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Autobiography of a Yogi Part 2


Autobiography of a Yogi

Paramhansa Yogananda


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TABLE OF CONTENTS



CHAPTER 22

THE HEART OF A STONE IMAGE


CHAPTER 23

I RECEIVE MY UNIVERSITY DEGREE


CHAPTER 24

I BECOME A MONK OF THE SWAMI ORDER


CHAPTER 25

BROTHER ANANTA AND SISTER NALINI


CHAPTER 26

THE SCIENCE OF KRIYA YOGA


CHAPTER 27

FOUNDING A YOGA SCHOOL AT RANCHI


CHAPTER 28

KASHI, REBORN AND REDISCOVERED


CHAPTER 29

RABINDRANATH TAGORE AND I COMPARE SCHOOLS


CHAPTER 30

THE LAW OF MIRACLES


CHAPTER 31

AN INTERVIEW WITH THE SACRED MOTHER


CHAPTER 32

RAMA IS RAISED FROM THE DEAD


CHAPTER 33

BABAJI, THE YOGI−CHRIST OF MODERN INDIA


CHAPTER 34

MATERIALIZING A PALACE IN THE HIMALAYAS


CHAPTER 35

THE CHRISTLIKE LIFE OF LAHIRI MAHASAYA


CHAPTER 36

BABAJI'S INTEREST IN THE WEST


CHAPTER 37

I GO TO AMERICA


CHAPTER 38

LUTHER BURBANK—A SAINT AMIDST THE ROSES


CHAPTER 39

THERESE NEUMANN, THE CATHOLIC STIGMATIST


CHAPTER 40

I RETURN TO INDIA


CHAPTER 41

AN IDYL IN SOUTH INDIA


CHAPTER 42

LAST DAYS WITH MY GURU


CHAPTER 43

THE RESURRECTION OF SRI YUKTESWAR


CHAPTER 44

WITH MAHATMA GANDHI AT WARDHA



Table of Contents

CHAPTER 45

THE BENGALI “JOY−PERMEATED” MOTHER


CHAPTER 46

THE WOMAN YOGI WHO NEVER EATS


CHAPTER 47

I RETURN TO THE WEST


CHAPTER 48

AT ENCINITAS IN CALIFORNIA



CHAPTER 22

THE HEART OF A STONE IMAGE

THE HEART OF A STONE IMAGE

“As a loyal Hindu wife, I do not wish to complain of my husband. But I yearn to see him turn from his materialistic views. He delights in ridiculing the pictures of saints in my meditation room. Dear brother, I have deep faith that you can help him. Will you?”

My eldest sister Roma gazed beseechingly at me. I was paying a short visit at her Calcutta home on Girish Vidyaratna Lane. Her plea touched me, for she had exercised a profound spiritual influence over my early life, and had lovingly tried to fill the void left in the family circle by Mother's death.

“Beloved sister, of course I will do anything I can.” I smiled, eager to lift the gloom plainly visible on her face, in contrast to her usual calm and cheerful expression.

Roma and I sat awhile in silent prayer for guidance. A year earlier, my sister had asked me to initiate her into KRIYA YOGA, in which she was making notable progress.

An inspiration seized me. “Tomorrow,” I said, “I am going to the Dakshineswar temple. Please come with me, and persuade your husband to accompany us. I feel that in the vibrations of that holy place, Divine Mother will touch his heart. But don't disclose our object in wanting him to go.”

Sister agreed hopefully. Very early the next morning I was pleased to find that Roma and her husband were in readiness for the trip. As our hackney carriage rattled along Upper Circular Road toward Dakshineswar, my brother-in-law, Satish Chandra Bose, amused himself by deriding spiritual gurus of the past, present, and future. I noticed that Roma was quietly weeping.

[Illustration: Self-Realization Church of All Religions, San Diego, California—see sandiego.jpg]

[Illustration: I stand with my two sisters, Roma (at left) and Nalini—see sisters.jpg]

[Illustration: My sister Uma, as a young girl—see uma.jpg]

“Sister, cheer up!” I whispered. “Don't give your husband the satisfaction of believing that we take his mockery seriously.”

“Mukunda, how can you admire worthless humbugs?” Satish was saying. “A SADHU'S very appearance is repulsive. He is either as thin as a skeleton, or as unholily fat as an elephant!”

I shouted with laughter. My good-natured reaction was annoying to Satish; he retired into sullen silence. As our cab entered the Dakshineswar grounds, he grinned sarcastically.

“This excursion, I suppose, is a scheme to reform me?”

As I turned away without reply, he caught my arm. “Young Mr. Monk,” he said, “don't forget to make proper arrangements with the temple authorities to provide for our noon meal.”

“I am going to meditate now. Do not worry about your lunch,” I replied sharply. “Divine Mother will look after it.”

“I don't trust Divine Mother to do a single thing for me. But I do hold you responsible for my food.” Satish's tones were threatening.

I proceeded alone to the colonnaded hall which fronts the large temple of Kali, or Mother Nature. Selecting a shady spot near one of the pillars, I arranged my body in the lotus posture. Although it was only about seven o'clock, the morning sun would soon be oppressive.

The world receded as I became devotionally entranced. My mind was concentrated on Goddess Kali, whose image at Dakshineswar had been the special object of adoration by the great master, Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa. In answer to his anguished demands, the stone image of this very temple had often taken a living form and conversed with him.

“Silent Mother with stony heart,” I prayed, “Thou becamest filled with life at the request of Thy beloved devotee Ramakrishna; why dost Thou not also heed the wails of this yearning son of Thine?”

My aspiring zeal increased boundlessly, accompanied by a divine peace. Yet, when five hours had passed, and the Goddess whom I was inwardly visualizing had made no response, I felt slightly disheartened. Sometimes it is a test by God to delay the fulfillment of prayers. But He eventually appears to the persistent devotee in whatever form he holds dear. A devout Christian sees Jesus; a Hindu beholds Krishna, or the Goddess Kali, or an expanding Light if his worship takes an impersonal turn.

Reluctantly I opened my eyes, and saw that the temple doors were being locked by a priest, in conformance with a noon-hour custom. I rose from my secluded seat under the open, roofed hall, and stepped into the courtyard. Its stone floor was scorching under the midday sun; my bare feet were painfully burned.

“Divine Mother,” I silently remonstrated, “Thou didst not come to me in vision, and now Thou art hidden in the temple behind closed doors. I wanted to offer a special prayer to Thee today on behalf of my brother-in-law.”

My inward petition was instantly acknowledged. First, a delightful cold wave descended over my back and under my feet, banishing all discomfort. Then, to my amazement, the temple became greatly magnified. Its large door slowly opened, revealing the stone figure of Goddess Kali. Gradually it changed into a living form, smilingly nodding in greeting, thrilling me with joy indescribable. As if by a mystic syringe, the breath was withdrawn from my lungs; my body became very still, though not inert.

An ecstatic enlargement of consciousness followed. I could see clearly for several miles over the Ganges River to my left, and beyond the temple into the entire Dakshineswar precincts. The walls of all buildings glimmered transparently; through them I observed people walking to and fro over distant acres.

Though I was breathless and my body in a strangely quiet state, yet I was able to move my hands and feet freely. For several minutes I experimented in closing and opening my eyes; in either state I saw distinctly the whole Dakshineswar panorama.

Spiritual sight, x-raylike, penetrates into all matter; the divine eye is center everywhere, circumference nowhere. I realized anew, standing there in the sunny courtyard, that when man ceases to be a prodigal child of God, engrossed in a physical world indeed dream, baseless as a bubble, he reinherits his eternal realms. If “escapism" be a need of man, cramped in his narrow personality, can any escape compare with the majesty of omnipresence?

In my sacred experience at Dakshineswar, the only extraordinarily-enlarged objects were the temple and the form of the Goddess. Everything else appeared in its normal dimensions, although each was enclosed in a halo of mellow light-white, blue, and pastel rainbow hues. My body seemed to be of ethereal substance, ready to levitate. Fully conscious of my material surroundings, I was looking about me and taking a few steps without disturbing the continuity of the blissful vision.

Behind the temple walls I suddenly glimpsed my brother-in-law as he sat under the thorny branches of a sacred BEL tree. I could effortlessly discern the course of his thoughts. Somewhat uplifted under the holy influence of Dakshineswar, his mind yet held unkind reflections about me. I turned directly to the gracious form of the Goddess.

“Divine Mother,” I prayed, “wilt Thou not spiritually change my sister's husband?”

The beautiful figure, hitherto silent, spoke at last: “Thy wish is granted!”

I looked happily at Satish. As though instinctively aware that some spiritual power was at work, he rose resentfully from his seat on the ground. I saw him running behind the temple; he approached me, shaking his fist.

The all-embracing vision disappeared. No longer could I see the glorious Goddess; the towering temple was reduced to its ordinary size, minus its transparency. Again my body sweltered under the fierce rays of the sun. I jumped to the shelter of the pillared hall, where Satish pursued me angrily. I looked at my watch. It was one o'clock; the divine vision had lasted an hour.

“You little fool,” my brother-in-law blurted out, “you have been sitting there cross-legged and cross-eyed for six hours. I have gone back and forth watching you. Where is my food? Now the temple is closed; you failed to notify the authorities; we are left without lunch!”

The exaltation I had felt at the Goddess' presence was still vibrant within my heart. I was emboldened to exclaim, “Divine Mother will feed us!”

Satish was beside himself with rage. “Once and for all,” he shouted, “I would like to see your Divine Mother giving us food here without prior arrangements!”

His words were hardly uttered when a temple priest crossed the courtyard and joined us.

“Son,” he addressed me, “I have been observing your face serenely glowing during hours of meditation. I saw the arrival of your party this morning, and felt a desire to put aside ample food for your lunch. It is against the temple rules to feed those who do not make a request beforehand, but I have made an exception for you.”

I thanked him, and gazed straight into Satish's eyes. He flushed with emotion, lowering his gaze in silent repentance. When we were served a lavish meal, including out-of-season mangoes, I noticed that my brother-in-law's appetite was meager. He was bewildered, diving deep into the ocean of thought. On the return journey to Calcutta, Satish, with softened expression, occasionally glanced at me pleadingly. But he did not speak a single word after the moment the priest had appeared to invite us to lunch, as though in direct answer to Satish's challenge.

The following afternoon I visited my sister at her home. She greeted me affectionately.

“Dear brother,” she cried, “what a miracle! Last evening my husband wept openly before me.

“'Beloved DEVI,' {FN22-1} he said, 'I am happy beyond expression that this reforming scheme of your brother's has wrought a transformation. I am going to undo every wrong I have done you. From tonight we will use our large bedroom only as a place of worship; your small meditation room shall be changed into our sleeping quarters. I am sincerely sorry that I have ridiculed your brother. For the shameful way I have been acting, I will punish myself by not talking to Mukunda until I have progressed in the spiritual path. Deeply I will seek the Divine Mother from now on; someday I must surely find Her!'“

Years later, I visited my brother-in-law in Delhi. I was overjoyed to perceive that he had developed highly in self-realization, and had been blessed by the vision of Divine Mother. During my stay with him, I noticed that Satish secretly spent the greater part of every night in divine meditation, though he was suffering from a serious ailment, and was engaged during the day at his office.

The thought came to me that my brother-in-law's life span would not be a long one. Roma must have read my mind.

“Dear brother,” she said, “I am well, and my husband is sick. Nevertheless, I want you to know that, as a devoted Hindu wife, I am going to be the first one to die. {FN22-2} It won't be long now before I pass on.”

Taken aback at her ominous words, I yet realized their sting of truth. I was in America when my sister died, about a year after her prediction. My youngest brother Bishnu later gave me the details.

“Roma and Satish were in Calcutta at the time of her death,” Bishnu told me. “That morning she dressed herself in her bridal finery.

“'Why this special costume?' Satish inquired.

“'This is my last day of service to you on earth,' Roma replied. A short time later she had a heart attack. As her son was rushing out for aid, she said:

“'Son, do not leave me. It is no use; I shall be gone before a doctor could arrive.' Ten minutes later, holding the feet of her husband in reverence, Roma consciously left her body, happily and without suffering.

“Satish became very reclusive after his wife's death,” Bishnu continued. “One day he and I were looking at a large smiling photograph of Roma.

“'Why do you smile?' Satish suddenly exclaimed, as though his wife were present. 'You think you were clever in arranging to go before me. I shall prove that you cannot long remain away from me; soon I shall join you.'

“Although at this time Satish had fully recovered from his sickness, and was enjoying excellent health, he died without apparent cause shortly after his strange remark before the photograph.”

Thus prophetically passed my dearly beloved eldest sister Roma, and her husband Satish-he who changed at Dakshineswar from an ordinary worldly man to a silent saint.

{FN22-1} Goddess.

{FN22-2} The Hindu wife believes it is a sign of spiritual advancement if she dies before her husband, as a proof of her loyal service to him, or “dying in harness.”


CHAPTER 23

My Mother's Death and the Mystic Amulet

I RECEIVE MY UNIVERSITY DEGREE

“You ignore your textbook assignments in philosophy. No doubt you are depending on an unlaborious 'intuition' to get you through the examinations. But unless you apply yourself in a more scholarly manner, I shall see to it that you don't pass this course.”

Professor D. C. Ghoshal of Serampore College was addressing me sternly. If I failed to pass his final written classroom test, I would be ineligible to take the conclusive examinations. These are formulated by the faculty of Calcutta University, which numbers Serampore College among its affiliated branches. A student in Indian universities who is unsuccessful in one subject in the A.B. finals must be examined anew in ALL his subjects the following year.

My instructors at Serampore College usually treated me with kindness, not untinged by an amused tolerance. “Mukunda is a bit over-drunk with religion.” Thus summing me up, they tactfully spared me the embarrassment of answering classroom questions; they trusted the final written tests to eliminate me from the list of A.B. candidates. The judgment passed by my fellow students was expressed in their nickname for me-"Mad Monk.”

I took an ingenious step to nullify Professor Ghoshal's threat to me of failure in philosophy. When the results of the final tests were about to be publicly announced, I asked a classmate to accompany me to the professor's study.

“Come along; I want a witness,” I told my companion. “I shall be very much disappointed if I have not succeeded in outwitting the instructor.”

Professor Ghoshal shook his head after I had inquired what rating he had given my paper.

“You are not among those who have passed,” he said in triumph. He hunted through a large pile on his desk. “Your paper isn't here at all; you have failed, in any case, through non-appearance at the examination.”

I chuckled. “Sir, I was there. May I look through the stack myself?”

The professor, nonplused, gave his permission; I quickly found my paper, where I had carefully omitted any identification mark except my roll call number. Unwarned by the “red flag” of my name, the instructor had given a high rating to my answers even though they were unembellished by textbook quotations. {FN23-1}

Seeing through my trick, he now thundered, “Sheer brazen luck!” He added hopefully, “You are sure to fail in the A.B. finals.”

For the tests in my other subjects, I received some coaching, particularly from my dear friend and cousin, Prabhas Chandra Ghose, {FN23-2} son of my Uncle Sarada. I staggered painfully but successfully-with the lowest possible passing marks-through all my final tests.

Now, after four years of college, I was eligible to sit for the A.B. examinations. Nevertheless, I hardly expected to avail myself of the privilege. The Serampore College finals were child's play compared to the stiff ones which would be set by Calcutta University for the A.B. degree. My almost daily visits to Sri Yukteswar had left me little time to enter the college halls. There it was my presence rather than my absence that brought forth ejaculations of amazement from my classmates!

My customary routine was to set out on my bicycle about nine-thirty in the morning. In one hand I would carry an offering for my guru-a few flowers from the garden of my PANTHI boardinghouse. Greeting me affably, Master would invite me to lunch. I invariably accepted with alacrity, glad to banish the thought of college for the day. After hours with Sri Yukteswar, listening to his incomparable flow of wisdom, or helping with ashram duties, I would reluctantly depart around midnight for the PANTHI. Occasionally I stayed all night with my guru, so happily engrossed in his conversation that I scarcely noticed when darkness changed into dawn.

One night about eleven o'clock, as I was putting on my shoes {FN23-3} in preparation for the ride to the boardinghouse, Master questioned me gravely.

“When do your A.B. examinations start?”

“Five days hence, sir.”

“I hope you are in readiness for them.”

Transfixed with alarm, I held one shoe in the air. “Sir,” I protested, “you know how my days have been passed with you rather than with the professors. How can I enact a farce by appearing for those difficult finals?”

Sri Yukteswar's eyes were turned piercingly on mine. “You must appear.” His tone was coldly peremptory. “We should not give cause for your father and other relatives to criticize your preference for ashram life. Just promise me that you will be present for the examinations; answer them the best way you can.”

Uncontrollable tears were coursing down my face. I felt that Master's command was unreasonable, and that his interest was, to say the least, belated.

“I will appear if you wish it,” I said amidst sobs. “But no time remains for proper preparation.” Under my breath I muttered, “I will fill up the sheets with your teachings in answer to the questions!”

When I entered the hermitage the following day at my usual hour, I presented my bouquet with a certain mournful solemnity. Sri Yukteswar laughed at my woebegone air.

“Mukunda, has the Lord ever failed you, at an examination or elsewhere?”

“No, sir,” I responded warmly. Grateful memories came in a revivifying flood.

“Not laziness but burning zeal for God has prevented you from seeking college honors,” my guru said kindly. After a silence, he quoted, “'Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.'“ {FN23-4}

For the thousandth time, I felt my burdens lifted in Master's presence. When we had finished our early lunch, he suggested that I return to the PANTHI.

“Does your friend, Romesh Chandra Dutt, still live in your boardinghouse?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Get in touch with him; the Lord will inspire him to help you with the examinations.”

“Very well, sir; but Romesh is unusually busy. He is the honor man in our class, and carries a heavier course than the others.”

Master waved aside my objections. “Romesh will find time for you. Now go.”

I bicycled back to the PANTHI. The first person I met in the boardinghouse compound was the scholarly Romesh. As though his days were quite free, he obligingly agreed to my diffident request.

“Of course; I am at your service.” He spent several hours of that afternoon and of succeeding days in coaching me in my various subjects.

“I believe many questions in English literature will be centered in the route of Childe Harold,” he told me. “We must get an atlas at once.”

I hastened to the home of my Uncle Sarada and borrowed an atlas. Romesh marked the European map at the places visited by Byron's romantic traveler.

A few classmates had gathered around to listen to the tutoring. “Romesh is advising you wrongly,” one of them commented to me at the end of a session. “Usually only fifty per cent of the questions are about the books; the other half will involve the authors' lives.”

When I sat for the examination in English literature the following day, my first glance at the questions caused tears of gratitude to pour forth, wetting my paper. The classroom monitor came to my desk and made a sympathetic inquiry.

“My guru foretold that Romesh would help me,” I explained. “Look; the very questions dictated to me by Romesh are here on the examination sheet! Fortunately for me, there are very few questions this year on English authors, whose lives are wrapped in deep mystery so far as I am concerned!”

My boardinghouse was in an uproar when I returned. The boys who had been ridiculing Romesh's method of coaching looked at me in awe, almost deafening me with congratulations. During the week of the examinations, I spent many hours with Romesh, who formulated questions that he thought were likely to be set by the professors. Day by day, Romesh's questions appeared in almost the same form on the examination sheets.

The news was widely circulated in the college that something resembling a miracle was occurring, and that success seemed probable for the absent-minded “Mad Monk.” I made no attempt to hide the facts of the case. The local professors were powerless to alter the questions, which had been arranged by Calcutta University.

Thinking over the examination in English literature, I realized one morning that I had made a serious error. One section of the questions had been divided into two parts of A or B, and C or D. Instead of answering one question from each part, I had carelessly answered both questions in Group I, and had failed to consider anything in Group II. The best mark I could score in that paper would be 33, three less than the passing mark of 36. I rushed to Master and poured out my troubles.

“Sir, I have made an unpardonable blunder. I don't deserve the divine blessings through Romesh; I am quite unworthy.”

“Cheer up, Mukunda.” Sri Yukteswar's tones were light and unconcerned. He pointed to the blue vault of the heavens. “It is more possible for the sun and moon to interchange their positions in space than it is for you to fail in getting your degree!”

I left the hermitage in a more tranquil mood, though it seemed mathematically inconceivable that I could pass. I looked once or twice apprehensively into the sky; the Lord of Day appeared to be securely anchored in his customary orbit!

As I reached the PANTHI, I overheard a classmate's remark: “I have just learned that this year, for the first time, the required passing mark in English literature has been lowered.”

I entered the boy's room with such speed that he looked up in alarm. I questioned him eagerly.

“Long-haired monk,” he said laughingly, “why this sudden interest in scholastic matters? Why cry in the eleventh hour? But it is true that the passing mark has just been lowered to 33 points.”

A few joyous leaps took me into my own room, where I sank to my knees and praised the mathematical perfections of my Divine Father.

Every day I thrilled with the consciousness of a spiritual presence that I clearly felt to be guiding me through Romesh. A significant incident occurred in connection with the examination in Bengali. Romesh, who had touched little on that subject, called me back one morning as I was leaving the boardinghouse on my way to the examination hall.

“There is Romesh shouting for you,” a classmate said to me impatiently. “Don't return; we shall be late at the hall.”

Ignoring the advice, I ran back to the house.

“The Bengali examination is usually easily passed by our Bengali boys,” Romesh told me. “But I have just had a hunch that this year the professors have planned to massacre the students by asking questions from our ancient literature.” My friend then briefly outlined two stories from the life of Vidyasagar, a renowned philanthropist.

I thanked Romesh and quickly bicycled to the college hall. The examination sheet in Bengali proved to contain two parts. The first instruction was: “Write two instances of the charities of Vidyasagar.” As I transferred to the paper the lore that I had so recently acquired, I whispered a few words of thanksgiving that I had heeded Romesh's last-minute summons. Had I been ignorant of Vidyasagar's benefactions to mankind (including ultimately myself), I could not have passed the Bengali examination. Failing in one subject, I would have been forced to stand examination anew in all subjects the following year. Such a prospect was understandably abhorrent.

The second instruction on the sheet read: “Write an essay in Bengali on the life of the man who has most inspired you.” Gentle reader, I need not inform you what man I chose for my theme. As I covered page after page with praise of my guru, I smiled to realize that my muttered prediction was coming true: “I will fill up the sheets with your teachings!”

I had not felt inclined to question Romesh about my course in philosophy. Trusting my long training under Sri Yukteswar, I safely disregarded the textbook explanations. The highest mark given to any of my papers was the one in philosophy. My score in all other subjects was just barely within the passing mark.

It is a pleasure to record that my unselfish friend Romesh received his own degree CUM LAUDE.

Father was wreathed in smiles at my graduation. “I hardly thought you would pass, Mukunda,” he confessed. “You spend so much time with your guru.” Master had indeed correctly detected the unspoken criticism of my father.

For years I had been uncertain that I would ever see the day when an A.B. would follow my name. I seldom use the title without reflecting that it was a divine gift, conferred on me for reasons somewhat obscure. Occasionally I hear college men remark that very little of their crammed knowledge remained with them after graduation. That admission consoles me a bit for my undoubted academic deficiencies.

On the day I received my degree from Calcutta University, I knelt at my guru's feet and thanked him for all the blessings flowing from his life into mine.

“Get up, Mukunda,” he said indulgently. “The Lord simply found it more convenient to make you a graduate than to rearrange the sun and moon!”

{FN23-1} I must do Professor Ghoshal the justice of admitting that the strained relationship between us was not due to any fault of his, but solely to my absences from classes and inattention in them. Professor Ghoshal was, and is, a remarkable orator with vast philosophical knowledge. In later years we came to a cordial understanding..

{FN23-2} Although my cousin and I have the same family name of Ghosh, Prabhas has accustomed himself to transliterating his name in English as Ghose; therefore I follow his own spelling here.

{FN23-3} A disciple always removes his shoes in an Indian hermitage.

{FN23-4} MATTHEW 6:33.


CHAPTER 24

I BECOME A MONK OF THE SWAMI ORDER

I BECOME A MONK OF THE SWAMI ORDER

“Master, my father has been anxious for me to accept an executive position with the Bengal-Nagpur Railway. But I have definitely refused it.” I added hopefully, “Sir, will you not make me a monk of the Swami Order?” I looked pleadingly at my guru. During preceding years, in order to test the depth of my determination, he had refused this same request. Today, however, he smiled graciously.

“Very well; tomorrow I will initiate you into swamiship.” He went on quietly, “I am happy that you have persisted in your desire to be a monk. Lahiri Mahasaya often said: 'If you don't invite God to be your summer Guest, He won't come in the winter of your life.'“

“Dear master, I could never falter in my goal to belong to the Swami Order like your revered self.” I smiled at him with measureless affection.

“He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: but he that is married careth for the things of the world, how he may please his wife.” {FN24-1} I had analyzed the lives of many of my friends who, after undergoing certain spiritual discipline, had then married. Launched on the sea of worldly responsibilities, they had forgotten their resolutions to meditate deeply.

To allot God a secondary place in life was, to me, inconceivable. Though He is the sole Owner of the cosmos, silently showering us with gifts from life to life, one thing yet remains which He does not own, and which each human heart is empowered to withhold or bestow-man's love. The Creator, in taking infinite pains to shroud with mystery His presence in every atom of creation, could have had but one motive-a sensitive desire that men seek Him only through free will. With what velvet glove of every humility has He not covered the iron hand of omnipotence!

The following day was one of the most memorable in my life. It was a sunny Thursday, I remember, in July, 1914, a few weeks after my graduation from college. On the inner balcony of his Serampore hermitage, Master dipped a new piece of white silk into a dye of ocher, the traditional color of the Swami Order. After the cloth had dried, my guru draped it around me as a renunciate's robe.

