I came here (to
Brahmavidya Mandir, Paunar) in 1970, and I spend a lot of time here
in cleaning my surroundings. People ask me why I give so much time
to this work, and I tell them what Saint Jnaneshwar said: ‘He who
stands one moment at the door of the Lord attains four kinds of
freedom.’ The Lord Rama (in the form of the statue of Bharata-Rama)
has come to our courtyard; while cleaning it I feel the joy of His
presence, and at the same time I have got the four kinds of freedom.
The first is freedom from outward activity. After being occupied in
works of service from 1916 to 1966 I entered on the inward path, and
from then on I am in fact free from outward action. It is true that
for three or four years I had to give some attention to the great
work of Bihar-Dan, which involved some outward activity, but by now
(October 1970) that too has come to an end. The second is freedom
from books. From now on I shall do no more book-writing. The third
is freedom from study. What do I read? Nothing ! The fourth is
freedom from teaching. I began teaching in 1911, teaching my school
friends and class-mates. Later on I taught the people in the Ashram.
I have been teaching for about sixty years, but now that also is
As for my continued cleaning work, there was an additional reason: I
looked to it as a way of meditation. If instead of a broom I had
picked up a rosary and started telling my beads, no one would have
said that I was wasting my time ! Picking up rubbish acts for me
like a rosary—with every straw picked up there is a remembrance of
the Name. There is no thinking involved, it is pure contem- plation.
A man who cannot tolerate rubbish around him will not tolerate
rubbish inside him either, and will feel a strong urge to get rid of
it. That is a spiritual urge. Very soon however I shall take leave
even of this work.
In the same way, (in July 1972) I stopped signing copies of
Gita-Pravachan (‘Talks on the Gita’) and other books. I have been
popularizing it for forty years—1932-72—and I have now no wish to go
on doing so. In addition, (in 1976) I took some further steps, which
I announced on the holy Christmas Day, December 25. ‘From today on,’
I said, ‘I will not share in the management of any institution, nor
act as adviser to any, even to those which I myself have founded.
The second thing is that whatever talks I have will be with
individuals at an individual level, and I have already said what
subjects I am ready to discuss—science and spiri- tuality. Science
is going ahead by leaps and bounds, and I no longer try to keep up
with it except as it relates to physical health. As for
spirituality, I do not mean by this any philosophical analysis of
such terms as Brahma (the Supreme), maya (illusion) or jiva
(individual soul); I mean that which can loosen the tangled knots in
the mind and make it pure. Anyone who wishes to exchange thoughts on
these two subjects may come. And just one thing more, these talks
will not be held in private.’
Kshetra-Sannyasa (Renunciation of Travel)
(On November 2, 1969) I came from my travels through my homeland
(India), to my special home in Wardha, and spent seven days in
Sevagram. I decided to plan ahead for seven days only, not more. The
idea was to keep my mind fresh, and at the same time alert. And who
knows, by planning for seven days at a time I might well stay in the
same place for a whole year !
(So from Sevagram I moved on to Gopuri, and then) on June 7 (1970),
I came to Brahmavidya Mandir. On that date, four years earlier, I
had laid all my work of service at Bapu’s feet, obtained my
‘discharge’, and entered upon the path of inwardness. On that day
therefore I decided to go to the Brahmavidya Mandir. ‘I don’t wish
to tie myself down,’ I said to the sisters. ‘Over in Bihar the
Naxalites2 are uttering threats against the Sarvodaya workers, and
Jayaprakashji has therefore given up the few days’ rest which he had
planned to take, and is going from village to village to help them.
It is impossible for me to close my mind to these things.’
But although I kept an open mind, I remained where I was. I was
ready to consider leaving if some happening somewhere in India
should demand it, but otherwise I felt strongly that I should stay,
and concentrate on strength- ening Brahmavidya Mandir. The work of
the Mandir was being carried on by mutual consultation and agreement
among all its members, and so it would continue. Apart from that, I
thought, I would be ready to answer those who came to me
individually with their questions and opened their hearts to me.
