Was it her father's kidney failure, or financial difficulties, that followed his death? Was it the support of her colleagues, or contact with cancer patients in the ward? Or, was it her upbringing that encouraged her to do, rather than intend to do, that led her to her spiritual journey when she was in her twenties?
Jyoti Nagda believes it was a combination of events destined to happen - a combination that made her "grow up" quite suddenly. The youngest of four siblings, Jyoti was in college when her father was diagnosed with kidney failure. Her parents who gave, rather than ask for favours, did not want a member of the family to volunteer for organ transplant.
Jyoti's mother's tissues luckily matched well, and she donated one of her kidneys. It was during the days of visiting the dialysis unit that Jyoti was taken in by the suffering she saw. She saw despair, people running from priests to alternative therapy specialists to places of worship, but getting little solace, or help from anywhere.
Jyoti's parents also preferred to be armed with knowledge rather than follow myths, or populist beliefs, if not superstition. She followed this path.
Once college was over, Jyoti began to visit the hospital where her father was treated. It was here that she got involved with a support group/NGO that helped kidney patients.
Before her father passed away of another ailment, Jyoti had learned to cope with her sister's difficult pregnancy and delivery, not to speak of family squabbles and major losses in business. "I was talkative, and my frequent visits to hospital drew me to patients and their relatives. I was faced with problems far worse than mine. I was a volunteer. I went to chat with patients, and helped them through their stay-in, or visit the hospital. I learned so much from them. There was no one of my age - other volunteers were around my parents' age. The whole experience was deeply enriching. I received so much help and affection from so many people through my father's illness. I was grateful. I wanted to give something back."
One thing led to another, and Jyoti got involved in a project with cancer patients. This brought her in close contact with people who were in terrible pain, including families that were in dire straits - facing death, as it were.
"I learned that individuals treat troubles so differently. No two problems were identical; no two persons dealt with them in the same way. I saw patients fighting for life, struggling for money and my belief in karma, or destiny, which is governed by one's acts, was only strengthened. I learned that ups and downs are just a part of life. I also learned to be detached, but, at the same time, devoted."
Jyoti explains: "Every action is accounted for in human life." She, therefore, believes that to give happiness to others is the best karma. The more good one does, the better the rewards for one's own soul - and, for others.
Jyoti took up vipassana. She found that she was able to get the "buried" grief out of her system after her father's death. She learned through the hardships of others, and her own, to overcome her temper and irritation - to forgive those who hurt her, and stay away from those who would not change, or posed impediments to her work.
Says Jyoti: "Strange, but good things just happen to me. I don't even look for them." Just think of it. Jyoti was offered two jobs, out of the blue, only recently. People who had seen her work, sincerity, perseverance and ability, asked her to join them. In her words: "This is just the beginning of yet another journey in my spiritual quest."
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