The first time I saw this picture it caused a huge impression on me. I could not stop looking at it. I wondered what it meant, what was happening, why were people chanting, rubbing him and supporting him? What was going on?
|Swami Sivananda in Maha Samadhi|
Center stage is Swami Sivananda, a medical doctor turned master yogi who lived in India during the past century and taught teachers like Swami Radha. He wrote extensively about yoga and still has centers that teach his style all over the world.
In the picture (which I photographed from the Hatha Yoga Pradipika -this edition and publisher-) he is in "maha samadhi".
Maha Samadhi is the act of voluntarily leaving the body, done by a yogi, on his final meditation practice and upon attaining the state of yoga (samadhi). Curious thing that a yogi can actually choose the time of death.
There is a book called Graceful Exits How Great Beings Die. In it I found this quote:
"In Zen, death in a seated or standing position is considered worthy of an enlightened person. Some Zen masters depart this life voluntarily... However, it is the dying person's state of mind rather than the ability to control the manner of dying that is most important"
It is indeed the state of mind that counts. Isn't that always the case?
Reading further on Graceful Exits I found a story of Ramakrishna, an enlightened master believed to be the real thing, just as much as Ramana Maharshi.
A day after Ramakrishna died, his wife was removing jewelry from her body, when Ramakrishna appeared to her in a vision and told her not to take it off because he had not died, he had simply gone from one room to another.
This removed her fear of death as she could feel her husband as being very present. She dedicated herself to teaching from then on...
|The Mother - Ramakrishna's wife|
Upon her own time of death students wanted to know about her dying and if she was afraid but she said all of the fear was nonsense and pointed the students to Ramakrishna's death.
She did tell them one thing though, she said to them "If you want peace of mind don't look for fault in others but rather see it in yourself"
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