The Death of Hans Rawat (Shri Maharaji)
On the 19th July, 1966 at 3am , Hans Rawat died.
Gurudev sat in meditation and dissolved himself in the Infinite at the sacred hour of 3 a.m. (Brahm Muhurta) on Monday, July 19th, 1966, leaving behind thousands of grieving devotees. When the doctors pronounced him gone, the devotees refused to believe it, because his body was still very warm and moreover, in the case of enlightened yogis, it is difficult to tell at first whether they are dead or in the superconscious state of Samadhi.
Shri Maharaj Ji's driver immediately placed the remains in the car and sped to Dehra Dun. A phone call from Shakti Nagar informed the Dehra Dun residence that Maharaj Ji was on his way, and that his room should be ready. When the car reached the house, the devotees took one look at Shri Maharaj Ji's body and burst into tears. Shri Mata Ji fainted with grief. Shri Satpal Ji was recalled from Mussourie, where he attended school. The residence was plunged into mourning. Even the birds were silent.
Hoping against hope that he would begin breathing again, devotees massaged his body with aromatic medicinal herbs and oils, as is done to Yogis to bring them back from Samadhi to waking consciousness. But it was all in vain. Still, they refused to believe that he was dead, and sent for three of the best doctors in Dehra Dun who, after examining the body, said, "It's useless to hope. He is no longer with us." Shri Mata Ji again fainted. When she revived, and began to break her marriage bracelets, a voice from within said to her, "Our Marriage is forever. It can never be broken. Complete my funeral rites at Prem Nagar then consign my ashes to the Ganges." So Shri Mata Ji pulled herself together. At first she had intended to throw herself on the funeral pyre, but when Maharaj Ji commanded her not to do so, but to remain behind to take care of the devotees and complete his unfinished work, she told Mahatma Satyanand, "Prepare the funeral. Gurudev hasn't gone anywhere. He has simply manipulated his yogic power to make it seem so. He will return." - Shri Hans Ji Maharaj: Life And Teachings
When Hans Rawat died he was placed on large slabs of ice to preserve the body so that some of his followers could have one last darshan. This could be the source of the scurrilous tales about Prem Rawat's mother told by Prem Rawat's followers (because she deposed and disinherited him) that she had refused to believe Hans was dead and tried to ice him until his imminent (in her mind) resurrection (see - page 80, Peace Is Possible).
In a bizarre recreation of this Disney Spectacular: "Hans On Ice" the guru Shri Ashutosh Maharaj Ji was placed in cold-storage after his death as his devotees claimed he was in samadhi, not dead. Shri Ashutosh Maharaj Ji had formerly been a mahatma of both Prem and Satpal and possibly his devotees had heard of the scenario at Hans' death. In 1966 the ice melted and Hans rotted. Modern refrigeration has kept Ashutosh in prime condition and even after 2 years it would be safe to eat him if canibalism was legal.
It was said Hans had left a letter in which he sent his love to his oldest three sons and obeisances to his youngest thereby showing his wishes re the succession. On the other hand, his wife reported that shortly before he died, they had travelled to Mussourie despite the cold as Hans had something important to tell Satyapal (Shri Bal Bhagwan Ji). He was alone with the child for a long time. That night and with great happiness he told her, "Whatever incomplete works I have, my eldest son Satyapal will complete them." Hans beleived he was much diseased and in this at least he spoke truly. It is not unusual for minor Indian gurus with property to be succeeded within the family but this may be the first time that the true Satguru has been succeeded by his son or daughter. Buddha and Jesus, for example, had no children.
"When Shri Maharaj Ji died, I drove his body back to the family home in Dehra Dun. Then I went to the school to bring Maharaji and the all brothers home. I didn't say anything to them about their father having died. When I came to the family home, everybody was crying." - Bihari Singh, Shri Maharaji's personal driver and aide
Prem Rawat was at school in Dehra Dun. The chauffeur came to fetch him. "Everyone was weeping. I was just sitting there, not weeping. Something began to happen to me. I began to feel that I am not this body; that I could not move these lips." He points to his lips. "I always thought that the soul would leave by the mouth, but my mouth was shut. Still, I felt I was leaving my body and my soul was everywhere going out. And this voice came to me saying: 'You are he, you are the one to continue.' "
It was during the funeral procedures that the young Sant Ji learnt that he was going to be the next Satguru.
The death could hardly have come as a huge surprise. Hans Rawat was showing his age.