Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi
  AHYMSIN NEWSLETTER, Special Issue July 2015 
 
   
 
   

The Mahasamadhi of Swami Veda Bharati

by Joanne Sullivan (Divya)

There is a river in the sky that flows down into each and every one of us.  Sometimes a master appears and takes you by the hand like a small child straight into that stream. I believe that many of the spiritual children of Swami Veda Bharati and his master, H.H. Swami Rama, felt this.

Once when he was about to leave for his big trek through Asia and the West, Swami Veda, observed a few fretting faces and said so sweetly “I don’t know what all the fuss is about.  I never go anywhere.”

One of my Italian friends, upon hearing of Swami Veda’s departure from the body, expressed feelings of loss. Then she asked how I was, remembering how sad I could get when he went away for just a few days. I was always too attached to his physical form.

But this was different. After sitting by the body, I felt his presence even stronger than before. I felt happy. And I felt love for everyone, even people I had judged harshly for one thing or another. I was so happy to see them. Fluctuations of confusion, grief, sankalpa shakti (resolve) and peace followed for several days.

In the meantime, his presence filled the hall amongst children running and shouting, people talking or meditating, and quiet sobs of grief.  It made no difference.  He was here. Several people expressed this.

Tuesday, 14th July, 2015

1 or 1:30 a.m. to 3 a.m.

Bhola Shankar Dabral was there along with Suresh, Tejaswini, Medhawati, Surendra, Swami Ritavan and Dr. Prabhu when he left the body. Bhola later kindly shared these words. “I would not say he passed away…. He entered into samadhi…. I have seen Swamiji taking his pranas upwards….  Normally they travel out downward, but for yogis they travel upwards and … all the way through the crown chakra and then they leave the body.” Later he added “there was the sound-- a pulling sound. Yogis pull the vayus up to the crown so that they leave from there. The bed was tilted up and he was sitting straight as if in meditation….We were not expecting [him to leave the body] because we had seen him many times this way….like going into a very dark tunnel. This is a metaphor. When you go into a dark tunnel, you walk slowly and gently because you don’t know what’s there….We don’t know the exact time he left the body. We were all massaging him….until the doctors came and later the ambulance.”

6:45 a.m.

The phone rings. It’s Adhikari. “Please come to the Meditation Hall. We are gathering for prayers for Swamiji.” I go and no one is there. A handful of people are in the small fire hut chanting the Mahamrityunjaya mantra for him.

7:40 a.m.

When the offerings are complete, while seated around Agni, the fire of eternal witness, people learn that Swamiji has left the body.

7:50 a.m.

We are told that Swamiji’s body will arrive at the Meditation Hall in 10 minutes from HIHT, where he was taken by ambulance at 3 a.m. to administer tests and later to confirm his physical departure.

About 8 a.m.

Several men carry Swamiji’s body in and place him on a table in front of the altar. A short while later he is shifted. For the next few days, the body lies in a refrigerated metal box with plexiglass sides and top.

Some people are crying, some are in disbelief. There is a range of emotions from equanimity to gratitude to profound grief. Some of us are floating between confusion and prayer.

Several priests arrive to commence the akhanda japa of the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita and others join in. This continues until 3:30 a.m., Friday, 17th July when swamis from the Niranjani Akhara order, the Mahamandaleshwara order to which Swami Veda belongs, subsequently arrive.

I look at the body of the man whom I knew since 1970 as Dr. Usharbudh Arya, and later as Swami Veda Bharati.  I feel sure that he is alive and in samadhi and might sit up at any time. He often looks like this when he is resting. I later learn that several others shared this certainty. For me it lasted about 5 hours, for Surendra, 3 days.

Who is it who is alive?

“He who understands also loves, notices, sees … The more knowledge is inherent in a thing, the greater the love.… Anyone who imagines that all fruits ripen at the same time as the strawberries knows nothing about grapes.”

     — Paracelsus

One woman from another tradition told me that before her guru left the body, he told her to take her children to be initiated by Swami Veda Bharati. She did so. After her guru left the body she and her family came to SRSG. Swami Veda spoke with her. She asked how she could find her guru who had left the body, and how she could keep the deep connection with her guru alive. Swamiji closed his eyes in meditation and when he opened them he said something like “We don’t die. We are still present. We remain with you. But you do not have the eyes to see. The only way to keep the connection with your guru is to purify your antah karana, the subtle body, through mantra and meditation.”