“Someday you will go to the West, where silk is preferred,” he said. “As a symbol, I have chosen for you this silk material instead of the customary cotton.”

In India, where monks embrace the ideal of poverty, a silk-clad swami is an unusual sight. Many yogis, however, wear garments of silk, which preserves certain subtle bodily currents better than cotton.

“I am averse to ceremonies,” Sri Yukteswar remarked. “I will make you a swami in the BIDWAT (non-ceremonious) manner.”

The BIBIDISA or elaborate initiation into swamiship includes a fire ceremony, during which symbolical funeral rites are performed. The physical body of the disciple is represented as dead, cremated in the flame of wisdom. The newly-made swami is then given a chant, such as: “This ATMA is Brahma” {FN24-2} or “Thou art That” or “I am He.” Sri Yukteswar, however, with his love of simplicity, dispensed with all formal rites and merely asked me to select a new name.

“I will give you the privilege of choosing it yourself,” he said, smiling.

“Yogananda,” I replied, after a moment's thought. The name literally means “Bliss (ANANDA) through divine union (YOGA).”

“Be it so. Forsaking your family name of Mukunda Lal Ghosh, henceforth you shall be called Yogananda of the Giri branch of the Swami Order.”

As I knelt before Sri Yukteswar, and for the first time heard him pronounce my new name, my heart overflowed with gratitude. How lovingly and tirelessly had he labored, that the boy Mukunda be someday transformed into the monk Yogananda! I joyfully sang a few verses from the long Sanskrit chant of Lord Shankara:

“Mind, nor intellect, nor ego, feeling; Sky nor earth nor metals am I. I am He, I am He, Blessed Spirit, I am He! No birth, no death, no caste have I; Father, mother, have I none. I am He, I am He, Blessed Spirit, I am He! Beyond the flights of fancy, formless am I, Permeating the limbs of all life; Bondage I do not fear; I am free, ever free, I am He, I am He, Blessed Spirit, I am He!”

Every swami belongs to the ancient monastic order which was organized in its present form by Shankara. {FN24-3} Because it is a formal order, with an unbroken line of saintly representatives serving as active leaders, no man can give himself the title of swami. He rightfully receives it only from another swami; all monks thus trace their spiritual lineage to one common guru, Lord Shankara. By vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to the spiritual teacher, many Catholic Christian monastic orders resemble the Order of Swamis.

In addition to his new name, usually ending in ANANDA, the swami takes a title which indicates his formal connection with one of the ten subdivisions of the Swami Order. These DASANAMIS or ten agnomens include the GIRI (mountain), to which Sri Yukteswar, and hence myself, belong. Among the other branches are the SAGAR (sea), BHARATI (land), ARANYA (forest), PURI (tract), TIRTHA (place of pilgrimage), and SARASWATI (wisdom of nature).

The new name received by a swami thus has a twofold significance, and represents the attainment of supreme bliss (ANANDA) through some divine quality or state-love, wisdom, devotion, service, yoga-and through a harmony with nature, as expressed in her infinite vastness of oceans, mountains, skies.

The ideal of selfless service to all mankind, and of renunciation of personal ties and ambitions, leads the majority of swamis to engage actively in humanitarian and educational work in India, or occasionally in foreign lands. Ignoring all prejudices of caste, creed, class, color, sex, or race, a swami follows the precepts of human brotherhood. His goal is absolute unity with Spirit. Imbuing his waking and sleeping consciousness with the thought, “I am He,” he roams contentedly, in the world but not of it. Thus only may he justify his title of swami-one who seeks to achieve union with the SWA or Self. It is needless to add that not all formally titled swamis are equally successful in reaching their high goal.

Sri Yukteswar was both a swami and a yogi. A swami, formally a monk by virtue of his connection with the ancient order, is not always a yogi. Anyone who practices a scientific technique of God-contact is a yogi; he may be either married or unmarried, either a worldly man or one of formal religious ties. A swami may conceivably follow only the path of dry reasoning, of cold renunciation; but a yogi engages himself in a definite, step-by-step procedure by which the body and mind are disciplined, and the soul liberated. Taking nothing for granted on emotional grounds, or by faith, a yogi practices a thoroughly tested series of exercises which were first mapped out by the early rishis. Yoga has produced, in every age of India, men who became truly free, truly Yogi-Christs.

Like any other science, yoga is applicable to people of every clime and time. The theory advanced by certain ignorant writers that yoga is “unsuitable for Westerners” is wholly false, and has lamentably prevented many sincere students from seeking its manifold blessings. Yoga is a method for restraining the natural turbulence of thoughts, which otherwise impartially prevent all men, of all lands, from glimpsing their true nature of Spirit. Yoga cannot know a barrier of East and West any more than does the healing and equitable light of the sun. So long as man possesses a mind with its restless thoughts, so long will there be a universal need for yoga or control.

[Illustration: THE LORD IN HIS ASPECT AS SHIVA, Not a historical personage like Krishna, Shiva is the name given to God in the last aspect of His threefold nature (Creator-Preserver-Destroyer). Shiva, the Annihilator of maya or delusion, is symbolically represented in the scriptures as the Lord of Renunciates, the King of Yogis. In Hindu art He is always shown with the new moon in His hair, and wearing a garland of hooded snakes, ancient emblem of evil overcome and perfect wisdom. The “single” eye of omniscience is open on His forehead.—see shiva.jpg]

The ancient rishi Patanjali defines “yoga” as “control of the fluctuations of the mind-stuff.” {FN24-4} His very short and masterly expositions, the YOGA SUTRAS, form one of the six systems of Hindu philosophy. {FN24-5} In contradistinction to Western philosophies, all six Hindu systems embody not only theoretical but practical teachings. In addition to every conceivable ontological inquiry, the six systems formulate six definite disciplines aimed at the permanent removal of suffering and the attainment of timeless bliss.

The common thread linking all six systems is the declaration that no true freedom for man is possible without knowledge of the ultimate Reality. The later UPANISHADS uphold the YOGA SUTRAS, among the six systems, as containing the most efficacious methods for achieving direct perception of truth. Through the practical techniques of yoga, man leaves behind forever the barren realms of speculation and cognizes in experience the veritable Essence.

The YOGA system as outlined by Patanjali is known as the Eightfold Path. The first steps, (1) YAMA and (2) NIYAMA, require observance of ten negative and positive moralities-avoidance of injury to others, of untruthfulness, of stealing, of incontinence, of gift-receiving (which brings obligations); and purity of body and mind, contentment, self-discipline, study, and devotion to God.

The next steps are (3) ASANA (right posture); the spinal column must be held straight, and the body firm in a comfortable position for meditation; (4) PRANAYAMA (control of PRANA, subtle life currents); and (5) PRATYAHARA (withdrawal of the senses from external objects).

The last steps are forms of yoga proper: (6) DHARANA (concentration); holding the mind to one thought; (7) DHYANA (meditation), and (8) SAMADHI (superconscious perception). This is the Eightfold Path of Yoga {FN24-6} which leads one to the final goal of KAIVALYA (Absoluteness), a term which might be more comprehensibly put as “realization of the Truth beyond all intellectual apprehension.”

“Which is greater,” one may ask, “a swami or a yogi?” If and when final oneness with God is achieved, the distinctions of the various paths disappear. The BHAGAVAD GITA, however, points out that the methods of yoga are all-embracive. Its techniques are not meant only for certain types and temperaments, such as those few who incline toward the monastic life; yoga requires no formal allegiance. Because the yogic science satisfies a universal need, it has a natural universal applicability.

A true yogi may remain dutifully in the world; there he is like butter on water, and not like the easily-diluted milk of unchurned and undisciplined humanity. To fulfill one's earthly responsibilities is indeed the higher path, provided the yogi, maintaining a mental uninvolvement with egotistical desires, plays his part as a willing instrument of God.

There are a number of great souls, living in American or European or other non-Hindu bodies today who, though they may never have heard the words YOGI and SWAMI, are yet true exemplars of those terms. Through their disinterested service to mankind, or through their mastery over passions and thoughts, or through their single hearted love of God, or through their great powers of concentration, they are, in a sense, yogis; they have set themselves the goal of yoga-self-control. These men could rise to even greater heights if they were taught the definite science of yoga, which makes possible a more conscious direction of one's mind and life.

Yoga has been superficially misunderstood by certain Western writers, but its critics have never been its practitioners. Among many thoughtful tributes to yoga may be mentioned one by Dr. C. G. Jung, the famous Swiss psychologist.

“When a religious method recommends itself as 'scientific,' it can be certain of its public in the West. Yoga fulfills this expectation,” Dr. Jung writes. {FN24-7} “Quite apart from the charm of the new, and the fascination of the half-understood, there is good cause for Yoga to have many adherents. It offers the possibility of controllable experience, and thus satisfies the scientific need of 'facts,' and besides this, by reason of its breadth and depth, its venerable age, its doctrine and method, which include every phase of life, it promises undreamed-of possibilities.

“Every religious or philosophical practice means a psychological discipline, that is, a method of mental hygiene. The manifold, purely bodily procedures of Yoga {FN24-8} also mean a physiological hygiene which is superior to ordinary gymnastics and breathing exercises, inasmuch as it is not merely mechanistic and scientific, but also philosophical; in its training of the parts of the body, it unites them with the whole of the spirit, as is quite clear, for instance, in the PRANAYAMA exercises where PRANA is both the breath and the universal dynamics of the cosmos.

“When the thing which the individual is doing is also a cosmic event, the effect experienced in the body (the innervation), unites with the emotion of the spirit (the universal idea), and out of this there develops a lively unity which no technique, however scientific, can produce. Yoga practice is unthinkable, and would also be ineffectual, without the concepts on which Yoga is based. It combines the bodily and the spiritual with each other in an extraordinarily complete way.

“In the East, where these ideas and practices have developed, and where for several thousand years an unbroken tradition has created the necessary spiritual foundations, Yoga is, as I can readily believe, the perfect and appropriate method of fusing body and mind together so that they form a unity which is scarcely to be questioned. This unity creates a psychological disposition which makes possible intuitions that transcend consciousness.”

The Western day is indeed nearing when the inner science of self-control will be found as necessary as the outer conquest of nature. This new Atomic Age will see men's minds sobered and broadened by the now scientifically indisputable truth that matter is in reality a concentrate of energy. Finer forces of the human mind can and must liberate energies greater than those within stones and metals, lest the material atomic giant, newly unleashed, turn on the world in mindless destruction. {FN24-9}

{FN24-1} I CORINTHIANS 7:32-33.

{FN24-2} Literally, “This soul is Spirit.” The Supreme Spirit, the Uncreated, is wholly unconditioned (NETI, NETI, not this, not that) but is often referred to in VEDANTA as SAT-CHIT-ANANDA, that is, Being-Intelligence-Bliss.

{FN24-3} Sometimes called Shankaracharya. ACHARYA means “religious teacher.” Shankara's date is a center of the usual scholastic dispute. A few records indicate that the peerless monist lived from 510 to 478 B.C.; Western historians assign him to the late eighth century A.D. Readers who are interested in Shankara's famous exposition of the BRAHMA SUTRAS will find a careful English translation in Dr. Paul Deussen's SYSTEM OF THE VEDANTA (Chicago: Open Court Publishing Company, 1912). Short extracts from his writings will be found in SELECTED WORKS OF SRI SHANKARACHARYA (Natesan &Co., Madras).

{FN24-4} “CHITTA VRITTI NIRODHA"-YOGA SUTRA I:2. Patanjali's date is unknown, though a number of scholars place him in the second century B.C. The rishis gave forth treatises on all subjects with such insight that ages have been powerless to outmode them; yet, to the subsequent consternation of historians, the sages made no effort to attach their own dates and personalities to their literary works. They knew their lives were only temporarily important as flashes of the great infinite Life; and that truth is timeless, impossible to trademark, and no private possession of their own.

{FN24-5} The six orthodox systems (SADDARSANA) are SANKHYA, YOGA, VEDANTA, MIMAMSA, NYAYA, and VAISESIKA. Readers of a scholarly bent will delight in the subtleties and broad scope of these ancient formulations as summarized, in English, in HISTORY OF INDIAN PHILOSOPHY, Vol. I, by Prof. Surendranath DasGupta (Cambridge University Press, 1922).

{FN24-6} Not to be confused with the “Noble Eightfold Path” of Buddhism, a guide to man's conduct of life, as follows (1) Right Ideals, (2) Right Motive, (3) Right Speech, (4) Right Action, (5) Right Means of Livelihood, (6) Right Effort, (7) Right Remembrance (of the Self), (8) Right Realization (SAMADHI).

{FN24-7} Dr. Jung attended the Indian Science Congress in 1937 and received an honorary degree from the University of Calcutta.

{FN24-8} Dr. Jung is here referring to HATHA YOGA, a specialized branch of bodily postures and techniques for health and longevity. HATHA is useful, and produces spectacular physical results, but this branch of yoga is little used by yogis bent on spiritual liberation.

{FN24-9} In Plato's TIMAEUS story of Atlantis, he tells of the inhabitants' advanced state of scientific knowledge. The lost continent is believed to have vanished about 9500 B.C. through a cataclysm of nature; certain metaphysical writers, however, state that the Atlanteans were destroyed as a result of their misuse of atomic power. Two French writers have recently compiled a BIBLIOGRAPHY OF ATLANTIS, listing over 1700 historical and other references.


CHAPTER 25

MY INTERRUPTED FLIGHT TOWARD THE HIMALAYAS

BROTHER ANANTA AND SISTER NALINI

“Ananta cannot live; the sands of his karma for this life have run out.”

These inexorable words reached my inner consciousness as I sat one morning in deep meditation. Shortly after I had entered the Swami Order, I paid a visit to my birthplace, Gorakhpur, as a guest of my elder brother Ananta. A sudden illness confined him to his bed; I nursed him lovingly.

The solemn inward pronouncement filled me with grief. I felt that I could not bear to remain longer in Gorakhpur, only to see my brother removed before my helpless gaze. Amidst uncomprehending criticism from my relatives, I left India on the first available boat. It cruised along Burma and the China Sea to Japan. I disembarked at Kobe, where I spent only a few days. My heart was too heavy for sightseeing.

On the return trip to India, the boat touched at Shanghai. There Dr. Misra, the ship's physician, guided me to several curio shops, where I selected various presents for Sri Yukteswar and my family and friends. For Ananta I purchased a large carved bamboo piece. No sooner had the Chinese salesman handed me the bamboo souvenir than I dropped it on the floor, crying out, “I have bought this for my dear dead brother!”

A clear realization had swept over me that his soul was just being freed in the Infinite. The souvenir was sharply and symbolically cracked by its fall; amidst sobs, I wrote on the bamboo surface: “For my beloved Ananta, now gone.”

My companion, the doctor, was observing these proceedings with a sardonic smile.

“Save your tears,” he remarked. “Why shed them until you are sure he is dead?”

When our boat reached Calcutta, Dr. Misra again accompanied me. My youngest brother Bishnu was waiting to greet me at the dock.

“I know Ananta has departed this life,” I said to Bishnu, before he had had time to speak. “Please tell me, and the doctor here, when Ananta died.”

Bishnu named the date, which was the very day that I had bought the souvenirs in Shanghai.

“Look here!” Dr. Misra ejaculated. “Don't let any word of this get around! The professors will be adding a year's study of mental telepathy to the medical course, which is already long enough!”

Father embraced me warmly as I entered our Gurpar Road home. “You have come,” he said tenderly. Two large tears dropped from his eyes. Ordinarily undemonstrative, he had never before shown me these signs of affection. Outwardly the grave father, inwardly he possessed the melting heart of a mother. In all his dealings with the family, his dual parental role was distinctly manifest.

Soon after Ananta's passing, my younger sister Nalini was brought back from death's door by a divine healing. Before relating the story, I will refer to a few phases of her earlier life.

The childhood relationship between Nalini and myself had not been of the happiest nature. I was very thin; she was thinner still. Through an unconscious motive or “complex” which psychiatrists will have no difficulty in identifying, I often used to tease my sister about her cadaverous appearance. Her retorts were equally permeated with the callous frankness of extreme youth. Sometimes Mother intervened, ending the childish quarrels, temporarily, by a gentle box on my ear, as the elder ear.

Time passed; Nalini was betrothed to a young Calcutta physician, Panchanon Bose. He received a generous dowry from Father, presumably (as I remarked to Sister) to compensate the bridegroom-to-be for his fate in allying himself with a human bean-pole.

Elaborate marriage rites were celebrated in due time. On the wedding night, I joined the large and jovial group of relatives in the living room of our Calcutta home. The bridegroom was leaning on an immense gold-brocaded pillow, with Nalini at his side. A gorgeous purple silk SARI {FN25-1} could not, alas, wholly hide her angularity. I sheltered myself behind the pillow of my new brother-in-law and grinned at him in friendly fashion. He had never seen Nalini until the day of the nuptial ceremony, when he finally learned what he was getting in the matrimonial lottery.

Feeling my sympathy, Dr. Bose pointed unobtrusively to Nalini, and whispered in my ear, “Say, what's this?”

“Why, Doctor,” I replied, “it is a skeleton for your observation!”

Convulsed with mirth, my brother-in-law and I were hard put to it to maintain the proper decorum before our assembled relatives.

As the years went on, Dr. Bose endeared himself to our family, who called on him whenever illness arose. He and I became fast friends, often joking together, usually with Nalini as our target.

“It is a medical curiosity,” my brother-in-law remarked to me one day. “I have tried everything on your lean sister-cod liver oil, butter, malt, honey, fish, meat, eggs, tonics. Still she fails to bulge even one-hundredth of an inch.” We both chuckled.

A few days later I visited the Bose home. My errand there took only a few minutes; I was leaving, unnoticed, I thought, by Nalini. As I reached the front door, I heard her voice, cordial but commanding.

“Brother, come here. You are not going to give me the slip this time. I want to talk to you.”

I mounted the stairs to her room. To my surprise, she was in tears.

“Dear brother,” she said, “let us bury the old hatchet. I see that your feet are now firmly set on the spiritual path. I want to become like you in every way.” She added hopefully, “You are now robust in appearance; can you help me? My husband does not come near me, and I love him so dearly! But still more I want to progress in God-realization, even if I must remain thin {FN25-2} and unattractive.”

My heart was deeply touched at her plea. Our new friendship steadily progressed; one day she asked to become my disciple.

“Train me in any way you like. I put my trust in God instead of tonics.” She gathered together an armful of medicines and poured them down the roof drain.

As a test of her faith, I asked her to omit from her diet all fish, meat, and eggs.

After several months, during which Nalini had strictly followed the various rules I had outlined, and had adhered to her vegetarian diet in spite of numerous difficulties, I paid her a visit.

“Sis, you have been conscientiously observing the spiritual injunctions; your reward is near.” I smiled mischievously. “How plump do you want to be-as fat as our aunt who hasn't seen her feet in years?”

“No! But I long to be as stout as you are.”

I replied solemnly. “By the grace of God, as I have spoken truth always, I speak truly now. {FN25-3} Through the divine blessings, your body shall verily change from today; in one month it shall have the same weight as mine.”

These words from my heart found fulfillment. In thirty days, Nalini's weight equalled mine. The new roundness gave her beauty; her husband fell deeply in love. Their marriage, begun so inauspiciously, turned out to be ideally happy.

On my return from Japan, I learned that during my absence Nalini had been stricken with typhoid fever. I rushed to her home, and was aghast to find her reduced to a mere skeleton. She was in a coma.

“Before her mind became confused by illness,” my brother-in-law told me, “she often said: 'If brother Mukunda were here, I would not be faring thus.'“ He added despairingly, “The other doctors and myself see no hope. Blood dysentery has set in, after her long bout with typhoid.”

I began to move heaven and earth with my prayers. Engaging an Anglo-Indian nurse, who gave me full cooperation, I applied to my sister various yoga techniques of healing. The blood dysentery disappeared.

But Dr. Bose shook his head mournfully. “She simply has no more blood left to shed.”

“She will recover,” I replied stoutly. “In seven days her fever will be gone.”

A week later I was thrilled to see Nalini open her eyes and gaze at me with loving recognition. From that day her recovery was swift. Although she regained her usual weight, she bore one sad scar of her nearly fatal illness: her legs were paralyzed. Indian and English specialists pronounced her a hopeless cripple.

The incessant war for her life which I had waged by prayer had exhausted me. I went to Serampore to ask Sri Yukteswar's help. His eyes expressed deep sympathy as I told him of Nalini's plight.

“Your sister's legs will be normal at the end of one month.” He added, “Let her wear, next to her skin, a band with an unperforated two-carat pearl, held on by a clasp.”

I prostrated myself at his feet with joyful relief.

“Sir, you are a master; your word of her recovery is enough But if you insist I shall immediately get her a pearl.”

My guru nodded. “Yes, do that.” He went on to correctly describe the physical and mental characteristics of Nalini, whom he had never seen.

“Sir,” I inquired, “is this an astrological analysis? You do not know her birth day or hour.”

Sri Yukteswar smiled. “There is a deeper astrology, not dependent on the testimony of calendars and clocks. Each man is a part of the Creator, or Cosmic Man; he has a heavenly body as well as one of earth. The human eye sees the physical form, but the inward eye penetrates more profoundly, even to the universal pattern of which each man is an integral and individual part.”

I returned to Calcutta and purchased a pearl for Nalini. A month later, her paralyzed legs were completely healed.

Sister asked me to convey her heartfelt gratitude to my guru. He listened to her message in silence. But as I was taking my leave, he made a pregnant comment.

“Your sister has been told by many doctors that she can never bear children. Assure her that in a few years she will give birth to two daughters.”

Some years later, to Nalini's joy, she bore a girl, followed in a few years by another daughter.

“Your master has blessed our home, our entire family,” my sister said. “The presence of such a man is a sanctification on the whole of India. Dear brother, please tell Sri Yukteswarji that, through you, I humbly count myself as one of his KRIYA YOGA disciples.”

{FN25-1} The gracefully draped dress of Indian women.

{FN25-2} Because most persons in India are thin, reasonable plumpness is considered very desirable.

{FN25-3} The Hindu scriptures declare that those who habitually speak the truth will develop the power of materializing their words. What commands they utter from the heart will come true in life.


CHAPTER 26

THE SCIENCE OF KRIYA YOGA

THE SCIENCE OF KRIYA YOGA

The science of KRIYA YOGA, mentioned so often in these pages, became widely known in modern India through the instrumentality of Lahiri Mahasaya, my guru's guru. The Sanskrit root of KRIYA is KRI, to do, to act and react; the same root is found in the word KARMA, the natural principle of cause and effect. KRIYA YOGA is thus “union (yoga) with the Infinite through a certain action or rite.” A yogi who faithfully follows its technique is gradually freed from karma or the universal chain of causation.

Because of certain ancient yogic injunctions, I cannot give a full explanation of KRIYA YOGA in the pages of a book intended for the general public. The actual technique must be learned from a KRIYABAN or KRIYA YOGI; here a broad reference must suffice.

KRIYA YOGA is a simple, psychophysiological method by which the human blood is decarbonized and recharged with oxygen. The atoms of this extra oxygen are transmuted into life current to rejuvenate the brain and spinal centers. {FN26-1} By stopping the accumulation of venous blood, the yogi is able to lessen or prevent the decay of tissues; the advanced yogi transmutes his cells into pure energy. Elijah, Jesus, Kabir and other prophets were past masters in the use of KRIYA or a similar technique, by which they caused their bodies to dematerialize at will.

KRIYA is an ancient science. Lahiri Mahasaya received it from his guru, Babaji, who rediscovered and clarified the technique after it had been lost in the Dark Ages.

“The KRIYA YOGA which I am giving to the world through you in this nineteenth century,” Babaji told Lahiri Mahasaya, “is a revival of the same science which Krishna gave, millenniums ago, to Arjuna, and which was later known to Patanjali, and to Christ, St. John, St. Paul, and other disciples.”

KRIYA YOGA is referred to by Krishna, India's greatest prophet, in a stanza of the BHAGAVAD GITA: “Offering inhaling breath into the outgoing breath, and offering the outgoing breath into the inhaling breath, the yogi neutralizes both these breaths; he thus releases the life force from the heart and brings it under his control.” {FN26-2} The interpretation is: “The yogi arrests decay in the body by an addition of life force, and arrests the mutations of growth in the body by APAN (eliminating current). Thus neutralizing decay and growth, by quieting the heart, the yogi learns life control.”

Krishna also relates {FN26-3} that it was he, in a former incarnation, who communicated the indestructible yoga to an ancient illuminato, Vivasvat, who gave it to Manu, the great legislator. {FN26-4} He, in turn, instructed Ikshwaku, the father of India's solar warrior dynasty. Passing thus from one to another, the royal yoga was guarded by the rishis until the coming of the materialistic ages. {FN26-5} Then, due to priestly secrecy and man's indifference, the sacred knowledge gradually became inaccessible.

KRIYA YOGA is mentioned twice by the ancient sage Patanjali, foremost exponent of yoga, who wrote: “KRIYA YOGA consists of body discipline, mental control, and meditating on AUM.” {FN26-6} Patanjali speaks of God as the actual Cosmic Sound of AUM heard in meditation. {FN26-7} AUM is the Creative Word, {FN26-8} the sound of the Vibratory Motor. Even the yoga-beginner soon inwardly hears the wondrous sound of AUM. Receiving this blissful spiritual encouragement, the devotee becomes assured that he is in actual touch with divine realms.

Patanjali refers a second time to the life-control or KRIYA technique thus: “Liberation can be accomplished by that PRANAYAMA which is attained by disjoining the course of inspiration and expiration.” {FN26-9}

St. Paul knew KRIYA YOGA, or a technique very similar to it, by which he could switch life currents to and from the senses. He was therefore able to say: “Verily, I protest by our rejoicing which I have in Christ, I DIE DAILY.” {FN26-10} By daily withdrawing his bodily life force, he united it by yoga union with the rejoicing (eternal bliss) of the Christ consciousness. In that felicitous state, he was consciously aware of being dead to the delusive sensory world of MAYA.

