Nirvana Darsana verse 8
Not knowing anything by himself,
even when informed he remains so
such a person is the most
Always without modulation, he is brahma alone.
Nataraja Guru’s translation:
who by himself does not know anything
even when made to know, (knows) not;
a one, always void of activity,
The most Elect is the Absolute alone (in himself).
surprisingly, the class was not interested in facing up to the drastic nature
of this verse. We treated its full-fledged renunciation as nothing more than a
transient version of a deeply absorbed state, as in a meditation, artistic
vision, or psychedelic trip that sooner or later ends and then may be
integrated into our everyday life. We are all familiar with this kind of thing,
the absent-minded professor stereotype or the spaced-out hippie artist, a
subject for jest more than a shocking state that calls all pretense into
question. So it goes.
recounts a visit with someone matching this verse only once in his autobiography,
and you can read it here in Part II. I didn’t share it with the class because
it was very far from the direction we went in. The third paragraph of Nitya’s
commentary assesses such a person, concluding, “Except for the continuation of
the metabolic balance in some mysterious way, no sign of life is in him.” I
like to recall the quote from Nataraja Guru shared in the verse 5 notes: “Here
it is the inner enjoyment of the high value implied in the notion of the
Absolute that serves as the diagnostic factor. The outer evidence of such
enjoyment might be feeble in the eyes of an onlooker who is not conscious of
the Bliss of contemplation of the Absolute.” You can say that again!
began by making the connection between the end of the garland, where we are
now, and the beginning, where everything was projected out of nothing by the
Supreme Lord, whatever that is. Now everything is being reduced to nothing once
again, as the garland disappears from our view. She said there are moments of
such “nothingness” in all our lives, where we touch the deep, wordless ground.
agreed that that’s the level we are most comfortable with: the dipping in and
then coming back out to express our connectedness in interesting and possibly
even helpful ways.
asked us for examples, and Andy was happy to oblige. He suggested if you are watching
a fantastic sunrise, the experience is not only a mental event but it’s also a
physical event and you’re caught right between the two. Is it the physical sun
causing a mental event or is the mental the actual cause of that moment of appreciation
of intense beauty? For a short at such times while we are in what Joseph
Campbell called aesthetic arrest: we are taking in without analyzing, and it’s
a most intensely gratifying experience.
told us how she’s writing an essay on her artistic milestones, and she shared
one as her example. Many years ago when she was in a museum in New Delhi she
saw Arabic calligraphy for the first time, and she was utterly transfixed. She
could barely breathe. It spoke to her in a way that was completely new to her,
and she was enchanted. It wasn’t long before she began to study calligraphy
herself, and she has maintained a lifelong interest.
then recounted his discovery of the School of Seven—Canadian painters of the
early twentieth century and how they affected him. He spoke of that whoa
moment, the moment of awe that has nothing hanging on it, like why you should admire
it or any technical considerations.
reminded Deb of a time when she was living in Massachusetts. On a classic
frigid New England winter day with bright blue sky and brilliant white snow she
was walking through a field and a kind of portal opened. It was like being
suspended outside of time and space as if she didn’t exist, yet she was fully
aware and saw everything in a much more vast perspective.
recounted a similar moment around the time of the Harmonic Convergence of
August 1987, a worldwide meditation event based on a planetary alignment and
implications of the Mayan calendar. Susan was at the wild and rugged Oregon
beach at sunset, and caught up in the beauty as the sun made the whole scene
glow gold she waded into the icy water and felt transported in just the way the
others have been talking about. She felt simultaneously at one with everything,
and like nothing at all. Moments like that stay vivid for a lifetime.
also shared one of her newly published poems based on a dream about Nitya, and
you can read it in Part II.
concluded this interchange with an odd idea, that the sense of transcendence
has nothing to do with doing the right thing, you are somehow just open and it
happens. You can see that all of these accounts are actually based on
something, they are a meeting of a readiness inside with a uniqueness outside
that sweeps aside the trivial for a moment. That meeting is precisely the
“right thing” that is being done, it just isn’t some mechanical process
detailed in a book. It involves more than our wakingconsciousness. While
spontaneous surges of joy are very beautiful and desirable occurrences, they
aren’t exactly what this verse is talking about. It is addressing the total
abandonment of the dual in favor of the unitive, which includes surrendering
pretty much everything we identify with.
