My Search for Life After Death

By Raghbir Dhillon

"Grandson, tell your father I stored carrot seeds in the pitcher fourth from the left, third row from the bottom. Also tell your Grandma to stop crying. Look, my clothes are wet, and it is making things difficult for me," my eighty-year-old grandfather said.

Before I could say anything, he jumped on his black stallion and bolted away. I was surprised at his strange behavior. I was his favorite grandson, and he always hugged me and patted my back. I thought he might be in a hurry to get his pension at Amritsar, but his messages and actions baffled me. I was studying at Khalsa College Amritsar and was coming home on the Diwali holidays. At six in the morning, the train, draped in smoke, steam, and dust, dropped me at the railway station. I gave the ticket to the stationmaster, snaked through the crops on a narrow path, and reached the village pond, where I'd met my grandfather, who'd been watering his horse.

When I reached the house, I heard keening sounds. As I stepped into the living room, I found the furniture had been removed and people were sitting on the floor. My heart felt a sharp jolt; there was a death in the family.

My father took me in his arms and said, "Your grandfather passed away yesterday."

"Impossible, I met him at the pond."

"You had an hallucination."

"No, I saw him with my own eyes, and I don't drink," I said. "Oh, right, he gave me a message about the carrot seeds."

"He forgot to buy that seed, and I'm worried, since the planting season is slipping away," my father said. "Anyhow, what's the message?"

"He did purchase the seeds and gave me the location where he stored them."

"Good, let me take some others with us and check it," Dad said and called three persons sitting in the living room.

We rushed to the barn, and I pointed to the pot, amongst forty earthen storage pots. When we removed the pots above it, we found it full of seeds. Everyone was baffled.

"Son, you did meet Grandpa's spirit," Dad said. "Let's go home and take care of the funeral."

We went to the corner of the barn, where Grandpa had collected and stacked wood for his cremation. Logs were loaded in a bullock-cart, which transported them to the cremation grounds. We made a pyre and returned home. Grandpa's corpse was carried on a wooden bier and laid on the pyre. Dad ignited the grass in logs, and I watched the tongues of flames consuming the great soldier, good farmer, and doting family patriarch. Next day we poured milk over the ashes, collected them in cotton bags, carried those to the sacred river, and scattered them over the shimmering ripples.

My vacation ended, and I went back to my campus. In two years I graduated from college and came to America for graduate studies.

At the Gurdwara (Sikh Temple) I met Jeeto, an Indian girl from my community, and married her. We had one son, Paul, and thirty years of wonderful married life flew away. When Jeeto passed away, I was fifty years old. I depended so much on her: my food, health, medicine, and recreation. I had trouble with my eyesight, and she'd driven me everywhere. She took a promise from me that, if she died first, I wouldn't plan a funeral service; instead, I'd cremate her and dump her ashes in the sacred river. To fulfill her wish of joining her ancestors, I kept her ashes and arranged my trip to India. Paul and his wife left for their home in Arizona, and I was alone in the big house.

I closed my eyes, and tears trickled down my cheeks. Then the incident of meeting my grandfather flashed across my mind and his message, "Tell your grandma to stop crying. My clothes are wet, and I'm finding it hard to adjust," buzzed in my ears.

I thought Jeeto must be sitting right near me, and my weeping would create difficulties for her. So I took a bath, seated cross-legged on the floor, and prayed. I pledged not to shed any more tears and try to meet Jeeto's spirit.

So far I had my doubts about life after death and thought Grandpa's meeting with me was a freak phenomenon. I withdrew from the library several books dealing with life after death. Among them was the book Edmond by Sir Oliver Lodge, the world-famous British scientist called the father of radio. He experimented with the spirit of his son, Edmond, who was killed in France, in World War I. I read it twice. I also studied a book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes. He gave clear details about contacting the spirit of his son. Now I was sure that there was a life after death. Heartbroken, I believed if I could meet Jeeto's spirit and ask her what I should do now, it would help me.

I was confined in the house, and once a month I took a taxi to the grocery stores. Slowly and steadily, I was dying in my heart, and my body was decaying and withering. Ilonged for a quick painless death, but the idea of meeting Jeeto's spirit kept me going. In my theosophical search, I had discovered Anne Woods, the daughter of the famous British admiral, who changed her name to Anne Besant and did great research on life after death, establishing a big ashram (center for learning, healing, and meditation) near Mt. Everest. I decided to visit this ashram after scattering Jeeto's ashes over the sacred river.

I flew by Air India Airlines to Amritsar, and my younger brother picked me up at the airport. Father had arranged the Sikh funeral service — the continuous reading of the Holy Book for four days. I didn't object, because I thought Jeeto wouldn't mind, and it made my parents happy. After the service, my brother drove me to the sacred river, and I scattered Jeeto's ashes over the dancing ripples. Thus, Jeeto joined the company of her ancestors.