Varanasi, a rainy evening in August, 1949. Ma was seated in her usual place in the hall with only a few ashramites on either side of her. Nobody had ventured out into the pouring rain. Exactly opposite to Ma at the West end of the hall an emaciated old lady was lying on her bedding that had been spread on the floor. She was very ill and had shifted to the ashram a few weeks ago, as she wished to die in Ma's presence and in sight of the Ganges. Her last hour had obviously come. Her son had been called and was sitting close by her, chanting holy texts, while her daughter was attending to her. The dying woman had a rosary in her hand. She was hardly breathing but evidently fully conscious. Her blouse had been loosened and one could see every one of her protruding ribs, in fact she looked already like a skeleton. Ma was watching her intently. Off and on she would shout loudly: 'Mother, are you doing japa?' The old lady could respond only by almost imperceptible gestures. Her daughter confirmed: 'Yes, she was doing japa and listening to her son's chanting.' Ma suggested sprinkling Ganges water on her chest, and a few drops of the sacred liquid were instilled into her mouth with a piece of cottonwool as she was too weak to drink. Not for a moment did Ma let Her eyes off her. Suddenly Ma got up and walked straight to the dying woman. With great motherly affection She gazed at her, placed a garland on her chest and then with a swift and determined gesture passed both Her hands over the shrivelled body from head to foot. The end had come. It was an unforgettable, most impressive moment.
"Call the girls to sing kirtan!" said Ma. The brahmacharinis of the Kanyapeeth (the Girl's school of the Ashram) came and sang, some of the children were nine or ten. What a beautiful idea to make children witness death in this atmosphere of peace and serenity! Everyone felt moved, but there was no weeping, no lamenting, no regret, on the contrary, a hush, a sense of quiet joy, of fulfilment pervaded the atmosphere. "Death means changing one's garments," one can often hear Ma say.
The kirtan continued for some time, then the body was taken down to the ghat. Some Ganges water was poured over the spot where the old lady had breathed her last and an oil-lamp placed there. Everyone left the hall. Fortunate is he who ends his days in this manner.