Directly after speaking with this woman, I saw Pandit Dabral and asked him “how does one purify the antah karana?”

What he said echoed the words of Dr. Arya, Swami Veda and Swami Rama over the decades and reflects things we have been taught over the years in the Himalayan Tradition and many other traditions--the importance of the yamas and the niyamas and of smriti, mindfulness.

Here is part of what he said. “One’s overall behavior should be directed with the intent, a sankalpa, to connect with the guru….You must learn to observe everything—your speaking, your walking, your talking, your eating….Only then can mantra and meditation be helpful.”

I ask “So you have to create a behavior that reflects and invites the guru’s presence?”

“Yes,” he said.

After Swamiji left the body, his face appeared to change each day until the akhara swamis prepared the body for jal (water) samadhi on the 4th day.

These are my impressions which a few others also observed.

Day 1: The face was that of samadhi. He often looked like this lately. Some of us believed that he might sit up at any moment and begin to speak in that resonant, sonorous voice.

Day 2: The face was that of sankalpa shakti incarnate, a noble face of great majesty, as if to say “I have not left, have not given up and never will. It said “Tan me manaha shiva sankalpam astu!”

Day 3: This was the face of a humble man.

Of course, all of these 3 faces-- that of a man in samadhi, that of sankalpa shakti, and that of a humble man were faces of Swami Veda that we saw over the years. And let us not forget so many more faces that he reflected back to us while we called him "alive."

I must say that my definition of "alive" has changed---and let’s see how long I remember this:

It is not a body who is alive---ever--- I now believe. I say this not from my own high experience but from a change in what I believe after witnessing the body and not-body over those 3 days. Many of us have experienced this through the grace of the One who takes us by the hand, a small child, as if to say "And now you stay out of the street when the cars are coming!"

The street, of course, is never who or what is coming at us. The street is all those pesky habits of thought, word and deed. These obstacles are also the treasures---the stepping stones to transcending our own selfsame obstacles.

In addition, I have no idea how all these mysteries of matter and consciousness work though I believe that one who abides in the pure consciousness knows-- knows itself, knows "the dance" and knows who truly is alive.

He spoke very little to me the last 12 years. I ask myself if the face he so often showed me these last weeks before or after upstairs meditations with him–but certainly not always—was the face of my own storm clouds brewing. Was he trying to mirror back to me my old proclivities, a nebulous confusion, the miasma of vasanas which consciously or unconsciously I chose and sustained in thought, word and action lifetime after lifetime? Perhaps.

Once in the 1970’s Dr. Arya said that Vyasa’s commentary on Yoga Sutra 2.15 compared indulging in one pleasure in order to avoid the sting of another pain to running from the path of a scorpion only to be bitten by a snake from behind. The translation Swami Veda gives is:

“The seeker of pleasures addicted to…sense objects falls in the great mire of sorrows, like someone [running] in fear of a scorpion [and] is bitten by a venomous snake.”

[Swami Veda Bharati, Yoga Sutra, Sadhana-Pada. 2.15. Vyasa-bhashya commentary, p. 192, Yoga-Sutras of Patañjali with the exposition of Vyasa: A translation and commentary, Volume II.]

I am sure of one thing. I know him little. Like so many of us, his wise guidance, vast patience, immeasurable peace and all-enveloping love have changed the course of our lives and that of our families.

I often thought or imagined he was checking in on me and I wanted to say “Please, please, please, don’t mind me. I will be fine!”

How could anyone be such a spiritual father to so many and know how his countless children were doing from a distance? Was it the primordial Mother/Father he dwelled in who knew?

How could anyone abide in stark vairagya, utter dispassion, to watch and wait while the child found his or her way?

It was as if he was Helpless Love. Yet in the early days, Dr. Arya was even more like a mother running to hold an injured child. Once he told us that his master scolded him for doing this, saying that he, Swami Rama, was working with someone and that they were so close to--- (I don’t remember close-to-what—changing? A fresh way?  Of leaving an old pattern behind?—I don’t know) ---and then Dr. Arya would come along and I don’t-know-what. I was not privy to these conversations, spoken or quietly understood in the one-mind that master-and-disciple are, where there was no separation between master and disciple-- not two, only one.

