A friend’s death

Yesterday afternoon I heard that Navneet is dead. We were part of the same meditation school. My first memories of him are from 2009, when he was the only student in a meditation course I taught. Looking at me with the fascinated expression that was characteristic of him, he keenly tried to grasp the basics of our meditation technique.

Thereafter, we met frequently at meditation gatherings, discussing our meditation and our lives. Over the last two years, our meetings had become more occasional as we got involved in other aspects of life. I met him last a year ago. He gently tapped my stomach, telling me I’ve gained weight. I replied, “Look who’s talking!”. Then, about 4 months ago, he called to catch up. I knew he had been travelling for work, training people in soft skills and establishing himself in this field. And then, yesterday I heard that Navneet, only in his early 30s, had been hit by a car while crossing the road in a town in California and died. At present, friends and family are working to arrange for someone to bring Navneet’s body back to India. His photos are being uploaded on Facebook by friends who want to say a final goodbye. 


Navneet has died, but it feels as if nothing has changed in my life. I woke up today – another morning, another day loaded with work, and with worries about the direction in which I should take my life. All my strivings for a better future, a happier tomorrow, seem totally absurd when I think of his death. Navneet too woke up every morning, full of hopes, ambitions, anxieties. He hoped to touch the lives of as many people as he could, to help them realise their potentials and surge ahead in their careers. He worried about his elderly parents. He hoped to marry the girl he loved, soon. He was fascinated with success, with making a positive impression on people, with being a popular person – something he usually succeeded at, as is evident from the number of people on Facebook who are expressing their sincere sadness at his passing. He was also, I believe, afraid of not being in the limelight, of being left out. He loved his solitude – something he found best in his frequent trips to the Himalayas – but also loved to be back in action again. If we had more than a few minutes together, it was impossible to not get into an energetic discussion about spirituality and human nature. That was the Navneet I knew, and he is no more.

The accident killed his body, but what of those strivings and those anxieties that Navneet – like any of us – lived with? Where do they go? Part of them live with me in this moment, as my eyes moisten at the thought of his unflagging enthusiasm suddenly being snapped dead. I do not know what happens when the body dies. I have read a lot about what the various religious traditions have to say on this, and I am convinced that there is an existence after this life, as there is one before. What form it takes, and what form it will take for Navneet – or the person we knew as Navneet – this I know not.

What do we learn from the death of a friend? I, for one, have had this song in my mind since I heard the news:


chola maati ke raam 

e kar ka bharosa

chola maati ke raam.. 


drona jaise guru chale gaye

karan jaise daani

sanghi, karan jaise daani

baali jaise veer chale gaye

raavan jaise abhimaani 

chola maati ke raam 

e kar ka bharosa

chola maati ke raam…


kaunu rihis na

kaunu raha bhai

aayi sab ki paari

ek din aayi ab ki paari.. 

kaal kaunu la chhode naahi 

raja, rank, bhikhaari

chola maati ke raam 

chola maati ke re…. 


bhau se paar lage barhete 

hari ke naam sumhar le 

sanghi, hari ke naam sumhar le 

ye duniya maaya ke re pagla

jeevan mukti kar le 

chola maati ke raam… 

e kar ka bharosa, chola maati ke re.. 

A cloak of clay, this body. Trust it not… Navneet’s cloak fell off, so might yours and mine. Heroes such as Bali, generous ones such as Karn, they all went away. Teachers such as Drona, proud ones such as Ravan, they too. Trust it not, it’s a cloak of clay, this body. None remains, none is left behind, each one has his turn. Time spares nobody – the king, the poor, the beggar.

Such is samsara – transient, ephemeral, now here, not not. Sail across the sea of existence, my friend. Remember God’s name, remember Him every moment. For this world’s an illusion. Find release. It’s a cloak of clay, trust it not..

Beautifully sung by Nageen Tanveer in her earthy, rustic voice:  http://www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DqTlasYZtanE

If nothing else, Navneet’s death is a reminder to not take our involvements in the world too seriously. It only takes a fast car to bring them to an end. It could have been you or me. What, then, should we take seriously? It remains a mystery to me.

Navneet, you are not present in your body. I don’t know where you are, if anywhere. But part of you is with me. You remind me to not take too much time and space for myself in our meditation group meetings. Your mischievous expression – a little envious, a little joyful about our shared fascination with the inner life – it remains in my mind. In a few weeks, it may fade away. But hopefully, not without having changed me, at least slightly.

~ by tdcatss on September 18, 2013.

10 Responses to “A friend’s death”

  1. I still can’t believe that Navneet is no more. May God rest his soul in peace and make his onward journey smooth. He was one of us till yesterday but not any more. Ever since I heard this news the thought of how long I’m here in this world is keep coming. And along with it so many questions about life! About Death! About Rebirth!

    Navneet memories keep coming back every moment. Wherever you are Navneet at this moment — God will take care of you & guide you to a better path… We will remember you… I have some pictures of you taking bath in Ganga, at a book launch in IIC, Lodhi Estate, at meditation retreat… And I’m keep looking at these pictures dont know what to do…

  2. Ram Gayo Ravan Gayo,
    Ja Kau Bahu Parvar,
    Kaho Nanak Thir Kachh Nahin,
    Supney Jayon Sansar

    It is rightly said, when Ram and Ravan were required to leave who are we….but, it was too early for Navneet. I still can’t believe it even after talking to his family members. A great soul, you will always be missed Navneet. Lesson learned….Life is a dream we live in….

  3. Ram Gayo Ravan Gayo,
    Ja Kau Bahu Parvar,
    Kaho Nanak Thir Kachh Nahin,
    Supney Jayon Sansar

    It is rightly said, when Ram and Ravan were required to leave who are we….but, it was too early for Navneet. I still can’t believe it even after talking to his family members. A great soul, you will always be remembered Navneet for being a wonderful human. With you leaving, a lesson learned….Life is a dream we live in….

  4. Still i am not being able to believe who was always standing right behind to push me a step ahead , inspiring me to achieve the next level of success ,helping my always and loving me more than real brother does ,is no more today. you are gone having left us but you shall always remain in our heart.

  5. May his soul rest in peace.

  6. Navneet was such a nice person and he always worked to motivate and help others without any personal benefit….
    I believe, He is promoted and better off now….

  7. Om shanti……………..Navneet was a great man and always reside in our memories……………Om shanti.

  8. Hi
    I am navneet too.
    It’s like I am reading about myself.I am really similar as ur friend .I have old parents too but I am on spiritual path too.I am girl with inner heart .
    Sad to here
    Sun will rise moon will come
    Lots of stars in the sky
    Hopefully light of sun shines on ur face and u pray for ur friend to go to light of God

  9. Thanks for your comment Navneet. Happiness to you. :)

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