Remembering Sri Swamiji Satyanandaji
by Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati
We pay our respects to Sri Swami Satyananda who is our guru and the light of our life. At midnight of 5th December 2009, he attained mahasamadhi. This was not a sudden decision; it was predestined. Sri Swamiji was waiting for an opportunity. On 2nd December, the last day of Yoga Poornima in Rikhiapeeth, Sri Swamiji said in a satsang, “I am waiting for my return ticket. I have booked my ticket at the railway counter, but the return ticket is not confirmed. I have received a one-way ticket, but I have filed an application that I want to come back. Until and unless I receive my return ticket, I am not going to go from here. The day I receive it, I will go instantly.”
Early morning of 3rd December, people started to leave Rikhiapeeth. I also left and came back to Munger. All through 3rd and 4th, people were going and coming in Rikhia and Munger. On the 5th morning, I made a program to go to the Shiva temple in the evening and perform a pooja. Accordingly, at about five o’clock I reached the temple. Before entering the garbhagriha, sanctum sanctorum, I did pranam from outside and looked in, and there I saw the shringara, the decoration of Shiva, in a very different form, something I had not seen before. I asked Sri Arun Goenka, my host, “What kind of a decoration is this? Shiva looks like Bhairava.” He said, “This is the shringara of Mahakaala. It has been done for the first time here at the temple.” Mahakaala means the lord of death. Somehow the word triggered a feeling of being suspended in the void of unknowing in my mind and I said, “I’m not going to go in to perform worship to this form.” I did pranam and walked away.
People came up to me saying, “Swamiji, won’t you go to the pooja? Will you not do the arati?” I said, “No, I will not do anything today.” Back in the ashram, I found that I was very agitated, and there was immense discomfort. I shut myself up in my room, but I could neither sit nor lie down. All I could do was pace back and forth from one end of the room to the other, not able to fathom what was the cause of the disturbance. At the same time, the tears just flowed. I kept pacing until about 10.30 pm, when there was a phone call from Swami Satsangi. She said, “I have a message from Sri Swamiji. He is going to take samadhi now. Can you come?” I said, “Yes, I am coming. Just give me the time to get the driver and the people together. I’ll be on the road. When the phone call came, all the agitation left my mind and it became crystal clear. I could see everything that had to be done, step by step, one by one. Then I got in the car with two people, Swami Sivaraja and the driver. Nobody at Ganga Darshan knew that Sri Swamiji had taken the decision to leave his body.
People ask me, “How come you were not there at Sri Swamiji’s samadhi time?” The answer is that Sri Swamiji had said, “When I go, it will be in the absence of Niranjan, as he is the only one who can hold me back.” He had said that many times prior to leaving, and I reached forty minutes after he had gone.
We reached Rikhiapeeth in two hours, driving at full pedal. Upon reaching there, I immediately went to Sri Swamiji’s room and asked, “What happened?” Swami Satsangi said, “At ten o’clock, Sri Swamiji called me to his room and when I came here he was sitting in a meditative posture and he said, ‘I have received my return ticket and I have to leave now’.” Swami Satsangi said to him, “How will you leave?” He said, in Hindi, Ticket aa gaya, ham ja rahe hain – “The ticket has come, I’m going.” He asked for Ganga jala, Ganges water, and tulsi leaves. As Swami Satsangi and a few residents of the ashram watched, he placed the tulsi leaves in his mouth, drank the Ganga water, chanted his guru mantra, and at ten to twelve, he joined his hands together and prayed, Bhagavan, ham taiyaar hain, ham ko le chalo – “Lord, I am ready. Take me now.” Then he chanted Om three times, and he was gone. The chanting of Om terminated his life; he raised the pranas and departed.