I believe that he or Swami Rama had the ability to show the body as he wished --even if he no longer was "in the body" because I saw these distinctly different faces on day 1, day 2 and day 3. Of course, all of these 3 faces-- that of a man in samadhi, that of a man who is sankalpa shakti itself, and that of a humble man--were faces we saw when we were with him. And let us not forget so many more faces that he reflected back to us while we called him "alive.”

Wednesday, 1:40 a.m., 15th July, 2015

The room is quiet.  The continual procession has diminished. Sitting close by the body, I observe the perfect brow, feather-soft like a baby’s and the wisps of hair at the crown.  The distinctive nose, strong and noble.  I flutter between eyes open and approaching meditation.

Is he still conscious to the degree that he could animate the body, I wonder?  But why would anyone pour so much energy and focus into revivifying a broken tool when he can teach without the body?

To me, his face today reflects absolute sankalpa shakti. It is hard to believe but I am not the only one who observed this. On Day 2 of viewing the body he is the perfect embodiment of the Shiva Sankalpam Astu, one of two sangha-wide practices that he gave in 2013.  Om Kham Brahma is the other practice.

I think for a moment I see breath, lots of it.  But it is smoke from the incense on the other side of the see-through box which holds the body.  Next to it sits a flame-filled brass chalice.

How can a mind like his or the all-enveloping heart that he is simply cease? Swamiji, I never wanted enlightenment.  I, a thimble, wanted to know the ocean, this oceanic being that you are.  Yet the longer I have known you the more clear it has become that, in fact, I know very little of you. I think that to know you I would have to rise to your level in the way that you and your master coalesce.

I don’t know what a body is.  It does not contain him.  In a fleeting moment I realize that this is true of all of us.

Swami Veda has left the body yet his presence fills the room.

He shines in the faces of one another.

Once when I was a young woman in my 20’s I looked up and saw Swami Rama’s body huge and spread out against the evening sky.  I had not thought about that for years.  Then one summer day in Rishikesh, on the other side of the world, I stumbled and broke my knee.  Most people had just left SRSG for the summer, including my son.  I was sitting on a hospital stretcher at HIHT dressed in a skimpy hospital gown, my flesh spilling out for all to see. Then I remembered that night so many years ago, when, unbidden, Swami Rama filled the sky above me.

“Where are you now?” I thought. The very next moment Dr. Kathy McKeehan came bustling up the hall towards me saying in her inimitably jolly way “Hey, Joanne! What are you doing there, lady!?” I will never forget how she appeared to be the Guru’s agent, beaming at me with that huge smile. Yes, he was there and she was proof of it.

The days surrounding the Mahasamadhi of Swami Veda reminded me of how we sometimes see the guru in one another. It has been a profound experience to be among gurubhai at this time. People have come from all over India and the world these last few days.

The Guru reflected in every face

I wanted to hear other people’s thoughts at this important time. The evening satsangs are discussed later in this article.

First, I turned to Tejas, his close assistant for many years, to tell me something about him. Medha spoke later but her words and those of others will be covered in another article.

“The thing is,” Tejas said, “he behaved in such a way that one would not perceive him to be anything than ordinary.  He would lift up any one, no matter their status, spirituality, religion or age and once he had accepted them, it would be a perpetual connection – he is a rock.  For example, he would just out of the blue say call such and such a person and find out how they are.  Or a new person would just appear who had no clue about meditation but they felt so loved that they would just sit for one hour’s meditation without a twitch.”

Then I asked her what made her want to give up everything and come work with him around the clock. She said:

“There were a lot of moments for me.  Initially he asked me to travel with him – and the immediate thought was ‘I am not qualified to do such a job.’  Of course I did travel and continued to do so for many years.

“A significant moment was when he was very ill and I felt I just had to be a part of the team that would serve him as long as was needed.  So I wound up my place to be with him long term.”

When asked if there was anything more she wanted to add, she replied:

“He travelled the three levels of consciousness from the earthly to the higher realms so easily and quickly.  It was amazing to see this. Soon after the lecture he would be giving some very practical instruction.”

Thursday, 16th July, 2015

Thursday felt like a wet wool blanket. The air was so hot and thick and wet, if you could cut water, you could cut this air. The overcast air grew more dense by noon. Then the still air began to move until finally strong winds rustled the trees.

