Sri Lakshmana Bhagavan Mahanirvanam
On the sacred day of Magha Pournami, February 27, 2021, at 5:50 am, in Arunachala Hrudayam, Tiruvannamalai, Sri Lakshmana Bhagavan peacefully left his body and attained Mahanirvanam. According to his wish, under the direction of his appointed successor Mathru Sri Sarada, Bhagavan's body was laid to rest in a samadhi inside Arunachala Hrudayam compound. The final ceremonies were conducted with reverence and gratitude under close supervision of Mathru Sri Sarada. Due to coronavirus restrictions, only close devotees who were doing seva recently for Bhagavan were present. Admission to the compound premises continues to be restricted for the same reason.
Sri Lakshmana Bhagavan was born on Dec 25, 1925, which was coincidentally both Christmas day and Vaikuntha Ekadashi. Just like his first birthday, this rare concurrence of Christmas day and Vaikuntha Ekadashi happened again on Bhagavan's last birthday Dec 25, 2020. This birthday was simply and happily celebrated in the presence of Arunachala with Amma and a few devotees.
During Bhagavan's school days, he was once sleeping alone on the roof of his house. In the middle of the night, a large hand weighed down on Bhagavan's chest with tremendous pressure, preventing him from breathing. Immediately and spontaneously, the Rama nama "Rama Rama Rama Rama..." burst out from within him with a great roaring sound. When Bhagavan opened his eyes the next moment, the large hand had vanished, but Rama nama remained in Bhagavan's heart. After this incident, Bhagavan started doing Rama nama japa and lost interest in worldly things. Dispassion started growing in him.
One day, when Bhagavan was sitting alone in a dry water tank bed and meditating, he had an experience of the Self.
In Bhagavan's words:
"the mind suddenly became concentrated and still. There was a flash of light within me. It persisted and I became aware of an inner divine light, shining in all its magnificence. The light encircled and engulfed me and within a few seconds, I lost all consciousness of the body. There was total inner stillness. Paramatman, the Supreme Self, shone within me in its fullest glory and splendor. The effulgence of Atman within me impressed on me the fact that Atman is God Himself in this temple of the physical body."
Even though the experience was brief and temporary, it gave Bhagavan a glimpse and foretaste of the goal. After this experience, Bhagavan's life changed. He became detached towards everything.
Afterwards, when Bhagavan was studying in V. R. College in Nellore, on the final day of his college year, his English Professor Gurram V. Subbaramayya mentioned the name "Sri Ramana Maharshi" while speaking about some spiritual topic. As soon as Bhagavan heard this name, he felt an intense longing to see Sri Ramana Maharshi. When Bhagavan was returning home the same day, at the Gudur train station bookstall, Bhagavan saw a small booklet titled "Sri Ramana Maharshi". Bhagavan eagerly purchased it and opening the first page, saw a great upadesa from Sri Ramana Maharshi:
"Hrudaya kuhara madhye kevalam brahma maathram...."
This one upadesa made a deep and immediate impression on Bhagavan, and Bhagavan intensely felt "Sri Ramana Maharshi is my Guru. I need to reach my Guru."
Bhagavan first got darshan of Sri Ramana Maharshi in March 1949, during the Kumbhabhishekam celebrations of Mathrubhuteshwara temple in Sri Ramanasramam. As Sri Lakshmana Bhagavan first entered Sri Ramanasramam through the back gate from the mountain side, Sri Ramana Maharshi was walking towards the goshala. Sri Ramana Maharshi noticed Sri Lakshmana Bhagavan and blessed him with a gracious smile. From the day Bhagavan got Darshan of Sri Ramana Maharshi, Rama nama japa became Ramana nama japa in Bhagavan's heart.
Because the crowds were excessive at that time, after a short stay in Tiruvannamalai, Bhagavan returned to a village named Govindapalli near his home town. In Govindapalli, Bhagavan lived alone in a hut near the sea and spent most of his time in Guru nama japa. Guru nama japa made his mind quiet and free of unwanted thoughts. Whenever his mind became completely quiet, the question "Who am I?" spontaneously appeared within him, and his mind automatically sank into its source, the Heart, and experienced the bliss of the Self.
Bhagavan's second visit to Sri Ramana Maharshi was during the Navaratri festival of 1949. On Vijayadasami day, sitting in the presence of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, he attained Self Realization.
Bhagavan has written about this great experience:
"In 1949, I sat down in the presence of Sri Ramana Maharshi, and followed the quest 'Who am I?' Sri Ramana Maharshi killed my 'I' and shines within my heart as infinite wisdom, truth and bliss, without beginning and without an end."
For the next 13 years after Self realization, Bhagavan was in a state of deep Self-absorption, and lived a reclusive ascetic life. He did not speak during this time and ate very little. For several years, he was mobbed by large crowds of people on Maha Sivaratri day and his birthday, which were the only two days he gave darshan each year. The roads around his hut used to be jammed with traffic and tens of thousands from all over South India would converge to his hut on darshan days. It is said that on darshan days, people were packed so tightly around his hut that if anyone threw a handful of sand over their heads, not a single grain would reach the ground.
Bhagavan liked quiet solitude and did not like crowds of people disturbing peace. For this reason, Bhagavan liked to remain unknown and rarely gave darshans to the general public. In later years, when living in Lakshmanasramam, Gudur, Bhagavan was more accessible and used to give darshan more frequently. Bhagavan would give spiritual guidance during these darshans. After coming to Tiruvannamalai, Bhagavan gave public darshans only on a few special days in each calendar year. In addition, Bhagavan used to give darshan to jignasa devotees. Since his last public darshan in December 2006, Bhagavan gave darshan mainly to close devotees and on rare occasions, to jignasa devotees.
Bhagavan lived a quiet, reclusive, peaceful life, and disliked publicity and crowds. When anybody asked for darshan, Bhagavan used to often say:
"జ్ఞాని శరీరంలో నివసించి ఉంటేనే చాలు. సర్వలోకాలకి మేలు జరుగుతుంది. జ్ఞాని యొక్క శక్తి అంతటా ఉంటుంది. ఇందులో సందేహం లేదు"
(Jnani living in body is itself enough. All the worlds benefit from this. The energy of the Jnani is everywhere. This is absolutely true.)
Bhagavan wished that Arunachala Hrudayam remains quiet and peaceful after he leaves the body. Mathru Sri Sarada wants to fulfill his wish by continuing Arunachala Hrudayam in the same way as before. The other spiritual center Sri Lakshmanasramam, Gudur will also be maintained under the direction of his appointed successor Mathru Sri Sarada, so that Sri Lakshmana Bhagavan's memories, items, places of historical interest are preserved and cherished by sincere devotees.