Swami Sri Yukteswar
“Gurudeva,” I said. “Babaji asked me to give you a message. ‘Tell Lahiri,’ he said, ‘that the stored-up power for this life now runs low; it is nearly finished.”’
At my utterance of these enigmatic words, Lahiri Mahasaya’s figure trembled as though touched by a lightning current. In an instant everything about him fell silent; his smiling countenance turned incredibly stern. Like a wooden statue, somber and immovable in its seat, his body became colorless. I was alarmed and bewildered. Never in my life had I seen this joyous soul manifest such awful gravity. The other disciples present stared apprehensively.
Three hours passed in utter silence. Then Lahiri Mahasaya resumed his natural, cheerful demeanor, and spoke affectionately to each of the chelas. Everyone sighed in relief.
I realized by my master’s reaction that Babaji’s message had been an unmistakable signal by which Lahiri Mahasaya understood that his body would soon be untenanted. His awesome silence proved that my guru had instantly controlled his being, cut his last cord of attachment to the material world, and fled to his ever-living identity in Spirit. Babaji’s remark had been his way of saying: ‘I shall be ever with you.’
Though Babaji and Lahiri Mahasaya were omniscient, and had no need of communicating with each other through me or any other intermediary, the great ones often condescend to play a part in the human drama. Occasionally they transmit their prophecies through messengers in an ordinary way, that the final fulfillment of their words may infuse greater divine faith in a wide circle of men who later learn the story.
That was one of my last visits to Benares to see my guru. Even as Babaji had foretold at the Kumbha Mela, the householder-incarnation of Lahiri Mahasaya was drawing to a close. During the summer of 1895 his stalwart body developed a small boil on the back. He protested against lancing; he was working out in his own flesh the evil karma of some of his disciples. Finally a few chelas became very insistent; the master replied cryptically:
‘The body has to find a cause to go; I will be agreeable to whatever you want to do.’
A short time later the incomparable guru gave up his body in Benares. No longer need I seek him out in his little parlor; I find every day of my life blessed by his omnipresent guidance.
A few days before my guru relinquished his body, he materialized himself before me as I sat in my hermitage at Hardwar.
‘Come at once to Benares.’ With these words Lahiri Mahasaya vanished.
I entrained immediately for Benares. At my guru’s home I found many disciples assembled. For hours that day 7 the master expounded the Gita; then he addressed us simply.
‘I am going home.’
Sobs of anguish broke out like an irresistible torrent.
‘Be comforted; I shall rise again.’ After this utterance Lahiri Mahasaya thrice turned his body around in a circle, faced the north in his lotus posture, and gloriously entered the final maha-samadhi.
Lahiri Mahasaya’s beautiful body, so dear to the devotees, was cremated with solemn householder rites at Manikarnika Ghat by the holy Ganges. The following day, at ten o’clock in the morning, while I was still in Benares, my room was suffused with a great light. Lo! before me stood the flesh and blood form of Lahiri Mahasaya! It looked exactly like his old body, except that it appeared younger and more radiant. My divine guru spoke to me.
‘Keshabananda,’ he said, ‘it is I. From the disintegrated atoms of my cremated body, I have resurrected a remodeled form. My householder work in the world is done; but I do not leave the earth entirely. Henceforth I shall spend some time with Babaji in the Himalayas, and with Babaji in the cosmos.’
With a few words of blessing to me, the transcendent master vanished. Wondrous inspiration filled my heart; I was uplifted in Spirit even as were the disciples of Christ and Kabir 9 when they had gazed on their living gurus after physical death.
When I returned to my isolated Hardwar hermitage, I carried with me the sacred ashes of my guru. I know he has escaped the spatio-temporal cage; the bird of omnipresence is freed. Yet it comforted my heart to enshrine his sacred remains.
Founder of the Calcutta Arya Mission Institution
Here in Calcutta, at ten o’clock of the morning which followed his cremation, Lahiri Mahasaya appeared before me in living glory.
A few days before Lahiri Mahasaya left his body, I received a letter from him, requesting me to come at once to Benares. I was delayed, however, and could not leave immediately. As I was in the midst of my travel preparations, about ten o’clock in the morning, I was suddenly overwhelmed with joy to see the shining figure of my guru.
‘Why hurry to Benares?’ Lahiri Mahasaya said, smiling. ‘You shall find me there no longer.’
As the import of his words dawned on me, I sobbed broken-heartedly, believing that I was seeing him only in a vision.
The master approached me comfortingly. ‘Here, touch my flesh,’ he said. ‘I am living, as always. Do not lament; am I not with you forever?’
From the lips of these three great disciples, a story of wondrous truth has emerged: At the morning hour of ten, on the day after the body of Lahiri Mahasaya had been consigned to the flames, the resurrected master, in a real but transfigured body, appeared before three disciples, each one in a different city.
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?