The Great Escape

What was to be Maharajji’s final day at Kainchi was spent in darshan, kirtan, and prayers. Both Indian and Western devotees were gathered. Maharajji was asking after everyone at the temple and elsewhere. Twice he put one of his Indian devotees into samadhi and brought him out of it by throwing his blanket over the man’s head. At one point he said to those gathered, “He is your guru. He is young and I am old. He will live and I will die!” Everyone laughed. He then had the Westerners sing to Hanuman. There were tears in his eyes. The Indian women did arti before him, and one and all received a tilak upon the forehead.

Then he went to bathe and eat and hinted that he was leaving for four or five days. When he came out of his room he went to the temple and paused before the murti of Hanuman, holding his hands together in pranam silently for two or three minutes. Again he stopped and honored each of the murtis at the temple in turn. While crossing the bridge out of the temple compound he met an old devotee who was a photographer. Maharajji gave him an old photo and told him to copy it and distribute it freely. He instructed that the daily feeding be stopped and the Mothers taken to Nainital. Then he said softly, “Today, I am released from Central Jail forever.” As he approached the car that was to take him to the station, the blanket slipped from his shoulders to the ground. A devotee tried to put it back on, but Maharajji said, “Leave it. One should be attached to nothing.” Others folded it and placed it in the car.

Just at the moment when he sat in the car, an old woman arrived from the nearby village of Bhowali. Maharajji said, “Ma, I’ve been waiting for you.” He touched her on the head and said, “I’m going.” He was gay and full of humor.

The driver of the car was another old and trusted devotee. He reports that during the ride to the railway station, he became aware that Maharajji s feet had become extremely big. “I was afraid,” he said.

Maharajji kept saying to him, “What is destiny? What is going to happen? Tomorrow we don’t even know.” They got to the station early for the train, so they sat in the car for two hours. Maharajji pointed out a beautiful rainbow and said, “Look at that natural beauty. How beautiful is God’s creation, man can never make anything so beautiful.”

Tickets had been purchased to Agra for him and for Ravi, a young devotee. On the train Maharajji did not close his eyes all night and kept waking the devotee and saying, “I’m not tired, talk with me.” Ravi asked him to drink the milk which the Mothers had sent in a thermos but the milk had turned bad. “Throw it out,” Maharajji said, “Throw the thermos out, too.” Ravi didn’t want to, but Maharajji did so himself, saying, “Throw it out, I will not need it anymore.” He spoke of many things and many people through the night. He said, “I’ve come on earth only for the spreading of dharma.”

When they reached Agra, Maharajji jumped from the train while Ravi trailed behind with the baggage. Instead of following the platform, Maharajji jumped from it easily, crossing six sets of tracks and jumping up on the main platform. Ravi caught up with him at the ticket-taker who had stopped Maharajji for his ticket. Then Maharajji bargained with various rickshaw drivers: one wanted three rupees (about thirty cents), which Maharajji argued was too much. Finally a price was fixed and they set out, only Maharajji knowing the way. En route, Maharajji pointed out a house and said, “Their son has gone to America and the family feels very sad. Sons don’t serve their fathers anymore.” When they arrived at the house, he told Ravi to give to the rickshaw driver the milk bucket filled with Ganga water that Maharajji always carried with him. Again he said, Have no attachment for anything.”

Except for one hour when Maharajji went to see a heart specialist (he had complained of pains in his chest), he remained at S’s house from 6:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M. that evening. The specialist said that Maharajji’s heart was fine and that he just needed rest. At 9:00 P.M. he left for the station to meet the train that would take him back up to the foot of the mountains at Kathgodam. He was accompanied by young Ravi and another devotee, D. After some time he told Ravi to go and sit in the next compartment. Ravi went there but was thought to be a thief by the occupants, who yanked the chain and had the train stopped. Ravi was taken up and placed in the police van that was a part of the train. Ravi persuaded the police to ask Maharajji at the next station if Ravi was with him. Maharajji was very loving to Ravi and said, “We’ll get off at Mathura and I’ll make a call to the D.I.G. (Deputy Inspector General) and set things straight.” At Mathura, not far from Agra, they got off the train. Some people bowed to him. He then sat down on the steps of the station after leaning against the outdoor latrine. D went to get a taxi, while R waited with Maharajji.

Maharajji then lay on the steps and began convulsing. His eyes were closed and his body was cold and sweating. D fed him some pills and Maharajji said, “Turn off the lights.” He asked for water and to be taken to nearby Vrindaban. He was carried by stretcher to the taxi and laid across the back seat. During the ride to Vrindaban, Maharajji seemed unconscious for most of the way, though now and then he mumbled things they could not understand. They took him to the emergency room at the hospital. In the hospital the doctor gave him injections and placed an oxygen mask over his face. The hospital staff said that he was in a diabetic coma but that his pulse was fine. Maharajji roused and pulled the oxygen mask off his face and the blood pressure measuring band from his arm, saying, “Bekar (useless).” Maharajji asked for Ganga water. As there was none, they brought him regular water. He then repeated several times, “Jaya Jagadish Hare” (Hail to the Lord of the Universe),” each time in a lower pitch. His face became very peaceful, all signs of pain disappeared. He was dead. No one at the hospital had recognized him. The hospital staff left the room. Ravi and D carried Maharajji out and placed the body in a taxi and took it to the Hanuman temple (It was about 1:15 on the morning of September 11th.)

– Excerpt from Miracle of Love: Stories about Neem Karoli Baba compiled by Ram Dass

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