In the initial states of God-contact (SABIKALPA SAMADHI) the devotee's consciousness merges with the Cosmic Spirit; his life force is withdrawn from the body, which appears “dead,” or motionless and rigid. The yogi is fully aware of his bodily condition of suspended animation. As he progresses to higher spiritual states (NIRBIKALPA SAMADHI), however, he communes with God without bodily fixation, and in his ordinary waking consciousness, even in the midst of exacting worldly duties. {FN26-11}

“KRIYA YOGA is an instrument through which human evolution can be quickened,” Sri Yukteswar explained to his students. “The ancient yogis discovered that the secret of cosmic consciousness is intimately linked with breath mastery. This is India's unique and deathless contribution to the world's treasury of knowledge. The life force, which is ordinarily absorbed in maintaining the heart-pump, must be freed for higher activities by a method of calming and stilling the ceaseless demands of the breath.”

The KRIYA YOGI mentally directs his life energy to revolve, upward and downward, around the six spinal centers (medullary, cervical, dorsal, lumbar, sacral, and coccygeal plexuses) which correspond to the twelve astral signs of the zodiac, the symbolic Cosmic Man. One-half minute of revolution of energy around the sensitive spinal cord of man effects subtle progress in his evolution; that half-minute of KRIYA equals one year of natural spiritual unfoldment.

The astral system of a human being, with six (twelve by polarity) inner constellations revolving around the sun of the omniscient spiritual eye, is interrelated with the physical sun and the twelve zodiacal signs. All men are thus affected by an inner and an outer universe. The ancient rishis discovered that man's earthly and heavenly environment, in twelve-year cycles, push him forward on his natural path. The scriptures aver that man requires a million years of normal, diseaseless evolution to perfect his human brain sufficiently to express cosmic consciousness.

One thousand KRIYA practiced in eight hours gives the yogi, in one day, the equivalent of one thousand years of natural evolution: 365,000 years of evolution in one year. In three years, a KRIYA YOGI can thus accomplish by intelligent self-effort the same result which nature brings to pass in a million years. The KRIYA short cut, of course, can be taken only by deeply developed yogis. With the guidance of a guru, such yogis have carefully prepared their bodies and brains to receive the power created by intensive practice.

The KRIYA beginner employs his yogic exercise only fourteen to twenty-eight times, twice daily. A number of yogis achieve emancipation in six or twelve or twenty-four or forty-eight years. A yogi who dies before achieving full realization carries with him the good karma of his past KRIYA effort; in his new life he is harmoniously propelled toward his Infinite Goal.

The body of the average man is like a fifty-watt lamp, which cannot accommodate the billion watts of power roused by an excessive practice of KRIYA. Through gradual and regular increase of the simple and “foolproof” methods of KRIYA, man's body becomes astrally transformed day by day, and is finally fitted to express the infinite potentials of cosmic energy-the first materially active expression of Spirit.

KRIYA YOGA has nothing in common with the unscientific breathing exercises taught by a number of misguided zealots. Their attempts to forcibly hold breath in the lungs is not only unnatural but decidedly unpleasant. KRIYA, on the other hand, is accompanied from the very beginning by an accession of peace, and by soothing sensations of regenerative effect in the spine.

The ancient yogic technique converts the breath into mind. By spiritual advancement, one is able to cognize the breath as an act of mind-a dream-breath.

Many illustrations could be given of the mathematical relationship between man's respiratory rate and the variations in his states of consciousness. A person whose attention is wholly engrossed, as in following some closely knit intellectual argument, or in attempting some delicate or difficult physical feat, automatically breathes very slowly. Fixity of attention depends on slow breathing; quick or uneven breaths are an inevitable accompaniment of harmful emotional states: fear, lust, anger. The restless monkey breathes at the rate of 32 times a minute, in contrast to man's average of 18 times. The elephant, tortoise, snake and other animals noted for their longevity have a respiratory rate which is less than man's. The tortoise, for instance, who may attain the age of 300 years, {FN26-12} breathes only 4 times per minute.

The rejuvenating effects of sleep are due to man's temporary unawareness of body and breathing. The sleeping man becomes a yogi; each night he unconsciously performs the yogic rite of releasing himself from bodily identification, and of merging the life force with healing currents in the main brain region and the six sub-dynamos of his spinal centers. The sleeper thus dips unknowingly into the reservoir of cosmic energy which sustains all life.

The voluntary yogi performs a simple, natural process consciously, not unconsciously like the slow-paced sleeper. The KRIYA YOGI uses his technique to saturate and feed all his physical cells with undecaying light and keep them in a magnetized state. He scientifically makes breath unnecessary, without producing the states of subconscious sleep or unconsciousness.

By KRIYA, the outgoing life force is not wasted and abused in the senses, but constrained to reunite with subtler spinal energies. By such reinforcement of life, the yogi's body and brain cells are electrified with the spiritual elixir. Thus he removes himself from studied observance of natural laws, which can only take him-by circuitous means as given by proper food, sunlight, and harmonious thoughts-to a million-year Goal. It needs twelve years of normal healthful living to effect even slight perceptible change in brain structure, and a million solar returns are exacted to sufficiently refine the cerebral tenement for manifestation of cosmic consciousness.

Untying the cord of breath which binds the soul to the body, KRIYA serves to prolong life and enlarge the consciousness to infinity. The yoga method overcomes the tug of war between the mind and the matter-bound senses, and frees the devotee to reinherit his eternal kingdom. He knows his real nature is bound neither by physical encasement nor by breath, symbol of the mortal enslavement to air, to nature's elemental compulsions.

Introspection, or “sitting in the silence,” is an unscientific way of trying to force apart the mind and senses, tied together by the life force. The contemplative mind, attempting its return to divinity, is constantly dragged back toward the senses by the life currents. KRIYA, controlling the mind DIRECTLY through the life force, is the easiest, most effective, and most scientific avenue of approach to the Infinite. In contrast to the slow, uncertain “bullock cart” theological path to God, KRIYA may justly be called the “airplane” route.

The yogic science is based on an empirical consideration of all forms of concentration and meditation exercises. Yoga enables the devotee to switch off or on, at will, life current from the five sense telephones of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Attaining this power of sense-disconnection, the yogi finds it simple to unite his mind at will with divine realms or with the world of matter. No longer is he unwillingly brought back by the life force to the mundane sphere of rowdy sensations and restless thoughts. Master of his body and mind, the KRIYA YOGI ultimately achieves victory over the “last enemy,” death.

So shalt thou feed on Death, that feeds on men: And Death once dead, there's no more dying then. {FN26-13}

The life of an advanced KRIYA YOGI is influenced, not by effects of past actions, but solely by directions from the soul. The devotee thus avoids the slow, evolutionary monitors of egoistic actions, good and bad, of common life, cumbrous and snail-like to the eagle hearts.

The superior method of soul living frees the yogi who, shorn of his ego-prison, tastes the deep air of omnipresence. The thralldom of natural living is, in contrast, set in a pace humiliating. Conforming his life to the evolutionary order, a man can command no concessionary haste from nature but, living without error against the laws of his physical and mental endowment, still requires about a million years of incarnating masquerades to know final emancipation.

The telescopic methods of yogis, disengaging themselves from physical and mental identifications in favor of soul-individuality, thus commend themselves to those who eye with revolt a thousand thousand years. This numerical periphery is enlarged for the ordinary man, who lives in harmony not even with nature, let alone his soul, but pursues instead unnatural complexities, thus offending in his body and thoughts the sweet sanities of nature. For him, two times a million years can scarce suffice for liberation.

Gross man seldom or never realizes that his body is a kingdom, governed by Emperor Soul on the throne of the cranium, with subsidiary regents in the six spinal centers or spheres of consciousness. This theocracy extends over a throng of obedient subjects: twenty-seven thousand billion cells-endowed with a sure if automatic intelligence by which they perform all duties of bodily growths, transformations, and dissolutions-and fifty million substratal thoughts, emotions, and variations of alternating phases in man's consciousness in an average life of sixty years. Any apparent insurrection of bodily or cerebral cells toward Emperor Soul, manifesting as disease or depression, is due to no disloyalty among the humble citizens, but to past or present misuse by man of his individuality or free will, given to him simultaneous with a soul, and revocable never.

Identifying himself with a shallow ego, man takes for granted that it is he who thinks, wills, feels, digests meals, and keeps himself alive, never admitting through reflection (only a little would suffice!) that in his ordinary life he is naught but a puppet of past actions (karma) and of nature or environment. Each man's intellectual reactions, feelings, moods, and habits are circumscribed by effects of past causes, whether of this or a prior life. Lofty above such influences, however, is his regal soul. Spurning the transitory truths and freedoms, the KRIYA YOGI passes beyond all disillusionment into his unfettered Being. All scriptures declare man to be not a corruptible body, but a living soul; by KRIYA he is given a method to prove the scriptural truth.

“Outward ritual cannot destroy ignorance, because they are not mutually contradictory,” wrote Shankara in his famous CENTURY OF VERSES. “Realized knowledge alone destroys ignorance. . . . Knowledge cannot spring up by any other means than inquiry. 'Who am I? How was this universe born? Who is its maker? What is its material cause?' This is the kind of inquiry referred to.” The intellect has no answer for these questions; hence the rishis evolved yoga as the technique of spiritual inquiry.

KRIYA YOGA is the real “fire rite” often extolled in the BHAGAVAD GITA. The purifying fires of yoga bring eternal illumination, and thus differ much from outward and little-effective religious fire ceremonies, where perception of truth is oft burnt, to solemn chanted accompaniment, along with the incense!

The advanced yogi, withholding all his mind, will, and feeling from false identification with bodily desires, uniting his mind with superconscious forces in the spinal shrines, thus lives in this world as God hath planned, not impelled by impulses from the past nor by new witlessnesses of fresh human motivations. Such a yogi receives fulfillment of his Supreme Desire, safe in the final haven of inexhaustibly blissful Spirit.

The yogi offers his labyrinthine human longings to a monotheistic bonfire dedicated to the unparalleled God. This is indeed the true yogic fire ceremony, in which all past and present desires are fuel consumed by love divine. The Ultimate Flame receives the sacrifice of all human madness, and man is pure of dross. His bones stripped of all desirous flesh, his karmic skeleton bleached in the antiseptic suns of wisdom, he is clean at last, inoffensive before man and Maker.

Referring to yoga's sure and methodical efficacy, Lord Krishna praises the technological yogi in the following words: “The yogi is greater than body-disciplining ascetics, greater even than the followers of the path of wisdom (JNANA YOGA), or of the path of action (KARMA YOGA); be thou, O disciple Arjuna, a yogi!” {FN26-14}

{FN26-1} The noted scientist, Dr. George W. Crile of Cleveland, explained before a 1940 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science the experiments by which he had proved that all bodily tissues are electrically negative, except the brain and nervous system tissues which remain electrically positive because they take up revivifying oxygen at a more rapid rate.

{FN26-2} BHAGAVAD GITA, IV:29.

{FN26-3} BHAGAVAD GITA IV:1-2.

{FN26-4} The author of MANAVA DHARMA SHASTRAS. These institutes of canonized common law are effective in India to this day. The French scholar, Louis Jacolliot, writes that the date of Manu “is lost in the night of the ante-historical period of India; and no scholar has dared to refuse him the title of the most ancient lawgiver in the world.” In LA BIBLE DANS L'INDE, pages 33-37, Jacolliot reproduces parallel textual references to prove that the Roman CODE OF JUSTINIAN follows closely the LAWS OF MANU.

{FN26-5} The start of the materialistic ages, according to Hindu scriptural reckonings, was 3102 B.C. This was the beginning of the Descending Dwapara Age (see page 174). Modern scholars, blithely believing that 10,000 years ago all men were sunk in a barbarous Stone Age, summarily dismiss as “myths” all records and traditions of very ancient civilizations in India, China, Egypt, and other lands.

{FN26-6} Patanjali's APHORISMS, II:1. In using the words KRIYA YOGA, Patanjali was referring to either the exact technique taught by Babaji, or one very similar to it. That it was a definite technique of life control is proved by Patanjali's APHORISM II:49.

{FN26-7} Patanjali's APHORISMS, I:27.

{FN26-8} “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”-JOHN 1:1-3. AUM (OM) of the VEDAS became the sacred word AMIN of the Moslems, HUM of the Tibetans, and AMEN of the Christians (its meaning in Hebrew being SURE, FAITHFUL). “These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.”-REVELATIONS 3:14.

{FN26-9} APHORISMS II:49..

{FN26-10} I CORINTHIANS 15:31. “Our rejoicing” is the correct translation; not, as usually given, “your rejoicing.” St. Paul was referring to the OMNIPRESENCE of the Christ consciousness..

{FN26-11} KALPA means time or aeon. SABIKALPA means subject to time or change; some link with PRAKRITI or matter remains. NIRBIKALPA means timeless, changeless; this is the highest state of SAMADHI.

{FN26-12} According to the LINCOLN LIBRARY OF ESSENTIAL INFORMATION, p. 1030, the giant tortoise lives between 200 and 300 years.

{FN26-13} Shakespeare: SONNET #146.

{FN26-14} BHAGAVAD GITA, VI:46.


CHAPTER 27

FOUNDING A YOGA SCHOOL AT RANCHI

FOUNDING A YOGA SCHOOL AT RANCHI

“Why are you averse to organizational work?”

Master's question startled me a bit. It is true that my private conviction at the time was that organizations were “hornets' nests.”

“It is a thankless task, sir,” I answered. “No matter what the leader does or does not, he is criticized.”

“Do you want the whole divine CHANNA (milk curd) for yourself alone?” My guru's retort was accompanied by a stern glance. “Could you or anyone else achieve God-contact through yoga if a line of generous-hearted masters had not been willing to convey their knowledge to others?” He added, “God is the Honey, organizations are the hives; both are necessary. Any FORM is useless, of course, without the spirit, but why should you not start busy hives full of the spiritual nectar?”

His counsel moved me deeply. Although I made no outward reply, an adamant resolution arose in my breast: I would share with my fellows, so far as lay in my power, the unshackling truths I had learned at my guru's feet. “Lord,” I prayed, “may Thy Love shine forever on the sanctuary of my devotion, and may I be able to awaken that Love in other hearts.”

On a previous occasion, before I had joined the monastic order, Sri Yukteswar had made a most unexpected remark.

“How you will miss the companionship of a wife in your old age!” he had said. “Do you not agree that the family man, engaged in useful work to maintain his wife and children, thus plays a rewarding role in God's eyes?”

“Sir,” I had protested in alarm, “you know that my desire in this life is to espouse only the Cosmic Beloved.”

Master had laughed so merrily that I understood his observation was made merely as a test of my faith.

“Remember,” he had said slowly, “that he who discards his worldly duties can justify himself only by assuming some kind of responsibility toward a much larger family.”

The ideal of an all-sided education for youth had always been close to my heart. I saw clearly the arid results of ordinary instruction, aimed only at the development of body and intellect. Moral and spiritual values, without whose appreciation no man can approach happiness, were yet lacking in the formal curriculum. I determined to found a school where young boys could develop to the full stature of manhood. My first step in that direction was made with seven children at Dihika, a small country site in Bengal.

A year later, in 1918, through the generosity of Sir Manindra Chandra Nundy, the Maharaja of Kasimbazar, I was able to transfer my fast-growing group to Ranchi. This town in Bihar, about two hundred miles from Calcutta, is blessed with one of the most healthful climates in India. The Kasimbazar Palace at Ranchi was transformed into the headquarters for the new school, which I called BRAHMACHARYA VIDYALAYA {FN27-1} in accordance with the educational ideals of the rishis. Their forest ashrams had been the ancient seats of learning, secular and divine, for the youth of India.

At Ranchi I organized an educational program for both grammar and high school grades. It included agricultural, industrial, commercial, and academic subjects. The students were also taught yoga concentration and meditation, and a unique system of physical development, “Yogoda,” whose principles I had discovered in 1916.

Realizing that man's body is like an electric battery, I reasoned that it could be recharged with energy through the direct agency of the human will. As no action, slight or large, is possible without WILLING, man can avail himself of his prime mover, will, to renew his bodily tissues without burdensome apparatus or mechanical exercises. I therefore taught the Ranchi students my simple “Yogoda” techniques by which the life force, centred in man's medulla oblongata, can be consciously and instantly recharged from the unlimited supply of cosmic energy.

The boys responded wonderfully to this training, developing extraordinary ability to shift the life energy from one part of the body to another part, and to sit in perfect poise in difficult body postures. {FN27-2} They performed feats of strength and endurance which many powerful adults could not equal. My youngest brother, Bishnu Charan Ghosh, joined the Ranchi school; he later became a leading physical culturist in Bengal. He and one of his students traveled to Europe and America, giving exhibitions of strength and skill which amazed the university savants, including those at Columbia University in New York.

At the end of the first year at Ranchi, applications for admission reached two thousand. But the school, which at that time was solely residential, could accommodate only about one hundred. Instruction for day students was soon added.

In the VIDYALAYA I had to play father-mother to the little children, and to cope with many organizational difficulties. I often remembered Christ's words: “Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.” {FN27-3} Sri Yukteswar had interpreted these words: “The devotee who forgoes the life-experiences of marriage and family, and exchanges the problems of a small household and limited activities for the larger responsibilities of service to society in general, is undertaking a task which is often accompanied by persecution from a misunderstanding world, but also by a divine inner contentment.”

[Illustration: Yogoda Math, beautiful hermitage of Self-Realization Fellowship at Dakshineswar on the Ganges. Founded in 1938 as a yoga retreat for students of East and West.—see math.jpg]

[Illustration: Central building of the Yogoda Sat-Sanga Brahmacharya Vidyalaya at Ranchi, Bihar, established in 1918 as a yoga school for boys, with grammar and high school education. Connected with it is the philanthropic Lahiri Mahasaya Mission.—see ranchi.jpg]

One day my father arrived in Ranchi to bestow a paternal blessing, long withheld because I had hurt him by refusing his offer of a position with the Bengal-Nagpur Railway.

“Son,” he said, “I am now reconciled to your choice in life. It gives me joy to see you amidst these happy, eager youngsters; you belong here rather than with the lifeless figures of railroad timetables.” He waved toward a group of a dozen little ones who were tagging at my heels. “I had only eight children,” he observed with twinkling eyes, “but I can feel for you!”

With a large fruit orchard and twenty-five fertile acres at our disposal, the students, teachers, and myself enjoyed many happy hours of outdoor labor in these ideal surroundings. We had many pets, including a young deer who was fairly idolized by the children. I too loved the fawn so much that I allowed it to sleep in my room. At the light of dawn, the little creature would toddle over to my bed for a morning caress.

One day I fed the pet earlier than usual, as I had to attend to some business in the town of Ranchi. Although I cautioned the boys not to feed the fawn until my return, one of them was disobedient, and gave the baby deer a large quantity of milk. When I came back in the evening, sad news greeted me: “The little fawn is nearly dead, through over feeding.”

In tears, I placed the apparently lifeless pet on my lap. I prayed piteously to God to spare its life. Hours later, the small creature opened its eyes, stood up, and walked feebly. The whole school shouted for joy.

But a deep lesson came to me that night, one I can never forget. I stayed up with the fawn until two o'clock, when I fell asleep. The deer appeared in a dream, and spoke to me:

“You are holding me back. Please let me go; let me go!”

“All right,” I answered in the dream.

I awoke immediately, and cried out, “Boys, the deer is dying!” The children rushed to my side.

I ran to the corner of the room where I had placed the pet. It made a last effort to rise, stumbled toward me, then dropped at my feet, dead.

According to the mass karma which guides and regulates the destinies of animals, the deer's life was over, and it was ready to progress to a higher form. But by my deep attachment, which I later realized was selfish, and by my fervent prayers, I had been able to hold it in the limitations of the animal form from which the soul was struggling for release. The soul of the deer made its plea in a dream because, without my loving permission, it either would not or could not go. As soon as I agreed, it departed.

All sorrow left me; I realized anew that God wants His children to love everything as a part of Him, and not to feel delusively that death ends all. The ignorant man sees only the unsurmountable wall of death, hiding, seemingly forever, his cherished friends. But the man of unattachment, he who loves others as expressions of the Lord, understands that at death the dear ones have only returned for a breathing-space of joy in Him.

The Ranchi school grew from small and simple beginnings to an institution now well-known in India. Many departments of the school are supported by voluntary contributions from those who rejoice in perpetuating the educational ideals of the rishis. Under the general name of YOGODA SAT-SANGA, {FN27-4} flourishing branch schools have been established at Midnapore, Lakshmanpur, and Puri.

The Ranchi headquarters maintains a Medical Department where medicines and the services of doctors are supplied freely to the poor of the locality. The number treated has averaged more than 18,000 persons a year. The VIDYALAYA has made its mark, too, in Indian competitive sports, and in the scholastic field, where many Ranchi alumni have distinguished themselves in later university life.

The school, now in its twenty-eighth year and the center of many activities, {FN27-5} has been honored by visits of eminent men from the East and the West. One of the earliest great figures to inspect the VIDYALAYA in its first year was Swami Pranabananda, the Benares “saint with two bodies.” As the great master viewed the picturesque outdoor classes, held under the trees, and saw in the evening that young boys were sitting motionless for hours in yoga meditation, he was profoundly moved.

“Joy comes to my heart,” he said, “to see that Lahiri Mahasaya's ideals for the proper training of youth are being carried on in this institution. My guru's blessings be on it.”

A young lad sitting by my side ventured to ask the great yogi a question.

“Sir,” he said, “shall I be a monk? Is my life only for God?”

Though Swami Pranabananda smiled gently, his eyes were piercing the future.

“Child,” he replied, “when you grow up, there is a beautiful bride waiting for you.” The boy did eventually marry, after having planned for years to enter the Swami Order.

Sometime after Swami Pranabananda had visited Ranchi, I accompanied my father to the Calcutta house where the yogi was temporarily staying. Pranabananda's prediction, made to me so many years before, came rushing to my mind: “I shall see you, with your father, later on.”

As Father entered the swami's room, the great yogi rose from his seat and embraced my parent with loving respect.

“Bhagabati,” he said, “what are you doing about yourself? Don't you see your son racing to the Infinite?” I blushed to hear his praise before my father. The swami went on, “You recall how often our blessed guru used to say: 'BANAT, BANAT, BAN JAI.' {FN26-6} So keep up KRIYA YOGA ceaselessly, and reach the divine portals quickly.”

The body of Pranabananda, which had appeared so well and strong during my amazing first visit to him in Benares, now showed definite aging, though his posture was still admirably erect.

“Swamiji,” I inquired, looking straight into his eyes, “please tell me the truth: Aren't you feeling the advance of age? As the body is weakening, are your perceptions of God suffering any diminution?”

He smiled angelically. “The Beloved is more than ever with me now.” His complete conviction overwhelmed my mind and soul. He went on, “I am still enjoying the two pensions-one from Bhagabati here, and one from above.” Pointing his finger heavenward, the saint fell into an ecstasy, his face lit with a divine glow-an ample answer to my question.

Noticing that Pranabananda's room contained many plants and packages of seed, I asked their purpose.

“I have left Benares permanently,” he said, “and am now on my way to the Himalayas. There I shall open an ashram for my disciples. These seeds will produce spinach and a few other vegetables. My dear ones will live simply, spending their time in blissful God-union. Nothing else is necessary.”

Father asked his brother disciple when he would return to Calcutta.

“Never again,” the saint replied. “This year is the one in which Lahiri Mahasaya told me I would leave my beloved Benares forever and go to the Himalayas, there to throw off my mortal frame.”

My eyes filled with tears at his words, but the swami smiled tranquilly. He reminded me of a little heavenly child, sitting securely on the lap of the Divine Mother. The burden of the years has no ill effect on a great yogi's full possession of supreme spiritual powers. He is able to renew his body at will; yet sometimes he does not care to retard the aging process, but allows his karma to work itself out on the physical plane, using his old body as a time-saving device to exclude the necessity of working out karma in a new incarnation.

Months later I met an old friend, Sanandan, who was one of Pranabananda's close disciples.

“My adorable guru is gone,” he told me, amidst sobs. “He established a hermitage near Rishikesh, and gave us loving training. When we were pretty well settled, and making rapid spiritual progress in his company, he proposed one day to feed a huge crowd from Rishikesh. I inquired why he wanted such a large number.

“'This is my last festival ceremony,' he said. I did not understand the full implications of his words.

“Pranabanandaji helped with the cooking of great amounts of food. We fed about 2000 guests. After the feast, he sat on a high platform and gave an inspired sermon on the Infinite. At the end, before the gaze of thousands, he turned to me, as I sat beside him on the dais, and spoke with unusual force.

“'Sanandan, be prepared; I am going to kick the frame.' {FN27-7}

“After a stunned silence, I cried loudly, 'Master, don't do it! Please, please, don't do it!' The crowd was tongue-tied, watching us curiously. My guru smiled at me, but his solemn gaze was already fixed on Eternity.

“'Be not selfish,' he said, 'nor grieve for me. I have been long cheerfully serving you all; now rejoice and wish me Godspeed. I go to meet my Cosmic Beloved.' In a whisper, Pranabanandaji added, 'I shall be reborn shortly. After enjoying a short period of the Infinite Bliss, I shall return to earth and join Babaji. {FN27-8} You shall soon know when and where my soul has been encased in a new body.'

