A spokesperson for the ashram said the Hindu master discoveredon October 9 that he had advanced intestinal cancer. Three medical teams ofradiologists and oncologists in Hawaii, Washington State and California allconcurred that even the most aggressive treatment regimens would not proveeffective, and estimated he had just a few months to live. Consequently,Subramuniyaswami declined any treatment beyond palliative measures, andmade the decision to follow the Indian yogic practice, called Prayopavesa inSanskrit scripture, to abstain from nourishment and take water only fromthat day on. He died on the 32nd day of his self-declared fast, passing onquietly at 11:54 pm on November 12, 2001, surrounded by his 23 monastics.
Upon news of his impending passage, prayers and worship were offered inhundreds of temples around the world by tens of thousands of Hindus. Thesuddenness of the events especially stunned the 2.5 million Tamils of SriLanka, for whom Subramuniyaswami, the successor of Lanka's great guruYogaswami, is their hereditary spiritual leader.
At his passing, Subramuniyaswami consoled his sorrowful monks, telling them,"Don't be sad, soon I will be with you 24 hours a day, working with you allfrom the inner planes." Bereaved devotees arriving at the ashram heard thesame message, and by the time of the passing, a great peace had descendedupon the ashram and all connected with it. His designated successor, SatguruBodhinatha Veylanswami, was duly installed as guru of the ashram, formallyknown as Kauai Aadheenam.
Few in the Hindu world would not recognize the tall, white-haired Americanwho had gained prominence over the decades for his practical andclear-minded books replete with explanations of everything Hindu, from themost basic beliefs and daily practices to the loftiest refined philosophyand yoga techniques. He was equally famous as founder and publisher ofHinduism Today, an award-winning, international, full-color magazine,respected for its authoritative reporting on Hindu events, institutions,personalities, issues and controversies around the world.
Among hisinnovative projects are the creation of Iraivan Temple on Kauai, the firstall-stone, hand-carved granite temple ever built in the West, the foundingof Hindu Heritage Endowment to perpetually fund worthy Hindu institutionsand his participation in numerous international conferences on religion,peace and interfaith harmony. He inspired and guided the construction ofdozens of temples among Hindu communities outside of India, especially inAmerica, Canada, Europe, Mauritius, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand andFiji.
From his ashram in Hawaii, Subramuniyaswami continued to follow his ownguru's instruction to bring Saivism to the Western world by teaching othersto "know thy Self by thyself" and thus "see God Siva everywhere."
Among his honors are being named one of 25 "presidents" of religion at the1996 Parliament of the World Religions held in Chicago, and receiving the UThant Peace Award while attending the Millennium Peace Summit of WorldReligious and Spiritual Leaders held at the United Nations in August, 2000.This award was previously given to the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, MikhailGorbachev, Pope John Paul and Mother Teresa. On August 25, 2000, headdressed 1,200 spiritual leaders during the UN events in New York.
"Just before his passing," said the monastery spokesperson, "He askeddevotees worldwide to carry his work and institutions forward withunstinting vigor, to keep one another strong on the spiritual path, to workdiligently on their personal spiritual disciplines and to live every momentin harmony and love for all peoples. His monks, gathered from six nations,forged in the fires of his wisdom and love, are well-prepared to keep hismission potent and effective. Equally, his family devotees are pure,one-minded and deeply committed. These two communities will continue thework together: building the Iraivan Temple, managing the Spiritual Park inMauritius, shepherding souls on the Saivite path of enlightenment,continuing the many publications, teaching children their Saivite Hindureligion, preserving traditional culture and art, protecting Hindu priestsand the indigenous faiths of the world, contributing to our local Kauaicommunity, guiding the future of Hinduism around the globe and working toreduce violence, child-beating and spouse abuse."