Use of the Term, “Mahasamadhi”

Q: You describe how Adi Da passed away due to natural causes, but you refer to it as His “Mahasamadhi”. I thought the term, “Mahasamadhi”, was reserved for when Spiritual Realizers, in a moment of their own choosing, intentionally leave the body. But what you describe could just as well fit Joe Smith down the street, dying of a heart attack, no?

A: Good question! The answer requires an understanding of the radical difference between the “spiritual history” of traditional Masters who “took Mahasamadhi”, and Adi Da’s “spiritual history” as Incarnation of the Divine Person. And clearly it also requires understanding the radical difference between Joe Smith down the street, and a Master like Adi Da, Whose lifetime has been a continous outpouring of Spiritual Wisdom, Revelation, human transformation, and miraculous occurences — all a demonstration of Who He is, and a fraction of which is presented on this site.

Understanding the Master’s Realization and Relation to the Physical Body

Beloved Adi Da once described how the great Realizer, Rang Avadhoot, was said to have “taken Mahasamadhi” one day by tapping on His head three times, and then leaving the body. In contrast, Adi Da described how Ramana Maharshi’s bodily life ended: His body ravaged by cancer, and moaning in pain right up to the end. Then Adi Da asked the devotees gathered with Him: which was the “superior” death?

Of course, many devotees immediately replied: “Rang Avadhoot’s”. At least on the surface, it looked like Rang Avadhoot was demonstrating some kind of “spiritual ability” that Ramana Maharshi lacked, making Maharshi’s death look (on the surface) rather ordinary and homely — like the death of Joe Smith down the street.

But then Adi Da pointed out that, in fact, the reverse was true: Rang Avadhoot needed to leave the body to enter His “Mahasamadhi” state (presumably “Nirvakalpa Samadhi”). The greater Realization of Ramana Maharshi enabled him to be at rest in His Realization even while the body was in pain, and expressing its pain openly. In this sense, Maharshi’s was the “superior” death, insofar as it reflected a greater Realization.*

So the first point is: one really needs to know the spiritual context — the nature of the Realization of the Master, and what that implies about the Master’s relation to the physical body — in order to accurately understand or interpret the circumstances of the passing of the Master’s body.

Realizers On The Great Path of Return vs. Divine Incarnations

The Sanskrit term, Mahasamadhi, literally means Great State: “Maha” means “Great“; “samadhi” means “absorptive state” or “Realization“. Traditionally, “Mahasamadhi” refers to the passing of a Spiritual Realizer who has had many lifetimes of rebirth, a final lifetime as a great Spiritual Master, and who then “takes Mahasamadhi” as a once-and-forever, final event — associated with the end of rebirth and the dissolution of karma. Many of the Hindu traditions (from which the term, Mahasamadhi, originates) understand Nirvakalpa Samadhi to be that final “Great State”. In the Buddhist tradition, the analogous final state is Nirvana (literally: the state in which the fire is extinguished). Thus in the Buddhist tradition, Gautama Buddha lived many lives before His last, final, and greatest one, as “Buddha”; and His “Mahasamadhi” is understood by Buddhists to correspond to His permanent entry into the nirvanic state.

But Adi Da’s own description of His “spiritual history” is strikingly different: it is a story of Divine Incarnation, rather than the culmination of many lifetimes of spiritual evolution. It is a story of the Divine “descending” or “crossing over” (the literal meaning of “Avatar”) to here, in Person.


While Adi Da does refer to a very long process required to prepare the unique conjunction of circumstances that enabled His Appearance here, the “spiritual history” of His Incarnation itself is very brief: An extremely rare opening occurred in 1939; the Divine Person spontaneously “seized” that opportunity to incarnate; and that Divine Incarnation lasted a single lifetime (through 2008), during which the Divine Person completely conformed the body-mind of Franklin Jones to Itself, enabling it to be the “contact point” through which all future generations here can have direct access to the Divine Person.

These two different kinds of “spiritual histories” correspond to strikingly different life purposes. In the first type of spiritual history, the human lifetime of the Master is the very last phase of a many-lifetime purpose of getting off the wheel of birth and death (to use the Buddhist terminology), or of finally dissolving all karma (to use the Hindu terminology). Compassion for others is a secondary motive, in addition to the primary motive to be perfectly liberated, which has driven the entire spiritual history. The second form of spiritual history — the history of a Divine Incarnation — starts out with the karmaless Divine Person, always already not bound by the wheel of birth and death. Compassion for beings is the sole motive for the (otherwise unnecessary) Incarnation of the Divine Person. As Adi Da put it: “Love is how I got to here.

