The passage of Eternity
In the summer of 1906 AD, when Shri Maharaj was staying in Chidambar Kshetra, some mischief-monger set off a rumor of his Mahasamadhi (physical dissolution). A search party from Wadi went right up to Rameshwar and not finding him there returned to Thanjavur. When they neither found him there nor got any trace of him, they almost despaired. Shri Maharaj divined this and left Chidambar and met the party in the Mayavaram market to their great relief and joy. Shri Maharaj then told them not to believe such rumors since "the place and the time of the demise of this body will be known to all well in advance."
In the 1911(AD) Chaturmaas at Kurugaddi, a crow pecked Shri Maharaj pecked thrice on his head. Shri Maharaj announced that a person so stricken by a crow did not live longer than six months and urged all to end their attachment to “this body.” Shri Datta Prabhu, however, instructed Shri Maharaj to bathe in Godavari at its confluence with Venganga for relief from the hazard. These events illustrate his total lack of fear for death and detachment from body.
Shri Maharaj arrived at Garudeshvar, guided by Ashvatthama (vide supra). Garud (eagle), the vehicle of Shri Vishnu has performed penance at this place to obtain Shiva’s grace. Within a month of his arrival, he declared to Shri Ram Shastri Prakashkar that he would not be going anywhere henceforth. The desolate temple soon grew into a place of pilgrimage as hundred of devotees of Shri Maharaj started pouring in from all over India. The devotees constructed some shelters with kitchen and other bare amenities and organized daily activities. On any day, there would be hundreds of persons to be fed. The things proceeded smoothly. Many a time Shri Maharaj used to order preparation of a particular cuisine in anticipation of the guests who usually arrived at noon. Each day some miracle or the other was witnessed. People of all religions and castes came to seek relief from their problems. Shri Maharaj helped everyone without disturbing his faith. To the Muslims he would instruct to chant Ayats from Qura’n. Even some Parsis came and received his grace.
Ine morning, after the daily discourse, Shri Maharaj addressed the assembly as follows. Today I wish to convey to you the essence of all that I have been preaching all my life through my discourses and writings. The primary objective of human life is to obtain liberation (from the recurring cycles of birth and death). To this end, one should carry out one’s religious obligations as ordained by the scriptures, consistent with his Varna and Ashram. This will lead to the steadiness of mind so essential for the next step viz. study (Shravan), contemplation (Manan) and meditation (Nididhyasan) of Vedanta (conclusion of Vedas). Emphasis should be on the study i.e. the listening to discourses by detached and realized persons. This will diminish the temptation of mind. (The resultant) Righteous (Sattvic) tendency is alone conducive to the spiritual ascent of man.
To cultivate the Sattvic nature, diet has to be wholesome (Hit), measured (Mit) and pure (Medhya). The signs of Sattvic nature are:
-Firm faith in one’s religion,
Meticulous observance of religious conducts viz.
• Snaan (bath),
• Sandhya (prayer),
• Dev Puja (worship),
• five major Yadnyas (sacrifices),
• Atithti Satkar (honor to the guest),
• service to Gomata,
• Sincere attendance of Katha, Keertan, Bhajans, Puran etc.,
• Soft and kind speech,
• Refraining from harming anyone in any way,
• Service and obedience to parents (for men)
• and to husband, in-laws (for women) and other elders.
One may pursue any means for livelihood viz. commerce, agriculture or service. However, one should never abandon the conduct ordained by Vedas and obedience to the Guru. Observance of one’s religious duties only purifies mind. Only purified mind gets established in Upasana (progress towards God), which in turn is the only source of Peace of mind. Only a peaceful mind is capable of self-knowledge which is the sole means of Liberation.” Shri Maharaj further exemplified the seven grounds (levels) of Knowledge and concluded that, “ This is a brief summary. One who follows this advice will finally attain complete happiness.
In the summer of 1914 (AD), the chronic dysentery afflicting Shri Maharaj exacerbated and his health declined rapidly. Learning this, the priests commenced Santat Dhara (nonstop shower) worship to Padukas. When Shri Maharaj was informed of this, he sent a message to the priests not to unnecessarily trouble the Lord, “since this body is soon due to fall”.
The Eternal Physician
When the devotees started pressing Shri Maharaj to take some medicines, he replied, " I am soon quitting this body; as such on medicines are necessary. Shankaracharya lived only 32 years. This frame has endured much longer. This was afflicted twice by snakebite, thrice by cholera, once by Sannipat, once by plague, twice by leprosy and twice by leukoderma. Dysentery is almost constant. Who gave medicine then? The physician engaged (Shri Datta Prabhu) at birth is still there!"
Shri Maharaj was originally scheduled to depart on the dark 8th of Jyeshtha month; however he did not prefer to go that day. Hence, noting the exact timing of the Tithi, Shri Maharaj made someone sit him up and went into Samadhi for three hours. On waking up from Samadhi he said, "today’s scheduled departure has been avoided.” By the dark moon (Amavasya) of Jyeshtha, he was very weak in acute pain. He called Shri Appa Shastri Jere from Wadi and whispered in his ears, “I have been a subject of black magic in my
|householder days; however I have no desire to retaliate." Even on that last day he tried perform Nityakarma; but he could not even hold water in his hand and gave the effort saying, “God’s will". "Once today’s Amavasya is past, this body has to be quit” he said. Accordingly, as soon as the Amavasya gave way to bright Pratipada of Ashadh, Shri Maharaj sat up facing the Lord to the west, performed Tratak (steady gaze), controlled breath and quit the body with a loud chant of "Om". The day was Tuesday, Nakshatra Ardra, Ayan Uttara.|