“He cried again, 'Sanandan, here I kick the frame by the second KRIYA YOGA.' {FN27-9}

“He looked at the sea of faces before us, and gave a blessing. Directing his gaze inwardly to the spiritual eye, he became immobile. While the bewildered crowd thought he was meditating in an ecstatic state, he had already left the tabernacle of flesh and plunged his soul into the cosmic vastness. The disciples touched his body, seated in the lotus posture, but it was no longer the warm flesh. Only a stiffened frame remained; the tenant had fled to the immortal shore.”

I inquired where Pranabananda was to be reborn.

“That's a sacred trust I cannot divulge to anyone,” Sanandan replied. “Perhaps you may find out some other way.”

Years later I discovered from Swami Keshabananda {FN27-10} that Pranabananda, a few years after his birth in a new body, had gone to Badrinarayan in the Himalayas, and there joined the group of saints around the great Babaji.

{FN27-1} VIDYALAYA, school. BRAHMACHARYA here refers to one of the four stages in the Vedic plan for man's life, as comprising that of (1) the celibate student (BRAHMACHARI); (2) the householder with worldly responsibilities (GRIHASTHA); (3) the hermit (VANAPRASTHA); (4) the forest dweller or wanderer, free from all earthly concerns (SANNYASI). This ideal scheme of life, while not widely observed in modern India, still has many devout followers. The four stages are carried out religiously under the lifelong direction of a guru.

{FN27-2} A number of American students also have mastered various ASANAS or postures, including Bernard Cole, an instructor in Los Angeles of the Self-Realization Fellowship teachings.

{FN27-3} MARK 10:29-30..

{FN27-4} Yogoda: YOGA, union, harmony, equilibrium; DA, that which imparts. Sat-Sanga: SAT, truth; SANGA, fellowship. In the West, to avoid the use of a Sanskrit name, the YOGODA SAT-SANGA movement has been called the SELF-REALIZATION FELLOWSHIP.

{FN27-5} The activities at Ranchi are described more fully in chapter 40. The Lakshmanpur school is in the capable charge of Mr. G. C. Dey, B.A. The medical department is ably supervised by Dr. S. N. Pal and Sasi Bhusan Mullick.

{FN27-6} One of Lahiri Mahasaya's favorite remarks, given as encouragement for his students' perseverance. A free translation is: “Striving, striving, one day behold! the Divine Goal!”

{FN27-7} i.e., give up the body.

{FN27-8} Lahiri Mahasaya's guru, who is still living. (See chapter 33.)

{FN27-9} The second KRIYA, as taught by Lahiri Mahasaya, enables the devotee that has mastered it to leave and return to the body consciously at any time. Advanced yogis use the second Kriya technique during the last exit of death, a moment they invariably know beforehand.

{FN27-10} My meeting with Keshabananda is described in chapter 42.


CHAPTER 28

KASHI, REBORN AND REDISCOVERED

KASHI, REBORN AND REDISCOVERED

“Please do not go into the water. Let us bathe by dipping our buckets.”

I was addressing the young Ranchi students who were accompanying me on an eight−mile hike to a neighboring hill. The pond before us was inviting, but a distaste for it had arisen in my mind. The group around me followed my example of dipping buckets, but a few lads yielded to the temptation of the cool waters. No sooner had they dived than large water snakes wiggled around them. The boys came out of the pond with comical alacrity.

We enjoyed a picnic lunch after we reached our destination. I sat under a tree, surrounded by a group of students. Finding me in an inspirational mood, they plied me with questions.

“Please tell me, sir,” one youth inquired, “if I shall always stay with you in the path of renunciation.”

“Ah, no,” I replied, “you will be forcibly taken away to your home, and later you will marry.”

Incredulous, he made a vehement protest. “Only if I am dead can I be carried home.” But in a few months, his parents arrived to take him away, in spite of his tearful resistance; some years later, he did marry.

After answering many questions, I was addressed by a lad named Kashi. He was about twelve years old, a brilliant student, and beloved by all.

“Sir,” he said, “what will be my fate?”

“You shall soon be dead.” The reply came from my lips with an irresistible force.

This unexpected disclosure shocked and grieved me as well as everyone present. Silently rebuking myself as an ENFANT TERRIBLE, I refused to answer further questions.

On our return to the school, Kashi came to my room.

“If I die, will you find me when I am reborn, and bring me again to the spiritual path?” He sobbed.

I felt constrained to refuse this difficult occult responsibility. But for weeks afterward, Kashi pressed me doggedly. Seeing him unnerved to the breaking point, I finally consoled him.

“Yes,” I promised. “If the Heavenly Father lends His aid, I will try to find you.”

During the summer vacation, I started on a short trip. Regretting that I could not take Kashi with me, I called him to my room before leaving, and carefully instructed him to remain, against all persuasion, in the spiritual vibrations of the school. Somehow I felt that if he did not go home, he might avoid the impending calamity.

No sooner had I left than Kashi's father arrived in Ranchi. For fifteen days he tried to break the will of his son, explaining that if Kashi would go to Calcutta for only four days to see his mother, he could then return. Kashi persistently refused. The father finally said he would take the boy away with the help of the police. The threat disturbed Kashi, who was unwilling to be the cause of any unfavorable publicity to the school. He saw no choice but to go.

I returned to Ranchi a few days later. When I heard how Kashi had been removed, I entrained at once for Calcutta. There I engaged a horse cab. Very strangely, as the vehicle passed beyond the Howrah bridge over the Ganges, I beheld Kashi's father and other relatives in mourning clothes. Shouting to my driver to stop, I rushed out and glared at the unfortunate father.

“Mr. Murderer,” I cried somewhat unreasonably, “you have killed my boy!”

The father had already realized the wrong he had done in forcibly bringing Kashi to Calcutta. During the few days the boy had been there, he had eaten contaminated food, contracted cholera, and passed on.

My love for Kashi, and the pledge to find him after death, night and day haunted me. No matter where I went, his face loomed up before me. I began a memorable search for him, even as long ago I had searched for my lost mother.

[Illustration: Kashi, lost and rediscovered—see kashi.jpg]

[Illustration: My brother Bishnu; Motilal Mukherji of Serampore, a highly advanced disciple of Sri Yukteswar; my father; Mr. Wright; myself; Tulsi Narayan Bose; Swami Satyananda of Ranchi—see bishnu.jpg]

[Illustration: A group of delegates to the 1920 International Congress of Religious Liberals at Boston, where I gave my maiden speech in America. (Left to Right) Rev. Clay MacCauley, Rev. T. Rhondda Williams, Prof. S. Ushigasaki, Rev. Jabez T. Sunderland, myself, Rev. Chas. W. Wendte, Rev. Samuel A. Eliot, Rev. Basil Martin, Rev. Christopher J. Street, Rev. Samuel M. Crothers.—see congress.jpg]

I felt that inasmuch as God had given me the faculty of reason, I must utilize it and tax my powers to the utmost in order to discover the subtle laws by which I could know the boy's astral whereabouts. He was a soul vibrating with unfulfilled desires, I realized−a mass of light floating somewhere amidst millions of luminous souls in the astral regions. How was I to tune in with him, among so many vibrating lights of other souls?

Using a secret yoga technique, I broadcasted my love to Kashi's soul through the microphone of the spiritual eye, the inner point between the eyebrows. With the antenna of upraised hands and fingers, I often turned myself round and round, trying to locate the direction in which he had been reborn as an embryo. I hoped to receive response from him in the concentration−tuned radio of my heart. {FN28−1}

I intuitively felt that Kashi would soon return to the earth, and that if I kept unceasingly broadcasting my call to him, his soul would reply. I knew that the slightest impulse sent by Kashi would be felt in my fingers, hands, arms, spine, and nerves.

With undiminished zeal, I practiced the yoga method steadily for about six months after Kashi's death. Walking with a few friends one morning in the crowded Bowbazar section of Calcutta, I lifted my hands in the usual manner. For the first time, there was response. I thrilled to detect electrical impulses trickling down my fingers and palms. These currents translated themselves into one overpowering thought from a deep recess of my consciousness: “I am Kashi; I am Kashi; come to me!”

The thought became almost audible as I concentrated on my heart radio. In the characteristic, slightly hoarse whisper of Kashi, {FN28−2} I heard his summons again and again. I seized the arm of one of my companions, Prokash Das, {FN28−3} and smiled at him joyfully.

“It looks as though I have located Kashi!”

I began to turn round and round, to the undisguised amusement of my friends and the passing throng. The electrical impulses tingled through my fingers only when I faced toward a near−by path, aptly named “Serpentine Lane.” The astral currents disappeared when I turned in other directions.

“Ah,” I exclaimed, “Kashi's soul must be living in the womb of some mother whose home is in this lane.”

My companions and I approached closer to Serpentine Lane; the vibrations in my upraised hands grew stronger, more pronounced. As if by a magnet, I was pulled toward the right side of the road. Reaching the entrance of a certain house, I was astounded to find myself transfixed. I knocked at the door in a state of intense excitement, holding my very breath. I felt that the successful end had come for my long, arduous, and certainly unusual quest!

The door was opened by a servant, who told me her master was at home. He descended the stairway from the second floor and smiled at me inquiringly. I hardly knew how to frame my question, at once pertinent and impertinent.

“Please tell me, sir, if you and your wife have been expecting a child for about six months?”

“Yes, it is so.” Seeing that I was a swami, a renunciate attired in the traditional orange cloth, he added politely, “Pray inform me how you know my affairs.”

When he heard about Kashi and the promise I had given, the astonished man believed my story.

“A male child of fair complexion will be born to you,” I told him. “He will have a broad face, with a cowlick atop his forehead. His disposition will be notably spiritual.” I felt certain that the coming child would bear these resemblances to Kashi.

Later I visited the child, whose parents had given him his old name of Kashi. Even in infancy he was strikingly similar in appearance to my dear Ranchi student. The child showed me an instantaneous affection; the attraction of the past awoke with redoubled intensity.

Years later the teen−age boy wrote me, during my stay in America. He explained his deep longing to follow the path of a renunciate. I directed him to a Himalayan master who, to this day, guides the reborn Kashi.

{FN28−1} The will, projected from the point between the eyebrows, is known by yogis as the broadcasting apparatus of thought. When the feeling is calmly concentrated on the heart, it acts as a mental radio, and can receive the messages of others from far or near. In telepathy the fine vibrations of thoughts in one person's mind are transmitted through the subtle vibrations of astral ether and then through the grosser earthly ether, creating electrical waves which, in turn, translate themselves into thought waves in the mind of the other person.

{FN28−2} Every soul in its pure state is omniscient. Kashi's soul remembered all the characteristics of Kashi, the boy, and therefore mimicked his hoarse voice in order to stir my recognition.

{FN28−3} Prokash Das is the present director of our Yogoda Math (hermitage) at Dakshineswar in Bengal.


CHAPTER 29

RABINDRANATH TAGORE AND I COMPARE SCHOOLS

RABINDRANATH TAGORE
AND I COMPARE SCHOOLS

“Rabindranath Tagore taught us to sing, as a natural form of self−expression, like the birds.”

Bhola Nath, a bright fourteen−year−old lad at my Ranchi school, gave me this explanation after I had complimented him one morning on his melodious outbursts. With or without provocation, the boy poured forth a tuneful stream. He had previously attended the famous Tagore school of “Santiniketan” (Haven of Peace) at Bolpur.

“The songs of Rabindranath have been on my lips since early youth,” I told my companion. “All Bengal, even the unlettered peasants, delights in his lofty verse.”

Bhola and I sang together a few refrains from Tagore, who has set to music thousands of Indian poems, some original and others of hoary antiquity.

“I met Rabindranath soon after he had received the Nobel Prize for literature,” I remarked after our vocalizing. “I was drawn to visit him because I admired his undiplomatic courage in disposing of his literary critics.” I chuckled.

Bhola curiously inquired the story.

“The scholars severely flayed Tagore for introducing a new style into Bengali poetry,” I began. “He mixed colloquial and classical expressions, ignoring all the prescribed limitations dear to the pundits' hearts. His songs embody deep philosophic truth in emotionally appealing terms, with little regard for the accepted literary forms.

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“One influential critic slightingly referred to Rabindranath as a 'pigeon−poet who sold his cooings in print for a rupee.' But Tagore's revenge was at hand; the whole Western world paid homage at his feet soon after he had translated into English his GITANJALI ('Song Offerings'). A trainload of pundits, including his one−time critics, went to Santiniketan to offer their congratulations.

“Rabindranath received his guests only after an intentionally long delay, and then heard their praise in stoic silence. Finally he turned against them their own habitual weapons of criticism.

“'Gentlemen,' he said, 'the fragrant honors you here bestow are incongruously mingled with the putrid odors of your past contempt. Is there possibly any connection between my award of the Nobel Prize, and your suddenly acute powers of appreciation? I am still the same poet who displeased you when I first offered my humble flowers at the shrine of Bengal.'

“The newspapers published an account of the bold chastisement given by Tagore. I admired the outspoken words of a man unhypnotized by flattery,” I went on. “I was introduced to Rabindranath in Calcutta by his secretary, Mr. C. F. Andrews, {FN29−1} who was simply attired in a Bengali DHOTI. He referred lovingly to Tagore as his GURUDEVA.

“Rabindranath received me graciously. He emanated a soothing aura of charm, culture, and courtliness. Replying to my question about his literary background, Tagore told me that one ancient source of his inspiration, besides our religious epics, had been the classical poet, Bidyapati.”

Inspired by these memories, I began to sing Tagore's version of an old Bengali song, “Light the Lamp of Thy Love.” Bhola and I chanted joyously as we strolled over the VIDYALAYA grounds.

About two years after founding the Ranchi school, I received an invitation from Rabindranath to visit him at Santiniketan in order to discuss our educational ideals. I went gladly. The poet was seated in his study when I entered; I thought then, as at our first meeting, that he was as striking a model of superb manhood as any painter could desire. His beautifully chiseled face, nobly patrician, was framed in long hair and flowing beard. Large, melting eyes; an angelic smile; and a voice of flutelike quality which was literally enchanting. Stalwart, tall, and grave, he combined an almost womanly tenderness with the delightful spontaneity of a child. No idealized conception of a poet could find more suitable embodiment than in this gentle singer.

Tagore and I were soon deep in a comparative study of our schools, both founded along unorthodox lines. We discovered many identical features−outdoor instruction, simplicity, ample scope for the child's creative spirit. Rabindranath, however, laid considerable stress on the study of literature and poetry, and the self−expression through music and song which I had already noted in the case of Bhola. The Santiniketan children observed periods of silence, but were given no special yoga training.

The poet listened with flattering attention to my description of the energizing “Yogoda” exercises and the yoga concentration techniques which are taught to all students at Ranchi.

Tagore told me of his own early educational struggles. “I fled from school after the fifth grade,” he said, laughing. I could readily understand how his innate poetic delicacy had been affronted by the dreary, disciplinary atmosphere of a schoolroom.

“That is why I opened Santiniketan under the shady trees and the glories of the sky.” He motioned eloquently to a little group studying in the beautiful garden. “A child is in his natural setting amidst the flowers and songbirds. Only thus may he fully express the hidden wealth of his individual endowment. True education can never be crammed and pumped from without; rather it must aid in bringing spontaneously to the surface the infinite hoards of wisdom within.” {FN29−2}

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I agreed. “The idealistic and hero−worshiping instincts of the young are starved on an exclusive diet of statistics and chronological eras.”

The poet spoke lovingly of his father, Devendranath, who had inspired the Santiniketan beginnings.

“Father presented me with this fertile land, where he had already built a guest house and temple,” Rabindranath told me. “I started my educational experiment here in 1901, with only ten boys. The eight thousand pounds which came with the Nobel Prize all went for the upkeep of the school.”

The elder Tagore, Devendranath, known far and wide as “Maharishi,” was a very remarkable man, as one may discover from his AUTOBIOGRAPHY. Two years of his manhood were spent in meditation in the Himalayas. In turn, his father, Dwarkanath Tagore, had been celebrated throughout Bengal for his munificent public benefactions. From this illustrious tree has sprung a family of geniuses. Not Rabindranath alone; all his relatives have distinguished themselves in creative expression. His brothers, Gogonendra and Abanindra, are among the foremost artists {FN29−3} of India; another brother, Dwijendra, is a deep−seeing philosopher, at whose gentle call the birds and woodland creatures respond.

Rabindranath invited me to stay overnight in the guest house. It was indeed a charming spectacle, in the evening, to see the poet seated with a group in the patio. Time unfolded backward: the scene before me was like that of an ancient hermitage−the joyous singer encircled by his devotees, all aureoled in divine love. Tagore knitted each tie with the cords of harmony. Never assertive, he drew and captured the heart by an irresistible magnetism. Rare blossom of poesy blooming in the garden of the Lord, attracting others by a natural fragrance!

In his melodious voice, Rabindranath read to us a few of his exquisite poems, newly created. Most of his songs and plays, written for the delectation of his students, have been composed at Santiniketan. The beauty of his lines, to me, lies in his art of referring to God in nearly every stanza, yet seldom mentioning the sacred Name. “Drunk with the bliss of singing,” he wrote, “I forget myself and call thee friend who art my lord.”

The following day, after lunch, I bade the poet a reluctant farewell. I rejoice that his little school has now grown to an international university, “Viswa−Bharati,” where scholars of all lands have found an ideal setting.

“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high; Where knowledge is free; Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls; Where words come out from the depth of truth; Where tireless striving stretches its arms toward perfection; Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit; Where the mind is led forward by Thee into ever−widening thought and action; Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake!” {FN29−4} RABINDRANATH TAGORE

{FN29−1} The English writer and publicist, close friend of Mahatma Gandhi. Mr. Andrews is honored in India for his many services to his adopted land.

{FN29−2} “The soul having been often born, or, as the Hindus say, 'traveling the path of existence through thousands of births' . . . there is nothing of which she has not gained the knowledge; no wonder that she is able

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to recollect . . . what formerly she knew. . . . For inquiry and learning is reminiscence all.”−EMERSON.

{FN29−3} Rabindranath, too, in his sixties, engaged in a serious study of painting. Exhibitions of his “futuristic” work were given some years ago in European capitals and New York.

{FN29−4} GITANJALI (New York: Macmillan Co.). A thoughtful study of the poet will be found in THE PHILOSOPHY OF RABINDRANATH TAGORE, by the celebrated scholar, Sir S. Radhakrishnan (Macmillan, 1918). Another expository volume is B. K. Roy's RABINDRANATH TAGORE: THE MAN AND HIS POETRY (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1915). BUDDHA AND THE GOSPEL OF BUDDHISM (New York: Putnam's, 1916), by the eminent Oriental art authority, Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, contains a number of illustrations in color by the poet's brother, Abanindra Nath Tagore.


CHAPTER 30

THE LAW OF MIRACLES

THE LAW OF MIRACLES

The great novelist Leo Tolstoy wrote a delightful story, THE THREE HERMITS. His friend Nicholas Roerich {FN30-1} has summarized the tale, as follows:

“On an island there lived three old hermits. They were so simple that the only prayer they used was: 'We are three; Thou art Three-have mercy on us!' Great miracles were manifested during this naive prayer.

“The local bishop {FN30-2} came to hear about the three hermits and their inadmissible prayer, and decided to visit them in order to teach them the canonical invocations. He arrived on the island, told the hermits that their heavenly petition was undignified, and taught them many of the customary prayers. The bishop then left on a boat. He saw, following the ship, a radiant light. As it approached, he discerned the three hermits, who were holding hands and running upon the waves in an effort to overtake the vessel.

“'We have forgotten the prayers you taught us,' they cried as they reached the bishop, 'and have hastened to ask you to repeat them.' The awed bishop shook his head.

“'Dear ones,' he replied humbly, 'continue to live with your old prayer!'“

How did the three saints walk on the water?

How did Christ resurrect his crucified body?

How did Lahiri Mahasaya and Sri Yukteswar perform their miracles?

Modern science has, as yet, no answer; though with the advent of the atomic bomb and the wonders of radar, the scope of the world-mind has been abruptly enlarged. The word “impossible” is becoming less prominent in the scientific vocabulary.

The ancient Vedic scriptures declare that the physical world operates under one fundamental law of MAYA, the principle of relativity and duality. God, the Sole Life, is an Absolute Unity; He cannot appear as the separate and diverse manifestations of a creation except under a false or unreal veil. That cosmic illusion is MAYA. Every great scientific discovery of modern times has served as a confirmation of this simple pronouncement of the rishis.

Newton's Law of Motion is a law of MAYA: “To every action there is always an equal and contrary reaction; the mutual actions of any two bodies are always equal and oppositely directed.” Action and reaction are thus exactly equal. “To have a single force is impossible. There must be, and always is, a pair of forces equal and opposite.”

Fundamental natural activities all betray their mayic origin. Electricity, for example, is a phenomenon of repulsion and attraction; its electrons and protons are electrical opposites. Another example: the atom or final particle of matter is, like the earth itself, a magnet with positive and negative poles. The entire phenomenal world is under the inexorable sway of polarity; no law of physics, chemistry, or any other science is ever found free from inherent opposite or contrasted principles.

Physical science, then, cannot formulate laws outside of MAYA, the very texture and structure of creation. Nature herself is MAYA; natural science must perforce deal with her ineluctable quiddity. In her own domain, she is eternal and inexhaustible; future scientists can do no more than probe one aspect after another of her varied infinitude. Science thus remains in a perpetual flux, unable to reach finality; fit indeed to formulate the laws of an already existing and functioning cosmos, but powerless to detect the Law Framer and Sole Operator. The majestic manifestations of gravitation and electricity have become known, but what gravitation and electricity are, no mortal knoweth. {FN30-3}

[Illustration: A GURU AND DISCIPLE, Forest hermitages were the ancient seats of learning, secular and divine, for the youth of India. Here a venerable guru, leaning on a wooden meditation elbow-prop, is initiating his disciple into the august mysteries of Spirit.—see guru.jpg]

To surmount MAYA was the task assigned to the human race by the millennial prophets. To rise above the duality of creation and perceive the unity of the Creator was conceived of as man's highest goal. Those who cling to the cosmic illusion must accept its essential law of polarity: flow and ebb, rise and fall, day and night, pleasure and pain, good and evil, birth and death. This cyclic pattern assumes a certain anguishing monotony, after man has gone through a few thousand human births; he begins to cast a hopeful eye beyond the compulsions of MAYA.

To tear the veil of MAYA is to pierce the secret of creation. The yogi who thus denudes the universe is the only true monotheist. All others are worshiping heathen images. So long as man remains subject to the dualistic delusions of nature, the Janus-faced MAYA is his goddess; he cannot know the one true God.

The world illusion, MAYA, is individually called AVIDYA, literally, “not-knowledge,” ignorance, delusion. MAYA or AVIDYA can never be destroyed through intellectual conviction or analysis, but solely through attaining the interior state of NIRBIKALPA SAMADHI. The Old Testament prophets, and seers of all lands and ages, spoke from that state of consciousness. Ezekiel says (43:1-2): “Afterwards he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east: and, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory.” Through the divine eye in the forehead (east), the yogi sails his consciousness into omnipresence, hearing the Word or Aum, divine sound of many waters or vibrations which is the sole reality of creation.

Among the trillion mysteries of the cosmos, the most phenomenal is light. Unlike sound-waves, whose transmission requires air or other material media, light-waves pass freely through the vacuum of interstellar space. Even the hypothetical ether, held as the interplanetary medium of light in the undulatory theory, can be discarded on the Einsteinian grounds that the geometrical properties of space render the theory of ether unnecessary. Under either hypothesis, light remains the most subtle, the freest from material dependence, of any natural manifestation.

In the gigantic conceptions of Einstein, the velocity of light-186,000 miles per second-dominates the whole Theory of Relativity. He proves mathematically that the velocity of light is, so far as man's finite mind is concerned, the only CONSTANT in a universe of unstayable flux. On the sole absolute of light-velocity depend all human standards of time and space. Not abstractly eternal as hitherto considered, time and space are relative and finite factors, deriving their measurement validity only in reference to the yardstick of light-velocity. In joining space as a dimensional relativity, time has surrendered age-old claims to a changeless value. Time is now stripped to its rightful nature-a simple essence of ambiguity! With a few equational strokes of his pen, Einstein has banished from the cosmos every fixed reality except that of light.

In a later development, his Unified Field Theory, the great physicist embodies in one mathematical formula the laws of gravitation and of electromagnetism. Reducing the cosmical structure to variations on a single law, Einstein {FN30-4} reaches across the ages to the rishis who proclaimed a sole texture of creation-that of a protean MAYA.

On the epochal Theory of Relativity have arisen the mathematical possibilities of exploring the ultimate atom. Great scientists are now boldly asserting not only that the atom is energy rather than matter, but that atomic energy is essentially mind-stuff.

“The frank realization that physical science is concerned with a world of shadows is one of the most significant advances,” Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington writes in THE NATURE OF THE PHYSICAL WORLD. “In the world of physics we watch a shadowgraph performance of the drama of familiar life. The shadow of my elbow rests on the shadow table as the shadow ink flows over the shadow paper. It is all symbolic, and as a symbol the physicist leaves it. Then comes the alchemist Mind who transmutes the symbols. . . . To put the conclusion crudely, the stuff of the world is mind-stuff. . . . The realistic matter and fields of force of former physical theory are altogether irrelevant except in so far as the mind-stuff has itself spun these imaginings. . . . The external world has thus become a world of shadows. In removing our illusions we have removed the substance, for indeed we have seen that substance is one of the greatest of our illusions.”

With the recent discovery of the electron microscope came definite proof of the light-essence of atoms and of the inescapable duality of nature. THE NEW YORK TIMES gave the following report of a 1937 demonstration of the electron microscope before a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science:

“The crystalline structure of tungsten, hitherto known only indirectly by means of X-rays, stood outlined boldly on a fluorescent screen, showing nine atoms in their correct positions in the space lattice, a cube, with one atom in each corner and one in the center. The atoms in the crystal lattice of the tungsten appeared on the fluorescent screen as points of light, arranged in geometric pattern. Against this crystal cube of light the bombarding molecules of air could be observed as dancing points of light, similar to points of sunlight shimmering on moving waters. . . .

