On Sunday night, October 14, Jeevan and I walked past Guru's open casket at the appointed hour. Afterwards, as we had done the night before, we mingled outside the tennis court with our many friends. It was then that I sat down with Sahishnu (pictured above, in race director mode) and he told me about Guru's last hours.
I wrote the following account from memory the following evening, October 15, once back in California:
According to Sahishnu, on the night of Wednesday, October 10, 2007, Guru had a meditation at the tennis court. Aside from being Wednesday night -- an historically important night for Center meditations -- it was also the night before the Nobel Peace Prize was to be awarded, an award long cherished by Guru.
At the end of the meditation, Guru asked for volunteers to stay for a few extra hours, after he had left the tennis court, to meditate at the court with the Peace Prize in mind. Eighty-five disciples volunteered and Guru then went home. Sahishnu, and Guru's other masseuse Kamalakanta, followed.
Sometime after midnight, Sahishnu said that something scary happened. While he was massaging Guru, a sudden expression came over Guru's face. Sahishnu said that it lasted perhaps 10 seconds or so, but he said Guru looked very frightened. Sahishnu said that he had never seen Guru appear so scared and so totally out of control like that before. It was over, however, just as quickly as it had started. As Guru came to, he asked that prasad be brought.
All of this occurred upstairs at Guru's house. Apparently, the downstairs living room area, where we'd gather to watch TV at the house back in the day, is now too crowded with various pieces of exercise equipment, so Guru and the disciples congregate upstairs.
In any event, after prasad, everyone left the house except Sahishnu, Kamalakanta, Ranjana, Govinda, and Paree. Once the others had gone, Guru asked Sahishnu and Kamalakanta to start vigorously massaging his chest in a downward motion. Sahishnu demonstrated this for me as he spoke by pushing down from his chest towards his abdomen and waist. From Sahishnu's description, this went on for some time, then Guru asked them to work his neck and the back of his shoulders.
Sahishnu said that he and Kamalakanta were really working hard -- to the point of sweating. Sometimes they were working in unison on Guru's chest or back, while at other times they were working separately, with one doing Guru's chest and the other doing Guru's neck and shoulders. This went on until around 2:30 a.m. on the morning of Thursday, October 11. At that point, Sahishnu (and everyone else, I think) left.
Sahishnu remembered Ranjana stopping her car alongside him as he began walking home. He pet Ranjana's dog, then he and Ranjana waved good night to each other. That, apparently, was the end of Sahishnu's direct knowledge of events.
Sahishnu went on to relate that Ranjana was seen speeding to Guru's house at around 4:30 a.m. (I think that's what Sahishnu said). Then, around 6:30 a.m., Guru suffered the fatal attack. The only other piece of information I picked up -- and this might not have been from Sahishnu -- was that paramedics were called.
Sahishnu's account was heartfelt and sobering; his eyes were moist and red throughout. I've got lots of reasons to be grateful to Sahishnu. The first time I visited New York -- August celebrations 1982 -- he let me crash in his room for a few days. Later, at the Smile, he set an example for me of how to man up under difficult and demanding circumstances, an example I've never forgotten. I am especially grateful, however, that he shared his time with me that Sunday night last October.