Swami Satyananda

How I Reached Bhagavan

By Swami Satyananda

I was born in 1916, in a village named Mauelikara in South Kerala. My mother was of a pious disposition. She used to adore sadhus and help them in various ways. Her piety made me to become a sadhu when I was only eighteen. But I did not leave home immediately. I ran a small school for children on the verandah of my house for four years. I then went on pilgrimage to Rameswaram in the company of some sadhus. From Rameswaram I came directly to Tiruvannamalai in 1938.

In the course of my pilgrimage, I halted at an abode of sadhus called Paudikkan Mazhi Mattam, situated between Madurai and Mana-madurai. This mattam was managed by one Narayanaswami who had stayed at Sri Ramanasramam in the company of a sadhu for some time. He was the first person who spoke to me about Sri Bhagavan and His greatness. He wrote out the full address of Sri Ramanasramam on a piece of paper and gave it to me.

From Rameswaram I came directly to Tiruvannamalai in 1938. I was overcome by joy when I saw Arunachala. I went up the hill and reached the Virupaksha Cave.

After spending a few days there I came down one day to Sri Ramanasramam in the company of a sadhu to see Sri Bhagavan when He had just returned from His afternoon walk and was sitting in the hall alone. He looked at us and smiled. I can never forget that smile. After sitting in His presence for some time I returned to the cave.

Thereafter I used to visit the Ashrama daily and have darshan of Sri Bhagavan even though I changed my abode from the Virupaksha Cave to the Mango Tree Cave, Skandasramam, etc. from time to time. I spent seven years in this manner begging my food in the town.

I then obtained, by Sri Bhagavan's grace, the good fortune of serving Him as His personal attendant from 1946 till His final Nirvana on the 14th April 1950.

But not everybody liked Sri Krishnaprem. He was certainly a thorn in the side of the local British officials, especially in the days before independence. They struggled to understand his wholehearted acceptance of Hindu culture and religion.

One day I showed Him the slip of paper on which Narayanaswami had written the full address of the Ashrama for me in Malayalam. He at once exclaimed: "Oh! That is our Narayanaswami's handwriting." Another day Sri Bhagavan described to me how a sadhu hailing from Kerala, named Sadguru Swami, had, under the influence of intoxicating drugs, embraced Him tightly again and again saying, "You are a good boy, I am so glad to see you!" Sri Bhagavan imitated the acts and words of the sadhu while narrating the incident. I was alone with Him at the time and was overwhelmed with joy. I still remember that joy.

When the abscess on Sri Bhagavan was first operated upon in 1948 I was present. Although I cannot stand the sight of blood, I managed to control myself.

After one operation there was profuse bleeding from the body of Bhagavan. There was a big crowd outside the New Hall but no one was allowed inside. I was very moved and, shedding tears, told Bhagavan that it was painful to see such suffering. Bhagavan was absolutely unconcerned about his condition and said, "What suffering? All is Bliss."

I was blessed to be near Bhagavan during the Mahanirvana. At 6 P.M. that day we massaged Bhagavan's legs. At 6:30 Bhagavan wished to sit upright so we helped him into that posture. Then started the chanting of Arunachala Akshara Mana Malai (The Marital Garland of Letters) by the devotees outside the Nirvana Room. There were profuse tears gushing from Bhagavan's eyes, though there was no change in the expression on his face. It was such an immense outflow that Dr. T. N. Krishnaswami asked me to wipe the tears away. I did so, but it would not stop. This continued till 8. I was asked to give Him spoonfuls of water boiled with ginger and I begged Him to agree to this. He consented, and with the aid of a spoon I served him. When the doctor wanted to administer oxygen, Sri Bhagavan waved it away. Bhagavan's breathing became gradually slower.

The most thrilling moment was the physical demise of Bhagavan. There was no physical movement of any kind, no visible change, not even a flutter. It was as if the human frame in which Bhagavan was, turned into a statue instantaneously. It was 8:45 p.m., and at that very moment, as is well known, devotees who were outside saw a large, bright meteor in the sky.

I observed silence from 1950 to 1963. I then broke my silence. I have all these years been feeding the peacocks and monkeys, an assigned work which was always pleasing to Sri Bhagavan. I also look after the room in which Sri Bhagavan attained Nirvana, and look after the articles used by Sri Bhagavan which constitute the sacred relics so precious to our heart. I wish to end may life doing this service to Sri Bhagavan.

Sri Swami Satyananda was absorbed in the Feet of his Master on November 27, 1989.

This is from THE MAHARSHI News Letter