A month or two later (on October 6, 1970) I announced that I was
going to become a sthanakavasi, a dweller in one place only. This
sthanakavas is a practice among the Jains. Just as they renounce
possessions, so also they renounce place. I proposed to begin it on
the following day, October 7. One should certainly regard every day
as holy, but October 7 has a special importance for me, for it was
on that date forty years ago that I began to write the Gitai. On
that date therefore I entered my ‘detention camp’. The Jains call it
sthanakavas, the Hindus call it kshetra-sannyasa, the modern word is
‘detention camp’. When a man halts in one place like this, it makes
it easy for everyone to find him. This is not my own decision, it is
an inward call which I regard as a command. I hope that my friends
will come to see me sometimes, for friendship’s sake or even for a
game of chess !
Entering More Deeply into the Inward Life
This idea of kshetra-sannyasa, of confining oneself to one single
place, is certainly an old one. People practised it for the sake of
meditation and the welfare of the soul. My purpose however is not
that; I seek to realize a deeper inward power for the sake of the
welfare of society. This welfare cannot be achieved by outward
activities alone. The more deeply inward the action becomes, the
more is achieved. Now the time has come to practise this deeper
inward action. I entered on this inward path five years ago, but
circumstances then compelled me to use the outward path also; it was
needful to carry forward the work of Bihar-dan to a certain point.
Now that the local people have taken it up, and Jayaprakashji has
staked his life on it, I have settled down here in the middle of
This deeper inwardness means that one contemplates this whole
created universe and sees in it the image of the divine. It means to
stand face to face with humanity and lose oneself in the soul
within. The individual who enters on this path will be reduced to
nothing, to less than nothing; that is the test. It is inwardly
experienced, and bears fruit in the individual life. For society it
means the release of a power which, like the power of the atom, is
inward and hidden, but whose effect is far greater than that of
outward force. This inward energy is just as great as that of the
atom, but it cannot be described in material terms.
The work which our friends have done recently, the collection of a
Gram-Swaraj Fund3 has, I think, been done very well. Years ago a
Swaraj Fund was collected in the name of Lokmanya Tilak when he was
at the peak of his fame. That is not the case with me; my reputation
is now at the lowest ebb ! There must be many people in the country
who feel affection for me, but who regard my gramdan work as bogus.
That is only what I expected. I said in Bihar that bhoodan is a cash
transaction, something definite, so much received, so much given
away. But gramdan work is not like that; as I said, it could have
infinite results, or none whatever; there is no middle way. Today it
looks like a zero. Jayaprakashji and others are trying to turn the
zero into infinity, and I believe they will succeed, because that is
the demand of the age.
But having settled down in one place I find that my mind is inclined
towards silence. My body also has become very weak. People ask what
I am thinking about nowadays, and I answer that I am not thinking at
all, it is as if I had no mind at all. I take a morning walk and see
the planet Venus shining before me, and the people going to and fro,
and the trees. I am conscious of nothing, for much of the time, but
a ‘mindless’ bliss. When I talk with people my intellect comes into
play, but not my surface mind.
I have stopped thinking about the state of the country, and leave it
in the hands of God. Nor do I keep particular individuals in mind;
my thoughts are only of the Lord. But I do read the newspapers, and
so have some idea of what is going on, especially just now (1971)
the happenings in East Bengal.4 Apart from that I just sit here like
a reference book, ready for any who may wish to consult me.
People ask me what I am planning to do next, and I tell them that
today I have been engaged in meditation, but as for tomorrow, who
can say? There was one thing I never accepted from Gandhiji, the
writing of a daily diary. In this I had the blessing of the
ancients; their words, ‘abandon all attachment to the past, all
anxiety for the future,’ had a great influence on me; I neither
remember the past nor trouble about the future. People tell me that
I ought to write my autobiography. (The Hindi word is atma-katha,
‘Story of the Self’.) But if I did, it would be only the story of
the body, for it is not possible to write the story of the Self. In
the preface I should have to say that there is no guarantee that
what is written here is true, because I am ‘Vinoba the Forgetful’. I
have forgotten a great deal and I go on forgetting. I don’t allow
the past to become a burden on me.