of this I reserved my take on the verse for these notes, so as to allow the
natural unfolding of the class to take place, and it was fun for all. So here
it is. In place of the fortuitous moment of bliss engendering enlightened
moments of popular appeal, Nitya hints at the culmination of the entire project
spelled out by the Darsanamala, which has been staunchly resisted throughout,
along with overcoming the impediments to it, which requires a determined effort
Nitya is subtly doing is showing a practical example of how the unifying
practice of yoga reaches its ultimate fulfillment. It is by no means
accidental. Why bother to teach something accidental? It would be pointless.
Here Nitya suggests three stages
or possibilities that correspond to a yogic thesis, antithesis and synthesis.
While all three are unitive in a sense, only the third possibility is what the
practice of yoga takes us to. This secretive hint at the close of our study is
well worth a close examination:
The term non-dual implies the
transcendence of the dual. The dual alluded to is the dichotomy of the knowing
subject and the known object. The arrival at the non-dual holistic appreciation
is effected either by reducing the subject into the total immanence of the
object, as in the case of monistic materialism, or by reducing the
existentiality of the object into the transcendent substantiality of the
subject, as monistic idealists do. A third possibility is cancelling out the
subject-object duality and placing oneself in the precarious neutral zero where
the Word becomes a synonym for both the cause as well as the effect.
During my brief college career I thought I should learn to
meditate so I didn’t have to take LSD to get high—or really, to get
neutralized, though I didn’t know this context at the time. My roommate at
Stanford University told me of a typical practice of staring at a candle flame
until there was only the flame, there was no you any more, and I tried it out
for a while. This corresponds to Nitya’s first possibility, and as he says,
it’s the materialist version. It brings you to “the total immanence of the
object.” When Buddhism is described as materialistic, that is what is meant.
You don’t exist, but the apparent stuff does. Sort of. You give yourself up to it.
Certainly that’s what science tries to affirm too, though that solid flame
dissolves the more closely it is examined, leading to the second possibility,
second possibility is that as you meditate on the flame or what have you, you realize
it only exists in your mind as your personal experience. While there may well
be something stimulating your registration, the entire thing is composed in
your mind, or in what Nitya calls “the transcendent substantiality of the
subject.” This is what we tend to categorize as spiritual or metaphysical, as
opposed to the materialism or physicality of the first version.
the Yoga Darsana instructed, if you bring these two perspectives together in a
subtly dynamic fashion, you come to the third possibility, which involves what
is here described as “cancelling out the subject-object duality and placing
oneself in the precarious neutral zero where the Word becomes a synonym for
both the cause as well as the effect.” Nowadays we prefer terms like Force or
Evolution in place of Word, but it’s the same thing.
Deb pointed out, the precariousness of this position is because we can hardly
resist the temptation to analyze the unitive state in a dualistic framework.
The allure of subjects and objects keeps catching us and bringing us back into
the eternal fray between thesis and antithesis. In other words, analysis
inevitably divides what has been carefully united. At this stage, as long as we
can hold off on analysis, we can leave duality to its own devices and rest in
the equipoise where poles like cause and effect do not need to be
distinguished. Yet so long as we harbor unsatisfied predilections, the urge to
express them will eventually return us to a nontranscendental condition.
a thoroughly absorbed state the cries of duality to reassert itself are hard to
hear. Or we might hear, but do not feel any need to react or respond. Those
dependent on duality (and this includes our own ego) become frustrated with the
apparent inertness of the respondent. If they were open enough they might be
entrained into the unitive state, but more often they pit their efforts to
drawing you back out of it, into their superficial world. If you are lucky
enough to be at an ashram or care center where nirvana is understood, your body
might be cared for while you are checked out. Otherwise you’re food for ants,
as Ramana Maharshi discovered, or some other hungry critters with bigger
gives a brief assessment of why we might be interested in yoga instead of
maintaining a linear relationship with our existence, in other words of the
third possibility rather than either of the first two. For the first
possibility he has the most to say:
In monistic materialism
everything is reduced to matter, and the observing mind is treated as an
epiphenomenon which has no reality of its own. The non-dual emphasis in such an
outlook does not take one beyond a philosophical surmise of the system to which
humans belong. This does not alter very much the whimsical characteristic and action-reaction
pattern of the percipient’s behavior. Of course, it will considerably influence
the judgment of such a person in the assessment of values.
