Phoolanjaya Beale has been a member of the Sri Chinmoy Centre in New Zealand since 1994. She is also an accomplished musician, singer, amateur movie maker and photographer who enjoys the outdoors and running.
During August Celebrations in New York 1997, when I had been a disciple of Sri Chinmoy for two and a half years, I ran a Rainbow Marathon on Wards Island. It had been an extremely hot, hot day. I had been back at our New Zealand girls' house for about an hour when I started to feel very unwell. I knew that I needed some kind of replacement drink, but I felt too weak to go to the deli. All the other girls from my house were still at the Tennis Court, but it was about 2:30 p.m., so I was sure they would be back soon.
I remember chanting "Supreme" and looking at Sri Chinmoy's photo, when I got a very strong feeling to leave the house right away and go for help. So I summoned all my strength and walked to Annam Brahma. It took me a long time as I was feeling quite hazy. Just as I arrived, Guru was reversing out of Aspiration-Ground in his car. At the same moment, Dipali was crossing the road towards me. I burst into tears, "Dipali, I feel so sick!
Dipali took me into the restaurant, concerned that I had run on such a hot day, and gave me various concoctions of sports drinks. Unfortunately, my body wasn't responding well to anything and I was quickly becoming worse and losing concentration.
I remember some nurse disciples arriving to help. They were all saying, "Be calm, stay with us," but the room was spinning and I was fading in and out badly. The last thing I remember was someone asking me if I needed to go to the hospital. I said, "Yes, yes!" The rest of the story I am telling from what I've been told.
When I reached the door of Annam Brahma, I collapsed. In the car on the way to the hospital I had a seizure, and by the time we got to the hospital I was semi-unconscious. My sodium level was at 115, which is dangerously low. (It is supposed to be 135-150, or at least 124 in order to be conscious.) Also, my electrolytes were out of balance, apparently from drinking too much fluid during the race. I soon lost consciousness completely and was placed in the intensive care unit.
Guru was informed of the situation that evening at the Tennis Court. He asked for a photograph of me, and then meditated on the photograph and picked out an orange rose from his table. After walking around the court several times, holding the rose, he then called down one of my New Zealand friends. He instructed her to take the rose to me in the hospital and to place it on my head while saying "Supreme" seven times. She did this immediately.
Meanwhile I remained unconscious and had developed cerebral edema, which is when the brain swells up. My Mum and other friends stayed with me, talking and singing to me. The doctors were telling Mum that I would either die or be brain damaged. When Guru heard that the doctors were saying I was brain damaged, he said, "No!"
After I had been unconscious for 27 hours, Guru came to the hospital. My friends told me that he seemed larger than life as he walked into the room. Guru later said that when he arrived, there was no life-force in me. He sat in a chair beside my bed and meditated. The disciples there felt that it was an extremely powerful meditation. Guru put his hand on my head and then concentrated on my heart centre, repeating "Supreme" in a low voice.
As Guru was leaving, Guru held my foot and shook it. Someone noticed at this point that my heart rate had jumped from the 40s to the 60s on the monitor. After Guru left I was very peaceful, whereas before I had been very restless. On the way home from the hospital, Guru asked Nishtha, who was driving him, what she thought. She told Guru that she had been shocked at the damage to me.
Sure enough, as soon as Guru got home, he started receiving phone calls from Kritagyata about my sudden improvements. After 31 hours of being unconscious, I woke up! I only remember it vaguely. I asked, "Am I in the hospital?" Kritagyata gently explained what had happened and after a time I said, "Oh, yes."
Everything was quite hazy for a few days. For the next few days I felt like a newborn baby, like an empty vessel filled with peace. Inwardly everything was simple and clear. I got a message from Guru to sing "Jiban Debata" and "Tomare Rakhibo". My voice sounded like it was coming from far away, and then I was exhausted.
After two days I could sit up and after five days I was walking. On this day, Dipali came and took me home, much to the astonishment of the nurses, as I hadn't been officially discharged. It was the 15th of August and a big celebration was in progress at the Tennis Court for India's 50th anniversary of independence.
It wasn't until I actually saw Guru that night that it dawned on me what an incredible miracle Guru had performed to keep me on earth. I was truly overwhelmed with how much Guru loves us all, and what Guru does for us. I later found out that basically nobody in the world has ever survived after having a sodium level as low as I had.
Phoolanjaya (Auckland, New Zealand)