(The photo on the wall in Dhanapati’s room.)

Daniel Dhanapati McCoy was a student of Swami Satchidananda and former director of the Integral Yoga Institute of Detroit. In recent years, Dhanapati was diagnosed with ALS. On the evening of August 24th, 2021, he died peacefully in his home at the age of 71, just 3 months shy of his 72nd birthday.

He passed relatively quickly and without suffering, while gazing into the eyes of his Guru, whose photo hung on the wall across the room from him. This article was an offering he wrote for fellow sangha members just two months prior to his passing.

Many times I’ve heard other devotees explain the relationship they had with Sri Gurudev Swami Satchidananda. It could be something to the effect “He was like a father to me” or  “I always felt so close to him.” For me, the way I related to him was continually changing. Whenever I thought I had a fix on who he was, he showed up in an unexpected manner or with an unexpected lesson. I think that was part of his “job.” He could be stern one time and then on another occasion he could be like a mischievous fraternity brother playing a prank with me. I’ll give you an example.

In the mid-1970s, while I was the Executive Secretary of the Integral Yoga Institute of Detroit, I traveled to Louisville, Kentucky to attend a spiritual conference at which Sri Gurudev was the keynote speaker. On the first evening, honored teachers were invited to a special dinner together. I was kindly included. Sri Gurudev and I arrived together a bit early as tables were just beginning to fill. We noticed an elegant, middle-aged, blind woman tap her way toward us at the far end of the room and sit down directly in front of Sri Gurudev.

After I settled in and quietly exchanged a few comments with Sri Gurudev, our fellow teacher spoke up, introducing herself in a most warm and vivacious manner. She immediately said she was filled with joy all day at the prospect of having an opportunity to listen to Sri Swami Satchidananda speak and even to be at the same conference. Not knowing she was actually addressing her comments to Swami Satchidananda, she sat back in her seat. Gurudev and I smiled at her and each other and then he gave me a sly, sort of mischievous wink. When our new dinner partner leaned forward again and excitedly asked us whether we had heard of Swami Satchidananda, Gurudev calmly said, “Hmm. I’m pretty sure that I have.” Up until this point I had been intrigued by this lady and was drawn in by how purely openhearted she was and wasn’t thinking about anything else until that mischievous wink popped into my mind. Suddenly, I got a bit concerned and wondered how Gurudev would respond to her. I had a flash of doubt: “Uh-oh, is my Guru going to play a joke on a blind lady?” For an instant, I had a sense that this might go horribly wrong!

Gurudev then asked the woman, “What have you heard and why are you so fascinated with him.” She leapt at chance to explain and went on for several minutes. Then she said, “I don’t know whether he even might appear here this evening. Do you?” He responded with a slow, deep, lilting vocalization of pleasure. Our dinner companion suddenly got it! Giddy with laughter she exclaimed, “It’s you! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh my, this is what happens when eyes don’t see!” We all laughed for a while and then Gurudev leaned in and said to her softly, “And I’ve heard of you too. I’m honored to be with you.” He gently touched her hand and said further, “You see very well. You see with your heart. That’s supremely more important than seeing with eyes. Few people have such amazing sight as you do. You and I know the important way to see.” I had the deep-down sense that he didn’t just make her evening but he may have made her life just then. Such grace. I’m moved to tears just to think of it again, all these many years later…

About the Author:

Dhanapati Daniel McCoy was the director of the Integral Yoga Institute of Detroit from 1974 to 1977. Over the years, he taught Yoga at three colleges, two drug rehabilitation programs, plus created conducted Integral Yoga retreats for hundreds of participants. In addition he taught Raja Yoga and remained a devoted student of Swami Satchidananda over many decades.