The Mahasamadhi Divas of Two of India’s Greatest Saints

The Mahasamadhi Divas of Two of India’s Greatest Saints

The anniversaries of the Mahasamadhis of two of India’s greatest saints are commemorated in the month of March every year. Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri, author of timeless classic, The Holy Science, left his body on March 9, 1936, at Puri, Odisha, whereas his globally renowned disciple, Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda, entered Mahasamadhi on March 7, 1952, at the Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles, California, USA. Yoganandaji had entered the tutelage and enveloping guidance of Swami Sri Yukteswarji as a young lad named Mukunda. The transformation of the persona of the eager young pupil into a peerless Guru came about due to the exacting but loving training imparted at the Serampore ashram in Bengal by Swami Sri Yukteswarji. The journey of Yoganandaji to the West and his pioneering lectures on yoga meditation which ultimately led to the ripples of a spiritual renaissance across the world are now a part of the annals of history.

The circumstances leading to the Mahasamadhi (a saint’s conscious exit from his earthly body) of Yoganandaji were nothing short of dramatic. He was orating in a strong, vibrant, booming voice before mesmerised audience at a reception in honour of the then Indian Ambassador to the United States of America, Dr. Binay Ranjan Sen. “Where Ganges, woods, Himalayan caves, and men dream God — I am hallowed; my body touched that sod.” With these words from his rousing and inspiring poem titled “My India,” Yoganandaji slid to the floor. His lifeless form was soon surrounded by his disciples including, Daya Mataji, who later became the third President of Self-Realization Fellowship/Yogoda Satsanga Society of India (SRF/YSS).

Mr. Harry T. Rowe, the Mortuary Director of the Forest Lawn Memorial-Park, recorded the following lines for posterity: The body of Paramahansa Yogananda remained in “a phenomenal state of immutability.” The great Guru was proving to humanity in death, as he had in life, that it was possible to master the forces of nature and time through yoga and meditation.

The ancient method of scientific meditation, “Kriya Yoga” was the central theme around which the teachings of Yoganandaji revolved. Thousands of Kriya Yoga “initiates” of SRF/YSS across the world, regularly practice this ancient technique to try and attain liberation from the otherwise inevitable cycles of birth and death. This pranayama technique involves control of the life force and the process of directing energy inwards towards the spine and brain, instead of outwardly towards the five senses. When combined with devotion, right activity and the guidance of a true Guru, the technique of “Kriya Yoga” cannot fail, said Yoganandaji. The SRF/YSS Lessons which can be applied for by truth seekers across the world, give details of how to practice “Kriya Yoga” and the preliminary techniques of meditation, as also “How to Live” principles.

The 75th anniversary Yoganandaji’s world renowned “Autobiography of a Yogi” is being commemorated this year. As Yoganandaji wrote in the last lines of this inspiring book, “God has given this monk a large family!” Indeed, the number of Yoganandaji’s followers has grown exponentially over the decades. Truly elevating changes have occurred in their lives through the observance of his sacred teachings.

Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri, who honed the spiritual foundation of Yoganandaji’s life, must be truly proud of the legacy left behind by his beloved and foremost disciple who came to be known as the incarnation of love or “Premavatar!”

“Everything else can wait, but your search for God cannot wait!” With these words, Yoganandaji gave a clarion call to the world, to “get busy and weed the gardens of their lives” in order to fulfil the ultimate purpose of their lives.

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