“The principle of the electron microscope was first discovered in 1927 by Drs. Clinton J. Davisson and Lester H. Germer of the Bell Telephone Laboratories, New York City, who found that the electron had a dual personality partaking of the characteristic of both a particle and a wave. The wave quality gave the electron the characteristic of light, and a search was begun to devise means for 'focusing' electrons in a manner similar to the focusing of light by means of a lens.

“For his discovery of the Jekyll-Hyde quality of the electron, which corroborated the prediction made in 1924 by De Broglie, French Nobel Prize winning physicist, and showed that the entire realm of physical nature had a dual personality, Dr. Davisson also received the Nobel Prize in physics.”

“The stream of knowledge,” Sir James Jeans writes in THE MYSTERIOUS UNIVERSE, “is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine.” Twentieth-century science is thus sounding like a page from the hoary VEDAS.

From science, then, if it must be so, let man learn the philosophic truth that there is no material universe; its warp and woof is MAYA, illusion. Its mirages of reality all break down under analysis. As one by one the reassuring props of a physical cosmos crash beneath him, man dimly perceives his idolatrous reliance, his past transgression of the divine command: “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.”

In his famous equation outlining the equivalence of mass and energy, Einstein proved that the energy in any particle of matter is equal to its mass or weight multiplied by the square of the velocity of light. The release of the atomic energies is brought about through the annihilation of the material particles. The “death” of matter has been the “birth” of an Atomic Age.

Light-velocity is a mathematical standard or constant not because there is an absolute value in 186,000 miles a second, but because no material body, whose mass increases with its velocity, can ever attain the velocity of light. Stated another way: only a material body whose mass is infinite could equal the velocity of light.

THIS CONCEPTION BRINGS US TO THE LAW OF MIRACLES.

The masters who are able to materialize and dematerialize their bodies or any other object, and to move with the velocity of light, and to utilize the creative light-rays in bringing into instant visibility any physical manifestation, have fulfilled the necessary Einsteinian condition: their mass is infinite.

The consciousness of a perfected yogi is effortlessly identified, not with a narrow body, but with the universal structure. Gravitation, whether the “force” of Newton or the Einsteinian “manifestation of inertia,” is powerless to COMPEL a master to exhibit the property of “weight” which is the distinguishing gravitational condition of all material objects. He who knows himself as the omnipresent Spirit is subject no longer to the rigidities of a body in time and space. Their imprisoning “rings-pass-not” have yielded to the solvent: “I am He.”

“Fiat lux! And there was light.” God's first command to His ordered creation (GENESIS 1:3) brought into being the only atomic reality: light. On the beams of this immaterial medium occur all divine manifestations. Devotees of every age testify to the appearance of God as flame and light. “The King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto.” {FN30-5}

A yogi who through perfect meditation has merged his consciousness with the Creator perceives the cosmical essence as light; to him there is no difference between the light rays composing water and the light rays composing land. Free from matter-consciousness, free from the three dimensions of space and the fourth dimension of time, a master transfers his body of light with equal ease over the light rays of earth, water, fire, or air. Long concentration on the liberating spiritual eye has enabled the yogi to destroy all delusions concerning matter and its gravitational weight; thenceforth he sees the universe as an essentially undifferentiated mass of light.

“Optical images,” Dr. L. T. Troland of Harvard tells us, “are built up on the same principle as the ordinary 'half-tone' engravings; that is, they are made up of minute dottings or stripplings far too small to be detected by the eye. . . . The sensitiveness of the retina is so great that a visual sensation can be produced by relatively few Quanta of the right kind of light.” Through a master's divine knowledge of light phenomena, he can instantly project into perceptible manifestation the ubiquitous light atoms. The actual form of the projection-whether it be a tree, a medicine, a human body-is in conformance with a yogi's powers of will and of visualization.

In man's dream-consciousness, where he has loosened in sleep his clutch on the egoistic limitations that daily hem him round, the omnipotence of his mind has a nightly demonstration. Lo! there in the dream stand the long-dead friends, the remotest continents, the resurrected scenes of his childhood. With that free and unconditioned consciousness, known to all men in the phenomena of dreams, the God-tuned master has forged a never-severed link. Innocent of all personal motives, and employing the creative will bestowed on him by the Creator, a yogi rearranges the light atoms of the universe to satisfy any sincere prayer of a devotee.

For this purpose were man and creation made: that he should rise up as master of MAYA, knowing his dominion over the cosmos.

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” {FN30-6}

In 1915, shortly after I had entered the Swami Order, I witnessed a vision of violent contrasts. In it the relativity of human consciousness was vividly established; I clearly perceived the unity of the Eternal Light behind the painful dualities of MAYA. The vision descended on me as I sat one morning in my little attic room in Father's Gurpar Road home. For months World War I had been raging in Europe; I reflected sadly on the vast toll of death.

As I closed my eyes in meditation, my consciousness was suddenly transferred to the body of a captain in command of a battleship. The thunder of guns split the air as shots were exchanged between shore batteries and the ship's cannons. A huge shell hit the powder magazine and tore my ship asunder. I jumped into the water, together with the few sailors who had survived the explosion.

Heart pounding, I reached the shore safely. But alas! a stray bullet ended its furious flight in my chest. I fell groaning to the ground. My whole body was paralyzed, yet I was aware of possessing it as one is conscious of a leg gone to sleep.

“At last the mysterious footstep of Death has caught up with me,” I thought. With a final sigh, I was about to sink into unconsciousness when lo! I found myself seated in the lotus posture in my Gurpar Road room.

Hysterical tears poured forth as I joyfully stroked and pinched my regained possession-a body free from any bullet hole in the breast. I rocked to and fro, inhaling and exhaling to assure myself that I was alive. Amidst these self-congratulations, again I found my consciousness transferred to the captain's dead body by the gory shore. Utter confusion of mind came upon me.

“Lord,” I prayed, “am I dead or alive?”

A dazzling play of light filled the whole horizon. A soft rumbling vibration formed itself into words:

“What has life or death to do with Light? In the image of My Light I have made you. The relativities of life and death belong to the cosmic dream. Behold your dreamless being! Awake, my child, awake!”

As steps in man's awakening, the Lord inspires scientists to discover, at the right time and place, the secrets of His creation. Many modern discoveries help men to apprehend the cosmos as a varied expression of one power-light, guided by divine intelligence. The wonders of the motion picture, of radio, of television, of radar, of the photo-electric cell-the all-seeing “electric eye,” of atomic energies, are all based on the electromagnetic phenomenon of light.

The motion picture art can portray any miracle. From the impressive visual standpoint, no marvel is barred to trick photography. A man's transparent astral body can be seen rising from his gross physical form, he can walk on the water, resurrect the dead, reverse the natural sequence of developments, and play havoc with time and space. Assembling the light images as he pleases, the photographer achieves optical wonders which a true master produces with actual light rays.

The lifelike images of the motion picture illustrate many truths concerning creation. The Cosmic Director has written His own plays, and assembled the tremendous casts for the pageant of the centuries. From the dark booth of eternity, He pours His creative beam through the films of successive ages, and the pictures are thrown on the screen of space. Just as the motion-picture images appear to be real, but are only combinations of light and shade, so is the universal variety a delusive seeming. The planetary spheres, with their countless forms of life, are naught but figures in a cosmic motion picture, temporarily true to five sense perceptions as the scenes are cast on the screen of man's consciousness by the infinite creative beam.

A cinema audience can look up and see that all screen images are appearing through the instrumentality of one imageless beam of light. The colorful universal drama is similarly issuing from the single white light of a Cosmic Source. With inconceivable ingenuity God is staging an entertainment for His human children, making them actors as well as audience in His planetary theater.

One day I entered a motion picture house to view a newsreel of the European battlefields. World War I was still being waged in the West; the newsreel recorded the carnage with such realism that I left the theater with a troubled heart.

“Lord,” I prayed, “why dost Thou permit such suffering?”

To my intense surprise, an instant answer came in the form of a vision of the actual European battlefields. The horror of the struggle, filled with the dead and dying, far surpassed in ferocity any representation of the newsreel.

“Look intently!” A gentle voice spoke to my inner consciousness. “You will see that these scenes now being enacted in France are nothing but a play of chiaroscuro. They are the cosmic motion picture, as real and as unreal as the theater newsreel you have just seen-a play within a play.”

My heart was still not comforted. The divine voice went on: “Creation is light and shadow both, else no picture is possible. The good and evil of MAYA must ever alternate in supremacy. If joy were ceaseless here in this world, would man ever seek another? Without suffering he scarcely cares to recall that he has forsaken his eternal home. Pain is a prod to remembrance. The way of escape is through wisdom! The tragedy of death is unreal; those who shudder at it are like an ignorant actor who dies of fright on the stage when nothing more is fired at him than a blank cartridge. My sons are the children of light; they will not sleep forever in delusion.”

Although I had read scriptural accounts of MAYA, they had not given me the deep insight that came with the personal visions and their accompanying words of consolation. One's values are profoundly changed when he is finally convinced that creation is only a vast motion picture, and that not in it, but beyond it, lies his own reality.

As I finished writing this chapter, I sat on my bed in the lotus posture. My room was dimly lit by two shaded lamps. Lifting my gaze, I noticed that the ceiling was dotted with small mustard-colored lights, scintillating and quivering with a radiumlike luster. Myriads of pencilled rays, like sheets of rain, gathered into a transparent shaft and poured silently upon me.

At once my physical body lost its grossness and became metamorphosed into astral texture. I felt a floating sensation as, barely touching the bed, the weightless body shifted slightly and alternately to left and right. I looked around the room; the furniture and walls were as usual, but the little mass of light had so multiplied that the ceiling was invisible. I was wonder-struck.

“This is the cosmic motion picture mechanism.” A voice spoke as though from within the light. “Shedding its beam on the white screen of your bed sheets, it is producing the picture of your body. Behold, your form is nothing but light!”

I gazed at my arms and moved them back and forth, yet could not feel their weight. An ecstatic joy overwhelmed me. This cosmic stem of light, blossoming as my body, seemed a divine replica of the light beams streaming out of the projection booth in a cinema house and manifesting as pictures on the screen.

For a long time I experienced this motion picture of my body in the dimly lighted theater of my own bedroom. Despite the many visions I have had, none was ever more singular. As my illusion of a solid body was completely dissipated, and my realization deepened that the essence of all objects is light, I looked up to the throbbing stream of lifetrons and spoke entreatingly.

“Divine Light, please withdraw this, my humble bodily picture, into Thyself, even as Elijah was drawn up to heaven by a flame.”

This prayer was evidently startling; the beam disappeared. My body resumed its normal weight and sank on the bed; the swarm of dazzling ceiling lights flickered and vanished. My time to leave this earth had apparently not arrived.

“Besides,” I thought philosophically, “the prophet Elijah might well be displeased at my presumption!”

{FN30-1} This famous Russian artist and philosopher has been living for many years in India near the Himalayas. “From the peaks comes revelation,” he has written. “In caves and upon the summits lived the rishis. Over the snowy peaks of the Himalayas burns a bright glow, brighter than stars and the fantastic flashes of lightning.”

{FN30-2} The story may have a historical basis; an editorial note informs us that the bishop met the three monks while he was sailing from Archangel to the Slovetsky Monastery, at the mouth of the Dvina River.

{FN30-3} Marconi, the great inventor, made the following admission of scientific inadequacy before the finalities: “The inability of science to solve life is absolute. This fact would be truly frightening were it not for faith. The mystery of life is certainly the most persistent problem ever placed before the thought of man.”

{FN30-4} A clue to the direction taken by Einstein's genius is given by the fact that he is a lifelong disciple of the great philosopher Spinoza, whose best-known work is ETHICS DEMONSTRATED IN GEOMETRICAL ORDER.

{FN30-5} I TIMOTHY 6:15-16.

{FN30-6} GENESIS 1:26.


CHAPTER 31

AN INTERVIEW WITH THE SACRED MOTHER

AN INTERVIEW WITH THE SACRED MOTHER

“Reverend Mother, I was baptized in infancy by your prophet-husband. He was the guru of my parents and of my own guru Sri Yukteswarji. Will you therefore give me the privilege of hearing a few incidents in your sacred life?”

I was addressing Srimati Kashi Moni, the life-companion of Lahiri Mahasaya. Finding myself in Benares for a short period, I was fulfilling a long-felt desire to visit the venerable lady. She received me graciously at the old Lahiri homestead in the Garudeswar Mohulla section of Benares. Although aged, she was blooming like a lotus, silently emanating a spiritual fragrance. She was of medium build, with a slender neck and fair skin. Large, lustrous eyes softened her motherly face.

“Son, you are welcome here. Come upstairs.”

Kashi Moni led the way to a very small room where, for a time, she had lived with her husband. I felt honored to witness the shrine in which the peerless master had condescended to play the human drama of matrimony. The gentle lady motioned me to a pillow seat by her side.

“It was years before I came to realize the divine stature of my husband,” she began. “One night, in this very room, I had a vivid dream. Glorious angels floated in unimaginable grace above me. So realistic was the sight that I awoke at once; the room was strangely enveloped in dazzling light.

“My husband, in lotus posture, was levitated in the center of the room, surrounded by angels who were worshiping him with the supplicating dignity of palm-folded hands. Astonished beyond measure, I was convinced that I was still dreaming.

“'Woman,' Lahiri Mahasaya said, 'you are not dreaming. Forsake your sleep forever and forever.' As he slowly descended to the floor, I prostrated myself at his feet.

“'Master,' I cried, 'again and again I bow before you! Will you pardon me for having considered you as my husband? I die with shame to realize that I have remained asleep in ignorance by the side of one who is divinely awakened. From this night, you are no longer my husband, but my guru. Will you accept my insignificant self as your disciple?' {FN31-1}

“The master touched me gently. 'Sacred soul, arise. You are accepted.' He motioned toward the angels. 'Please bow in turn to each of these holy saints.'

“When I had finished my humble genuflections, the angelic voices sounded together, like a chorus from an ancient scripture.

“'Consort of the Divine One, thou art blessed. We salute thee.' They bowed at my feet and lo! their refulgent forms vanished. The room darkened.

“My guru asked me to receive initiation into KRIYA YOGA.

“'Of course,' I responded. 'I am sorry not to have had its blessing earlier in my life.'

“'The time was not ripe.' Lahiri Mahasaya smiled consolingly. 'Much of your karma I have silently helped you to work out. Now you are willing and ready.'

“He touched my forehead. Masses of whirling light appeared; the radiance gradually formed itself into the opal-blue spiritual eye, ringed in gold and centered with a white pentagonal star.

“'Penetrate your consciousness through the star into the kingdom of the Infinite.' My guru's voice had a new note, soft like distant music.

“Vision after vision broke as oceanic surf on the shores of my soul. The panoramic spheres finally melted in a sea of bliss. I lost myself in ever-surging blessedness. When I returned hours later to awareness of this world, the master gave me the technique of KRIYA YOGA.

“From that night on, Lahiri Mahasaya never slept in my room again. Nor, thereafter, did he ever sleep. He remained in the front room downstairs, in the company of his disciples both by day and by night.”

The illustrious lady fell into silence. Realizing the uniqueness of her relationship with the sublime yogi, I finally ventured to ask for further reminiscences.

“Son, you are greedy. Nevertheless you shall have one more story.” She smiled shyly. “I will confess a sin which I committed against my guru-husband. Some months after my initiation, I began to feel forlorn and neglected. One morning Lahiri Mahasaya entered this little room to fetch an article; I quickly followed him. Overcome by violent delusion, I addressed him scathingly.

“'You spend all your time with the disciples. What about your responsibilities for your wife and children? I regret that you do not interest yourself in providing more money for the family.'

“The master glanced at me for a moment, then lo! he was gone. Awed and frightened, I heard a voice resounding from every part of the room:

“'It is all nothing, don't you see? How could a nothing like me produce riches for you?'

“'Guruji,' I cried, 'I implore pardon a million times! My sinful eyes can see you no more; please appear in your sacred form.'

“'I am here.' This reply came from above me. I looked up and saw the master materialize in the air, his head touching the ceiling. His eyes were like blinding flames. Beside myself with fear, I lay sobbing at his feet after he had quietly descended to the floor.

“'Woman,' he said, 'seek divine wealth, not the paltry tinsel of earth. After acquiring inward treasure, you will find that outward supply is always forthcoming.' He added, 'One of my spiritual sons will make provision for you.'

“My guru's words naturally came true; a disciple did leave a considerable sum for our family.”

I thanked Kashi Moni for sharing with me her wondrous experiences. {FN31-2} On the following day I returned to her home and enjoyed several hours of philosophical discussion with Tincouri and Ducouri Lahiri. These two saintly sons of India's great yogi followed closely in his ideal footsteps. Both men were fair, tall, stalwart, and heavily bearded, with soft voices and an old-fashioned charm of manner.

His wife was not the only woman disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya; there were hundreds of others, including my mother. A woman chela once asked the guru for his photograph. He handed her a print, remarking, “If you deem it a protection, then it is so; otherwise it is only a picture.”

A few days later this woman and Lahiri Mahasaya's daughter-in-law happened to be studying the BHAGAVAD GITA at a table behind which hung the guru's photograph. An electrical storm broke out with great fury.

“Lahiri Mahasaya, protect us!” The women bowed before the picture. Lightning struck the book which they had been reading, but the two devotees were unhurt.

“I felt as though a sheet of ice had been placed around me to ward off the scorching heat,” the chela explained.

Lahiri Mahasaya performed two miracles in connection with a woman disciple, Abhoya. She and her husband, a Calcutta lawyer, started one day for Benares to visit the guru. Their carriage was delayed by heavy traffic; they reached the Howrah main station only to hear the Benares train whistling for departure.

Abhoya, near the ticket office, stood quietly.

“Lahiri Mahasaya, I beseech thee to stop the train!” she silently prayed. “I cannot suffer the pangs of delay in waiting another day to see thee.”

The wheels of the snorting train continued to move round and round, but there was no onward progress. The engineer and passengers descended to the platform to view the phenomenon. An English railroad guard approached Abhoya and her husband. Contrary to all precedent, he volunteered his services.

“Babu,” he said, “give me the money. I will buy your tickets while you get aboard.”

As soon as the couple was seated and had received the tickets, the train slowly moved forward. In panic, the engineer and passengers clambered again to their places, knowing neither how the train started, nor why it had stopped in the first place.

Arriving at the home of Lahiri Mahasaya in Benares, Abhoya silently prostrated herself before the master, and tried to touch his feet.

“Compose yourself, Abhoya,” he remarked. “How you love to bother me! As if you could not have come here by the next train!”

Abhoya visited Lahiri Mahasaya on another memorable occasion. This time she wanted his intercession, not with a train, but with the stork.

“I pray you to bless me that my ninth child may live,” she said. “Eight babies have been born to me; all died soon after birth.”

The master smiled sympathetically. “Your coming child will live. Please follow my instructions carefully. The baby, a girl, will be born at night. See that the oil lamp is kept burning until dawn. Do not fall asleep and thus allow the light to become extinguished.”

Abhoya's child was a daughter, born at night, exactly as foreseen by the omniscient guru. The mother instructed her nurse to keep the lamp filled with oil. Both women kept the urgent vigil far into the early morning hours, but finally fell asleep. The lamp oil was almost gone; the light flickered feebly.

The bedroom door unlatched and flew open with a violent sound. The startled women awoke. Their astonished eyes beheld the form of Lahiri Mahasaya.

“Abhoya, behold, the light is almost gone!” He pointed to the lamp, which the nurse hastened to refill. As soon as it burned again brightly, the master vanished. The door closed; the latch was affixed without visible agency.

Abhoya's ninth child survived; in 1935, when I made inquiry, she was still living.

One of Lahiri Mahasaya's disciples, the venerable Kali Kumar Roy, related to me many fascinating details of his life with the master.

“I was often a guest at his Benares home for weeks at a time,” Roy told me. “I observed that many saintly figures, DANDA {FN31-3} swamis, arrived in the quiet of night to sit at the guru's feet. Sometimes they would engage in discussion of meditational and philosophical points. At dawn the exalted guests would depart. I found during my visits that Lahiri Mahasaya did not once lie down to sleep.

“During an early period of my association with the master, I had to contend with the opposition of my employer,” Roy went on. “He was steeped in materialism.

“'I don't want religious fanatics on my staff,' he would sneer. 'If I ever meet your charlatan guru, I shall give him some words to remember.'

“This alarming threat failed to interrupt my regular program; I spent nearly every evening in my guru's presence. One night my employer followed me and rushed rudely into the parlor. He was doubtless fully bent on uttering the pulverizing remarks he had promised. No sooner had the man seated himself than Lahiri Mahasaya addressed the little group of about twelve disciples.

“'Would you all like to see a picture?'

“When we nodded, he asked us to darken the room. 'Sit behind one another in a circle,' he said, 'and place your hands over the eyes of the man in front of you.'

“I was not surprised to see that my employer also was following, albeit unwillingly, the master's directions. In a few minutes Lahiri Mahasaya asked us what we were seeing.

“'Sir,' I replied, 'a beautiful woman appears. She wears a red-bordered SARI, and stands near an elephant-ear plant.' All the other disciples gave the same description. The master turned to my employer. 'Do you recognize that woman?'

“'Yes.' The man was evidently struggling with emotions new to his nature. 'I have been foolishly spending my money on her, though I have a good wife. I am ashamed of the motives which brought me here. Will you forgive me, and receive me as a disciple?'

“'If you lead a good moral life for six months, I shall accept you.' The master enigmatically added, 'Otherwise I won't have to initiate you.'

“For three months my employer refrained from temptation; then he resumed his former relationship with the woman. Two months later he died. Thus I came to understand my guru's veiled prophecy about the improbability of the man's initiation.”

Lahiri Mahasaya had a very famous friend, Swami Trailanga, who was reputed to be over three hundred years old. The two yogis often sat together in meditation. Trailanga's fame is so widespread that few Hindus would deny the possibility of truth in any story of his astounding miracles. If Christ returned to earth and walked the streets of New York, displaying his divine powers, it would cause the same excitement that was created by Trailanga decades ago as he passed through the crowded lanes of Benares.

On many occasions the swami was seen to drink, with no ill effect, the most deadly poisons. Thousands of people, including a few who are still living, have seen Trailanga floating on the Ganges. For days together he would sit on top of the water, or remain hidden for very long periods under the waves. A common sight at the Benares bathing GHATS was the swami's motionless body on the blistering stone slabs, wholly exposed to the merciless Indian sun. By these feats Trailanga sought to teach men that a yogi's life does not depend upon oxygen or ordinary conditions and precautions. Whether he were above water or under it, and whether or not his body lay exposed to the fierce solar rays, the master proved that he lived by divine consciousness: death could not touch him.

The yogi was great not only spiritually, but physically. His weight exceeded three hundred pounds: a pound for each year of his life! As he ate very seldom, the mystery is increased. A master, however, easily ignores all usual rules of health, when he desires to do so for some special reason, often a subtle one known only to himself. Great saints who have awakened from the cosmic mayic dream and realized this world as an idea in the Divine Mind, can do as they wish with the body, knowing it to be only a manipulatable form of condensed or frozen energy. Though physical scientists now understand that matter is nothing but congealed energy, fully-illumined masters have long passed from theory to practice in the field of matter-control.

Trailanga always remained completely nude. The harassed police of Benares came to regard him as a baffling problem child. The natural swami, like the early Adam in the garden of Eden, was utterly unconscious of his nakedness. The police were quite conscious of it, however, and unceremoniously committed him to jail. General embarrassment ensued; the enormous body of Trailanga was soon seen, in its usual entirety, on the prison roof. His cell, still securely locked, offered no clue to his mode of escape.

The discouraged officers of the law once more performed their duty. This time a guard was posted before the swami's cell. Might again retired before right. Trailanga was soon observed in his nonchalant stroll over the roof. Justice is blind; the outwitted police decided to follow her example.

The great yogi preserved a habitual silence. {FN31-4} In spite of his round face and huge, barrel-like stomach, Trailanga ate only occasionally. After weeks without food, he would break his fast with potfuls of clabbered milk offered to him by devotees. A skeptic once determined to expose Trailanga as a charlatan. A large bucket of calcium-lime mixture, used in whitewashing walls, was placed before the swami.

“Master,” the materialist said, in mock reverence, “I have brought you some clabbered milk. Please drink it.”

Trailanga unhesitatingly drained, to the last drop, the containerful of burning lime. In a few minutes the evildoer fell to the ground in agony.

“Help, swami, help!” he cried. “I am on fire! Forgive my wicked test!”

The great yogi broke his habitual silence. “Scoffer,” he said, “you did not realize when you offered me poison that my life is one with your own. Except for my knowledge that God is present in my stomach, as in every atom of creation, the lime would have killed me. Now that you know the divine meaning of boomerang, never again play tricks on anyone.”

The well-purged sinner, healed by Trailanga's words, slunk feebly away.

The reversal of pain was not due to any volition of the master, but came about through unerring application of the law of justice which upholds creation's farthest swinging orb. Men of God-realization like Trailanga allow the divine law to operate instantaneously; they have banished forever all thwarting crosscurrents of ego.

The automatic adjustments of righteousness, often paid in an unexpected coin as in the case of Trailanga and his would be murderer, assuage our hasty indignance at human injustice. “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” {FN31-5} What need for man's brief resources? the universe duly conspires for retribution. Dull minds discredit the possibility of divine justice, love, omniscience, immortality. “Airy scriptural conjectures!” This insensitive viewpoint, aweless before the cosmic spectacle, arouses a train of events which brings its own awakening.

