This is the last photo I took of Dayalu Baba, 14 days before he departed. Seeing it makes me sad because it foreshadows what was to come, with him walking away as he leaves us.

His abrupt leaving was very painful for me because he was basically my best friend and one of my only wellwishers. He was not supposed to leave this soon. He knew he was leaving, but I brushed off his comments, and tried to treat him and get him to recover, which ultimately failed.

A month before, he told me clearly not to take him to a hospital because hospitals are impure and he should not die in an impure place. At the time I didn’t figure out what he was telling me. I thought it was just malaria and we could recover like he did a dozen times before.

At first I promised him we wouldn’t take him to a hospital, but just wanted to have his blood tested for malaria and shown to a doctor. I told him he would stay at our temple next to the yajna kunda and not in a hospital. After a lot of arguing I convinced him, and he came to Bhadrak and let us take him for a blood test.

The blood report showed his hemoglobin was extremely low, at 6.2. The doctor said he needed to immediately have a blood transfusion, but Dayalu Baba completely refused. He insisted to go back to his ashram, and try to recover there. At that point there was nothing I could do to convince him, so we brought him back to his ashram, hoping he would gain strength over the next few days.

Unfortunately he did not improve, and the fevers continued to come. After a month we saw he was getting weaker, and decided we had to force him to come for a blood transfusion. Again he refused to come, but seeing as it was our last chance, we forced him to come.

He told us first we should take him to a particular temple to meet a baba, which is where these photos were taken. Even in this extremely weak state where he couldn’t even walk on his own, when we got to the temple he was more concerned about me than himself, and was asking the baba to check me and remove any negative obstacles around me that he could see. We brought him to show to the baba, but he brought me to show to the baba.

Thats the way he always was, always thinking about others and trying to help others. Even when we would walk through the forest he would always go in front to sweep away thorns and pull out any branches that may poke the feet of the people coming behind. I would see him constantly reaching down and pulling out thorns as we walked so people coming behind wouldn’t hurt their feet, reminding me of the story of the Tamil saint Tirunavukkarasar (Appar) who would dig out stones on the temple parikrama path so they wouldn’t poke the feet of the devotees.

After leaving that temple, we brought him back to our temple, and then took him for another blood test, which showed his hemoglobin had descreased further from the prior month to 4.8. We spent an hour trying to convince him to let us arrange a blood transfusion.

He said he didn’t want to receive blood from people who ate meat, as it would be impure. I told him, “First we need to recover your health, afterwards we can worry about any other thing.”

He kept refusing, and I kept insisting it had to be done. Finally he gave in and agreed, and we admitted him in the government hospital to receive two units of blood.

As soon as it was completed we arranged for him to be brought back to his ashram the next morning, as he didn’t want to stay away from his ashram at all. He knew from a long time that he was leaving and wanted to be in his ashram when it happened.

For the next 14 days he remained at his ashram, awake and conscious, not in any pain, but weak from not having eaten in two months. We thought he was getting better, but then received news on the 14th day that he had departed.