The rest of the night was spent in making all the preparations; preparing the area for his samadhi in particular. Next morning, from five onwards, people started thronging the main gate and by nine there was a huge crowd of people who had come for his last darshan. We brought Sri Swamiji from Tulsi Kutir to Ganesh Kutir, where he gave darshan and blessings to everybody. The most incredible thing was, as people walked around him, each one felt that Sri Swamiji acknowledged their greeting and greeted them back. Somebody said, “I saw the arm twitch.” Somebody else said, “I saw the eyes move.” Another person said, “I saw the head move.” In this manner, everybody had their own experience in which they felt that Sri Swamiji had acknowledged their pranams.
Then we took Sri Swamiji out to the panchagni area, and did a full abhisheka. Just as an abhisheka is performed on the Shivalingam with milk, yoghurt, honey, ghee, and so on, Sri Swamiji was also bathed with all the auspicious items, like an embodiment of Shiva. After the abhisheka was completed, we took him to the area where he was going to be given bhu samadhi. The entire pit was glowing, as we had placed auspicious yantras all across the floor and the walls. In the centre was Sri Swamiji’s asana, along with his clock, sumerini, mala, yogadanda, towel; everything required for his sadhana was placed. Finally, we brought in the statues of Sri Rama and Sita, Sri Swamiji’s ishta deva. As the statues were being placed before him, Sri Swamiji’s head, which was until now looking straight ahead, gently bent forward as if he was offering pranam to his aradhya. At the end, three Shivalingams were placed above him and the samadhi was made. This was on 6th December.
It has been said in the scriptures that the attainment of yoga becomes visible at the time of death. This became evident in Sri Swamiji’s life. He was able to invoke death consciously and release his soul consciously. He only had a tiny slot. He said, “If I miss this window, then I won’t go today. This window which has opened, will allow me to go and come back.” That particular astrological conjunction was there only for that fifteen-twenty minute period , which allowed him to go with the knowledge that he will return.
He had said many times, “I am waiting to leave this body, but I am not going to leave it until I get my return ticket. I do not want emancipation, moksha, or any personal satisfaction which comes with spiritual enlightenment. My aim and aspiration in this life and in all future lives is to help others. To wipe the tears of suffering and pain from the eyes of every person who is seeking solace, peace, plenty and prosperity. That is the only purpose of my life.”
Sri Swamiji lived this sankalpa all his life. Even before he came to his guru, Swami Sivananda, it was this thought which guided him. Swami Sivananda was also searching for the right person who could carry forward his vision to serve others. Sri Swamiji identified completely with the vision of his guru and the fulfilment of this vision became his sole aspiration.
We all seek divine intervention and desire divine grace in our life. We all look for inner strength, encouragement and inspiration to succeed and become fulfilled in life. Sri Swamiji showed us the way. To our guru and master who has given us everything, and has shown us how to live life properly, today we express our heartfelt sentiments with a sankalpa. We shall walk the path you have shown, we shall not falter, nor shall we lag behind. Sri Swamiji is not present with us in body, but he lives within us in the form of inspiration and that is his greatest gift. He lives inside each one, in the form of a fiery inspiration to become creative and to excel in life, to connect with our environment, to bring happiness, peace and to share our joy with everyone. Sri Swamiji has given us this trust and we shall fulfil it.
We bow our heads in thankfulness to this great personality. We are truly fortunate to have lived in an age when there was a person like Sri Swamiji. We have not seen Christ, Rama, Krishna or Buddha, we have only heard about them. However, we have had the fortune to see Sri Swamiji, to laugh with him, to sit with him, to listen to him, and to receive his grace. In him is the greatness that was in Rama, Krishna, Buddha and Christ. In Sri Swamiji is the peace of Buddha, the compassion of Christ, the clarity of Krishna, and the balance of Rama.
His grace and inspiration, love and compassion is what we seek. The prayer of our hearts is, “O guru, guide us to fulfil your mandate, inspire us to walk the path that you have shown us, give us the strength to complete the journey which we have undertaken, and always be with us in our heart, mind and thoughts.”
Gururbrahmaa, gururvishnu, gururdevo maheshwara, Guru saakshaat parambrahma, tasmai shree gurave namah.
PARAMAHAMSA SATYANANDA as he left on his Mahasamadhi, as stayed after his mahasamadhi, and as was buried with ashes!