I am however engaged in one experiment, and it has two sides; on the
one hand to keep the world in my remembrance, on the other to send
out my blessings by the channels of thought. Remembrance of the
world implies remembrance of oneself. This is the basis of my
experiment in abhidhyana, ‘specific’ meditation. I ask everyone of
our workers to write to me once a month, but I do not answer their
letters in writing. I read them, I reflect on them, I seek to unite
the power of my own thought with whatever is good in them and so to
This intensive reflection, this meditation on specific people and
their endeavours, bears fruit only if two con- ditions are
fulfilled. On my part there should be complete freedom from egoism.
On the part of my correspondent there should be, as it were, a radio
receiving set, an open mind. Then the results will appear.
I am practising this intensive meditation on five specific themes,
following the pattern of fivefold worship which Shankaracharya
began, and which is called Shan-na-ra-ga-de. ‘Shan’ stands for
Shankar, ‘na’ for Narayan, ‘Ra’ for Ravi, the Sun, ‘Ga’ for Ganapati
or Ganesh, ‘De’ for Devi, Goddess. What then is my fivefold Shan-na-ga-de?
My Shankar, who watches over the welfare of all, is Brahmavidya, for
without that knowledge of the Supreme we shall never obtain our true
welfare. Those who regard our movement as merely economic and social
are taking a completely one-sided view and have not understood it at
all. The movement is spiritual, and founded on Brahmavidya.
Spiritual disciplines such as meditation, prayer, self-examination
and striving for inward purity must always be a vital part of it.
Then comes Narayan, the god of human society; Narayan stands for
gram-swarajya, village self-government, and that is my second theme.
The Sun is the Shanti-sena, the Peace Army, my third theme. The
sunbeams shine upon all, so let our Shanti-sena shed its light upon
the whole of India. The fourth, Ganapati, is the god of Knowledge,
so the Acharya-kul is a theme of my meditation. And the fifth, the
Devi, is the Devanagari script. I am very deeply interested in what
my fellow-workers have done and are doing about these five matters,
and what their difficulties are.
With the Sarva Seva Sangh and my
When these friends come to see me, I have begun to urge them to
choose one district in every State where Gandhiji’s constructive
programme may be fully demon- strated. The idea goes back to 1916,
when I was with Gandhiji in the Kochrab Ashram. He used to go for a
walk every day and I would go with him. One day as we were walking
he said to me: ‘Look, Vinoba, there are 700,000 villages in India
(at that time India had not been divided). We ought to have a worker
in every one of them. He would depend on the people for his
livelihood, and would guide them and work with them to build up the
strength of the village. For 700,000 villages we need 700,000
workers.’ That was Gandhiji’s dream. So I say to my fellow-workers:
‘If you stop thinking about politics, and take up the constructive
programme with determination and faith, so that you are completely
absorbed in it, it will benefit both yourselves and the whole world
In India today there is much discontent, and many problems of
various kinds. But whatever the circumstances, and whatever the
reasons, there should be no resort to violence. Not only that, there
should be no aggressive non-violent movement either, so long as
complete under- standing is lacking between Pakistan, India and
Bangladesh. Otherwise the country will be in danger. There should be
nothing but peaceful constructive work, by means of which a great
deal can be done to relieve poverty and other sources of discontent.
I keep on saying another thing also. Shankaradeva, the great saint
of Assam, had a saying: ‘Politics is the science of demons’. Let us
therefore forget politics and think about the world as a whole.
These days I think much about the world, and I have by me a map
showing the nations of the world with details of their population,
forms of government and so on. Let us then study world politics and
at the same time keep ourselves aloof, like onlookers. Otherwise we
too shall be divided, like the politicians.
(In July 1974) I spent a week for the discussions of the Sarva Seva
Sangh. Usually nothing affects my sleep, but on one of those days I
felt a bit anxious lest the Sarva Seva Sangh should break up, and so
I slept less than usual. My own aim and endeavour is always to bring
people together in a union of hearts. Now it seemed to me that
hearts were being divided, and that was not right. Differences of
opinion there may be, but hearts must remain one. I therefore set to
work as skilfully as I could to bring them together.