The chanting of the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita continued. Many people came to pay their respects. Some meditated. Surendra, his faithful assistant and cook, had not left the hall from the very beginning but briefly. Bhola Shankar Dabral was an abiding presence as were Medhawati and Tejaswini, his assistants, as well as ashram residents, close friends and family. Many people left flower petals and prayers on the see-through casket.

Beloveds from every habitable continent kept arriving to be near the body in the last moments before the body was submerged in the Ganges River. We were told that our last opportunity to sit with the body would be 3:30 a.m., Friday when the Niranjani Akhara swamis would to prepare the body for Jal Samadhi - immersion in a sacred water - not a cremation.

Friday, 17th July, 2015

3:30 a.m.

Those of us who are yet in the Meditation Hall leave the hall as the Niranjani Akhara swamis are about to arrive to prepare the body for immersion in Ma Ganga. Certain rules are rigorously followed and indicate specific sacred, secret procedures. One of the protocols is that large jaggery chapatis with ghee on both sides are placed in a pouch which goes over the shoulder of the body before it is placed in a slatted sandalwood box and surrendered to the water. This was precisely what Swamiji ordered for his last meal, and it was a most unusual request for him to make. Bhola pointed out the significance of this in his satsang sharing.

8:30 – 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

The physical body of Swami Veda Bharati is now in a seated position, the face covered  with holy ash and elevated a bit as the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra and other prayers are chanted and, one by one, people approach the body offering flowers.

Jal Mahasamadhi: Water Burial

Shortly after 10 a.m. Swami Veda’s body is lifted onto a palanquin in procession to the gate as people follow, showering the body with rose petals. There are buses and cars to Haridwar for all who wish to follow the procession to Haridwar.

Upon arrival, we proceed on foot in the bright Indian sun along a path to Neela-Dhara Ghat, Dhyana Sthal. Many people walk down the slope to Ma Ganga. The sun is hot and bright but there is a gentle breeze that softens the heat. The ghat is quiet. People have come from nearby and all over India and the world to bid farewell. There are not many other people there other than the Mahamandaleshwara swamis. I had expected an unwieldy crowd with plenty of noise and confusion. This was not the case.

One person later quietly told a few of us that she wondered if the man with a very strong gaze standing next to her at the ghat might have been Swami Veda’s guru in a human form unknown to us. Also someone showed me a photo of Swami Veda’s last rites in Haridwar at the ghat. There is the faintest suggestion of a person off to the right—almost an aura—of a person. To me, the barely visible suggestion of a person struck me as uncannily like that of Swami Veda in form and ambience. But it was unclear. This would be no surprise as some have said that Swami Rama attended his own last rites, but in the form of another mysterious person.

While the prayers and highly prescribed rituals done by the water go on for perhaps 30 minutes, some of us are watching from the cliff above. I have brought my small cane stool and, perched there, note down what I can see and absorb. There are two devotees of Swami Rama nearby, Ms. Asha Nagaich of Kanpur and her guru brother Mr. Mahesh Kumar from HIHT. As it turns out, Maheshji remembered me from when I lived at the Himalayan Institute in Honesdale, Swami Rama’s main US ashram when Swami Rama was in the body. Swami Rama had told Mahesh to quit his post in Chicago and return to India to head up the construction of HIHT, Swami Rama’s hospital city. I feel comfortable asking them questions and blessed that they are there to clarify important points, of which I know so little.

“What is the box made of that the body has been placed in?” I ask.

Maheshji explains in Hindi while Ashaji translates that it is a sandalwood box with slats so that the fish can go in and out and eat the bodily remains. Stones are placed in the box so that it is fully submerged and is less likely to bounce around and break up against the rocks. They explain that the box and the body will eventually break up and go back to nature. Then Mahesh says that Swami Rama told him years ago that some yogis take jal samadhi. Rather than cremation they are submerged in the Ganges. This is because with such holy beings their bodies are dense with mantras and these vibrations become a part of the water. Those who bathe there will be imbued with those deep vibrations.

They also tell me that Chandi Devi is at her holy mount directly across from this ghat. We can see it. This is the place where Swami Rama’s father met Swami Rama’s future guru, Bengali Baba, who then taught Swami Rama’s father. Someone nearby pipes up that, no, Chandi Devi Temple is not that old. Mahesh and Asha explain that the edifice may not have been there, but that the sacred ground there is well known from ancient times and has long been a place for holy seekers. Swami Rama’s father asked Bengali Baba what he could give him in return for his teachings. Bengali Baba answered that he could give him his son, to which Swami Rama’s father replied that they had no son and that they were too old to have a child. Bengali Baba assured him that it would be no problem. Within a year, Swami Rama was born.

