Our Guiding Light over the past five decades, His Holiness Sri Swami Krishnanandaji Maharaj, whom Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj used to call as our 'Dakshinamurti' and 'Sankaracharya', has merged in the Cosmic Being. Revered Swamiji Maharaj, who has been our General Secretary since 1958, our guide, administrator, philosopher, mentor and much more, entered Mahasamadhi on Friday, the supremely auspicious and holy Gopashtami day, the 23rd of November 2001, at 4.30 p.m., in his Kutir in Sivanandashram on the banks of the sacred Mother Ganga, in Shivanandanagar, at the foot of the Himalayas.
The Divine Life Society records its deep reverence to the towering stature of the Spirit of Worshipful Swamiji Maharaj as well as its heartfelt gratitude to a sublime career of unremitting labour of love that came to a glorious close in that momentous afternoon.
Though Swamiji Maharaj had not been keeping well for quite some time, the END came rather suddenly. Swamiji was conscious till the very last moment.
Earlier in the day Swamiji had narrated to those attending on him a dream he had the previous night, which had indicated his leaving the body. He had further said that his cook and the doctor from Rishikesh who had been attending on him must be paid their dues that very day. Swamiji Maharaj was very cheerful that day. He met some Ashramites and visitors as usual. He also talked very freely to the persons attending on him. In the afternoon at 3.00 p.m. Swamiji Maharaj asked for a copy of the Bhagavadgita with the commentary by Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj to be kept by the bedside. When the Holy Scripture was brought, Swamiji started reading it every now and then. Around 3.30 p.m. he had his usual light supper. At 4.25 p.m. he felt a little difficulty in breathing and asked his attendant Sri Swami Satyakamanandaji to recline him on the bed indicating that the last moment had arrived. And the END came at 4-30 p.m.
When the news was declared officially at 5.00 p.m. after the specialist who was Swamiji's personal physician had arrived, all the Ashramites and local residents flocked to his Kutir to have a last glimpse of their Beloved Swamiji. Sri Vishnusahasranama Chanting, Bhagavadgita Parayana and recitation of Maha Mantra were commenced immediately. It was felt necessary to delay the last rites for the sake of devotees expected to arrive from far and near, and the necessary arrangements were made till the morning of the 25th November, even as a number of sincere devotees, by turn, continued the recital of the holy Maha Mantra non-stop during the intervening two nights and a day. The Kutir remained continuously open during this period for Darshan.
The last rites of His Holiness were carried out in the traditional way. Around 9.00 a.m. on Sunday, the 25th of November, the body was seated on a flower-bedecked palanquin and taken around the Ashram, with the solemn recitation of the Maha Mantra. There was still an expression of serene repose and majestic calmness in Swamiji's face. The procession halted in front of the Bhajan Hall, Viswanatha Mandir, Samadhi Mandir, Divya Nama Mandir and Gurudev's Kutir, and Arati was performed at each of these sacred shrines. Finally the procession reached Viswanatha Ghat where the sacred bath was given to the body with various articles of Abhisheka, including milk and the holy waters of Mother Ganga, right on the bank of the Ganga, to the accompaniment of the chorus chant of the sacred Rudram, Purushasukta, Narayanasukta and other Vedic Mantras, which were so dear to Revered Swamiji's heart. The body was smeared with holy sandal-paste mixed with rose water, Vibhuti and Kumkum, draped with new gerua clothes, and decorated with sacred Tulasi and Rudraksha rosaries and Tulasi, Bilva and flower garlands amidst the devout chanting of the holy Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra. The body was then lowered into a specially-made wooden casket which had been readily placed in a boat stationed on the holy Ganga, to the resounding chant of God's Divine Name, and 'Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj Ki Jai', 'Swami Krishnanandaji Maharaj Ki Jai' and 'Ganga Maiya Ki Jai'. A number of devotees accompanied the casket in the boat which was taken past the Sivananda Jhula where Ganga-Arpana, the offering of the body into the rushing waters of the sacred Ganga, was made. The sacred rite of Jala-Samadhi was thus performed as per the ardent wish of Revered Swamiji Maharaj, which was cherished by him since his childhood and also expressed by him every now and then, more so during his last days. Returning with heavy hearts, all the devotees bathed in the holy waters of Mother Ganga, bearing in mind the supreme offering just made. Very soon a strange peace filled the hearts of everyone and a divine calmness descended upon their minds.