I set before them three principles—Truth, Non-violence,
Self-restraint. Let us keep within these limits, I said. No matter
what we do, we are always talking about Truth and non-violence, and
to these two I added a third: Self-restraint, which is a very
important thing. It means restraint of speech. One should refrain
from talking ill of others; rather one should emphasize their good
qualities. Everyone possesses some good quality, some element of
truth. Let us look for that and so build unity, not break it down.
The whole Sangh, with its four or five hundred workers, was in
danger of breaking up. I gave them my proposals in writing: that
they should accept any resolution which was passed unanimously, and
work with united hearts within the limits set by Truth, Non-violence
and Self-restraint. Within those limits, let all work in accordance
with their own special interests.
There is another matter which I have been talking about
repeatedly—that there are three kinds of power in the world,
spiritual insight, science and faith. Faith, or trust, is a very
great power. Let us all trust one another. For my part, I trust
everyone. I trust Jayaprakashji and Indiraji, and Hemavatinandan
Bahuguna and S.M. Joshi and Vasantrao Naik.5 That seems strange,
doesn’t it? Joshi and Naik belong to opposite political parties, yet
I trust them both. I trust Zulfikar Ali Bhutto6 also. You may call
it a merit or a defect in me, but there it is. We must increase the
power of trust in everyone. We should trust those who are opposed to
us, trust them as much as they distrust us.
The Gift of Fasting
These days (December 1973) I have started fasting for a half day on
the 11th of the month and for a half day on the 25th. These dates
have meaning for me; the 11th is my birthday, the 25th the day on
which I left home. Both days are good for reflection, and the two
together make up a full day’s fast with no bad effect on health.
My food costs about three rupees a day, so in this way I save three
rupees a month, thirty-six rupees a year. I thought I would give
this amount to the work of the Sarva Seva Sangh.7 It seemed to me
that it would be a very big thing if every one of the workers,
sympathizers and supporters of Sarvodaya ideas would fast once a
month and give the amount saved each year to the Sarva Seva Sangh.
Up to now we have been accepting all kinds of gifts for our work,
and in that way we have worshipped the Sarva Brahma, the Supreme in
all. Now let us worship the Vimala Brahma, the pure Supreme, with a
pure offering. Fasting purifies; a gift derived from fasting is a
One Year of Silence
(In December 1974) my mind was full of the idea of keeping silence
for a time. The 25th was approaching. It was the holy eleventh day
of the half-month of Magh in the Hindu calendar, the ‘birthday’ of
the Gita, and also Christmas; I decided that beginning on that
auspicious day I would keep silence for one year.
But should I not then complete the work which I had already planned?
A spiritual decision does in fact entail breaking such commitments,
it cannot wait until some work or other has been finished. To accept
sannyasa means that such ties have to be broken, otherwise nothing
is gained. So from December 25 I kept silence for a year.
Before entering the silence I told people that in one sense I had
been observing silence even while speaking, and that now I should go
on speaking even in my silence ! Silence is an active power. The Sun
shines outside the door, but if the door is closed, the sunlight
does not push its way in. This silence is not like that, it pushes,
it presses forward.
This silence means not only no speaking, but also no writing. I
shall write nothing but Rama-Hari, the Name of God. Even after I
took kshetra-sannyasa I was involved in a few outward matters and in
discussions about them, for these too seemed to me to be in the
natural course of things. Then I began to think that though there
was nothing wrong with these natural activities, the power of
intensive inward meditation could only be released by entering more
deeply into the inward life. So I decided that I should stop
speaking and writing.
God had already stopped my ears. I was sent two or three hearing
aids, and I put them on and tried them, and found I could hear well.