While we often think of materialism as being dualistic, the
type of nonduality Nitya is referring to here is the all-embracing domain of
matter. In it there is nothing other than matter, so matter is the Absolute of
the first possibility. Values of this domain are all about measurable
possessions, of obtaining tangible results. Because materialism focuses
exclusively on surface issues, it isn’t likely to lead to a deepening of the
psyche. The votary is too busy going after or investigating stuff to worry
about such intangibles. And behavior is bound to be on the eye for an eye
level. As to the pure subjectivist, Nitya says only:
In the second case, that of the
transcendental idealist, the main impact of monism can be seen in the
withdrawal from all action fronts.
The apex of this form of nonduality is fatalism: you see how
complex everything is and how it has its own trajectory, so what can you do
about it? The only thing to do is to reduce the impingement of the outside
world by dematerializing or defanging it. It sounds like only weirdos from far
away have such fatalistic beliefs, but it is more common than we might realize,
and we may buy into it without knowing it. It’s well worth taking a hard look
at how we might have some of this quality too. It is most visible as the
determination to not do, to dismiss activity as irrelevant if not inimical to
realization. As if we can have an ocean without waves.
Nitya also makes light of the synthetic version of the dialectic of doing and
not doing, in his summation of the third possibility. This must be due to the
drastic nature of the verse:
As for neutral monists, they find
ample excuses to do as well as not to do. Both their restraints and their
indulgences are explained away as issues of [merely] semantic significance.
I’ve added ‘merely’ to make it clear that semantic
significance means without significance. The taint that seems to be implied is
that synthetic yoga, while advanced, is still being subtly managed as long as
we treat it as an accomplishment. The point being that we mustn’t sit there and
think, aha, I’ve got it now. It has to be an all-absorbing state, beyond
analysis, including self-analysis. There is no ‘I’ in it. Nitya and Narayana
Guru have taken us to yet another stage, the person that can’t be pigeonholed
in any of the three categories: doing, non-doing, or balanced in between doing
and non-doing. The most superior knower is beyond any kind of self-directed
activity, and they cannot be accurately assessed by outsiders either. Nitya’s
example from Love and Blessings is of
a living corpse. It is superior only in being so totally absorbed that the
world no longer exists for them, and in this extreme case there is not even any
trace of a vasana to reactivate the person. It’s over, baby.
unappealing, actually. It’s accorded a verse just to complete the picture, and
“more superior” means more absorbed, not that it’s any better or worse. It has
to be beyond such considerations. Our gurus lined themselves up with verse 5 as
the ideal, the interactive, integrated version that was really what the class
was talking about last night. Either way, the best practice of absorption comes
without any reservations. You’ve got to give it your all. Check your identity
at the door.
also drops back to the yogic ideal after his dutiful nod to the most superior
In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras this
state is considered as the equalization of the thinking substance and the Self.
The aphorism says, “When the purity of the sattva
and of the Self are equal there is aloneness.” Here Patanjali equates kaivalya with the highest kind of nirvana.
In the state of aloneness the
body-dweller is identical with the eternally pure.
Equalizing the thinking substance, consciousness, with the
Self is the yogic endeavor, brought about by doing and not doing in some
mystical marriage. Aloneness, as we are familiar, is a contraction of
all-oneness, so it is an apt appellation for the unitive state.
concludes with two shades of meaning of a complex term. His last sentence does
not mean we aren’t dealing with final cessation in this verse, only that it is
described in some more detail in the next verse:
The term sadavritti sunyah can be broken either as
sada plus vritti sunyah or
as sada and avrtti sunyah. When taken in the first sense it means the absence
of the modulations of consciousness. In the second, it means the absence of any
return from transcendence. Both meanings are relevant here. In the next verse
final cessation is described.
In place of all this boring recapping of the thrust of
Nitya’s commentary, we shared our exciting stories and then sank into a
blissful meditation. I went into the yogic technique of dialectical synthesis
and found it paved the way to an ever-deeper detachment from my chatter-filled
(and rhubarb pie energized) mind. I felt absorbed yet present. It’s very
beautiful to spend time there, or to spend timelessness I suppose I should say.
