This article is a chapter from the book Chidanandam: The Joy of Knowing ‘Him’.
When Swamiji used to visit Lucknow during Gurudev’s time, Gurudev always sent some books for me and Swamiji came by bicycle to deliver them. He was so simple, humble and polite! Even after he became the President of the Divine Life Society, there was no change in his attitude and nature. This was Swamiji’s greatness.
In 1974 Swamiji came to Lucknow. I was in a very depressed state of mind, due to my father’s age and ill health. Swamiji of course noticed it and asked me the reason for my anxiety. I opened my heart and said, “Swamiji, my father has become quite old, and I don’t know how I shall cope, all alone, when something happens to him.” Swamiji quietly told me, “Don’t worry! When his end is near, I shall be with you.”
Two or three months later, my father’s condition worsened and he went into a coma. During that time, Swamiji stopped over at Lucknow Airport and I went to meet him. He did not enquire about my father, and I returned home with a heavy heart.
My father continued to remain in a coma and 4 months later, with Swamiji’s permission, I brought him from Lucknow to the Ashram. There was no improvement. One day his condition was so alarming that I thought the end was near. Swamiji was in Delhi at that time, and a message was sent to him.
Swamiji replied, “Ask father to hold on and wait like Bhishma Pitamah on the bed of arrows.” Father’s condition became somehow stable, and a few days later Swamiji arrived at the Ashram. Swamiji made my comatose father sit in a chair near the window, put his hand on his head and made him look at the Ganga. When I approached, Swamiji asked me to step back, so that no feeling of attachment would be reawakened in father’s mind. Finally he put his hand on father’s heart and, reciting mantras, helped him to peacefully leave the body. He even helped to carry father’s body to the cremation ground. I was overwhelmed by his love and care and asked Swamiji later, why he, as a sannyasi, carried out the duty of the eldest son. “Your father was a saint in white clothes!” he replied. Swamiji had promised to be near when the end came, and he fulfilled his promise.