I used the hearing aid for ten or twelve days, but then I gave it
up. Why should I use an aid to get back what God in his grace has
taken from me? By God’s grace I have already become one of those
three (Chinese) monkeys,8 the one who is stopping his ears. Now I am
going to become the second monkey who keeps his mouth shut. But I am
not going to be the third monkey and keep my eyes closed, instead of
that I shall stop using my hand, that is to say I shall do no more
writing. I shall keep the use of my eyes, in order to read the
letters of all those friends and fellow-workers who write to me
regularly, and of those who write occasionally as they feel the
need. I want to go on reading these letters and to give myself to
intensive meditation about each one separately. The inward thoughts
which the letters reveal can be influenced, the knotty problems
loosened, by the power of this intense meditation. When I stop
speaking, even those who do not have ‘receiving sets’ will be
reached by this power. The silence will be aggressive; it will push
its way into the heart of the one who wrote.
Some will ask, why one year only of silence? Why not more? The
answer is that in such difficult spiritual matters one must be
guided by experience. This is a small first step, a year only. I
have not thought any further ahead. Experience will decide.
(Vinoba then remained silent until December 25, 1975)
Anushasana or Guidance (From Vinoba’s first talk after breaking
I would like to explain briefly what I mean by anushasana parva. The
phrase is used in the Mahabharata, but it occurs earlier, in the
Taittiriya Upanishad. In those ancient times it was the custom for a
student to live with his teacher for twelve years, pursuing his
studies. When the studies had been completed, and the student was
about to return home, the teacher used to give him his final advice.
In the Upanishad this is called anushasana, and it is something to
be followed throughout one’s life. From the teacher comes anushasana,
from those in power comes shasana, the authority of government. If
the world were to be guided by shasana it would never be at peace;
problems would be unravelled only to become tangled again.
This is the kind of show which is going on today throughout the
world. From A to Z, from Afghanistan to Zambia, there are more than
three hundred governments, and they all have their alliances. Among
those subject to their authority there is discontent everywhere,
killing everywhere. If only the world would listen instead to the
advice of its teachers, its acharyas, it would be at peace. An
acharya, in the words of Guru Nanak, is one without fear or hatred;
I would add to that, without political allegiance. Such teachers
never become agitated or angered; they are able to think calmly and
come to a conclusion on which they are all agreed. They may then put
their proposals before the public; those who follow their guidance
will be benefited and the world will be at peace. This is what
anushasana means, the dispassionate advice of the true teacher, the
acharya. A government which acted against the advice of such
fearless, impartial acharyas could rightly be challenged by
satyagraha. I feel sure however that the Government of India would
never act against the advice of its true teachers.
A Fast against the Slaughter of the Cow
One piece of work was initiated by me during the following year
(1976). On April 25 a conference of the Maharashtra Acharyakul was
held at Paunar. In my speech I laid great stress on the protection
of the cow, and said that the acharyas should take the
responsibility. A pamphlet was also published on the subject.
On May 17 Shri Shankararao Chavan, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra,
himself came to Paunar to meet me. During our talk I emphasized the
need for a ban on cow-slaughter for the sake of the development of
the country. I told him that unless this was done soon I would have
to undertake a fast unto death.
On May 29 I was talking with some workers about this, and I told
them in plain words that if by September 11, there were no
announcement of an all-India ban on cow-slaughter I would begin my
fast on that day, which is my birthday. The date was still three and
a half months away, so it gave the people concerned enough time to
come to a decision.
This year (1976) is the centenary of my mother’s birth, and I do not
remember a single day when I have not recalled her. When I was a
child she taught me that before taking my own meal I should first
water the tulsi plant and then feed the cow, and she would not let
me sit down to eat until these two duties had been done. Now she is
saying to me: ‘Vinya, you must do something for the cow; if the cow
can be saved it will be a great benefit to India.’ In India today
thousands of cows are being slaughtered, and their flesh exported to
foreign countries in order to earn dollars. In three months’ time I
shall complete my eighty-first year, and one cannot say how much
longer I have to live. So I thought I might sacrifice these
remaining days for the sake of the cow. If I died and the cow were
saved, that would be good. Even if the cow were not saved I should
still die happily, remembering God. I would have done my duty, but
the saving of the cow depends on the grace of God.
