An Exemplary Death

by S. N. Goenka


Dr. Tara Jadhav sat her first Vipassana course in 1986. Her search was over.  She had found the pure path of Dhamma. She did not need to explore any other path or technique, and began to progress on this path with single-minded dedication.

Dr. Tara Jadhav did not have any other responsibilities. So she spent most of her time progressing in Dhamma. She had walked on the path of Dhamma in many previous lives. With her abundant store of paramita, she was able to practise Vipassana very easily. Just like a fish in water does not have to be taught how to swim, in the same way Tara did not have to be given any special training.

She got the technique, the facilities, and she became engrossed in making best use of her time. Upon seeing that the qualities of mettākaruna and capacity for selfless service were well developed in her, she was appointed assistant teacher in 1989 and senior assistant teacher in 1995. In spite of old age, she gave Dhamma service with great devotion. She kept strengthening her parami of dana while guiding students in Vipassana.

At the ripe old age of eighty-two years she came to take part in the Teacher's Self-Course in Dhamma Giri. The course started with anapana on the morning of 2 December 1996. She meditated intently throughout the day. After she did the 6 to 7 evening group meditation alone in her cell, she came to the Dhamma hall for the Dhamma discourse.

At about 7.30 p.m., as soon as the discourse began, she touched both knees, both palms and head upon the floor to pay her respects. Once, twice, and after she placed her head on the floor for the third time, she did not raise it again. She breathed her last in that same posture of Dhamma-salutation.

The female meditators sitting nearby were surprised because respects are usually paid three times at the end of the discourse. Why is she paying her respects at the beginning of the discourse? But that was her final salutation in this life. All the three times, while paying her respects, she said "aniccaaniccaanicca" in a very low voice. Those were her last words.

All serious meditators are taught that they should never pay respects mechanically. Only when one is equanimously aware of the impermanence of the sensations at the top of the head, does the salutation become meaningful. Tara would always salute in this meaningful manner. Her final salutation was also meaningful.

Tara used to tell her Dhamma sisters, "In this twilight of my life, I have only one desire: I should give up my body while meditating on this Dhamma-land ". Her strong Dhamma desire was fulfilled. Tara became blessed. Becoming established in Vipassana, on the path of liberation, she lived a life of Dhamma and ultimately she achieved an exemplary death.