The omnipotence of spiritual law was referred to by Christ on the occasion of his triumphant entry into Jerusalem. As the disciples and the multitude shouted for joy, and cried, “Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest,” certain Pharisees complained of the undignified spectacle. “Master,” they protested, “rebuke thy disciples.”

“I tell you,” Jesus replied, “that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” {FN31-6}

In this reprimand to the Pharisees, Christ was pointing out that divine justice is no figurative abstraction, and that a man of peace, though his tongue be torn from its roots, will yet find his speech and his defense in the bedrock of creation, the universal order itself.

“Think you,” Jesus was saying, “to silence men of peace? As well may you hope to throttle the voice of God, whose very stones sing His glory and His omnipresence. Will you demand that men not celebrate in honor of the peace in heaven, but should only gather together in multitudes to shout for war on earth? Then make your preparations, O Pharisees, to overtopple the foundations of the world; for it is not gentle men alone, but stones or earth, and water and fire and air that will rise up against you, to bear witness of His ordered harmony.”

The grace of the Christlike yogi, Trailanga, was once bestowed on my SAJO MAMA (maternal uncle). One morning Uncle saw the master surrounded by a crowd of devotees at a Benares ghat. He managed to edge his way close to Trailanga, whose feet he touched humbly. Uncle was astonished to find himself instantly freed from a painful chronic disease. {FN31-7}

The only known living disciple of the great yogi is a woman, Shankari Mai Jiew. Daughter of one of Trailanga's disciples, she received the swami's training from her early childhood. She lived for forty years in a series of lonely Himalayan caves near Badrinath, Kedarnath, Amarnath, and Pasupatinath. The BRAHMACHARINI (woman ascetic), born in 1826, is now well over the century mark. Not aged in appearance, however, she has retained her black hair, sparkling teeth, and amazing energy. She comes out of her seclusion every few years to attend the periodical MELAS or religious fairs.

This woman saint often visited Lahiri Mahasaya. She has related that one day, in the Barackpur section near Calcutta, while she was sitting by Lahiri Mahasaya's side, his great guru Babaji quietly entered the room and held converse with them both.

On one occasion her master Trailanga, forsaking his usual silence, honored Lahiri Mahasaya very pointedly in public. A Benares disciple objected.

“Sir,” he said, “why do you, a swami and a renunciate, show such respect to a householder?”

“My son,” Trailanga replied, “Lahiri Mahasaya is like a divine kitten, remaining wherever the Cosmic Mother has placed him. While dutifully playing the part of a worldly man, he has received that perfect self-realization for which I have renounced even my loincloth!”

{FN31-1} One is reminded here of Milton's line: “He for God only, she for God in him.”

{FN31-2} The venerable mother passed on at Benares in 1930.

{FN31-3} Staff, symbolizing the spinal cord, carried ritually by certain orders of monks.

{FN31-4} He was a MUNI, a monk who observes MAUNA, spiritual silence. The Sanskrit root MUNI is akin to Greek MONOS, “alone, single,” from which are derived the English words MONK, MONISM, etc.

{FN31-5} ROMANS 12:19.

{FN31-6} LUKE 19:37-40.

{FN31-7} The lives of Trailanga and other great masters remind us of Jesus' words: “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name (the Christ consciousness) they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”-MARK 16:17-18.


CHAPTER 32

RAMA IS RAISED FROM THE DEAD

RAMA IS RAISED FROM THE DEAD

“Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus. . . . When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.'“ {FN32-1}

Sri Yukteswar was expounding the Christian scriptures one sunny morning on the balcony of his Serampore hermitage. Besides a few of Master's other disciples, I was present with a small group of my Ranchi students.

“In this passage Jesus calls himself the Son of God. Though he was truly united with God, his reference here has a deep impersonal significance,” my guru explained. “The Son of God is the Christ or Divine Consciousness in man. No MORTAL can glorify God. The only honor that man can pay his Creator is to seek Him; man cannot glorify an Abstraction that he does not know. The 'glory' or nimbus around the head of the saints is a symbolic witness of their CAPACITY to render divine homage.”

Sri Yukteswar went on to read the marvelous story of Lazarus' resurrection. At its conclusion Master fell into a long silence, the sacred book open on his knee.

“I too was privileged to behold a similar miracle.” My guru finally spoke with solemn unction. “Lahiri Mahasaya resurrected one of my friends from the dead.”

The young lads at my side smiled with keen interest. There was enough of the boy in me, too, to enjoy not only the philosophy but, in particular, any story I could get Sri Yukteswar to relate about his wondrous experiences with his guru.

“My friend Rama and I were inseparable,” Master began. “Because he was shy and reclusive, he chose to visit our guru Lahiri Mahasaya only during the hours of midnight and dawn, when the crowd of daytime disciples was absent. As Rama's closest friend, I served as a spiritual vent through which he let out the wealth of his spiritual perceptions. I found inspiration in his ideal companionship.” My guru's face softened with memories.

“Rama was suddenly put to a severe test,” Sri Yukteswar continued. “He contracted the disease of Asiatic cholera. As our master never objected to the services of physicians at times of serious illness, two specialists were summoned. Amidst the frantic rush of ministering to the stricken man, I was deeply praying to Lahiri Mahasaya for help. I hurried to his home and sobbed out the story.

“'The doctors are seeing Rama. He will be well.' My guru smiled jovially.

“I returned with a light heart to my friend's bedside, only to find him in a dying state.

“'He cannot last more than one or two hours,' one of the physicians told me with a gesture of despair. Once more I hastened to Lahiri Mahasaya.

“'The doctors are conscientious men. I am sure Rama will be well.' The master dismissed me blithely.

“At Rama's place I found both doctors gone. One had left me a note: 'We have done our best, but his case is hopeless.'

“My friend was indeed the picture of a dying man. I did not understand how Lahiri Mahasaya's words could fail to come true, yet the sight of Rama's rapidly ebbing life kept suggesting to my mind: 'All is over now.' Tossing thus on the seas of faith and apprehensive doubt, I ministered to my friend as best I could. He roused himself to cry out:

“'Yukteswar, run to Master and tell him I am gone. Ask him to bless my body before its last rites.' With these words Rama sighed heavily and gave up the ghost. {FN32-2}

“I wept for an hour by his beloved form. Always a lover of quiet, now he had attained the utter stillness of death. Another disciple came in; I asked him to remain in the house until I returned. Half-dazed, I trudged back to my guru.

“'How is Rama now?' Lahiri Mahasaya's face was wreathed in smiles.

“'Sir, you will soon see how he is,' I blurted out emotionally. 'In a few hours you will see his body, before it is carried to the crematory grounds.' I broke down and moaned openly.

“'Yukteswar, control yourself. Sit calmly and meditate.' My guru retired into SAMADHI. The afternoon and night passed in unbroken silence; I struggled unsuccessfully to regain an inner composure.

“At dawn Lahiri Mahasaya glanced at me consolingly. 'I see you are still disturbed. Why didn't you explain yesterday that you expected me to give Rama tangible aid in the form of some medicine?' The master pointed to a cup-shaped lamp containing crude castor oil. 'Fill a little bottle from the lamp; put seven drops into Rama's mouth.'

“'Sir,' I remonstrated, 'he has been dead since yesterday noon. Of what use is the oil now?'

“'Never mind; just do as I ask.' Lahiri Mahasaya's cheerful mood was incomprehensible; I was still in the unassuaged agony of bereavement. Pouring out a small amount of oil, I departed for Rama's house.

“I found my friend's body rigid in the death-clasp. Paying no attention to his ghastly condition, I opened his lips with my right finger and managed, with my left hand and the help of the cork, to put the oil drop by drop over his clenched teeth.

“As the seventh drop touched his cold lips, Rama shivered violently. His muscles vibrated from head to foot as he sat up wonderingly.

“'I saw Lahiri Mahasaya in a blaze of light,' he cried. 'He shone like the sun. 'Arise; forsake your sleep,' he commanded me. 'Come with Yukteswar to see me.'“

“I could scarcely believe my eyes when Rama dressed himself and was strong enough after that fatal sickness to walk to the home of our guru. There he prostrated himself before Lahiri Mahasaya with tears of gratitude.

“The master was beside himself with mirth. His eyes twinkled at me mischievously.

“'Yukteswar,' he said, 'surely henceforth you will not fail to carry with you a bottle of castor oil! Whenever you see a corpse, just administer the oil! Why, seven drops of lamp oil must surely foil the power of Yama!' {FN32-3}

“'Guruji, you are ridiculing me. I don't understand; please point out the nature of my error.'

“'I told you twice that Rama would be well; yet you could not fully believe me,' Lahiri Mahasaya explained. 'I did not mean the doctors would be able to cure him; I remarked only that they were in attendance. There was no causal connection between my two statements. I didn't want to interfere with the physicians; they have to live, too.' In a voice resounding with joy, my guru added, 'Always know that the inexhaustible Paramatman {FN32-4} can heal anyone, doctor or no doctor.'

“'I see my mistake,' I acknowledged remorsefully. 'I know now that your simple word is binding on the whole cosmos.'“

As Sri Yukteswar finished the awesome story, one of the spellbound listeners ventured a question that, from a child, was doubly understandable.

“Sir,” he said, “why did your guru use castor oil?”

“Child, giving the oil had no meaning except that I expected something material and Lahiri Mahasaya chose the near-by oil as an objective symbol for awakening my greater faith. The master allowed Rama to die, because I had partially doubted. But the divine guru knew that inasmuch as he had said the disciple would be well, the healing must take place, even though he had to cure Rama of death, a disease usually final!”

Sri Yukteswar dismissed the little group, and motioned me to a blanket seat at his feet.

“Yogananda,” he said with unusual gravity, “you have been surrounded from birth by direct disciples of Lahiri Mahasaya. The great master lived his sublime life in partial seclusion, and steadfastly refused to permit his followers to build any organization around his teachings. He made, nevertheless, a significant prediction.

“'About fifty years after my passing,' he said, 'my life will be written because of a deep interest in yoga which the West will manifest. The yogic message will encircle the globe, and aid in establishing that brotherhood of man which results from direct perception of the One Father.'

“My son Yogananda,” Sri Yukteswar went on, “you must do your part in spreading that message, and in writing that sacred life.”

Fifty years after Lahiri Mahasaya's passing in 1895 culminated in 1945, the year of completion of this present book. I cannot but be struck by the coincidence that the year 1945 has also ushered in a new age-the era of revolutionary atomic energies. All thoughtful minds turn as never before to the urgent problems of peace and brotherhood, lest the continued use of physical force banish all men along with the problems.

Though the human race and its works disappear tracelessly by time or bomb, the sun does not falter in its course; the stars keep their invariable vigil. Cosmic law cannot be stayed or changed, and man would do well to put himself in harmony with it. If the cosmos is against might, if the sun wars not with the planets but retires at dueful time to give the stars their little sway, what avails our mailed fist? Shall any peace indeed come out of it? Not cruelty but good will arms the universal sinews; a humanity at peace will know the endless fruits of victory, sweeter to the taste than any nurtured on the soil of blood.

The effective League of Nations will be a natural, nameless league of human hearts. The broad sympathies and discerning insight needed for the healing of earthly woes cannot flow from a mere intellectual consideration of man's diversities, but from knowledge of man's sole unity-his kinship with God. Toward realization of the world's highest ideal-peace through brotherhood-may yoga, the science of personal contact with the Divine, spread in time to all men in all lands.

Though India's civilization is ancient above any other, few historians have noted that her feat of national survival is by no means an accident, but a logical incident in the devotion to eternal verities which India has offered through her best men in every generation. By sheer continuity of being, by intransitivity before the ages-can dusty scholars truly tell us how many?-India has given the worthiest answer of any people to the challenge of time.

The Biblical story {FN32-5} of Abraham's plea to the Lord that the city of Sodom be spared if ten righteous men could be found therein, and the divine reply: “I will not destroy it for ten's sake,” gains new meaning in the light of India's escape from the oblivion of Babylon, Egypt and other mighty nations who were once her contemporaries. The Lord's answer clearly shows that a land lives, not by its material achievements, but in its masterpieces of man.

Let the divine words be heard again, in this twentieth century, twice dyed in blood ere half over: No nation that can produce ten men, great in the eyes of the Unbribable Judge, shall know extinction. Heeding such persuasions, India has proved herself not witless against the thousand cunnings of time. Self-realized masters in every century have hallowed her soil; modern Christlike sages, like Lahiri Mahasaya and his disciple Sri Yukteswar, rise up to proclaim that the science of yoga is more vital than any material advances to man's happiness and to a nation's longevity.

Very scanty information about the life of Lahiri Mahasaya and his universal doctrine has ever appeared in print. For three decades in India, America, and Europe, I have found a deep and sincere interest in his message of liberating yoga; a written account of the master's life, even as he foretold, is now needed in the West, where lives of the great modern yogis are little known.

Nothing but one or two small pamphlets in English has been written on the guru's life. One biography in Bengali, SRI SRI {FN32-6} SHYAMA CHARAN LAHIRI MAHASAYA, appeared in 1941. It was written by my disciple, Swami Satyananda, who for many years has been the ACHARYA (spiritual preceptor) at our VIDYALAYA in Ranchi. I have translated a few passages from his book and have incorporated them into this section devoted to Lahiri Mahasaya.

It was into a pious Brahmin family of ancient lineage that Lahiri Mahasaya was born September 30, 1828. His birthplace was the village of Ghurni in the Nadia district near Krishnagar, Bengal. He was the youngest son of Muktakashi, the second wife of the esteemed Gaur Mohan Lahiri. (His first wife, after the birth of three sons, had died during a pilgrimage.) The boy's mother passed away during his childhood; little about her is known except the revealing fact that she was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva, {FN32-7} scripturally designated as the “King of Yogis.”

The boy Lahiri, whose given name was Shyama Charan, spent his early years in the ancestral home at Nadia. At the age of three or four he was often observed sitting under the sands in the posture of a yogi, his body completely hidden except for the head.

The Lahiri estate was destroyed in the winter of 1833, when the nearby Jalangi River changed its course and disappeared into the depths of the Ganges. One of the Shiva temples founded by the Lahiris went into the river along with the family home. A devotee rescued the stone image of Lord Shiva from the swirling waters and placed it in a new temple, now well-known as the Ghurni Shiva Site.

Gaur Mohan Lahiri and his family left Nadia and became residents of Benares, where the father immediately erected a Shiva temple. He conducted his household along the lines of Vedic discipline, with regular observance of ceremonial worship, acts of charity, and scriptural study. Just and open-minded, however, he did not ignore the beneficial current of modern ideas.

The boy Lahiri took lessons in Hindi and Urdu in Benares study-groups. He attended a school conducted by Joy Narayan Ghosal, receiving instruction in Sanskrit, Bengali, French, and English. Applying himself to a close study of the VEDAS, the young yogi listened eagerly to scriptural discussions by learned Brahmins, including a Marhatta pundit named Nag-Bhatta.

Shyama Charan was a kind, gentle, and courageous youth, beloved by all his companions. With a well-proportioned, bright, and powerful body, he excelled in swimming and in many skillful activities.

In 1846 Shyama Charan Lahiri was married to Srimati Kashi Moni, daughter of Sri Debnarayan Sanyal. A model Indian housewife, Kashi Moni cheerfully carried on her home duties and the traditional householder's obligation to serve guests and the poor. Two saintly sons, Tincouri and Ducouri, blessed the union.

At the age of 23, in 1851, Lahiri Mahasaya took the post of accountant in the Military Engineering Department of the English government. He received many promotions during the time of his service. Thus not only was he a master before God's eyes, but also a success in the little human drama where he played his given role as an office worker in the world.

As the offices of the Army Department were shifted, Lahiri Mahasaya was transferred to Gazipur, Mirjapur, Danapur, Naini Tal, Benares, and other localities. After the death of his father, Lahiri had to assume the entire responsibility of his family, for whom he bought a quiet residence in the Garudeswar Mohulla neighborhood of Benares.

It was in his thirty-third year that Lahiri Mahasaya saw fulfillment of the purpose for which he had been reincarnated on earth. The ash-hidden flame, long smouldering, received its opportunity to burst into flame. A divine decree, resting beyond the gaze of human beings, works mysteriously to bring all things into outer manifestation at the proper time. He met his great guru, Babaji, near Ranikhet, and was initiated by him into KRIYA YOGA.

This auspicious event did not happen to him alone; it was a fortunate moment for all the human race, many of whom were later privileged to receive the soul-awakening gift of KRIYA. The lost, or long-vanished, highest art of yoga was again being brought to light. Many spiritually thirsty men and women eventually found their way to the cool waters of KRIYA YOGA. Just as in the Hindu legend, where Mother Ganges offers her divine draught to the parched devotee Bhagirath, so the celestial flood of KRIYA rolled from the secret fastnesses of the Himalayas into the dusty haunts of men.

{FN32-1} JOHN 11:1-4.

{FN32-2} A cholera victim is often rational and fully conscious right up to the moment of death.

{FN32-3} The god of death.

{FN32-4} Literally, “Supreme soul.”

{FN32-5} GENESIS 18:23-32.

{FN32-6} SRI, a prefix meaning “holy,” is attached (generally twice or thrice) to names of great Indian teachers.

{FN32-7} One of the trinity of Godhead-Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva-whose universal work is, respectively, that of creation, preservation, and dissolution-restoration. Shiva (sometimes spelled Siva), represented in mythology as the Lord of Renunciates, appears in visions to His devotees under various aspects, such as Mahadeva, the matted-haired Ascetic, and Nataraja, the Cosmic Dancer.


CHAPTER 33

BABAJI, THE YOGI-CHRIST OF MODERN INDIA

BABAJI, THE YOGI-CHRIST OF MODERN INDIA

The northern Himalayan crags near Badrinarayan are still blessed by the living presence of Babaji, guru of Lahiri Mahasaya. The secluded master has retained his physical form for centuries, perhaps for millenniums. The deathless Babaji is an AVATARA. This Sanskrit word means “descent”; its roots are AVA, “down,” and TRI, “to pass.” In the Hindu scriptures, AVATARA signifies the descent of Divinity into flesh.

“Babaji's spiritual state is beyond human comprehension,” Sri Yukteswar explained to me. “The dwarfed vision of men cannot pierce to his transcendental star. One attempts in vain even to picture the avatar's attainment. It is inconceivable.”

The UPANISHADS have minutely classified every stage of spiritual advancement. A SIDDHA (“perfected being") has progressed from the state of a JIVANMUKTA (“freed while living") to that of a PARAMUKTA (“supremely free"-full power over death); the latter has completely escaped from the mayic thralldom and its reincarnational round. The PARAMUKTA therefore seldom returns to a physical body; if he does, he is an avatar, a divinely appointed medium of supernal blessings on the world.

An avatar is unsubject to the universal economy; his pure body, visible as a light image, is free from any debt to nature. The casual gaze may see nothing extraordinary in an avatar's form but it casts no shadow nor makes any footprint on the ground. These are outward symbolic proofs of an inward lack of darkness and material bondage. Such a God-man alone knows the Truth behind the relativities of life and death. Omar Khayyam, so grossly misunderstood, sang of this liberated man in his immortal scripture, the RUBAIYAT:

“Ah, Moon of my Delight who know'st no wane, The Moon of Heav'n is rising once again; How oft hereafter rising shall she look Through this same Garden after me-in vain!”

The “Moon of Delight” is God, eternal Polaris, anachronous never. The “Moon of Heav'n” is the outward cosmos, fettered to the law of periodic recurrence. Its chains had been dissolved forever by the Persian seer through his self-realization. “How oft hereafter rising shall she look . . . after me-in vain!” What frustration of search by a frantic universe for an absolute omission!

Christ expressed his freedom in another way: “And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” {FN33-1}

Spacious with omnipresence, could Christ indeed be followed except in the overarching Spirit?

Krishna, Rama, Buddha, and Patanjali were among the ancient Indian avatars. A considerable poetic literature in Tamil has grown up around Agastya, a South Indian avatar. He worked many miracles during the centuries preceding and following the Christian era, and is credited with retaining his physical form even to this day.

Babaji's mission in India has been to assist prophets in carrying out their special dispensations. He thus qualifies for the scriptural classification of MAHAVATAR (Great Avatar). He has stated that he gave yoga initiation to Shankara, ancient founder of the Swami Order, and to Kabir, famous medieval saint. His chief nineteenth-century disciple was, as we know, Lahiri Mahasaya, revivalist of the lost KRIYA art.

[Illustration: BABAJI, THE MAHAVATAR, Guru of Lahiri Mahasaya, I have helped an artist to draw a true likeness of the great Yogi-Christ of modern India.—see babaji.jpg]

The MAHAVATAR is in constant communion with Christ; together they send out vibrations of redemption, and have planned the spiritual technique of salvation for this age. The work of these two fully-illumined masters-one with the body, and one without it-is to inspire the nations to forsake suicidal wars, race hatreds, religious sectarianism, and the boomerang-evils of materialism. Babaji is well aware of the trend of modern times, especially of the influence and complexities of Western civilization, and realizes the necessity of spreading the self-liberations of yoga equally in the West and in the East.

That there is no historical reference to Babaji need not surprise us. The great guru has never openly appeared in any century; the misinterpreting glare of publicity has no place in his millennial plans. Like the Creator, the sole but silent Power, Babaji works in a humble obscurity.

Great prophets like Christ and Krishna come to earth for a specific and spectacular purpose; they depart as soon as it is accomplished. Other avatars, like Babaji, undertake work which is concerned more with the slow evolutionary progress of man during the centuries than with any one outstanding event of history. Such masters always veil themselves from the gross public gaze, and have the power to become invisible at will. For these reasons, and because they generally instruct their disciples to maintain silence about them, a number of towering spiritual figures remain world-unknown. I give in these pages on Babaji merely a hint of his life-only a few facts which he deems it fit and helpful to be publicly imparted.

No limiting facts about Babaji's family or birthplace, dear to the annalist's heart, have ever been discovered. His speech is generally in Hindi, but he converses easily in any language. He has adopted the simple name of Babaji (revered father); other titles of respect given him by Lahiri Mahasaya's disciples are Mahamuni Babaji Maharaj (supreme ecstatic saint), Maha Yogi (greatest of yogis), Trambak Baba and Shiva Baba (titles of avatars of Shiva). Does it matter that we know not the patronymic of an earth-released master?

“Whenever anyone utters with reverence the name of Babaji,” Lahiri Mahasaya said, “that devotee attracts an instant spiritual blessing.”

The deathless guru bears no marks of age on his body; he appears to be no more than a youth of twenty-five. Fair-skinned, of medium build and height, Babaji's beautiful, strong body radiates a perceptible glow. His eyes are dark, calm, and tender; his long, lustrous hair is copper-colored. A very strange fact is that Babaji bears an extraordinarily exact resemblance to his disciple Lahiri Mahasaya. The similarity is so striking that, in his later years, Lahiri Mahasaya might have passed as the father of the youthful-looking Babaji.

Swami Kebalananda, my saintly Sanskrit tutor, spent some time with Babaji in the Himalayas.

“The peerless master moves with his group from place to place in the mountains,” Kebalananda told me. “His small band contains two highly advanced American disciples. After Babaji has been in one locality for some time, he says: 'DERA DANDA UTHAO.' ('Let us lift our camp and staff.') He carries a symbolic DANDA (bamboo staff). His words are the signal for moving with his group instantaneously to another place. He does not always employ this method of astral travel; sometimes he goes on foot from peak to peak.

“Babaji can be seen or recognized by others only when he so desires. He is known to have appeared in many slightly different forms to various devotees-sometimes without beard and moustache, and sometimes with them. As his undecaying body requires no food, the master seldom eats. As a social courtesy to visiting disciples, he occasionally accepts fruits, or rice cooked in milk and clarified butter.

“Two amazing incidents of Babaji's life are known to me,” Kebalananda went on. “His disciples were sitting one night around a huge fire which was blazing for a sacred Vedic ceremony. The master suddenly seized a burning log and lightly struck the bare shoulder of a chela who was close to the fire.

“'Sir, how cruel!' Lahiri Mahasaya, who was present, made this remonstrance.

“'Would you rather have seen him burned to ashes before your eyes, according to the decree of his past karma?'

“With these words Babaji placed his healing hand on the chela's disfigured shoulder. 'I have freed you tonight from painful death. The karmic law has been satisfied through your slight suffering by fire.'

“On another occasion Babaji's sacred circle was disturbed by the arrival of a stranger. He had climbed with astonishing skill to the nearly inaccessible ledge near the camp of the master.

“'Sir, you must be the great Babaji.' The man's face was lit with inexpressible reverence. 'For months I have pursued a ceaseless search for you among these forbidding crags. I implore you to accept me as a disciple.'

“When the great guru made no response, the man pointed to the rocky chasm at his feet.

“'If you refuse me, I will jump from this mountain. Life has no further value if I cannot win your guidance to the Divine.'

“'Jump then,' Babaji said unemotionally. 'I cannot accept you in your present state of development.'

“The man immediately hurled himself over the cliff. Babaji instructed the shocked disciples to fetch the stranger's body. When they returned with the mangled form, the master placed his divine hand on the dead man. Lo! he opened his eyes and prostrated himself humbly before the omnipotent one.

“'You are now ready for discipleship.' Babaji beamed lovingly on his resurrected chela. 'You have courageously passed a difficult test. Death shall not touch you again; now you are one of our immortal flock.' Then he spoke his usual words of departure, 'DERA DANDA UTHAO'; the whole group vanished from the mountain.”

An avatar lives in the omnipresent Spirit; for him there is no distance inverse to the square. Only one reason, therefore, can motivate Babaji in maintaining his physical form from century to century: the desire to furnish humanity with a concrete example of its own possibilities. Were man never vouchsafed a glimpse of Divinity in the flesh, he would remain oppressed by the heavy mayic delusion that he cannot transcend his mortality.

