Swami Chidananda's Mahasamadhi

Swami Chidanandaji Maharaj, more lovingly known as Guru Maharaj at Shivanandashram, Rishikesh, left his mortal body on 28th August, 2008 at the age of 92. His body had grown weak in recent years and for that reason, he had shifted out of the ashram to Dehradun. Only a few of the revered swamijis of the ashram used to visit him there. During my YVFA course, we didn't have the pleasure to seek his blessings, but he did send his message through one of the sannyasins to be read out in class.

He was among the very few great saints of modern India, whose service for the lepers is well-known. In his purvashrama, he hailed from a very well to do family back in Udupi. Gurudev Swami Shivananda had asked people not to to disturb Guru Maharaj's work even if he's needed in an emergency, also saying another time "Shivananda is Chidananda, Chidananda is Shivananda". Strict in his attitude towards dharma and ashram activities, Guru Maharaj was respected by one and all for his infinite love towards all, humans and animals alike. I remember one story narrated to us, when Guru Maharaj ran in to get a broom after seeing a lot of ants in a wash basin due to some piece of sweet lying around. By the time he returned, someone had washed away the ants from the basin. He was so upset and hurt with the act that he didn't have food for a couple of days to punish himself!

I'm not a person who does any service, nor do I claim to do so. I'm too small a person for that. I do remember self-acclaimed karmayogis or those in the making who do everything in the name of yoga. One such intending karmayogi got a scolding from one Swamiji back at the ashram once, during our YVFA course. A chap went on about how he would like to be useful socially, etc, when the Swamiji said that its easier said than done: "if so, try touching a leper. Then you can talk tall of karmayoga". Then he mentioned how Sw. Chidanandaji Maharaj was a true karmayogi who knew no time or place for his services and lived with his oft quoted motto "Serve as many people in as many ways as you possibly can".

Another incident that links my beloved Guruji, Bhagavan Sridhara Swamiji, to Shivanandashram is when he was visiting the Himalayas. Sw. Sivanandaji sent Sw. Chidanandaji to fetch him. Since Sridhara Swamiji was in a hurry, he couldn't get down, but there's a picture of Bhagavan in the bus with Guru Maharaj standing outside the window, seen in Sridhara Charita.

The simplicity of such a great divine personality can be seen even in his dying. Here's an extract from the ashram website: "In his death , for which he had left strict instructions for his body to be immersed in the Ganges quickly (Jal Samadhi) , and no spectacle be made of in terms of mourning , as in life , Swami Chidananda remained a simple monk , despite being the President of an international organization with centres across the globe, upholding the highest values of India's monastic traditions ."

I hope Shivanandashram continues to remain at a spiritual high on the pillars of foundation laid down by Gurudev and Guru Maharaj.

(Mahesh mailed me about this and I was unaware of Guru Maharaj's mahasamadhi)

nityashuddham nirAbhAsam nirAkAram niranjanam
nityabodham chidAnandam gurumbrahma namAmyaham
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