4.7.11

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA’S ETERNAL FREEDOM:


SWAMI VIVEKANANDA
4, JULY: SWAMIJI'S MAHASAMADHI
Swami Vivekananda attained Mahasamadhi in 1902 at the age of thirty-nine years, five months and twenty-four days, thus fulfilling a prophecy which was frequently on his lips, “I shall never live to see forty.” It was the day he had chosen to leave his mortal coil. The following passages will show this fact.
Swamiji in Kashmir with his disciples
When he was travelling in Kashmir with some disciples, including some American and English disciples he wrote a poem in praise of the 4th of July, (America’s Independence Day) on that date in 1898. It was read aloud at breakfast that early morning. The poem is-
TO THE FOURTH OF JULY:
Behold, the  clouds melt away,
That gathered thick at night, and hung
So like a gloomy pall above the earth!
Before thy magic touch, the world
Awakes. The birds in chorus sing.
The flowers raise their star-like crowns-
Dew-set, and wave thee welcome fair.

The lakes are opening wide in love
Their hundred thousand lotus-eyes
To welcome thee, with all their depth.

All hail to thee, thou Lord of Light!
A welcome new to thee, today,
O sun! today thou sheddest LIBERTY!
Bethink thee how the world did wait,
And search for thee, through time and clime.

Some gave up home and love of friends,
And went in quest of thee, self banished,
Through dreary oceans, through primeval forests,
Each step a struggle for their life or death;

Then came the day when work bore fruit,
And worship, love, and sacrifice,
Fulfilled, accepted, and complete.
Then thou, propitious, rose to shed
The light of FREEDOM on mankind.

Move on, O Lord, on thy resistless path!
Till thy high noon o’erspreads the world.
Till every land reflects thy light,
Till men and women, with uplifted head,
Behold their shackles broken, and
Know, in springing joy, their life renewed!
Three days before his Mahasamadhi, as the Swami was walking up and down on the spacious lawn of the monastery in the afternoon with Swami Premananda, he pointed to a particular spot on the bank of the Ganga, and said to his brother-monk gravely, “When I give up the body, cremate it there!” On that very spot stands today a temple in his honour.
Sister Nivedita, introducing many significant facts in connection with the Swami’s Mahasamadhi and his foreknowledge of it, writes: ‘When June closed, however, he knew well enough that the end was near. “I am making ready for death!” he said to one who was with him, on the Wednesday before he died. “A great Tapasya and meditation has come upon me, and I am making ready for death!”’
Once in Kashmir, after an attack of illness, I had seen him lift a couple of pebbles, saying, “Whenever death approaches me, all weakness vanishes. I have neither fear, nor doubt, nor thought of the external. I simply busy myself making ready to die. I am as hard as that” — and the stones struck one another in his hand — “for I have touched the Feet of God!”

Personal revelation was so rare with him, that these words could never be forgotten. Again, on returning from the cave of Amarnath, in that same summer of 1898, had he not said, laughingly, that he had there received the grace of Amarnath — not to die till he himself should will to do so? Now this, seeming to promise that death would never take him by surprise, had corresponded so well with the prophecy of Shri Ramakrishna — that when he should know who and what he was, he would refuse to remain a moment longer in the body — that one had banished from one’s mind all anxiety on this score, and even his own grave and significant words at the present time did not suffice to revive it.

Did we not remember, moreover, the story of the great Nirvikalpa Samadhi of his youth, and how, when it was over, his Master had said, “This is your mango. Look! I lock it in my box. You shall taste it once more, when your work is finished!” “…And we may wait for that,” said the monk who told me the tale. “We shall know when the time is near. For he will tell us that, again he has tasted his mango.”
How strange it seems now, looking back on that time, to realize in how many ways the expected hint was given, only to fall on ears that did not hear, to reach minds that could not understand!
It would seem, indeed, that, in his withdrawal from all weakness and attachment, there was one exception. That, which had ever been dearer to him than life, kept still its power to move him. It was on the last Sunday before the end that he said to one of his disciples, “You know, the work is always my weak point! When I think that might come to an end, I am all undone!”
On Wednesday [July 2] of the same week, the day being Ekadashi, and himself keeping the fast in all strictness, he insisted on serving the morning meal to the same disciple [Nivedita]. Each dish as it was offered–boiled seeds of the jackfruit, boiled potatoes, plain rice, and ice-cold milk–formed the subject of playful chat; and finally, to end the meal, he himself poured the water over the hands, and dried them with a towel.
“It is I who should do these things for you, Swamiji! Not you for me!” was the protest naturally offered. But his answer was startling in its solemnity — “Jesus washed the feet of His disciples!”
Something checked the answer — “But that was the last time!” — as it rose to the lips, and the words remained unuttered. This was well. For here also, the last time had come.
There was nothing sad or grave about the Swami during these days. In the midst of anxiety about over-fatiguing him, in spite of conversation deliberately kept as light as possible, touching only upon the animals that surrounded him, his garden experiments, books, and absent friends, over and beyond all this, one was conscious the while of a luminous presence, of which his bodily form seemed only as a shadow or symbol. Never had one felt so strongly as now, before him, that one stood on the threshold of an infinite light. Yet none was prepared, least of all on that last happy Friday, July the 4th, on which he appeared so much stronger and better than he had been for years, to see the end so soon.
On the day of the Mahasamadhi itself, whether consciously or intuitively, his actions were most deliberate and full of meaning. His solitary meditation for three hours in the morning from eight to eleven was the most striking. He rose rather early that day and, after partaking of his tea, entered the chapel of the monastery. After some time it was noticed that he had closed all the windows and bolted all the doors. What transpired there, no one will ever know. In his meditation his own Master and the Divine Mother — to his own realization One and the Same Personality — must have been present, for, when he had finished, he broke forth in a touching song in which the highest Jnana mingled with the highest Bhakti.
Descending the stairs of the shrine, he walked back and forth in the courtyard of the monastery, his mind withdrawn. Suddenly the tenseness of his thought expressed itself in a whisper loud enough to be heard by Swami Premananda who was nearby. The Swami was saying to himself, “If there were another Vivekananda, he would have understood what Vivekananda has done! And yet, how many Vivekanandas shall be born in time!!” This remark startled his brother-disciple, for never did the Swami speak thus, save when the flood-gates of his soul were thrown open and the living waters of the highest Consciousness rushed forth.

It was 4th July 4, 1902, a day of Eternal Freedom of swamiji. As the evening approached, Swamiji’s mind became more and more withdrawn, and when the bell for the evening service rang, he retired to his room. There he sat in meditation facing Ganga at 7pm.The Mahasamadhi took place a ten minutes after 9 pm. As predicted Sri Ramakrishna he left his body in Samadhi and attained Eternal Freedom. Some days back, he had chosen the Independence Day of America day for his great deliverance and good of the world.

We should always remember his words: “It may be that I shall find it good to get outside of my body -- to cast it off like a disused Garment. But I shall not cease to work! I shall inspire men everywhere, until the world shall know that it is one with God.” 


SOURCE: The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda,
                 Volume-5 Poem-'To the Fourth of July



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