“When I die and you carry my body to the cemetery, let my hands hang out of the casket.” ..Alexander the Great.
It is said: there are three instances in Alexander's life which are significant. One is the meeting with the great mystic, Diogenes. Diogenes was laying naked on the bank of a river taking a sunbath. It was early morning… and the early sun and the beautiful riverbank and the cool sand. And Alexander was passing by; he was coming to India.
Somebody told him, "Diogenes is just close by and you have always been inquiring about Diogenes" — because he had heard many stories about the man. He was really a man worth calling a man! Even Alexander, deep down, was jealous of Diogenes.
He went to see him. He was impressed by his beauty — naked, undecorated, with no ornaments. And he himself was full of ornaments, decorated in every possible way, but he looked very poor before Diogenes. And he said to Diogenes, "I feel jealous of you. I look poor compared to you — and you have nothing! What is your richness?"
And Diogenes said, "I don't desire anything — desirelessness is my treasure. I am a master because I don't possess anything — nonpossessiveness is my mastery, and I have conquered the world because I have conquered myself. And my victory is going with me, and your victory will be taken away by death."
And the second story: When he was going back from India…. His teacher had told him, "When you come back from India, bring a sannyasin, because that is the greatest contribution of India to the world."
The phenomenon of a sannyasin is uniquely Indian. Nowhere else has the idea of transcending the world totally captured the minds of people as it has in this country.
Aristotle was the teacher of Alexander. Aristotle had asked him, "Bring a sannyasin when you come back. I would like to see what a sannyasin is like, what it is all about."
After conquering India, when he was going back he remembered. He inquired where to find a sannyasin. People said, "Sannyasins are many but real sannyasins are very few. We know one."
In Alexandrian reports his name is given as Dandamesh — it may be a Greek form of some Indian name. Alexander went to see the man — again the same beauty as Diogenes, the same peace. Whenever awakening happens it brings something similar. Around every buddha you will find the same spring, the same fragrance, the same peace.
Again, as he entered into the energy field of Dandamesh, he was tremendously affected, as if he had entered into a perfumed garden. He remembered Diogenes immediately. He asked Dandamesh, "I have come to invite you — come with me. You will be our royal guest, every comfort will be provided for, but you have to come with me to Athens."
Dandamesh said, "I have dropped all coming, all going." He was talking of something else; Alexander could not understand immediately. He was saying that, "Now there is no more coming in the world and no more going out of the world. I have transcended all coming and going." What in the East we call AVAGAMAN — coming and going; coming into the womb and then going into death.
Alexander said, "But this is a commandment — I command you! You have to follow. This is the order from the great Alexander!"
Dandamesh laughed. The same laughter — again Alexander remembered Diogenes — the same laughter. Dandamesh said, "Nobody can command me, not even death."
Alexander said, "You don't understand — I am a dangerous man!" He pulled out his sword and he said, "Either you will come with me or I will cut off your head."
Dandamesh said, "Do it, cut off the head — because what you are going to do now, I have done years before. When the head falls, you will see it falling on the earth and I will also see it falling on the earth."
Alexander said, "How will you see it? You will be dead!"
Dandamesh said, "That is the point: I cannot die anymore, I have become a witness. I will witness my death as much as you will witness. It will happen between us two — you will be seeing, I will be seeing. And my purpose in the body is fulfilled: I have attained. There is no need for the body to exist anymore. Cut off the head!"
Alexander had to put his sword back in the sheath — you cannot kill such a man.
And the third story is:
When Alexander was dying he remembered both Diogenes and Dandamesh, and he remembered their laughter, their peace, their joy.
And he remembered that they had something that goes beyond death, "And I have nothing."
He wept, tears came to his eyes, and he said to his ministers, "When I die and you carry my body to the cemetery, let my hands hang out of the casket."
The ministers asked, "But this is not the tradition! Why? Why such a strange request?"
Alexander said, "I would like people to see that I came empty-handed and I am going empty-handed, and all my life has been a wastage. Let my hands hang out of the casket so everybody can see — even Alexander the Great is going empty-handed."