In June the news of my intended fast was printed in Maitri. The
police came and confiscated the whole issue and took all the copies
away. What did I do? As they were carrying them off I stood up,
clapped my hands and shouted Jai Jagat. Blessed were those who
couldn’t muster up courage to print the news ! Two or three
newspapers were bold enough to publish it, but the others were
afraid, for if the papers were closed down where would they get
their bread? It does not occur to us that in the times of Gautama
Buddha, Mahavir, Jesus Christ and Shankara- charya there were no
newspapers, yet their teachings spread abroad as no others have
Since the first of April I had cut down my daily intake of food to
half the normal. I have several times related how my mother used to
tell me that fate had fixed not the length of my life but the amount
of food allotted to me. ‘If you eat a little at a time, you will
live longer.’ The other reason for reducing my intake is that I am
getting ready for the fast. It is much easier to go to a full fast
from half-rations than from a full intake. From a full diet to a
full fast would be a real ‘high jump’ !
I had declared that on August 11 there should be fasting and prayer
throughout the country for the protection of the cow. After that,
during the following month, there should be no more public
propaganda. This is a kind of non-violent satyagraha. Once during a
discussion of non-violence, someone said that we should resort to
‘non-violent resistance’. ‘Not resistance,’ I said. ‘Let it be
non-violent assistance in right thinking.’ If all propaganda is
stopped for a month it will have a very good effect. The
government’s mind will be set at rest, and it will be able to
consider the matter calmly.
(By the 8th of September) the question of ending cow-slaughter in
India was very largely solved. On the 11th September I therefore
began to take my full normal diet.
Although cow-slaughter was now banned in most places, there was a
good deal still going on in West Bengal and in Kerala, and my heart
was troubled. I therefore decided (in December 1978) that from
January 1, 1979 I would begin a partial fast. I knew however that
such a partial fast would probably not help the cow much, so I also
considered a complete fast. Only God can ‘save’ the cow, so I do not
talk of saving her but only of serving her. I will serve her as far
as I can and if need be at the cost of my own life. Afterwards I
announced that I would begin a complete fast from the 22nd April.
When the fast began I did not say, as I usually do at the end of my
talks, ‘This is the end. Jai Jagat’. I said instead, ‘This is the
beginning. Jai Jagat.’ (On April 26) however I received an assurance
from the Prime Minister and the Congress leaders that they will make
every effort to see that cow-slaughter is banned throughout India. I
have said a number of times that trust is as necessary for the life
of society as breath for the life of the body. Trust is the
life-breath of society. So I trusted those who had given me their
promise, and my fast fulfilled its purpose in five days. Here is the
temple of Bharata-Rama, a name which (in Nagari script) has five
letters, Bha-ra-ta-ra-ma. Five letters for the name, five days for
the fast !
(On December 24, 1982) I announced that as bullocks are being
slaughtered in the abattoir at Deonar (Mumbai) there should be
satyagraha in Bombay for a total all-India ban on the slaughter of
cows and bullocks of any age.9
Thoughts about Death
When I had reached my seventieth year in this body I noticed that my
mind was no longer easily disturbed but remained effortlessly calm.
If someone asked me a question I would give an answer, but that was
all. It seemed to me that if I were to go on talking all the time,
others would stop thinking for themselves. Rather than that, I had
better ‘die’ while still alive. Vallabhaswami had died in December
1964, and one by one others were passing away and were no longer
there to give advice. One day when I was talking with Jayaprakashji
I said that the ‘typhoon’ which was then going on was my last
battle. ‘One fight more, the best and the last,’ I quoted. ‘Oh no,’
he replied. ‘It’s not the last. We need you to fight a lot more
battles. We are not ready to let you off so soon.’ ‘As if that lies
in your hands !’ I said. That is why I feel in my own mind that I
should ‘die’ before my death. So should everyone. One should see
one’s own death with one’s own eyes, as I myself long to do. So I
thought, let me ‘die’ before my death, and see what happens to
bhoodan. If anyone asks my advice I can give it; apart from that,
let me be just an onlooker. So I told my friends that so long as I
was there I would be a ‘dictionary’. A dictionary is there to be
used by those who want it; if they don’t it just lies on the shelf.
