Reminiscences-II -Swami Satyananda (Surpassing Love And Grace)
I was born in 1916 in Mavelikara, a village in South Kerala. My mother who was of a pious disposition used to serve sadhus and was happy to help them in various ways. Her piety made me turn to the spiritual path when I was only eighteen, though I only left home later. Meanwhile, I ran a small school for children on the verandah of our house. After four years I went on a pilgrimage to Rameswaram in the company of some sadhus. In the course of my pilgrimage, I halted at an abode of sadhus called Pandikkan Mazhi Matham, situated between Madurai and Manamadurai. This matham was managed by one Narayanaswami, who had stayed at Sri Ramanasramam 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. This was in 1938. I was overcome with joy when I saw Arunachala. After spending a few days at the Virupaksha Cave I came down one day to Sri Ramanasramam in the company of a sadhu. When we arrived, Sri Bhagavan 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 Ashram daily and have darshan of Sri Bhagavan. I changed my abode from the Virupaksha Cave to the Mango Tree Cave, Skandasramam, etc., from time to time and 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 14th April 1950.
One day Sri Bhagavan described to me how one Sadguru Swami from Kerala, under the influence of some intoxicating drug, kept on embracing him tightly saying, “You are a good boy. It is a pleasure to see you.” Sri Bhagavan acted the part of the sadhu in his inimitable way while narrating the incident. I was alone with him at the time and still remember the scene with joy!
I was present when the tumour on Sri Bhagavan’s arm was operated upon in 1949. Although I cannot stand the sight of blood I managed somehow to control myself. On the evening of the 14th of April 1950 we were massaging Sri Bhagavan’s body. At about 5 o’clock he asked us to help him sit up. Precisely at that moment devotees started singing “Arunachala Siva, Arunachala Siva.“ When Sri Bhagavan heard this his face lit up with radiant joy. Tears began to flow from his eyes and continued to flow for a long time. I was wiping them from time to time. I was also giving him spoonfuls of water boiled with ginger. The doctor wanted to administer artificial respiration but Sri Bhagavan waved it away. He also wanted to give some fruit juice, so I begged Sri Bhagavan to agree to this and when he graciously consented the doctor gave it to him. Sri Bhagavan’s breathing became gradually slower and slower and exactly at 8-47 p.m. subsided quietly. At that very moment, as is well known, devotees who were outside saw a big, bright meteor in the sky.