My return vasana is I have to start the closing chant so others can go home to
bed, so I can’t let go all the way. I save that for later. And so, Good night.
most elect knower of the Absolute is he who, without having any outer
consciousness of things, has a mental life whereby he is always merged in the
state of nirvana. This most elect
knower of the Absolute is not affected by any incipient memory factor (vāsanā) which refers to his body or the
physical world. He has no alternating activities of the mind such as right or
wrong volitions. All acts which arise from one's preferences or hatreds of
things are always motivated by the prevalence of the three nature-modalities
whether they be easy or difficult. Because of transcending the influence of the
three nature-modalities, this most elect knower of the Absolute is not subject
to any functional activity arising in his mind. Only the basic functions of
life continue to operate. Even when, by virtue of life functions persisting in
him, he is seen to move, he is not aware of them. What is more, even when he is
prompted by others he does not gain any consciousness of them. The normal
experiences of life such as thirst and hunger are not felt by him. He does not
even have the consciousness of possessing a body. He will not take food by
himself. His earthly body has attained to natural inertness because the Self
has attained to its proper state of aloneness. Thus, the most elect knower of
the Absolute is no other than a person, who, while remaining in a body having
minimum life functions, is himself merged in the highest bliss of nirvana. This bliss is of eternal and
everlasting purity. Without any possibility of ever returning to life, he
attains to the term of what all activities are meant to reach. In other words,
he is the Absolute. As the Upanishads declare, “He does not come back.” “On
attaining that there is no return at all, that is my supreme abode.” In such
words what has been extolled in the wisdom texts (sruti) and even in the obligatory texts (smriti) refers to this most
elect knower of the Absolute. It is this same aloneness (i.e. supreme purity of
the Self) which has been referred to by Patanjali as consisting of the equality
of purity between the intelligent element (buddhi)
and the Self (ātmā). Here the purity
of the buddhi should be understood as
the state of non-action attained by transcending the three nature-modalities.
Thus, when the intelligent element attains an equality of purity with the Self,
the aloneness from the establishment of the Self in its own true form results.
This aloneness is the same as the ultimate emancipation or absorption (paranirvana) or the most elect of all nirvanas.
There is no nirvana higher than this. There is no
living man of nirvana who is more
elect than this most elect knower of the Absolute. Such a state is a very rare
one to attain.
The term sadā-vritti-sunya (always void of activity) can also be read as, Sadā āvartti-sunya
(always without return). Then we get the meaning that such a man does not
come back to earthly life anymore. The interpretation is also permissible.
Love and Blessings, page 157, describes such a person:
my travels I went to see Siddharudha Swami in Hassan. The Swami’s ashram was a
traditional old institution where many ochre robed swamis were living. Many
were coming as well to pay homage to him. Nobody knew the swami’s age, maybe
100, maybe 200, or even 300. It varied according to the informant’s
credibility. He looked for all the world like a living corpse.
five o’clock in the morning, ten disciples ceremonially came to him, prostrated
at his feet, and pulled him out of bed for a hot water wash. Before the bath
his body was smeared with turmeric paste, and afterwards he was painted with
sandal paste and clothed with a T-string, a dhoti, a shirt and a turban. Then
he was decorated with a rudraksha
garland and several flower garlands. In the main hall of the ashram he was seated
on a throne-like chair, where he sat cross-legged in padmasana. Then there was a ceremonial feeding. He did not open
eyes or mouth, but some milk was smeared on his lips and wiped off. I was told
the swami had not taken any food or drink for twelve years.
ritual had been going on every day for a very long time. He did not pass urine
or stools. I was also told he did not perspire. There was no evidence he was
breathing. If he was dead, why wasn’t he decomposing? It was all a mystery. If
I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed the possibility of
anyone living without food, drink or breath.
the Swami’s face looked like a corpse, it gave me an eerie feeling to sit and
watch him all day. The swamis there were very hospitable, and there was nothing
lacking for a visit of any length of time, but I only stayed for three days.
Forward Step Back
In an open space
a thin line
You walk towards me,
we recognize each other,
smile, look into the other’s eyes,
then with deft movement
you reach across your chest
and open it to me,
a corporeal door swung ajar.