It has no urge to get up and wander about explaining the meanings of
words. I would behave in the same way.
My companions ask me why I eat so little, and why I talk so often
about fasting. The thing is, as I said in ‘Talks on the Gita’ ,
that it is a good thing to keep death in mind. When I left home I
had the idea of going to some solitary place to practise meditation
and so on. Instead of which I went to Gandhiji, stayed with him, and
worked under his orders. Now (1978) my only purpose is to wait for
death. I feel I have done all that I had to do. Now I am free from
all outward action, and the only thing that remains is to answer the
questions of people like you, to give them ideas and explain things.
Being now freed from outward activity I am reflecting on death. So
this could lead to deathlessness. My attitude is expressed in a
verse in Manusmriti: ‘Desire neither death nor life; wait for the
time just as the servant waits for the master’s orders.’ I have no
desire of my own, either for death or for life, but like the servant
I wait for my master’s command. I practise dying every day when I
lie down to sleep. I say, do today, do at once, what you have to do
when you die. Saint Tukaram says: ‘My death has died and made me
immortal. I saw my death with my own eyes, and it was an
incomparable festival.’ So every night I carry out the rehearsal of
death. I say to God: ‘If you take me away tonight I shall not be
leaving any special work undone; I shall come to you filled with
love. If tomorrow you give me birth once more, then whatever service
I can do I will do, especially by the spoken word.’ I die daily, and
forget all that is past. If Gandhiji had remembered all the various
events of his own life, he would not have said He Rama as he did, in
his last moments.
When death comes, it will come not to me but to my body. My real
self will be immortal, because I have given up the illusions which
caused me to don the garment of the body. When I hear that someone
has died, I regard it as good news. What else can it be, the news
that someone has gone home? For in truth it is that world which is
our home; in this world we are strangers. Our turn is about to come;
only a few days remain. Let us pass them laughing and singing—like
the wise devotees, as the Gita says.
Meanwhile, being still in this body, I am enjoying watching the
‘play’ of my own death, and trying to imagine what will happen after
that. Who am I? Millions of people, and all die, not even the great
escape from death. Only God and the universe remain. We come and we
go, like the waves of the sea, some smaller, some bigger, some
rising high and others not, but all of them merely waves.
It is September 11, 1981; I have completed eighty-six years of life.
Let us reflect that this body is a thing of time, and in the end it
will go; why should one have any interest in sticking to it? You are
keeping a peaceful quiet today because it is my birthday. Let there
be quietness and peace also on my deathday. I have nothing more to
do now. I have written these words in my note book, ‘My duty is
So now, as I wait for my life to reach its destined end, I try to
follow the advice of the poet who says: ‘With every breath take the
name of Rama; let no breath go waste.’ I try to do that, to remember
Rama-Hari at all times. All day long, whatever I am doing, eating or
walking, it goes on, and when I lie down at night it goes on all the
time. I fall asleep in the lap of God; if He should blot out my
consciousness I shall die every happily with the name of Rama-Hari
on my lips, I have no doubt about that. These things are constantly
in my thoughts.
Ramadas said that the mantra ‘Shri Rama’ is open to all. I too tell
everyone that one should say ‘Rama’ as one breathes in the outside
air and ‘Hari’ as one breathes it out. Along with the fresh outside
air we take in Rama, and our inward being is filled with Him. Then,
as we breathe out the air within us we perform also the haran, the
removal of our sins, taking the name of Hari the Remover. In this
way I have told everyone that we should repeat ‘Rama-Hari’ as often
as we can. This rhythm of breathing, in and out, continues as long
as life remains. There is no need to pronounce the words; the
consciousness is all that matters.
‘One dies, another mourns,’ says Saint Ramadas, ‘and then in a
moment the mourner too passes away.’ Death comes to all, and the
only problem is to remember the name of God when the time comes. To
be able to do that one must practise it throughout life.
I have one very important thing to say: Forget me, but remember the