8-30 a.m. Jagadish Sastri, a Samskrit scholar and Maharshi’s devotee, arrives from Madras. Sri Bhagavan enters into an earnest conversation with him. I hear him counting on his finger tips “Tanana, tana, tana . . . .” from which I infer they are discussing metre of Samskrit verse. Sri Bhagavan goes on speaking and gesticulating uninterruptedly for about 20 minutes, obviously explaining some passages. Then Sri Sastri mentions Vidyaranya as saying that Chit can be Shiva and Shakti at one and the same time, as well as separately. Sri Bhagavan quotes from Arunachala Purana that in essence both are one and the same Chit, and reads from this book with deep emotion. He goes into ecstasy on Gautama’s praise of Shiva. Though smiles light his face, tears pour out of his eyes, of which none has a suspicion till he wipes them and blows his nose.
It is now 9-55: Sri Maharshi suddenly realises that he is late for his usual small walk by 10 minutes. “Oh, so late!” he remarks and takes to oiling his knees and hip joints to ease their rheumatic stiffness before rising. Pointing to his body he says smilingly, “This machine cannot move without oiling.”
The famous cow Lakshmi, the pet of the Ashram, who has been ailing since some time, today passed away at about noon. Having known of her approaching death, Sri Maharshi went to the Goshala (the cow house) at about 9-45 a.m., sat on the ground, put her head in his lap and stroked it gently, repeating with infinite tenderness “Lakshmima, Ma, Ma, Ma Lakshmi” to comfort her in her last hour.
At 6-30 p.m., Lakshmi’s body was brought in a cart to the north of the dining hall for burial. All the Ashramites gathered and in the midst of them sat Sri Maharshi on a chair. While the Brahmins were giving her the ceremonial bath, as they do to a human body, with dozens of pots of water, Sri Bhagavan softly told her life-story to those standing by his side – how she had been brought to the Ashram in 1924 as a calf six months old and how she lived longer than the usual twenty-year span. He praised her sweet, affectionate nature and her intelligence, adding: “She might have been a sadhaka in the past, which made her deserve to be brought to the Ashram to attain Mukti.”
Bath over, the Brahmins smeared her whole body with turmeric, and marked her forehead with sacramental vermilion (kumkum). They decked her with fresh jasmin garlands and put a new red silk scarf round her neck, then burnt camphor and incense near her. She was then wheeled a few yards away for burial, to witness which Sri Bhagavan had with difficulty to climb a few steps.
I have never seen Sri Maharshi so weak as this evening. After the burial of Lakshmi the people began to disperse, and he too was attempting to descend the three steps near the dispensary with the help of the wall. But he started vacillating and shaking. Although the steps were broad and of moderate height he was not able to negotiate them alone. Two attendants held him at the hips and helped him down them. It was with great trepidation that we watched him through the process, and, when we saw him reach the flat ground safely, we heaved a sigh of relief. He generally does not like anyone to interfere with him, or offer him a helping hand. He hardly accepts the help of his own attendants, and often tells them to mind their own business. We can only look on at his difficulties and feel sad at heart that we can do nothing for him.