It was that magical time, late at night, when I was telling a bed-time story to my granddaughter— one of most enjoyable tasks that a grandparent can do. I had run out of stories to tell her so I started telling her about my own life. I described how I grew up in Lucknow with my parents and my big brother. I mentioned that I was a teenager when my father died and that, a year later, my brother passed away. I also said:
“I really miss my brother. I wish he was here with me now.”
Promptly came her reply, with the innocence of a child:
“But he is still your brother.”
Her response blew me away. She was absolutely right, of course. He is still my brother, even if he has passed away. The relationship remains the same, he will always be my elder brother. That relationship will never end.
When I heard these words, it seemed like a huge burden had been lifted off my shoulders. The grief that I had been carrying with me for years just melted away. Her words of simple wisdom did more to uplift my spirits than years of reading sacred texts or listening to learned discourses from so many people. Her words were so real, only a child could say such a thing.
Most religions of the world agree on at least one thing: consciousness continues after death in some form. Some talk about re-incarnation, some talk about a day of judgement, but all confirm that some form of consciousness survives the passing of the physical body.
Om Swami ji himself has talked about re-incarnation and re-birth in many of his discourses. I trust his words more than anything written in the books, because he speaks from direct experience. I am convinced that my brother is around somewhere, in some existence watching over his younger brother.
I know for a fact that he watched over me when he was alive. It was a long time ago, but I do remember that, when my father was suffering from lung cancer, he was given radiation treatment for a while. In those days, this treatment was available only in a military hospital and, at time, there were not too many safety protocols in place. My father was kept in an isolation ward for his treatment. My brother was one of the very few people who visited him daily, bringing food and looking after his needs. I wanted to go, too, but my brother strictly forbade me from going anywhere near the ward. My brother protected me from the danger, taking the risk on himself.
One year later, he died from leukaemia, a form of blood cancer. It was incurable at the time. Most likely, he developed this because of exposure to the radiation. He completely protected me from exposure and I have no doubt in my mind that I owe my life to him. That’s what older brothers do.
After all, he is still my brother, just as my father is still my father and my mother is still my mother. My granddaughter’s words of wisdom should be an inspiration for any one who has faced personal loss. Relationships simply don’t end with death.
My father was a famous journalist in his time. He interviewed prime ministers and presidents, he travelled all over the world. I followed a very different career path, becoming an engineer. However, as I get older, I can see that my writing genes are very much alive. For a while, I wrote for a newspaper in India, it just came naturally to me. Now, I write blogs and feel very privileged to write for the Om Swami website. My father is still my father, even though he moved on a long time ago, and carry his genes with me.
My mother was very much into Indian classical music. She was a trained singer, and she did a lot of research on the link between music and spirituality. I got my love of music from her and it has been a huge blessing during the pandemic.She is still my mother, even though she, too, has passed away.
My maternal grandfather, whom I never saw, was a poet, a writer and an educationist. He founded a music college in Lucknow.He was also very religious, a great devotee of Lord Krishna. He is still my grandfather and I carry some of his genes even today.
Our ancestors, too, are still our ancestors. We share some of their genes and they influence us even though they are no longer with us on the earthly plane. In a sense we are all connected and my granddaughter captured this so beautifully in one simple sentence:
‘He is still your brother.’