It’s been exactly one year since one of our dear friends Dr. Madan Gupta (Michigan, USA) departed from this world.
I met him about 25 years ago through Dr. Balak Verma and we both immediately felt kind of connected because of our connection with the city of Jammu - in J&K, India.
However, our first meeting was quite interesting.
I vividly remember asking him where he lived in Jammu.
He said he was not from the city but from a nearby village.
“Which village?” I asked.
He was hesitant. “You probably would not have even heard it. It’s
I said, I have travelled extensively in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, so please tell me.
“Have you heard about Bhaddu Bilaur?” he asked.
I said yes of-course, I know.
He did not believe me. He smiled and said “yea right.”
I could sense from his facial expression that he thought I was making it up, to show off or something. But I actually knew the place because I had gone there during one of my Prachar tours.
I said ……. Well! are you from Bhaddu or Bilaur?
He was shocked. He laughed almost hysterically. He looked at Dr. Verma and others in the room and said “hey… this guy knows… He really knows. Because Bhaddu is a separate village near Bilaur but hardly anyone knows that these are two different places because everyone always says Bhaddu-Bilaur. Now I do believe him.”
I told him that I was invited there by Mr. Jia Lal Gupta and he knew his family too.
Over the next few years, we became good friends. Every time we met, we talked about many different things including religion and philosophy. He was very interested in learning about Indian history and politics and he used to read quite a few books. Though I don’t know anything about politics, I always enjoyed listening to his views. Over the dinners, we used to discuss about different aspects of religion and history and many a times we had strong different opinion, but he never got upset or angry as many other people usually do.
I developed a lot of respect for him as I learnt more and more about him, as a person. He was very kind hearted and helpful to all. Not only he and his wife Asha ji were always so kind and helpful towards me and my family, he had a great desire to help the poor and needy - especially in India.
Yesterday, about 30 of his close friends got together in his memory at his family’s residence where Dr. Prem Khilanani recited ‘Shanti Mantras’ and read and briefly explained the 2nd chapter of Bhagavad Gita. Dr. Khilanani, a medical doctor, is a scholar of Vedanta and Bhagavad Gita as well.
In the midst of his lecture, Dr. Khilanani was explaining the 20th Shloka:
“Na Jaayate Mriyate va kadaachinnayam ……
……. Na hanayate hanyamaane shareeray” (2:20)
(Aatma neither takes birth, nor it perishes when the body dies)
My mind started to wander off and I remembered a small incidence.
Once, while sitting at my home in Michigan, I was talking to a friend in India over the phone. We talked for some time when suddenly the phone slipped out of my hand, hit the ground and broke. We lost the connection. I knew my friend is still there, but I was not able to communicate with him anymore. The medium, through which we were talking was broken.
I thought, according to Bhagavad Gita, this situation also seems similar. When a friend or a family member passes away, we know that it’s only the body which has died, not the Aatma. The person whom we loved, still exists in the form of Aatma but the 'medium' through which we interacted and communicated is not there anymore. It is a great consolation but yet, we feel sad that we will not be able to see, touch or talk to our loved ones any more. I feel a sense of shame and guilt in my heart that I was not able to do anything for him, nor I will be able to get another chance to repay him in any way for whatever he did for me and my family.
We miss you Dr. Madan Gupta.