We are all gathered here at the culmination of the Shodashi or sixteen-day pooja in honour of the great yogi Sri Swami Satyananda who took Mahasamadhi at midnight on 5th December, not to grieve, but to acknowledge the fact that even though Sri Swamiji has cast off his body, he is still alive and amidst us, inspiring and uplifting us to experience spiritual bliss and ecstasy, thus transforming even his departure from this earthly plane into a spiritual experience.
Yes, indeed, the question which emerges loud and clear from the depths of his Samadhi is, “Can death bring happiness, bliss, joy and ecstasy?” I had not imagined or ever heard the outcome of death to be ecstasy. Death to all of us is the most dreaded reality. No one wants to die. We are all afraid of death and avoid even thinking or talking about it. Even though death is the only certainty of life, we turn our faces away from it as if it is a monster that we do not want to encounter.
No matter whether you are rich or poor, powerful, learned, wise or even a renunciate and accomplished sannyasin, the thought of death makes you tremble with fear and anxiety. Even the greatest of persons have to bow their heads in submission before death. Simply no one is spared.
That is what I had seen and heard about death. Until I saw first-hand the event of Sri Swami Satyananda’s Samadhi. He invited his own death. I might tell you, if you don’t already know this, that my Guru had received the boon of iccha mrityu or death by choice. He also had the knowledge of kaya kalpa or total rejuvenation and metamorphosis of the body.
In other words, he did not have to die. He chose to die. He could have lived another twenty years in the same body if he wanted because he had the option. Of course, in true Swami Satyananda style he chose the more difficult option because, as we all have seen and known about him, he never did anything without a mandate or a divine purpose.
If you recollect, Sri Swami Satyananda came to Rikhia to leave his body. This destination, which is the cremation ground of Sati, was chosen for him, to depart from the planet. He came here with a mandate. That mandate was not to create an ashram or to make disciples or to become famous. That mandate was to remember God with every breath, until his last breath.
He often said, “I have come to Deoghar to abandon my body. I have put in many applications, but all have been turned back, because I have asked for a return ticket and there are none available. The day I am granted a return ticket I will leave at once. Do not be attached to my physical body. See me within.”
Ironically, by coincidence or design, the message he sent out through the medium of the kanyas when they enacted the journey of Nachiketa to Yamaloka from Kathopanishad during this year’s Sat Chandi Mahayajna and Yoga Poornima was, “I am not this body, I am not this mind, I am not the senses, Immortal Self am I.” In retrospect, I feel he was telling us about himself.
Well, it seems his request for a return ticket was at last granted. For on 5th December, only three days after he had addressed all of you on Margasheersha Poornima when we had celebrated his most auspicious birth, he called me to his abode at Tulsi Kutir at 10 pm and told me, “The time has come for me to go, I am leaving the earthly plane. Whatever I have done in my life was directed and had a purpose, my death too has a purpose”.
He left like a yogi, seated in padmasana and in meditation. What I saw was something unimaginable, perhaps it is only written in the books, certainly no one has made an exit so grand and so befitting of the greatness of his life. He simply inhaled and with a deep breath withdrew his pranas from his body. He had said to me “a second before I depart from this body I will receive knowledge of all the vidyas in the universe and that will be the fulfillment of my life”. Let me tell you that we should rejoice and feel proud because our beloved Gurudev was successful, for he did receive what he had dedicated his whole life for.
It was around midnight during ajeya muhurta that he made his grand exit and the universe was ready to receive him. The moment he chose only shows his profound knowledge of the cosmic creation, for at that time the web or network of the universe had parted to make an opening through which his causal body could pass freely to all the lokas. In other words, he had the perfect flight!
Sri Swamiji himself had said in his satsang at Rikhiapeeth which was published in Yoga Vidya in May 2000, “When I leave my body I will not depart in the government bus. My flight will be by the first class jet, straight upwards. No stops, just one straight flight to the place I have to reach. Brihaspati loka to Shukra loka to Yamaloka, to Bhairava loka and beyond, I will pass through with ease, not stopping anywhere. I will forge straight ahead to my destination and I also have a return ticket. I am telling you this because I have to return here again. I don’t want any kingdom, I don’t want pleasure and comforts. I don’t even want liberation from birth and death. I just want to return again and again to help those who are suffering.”
Mind you, the time he chose was not the ideal time because all the powerful planets were placed in such a way that although there was an opening it was a risky affair. But his purity, his immense faith and bhakti and his selflessness saw him through and the universe parted to receive him with open arms, and divine forces escorted him ensuring his safety, security and well being.
I was there. I don’t know what good karmas I may have done to earn me this merit. It was a spiritual experience that granted me those meditative states that one attains after arduous efforts. The entire vision, perception, understanding and experience that he granted me on a platter was that of swapna and sushupti. I was the drashta, the seer of an event that will go down in history.
The melting of everything into spirit is a state no one can describe. But it can be experienced. A great bliss is felt, eternal fullness of joy, knowledge and love. It is as if a great force takes you out of yourself to witness and experience the joy of existence. That is the experience that overtook me. Imagine that, the most dreaded event of death instead of being traumatic brought me ecstasy, bliss and total communion with my Guru. It was awesome and overwhelming!
Not just me, I think that night and even to this day Swami Satyananda is felt all over the planet. I do not need to prove the efficacy of my words. We have had messages pouring in from known and unknown, and all have just one thing to say, “We feel joy, bliss, ecstasy. We feel the presence of Swami Satyananda everywhere. Wherever we look, we see him.”
In other words, Sri Swami Satyananda has become omnipresent. He has pervaded the universe right down to the atomic level of the elements. Now if you want to access him, all you need to do is remember him as you knew him with his bewitching smile and sparkling eyes, his wit and humour, his wisdom and compassion and his charming demeanour.
So, apart from teaching us the lesson of life, our beloved Guru has also taught us how to die and the great truth that death is not to be dreaded, as it can bring happiness if you live your life correctly, just as he did. It is now time for each of us to take a sankalpa to tread the path he has shown us and emulate his teachings so that we too at the time of death can leave this world a better place. That would be the most befitting tribute to Sri Swami Satyananda.