Nothing bloody, nothing fleshy
as I look inside, nothing.
I am you, you say,
your smile covering distance,
As our eyes continue to hold
you step closer and
with the same suppleness
open my torso: chest, stomach,
fluttering breath. You are me.
Still we watch, space
streaming around us.
A chirrup from the birds
in an unseen tree.
We are nothing, you say,
We are transparent.
Transparent the line of my arm.
Nothing the shape of your mouth.
Nothing the touch on my arm.
Transparent my fingers to your face,
your lips evanescent in the startling blue.
A couple of people were
intrigued by the living corpse swami, so I thought I should add another
reference to the idea of bodily immortality, from That Alone, verse 83. In it,
Nitya gives a good accounting of his thoughts on reincarnation and immortality.
Here’s the excerpt. The whole verse commentary is a magnificent meditation
based on the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad mantra we include in our chants for
class, a rereading I highly recommend:
course, it is out of the question to immortalize the body. Narayana Guru agrees
here with the evolutionists that the very nature of the body is to break, then
for something new to come and for that to continue for a while before it also
breaks. Then its place is taken by another, and this will continue on and on.
So there is nothing called the immortality of the body.
Sri Aurobindo expounded his theory of spiritual evolution and the descent of
the supramental, I don’t know if he meant it this way, but what his devotees
understood and we are likely to think when we read his book, is that the body,
which is a receptacle of the spirit, is slowly changed by the supramental
spirit to become an immortal vessel to hold life. He clearly seemed to imply a
physical immortality rather than any theoretical one.
his lifetime no one in the ashram was allowed to ask the question of what would
happen after Aurobindo’s death. It was taboo. They all believed he would not
die and that his body was immortal. When he died, the ashram people wouldn’t
believe it. They refused to bury him. There was a French government at that
time, and they did not subscribe to that belief. They had a law that a dead
person should be buried within three days. The ashram people said “No, he is
alive. He is in samadhi.” After the third day the government decided to bury
him forcefully, so the ashram finally allowed it after much dispute that he was
still physically immortal.
they changed their theory. They said, “He is continuing now in the Mother. He
has transferred himself to her. He is immortalizing the Mother so she will not
die.” She did live to be ninety-seven. But when she died, nobody made any
dispute. She was immediately buried. It is not a feasible theory that the body
can become immortal.
then, where do you become immortal?...
Jay found a fuller account of the aftermath of Sri
Aurobindo’s transit that makes interesting reading. This one is firsthand;
Nitya’s is secondhand, though from a good source: he knew the head of the
Aurobindo Ashram in Delhi from the 1960s. They were dear friends, but may not
have talked about the event very often.
While we’re on this subject, I recalled a fuller
version from Nitya’s In the Stream of Consciousness, in the
chapter Oh, What a Noble Mind is Here O’erthrown, which talks about
human efforts to access the divine by more or less mechanistic means:
Two other people held in
great esteem by their colleagues and worshipped by thousands of people have
made a similar error, and I hope I can mention them without incurring the wrath
of their admirers. I have in mind Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, who had been
working at what they considered to be the speeding up of a “Divine Project”
which they called “the supramental descent.”
intelligent people have applied their minds to the possibility of evolving a
superior race. When Nietzsche spoke of supermen, not everyone dismissed it as
the fantasy of an aching brain. It is even possible that Hitler thought he was
going to be one of those supermen. But he was crazy enough to plague the world,
so he was dismissed as a crackpot.
Aurobindo and the Mother did not declare war on anyone. When they spoke, they
spoke with such passion in their hearts that no one could deny the love they
felt for humanity. Their expositions of integral yoga were worked out
meticulously, with sound logic. Their world outlook was one hundred percent
universal, and their understanding of human nature was almost perfect. There
was no field of human interest that did not appeal to them. And yet they made
the claim of transforming their physical bodies to become immortal receptacles
for the spirits that dwelt in them.
The idea of
death was anathema in the Pondicherry ashram. When Sri Aurobindo’s life ended,
his disciples did not believe he had actually died. The authorities had to take
aggressive measures to get the body buried. Then an alternative theory was put
forward that Sri Aurobindo was continuing to live in the body of the Mother. So
then nobody was allowed to mention the possibility of the death of the Mother.
