n the month of Februvary 1928, news like wild fire all over the state that Sree Narayana Guru Swami was sick and laid up. The Swami had fallen sick earlier also. Once he was affected by cholera, but he recovered. At that time people were not as apprehensive as they are now. A news item appeared in the ‘Dharma´ paper of 23rd February “The readers are aware that His Holiness the Swami is under treatment for a problem known as hernia. Dr. Krishnan of Palakkad is treated him. There is no much improvement in his condition. On the other hand, his weakness is getting worse day by day. He has fever also. Dr. Pandala had come from Madras to examine the Swami. As per his suggestion, His Holiness the Swami is moved to Madras for treatment.” Along with news, information reached that the Swami’s important disciples, several prominent citizens and social activists had also moved to Madras to be with the Swami and serve him. On hearing this, fear and anxiety increase among the people. His devotees were afraid that a surgical operation, if required, would be risky considering the Swami’s age.
In this context, we have something to say. We have already given details about hatayoga in the initial chapters of this book. The objective of hatayoga is to strengthen the body by subjugating it to the power of the mind through exercises like praanaayaama and resist diseases. But those who train themselves in jnanayoga and improve their spiritual powers do not care much for the body. Therefore, even if they are well versed in hatayoga they do not use powers for the benefit of the transient body. Such people fall sick as any average human being and respond to treatment. Narayana Guru Swami was not a mere hatayogi. He was a jnaanayogi and karmayogi too. He did not care for the transient body; he care much for the eternal soul. We had to give this explanation because some sophisticated people mocked, “How could the Seami fall sick? Isn’t he a yogi?Can’t he cure himself through yoga?”
The Swami reached Madras on 10th February. He stayed in late Mr.M.C. Koman’s bungalow. Mr.Koman’s widow and children served the Swami with respect and affection. Nurses were also appointed to attend to the Swami. The treatment started and continued for a few days. Though there was a slight improvement, the Swami wished to go back to Kerala and take Ayuervedic treatment. So he returned to Palakkad by the end of February.
At Palakkad, all arrangements were made to start Ayurvedic treatment by efficient physicians under the supervison of Dr.Krishnan. All eminent physicians from Travancore and Malabar reached there to serve the Swami. From these he started to Varkala and camped at Kollam on the way. While at Kollam, Dr.M.N.Panicker and Dr.A.K.Thampi examined the Swami and issued the following statement.
“The physical condition of His Holiness the Swami is as follows. There is no fever now. He had good sleep during last night and early this morning. He seems to be better today than he was yesterday. He himself says so. Though he is weak, we feel that there is no reason for anxiety?”.
There was reasons to believe that the Swami himself felt that his end was drawing near. He had wished the end to come while he was at Sivagiri. Once he had shown a spot at Sivagiri and remarked to some disciples that it would suit well to have his tomb there.
On the 11th of March 1928, The Swami reached Varkala from Kollam and stayed in an inn belonging to Sivagiri Mutt. The treatment continued under eminent physicians like Cholayil MamiVaidyar and Panavalli Krishnan Vaidyar. There was some improvement for a short period. After that, one from the most important group of eight physicians, (ashtavaidya) Thykattu Divakaran Mooss treated him for sometime. In addition to all these people, Dr.Krishnan Thampi stayed at Varkala to attend to the Swami. Dr.Panicker and Dr.Palpu used to examine the Swami everyday.
The condition of the patient was fluctuating. One day he would be better and another day worse.
On May 28th, another statement was issued. “All other complications are under control, but the problem of the kidneys is getting worse. Varkala seems to be not well-suited for his physical condition. Hence the Swami was shifted to Trivandrum last Thursday. There he is put up at Shri Mathu Muthalali’s bungalow Pettah. After reaching there, he had high fever and severe hiccups for two days. These symptoms have subsided but his weakness is increasing. The whole body is aching. He is unable to get up and sit due to pain in the kidney. He could not sleep well. Dr. Noble, the famous Englidh doctor of Travancore examined the Swami Yesterday and started treatment. He has sent another doctor to live with the Swami and observe his condition. In addition to that, Dr. Thampi and Dr.Panicker are always with the Swami. Mami Vaidyar and Krishnan Vaidyar are also there. The devotees of Trivandrum offer all help and co-operation both physically and financially. Al last it is decided to invite Dr. Somerwell also to examine the Swami.”
