Who is Dead?

by Swami Hariharananda Bharati

On November 15, 1996, a man ran up to me in the Tarkeshwar forest where I lived and handed me a note. For more than a decade I had been assigned to be custodian of these special acres that my Gurudev and his Master enjoyed in previous days.

The note read that Swami Rama had died on November 13th. I could not believe these words. Nevertheless, I rushed to the cab stand and had the driver take me to the bus stand in town. I boarded a bus to Kotdwar and another one from there to the city of Haridwar.

Arriving around nine o’clock at night, I was at a loss to know where to find the cremation grounds. Suddenly, a well-dressed gentleman, a stranger to me, approached and said, “Are you going to the cremation grounds? Because the ceremony is finished and everyone has departed.”

I stood there shocked and speechless. I had missed my Gurudev’s departure. What happened? I felt paralyzed, and blurted out, “Oh, Guru!”

Then I became still and directed my attention inside. There he was. “Oh fool!” He said. “Once a year I come up to Tarkeshwar and meet with you then live the rest of the year somewhere else. I give you my guarantee that whenever you close your eyes, you will always find me inside. I am dead for those who believe that I’m dead; I’m alive all the time for you.”

I laughed and went on my way.

Today, we are building a Polytechnic College in the hills of the Himalayas, an impossible task assigned to me by Gurudev. For a penniless monk this Herculean multi- million-dollar enterprise is absolutely beyond my abilities except for his promise. Does not this accomplishment prove that Gurudev lives?

Swami Hariharananda with Swami Rama in Tarkeshwar, India Himalayas

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