Samadhi is the withdrawing of the mind from the created world INTO the uncreated void…..The body and mind become immaterial or irrelevant when the realisation of spirit dawns on the soul. During the start of meditation, there is an object of meditation – but in Samadhi, all have become one – merging takes place. The self does not distinguish between the object contemplated and the process of contemplation thereby the mind/intellect becomes immaterial in the experience of all pervading spirit consciousness. Thoughts do not arise, as the mind is stilled by the experience of expanding consciousness. That is why in the Bible it is said, “Be Still, and know that I am God” (Psalms, 46:10)
In Tamil, the word Samadhi has a profound meaning. In Tamil, Samadhi is interpreted as Samam + Aadhi meaning equal to the original being of Spirit –and Maha Samadhi means to merge into the Infinite spirit……
All of us, have to leave this earth one day, but none of us know when or where or how – but great saints, and evolved souls, know when their time comes. They silently prepare their followers to carry on without them. Some saints leave the earth in simple fashion; Some saints leave the earth in a spectacular fashion. Whether they leave silently or spectacularly, they greatly inspire the countless devotees who follow them in their path.
They say that the great Shirdi Sai gave his own life to save the life of an ailing disciple. Some years before his Maha Samadhi, he had come back from Samadhi after three days, when his devout disciples refused to part with the body even after the doctors have come and said that there was no life in the body. Their faith stood steadfast and Shirdi Sai returned. But in 1918, he did not return as he attained Maha Samadhi – even as he saved the life of a beloved disciple.
At the end of his life, Sri Ramana Maharishi the great sage of Tiruvannamalai, was afflicted with a tumour – he refused the usual treatment, and allowed the wound to take a toll on his body – he was unconcerned by the suffering of his body and urged his devotees to look at the spirit behind the body. He graced all those who visited him during his last days with his eyes full of light. When Sri Ramana attained Maha Samadhi in 1950, many witnessed a comet moving across the sky at the exact moment of his Maha Samadhi and disappearing behind the Arunachala mountain.
When Sri Aurobindo attained Maha Samadhi on 5th December 1950, The Mother had to announce thus : “The funeral of Sri Aurobindo has not taken place today. His body is charged with such a concentration of Supramental light that there is no sign of decomposition and the body will be kept lying on his bed so long as it remains intact.” The body of Sri Aurobindo was interred on 9th December 1950. The Pondicherry Mother too, exhibited similar symptoms during her Maha Samadhi in 1973. The interred Samadhis of these two great saints draw people from all over the world even today.
Sri Ramakrishna, the great saint of spiritual renaissance in India, attained Mahasamadhi in 1886, uttering the name of the Divine Mother. In his lifetime, Sri Ramakrishna had laid the foundation for a very vibrant spiritual order, and Swami Vivekananda spearheaded the organisation and its ideals as Sri Ramakrishna’s worthy disciple.
Swami Vivekananda himself had a quiet Maha Samadhi – but he truly aroused the world from its spiritual slumber with his call of “Arise and Awake” – before he passed away at a young age of only 39. He is even supposed to have studied the alamanac, trying to choose a date for his departure!
Meera Bai, the great devotee of Lord Krishna, was often seen in Samadhi – the final merging came one day when she went into the Krishna temple of Dwarka and simply disappeared in the year 1547.
Meera Bai’s merging with the Lord bears a striking resemblance to Sri Andal’s merging centuries before Meera Bai’s advent. Sri Andal of Sri Villiputtur, the famous and only lady ALWAR, who composed the immortal 30 part hymn Tiruppavai and the 143 hymn Nachiar Tirumozhi disappeared into the temple of Sri Ranganatha when the blessed Lord appeared in the dream of the temple priest and asked that Sri Andal be brought in bridal finery to the temple – she entered the sanctum sanctorum and disappeared in front of the waiting crowd at the temple sometime in 3020 B.C – a miracle seen by the locals of that time.
Sri Akka Mahadevi of Karnataka, defied every authority of the ancient patriarchal society by going around totally naked – her body covered only by her long tresses – she too, disappeared in a flash of light at Sri Sailam (present Andhra Pradesh) at a very young age, around 1160 A.D.
Sri Ramalinga Adigalar, the proponent of “Arut perunjothi” also disappeared into thin air on 30th January 1874 ( attained Soruba Samadhi ) which was even investigated by the British collector of Cuddalore at that time. After the investigation, the collector was convinced of the divine disappearance of the great saint.
The places where the saints attained Mahasamadhi are generally well preserved in India. There are many interesting stories where the saints speak from their tomb after their samadhi….
Sri Sadasiva Brahmendral, the great Avaduta’s Jeeva Samadhi ( he attained Jeeva Samadhi in the 18th century at three places – Nerur, Manamadurai and Karachi) just a few decades back, a great saint from Sringeri had a doubt about an aspect of yoga that he was practicing. As directed by Lord Siva in a dream, he came to Nerur, and Sri Sadasiva Brahmendral spoke to him from his tomb, and cleared the doubt of the saint of Sringeri.
The story of Sri Raghavendra appearing in flesh and blood several years after his Maha Samadhi (The saint attained Mahasamadhi in 1671 A.D) to the British officer Munroe to show him the documents of the land at Mantralaya, is well known.
Sri Trailanga Swami (his famous meeting with Sri Ramakrishna is well documented by Swami Chetanananda’s books in RK Math publications) one of India’s greatest saints, attained Jeeva Samadhi at 7 places, including Varanasi, Madurai and Tenkasi – He was born in 1601 and attained Mahasamadhi in 1887 – and his penances when he was alive, is well known – Sri Paramahansa Yogananda writes in his famous classic, Autobiography of a Yogi, thus : “If Christ returned to earth and walked the streets of New York, displaying his divine powers, it would cause the same excitement that was created by Trailanga decades ago as he passed through the crowded lanes of Benares”
There is an interesting episode of the guru of Swami Rama (author of Living with the Himalayan Masters) who comes back to life after attaining Maha Samadhi to guide his disciples.
Sri Akkolkot Maharaj, after he attained Maha Samadhi in 1878 also came back to life for a few minutes out of compassion, unable to bear the misery of his devotees who were crying for him. He also appeared in flesh and blood to a few of his devotees who did not know about his maha Samadhi, five days after his Maha Samadhi.
The exemplary Maha Samadhi and subsequent resurrections of two of India’s greatest saints, Sri Lahiri Mahasaya and Sri Yukteswar Giri Maharaj, in Sri Paramahansa Yogoananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi” is a well known inspiration to the devotees.
The Maha Samadhi of Sri Paramahansa Yogananda itself is a great inspiration to the countless devotees on the path of self realization…..many years before his Maha Samadhi the great yogi had predicted, “ I will not die in bed, but with my boots on, speaking of God and India” and on 7th March, 1952, the great Guru of SRF/YSS did exactly that, as he left his bodily temple, talking of God and India……
( Sri Paramahansa Yogananda’s last words on earth echoed his love for God in no uncertain terms: ”Where Ganges, Woods, Himalayan Caves, and Men DREAM God – I am hallowed; my body touched that sod” As he finished those words he looked up and consciously exited the world…..Sri Paramahansa Yogananda’s body remained in a state of perfect preservation for nearly three weeks before the casket was finally sealed)