On 20th November 2022, we received a communication which read-
"Ganga Prem Hospice has lost one of its staunchest and most spirited supporters today. Swami Sarvamangalananda of Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh, breathed her last at Ganga Prem Hospice on the morning of November 19, 2022. Mataji had not kept well for a long time, still she did not miss an opportunity to tell her friends and contacts about the hospice and seek their support. She would make a trip to Ganga Prem Hospice in Raiwala from Rishikesh, whenever she got a chance. Phone calls to the GPH team were a regular feature of her day.
We will miss Swamiji terribly and think of her with fondness and great respect."
I didn't really know her but from Kanchana, who was a good friend of hers, I got to know her in bits and pieces.
Swami Sarvamangalananda of Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh was an air hostess with Swiss Air, when she met her Guru, Swami Chidananda on flight. This meeting became the turning point in her life and as soon as she could take a voluntary retirement from her job, she did so to travel to India to be with her Guru. As long as Swami Chidananda lived in his body, she stayed close to him as his nutritionist, the Swami having a very weak stomach. She even travelled with him whenever he went to places, in India and abroad.
When Swami Chidananda left his body she continued to live in the Divine Life Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh. By now, in fact, after a long and difficult struggle, she had even taken on the Indian citizenship. She dedicated her life to the work of Swami Sivananda in mainly the publication, making herself very useful in the Library.
She had in the meantime developed heart problems, which were being taken care of. With age, the problems became more difficult to manage, and on the morning of 19th, November, 2022 at 8.30 a.m or thereabouts, she finally left her body gracefully and with ease and peace.
Two nights before that, she had fallen twice in her room. The helper and his wife who assisted her, bringing her meals from the community kitchen, slept with her in her room. At 4 p.m., the next day, due to detoriating health conditions, it was decided that she would be shifted to Ganga Prem Hospice run by a kind sannyasin lady of British origin, called Nanima. Next day, Sarvamangalananda woke at 5 a.m. and was quite joyful and happy. However, at around 8.30 a.m., she felt a flutter in her heart and it beat slowly till it stopped. There was no pain or discomfort.
Swami Sarvamangalananda had slowly moved into a space beyond time.
Her body was brought back to the ashram, accompanied by two Swaminis and laid in the accompanying room in the hospital attached to the Sivananda Ashram at Rishikesh. A congregation of Swamis and Matajis in orange clothing, sat in vigil around her body, chanting mantras, her ears were so accustomed to hear. Loads of people came to have the last darshan of the Mataji who had now left her body.
Everyone was waiting for Swami Sarvamangalananda's son to arrive from Gurgaon, near Delhi and as soon as he came, the Swamis moved together to a waiting boat which would take Sarvamangala's mortal remains deep into the Ganga, where her body would finally be immersed in the water to float and sink in a free fall..
As soon as her son completed the aarti on his mother, the sanyasini was taken away in the boat with her son and other Swamis. After rowing along a distance, Swami Sarvamangalananda finally immersed in the water and the wayfarers returned to the Ashram.
We never knew each other, except that we saw each other now and then in the Samadhi Hall. She enquired after me to Kanchana, asking what I, Yulia, as she pronounced my name, was doing and how I was passing my time. The answer was the same - that I liked cutting vegetables in the community kitchen and doing my own work in the room.
Alas! I will never hear her voice nor ever get an answer to a question that intrigues my mind - Why do people from the first world come to India, and stay on to become attached to ashrams and gurus? What is it that makes them leave their privileged life there and follow a life of hardships just to be on their Chosen Path?
On 4th December, 2022, is her Shodashi, which is the 16th day after her passing on. A lamp must be lit in my house to signify that she is now The Light, Knowledge, merged with THAT which never is born nor ever dies.
(Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are totall6 the auther's)
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