At the request of all the gathered devotees, a special Satsanga was arranged that night in the sacred Samadhi Shrine. The Hall was packed with devotees, eager to express their Shraddhanjali or homage to the great Soul. The entire scene was heart-rending as the speakers affectionately recounted their experiences during the various periods of their association with Swamiji Maharaj.
Some devotees mentioned that they would like to have some more opportunity to express their feelings and so it was decided to continue the Shraddhanjali during the night Satsanga till the Shodasi or the sacred day of the Maha-Aradhana of Swamiji Maharaj on the sixteenth day, the 8th of December, 2001. During this period Mahatmas from the nearby Ashrams were also invited to pay their homage and tribute to the great Soul. Among those who paid their Shraddhanjali to Swamiji Maharaj during this period were the Mahamandaleshwar of Kailash Ashram, Sri Swami Vidyananda Giriji Maharaj, and Mahamandaleshwar of Paramartha Niketan, Sri Swami Asanganandaji Maharaj.
During this period, a Bhagavata Saptaha was also held in the Viswanatha Mandir, where the Parayana of the entire Srimad Bhagavata Mahapurana in Sanskrit Original was done devoutly, bearing in mind the exceptionally ardent love and devotion that Revered Swamiji Maharaj had for this Mahapurana in general and for Lord Sri Krishna in particular. The Vishnusahasranama Parayana and Puja performed on the Karttik Purnima day, the 30th of November, 2001, were dedicated to Swamiji Maharaj. There were also Akhanda Parayana of Sri Ramcharit Manas and chanting of Sri Rudram followed by Maha Mantra Kirtan.
The expressions of the loving sentiments, comforting feelings and condolence letters and messages received from numerous devotees and admirers of Swamiji Maharaj on his physical disappearance were read out in the Night Satsanga at the Samadhi Mandir. The Divine Life Society expresses its gratefulness to all those well-wishers whose perennial sympathy always remains with the holy Institution of Sri Gurudev.
Saturday, the 8th December, 2001, being the sixteenth day of the Mahasamadhi, was fixed as the great day of the Maha-Aradhana (Shodasi) of Revered Swamiji Maharaj. Information in this regard in the form of an invitation was sent to various devotees and well-wishers in advance to enable them to attend the Aradhana and the Bhandara, particularly providing an opportunity to those who had not been able to be present for the Samadhi-Kriya.
In the well-attended programme on the day of the Maha-Aradhana on 8th December, 2001, Brahmamuhurtha Prayer, silent meditation and Japa, and Peace chants were held at the sacred Samadhi Mandir, while a special Puja was conducted at the Viswanatha Mandir. In the special Satsanga at 8-30 a.m. in the Samadhi Mandir, Paduka Puja of Sri Gurudev, Sankirtan and Bhajan, followed by the paying of Homage and Tribute to Paramapujya Sri Swami Krishnanandaji Maharaj by various Saints and devotees took place.
At the conclusion of this function, mass feeding or Samashti-Bhandara (feeding of everyone without restriction) was commenced. Sannyasins, devotees and the poor partook of the sacred Prasada of this great Saint and Sage of Rishikesh. At the same time a special worship, feeding and honouring of sixteen selected Sannyasins of holy repute was also arranged, in accordance with the prevailing custom of adoration of holy monks upon the sixteenth day. The entire place was pervaded by an atmosphere of spiritual elevation and devotion.
There was also a special Satsanga at night when inspiring devotional music was rendered by devotees and heart-felt tributes paid to the glorious memory of this unique Seer, Sage and Saint, a truly great disciple of the Holy Master Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj.
Some time back, on 27th August 2001, on account of indifferent health Swamiji Maharaj had tendered his resignation both as the General Secretary of the Divine Life Society and as the Trustee of the Divine Life Trust Society. The resignation was accepted by the Board of Trustees on 10th September. And on the 23rd of November, the Great Seer and Sage attained Sadyomukti or instantaneous liberation-the glorious consummation of the spiritual adept who spends his entire life in unbroken contemplation of the Universal Being-which Supreme Goal was held by Swamiji Maharaj passionately as the Highest Ideal to be cherished in life.