With hands raised to the heavens and shouts of ‘Hara Hara Mahadev’ the body of Swami Veda Bharati was released to Ma Ganga.

We walked the kilometer or two to the buses and cars. It was hot and sunny outside. Shortly after we were all in the vehicles heading back a huge downpour began and continued for nearly an hour. Some people commented that it felt like a miracle that the weather was fine until we were safely tucked in vehicles for the return and then a deluge began.

8 – 9 p.m., Friday - Sunday, 17th – 19th July, 2015

The Guru is the embodiment of all the Devatas.
      — The Bhagavatam Purana

This is the quote Jagat selected to begin the first of several successive evening satsangs. He explained that it was traditional for students to gather together and share their stories about the master when a master left the body. Here is just one of  the precious gems that people freely shared. Hopefully, more will come later.

Bhola

Bhola gave some very mysterious accounts from his time with Swami Veda and unexpected appearances of Swami Rama. Then he spoke about Swamiji’s ­entering into samadhi which has appeared earlier in this article.

He talked about signs that Swamiji gave that he was leaving: the jaggery-filled chapatis, smeared with ghee on both sides that, oddly, Swamiji had just that evening asked Surendra to make for his evening meal, which turned out to be his last—something he very rarely requested-- and how we later learned when the swamis from Swamiji’s Mahamandaleshwara order told Surendra to make the same rotis to go with the deceased into Ma Ganga. This is a part of the strict protocol of immersing the body in Ma Ganga in that order of monks.

Bhola also said “The 2nd very important thing that happened … that night is that he had given initiation to a girl who came all the way from Saudi Arabia ... in the Arabic language and gave her a Muslim ….  Swamiji straight away said ‘I will initiate.’ He didn’t say ‘come tomorrow or prepare yourself’ [which is the norm here]….He said NOW.  So these two incidents show that he had actually decided to leave and given clear indications.”

“He once told … many people, ‘there are 2 people whom I write the most nasty letters.  One of them is Swami Ritavan and the 2nd is Bhola Shankar.’  So I have received so many nasty letters from Swamiji.  When I reflect back now, they are actually lessons.  I might have been upset, I might have gotten mad.... but when I look back and reflect …they are actually lessons.”

Then he shared some mysterious incidents with us. “Normally when you see Swamiji he is very gentle. When he walks he … walks [very gently.], he … [speaks] very gently.  His whole personality is very, very gentle.  But I have seen him 2 times very sharp, very tall, very….. What to say? Like Swami Rama.”

“The first incident is in 1999. We were preparing for Kumba Mela and … he said, ‘Let’s go to Allahabad.’ Then [we went] from Allahabad … to Varanasi …[where] he said, ‘You know there is  a shrine here somewhere between Varanasi and Allahabad.… I would like to visit that shrine.’ I was with him and nobody else so I said ‘OK Swamiji’.”

“I arranged a cab. In those days Swamiji used to travel at night, so we started … at around 10:30 [p.m.]….  I had had a very busy [previous]day and was very tired but [we went].” It turned out that they had to drive through a dense, dark jungle with no lights and very isolated[but for the wild animals of the jungle].”

Bhola continued. “Suddenly Swamiji said ‘stop the car, stop the car.’  I was half asleep….  He said ‘my sugar is getting low. OK, open my bag’ …. he had 2 suitcases.  So in the middle of the road, totally dark…I requested the driver put the vehicle lights on and I opened the suitcase, [but]there was nothing which …[could] …increase …[Swamiji’s] sugar level.  So I … panicked….I [grabbed the] …2nd suitcase. I took out everything. Finally I found something which … [he] always … [took] with him … [for] sugar-related problems.  So he took it and he said, ‘OK now … [put everything back] the way I have packed’ and it was a difficult task.  [It was the] middle of the night, [we were] all alone….  But I managed to pack.  Then he said

‘OK, let’s leave.’ [At] around … [midnight] we reached the shrine called Vindhyavasini. At Vindhyavasini, again you have to go through a dark forest…. [Suddenly Swamiji said …] ‘stop the car.’

