Om Sathguru Sri Seshadri Swamigal Thiruvadikkae
Avathar Sri Seshadri Swamigal lived in Thiruvannamalai continuously for 40 years (1889 to 1929). Swami hinted to Subbhalakshmi Ammal about His approaching end. “I have completed my task. I am departing from this existence. Are you alright with it?”
She did not grasp the seriousness of his question, and she laughed it off with a “yes”…
After the above incident, Swamigal stopped going to her house. Swami took ill with cold and fever. He had not eaten anything in 40 days. It was on Friday the 4th January 1929 at 3.30 p.m., when Swami bade farewell to his devotees. He attained the state of Sath-chith-Ananda Nirathisaya Para Brahma Swarajya.
“Karuna Sagaram Santham
Sri Seshadri Gurum Vande
Brimmi Bhootham Thaponidhim”
It was in the Tamil month (Nov15th to Dec15th) of Karthikai, (in the year 1928), with the festival of Karthikai Deepam being celebrated. Avathar Sri Seshadri Swamigal was 59 years old.
One day Swami walked up to Subbalakshmi Ammal’s house, (an ardent devotee of Avathar Sri Seshadri Swamigal) and asked her, “Shall I build another house and do Yoga?” The lady, used to the Swami’s way of talking in obscure terms did not stop to think deeply about the words, “Go ahead and build another house,” she said callously.
If only Subbalakshmi Ammal had known the meaning behind the question or the purpose for which it was being asked she would never have replied, as she did.
For Swami, was at that time contemplating, leaving this world of mortals to unite with the Lord of Universe (Para-Brahma), the house HE wanted to change was this body. The words of Subbalakshmi Ammal were accepted by our Swami as instructions from Para-Sakthi, – the time to depart, had come.
Those were the days of great festivities in Thiruvannamalai. The place was ablaze with religious fervour as devotees worshipped the Goddess Unnamulai Amman and Annamalaiyar (Arunachaleshwara).
Swami, a living God to the people was also the object of much devotion. One day in a moment of heightened emotion, HIS devotees wanted to perform “abishekam” for Swami. The Swami was against it saying that HE would get a fever. The enthusiastic devotees were however not to be stopped. After much pleading the Swami gave in, saying that they could pour water on HIS body, but only sprinkle a few drops on HIS head.
Some devotees decided to take photographs of Swami after doing abishekam and alankaram. At first they arranged to shave HIM. Swami’s instructions were brushed aside by the devotees. They rained on HIM rose water and followed it up with pots of fresh water drawn from well in Chinna Gurukkal’s (Temple priest) house. When the residents of the town saw this, they did not want to miss the opportunity of participating in HIS abishekam. Thinking that it would fetch divine blessings, they all lined up with a pot of water on their heads. Everybody poured huge quantities of water on Swami’s head.
The Sivaganga Tank in the temple was practically emptied! Finally the abhishekham got over. Then HIS alankaram was done by applying sacred ash and fresh clothing. He was bedecked with flower garlands and Rudraksham. Swami’s photograph also was taken. Swami took ill with cold and fever that very evening.
This was the appropriate beginning of the process of Videha Kaivalyam. Fever or no fever, Swami never showed it and HE was HIS usual self. It was like the Shiva Lingam. Swami looked like Gangadhara Murthi. By then it was forty days since the commencement of HIS fever. There remained eight more days to complete a mandalam. However the fever took its toll and Swami was reduced to a thin form.
On the 41stday Swami yielded and laid HIMSELF down in the front verandah of Chinna Gurukkal’s house. Chinna Gurukkal offered Swami a mattress and pillow. He also attended on Swamigal.
The news of Swamigal’s weakness and poor physical health spread like wild fire. Throngs of devotees from far and wide converged there. The number of people gathered there were several fold more than the number usually gathering for the lighting of the Karthikai Deepam festival in the Tamil month of karthikai (Nov15th – Dec 15th). Heaps of offerings of milk, fruit, candy, sweets etc., were piling up. There was not a single doctor of medicine left who was not present, to treat Swami. Through all this commotion, Swami neither took food, nor did HE touch any medicine.
It was the genteel and kind B.V.Narasimha Swamy, who finally sent a message to Sri Kuzhumani Narayana Sastrigal at Salem. The message was: “Our Swami has been bedridden since the past week. His face has shrivelled. HIS condition is such as to cause much anxiety. He has not taken any food for the past 40 days. Swami has not taken even a drop of water and if anyone offered anything, He declined. Because of your extreme devotion, perhaps if you offer, He might take some food. Please treat this as a telegram and come here immediately.”
On reading the above message, Narayana Sastrigal swooned. He recovered and started his journey towards Thiruvannamalai. Sastrigal was overwhelmed at the sight of the very much reduced physical form of Swami. Tears welled up in his eyes Till then Swami had not opened HIS eyes and just then, He cast HIS glance for a minute at Sastrigal.
The assembled devotees then raised the cry “HARA HARA MAHADEVA!”
Swami took one of the oranges brought by the Sastrigal from Salem, put it on the floor, crushed it, then smelt it and threw it in the street. Chinna Gurukkal said in kind words to Swami, “As it is cold and rainy, please accept the shawl brought by Sastrigal from Salem” and spread it on HIM. Swami gracefully accepted the shawl. The next day at 4 p.m. Swami with all HIS weakness, got up and walked into the temple. Sastrigal and Manickam supporting Swami walked along with HIM.
Near the Sivaganga Prakaaram between two trees there was a depression containing knee deep water. Swami went down in and laid HIMSELF in it. The wind was piercing cold. Devotees braved the rain to watch HIM. By night fall it was 8 p.m. when all departed. Even Manickam left at 11 p.m. Sastrigal however continued to stay.
About 3 a.m. Swami got up from there. Swami came to Chinna Gurukkal’s house dripping with water and laid HIMSELF down. The next morning Narasimha Swamy urged Sastrigal to read the Sundarakandam. Till the end he did not achieve his object.
In the meantime, another incident happened. Subbhalakshmi Ammal arrived and wept bitterly on seeing the condition of Swami. At that time Swami opened HIS eyes and asked her, “So, you see?” She said, “I never meant this yoga practice nor such a new house” and rolling on the floor, continued to weep. That sight moved everyone witnessing it.
It was Tamil year Vibhava, 21st day of Margazhi month (Dec15 –Jan 15), a Friday on 04.01.1929 (3.30 p.m.) The celestial beings came in the sky. Lord Annamalai (Arunachaleshwar) and Mother Unnamulai Amman (Apeethakujambal) reached HIS body to receive their favourite son.
Swami bade farewell to the deities of the senses. In the state of Supreme Bliss, HE retained the smile on HIS face. The entire town of Thiruvannamalai was engulfed in the darkness of sorrow.
There was a virtual upsurge of the sea of sorrowing people. Some people wept and rolled on the ground. Some people burst into uncontrollable spasm of tears. Some sang devotional songs. Then Swami’s body was bathed in milk, honey, sandalwood paste, pancha-amritham, the waters of Ganga, and rose water.. Thereafter His mortal frame was decorated.
Then the procession started. The entire stock of camphor in the shops of Thiruvannamalai was exhausted. The whole town burnt out all the camphor, and was brightly lit..
Avathar Sri Seshadri Swamigal’s holy mortal remains were brought to Agni Theertham. At that point Ramana Maharshi appeared on the scene. Puja was done and HIS body was entombed appropriately at the site where HIS ashram stands today (Sri Seshadri Swamigal Ashram).