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Monday, July 26, 2010

i A doctrine for death Manjula Joshi

A doctrine for death
Manjula Joshi
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ON DECEMBER 5, 2009, one of the foremost yogis of contemporary India, Paramhansa Satyananda Saraswatiji attained mahasamadhi.
The events leading upto his death are vividly described in the January-February 2010 issue of the Yoga magazine published by Sivananda Math, Munger. There are lessons in his death for all of us, as much as there are lessons from his life.

Satyanandji left the world in the manner, place and time of his own choosing, what our scriptures describe as ichchha mrityu. "He simply inhaled and with a deep breath withdrew his pranas from this body" seated in padmasana and in meditation. No wonder there was no mourning following his death because even in death he had achieved perfection.

Through his death he has given us what can be best described as a "doctrine for death" and, thereby, also a doctrine for living.

The message is clear: if you want to die well, then you must live in accordance with certain principles. What are these principles that gave the mahayogi ichchha mrityu?
First, is nishkama karma, perfect action by dedicating the outcome to God and without taking credit for it. For over half-a-century, Paramhansaji worked quietly in Munger (Bihar) and Rikhia village (Jharkhand) and created two of the finest temples, the Bihar School of Yoga -a yoga university dedicated to acquiring wisdom -and Rikhiapeeth, a medium for connecting with other people through service, love and sharing. For over two decades before his death, Paramhansaji worked relentlessly with the tribal population in Rikhia panchayat empowering the kanyas (young girls) and batuks (young boys) with the tools that would help them build their lives and also serve society. He was always humble -no pomp, no show. Reminds one of the famous quote by former US President Harry Truman: "It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit."

This brings us to the second principle: seva.
According to the guru, if we only focus on gain ing wisdom and do not let it flow into our actions, then that wisdom is of no use. Wisdom is enhanced and grows by sharing.
This was the main teaching of Sri teaching of Sri Swamiji and he was eminently able to "walk his talk".

The third lesson is leadership. Paramhansaji not only created two world class institutions, but also groomed the next generation of leaders to take forward the good work. His successor Swami Niranjanananda Saraswatiji has already been freed from his social and institutional obligations so that he can concentrate full time on sadhanas and carrying the legacy forward. There is no parallel for such perspective leadership planning in the world today.

Last but not the least, Paramhansaji taught us that death is not the culmination of life.

In fact, "The steps of life begin at the threshold of death. Death is the river that unites two streams of life. Therefore, priests of death! Through the voice of the funeral fires, through the melody of the funeral pyres, sing the sweet song of the union of life."

In Kalyug, the life and death of the Mahayogi Sri Swami Satyananda Saraswati shines like a beacon of hope. His biggest legacy for us householders is his "doctrine for death". All we have to do is to cull out our strategy for living from this.
Do we have the humility and the wisdom to understand and more importantly implement this? Well, nothing is stopping us.

-MANJULA JOSHI is wife of late General B.C. Joshi, former Chief of Army Staff, and a former president Army Wives Welfare Association


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