“I thought what next!?  He said … ‘we have to go five kilometers….We will walk from here.’

“[I said] ‘Swamiji, it is the middle of the night in the forest.’ I said ‘Swamiji, no no.  We will not go.’

“He said ‘no, no, we will walk.’  So the driver went and then our walk [in the middle of the night in the middle of the jungle] started.  That was the first time I had seen a different Swamiji.  He was walking very straight and was unlike … [the Swami Veda I knew] and I was very puzzled. Then he started talking.  Do you know what he said?”

“[He said]… ‘you know all this forest, all this area, used to be my kingdom. I used to be the King of this place.’

“I thought to myself ‘Swamiji, give me a break. What are you talking?’ And then he started talking.  He started actually describing [that] there … [had been] a city and he …[had been the] King and I was … walking [very swiftly] trying to match his pace.  So finally we reached the destination.  Nobody was there.”

Someone in the audience asks “What is the name of the shrine?”

…Bholaji says, “The shrine is a Shakti peetam, one of the Shakti peets [ a place of divine power where a part of Shiva’s consort’s body fell as Shiva began the Dance of Destruction.] There are 51 shakti peetams across India and that is the most powerful Shakti peetam.  So we reached the shrine and nobody was there.  It was totally dark, so he said you know this shrine has now changed, it used to be this way.  This murti, this [sacred form of the divine] was placed here [pointing to a different place]….I was listening and listening and he said I would like to sit here and sit in meditation for 4 hours.  So he sat in meditation for 4 hours. 4 hours!”

Someone in the group asks, “In the middle of the night was the shrine opened ?”

Bhola Shankar says “The shrine was not closed. The Garba griha [the inner sanctum of the temple] was closed, but the [temple courtyard] area was open.  So we sat in that space, I sat in front of him trying to meditate or pretending to meditate looking at him … and at around 4, 4:30 a.m. he opened his eyes and then he changed!

“‘You know, now we have to go,’ he said. ‘It is so late and … [now we]  have to walk [back].’… there …were many stairs and while coming back, he took my help to come down.  But while going up … [his back] was so straight [and I had to work hard to keep up with him, he moved so fast.]   That was one incident I cannot forget.

“The second one was... [at the] Kumba mela in the year 2001.… [Swami Veda was] a mahamandaleswar. Every mahamandaleswar has to take a bath [in the sacred river] at a particular time…and his time slot … [was] 4:30 a.m. and there …[was] a [sizeable] distance you have to cover in a particular time so that  you reach there at 4:30 and take your dip and come back. Otherwise your turn is gone because the 2nd akhanda [mahamadaleshwar monk] will come and will not allow you to take … [your holy dip]. [Because he was a mahamandaleshwar, he had to take off all his clothes and, totally naked, he had to go in the river….  So a lot of people witnessed this….We started [at] around 3:30 a.m. from the camp [where] we were staying and from the camp to the place where we … [had]to take our bath [there was] some distance so we …[had] to go with the procession [with Swamiji up on a palanquin].  So we reached.  He was sitting … [on this] throne kind of arrangement, he was sitting on top, we were walking, [and] finally we reached the place.  There I … [saw a different Swamiji!  He used to …need help in getting his clothes off.  But he [quickly] took off everything and jumped into the Ganges. Different, very different! And then he disappeared!  He disappeared! Swami Ritavan, then known as Pandit Ananta, … my brother [and I] all…[searched frantically] for him and then we decided to take our …[Ganga dip] because time was running [out]…. [So]… we took our bath and when we came out, he was standing there … [fully dressed]!  [During] the time he took [his] bath and … [dressed again]… he totally disappeared and nobody was there with him so he did everything by himself.  Very … [unusual].  So these two incidents [will] never ever [be] forgotten.

“You know Bhagabandev rightly said he used to give 10 tasks at once.  I was with him travelling to Bombay, so from Delhi we left by flight and reached Bombay.  He had a program in Bombay. So we reached around 3 o clock. In Delhi I … [spent] the whole night working with him and in the morning we took a flight to reach Bombay. We were residing at Satyanarayana Iyengar’s house. We reached [there] and he said ‘Are you prepared?’  I said ‘OK, Swamiji,’ but I could not manage to see him. He asked me to send a few emails immediately. Then he went to sleep.  I decided to have tea since this was in the night and after one and a half hours he said ‘Did you finish that work?’ and … [I said] ‘Swamiji I have only started.’ I had only bathed and had tea.’