Many “Reincarnations” Within a Single Divinely Human Lifetime

The story of Adi Da’s life and death, then, reflects that great Purpose. He was born already free and already karmaless. The first thirty years of His life demonstrate a Divine Descent (see Figure 1 above) rather than the traditional many-lifetime effort of trying to “ascend” to God. After Adi Da’s “Re-Awakening” in 1970 (in which the Divine Person had conformed the body-mind to Himself, to the degree of Enlightenment), the remaining thirty-eight years of His human lifetime would be characterized by an unfolding, seventh-stage process in which the Divine Person repeatedly “separated” from the physical body for a short time — a mini-death or mini-Mahasamadhi, if you will — and then would reintegrate with the physical body in a different way. One might almost say (in contrast with traditional Realizers reincarnating over the course of many human lifetimes), that — in the human lifetime of Adi Da, the Divine Person was “reincarnating” repeatedly, in part with the Intent of making the “God-Man” vehicle — the juxtaposition of Adi Da’s body with the Divine Person — an ever more effective one for the Revelation and Emergence of the Divine in conditional existence; and in part, due to the unfolding seventh-stage process and its stages of Divine Transfiguration, Divine Transformation, Divine Indifference, and Divine Translation.

Those “deaths” and “re-integrations” with the physical body represent the key milestones in the human lifetime of the Divine Person, and each marked and initiated a new phase of His Work, based on exploring the implications of the new “re-integration”. Adi Da’s “death” on November 27, 2008 was simply the final death. What all these “death events” had in common was that the Divine Itself was “working” an unfolding process in the way it was integrating with the human body-mind, and also was working to accomplish a specific purpose here — the creation of an immense Spiritual Mandala of Transmission — that would take the place of the human body-mind when it finally passed.

Whether the Divine accomplished that Great Purpose is something that will be seen over time, and which we will consider separately. But here we simply note that the overarching intent of the Divine was to persist in animating the human body long enough to accomplish this purpose. So the notion of an “intentional leavetaking” of the body — the traditional notion of Mahasamadhi — represents the very opposite impulse. The Divine was all about staying as long as possible, in the human form of Adi Da, with a purpose of creating, once and for all, the final means for liberating all beings, rather than a purpose of individual liberation (which resonates with the notion of “Mahasamadhi as intentional leavetaking”).

Set against this, however, was the Spiritual reality that, though the human body was being prepared for, and was conducting, an immense Divine Force — sufficient for the Divine Enlightenment of all beings — only a relative few (out of all beings) were actively drawing on that Force. The Spiritual consequence of that fact was that the unused Divine Force would back up in Adi Da’s human body, repeatedly bringing the body to the point of death. As He described it in June, 2007:

I must be able to do My Transmission Work or it will kill Me. I have said it over and over again, and you have seen the results of slamming it back on Me. . . . And now, not later, such that I can get this force off My Heart which is going to kill Me, race up into the brain, and I’m going to die from heart attack, stroke, or a combination. That’s in the works, in this Body, right now. And it’s not just some human disease kind of problem. It’s a Spiritual problem, a Spiritual sign. . . . It is . . . a Spiritual phenomenon, just as all the previous yogic death events that you all observed.

This backing up of the Divine Force in Adi Da’s body from lack of sufficient use was the primary and ongoing counterpoint to the Divine Purpose of remaining incarnate and, while incarnate, having as many beings as possible make use of, draw upon, and become established in, that Divine Transmission. So when, on November 27, 2008, Adi Da went through His final death — whose immediate physical manifestation (at the level of conventional medical observations) was a natural cause — a heart attack — we can consider three possibilities:

  • Avatar Adi Da’s body simply wore out at its natural time, and He was no longer able to re-animate it — His mother was 80 when she died in 1995; his father was 76, passing away in 1984. That might suggest Beloved Adi Da’s passing at 69 was a little before the body’s time, but not unreasonably so, so this is still a possibility.

  • His body wore out before His time, because of the extraordinary extremes it had endured carrying out the Divine Guru function — another possibility. This included: the ongoing ravagings of His own body by the backing up of Divine Force repeatedly; the endless karmas of others, and the world altogether, taken on bodily and purified; the “wear and tear” of extraordinary Teaching demonstrations; the shock of the many deaths and re-integrations with the body (the shock of the Ruchiradam event alone, in April, 2000, left Him in a wheelchair for weeks and much more time before He recovered the full use of the body); and probably much more that we may never be aware of.

  • The natural cause of death had a deeper, Spiritual cause — as described above.

Based on Adi Da’s own descriptions, it seems likely that the deeper reason for His final passing was indeed this backing up of Divine Force, in the manner He described above — something He had “staved off” repeatedly, something that at some point He would have no means to prevent, and something that would finally go to completion. This alternative seems particularly likely because as He said in the above passage (and on many other occasions): “It’s not just some human disease. It’s a Spiritual phenomenon.” He has been communicating to devotees for years that He is a karmaless being, Who was living in human form on borrowed time and could pass in any moment for that reason. His was not merely an ordinary human body with its own genetic and other factors determining its “expiration date”, but rather, a Spiritualized body, uniquely yogically configured for the Enlightenment of all beings, whose longevity would depend primarily upon the active devotion of His devotees (i.e., actively drawing upon His Transmission, rather than letting it back up in His body).