Jesus knew from the beginning the sequence of his life; he passed through each event not for himself, not from any karmic compulsion, but solely for the upliftment of reflective human beings. His four reporter-disciples-Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John-recorded the ineffable drama for the benefit of later generations.

For Babaji, also, there is no relativity of past, present, future; from the beginning he has known all phases of his life. Yet, accommodating himself to the limited understanding of men, he has played many acts of his divine life in the presence of one or more witnesses. Thus it came about that a disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya was present when Babaji deemed the time to be ripe for him to proclaim the possibility of bodily immortality. He uttered this promise before Ram Gopal Muzumdar, that it might finally become known for the inspiration of other seeking hearts. The great ones speak their words and participate in the seemingly natural course of events, solely for the good of man, even as Christ said: “Father . . . I knew that thou hearest me always: but BECAUSE OF THE PEOPLE WHICH STAND BY I SAID IT, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.” {FN33-2} During my visit at Ranbajpur with Ram Gopal, “the sleepless saint,” {FN33-3} he related the wondrous story of his first meeting with Babaji.

“I sometimes left my isolated cave to sit at Lahiri Mahasaya's feet in Benares,” Ram Gopal told me. “One midnight as I was silently meditating in a group of his disciples, the master made a surprising request.

“'Ram Gopal,' he said, 'go at once to the Dasasamedh bathing GHAT.'

“I soon reached the secluded spot. The night was bright with moonlight and the glittering stars. After I had sat in patient silence for awhile, my attention was drawn to a huge stone slab near my feet. It rose gradually, revealing an underground cave. As the stone remained balanced in some unknown manner, the draped form of a young and surpassingly lovely woman was levitated from the cave high into the air. Surrounded by a soft halo, she slowly descended in front of me and stood motionless, steeped in an inner state of ecstasy. She finally stirred, and spoke gently.

“'I am Mataji, {FN33-4} the sister of Babaji. I have asked him and also Lahiri Mahasaya to come to my cave tonight to discuss a matter of great importance.'

“A nebulous light was rapidly floating over the Ganges; the strange luminescence was reflected in the opaque waters. It approached nearer and nearer until, with a blinding flash, it appeared by the side of Mataji and condensed itself instantly into the human form of Lahiri Mahasaya. He bowed humbly at the feet of the woman saint.

“Before I had recovered from my bewilderment, I was further wonderstruck to behold a circling mass of mystical light traveling in the sky. Descending swiftly, the flaming whirlpool neared our group and materialized itself into the body of a beautiful youth who, I understood at once, was Babaji. He looked like Lahiri Mahasaya, the only difference being that Babaji appeared much younger, and had long, bright hair.

“Lahiri Mahasaya, Mataji, and myself knelt at the guru's feet. An ethereal sensation of beatific glory thrilled every fiber of my being as I touched his divine flesh.

“'Blessed sister,' Babaji said, 'I am intending to shed my form and plunge into the Infinite Current.'

“'I have already glimpsed your plan, beloved master. I wanted to discuss it with you tonight. Why should you leave your body?' The glorious woman looked at him beseechingly.

“'What is the difference if I wear a visible or invisible wave on the ocean of my Spirit?'

“Mataji replied with a quaint flash of wit. 'Deathless guru, if it makes no difference, then please do not ever relinquish your form.' {FN33-5}

“'Be it so,' Babaji said solemnly. 'I will never leave my physical body. It will always remain visible to at least a small number of people on this earth. The Lord has spoken His own wish through your lips.'

“As I listened in awe to the conversation between these exalted beings, the great guru turned to me with a benign gesture.

“'Fear not, Ram Gopal,' he said, 'you are blessed to be a witness at the scene of this immortal promise.'

“As the sweet melody of Babaji's voice faded away, his form and that of Lahiri Mahasaya slowly levitated and moved backward over the Ganges. An aureole of dazzling light templed their bodies as they vanished into the night sky. Mataji's form floated to the cave and descended; the stone slab closed of itself, as if working on an invisible leverage.

“Infinitely inspired, I wended my way back to Lahiri Mahasaya's place. As I bowed before him in the early dawn, my guru smiled at me understandingly.

“'I am happy for you, Ram Gopal,' he said. 'The desire of meeting Babaji and Mataji, which you have often expressed to me, has found at last a sacred fulfillment.'

“My fellow disciples informed me that Lahiri Mahasaya had not moved from his dais since early the preceding evening.

“'He gave a wonderful discourse on immortality after you had left for the Dasasamedh GHAT,' one of the chelas told me. For the first time I fully realized the truth in the scriptural verses which state that a man of self-realization can appear at different places in two or more bodies at the same time.

“Lahiri Mahasaya later explained to me many metaphysical points concerning the hidden divine plan for this earth,” Ram Gopal concluded. “Babaji has been chosen by God to remain in his body for the duration of this particular world cycle. Ages shall come and go—still the deathless master, {FN33-6} beholding the drama of the centuries, shall be present on this stage terrestrial.”

Chapter 33 Footnotes

{FN33-1} MATTHEW 8:19-20.

{FN33-2} JOHN 11:41-42.

{FN33-3} The omnipresent yogi who observed that I failed to bow before the Tarakeswar shrine (chapter 13).

{FN33-4} “Holy Mother.” Mataji also has lived through the centuries; she is almost as far advanced spiritually as her brother. She remains in ecstasy in a hidden underground cave near the Dasasamedh GHAT.

{FN33-5} This incident reminds one of Thales. The great Greek philosopher taught that there was no difference between life and death. “Why, then,” inquired a critic, “do you not die?” “Because,” answered Thales, “it makes no difference.”

{FN33-6} “Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying (remain unbrokenly in the Christ Consciousness), he shall never see death.”-JOHN 8:51.



CHAPTER 34

MATERIALIZING A PALACE IN THE HIMALAYAS

MATERIALIZING A PALACE IN THE HIMALAYAS

“Babaji's first meeting with Lahiri Mahasaya is an enthralling story, and one of the few which gives us a detailed glimpse of the deathless guru.”

These words were Swami Kebalananda's preamble to a wondrous tale. The first time he recounted it I was literally spellbound. On many other occasions I coaxed my gentle Sanskrit tutor to repeat the story, which was later told me in substantially the same words by Sri Yukteswar. Both these Lahiri Mahasaya disciples had heard the awesome tale direct from the lips of their guru.

“My first meeting with Babaji took place in my thirty-third year,” Lahiri Mahasaya had said. “In the autumn of 1861 I was stationed in Danapur as a government accountant in the Military Engineering Department. One morning the office manager summoned me.

“'Lahiri,' he said, 'a telegram has just come from our main office. You are to be transferred to Ranikhet, where an army post {FN34-1} is now being established.'

“With one servant, I set out on the 500-mile trip. Traveling by horse and buggy, we arrived in thirty days at the Himalayan site of Ranikhet. {FN34-2}

“My office duties were not onerous; I was able to spend many hours roaming in the magnificent hills. A rumor reached me that great saints blessed the region with their presence; I felt a strong desire to see them. During a ramble one early afternoon, I was astounded to hear a distant voice calling my name. I continued my vigorous upward climb on Drongiri Mountain. A slight uneasiness beset me at the thought that I might not be able to retrace my steps before darkness had descended over the jungle.

“I finally reached a small clearing whose sides were dotted with caves. On one of the rocky ledges stood a smiling young man, extending his hand in welcome. I noticed with astonishment that, except for his copper-colored hair, he bore a remarkable resemblance to myself.

“'Lahiri, you have come!' The saint addressed me affectionately in Hindi. 'Rest here in this cave. It was I who called you.'

“I entered a neat little grotto which contained several woolen blankets and a few KAMANDULUS (begging bowls).

“'Lahiri, do you remember that seat?' The yogi pointed to a folded blanket in one corner.

“'No, sir.' Somewhat dazed at the strangeness of my adventure, I added, 'I must leave now, before nightfall. I have business in the morning at my office.'

“The mysterious saint replied in English, 'The office was brought for you, and not you for the office.'

“I was dumbfounded that this forest ascetic should not only speak English but also paraphrase the words of Christ. {FN34-3}

“'I see my telegram took effect.' The yogi's remark was incomprehensible to me; I inquired his meaning.

“'I refer to the telegram that summoned you to these isolated parts. It was I who silently suggested to the mind of your superior officer that you be transferred to Ranikhet. When one feels his unity with mankind, all minds become transmitting stations through which he can work at will.' He added gently, 'Lahiri, surely this cave seems familiar to you?'

“As I maintained a bewildered silence, the saint approached and struck me gently on the forehead. At his magnetic touch, a wondrous current swept through my brain, releasing the sweet seed-memories of my previous life.

“'I remember!' My voice was half-choked with joyous sobs. 'You are my guru Babaji, who has belonged to me always! Scenes of the past arise vividly in my mind; here in this cave I spent many years of my last incarnation!' As ineffable recollections overwhelmed me, I tearfully embraced my master's feet.

“'For more than three decades I have waited for you here-waited for you to return to me!' Babaji's voice rang with celestial love. 'You slipped away and vanished into the tumultuous waves of the life beyond death. The magic wand of your karma touched you, and you were gone! Though you lost sight of me, never did I lose sight of you! I pursued you over the luminescent astral sea where the glorious angels sail. Through gloom, storm, upheaval, and light I followed you, like a mother bird guarding her young. As you lived out your human term of womb-life, and emerged a babe, my eye was ever on you. When you covered your tiny form in the lotus posture under the Nadia sands in your childhood, I was invisibly present! Patiently, month after month, year after year, I have watched over you, waiting for this perfect day. Now you are with me! Lo, here is your cave, loved of yore! I have kept it ever clean and ready for you. Here is your hallowed ASANA-blanket, where you daily sat to fill your expanding heart with God! Behold there your bowl, from which you often drank the nectar prepared by me! See how I have kept the brass cup brightly polished, that you might drink again therefrom! My own, do you now understand?'

“'My guru, what can I say?' I murmured brokenly. 'Where has one ever heard of such deathless love?' I gazed long and ecstatically on my eternal treasure, my guru in life and death.

“'Lahiri, you need purification. Drink the oil in this bowl and lie down by the river.' Babaji's practical wisdom, I reflected with a quick, reminiscent smile, was ever to the fore.

“I obeyed his directions. Though the icy Himalayan night was descending, a comforting warmth, an inner radiation, began to pulsate in every cell of my body. I marveled. Was the unknown oil endued with a cosmical heat?

“Bitter winds whipped around me in the darkness, shrieking a fierce challenge. The chill wavelets of the Gogash River lapped now and then over my body, outstretched on the rocky bank. Tigers howled near-by, but my heart was free of fear; the radiant force newly generated within me conveyed an assurance of unassailable protection. Several hours passed swiftly; faded memories of another life wove themselves into the present brilliant pattern of reunion with my divine guru.

“My solitary musings were interrupted by the sound of approaching footsteps. In the darkness, a man's hand gently helped me to my feet, and gave me some dry clothing.

“'Come, brother,' my companion said. 'The master awaits you.'

“He led the way through the forest. The somber night was suddenly lit by a steady luminosity in the distance.

“'Can that be the sunrise?' I inquired. 'Surely the whole night has not passed?'

“'The hour is midnight.' My guide laughed softly. 'Yonder light is the glow of a golden palace, materialized here tonight by the peerless Babaji. In the dim past, you once expressed a desire to enjoy the beauties of a palace. Our master is now satisfying your wish, thus freeing you from the bonds of karma.' {FN34-4} He added, 'The magnificent palace will be the scene of your initiation tonight into KRIYA YOGA. All your brothers here join in a paean of welcome, rejoicing at the end of your long exile. Behold!'

“A vast palace of dazzling gold stood before us. Studded with countless jewels, and set amidst landscaped gardens, it presented a spectacle of unparalleled grandeur. Saints of angelic countenance were stationed by resplendent gates, half-reddened by the glitter of rubies. Diamonds, pearls, sapphires, and emeralds of great size and luster were imbedded in the decorative arches.

“I followed my companion into a spacious reception hall. The odor of incense and of roses wafted through the air; dim lamps shed a multicolored glow. Small groups of devotees, some fair, some dark-skinned, chanted musically, or sat in the meditative posture, immersed in an inner peace. A vibrant joy pervaded the atmosphere.

“'Feast your eyes; enjoy the artistic splendors of this palace, for it has been brought into being solely in your honor.' My guide smiled sympathetically as I uttered a few ejaculations of wonderment.

“'Brother,' I said, 'the beauty of this structure surpasses the bounds of human imagination. Please tell me the mystery of its origin.'

“'I will gladly enlighten you.' My companion's dark eyes sparkled with wisdom. 'In reality there is nothing inexplicable about this materialization. The whole cosmos is a materialized thought of the Creator. This heavy, earthly clod, floating in space, is a dream of God. He made all things out of His consciousness, even as man in his dream consciousness reproduces and vivifies a creation with its creatures.

“'God first created the earth as an idea. Then He quickened it; energy atoms came into being. He coordinated the atoms into this solid sphere. All its molecules are held together by the will of God. When He withdraws His will, the earth again will disintegrate into energy. Energy will dissolve into consciousness; the earth-idea will disappear from objectivity.

“'The substance of a dream is held in materialization by the subconscious thought of the dreamer. When that cohesive thought is withdrawn in wakefulness, the dream and its elements dissolve. A man closes his eyes and erects a dream-creation which, on awakening, he effortlessly dematerializes. He follows the divine archetypal pattern. Similarly, when he awakens in cosmic consciousness, he will effortlessly dematerialize the illusions of the cosmic dream.

“'Being one with the infinite all-accomplishing Will, Babaji can summon the elemental atoms to combine and manifest themselves in any form. This golden palace, instantaneously created, is real, even as this earth is real. Babaji created this palatial mansion out of his mind and is holding its atoms together by the power of his will, even as God created this earth and is maintaining it intact.' He added, 'When this structure has served its purpose, Babaji will dematerialize it.'

“As I remained silent in awe, my guide made a sweeping gesture. 'This shimmering palace, superbly embellished with jewels, has not been built by human effort or with laboriously mined gold and gems. It stands solidly, a monumental challenge to man. {FN34-5} Whoever realizes himself as a son of God, even as Babaji has done, can reach any goal by the infinite powers hidden within him. A common stone locks within itself the secret of stupendous atomic energy; {FN34-6} even so, a mortal is yet a powerhouse of divinity.'

“The sage picked up from a near-by table a graceful vase whose handle was blazing with diamonds. 'Our great guru created this palace by solidifying myriads of free cosmic rays,' he went on. 'Touch this vase and its diamonds; they will satisfy all the tests of sensory experience.'

“I examined the vase, and passed my hand over the smooth room-walls, thick with glistening gold. Each of the jewels scattered lavishly about was worthy of a king's collection. Deep satisfaction spread over my mind. A submerged desire, hidden in my subconsciousness from lives now gone, seemed simultaneously gratified and extinguished.

“My stately companion led me through ornate arches and corridors into a series of chambers richly furnished in the style of an emperor's palace. We entered an immense hall. In the center stood a golden throne, encrusted with jewels shedding a dazzling medley of colors. There, in lotus posture, sat the supreme Babaji. I knelt on the shining floor at his feet.

“'Lahiri, are you still feasting on your dream desires for a golden palace?' My guru's eyes were twinkling like his own sapphires. 'Wake! All your earthly thirsts are about to be quenched forever.' He murmured some mystic words of blessing. 'My son, arise. Receive your initiation into the kingdom of God through KRIYA YOGA.'

“Babaji stretched out his hand; a HOMA (sacrificial) fire appeared, surrounded by fruits and flowers. I received the liberating yogic technique before this flaming altar.

“The rites were completed in the early dawn. I felt no need for sleep in my ecstatic state, and wandered around the palace, filled on all sides with treasures and priceless OBJETS D'ART. Descending to the gorgeous gardens, I noticed, near-by, the same caves and barren mountain ledges which yesterday had boasted no adjacency to palace or flowered terrace.

“Reentering the palace, fabulously glistening in the cold Himalayan sunlight, I sought the presence of my master. He was still enthroned, surrounded by many quiet disciples.

“'Lahiri, you are hungry.' Babaji added, 'Close your eyes.'

“When I reopened them, the enchanting palace and its picturesque gardens had disappeared. My own body and the forms of Babaji and the cluster of chelas were all now seated on the bare ground at the exact site of the vanished palace, not far from the sunlit entrances of the rocky grottos. I recalled that my guide had remarked that the palace would be dematerialized, its captive atoms released into the thought-essence from which it had sprung. Although stunned, I looked trustingly at my guru. I knew not what to expect next on this day of miracles.

“'The purpose for which the palace was created has now been served,' Babaji explained. He lifted an earthen vessel from the ground. 'Put your hand there and receive whatever food you desire.'

“As soon as I touched the broad, empty bowl, it became heaped with hot butter-fried LUCHIS, curry, and rare sweetmeats. I helped myself, observing that the vessel was ever-filled. At the end of my meal I looked around for water. My guru pointed to the bowl before me. Lo! the food had vanished; in its place was water, clear as from a mountain stream.

“'Few mortals know that the kingdom of God includes the kingdom of mundane fulfillments,' Babaji observed. 'The divine realm extends to the earthly, but the latter, being illusory, cannot include the essence of reality.'

“'Beloved guru, last night you demonstrated for me the link of beauty in heaven and earth!' I smiled at memories of the vanished palace; surely no simple yogi had ever received initiation into the august mysteries of Spirit amidst surroundings of more impressive luxury! I gazed tranquilly at the stark contrast of the present scene. The gaunt ground, the skyey roof, the caves offering primitive shelter-all seemed a gracious natural setting for the seraphic saints around me.

“I sat that afternoon on my blanket, hallowed by associations of past-life realizations. My divine guru approached and passed his hand over my head. I entered the NIRBIKALPA SAMADHI state, remaining unbrokenly in its bliss for seven days. Crossing the successive strata of self-knowledge, I penetrated the deathless realms of reality. All delusive limitations dropped away; my soul was fully established on the eternal altar of the Cosmic Spirit. On the eighth day I fell at my guru's feet and implored him to keep me always near him in this sacred wilderness.

“'My son,' Babaji said, embracing me, 'your role in this incarnation must be played on an outward stage. Prenatally blessed by many lives of lonely meditation, you must now mingle in the world of men.

“'A deep purpose underlay the fact that you did not meet me this time until you were already a married man, with modest business responsibilities. You must put aside your thoughts of joining our secret band in the Himalayas; your life lies in the crowded marts, serving as an example of the ideal yogi-householder.

“'The cries of many bewildered worldly men and women have not fallen unheard on the ears of the Great Ones,' he went on. 'You have been chosen to bring spiritual solace through KRIYA YOGA to numerous earnest seekers. The millions who are encumbered by family ties and heavy worldly duties will take new heart from you, a householder like themselves. You must guide them to see that the highest yogic attainments are not barred to the family man. Even in the world, the yogi who faithfully discharges his responsibilities, without personal motive or attachment, treads the sure path of enlightenment.

“'No necessity compels you to leave the world, for inwardly you have already sundered its every karmic tie. Not of this world, you must yet be in it. Many years still remain during which you must conscientiously fulfill your family, business, civic, and spiritual duties. A sweet new breath of divine hope will penetrate the arid hearts of worldly men. From your balanced life, they will understand that liberation is dependent on inner, rather than outer, renunciations.'

“How remote seemed my family, the office, the world, as I listened to my guru in the high Himalayan solitudes. Yet adamantine truth rang in his words; I submissively agreed to leave this blessed haven of peace. Babaji instructed me in the ancient rigid rules which govern the transmission of the yogic art from guru to disciple.

“'Bestow the KRIYA key only on qualified chelas,' Babaji said. 'He who vows to sacrifice all in the quest of the Divine is fit to unravel the final mysteries of life through the science of meditation.'

“'Angelic guru, as you have already favored mankind by resurrecting the lost KRIYA art, will you not increase that benefit by relaxing the strict requirements for discipleship?' I gazed beseechingly at Babaji. 'I pray that you permit me to communicate KRIYA to all seekers, even though at first they cannot vow themselves to complete inner renunciation. The tortured men and women of the world, pursued by the threefold suffering, {FN34-7} need special encouragement. They may never attempt the road to freedom if KRIYA initiation be withheld from them.'

“'Be it so. The divine wish has been expressed through you.' With these simple words, the merciful guru banished the rigorous safeguards that for ages had hidden KRIYA from the world. 'Give KRIYA freely to all who humbly ask for help.'

“After a silence, Babaji added, 'Repeat to each of your disciples this majestic promise from the BHAGAVAD GITA: “SWALPAMASYA DHARMASYA, TRAYATA MAHATO BHOYAT”—“Even a little bit of the practice of this religion will save you from dire fears and colossal sufferings.”' {FN34-8}

“As I knelt the next morning at my guru's feet for his farewell blessing, he sensed my deep reluctance to leave him.

“'There is no separation for us, my beloved child.' He touched my shoulder affectionately. 'Wherever you are, whenever you call me, I shall be with you instantly.'

“Consoled by his wondrous promise, and rich with the newly found gold of God-wisdom, I wended my way down the mountain. At the office I was welcomed by my fellow employees, who for ten days had thought me lost in the Himalayan jungles. A letter soon arrived from the head office.

“'Lahiri should return to the Danapur {FN34-9} office,' it read. 'His transfer to Ranikhet occurred by error. Another man should have been sent to assume the Ranikhet duties.'

“I smiled, reflecting on the hidden crosscurrents in the events which had led me to this furthermost spot of India.

“Before returning to Danapur, I spent a few days with a Bengali family at Moradabad. A party of six friends gathered to greet me. As I turned the conversation to spiritual subjects, my host observed gloomily:

“'Oh, in these days India is destitute of saints!'

“'Babu,' I protested warmly, 'of course there are still great masters in this land!'

“In a mood of exalted fervor, I felt impelled to relate my miraculous experiences in the Himalayas. The little company was politely incredulous.

“'Lahiri,' one man said soothingly, 'your mind has been under a strain in those rarefied mountain airs. This is some daydream you have recounted.'

“Burning with the enthusiasm of truth, I spoke without due thought. 'If I call him, my guru will appear right in this house.'

“Interest gleamed in every eye; it was no wonder that the group was eager to behold a saint materialized in such a strange way. Half-reluctantly, I asked for a quiet room and two new woolen blankets.

“'The master will materialize from the ether,' I said. 'Remain silently outside the door; I shall soon call you.'

“I sank into the meditative state, humbly summoning my guru. The darkened room soon filled with a dim aural moonlight; the luminous figure of Babaji emerged.

“'Lahiri, do you call me for a trifle?' The master's gaze was stern. 'Truth is for earnest seekers, not for those of idle curiosity. It is easy to believe when one sees; there is nothing then to deny. Supersensual truth is deserved and discovered by those who overcome their natural materialistic skepticism.' He added gravely, 'Let me go!'

“I fell entreatingly at his feet. 'Holy guru, I realize my serious error; I humbly ask pardon. It was to create faith in these spiritually blinded minds that I ventured to call you. Because you have graciously appeared at my prayer, please do not depart without bestowing a blessing on my friends. Unbelievers though they be, at least they were willing to investigate the truth of my strange assertions.'

“'Very well; I will stay awhile. I do not wish your word discredited before your friends.' Babaji's face had softened, but he added gently, 'Henceforth, my son, I shall come when you need me, and not always when you call me. {FN34-10}'

“Tense silence reigned in the little group when I opened the door. As if mistrusting their senses, my friends stared at the lustrous figure on the blanket seat.

“'This is mass-hypnotism!' One man laughed blatantly. 'No one could possibly have entered this room without our knowledge!'

“Babaji advanced smilingly and motioned to each one to touch the warm, solid flesh of his body. Doubts dispelled, my friends prostrated themselves on the floor in awed repentance.

“'Let HALUA {FN34-11} be prepared.' Babaji made this request, I knew, to further assure the group of his physical reality. While the porridge was boiling, the divine guru chatted affably. Great was the metamorphosis of these doubting Thomases into devout St. Pauls. After we had eaten, Babaji blessed each of us in turn. There was a sudden flash; we witnessed the instantaneous dechemicalization of the electronic elements of Babaji's body into a spreading vaporous light. The God-tuned will power of the master had loosened its grasp of the ether atoms held together as his body; forthwith the trillions of tiny lifetronic sparks faded into the infinite reservoir.

“'With my own eyes I have seen the conqueror of death.' Maitra, {FN34-12} one of the group, spoke reverently. His face was transfigured with the joy of his recent awakening. 'The supreme guru played with time and space, as a child plays with bubbles. I have beheld one with the keys of heaven and earth.'

“I soon returned to Danapur. Firmly anchored in the Spirit, again I assumed the manifold business and family obligations of a householder.”

Lahiri Mahasaya also related to Swami Kebalananda and Sri Yukteswar the story of another meeting with Babaji, under circumstances which recalled the guru's promise: “I shall come whenever you need me.”

“The scene was a KUMBHA MELA at Allahabad,” Lahiri Mahasaya told his disciples. “I had gone there during a short vacation from my office duties. As I wandered amidst the throng of monks and sadhus who had come from great distances to attend the holy festival, I noticed an ash-smeared ascetic who was holding a begging bowl. The thought arose in my mind that the man was hypocritical, wearing the outward symbols of renunciation without a corresponding inward grace.

“No sooner had I passed the ascetic than my astounded eye fell on Babaji. He was kneeling in front of a matted-haired anchorite.

“'Guruji!' I hastened to his side. 'Sir, what are you doing here?'