Even a date
was fixed for the supramental descent, the day on which every body on earth was
to become animated by the spirit of God. That date has already passed. It might
be that there is some kind of a delayed reaction in it, but when we look at the
chaos all around us, we have to doubt the efficacy of the spirit that has
descended upon man.
now, Jay’s letter. I should mention that rigor mortis isn’t always present, and
in hot weather does not last very long. After two days it would surely not have
been expected in India. Also, after my mother died she immediately looked 30
years younger, all the tension having left her facial muscles, so death doesn’t
necessarily turn you into anything ghastly. So there are projections of a
devotee in this, but it remains a moving account (no pun intended):
I always have found Sri Aurobindo's life (and death) very
interesting. I had known the unusual happenings about his death and after
reading your email, I did a Google search and found the following account by an
…Several days later, an English doctor staying at Golconda
warned me that the condition of Sri Aurobindo's health was becoming worse. At
1:30 in the morning on December 5, 1950, he passed away of a kidney infection.
About 3:30 that same morning, this was announced to everyone in the ashram.
With great sorrow, I realized I had been at the last darshan at which both of
them would appear together!
During the day of December 5, I hovered about the ashram
grounds, feeling desolate. Already it has been decided, despite the objections
of the French colonial governor, that Sri Aurobindo would be buried in the
courtyard of the main building beneath a huge spreading tree. The male
ashramites, including the visiting doctor, began to build the tomb. I watched
the doctor, who had confided to me that he expected Sri Aurobindo to 'reveal
himself as an avatar,' and he beat with his sledgehammer on the concrete slab
as if he would destroy death itself.
There was weeping but no hysteria. By afternoon, men and
women passed baskets of earth from hand to hand, as the digging continued
beneath the tree. Then there was a new announcement. For all of us there, there
would now be a second darshan. In lesser numbers, we filed through to view the
body of the poet-philosopher lying upon his couch in the upper chamber.
Again, the following morning on December 6, we all filed
past. The 'force field' which I mentioned earlier seemed to remain about the
body and throughout the room. Dressed in white, upon a white couch before the
windows, Sri Aurobindo now lay in state. Bowls of flowers stood around the
couch; and at the bed's head and foot, disciples of long standing sat quietly,
Unexpectedly, in the afternoon, there was another darshan.
Sri Aurobindo's face still did not look deathlike. The skin was golden in
color, the white hair blowing on the pillow in a breeze from a fan. The
aquiline profile continued to have a prophetic look. There was no odor of death
and little incense was burning. To my astonishment, the repeated viewings of
his body had a comforting effect.
By December 7, everyone momentarily expected the funeral.
This was, after all, a tropical climate. Bodies were usually burnt as quickly
as possible in India. Even the planned burial in earth was a major departure
from the usual Hindu custom. The grave had now been completed with large cement
blocks lining the tomb. But instead of the burial, an announcement came from
'The funeral of Sri Aurobindo did not take place today. His
body is charged with such a concentration of supramental light that there is no
sign of decomposition and the body will be kept lying on his bed so long as it
From the French colony, already exploding with disapproval
and its officials much disturbed by the burial plans, came the rumor that the
body must have been 'shot with formaldehyde' secretly, to preserve it.
Moreover, said the officials, the ashram was not only breaking the law in
burying anyone in the garden, it was worse to keep it so long unburied. (The
legal regulation was that no body should be kept unburied longer than 48
in the morning of December 7, therefore, a French doctor
representing the government, a Dr. Barbet, arrived to inspect the body of Sri
Aurobindo. At the end he reported it was a 'miracle'; there was no
deterioration, no rigor mortis. It was an unheard of occurrence; the weather
had continued to be hot during the entire time. After this official and
scientific approval, nothing further could be done to prevent another darshan.
Visitors were flocking from all over India; and the Indian
newspapers now proposed that Sri Aurobindo be suggested, posthumously, for the
Nobel Peace Prize.
This time, I suspected it might be the last time. Everyone
and anyone was allowed into the ashram to pass by Sri Aurobindo's body: beggars
in rags, curiosity seekers, villagers, ashramites, and visitors.
By December 8, silence was observed throughout the ashram
grounds. Only latecomers who had just arrived in Pondicherry were allowed to
view the body.