The passing away of Swamiji Maharaj is indeed an irreparable loss not only to the Divine Life Society, but to the entire spiritual world at large. The void is impossible to fill.
The life of Swamiji Maharaj was verily his message as well, inasmuch as it was a process of the intricate ascent of the soul to Universal Perfection. Born on 25th April, 1922, in Puttur, South Canara District, to the devout couple, Kombrenje Shankara Narayana Putturaya and Kaveri Amma, Subbaraya renounced his family and embarked on a journey to Northern India even as a young man. In 1944 he met Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. He entered the holy order of Sannyasa on 14th January, 1946, and since then came to be known as Swami Krishnananda Saraswati. In his own words he felt a mysterious change within himself take place when Sri Gurudev uttered the glorious Mahavakyas. Then came the great day, sometime in 1948, when he had what he termed "a lightning glimpse of Truth". He was ever blissful and peaceful. The story of Swami Krishnanandaji Maharaj, after 1948, is just one of a Jivanmukta enjoying the Sahaja Samadhi Avastha.
He was a Master of all systems of Thought, Eastern as well as Western. The books of Swamiji, numbering around fifty, constitute the invaluable legacy he has left behind to the entire spiritual world. To read his books, the majority of which are the outcome of his extempore unpremeditated discourses, is to set oneself in tune with the Ultimate Reality.
It is our privilege to bring to memory the life and teachings of this spiritual saint and savant, a deeply unassuming, unostentatious and humble soul, in whose mere presence one experienced a deep silence and peace which emanated from him as fragrance from a flower.
While his teachings leaned towards the Jnana Marga of Upasana and Meditation, his daily activities displayed a total, dynamic involvement in mundane affairs. Work and Wisdom enjoyed a harmonious blend in his life. Established, as it were, in a peerless state of inner tranquillity, he, freely and with utmost felicity, engaged himself in the multifarious activities of the Divine Life Society and the administration of the Ashram. He was also the Editor of 'The Divine Life' for a number of years and continued as its Publisher and Printer till the end.
Being an adept in Raja Yoga he could focus his mind on any given subject and incisively penetrate into its very core. This gave him the uncanny ability of understanding people and situations without any difficulty. His sharp and perfect clarity of vision, based on his inner experience of Vedantic Truths, enabled him to effortlessly link up any and every question or doubt with its philosophical implication and thus, brought us back again and again, to the one great longing and movement of the human soul for spiritual union.
His utter simplicity and childlike nature was so endearing, while his mother-like, caring attitude was so reassuring. His wisdom, rationality, intellectual genius, his unflinching dedication and devotion to Gurudev, his ceaseless and tireless Seva and his deep concern for our spiritual welfare-all this put together and more, made him so dearly precious to us all that we have to repeatedly thank God and Gurudev for this great good fortune that had been bestowed upon us.
A Master of Yoga, a centre of love, a dynamic man of action-a perfection of personality as man and God in one-Swamiji will continue to live in the heart of every sincere seeker for ever.
Stars do not set: they shine perpetually. They only appear to set to the eyes of the observer, which are unable to see their continuous existence. The souls of great Saints are spiritual luminaries in the firmament of spiritual existence. They do not come and go in the ordinary sense of the term. The passing of a Saint is not merely death of a human being, but a veritable transfiguration of Nature.
Swamiji Maharaj is no more in his mortal frame. But the Light of his Soul is now merged in every receptive individual soul. Swamiji lives in our hearts. His passing away is not a matter to be grieved. For, he had fulfilled the mission of his life-he had achieved the highest Goal, Self-realisation. The Light of Swamiji's Soul shines today brighter than ever.
He was an illustrious exponent par excellence of the Vedanta, not merely through his scholarly erudition, but by actual experience. As a Supreme Architect of the Transcendental Truth, he led and even now leads the weary travellers on earth towards the Great Goal.
A life-long proof of the Truth of the Upanishads was what we called Swami Krishnanandaji Maharaj. To follow his teachings and to grow up in that Ideal Model is the best way to pay the most befitting homage to His Holiness.