Late that evening, he called me to him and said, “Come, let us take a walk.” The ashram is a large three-story building. As we walked down the third-floor hall, he paused in front of a picture of his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswarji. He gazed at the picture for a long time, eyes unblinking. And then very quietly he turned to me and said: “Do you realize that it is just a matter of hours and I will be gone from this earth?” Tears flooded my eyes. Intuitively, I knew that what he said was to come to pass. A short time earlier, when he spoke to me of leaving his body, I had cried to him, “Master, you are the diamond in the ring of our hearts, and of your society. How can we carry on without you?” With such sweet love and compassion, his eyes like soft pools of divine bliss, he answered, “When I am gone, only love can take my place. Be so drunk with the love of God that you will know nothing but God; and give that love to all.”
On the final day, he was to speak at a banquet for the ambassador in downtown Los Angeles. We who served him arose in the early dawn and went to his door to see if we could do anything for him. As we entered, he was sitting very quietly in the chair in which he frequently meditated and was often in ecstasy. When he didn’t want us to talk, he would put his finger to his lips, meaning, “I am in silence.” The moment he did that, I saw the withdrawal of his soul, that he was gradually severing each of the hidden ties that bind the soul to the body. Sorrow filled my heart, and yet strength too, because I knew that no matter what happened, through my devotion to him, my Guru would never leave my heart.
All day long he remained in that interiorized state. Toward evening, we went with him to the large hotel where the banquet was to be held. Arriving early, Guruji waited in a little room upstairs, quietly meditating. We disciples sat around him on the floor. After some time, he gazed at each of us in turn. I remember thinking, as he looked at me, “My beloved Guru is giving me a farewell darshan [the blessing bestowed by the sight of a God-realized being]. Then he went down to the banquet hall.
There was a large audience, which included city, state, and Government of India officials. I was sitting some distance from the speakers’ table, but my mind and gaze never left the blessed Guru’s face. Finally, the time came for him to speak. Gurudeva was the last to do so before Ambassador Sen was to address the gathering. As Guruji rose from his chair, my heart skipped a beat and I thought, “Oh, this is that moment!”
When he began speaking, with such love for God, the whole audience was like one person; no one stirred. They were transfixed by the tremendous force of love that he was pouring from his heart upon all of them. Many lives were changed that night—including some who later entered the ashram as monastics and many others who became members of the society—because of that divine experience. His last words [from his poem, “My India”] were of the India he loved so much: “Where Ganges, woods, Himalayan caves, and men dream God—I am hallowed; my body touched that sod.”
As he uttered these words, he lifted his eyes to the Kutastha center [or Chirst Center, the point between the eyebrows], and his body slumped to the floor. In an instant—our feet seemed not to touch the ground—two of us disciples were by his side. Thinking that he might have gone into samadhi [an enlightened state of consciousness], we softly chanted Aum in his right ear. (Over the years he had told us that when he went into ecstasy, if after some time his consciousness did not return we could bring him out of that state by chanting “Aum” in his right ear.) As I was chanting, a miraculous experience took place. I do not know how to describe it to you, but as I knelt over my blessed Guru, I could see that his soul was leaving the body; and then a tremendous force entered my being. I say “tremendous” because it was an overwhelming blissful force of love, peace, and understanding. I remember thinking, “What is this?” My consciousness was lifted up in such a way that I could feel no sorrow, I could shed no tears; and it has been so from that day to this, because I know beyond any doubt that he is truly with me.