SRI RAMAKRISHNA’S MAHASAMADHI. (1886)
During the Master’s last day at Cossipore, we all thought he was better because he ate so much more supper than usual, and he said nothing of going. In the afternoon, he had asked Yogin (Swami Yogananda) to look in the almanac and see whether it was an auspicious day. Also he had been telling us for some time that the vessel which was floating in the ocean was already two-thirds full of water, and soon the rest would fill up and plunge into the ocean. But we did not believe that he was really going. He never seemed to mind the pain. He never lost his cheerfulness. He used to say that he was all well and happy, only there was a little something here (pointing to the throat). “Within me are two persons,” he would declare. “One is the Divine Mother, and the other is her devotee. It is the devotee that has been taken ill.”
When Sri Ramakrishna gave up his body I think it was the most blissful moment of his life. A thrill of joy ran through him. I myself saw it. I remember every incident of that last day. Our Master seemed very well and cheerful. In the afternoon he talked for fully two hours to a gentleman who had come to put some questions to him about yoga.
On that night Ramakrishna was talking with us to the very last. For supper he had drunk half glass of payasam (pudding) and seemed to relish it. There was, no doubt, a little heat in the body, so he asked us to fan him, and some ten of us were all fanning at once. He was sitting up against five or six pillows which were supported by my body and at the same time I too was fanning. This made a slight motion and twice he asked me, “Why are you shaking?” It was as if his mind was so fixed and steady that he could perceive the least motion. Narendra took his feet and began to rub them and Sri Ramakrishna was talking to him, telling him what he must do. “Take care of these boys,” he repeated again and again as if he were putting them in Naren’s charge. Then he asked to lie down.
Suddenly at one o’clock (in the morning) he fell towards one side. There was a low sound in his throat, and I saw all the hairs of his body stand on end. Narendra quickly laid his feet on a quilt and ran downstairs as if he could not bear it. A doctor, who was a great devotee and who was feeling his pulse, saw that it had stopped and began to weep aloud.” What are you doing?” I asked, impatient with him for acting as if the Master had really left us.
We all believed that it was only samadhi, so Naren came back and we sat down, some twenty of us, and began repeating all together: “Hari Om! Hari Om!” In this way, we waited until between one and two the next day. Still the body had some heat in it, especially around the back, but the doctor insisted that the soul had left it. About five o’clock the body had grown cold, so we placed it on a cot. Covered it with garlands, and carried it to the burning ghat.
(p.157-8, Ramakrishna as we saw Him, Reminiscences of Swami Ramakrishnananda)
Every night, just before going to bed, the Master would say, “ Hari Om Tat Sat [Verily the Lord is the only Reality]. “ That last night [at Cossipore Garden House] he uttered this as I was fanning him. It was nearly eleven o’clock at night. Then he heaved a sigh and seemed to go into samadhi. Brother Loren (Swami Vivekananda) asked us to chant “Hari Om Tat Sat.” We continued to chant until one o’clock, when the Master came down from samadhi. Then he ate a little farina pudding which Sashi (Swami Ramakrishnananda) fed him. Suddenly he went into samadhi again. Seeing this Loren grew worried. He called Gopal dada ( Swami Advaitananda) and asked him to get Ramlal Dada.
Gopal Dada and I left immediately for Dakshineswar, and Ramlal Dada came back with us. He examined the Master and said: “The crown of his head is still warm. Please call Captain [Vishwanath Upadhyay].”
Shortly after that Captain arrived. He asked us to rub the Master’s body with ghee. Shashi rubbed his body and Vaikuntha massaged his feet, but it was to no avail. Later that morning Doctor Mahendra [Doctor Mahendralal Sarkar] came to examine the Master and said, “He has given up the body.”
Holy Mother was unable to restrain herself. When she came to the Master’s room, she cried, “O Mother Kali, what have I done that you have left me?” Seeing the Mother weeping, Baburam (Swami Premananda) and Yogin [Swami Yogananda] went up to her, and Golap-ma took her to her room.
In the meantime, the Calcutta devotees had received the news, and one after another they began to arrive. A photograph (actually two) was taken of the Master with the devotees. By that time it was afternoon.
The Master’s body remained on a cot, beautifully decorated, until it was carried to the cremation ground at Cossipore. Ram Babu told me to stay at the garden house until Akshay Babu returned from the cremation ground. So I stayed there while the others went. Only once did I hear Holy Mother weeping. After that she was silent. Never have I seen a woman with such strength.
That night I went to the cremation ground. I saw many people sitting quietly on the bank of the Ganga. Shashi was near the funeral pyre with a fan in his hand, and Sharat [Swami Saradananda] was with him. Both Sharat and Loren sought to console Shashi. I took him by the hand and tried to lift his spirits a little, but he remained motionless with grief. Then Shashi collected the ashes and bones of the Master and put them in an urn. He placed the urn on his head and carried it to the garden house, where it was kept on the Master’s bed.
(p.96-7, Ramakrishna as we saw Him, Reminiscences of Swami Adbhutananda.)