Archive for March 7th, 2011

Only Love Can Take My Place

March 7, 2011

Fifty-nine years ago today, on March 7, 1952, Paramahansa Yogananda, author of the spiritual classic, Autobiography of a Yogi, experienced mahasamadhi: the act of consciously and intentionally leaving one’s body at the time of death. The experience could not have been better scripted in terms of event, people and timing. I still marvel about the perfection of it all. Here is an account of Yogananda’s final hours from the book, Finding the Joy WIthin You by Sri Daya Mata, one of his foremost disciples who would later serve as president of Self-Realization Fellowship, the worldwide spiritual organization founded by Yogananda in 1920, for fifty-five years.

Paramahansa Yogananda in 1926 (Courtesy of Self-Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles, California)

Near the end of Gurudeva’s life, he was preparing to receive the Indian ambassador, Dr. Binary R. Sen (who was to come the foollowing morning to visit Guruji at our Self-Realziation headquarters). Guruji called the disciples into the ashram kitchen and said, “Today we will prepare curries and Indian sweetmeats for the ambassador.” We cooked all day long, and Guruji was in a state of great joy.

Late that evening, he called me to him and said, “Come, let us take a walk.” The ashram is a large three-story building. As we walked down the third-floor hall, he paused in front of a picture of his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswarji. He gazed at the picture for a long time, eyes unblinking. And then very quietly he turned to me and said: “Do you realize that it is just a matter of hours and I will be gone from this earth?” Tears flooded my eyes. Intuitively, I knew that what he said was to come to pass. A short time earlier, when he spoke to me of leaving his body, I had cried to him, “Master, you are the diamond in the ring of our hearts, and of your society. How can we carry on without you?” With such sweet love and compassion, his eyes like soft pools of divine bliss, he answered, “When I am gone, (more…)