“He said ‘OK, now there is a pile of work’ and … he wanted me to finish by evening.  Many tasks at once! But all these … [have] given me a great lesson which I …[could not have received ] from anybody.  Nobody [else] can teach me and I am still learning and I believe he will guide me.  One week ago, probably 10 days ago, he said ‘You are not serious’.

“I said ‘No, no, Swamiji, I am serious’ and then Swamiji … [said to me] ‘You do not understand. I don’t have time.’”

“’No, Swamiji,’ I said. ‘I am serious.’

“‘No, you are not serious.’

“‘OK, Swamiji.’”

“‘See, I have so much work and you are not serious,’ so I asked him ‘How much time do you have?’ and he said ‘2, maximum 2.5 years-- not more than that,” but I never knew that actually not 2 years, 2 days or 2 months.  He … [had] given some indication, some sort of ‘You become serious, dedicate yourself’ and the last 2 days he used to say ‘I would like to work like Swami Rama, like Modi.’  He was a huge admirer of Modi --everything quick and fast. So we will try and we are still in the learning process. We still make mistakes but he will guide us and we will manage to do something in his service and do the assigned tasks successfully.”

Others spoke at evening satsang, but there is not room to convey everything. It was wonderful. Medhawati, Swami Ritavan, John Sellinger, Surendra, Bhagbandev, Swami Radha, Stomy Arya Persaud, Angi Arya, Ramprakash, Jagat and I and many more spoke of their profound experiences with Swami Veda. In fact, the evening satsangs are continuing here where we share our Swamiji stories.

Many who could not come have written. Lama Doboom Tulku wrote:

Dear Joanne,

Thank you for writing…. I am in California right now. I was informed by Swami Ritavan Bharati about the sad news. However, I know it is an occasion of Swamiji's thought merging into Dharma Dhatu and so no occasion for mourning or lamenting. Yet I feel a deep personal loss especially because I have been thinking of visiting the ashram with a hope to get an opportunity to see him again in the first week of August after my return from US.

On 16th July, I am organising a Ganachakra offering here which will be dedicated to Revered Swamiji's memory.

With prayers,

Lama Doboom Tulku

Flying Home

These last 10 years, like many who knew him, I often missed Swami Veda deeply, even though he was usually just a short walk away. He was fully available on a subtle level and spoke to each and every new participant at our Silence, Shavasana and Yoga nidra workshop from 22nd March - 5th April 2015. After that, he spent a lot of time with ashramites and guests in silent meditation each day. Often after these meditations he spoke to newcomers who came to bathe in his sacred peace.

These daily morning and evening hour-long meditations upstairs with Swami Veda felt like the most important part of each day for many of us. On occasion, he was too ill to join us physically but you could feel him there nonetheless. Now we still sit there and the presence is strong. Swami Ritavan Bharati, whom Swami Veda named as Ashrama Pramukha, is with us and I am so grateful for this. His depth of calm and compassion reverberate the love and unshakeable peace of Swami Veda.

Here is a poem I wrote for Swami Veda a few years ago when, after working with him 15 or 20 hours a day for two years, I rarely saw him.

Flying Home

The sound of a thousand swans’ wings overhead:
The shawl of your love
You wrap us all tight in.

All I ask is that, one day,
Perhaps snow flurries of lifetimes from now,
Long after the flame
Of your breath in the room
Goes out,

That, finally, after the long Sahara,

I know how much you loved
Each and every one of us
Like a long awaited, only child,
And never told.

You told us a thousand times: A true secret can never be told.
I am old now with nothing to give—

What can I give?

All I ask is that, one day, I know

How many times a heartbeat
You broke yourself like bread for morning tea

And still, I looked for your love

Like an abandoned child

With eyes shut.

When will I know what it really means to love?
When will it be enough

To rest in the vast
Horizon of your love,
That small curl of a smile,

Where worlds open, shut, and open again
A blink of Shesha’s eye?

from a begging beggar, nothing more,
With love, from Joanne


I would like to express abundant thanks to Krutika and Anagha Ranganath and their father who transcribed the talks given by gurubhai on the third night of the satsang with so much love and at very short notice. Without their kind assistance, some of the gems that were shared would be lost.

 

   
       

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