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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

What Is Heaven

Dear Amitji,

“The human imagined heavens, the picturesque expectation of what lies there, the promise of the best and that which has never been .. all fall in line when the mentioned location is built for them that have done with life and reside now in the beyond ..
It is rather fascinating how mankind has evolved in creative excellence, to be able to describe in vivid detail, what lies after the after is over .. “
(DAY - 3074)

Sir, Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language describes heaven almost the same way what we in India basically believe in culturally and religiously:
Dictionary - Heaven: The abode of God, the angels, and the spirits of the righteous after death; the place or state of existence of the blessed after the mortal life.
Belief - Heaven is the holiest place where beings such as gods, angels, saints, or venerated ancestors are said to  live. According to our beliefs, heavenly beings can descend to earth or incarnate, and earthly beings can ascend to Heaven in the afterlife.

Our beliefs are generally based on what is mentioned in our mythology or Vedic literature, and not on any true happenings or historical events reported recently in our lifetime. Occasionally we do come across some signs that seem to corroborate the events or places narrated in our holy books or epics, such as Pandavas’ last stop in journey towards Heaven, mentioned in Mahabharata:
Mana, the last village on the Indian border with Tibet, 3 kilometres from the Himalayan dham of Badrinath in Uttarakhand, is where the Pandava brothers from the Mahabharata are believed to have passed through before their final ascent to Heaven. Mana is the sweetest little Himalayan village. A one-street village cut into the tilt of a snow-capped mountain; wizened old men with hooded eyes urging unwilling big black yaks with shouts of Hai hai Haiiiii! Such is the last Indian village dotting the border with Tibet. A little way down this pathway, you come to a fork with a signboard that indicates local landmarks, some from the Mahabharata: Vyasa Gufa 100 yards; Ganesha Gufa 50 yards; Bhim Pul 100 yards; Vasudhara Falls 4 kilometres. Down, down, down goes the path, until it finally reaches the Saraswati river that falls as a torrent of white foam through the gorge in front. "It's too much for me,"  cried Draupadi when she saw the river. "I can't cross this". On hearing her, Bhima had kicked a rock across. The rock he kicked now fords the river and is named Bhim Pul. It is an ideal place to linger, and look at the towering peaks around. The Pandavas bathed here, a silver-coloured fall tumbling from a great height. Across its face, the amber sunlight of the late afternoon slants and a rainbow appears making you drowsy with enchantment. - (Source: Times of India).

Sir, in the context of any concrete proof of existence of Heaven, I came across an interesting article on experiencing journey to Heaven, which I request permission to reproduce on this platform:


As a neurosurgeon, I did not believe in the phenomenon of near-death experiences. I grew up in a scientific world, the son of a neurosurgeon. I followed my father’s path and became an academic neurosurgeon, teaching at Harvard Medical School and other universities. I understand what happens to the brain when people are near death, and I had always believed there were good scientific explanations for the heavenly out-of-body journeys described by those who narrowly escaped death.
In the fall of 2008, however, after seven days in a coma during which the human part of my brain, the neocortex, was inactivated, I experienced something so profound that it gave me a scientific reason to believe in consciousness after death. I know how pronouncements like mine sound to skeptics, so I will tell my story with the logic and language of the scientist I am.
Very early one morning four years ago, I awoke with an extremely intense headache. Within hours, my entire cortex—the part of the brain that controls thought and emotion and that in essence makes us human—had shut down. Doctors at Lynchburg General Hospital in Virginia, a hospital where I myself worked as a neurosurgeon, determined that I had somehow contracted a very rare bacterial meningitis that mostly attacks newborns. E. coli bacteria had penetrated my cerebrospinal fluid and were eating my brain. When I entered the emergency room that morning, my chances of survival in anything beyond a vegetative state were already low. They soon sank to near nonexistent. For seven days I lay in a deep coma, my body unresponsive, my higher-order brain functions totally offline.
Then, on the morning of my seventh day in the hospital, as my doctors weighed whether to discontinue treatment, my eyes popped open.
‘You have nothing to fear.’ ‘There is nothing you can do wrong.’ The message flooded me with a vast and crazy sensation of relief.
There is no scientific explanation for the fact that while my body lay in coma, my mind—my conscious, inner self—was alive and well and journeyed to another, larger dimension of the universe: a dimension I’d never dreamed existed and which the old, pre-coma me would have been more than happy to explain was a simple impossibility.
It took me months to come to terms with what happened to me. Not just the medical impossibility that I had been conscious during my coma, but—more importantly—the things that happened during that time. Toward the beginning of my adventure, I was in a place of clouds. Big, puffy, pink-white ones that showed up sharply against the deep blue-black sky. A sound, huge and booming like a glorious chant, came down from above, and I wondered if the winged beings were producing it. Again, thinking about it later, it occurred to me that the joy of these creatures, as they soared along, was such that they had to make this noise—that if the joy didn’t come out of them this way then they would simply not otherwise be able to contain it. The sound was palpable and almost material, like a rain that you can feel on your skin but doesn’t get you wet. It gets stranger still. A message went through me like a wind, and I instantly understood that it was true. I knew so in the same way that I knew that the world around me was real—was not some fantasy, passing and insubstantial.
The message had three parts, and if I had to translate them into earthly language, I’d say they ran something like this:
“You are loved and cherished, dearly, forever.”
“You have nothing to fear.”
“There is nothing you can do wrong.”
The message flooded me with a vast and crazy sensation of relief. It was like being handed the rules to a game I’d been playing all my life without ever fully understanding it.
A warm wind blew through, a divine breeze. It changed everything, shifting the world around me into an even higher octave, a higher vibration. I began wordlessly putting questions to this wind, and to the divine being that I sensed at work behind or within it.
Where is this place?
Who am I?
Why am I here?
Each time I silently put one of these questions out, the answer came instantly in an explosion of light, color, love, and beauty that blew through me like a crashing wave. What was important about these blasts was that they didn’t simply silence my questions by overwhelming them. They answered them, but in a way that bypassed language. Thoughts entered me directly. But it wasn’t thought like we experience on earth. It wasn’t vague, immaterial, or abstract, and as I received them I was able to instantly and effortlessly understand concepts that would have taken me years to fully grasp in my earthly life. - (Newsweek: Heaven is real)

Sir, before concluding, as expected of me by our dear Ef, I would like to give a glimpse of Heaven (Jannat) as seen by Bollywood:

Song-Kar lijiye chalkar meri jannat ke nazaare (Shahjahan) (1946) Singer-K L Saigal, Lyrics-Majrooh Sultanpuri, MD-Naushad
kar lijiye chalkar meri jannat ke nazaare
jannat yah banaayi hai muhabbat ke sahaare
phoolon se liyaa rang sitaaron se ujaalaa
har cheez ko ik noor ke dhaanche mein hai dhaalaa
is khwaab ki basti kaa falak hai na zameen hai
is husn ki duniyaa ki har ik cheez haseen hai
roshan hai fizaa aur nahin chaand-sitaare
jannat ye banaayi hai muhabbat ke sahaare
gaati hai khushi naghme to hanstaa hai wahaan gham
kaliyon ki hansi dekh ke roti nahin shabnam
fitrat ki zabaan par kahin masti kaa fasaanaa
chheda hai khamoshi ne bhi purqais taraanaa
kuchh soye to kuchh jaage huye mast nazaare
jannat ye banaayi hai muhabbat ke sahaare

With regards and best wishes

Tilak Rishi


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