By an Eye Witness

by Dr. T. N. Krishnaswami

The 47th anniversary of the Maharshi's Mahasamadhi will be observed on Tuesday, April 14th. Dr. T. N. Krishnaswami, the author of the following article, was the individual who took the vast majority of the photographs we have of the Sage. Below he describes the Maharshi's last days and how it influenced the direction of his life.

I had the rare privilege of being allowed to stay with the Maharshi during the last days. Knowing full well that his end was near, I was inquisitive to watch and see if he would leave any message for us. Would he not speak words of solace? Would he not leave behind some directions for us? It was sad indeed to look at the suffering of the body. But the mystery was his attitude to it. He described all the pain and suffering as though the body belonged to someone else. The question arose whether he was suffering or not. How could he describe the pain and suffering so accurately and locate it in the body and yet remain unaffected by it? "There is a severe intolerable headache," he said as he was going into a slow uremia and his kidneys were failing. The Maharshi never described the symptoms in a subjective manner.

On the evening of the last day, the Maharshi asked to be propped up in a sitting posture. He tried to assume a semi-padmansana posture. His breathing was getting labored and heavy. The attending doctor put the oxygen to his nose. Those around stood sad, with baited breath. The Maharshi brushed aside the oxygen tube. There was a chorus of "Arunachala Siva" from outside the room. The gathering stood dumbfounded. Would death dare to touch him? No, it is impossible. A miracle would happen.

The atmosphere was tense with emotion, fear and expectation. There was some weeping. Very gently the Maharshi seemed to gasp a little and the body became still. Synchronized with the Maharshi's last breath, a meteor was seen to trail across the sky. We could scarcely realise what had happened. He had left us once and for all. No more the beatific smile to greet us. No more the graceful form to adorn the Ashram. The Maharshi had deserted us! Were we now to turn our backs on the Ashram and go home disappointed?

This gave me a severe jolt. I was shocked. Had I missed the opportunity of a lifetime to imbibe the teaching of the Enlightened One? I had done nothing in the direction of spiritual sadhana. Had I wasted all my time taking photographs while I should have engaged myself in trying to understand and practice his teachings in his very presence? "No," I said to myself, "this cannot be true. I was sure that I had obtained some grace from the Maharshi." He was somehow still here; only we have to learn to feel his presence. We would never be forsaken for he had himself assured us that he was not going away.

Then I turned to studying his teachings. I began to see light in them. Some of the sentences touched me and made me feel that I was in his presence, listening to him. I took heart. The more I read, the more intimate the Maharshi became to me. His teaching pulsated with life; I began to understand it and it mixed with my being and became my own.

- Ramana Pictorial Souvenir, 1967

This is from THE MAHARSHI News Letter