the doctors, my father himself, and our family, that my father would not survive this condition. I called Swamiji and briefed Him about the situation. I told Him that my sister, who lives in the UK had booked tickets to reach India on the 25th of February. My father was eagerly waiting to meet her and her daughter. Swamiji said that she should have been informed earlier. It became clear to me that my father had only a few days left. Swamiji assured me that Kāla, the Lord of Death, would take care of everything smoothly and that I should merely sit back and observe.

Luckily, my sister was able to reschedule her ticket and reach on the 22nd. In the meanwhile, both my mother and I came down with a viral infection. Swamiji ensured that I did not have any fever. My actual symptoms were quite mild. However, internally, I realized that it was a severe infection, and that Swamiji had reduced its intensity to a tolerable level, so that I could still be active and do all the essential tasks. In any case, it meant that neither I nor my mother could go close to my father for fear of infecting him. There too, due to the grace of Swamiji, several family members and friends volunteered to be with my father in the hospital.

Also, while my father was in the hospital and I was attending to him, back home in Coimbatore, Devi fell sick. My daughter Arsha had to miss college for a few days to take care of her mother. I had instructed Arsha that if Devi’s condition were to worsen, she should get her admitted to the campus clinic. Beyond that, there was nothing I could do from so far away. However, Swamiji did not allow even a trace of worry to enter any of our minds. Such was His grace, that He did not allow any situation to go out of control. Swamiji was constantly in touch with both of us over the phone. He assured us that He was standing by all of us simultaneously—with me in Pune, and with Devi & Arsha in Coimbatore. He is our sole support, in this world and in all worlds; in this life and in all lives. The devotees of Swamiji, the members of our divine Datta family, were also constantly in touch, providing encouragement. Phaniji and Lakshmanji came to meet me in Pune despite the fact that Phaniji’s own parents were undergoing medical treatment in Mumbai.

Finally, on the 22nd, my sister and her daughter arrived in Pune and met my father in the hospital. He passed away the very next day. Just a few hours before he passed, due to Swamiji’s grace, I was able to have a deep philosophical discussion with him, in which I strongly urged my father to surrender to God.

After he passed, neither I nor my mother and sister had any idea about the formalities to be completed after the death of a family member. Just then, I got a call from our neighbor in Pune asking me if I knew all the procedures. I confessed that I did not have the slightest clue. She told me not to worry and that she would send a mutual acquaintance to take care of it all. That gentleman arrived and took care of all the procedures. All the friends and relatives also helped in a huge way, and the cremation went off smoothly. Even at work, the two weeks I was away were treated to be vacation leave, causing no inconvenience to me. At every step I could see the words of Swamiji come true. Kāla did take care of everything in the smoothest and most perfect manner. All I had to do was observe and appreciate.

Through this entire episode, Swamiji took care of my health, Devi’s health, my work, my daughter’s studies, my parents’ emergency, my father’s passing peacefully, and all the formalities after death. He proved to us that He is the Lord of our souls, the Lord of our bodies, the Lord of our family, the Lord of everyone, and the Lord of creation. We three of us bow down to that Swami, our eternal Refuge.

Oṃ Ātmeśvarāya Namaḥ
Oṃ Deheśvarāya Namaḥ
Oṃ Kuṭumbeśvarāya Namaḥ
Oṃ Sarveśvarāya Namaḥ
Oṃ Viśveśvarāya Namaḥ