The Swami did not stay at Trivandrum for long. In the first week of June he returned to Varkala. Vaikkara Mooss, the number one Ayurvedic physician of Travancore, was brought to examine the Swami. Mooss did not express anything positive or negative. In the meanwhile contributions from devotees for the Swami’s treatment were pouring in.
While the Swami was seriously sick on 22th Augest 1928, there was an incident. It was published in the newspaper ‘Dharmam’.
“In Travancore at Varkala, there was a gentleman by name Nambarvilakathu Marthandam. His daughter Bhageerathi, a fifteen year old gorl, had been suffering from some evil spells for nearly two months. She was unable to get up and walk or talk, but was continuously sobbing making a weired noise. Many systems of treatments, including exorcism was tried in vain. Dr.Pappu of Chirayinkal tried injections also. There was no use. At last the Astroleger Kunju Shankaran of Chirayinkil suggested a remedy: “take the girl to Sree Narayana Guru at Sivagiri”. Accordingly the girl was brought before the Swami. The Swami simply ordered her to get up and walk, and she did it. The evil spell was broken. She had not talked after the trouble started. But now she began tp speak, and walkedaway like any other normal girl.”
The Swami’s illness was going from bad to worse. He continued to be bed-ridden in spite of the expert treatments from western doctors and eastern physicians, the care and attention bestowed on him by sincere devotees and ascetic disciples, and intense and profound prayers offered by thousands of people from all over Kerala. Why do we extend the story? Al last on 20th September 1928, Thursday at 3.30 p.m the great soul who was crusader against casteism, had led thousands of poor people to liberation through words and actions, and was a beacon light for our nation’s future progress, left the emaciated body, and merged with Universal soul.
Guruprasad Swami who had witnessed the end of that great journey had written down the following:
“The news of his demise spread like wild fire all over the land. People, unable to withstand their agony, crowded at Sivagiri. Meetings were held at many places and condolence messages poured in through telegrams and newspaper reports. Schools, small industrial units and market places were closed down and declared holidays and people rushed to the temples to offer special prayers for the salvation of that great soul. All these were proof to show how much the people had loved and adored him. Though the precious body of His Holiness was laid up in sickbed for more than six months, only the body was emaciated, the hallow emanating from that divine face remained the same. Those eyes shone with the glow of Yogic power and a gaze from those eyes was capable of subjugating any strong-willed person. When the end was nearing, for the last few days there was no symptoms of the disease. He could not talk for nearly two days before the final end, but he was perfectly conscious. All of us sat beside him, offering prayers and reciting from from Holy Scriptures, and waiting to accept the inevitable and undeniable command of nature. Finally, in front of our eyes, the great divine light was exingushed.
‘At that moment Shri Vidyananda Swami was reading the chapter of ‘Jeevan Mukthi” from Yogavasishtam. His Holiness passed away listening to the part about the salvation of the soul. He used to tell us quite frequently that it was necessary to feel sad and unhappy about death. While at Trivandrum, when the disease was at its worst he had said, “I have no ill-health or uneasiness. I feel relief and peace as no one else can feel.” While sick-bed also, he used to cut jokes with disciples and at the same time give valuable advise through that. We have no reason to feel at a loss for his departure he had blessed us by bestowing all his ideals and clearly shown the path to pursue them in life. He liberated himself from the bondage of his body after leaving this valuable legacy to us.
‘On that day all ascetic disciples and brahmacharis, gave up food and sleep and continued to pray or recite from scriptures. Next day, morning while the body was in the Vaidika Mutt, a photo was taken. At about mid-day ablution were performed. The body was kept in the sitting posture on a canopied bedstead, beautifully decorated with flowers. The canopy was taken to vanajakshi Mandapam in a procession with funeral music and thousands of people praying and singing hymns. It was kept there for the public to have a last look and pay obeisance. About 5 O’clock in the evening it was taken to the highest point on Sivagiri hill, to the spot which the Swami himself had suggested as the best location for his tomb. The body was shifted to the grave observing all rituals of funeral and kept in the sitting posture. The grave was filled with flowers, incence and camphor in such a way that only the head and face were visible from outside. For two days community prayers and other rituals of worship were performed. On Saturday, early morning (Brahma muhurtam) at about 3.30, the grave was finally (192 to start)