Tension grew among the ashramites, and incredible
speculations became the order of the day. An Indian representative of Life
magazine came around, wanting to talk to those of us from America. He told us
that this phenomenon of bodily preservation after death had never taken place
anywhere in India. Why, even yogis who specialized in 'live' burial had never
performed such a feat. No Indian 'living saint' in history had preserved his
body after death in this fashion. The Indian magazine representative wondered
if Sri Aurobindo was not, after all, still alive and only in some kind of
trance state or coma.
On December 9, at noon, a notice was posted that there would
be a final darshan for those in the ashram at one o'clock. Later the time was
changed to 2:30 p.m. and visitors from outside were allowed in first. The night
before, a plane chartered by 19 people from Darjeeling had flown in. By now, in
Golconda, everyone was sharing his or her room; bedrolls crowded the floors and
halls of the guest house.
I had, of course, postponed my planned departure date. All
of this, I realized, was a situation which would remain entirely
unduplicated in my own life. I intended to remain until the end.
in the afternoon of December 9, at 5:00 p.m., the burial
service finally took place after another final darshan. A feeling of force and
energy remained in the atmosphere around Sri Aurobindo's vicinity, but that
force had now weakened. Afterwards, in absolute silence, everyone in the ashram
sat in the courtyard. The gates were locked against further curiosity
From https://www.collaboration.org/98/spring/text/06.darshan.html by Rhoda
perhaps, dear Jyothi was inspired by the story about Aurobindo to send a
reminiscence of Nitya’s exit:
Dear brother Scottappa and sweet sister Debbiema
Greetings from India on May 14 th A memorable day for
all of us -children or disciples or friend’s what else of Dear Guru Nitya s 19
th Samadhi day. Or we can call the day Guru attained Nirvana.
Early this morning I woke up with sweet memories of our dear
Guru who connected us as brothers and sisters of the World Family. Dear
Scottappa when I read your note on Shri Aurobindo my mind went back to 14 th
May 1999. After our Guru breathed out his last by lying down in his bed.
swamy Thyagi and friends made arrangements to put Guru on his chair in a
sitting position. Guru used to make fun ‘if I die please do not break my leg
bones for the so called burial rituals of Hinduism ‘. Anyway Guru was in his
sitting position. On May 15 th my birthday morning Swamy Thyagi and friends
asked me to give Guru the final bath. Some friends including our dear Rajan to
assist me for this beautiful moment but sad I gave my baby a bath. While I was
reaching to apply soap for Guru s back I still feel even while typing
this the wonder I felt that as if Guru was alive he bent forward for me to
apply water and soap. That day 18 Year’s back that precious moment I had
a shiver and I told our friends Guru is not gone. His body is so supple even
after thirteen hours in the cold weather of Ooty.
The beautiful body of Guru displayed with reverence in the
prayer hall with beautiful peach saffron silk and flowers in a sitting position
on his chair. The villagers came with flowers to see him for a last glance. I
was sitting in the prayer hall through out watching the whole. I could hear
each one whispering no he is not gone it is as if he is meditating
Some village women came and sat next to me and said loudly ‘chechi Guru
is not gone.
Another surprising thing is we have to wait for the funeral
up to the arrival of Guru sister relatives friends like Baby to fly and reach.
That is in the evening five. Guru instructed us not to allow photographers or
any media people to come and take his photos.Dr Thampan came and told me
(being a doctor)chechi we have to put some sea salt packets around Guru’s body
so that it won’t decay and smell. You all friends know me being the strong bull
I said gently to him with pain in my heart”Thampananna do not even disturb Guru
by moving. Guru will remain like this until the time which all of you proposed.
No smell or decay or bulging of body will happen. I was having a kind of
a certainty that Guru is a yogi. nothing of the ordinary things will
change his yogic body. It will prevail in a wonderful way to greet each and
everyone who came to have a Darshana. Five in the evening Dr Sumangala her
children Baby Vimal and some friends from Bombay all came and I still remember
Baby said she felt by seeing Guru it was as if he was welcoming her and her
little son as usual she felt. Any way thanking you all dear brother and
sisters for this beautiful connection of ours by our Guru on this beautiful day
May 14 th 2018 Samadhi day. With reverence and pranams to Guru
Always in his service
Your all sister in Guru