Even so, because of Adi Da’s always completely surrendered disposition, as the official announcement describes, “His Passing was entirely peaceful and free of any struggle”, as in all His death events. This certainly would have been His manner of passing, regardless of the cause.

It should also be noted that, even if all of us together had “loved our hearts out” with devotion to keep Him incarnate, it still may not have been sufficient, because His being here for everybody meant that the Divine Force in His body was immense. His Admonition to us to “Tell everyone I am here” was supported by an extraordinary Ocean of Transmission, ready to instantly flow to everybody. It might have taken thousands, tens of thousands, or millions more devotees to more fully draw upon that Transmission and keep Him here beyond a certain point.

Divine Intention, Divine Spontaneity, and Divine Ignorance

The circumstances of Adi Da’s Mahasamadhi, then, make perfect sense in the context of Who He Is. He is the One in Whom the universes are arising — unlike the traditional Spiritual Realizer taking Mahasamadhi and intentionally leaving the body to go elsewhere, Adi Da can’t “intentionally leave” the body to “go somewhere else”, because He is already in His All-Pervading “Mahasamadhi” State, in which there is no “elsewhere”:

I Cannot Leave, For My Transcendentally Spiritually “Bright” Divine Spherical Self-Domain Is Not Some “Where” To “Go To”. My Divine Self-Domain Is Eternal. I Am Eternal, and I Am Always Already Merely Present — here, and every “where” In The Cosmic Domain.

As He has said to us many times, He doesn’t “go into” His Divine State — for instance, in those moments when He closes His eyes, sitting before us and granting us His Darshan; He is always in His “Mahasamadhi”: the “Great State” that was His before birth, at birth, throughout His life, and after the death of His body. His life history did not end with an intentional leavetaking of the body (the traditional sense of “Mahasamadhi”); rather, His life history began with an intentional acquisition of the body by the Divine Person, which itself was a “leavetaking” of a unique kind:

I am as one who left his Home to do a thing for Man.

in that the resulting intentional “Entanglement” of the Divine Person with conditional existence involved a real and profound sacrifice:

My Avataric Lifetime Is A Divine and Unique Demonstration of Intentional Entanglement — In Which the egoless Divine “Bright” Self-Nature, Self-Condition, Self-State, and Divine Transcendental Spiritual Self-Force of My Prior and Perfect Freedom Is Constantly Self-Revealed In Spontaneous Acts, Great Events, Remarkable Conjunctions, Extraordinary Processes, and Beyond-Wonderful Demonstrations of Perfect Dis-Entanglement — For The Sake of all-and-All.

By Means of My Avataric Lifetime of Divine Self-Revelation, all-and-All who are, as if by accident, entangled here (and everywhere), in egoic time and space, Are Divinely Avatarically Given All of Necessary and Perfectly Acausally Effective Means For Perfect Dis-entanglement — now, and forever hereafter, In Me, and Where and As I Am.

This Is The Key to rightly and truly understanding All of The Acts, Events, Conjunctions, Processes, and Demonstrations of the Totality of My Lifetime-Evidence.

Avatar Adi Da, My “Secret” Biography
The Self-Authenticating Truth (Essays from The Aletheon)

It is in this sense then — based on Adi Da’s radically different history of the Divine Person incarnating — that we should understanding the term, “Mahasamadhi”, in Adi Da’s case, and understand the passing of His human body altogether.

Adi Da’s esoteric consideration of the act of His Incarnation suggest that both Divine Intention and Divine Spontaneity played a role (along with Divine Responsiveness to human calling and a rare conjunction of circumstances in a single moment of history that created the opening which enabled His Incarnation):

My Avataric Incarnation was, in some sense, simply spontaneous, and not “intentional”. In some sense, it simply “happened”. Yet, it was also both intentional and voluntary. It was not arbitrary, because all the Conjunctions had to occur. At last, I Passed Down into All and all. It was spontaneous, yet also Eternally Prefigured. It was Anciently Prophesied. It was somehow “caused” — and, yet, Ultimately, there is no “cause” for it whatsoever.

Avatar Adi Da, The Knee Of Listening

Throughout His entire life, Adi Da has been perfectly surrendered to the spontaneity of His Own Divine Process — whether expressed as the disposition of prapatti (unconditional surrender to the Divine) in His “sadhana years” prior to Re-Awakening, or as spontaneous acts of Teaching, Revelation, or Creation, in the years that followed. He expressed it poetically:

I am mindless in this world.
I act without consideration.
When I compare myself to some
deliberate lives,
I become afraid of my own softness,
this round and thoughtless head.
But that is my necessity,
the circumstance of my birth.

Adi Da, Crazy Da Must Sing, Inclined To His Weaker Side

He has often remarked that He has been as surprised as anyone by something “He just did”. And so it is perfectly fitting — even Divinely humorous — that His very last words, as the heart attack began and He put His hand to His heart, were:

“What is this?”