“'I am washing the feet of this renunciate, and then I shall clean his cooking utensils.' Babaji smiled at me like a little child; I knew he was intimating that he wanted me to criticize no one, but to see the Lord as residing equally in all body-temples, whether of superior or inferior men. The great guru added, 'By serving wise and ignorant sadhus, I am learning the greatest of virtues, pleasing to God above all others-humility.'“

{FN34-1} Now a military sanatorium. By 1861 the British Government had already established certain telegraphic communciations.

{FN34-2} Ranikhet, in the Almora district of United Provinces, is situated at the foot of Nanda Devi, the highest Himalayan peak (25,661 feet) in British India.

{FN34-3} “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.”—MARK 2:27.

{FN34-4} The karmic law requires that every human wish find ultimate fulfillment. Desire is thus the chain which binds man to the reincarnational wheel.

{FN34-5} “What is a miracle?-'Tis a reproach, 'Tis an implicit satire on mankind.” —Edward Young, in NIGHT THOUGHTS.

{FN34-5} The theory of the atomic structure of matter was expounded in the ancient Indian VAISESIKA and NYAYA treatises. “There are vast worlds all placed away within the hollows of each atom, multifarious as the motes in a sunbeam.”—YOGA VASISHTHA.

{FN34-7} Physical, mental, and spiritual suffering; manifested, respectively, in disease, in psychological inadequacies or “complexes,” and in soul-ignorance.

{FN34-8} Chapter II:40.

{FN34-9} A town near Benares.

{FN34-10} In the path to the Infinite, even illumined masters like Lahiri Mahasaya may suffer from an excess of zeal, and be subject to discipline. In the BHAGAVAD GITA, we read many passages where the divine guru Krishna gives chastisement to the prince of devotees, Arjuna.

{FN34-11} A porridge made of cream of wheat fried in butter, and boiled with milk.

{FN34-12} The man, Maitra, to whom Lahiri Mahasaya is here referring, afterward became highly advanced in self-realization. I met Maitra shortly after my graduation from high school; he visited the Mahamandal hermitage in Benares while I was a resident. He told me then of Babaji's materialization before the group in Moradabad. “As a result of the miracle,” Maitra explained to me, “I became a lifelong disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya.”


CHAPTER 35

THE CHRISTLIKE LIFE OF LAHIRI MAHASAYA

THE CHRISTLIKE LIFE OF LAHIRI MAHASAYA

“Thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.” {FN35-1} In these words to John the Baptist, and in asking John to baptize him, Jesus was acknowledging the divine rights of his guru.

From a reverent study of the Bible from an Oriental viewpoint, {FN35-2} and from intuitional perception, I am convinced that John the Baptist was, in past lives, the guru of Christ. There are numerous passages in the Bible which infer that John and Jesus in their last incarnations were, respectively, Elijah and his disciple Elisha. (These are the spellings in the Old Testament. The Greek translators spelled the names as Elias and Eliseus; they reappear in the New Testament in these changed forms.)

The very end of the Old Testament is a prediction of the reincarnation of Elijah and Elisha: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” {FN35-3} Thus John (Elijah), sent “before the coming . . . of the Lord,” was born slightly earlier to serve as a herald for Christ. An angel appeared to Zacharias the father to testify that his coming son John would be no other than Elijah (Elias).

“But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. . . . And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him {FN35-4} IN THE SPIRIT AND POWER OF ELIAS, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” {FN35-5} Jesus twice unequivocally identified Elijah (Elias) as John: “Elias is come already, and they knew him not. . . . Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.” {FN35-6} Again, Christ says: “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.” {FN35-7} When John denied that he was Elias (Elijah), {FN35-8} he meant that in the humble garb of John he came no longer in the outward elevation of Elijah the great guru. In his former incarnation he had given the “mantle” of his glory and his spiritual wealth to his disciple Elisha. “And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee. . . . And he took the MANTLE of Elijah that fell from him.” {FN35-9}

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The roles became reversed, because Elijah-John was no longer needed to be the ostensible guru of Elisha-Jesus, now perfected in divine realization.

When Christ was transfigured on the mountain {FN35-10} it was his guru Elias, with Moses, whom he saw. Again, in his hour of extremity on the cross, Jesus cried out the divine name: “ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. . . . Let us see whether Elias will come to save him.” {FN35-11}

The eternal bond of guru and disciple that existed between John and Jesus was present also for Babaji and Lahiri Mahasaya. With tender solicitude the deathless guru swam the Lethean waters that swirled between the last two lives of his chela, and guided the successive steps taken by the child and then by the man Lahiri Mahasaya. It was not until the disciple had reached his thirty-third year that Babaji deemed the time to be ripe to openly reestablish the never-severed link. Then, after their brief meeting near Ranikhet, the selfless master banished his dearly-beloved disciple from the little mountain group, releasing him for an outward world mission. “My son, I shall come whenever you need me.” What mortal lover can bestow that infinite promise?

Unknown to society in general, a great spiritual renaissance began to flow from a remote corner of Benares. Just as the fragrance of flowers cannot be suppressed, so Lahiri Mahasaya, quietly living as an ideal householder, could not hide his innate glory. Slowly, from every part of India, the devotee-bees sought the divine nectar of the liberated master.

The English office superintendent was one of the first to notice a strange transcendental change in his employee, whom he endearingly called “Ecstatic Babu.”

“Sir, you seem sad. What is the trouble?” Lahiri Mahasaya made this sympathetic inquiry one morning to his employer.

“My wife in England is critically ill. I am torn by anxiety.”

“I shall get you some word about her.” Lahiri Mahasaya left the room and sat for a short time in a secluded spot. On his return he smiled consolingly.

“Your wife is improving; she is now writing you a letter.” The omniscient yogi quoted some parts of the missive.

“Ecstatic Babu, I already know that you are no ordinary man. Yet I am unable to believe that, at will, you can banish time and space!”

The promised letter finally arrived. The astounded superintendent found that it contained not only the good news of his wife's recovery, but also the same phrases which, weeks earlier, Lahiri Mahasaya had repeated.

The wife came to India some months later. She visited the office, where Lahiri Mahasaya was quietly sitting at his desk. The woman approached him reverently.

“Sir,” she said, “it was your form, haloed in glorious light, that I beheld months ago by my sickbed in London. At that moment I was completely healed! Soon after, I was able to undertake the long ocean voyage to India.”

Day after day, one or two devotees besought the sublime guru for KRIYA initiation. In addition to these spiritual duties, and to those of his business and family life, the great master took an enthusiastic interest in education. He organized many study groups, and played an active part in the growth of a large high school in

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the Bengalitola section of Benares. His regular discourses on the scriptures came to be called his “GITA Assembly,” eagerly attended by many truth-seekers.

By these manifold activities, Lahiri Mahasaya sought to answer the common challenge: “After performing one's business and social duties, where is the time for devotional meditation?” The harmoniously balanced life of the great householder-guru became the silent inspiration of thousands of questioning hearts. Earning only a modest salary, thrifty, unostentatious, accessible to all, the master carried on naturally and happily in the path of worldly life.

Though ensconced in the seat of the Supreme One, Lahiri Mahasaya showed reverence to all men, irrespective of their differing merits. When his devotees saluted him, he bowed in turn to them. With a childlike humility, the master often touched the feet of others, but seldom allowed them to pay him similar honor, even though such obeisance toward the guru is an ancient Oriental custom.

A significant feature of Lahiri Mahasaya's life was his gift of KRIYA initiation to those of every faith. Not Hindus only, but Moslems and Christians were among his foremost disciples. Monists and dualists, those of all faiths or of no established faith, were impartially received and instructed by the universal guru. One of his highly advanced chelas was Abdul Gufoor Khan, a Mohammedan. It shows great courage on the part of Lahiri Mahasaya that, although a high-caste Brahmin, he tried his utmost to dissolve the rigid caste bigotry of his time. Those from every walk of life found shelter under the master's omnipresent wings. Like all God-inspired prophets, Lahiri Mahasaya gave new hope to the outcastes and down-trodden of society.

“Always remember that you belong to no one, and no one belongs to you. Reflect that some day you will suddenly have to leave everything in this world-so make the acquaintanceship of God now,” the great guru told his disciples. “Prepare yourself for the coming astral journey of death by daily riding in the balloon of God-perception. Through delusion you are perceiving yourself as a bundle of flesh and bones, which at best is a nest of troubles. {FN35-12} Meditate unceasingly, that you may quickly behold yourself as the Infinite Essence, free from every form of misery. Cease being a prisoner of the body; using the secret key of KRIYA, learn to escape into Spirit.”

The great guru encouraged his various students to adhere to the good traditional discipline of their own faith. Stressing the all-inclusive nature of KRIYA as a practical technique of liberation, Lahiri Mahasaya then gave his chelas liberty to express their lives in conformance with environment and up bringing.

“A Moslem should perform his NAMAJ {FN35-13} worship four times daily,” the master pointed out. “Four times daily a Hindu should sit in meditation. A Christian should go down on his knees four times daily, praying to God and then reading the Bible.”

With wise discernment the guru guided his followers into the paths of BHAKTI (devotion), KARMA (action), JNANA (wisdom), or RAJA (royal or complete) YOGAS, according to each man's natural tendencies. The master, who was slow to give his permission to devotees wishing to enter the formal path of monkhood, always cautioned them to first reflect well on the austerities of the monastic life.

The great guru taught his disciples to avoid theoretical discussion of the scriptures. “He only is wise who devotes himself to realizing, not reading only, the ancient revelations,” he said. “Solve all your problems through meditation. {FN35-14} Exchange unprofitable religious speculations for actual God-contact. Clear your mind of dogmatic theological debris; let in the fresh, healing waters of direct perception. Attune yourself to the active inner Guidance; the Divine Voice has the answer to every dilemma of life. Though man's ingenuity for getting himself into trouble appears to be endless, the Infinite Succor is no less resourceful.”

[Illustration: LAHIRI MAHASAYA, Disciple of Babaji and Guru of Sri Yukteswar—see lahiri.jpg]

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The master's omnipresence was demonstrated one day before a group of disciples who were listening to his exposition of the BHAGAVAD GITA. As he was explaining the meaning of KUTASTHA CHAITANYA or the Christ Consciousness in all vibratory creation, Lahiri Mahasaya suddenly gasped and cried out:

“I am drowning in the bodies of many souls off the coast of Japan!”

The next morning the chelas read a newspaper account of the death of many people whose ship had foundered the preceding day near Japan.

The distant disciples of Lahiri Mahasaya were often made aware of his enfolding presence. “I am ever with those who practice KRIYA,” he said consolingly to chelas who could not remain near him. “I will guide you to the Cosmic Home through your enlarging perceptions.”

Swami Satyananda was told by a devotee that, unable to go to Benares, the man had nevertheless received precise KRIYA initiation in a dream. Lahiri Mahasaya had appeared to instruct the chela in answer to his prayers.

If a disciple neglected any of his worldly obligations, the master would gently correct and discipline him.

“Lahiri Mahasaya's words were mild and healing, even when he was forced to speak openly of a chela's faults,” Sri Yukteswar once told me. He added ruefully, “No disciple ever fled from our master's barbs.” I could not help laughing, but I truthfully assured Sri Yukteswar that, sharp or not, his every word was music to my ears.

Lahiri Mahasaya carefully graded KRIYA into four progressive initiations. {FN35-15} He bestowed the three higher techniques only after the devotee had manifested definite spiritual progress. One day a certain chela, convinced that his worth was not being duly evaluated, gave voice to his discontent.

“Master,” he said, “surely I am ready now for the second initiation.”

At this moment the door opened to admit a humble disciple, Brinda Bhagat. He was a Benares postman.

“Brinda, sit by me here.” The great guru smiled at him affectionately. “Tell me, are you ready for the second technique of KRIYA?”

The little postman folded his hands in supplication. “Gurudeva,” he said in alarm, “no more initiations, please! How can I assimilate any higher teachings? I have come today to ask your blessings, because the first divine KRIYA has filled me with such intoxication that I cannot deliver my letters!”

“Already Brinda swims in the sea of Spirit.” At these words from Lahiri Mahasaya, his other disciple hung his head.

“Master,” he said, “I see I have been a poor workman, finding fault with my tools.”

The postman, who was an uneducated man, later developed his insight through KRIYA to such an extent that scholars occasionally sought his interpretation on involved scriptural points. Innocent alike of sin and syntax, little Brinda won renown in the domain of learned pundits.

Besides the numerous Benares disciples of Lahiri Mahasaya, hundreds came to him from distant parts of India. He himself traveled to Bengal on several occasions, visiting at the homes of the fathers-in-law of his two sons. Thus blessed by his presence, Bengal became honeycombed with small KRIYA groups. Particularly

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in the districts of Krishnagar and Bishnupur, many silent devotees to this day have kept the invisible current of spiritual meditation flowing.

Among many saints who received KRIYA from Lahiri Mahasaya may be mentioned the illustrious Swami Vhaskarananda Saraswati of Benares, and the Deogarh ascetic of high stature, Balananda Brahmachari. For a time Lahiri Mahasaya served as private tutor to the son of Maharaja Iswari Narayan Sinha Bahadur of Benares. Recognizing the master's spiritual attainment, the maharaja, as well as his son, sought KRIYA initiation, as did the Maharaja Jotindra Mohan Thakur.

A number of Lahiri Mahasaya's disciples with influential worldly position were desirous of expanding the KRIYA circle by publicity. The guru refused his permission. One chela, the royal physician to the Lord of Benares, started an organized effort to spread the master's name as “Kashi Baba” (Exalted One of Benares). {FN35-16} Again the guru forbade it.

“Let the fragrance of the KRIYA flower be wafted naturally, without any display,” he said. “Its seeds will take root in the soil of spiritually fertile hearts.”

Although the great master did not adopt the system of preaching through the modern medium of an organization, or through the printing press, he knew that the power of his message would rise like a resistless flood, inundating by its own force the banks of human minds. The changed and purified lives of devotees were the simple guarantees of the deathless vitality of KRIYA.

In 1886, twenty-five years after his Ranikhet initiation, Lahiri Mahasaya was retired on a pension. {FN35-17} With his availability in the daytime, disciples sought him out in ever-increasing numbers. The great guru now sat in silence most of the time, locked in the tranquil lotus posture. He seldom left his little parlor, even for a walk or to visit other parts of the house. A quiet stream of chelas arrived, almost ceaselessly, for a DARSHAN (holy sight) of the guru.

To the awe of all beholders, Lahiri Mahasaya's habitual physiological state exhibited the superhuman features of breathlessness, sleeplessness, cessation of pulse and heartbeat, calm eyes unblinking for hours, and a profound aura of peace. No visitors departed without upliftment of spirit; all knew they had received the silent blessing of a true man of God.

The master now permitted his disciple, Panchanon Bhattacharya, to open an “Arya Mission Institution” in Calcutta. Here the saintly disciple spread the message of KRIYA YOGA, and prepared for public benefit certain yogic herbal {FN35-18} medicines.

In accordance with ancient custom, the master gave to people in general a NEEM {FN35-19} oil for the cure of various diseases. When the guru requested a disciple to distil the oil, he could easily accomplish the task. If anyone else tried, he would encounter strange difficulties, finding that the medicinal oil had almost evaporated after going through the required distilling processes. Evidently the master's blessing was a necessary ingredient.

[Illustration:—lmwriting.jpg]

Lahiri Mahasaya's handwriting and signature, in Bengali script, are shown above. The lines occur in a letter to a chela; the great master interprets a Sanskrit verse as follows: “He who has attained a state of calmness wherein his eyelids do not blink, has achieved SAMBHABI MUDRA.”

(SIGNED) “SRI SHYAMA CHARAN DEVA SHARMAN”

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CHAPTER 35. THE CHRISTLIKE LIFE OF LAHIRI MAHASAYA 191

The Arya Mission Institution undertook the publication of many of the guru's scriptural commentaries. Like Jesus and other great prophets, Lahiri Mahasaya himself wrote no books, but his penetrating interpretations were recorded and arranged by various disciples. Some of these voluntary amanuenses were more discerning than others in correctly conveying the profound insight of the guru; yet, on the whole, their efforts were successful. Through their zeal, the world possesses unparalleled commentaries by Lahiri Mahasaya on twenty-six ancient scriptures.

Sri Ananda Mohan Lahiri, a grandson of the master, has written an interesting booklet on KRIYA. “The text of the BHAGAVAD GITA is a part of the great epic, the MAHABHARATA, which possesses several knot-points (VYAS-KUTAS),” Sri Ananda wrote. “Keep those knot-points unquestioned, and we find nothing but mythical stories of a peculiar and easily-misunderstood type. Keep those knot-points unexplained, and we have lost a science which the East has preserved with superhuman patience after a quest of thousands of years of experiment. {FN35-20} It was the commentaries of Lahiri Mahasaya which brought to light, clear of allegories, the very science of religion that had been so cleverly put out of sight in the riddle of scriptural letters and imagery. No longer a mere unintelligible jugglery of words, the otherwise unmeaning formulas of Vedic worship have been proved by the master to be full of scientific significance. . . .

“We know that man is usually helpless against the insurgent sway of evil passions, but these are rendered powerless and man finds no motive in their indulgence when there dawns on him a consciousness of superior and lasting bliss through KRIYA. Here the give-up, the negation of the lower passions, synchronizes with a take-up, the assertion of a beatitude. Without such a course, hundreds of moral maxims which run in mere negatives are useless to us.

“Our eagerness for worldly activity kills in us the sense of spiritual awe. We cannot comprehend the Great Life behind all names and forms, just because science brings home to us how we can use the powers of nature; this familiarity has bred a contempt for her ultimate secrets. Our relation with nature is one of practical business. We tease her, so to speak, to know how she can be used to serve our purposes; we make use of her energies, whose Source yet remains unknown. In science our relation with nature is one that exists between a man and his servant, or in a philosophical sense she is like a captive in the witness box. We cross-examine her, challenge her, and minutely weigh her evidence in human scales which cannot measure her hidden values. On the other hand, when the self is in communion with a higher power, nature automatically obeys, without stress or strain, the will of man. This effortless command over nature is called 'miraculous' by the uncomprehending materialist.

“The life of Lahiri Mahasaya set an example which changed the erroneous notion that yoga is a mysterious practice. Every man may find a way through KRIYA to understand his proper relation with nature, and to feel spiritual reverence for all phenomena, whether mystical or of everyday occurrence, in spite of the matter-of-factness of physical science. {FN35-21} We must bear in mind that what was mystical a thousand years ago is no longer so, and what is mysterious now may become lawfully intelligible a hundred years hence. It is the Infinite, the Ocean of Power, that is at the back of all manifestations.

“The law of KRIYA YOGA is eternal. It is true like mathematics; like the simple rules of addition and subtraction, the law of KRIYA can never be destroyed. Burn to ashes all the books on mathematics, the logically-minded will always rediscover such truths; destroy all the sacred books on yoga, its fundamental laws will come out whenever there appears a true yogi who comprises within himself pure devotion and consequently pure knowledge.”

Just as Babaji is among the greatest of avatars, a MAHAVATAR, and Sri Yukteswar a JNANAVATAR or Incarnation of Wisdom, so Lahiri Mahasaya may justly be called YOGAVATAR, or Incarnation of Yoga. By the standards of both qualitative and quantitative good, he elevated the spiritual level of society. In his power to raise his close disciples to Christlike stature and in his wide dissemination of truth among the masses,

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CHAPTER 35. THE CHRISTLIKE LIFE OF LAHIRI MAHASAYA 192

Lahiri Mahasaya ranks among the saviors of mankind.

His uniqueness as a prophet lies in his practical stress on a definite method, KRIYA, opening for the first time the doors of yoga freedom to all men. Apart from the miracles of his own life, surely the YOGAVATAR reached the zenith of all wonders in reducing the ancient complexities of yoga to an effective simplicity not beyond the ordinary grasp.

In reference to miracles, Lahiri Mahasaya often said, “The operation of subtle laws which are unknown to people in general should not be publicly discussed or published without due discrimination.” If in these pages I have appeared to flout his cautionary words, it is because he has given me an inward reassurance. Also, in recording the lives of Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, and Sri Yukteswar, I have thought it advisable to omit many true miraculous stories, which could hardly have been included without writing, also, an explanatory volume of abstruse philosophy.

New hope for new men! “Divine union,” the YOGAVATAR proclaimed, “is possible through self-effort, and is not dependent on theological beliefs or on the arbitrary will of a Cosmic Dictator.”

Through use of the KRIYA key, persons who cannot bring themselves to believe in the divinity of any man will behold at last the full divinity of their own selves.

{FN35-1} MATTHEW 3:15.

{FN35-2} Many Biblical passages reveal that the law of reincarnation was understood and accepted. Reincarnational cycles are a more reasonable explanation for the different states of evolution in which mankind is found, than the common Western theory which assumes that something (consciousness of egoity) came out of nothing, existed with varying degrees of lustihood for thirty or ninety years, and then returned to the original void. The inconceivable nature of such a void is a problem to delight the heart of a medieval Schoolman.

{FN35-3} MALACHI 4:5.

{FN35-4} “Before him,” i.e., “before the Lord.”

{FN35-5} LUKE 1:13-17.

{FN35-6} MATTHEW 17:12-13.

{FN35-7} MATTHEW 11:13-14.

{FN35-8} JOHN 1:21.

{FN35-9} II KINGS 2:9-14.

{FN35-10} MATTHEW 17:3.

{FN35-11} MATTHEW 27:46-49.

{FN35-12} “How many sorts of death are in our bodies! Nothing is therein but death.”-MARTIN LUTHER, IN “TABLE-TALK.”

{FN35-13} The chief prayer of the Mohammedans, usually repeated four or five times daily.

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CHAPTER 35. THE CHRISTLIKE LIFE OF LAHIRI MAHASAYA 193

{FN35-14} “Seek truth in meditation, not in moldy books. Look in the sky to find the moon, not in the pond.”-PERSIAN PROVERB.

{FN35-15} As KRIYA YOGA is capable of many subdivisions, Lahiri Mahasaya wisely sifted out four steps which he discerned to be those which contained the essential marrow, and which were of the highest value in actual practice.

{FN35-16} Other titles bestowed on Lahiri Mahasaya by his disciples were YOGIBAR (greatest of yogis), YOGIRAJ (king of yogis), and MUNIBAR (greatest of saints), to which I have added YOGAVATAR (incarnation of yoga).

{FN35-17} He had given, altogether, thirty-five years of service in one department of the government.

{FN35-18} Vast herbal knowledge is found in ancient Sanskrit treatises. Himalayan herbs were employed in a rejuvenation treatment which aroused the attention of the world in 1938 when the method was used on Pundit Madan Mohan Malaviya, 77-year-old Vice-Chancellor of Benares Hindu University. To a remarkable extent, the noted scholar regained in 45 days his health, strength, memory, normal eyesight; indications of a third set of teeth appeared, while all wrinkles vanished. The herbal treatment, known as KAYA KALPA, is one of 80 rejuvenation methods outlined in Hindu AYURVEDA or medical science. Pundit Malaviya underwent the treatment at the hands of Sri Kalpacharya Swami Beshundasji, who claims 1766 as his birth year. He possesses documents proving him to be more than 100 years old; ASSOCIATED PRESS reporters remarked that he looked about 40.

Ancient Hindu treatises divided medical science into 8 branches: SALYA (surgery); SALAKYA (diseases above the neck); KAYACHIKITSA (medicine proper); BHUTAVIDYA (mental diseases); KAUMARA (care of infancy); AGADA (toxicology); RASAYANA (longevity); VAGIKARANA (tonics). Vedic physicians used delicate surgical instruments, employed plastic surgery, understood medical methods to counteract the effects of poison gas, performed Caesarean sections and brain operations, were skilled in dynamization of drugs. Hippocrates, famous physician of the 5th century B.C., borrowed much of his materia medica from Hindu sources.

{FN35-19} The East Indian margosa tree. Its medicinal values have now become recognized in the West, where the bitter NEEM bark is used as a tonic, and the oil from seeds and fruit has been found of utmost worth in the treatment of leprosy and other diseases.

{FN35-20} “A number of seals recently excavated from archaeological sites of the Indus valley, datable in the third millennium B.C., show figures seated in meditative postures now used in the system of Yoga, and warrant the inference that even at that time some of the rudiments of Yoga were already known. We may not unreasonably draw the conclusion that systematic introspection with the aid of studied methods has been practiced in India for five thousand years. . . . India has developed certain valuable religious attitudes of mind and ethical notions which are unique, at least in the wideness of their application to life. One of these has been a tolerance in questions of intellectual belief-doctrine-that is amazing to the West, where for many centuries heresy-hunting was common, and bloody wars between nations over sectarian rivalries were frequent.”-Extracts from an article by Professor W. Norman Brown in the May, 1939 issue of the BULLETIN of the American Council of Learned Societies, Washington, D.C.

{FN35-21} One thinks here of Carlyle's observation in SARTOR RESARTUS: “The man who cannot wonder, who does not habitually wonder (and worship), were he president of innumerable Royal Societies and carried . . . the epitome of all laboratories and observatories, with their results, in his single head,-is but a pair of spectacles behind which there is no eye.”


CHAPTER 36

THE CAULIFLOWER ROBBERY

BABAJI'S INTEREST IN THE WEST

It was a calm summer night in Serampore; the large stars of the tropics gleamed over our heads as I sat by Sri Yukteswar's side on the second-story balcony of the hermitage.

“Yes.” Master smiled at my direct question; his eyes lit with reverence. “Three times I have been blessed by the sight of the deathless guru. Our first meeting was in Allahabad at a KUMBHA MELA.”

The religious fairs held in India since time immemorial are known as KUMBHA MELAS; they have kept spiritual goals in constant sight of the multitude. Devout Hindus gather by the millions every six years to meet thousands of sadhus, yogis, swamis, and ascetics of all kinds. Many are hermits who never leave their secluded haunts except to attend the MELAS and bestow their blessings on worldly men and women.

“I was not a swami at the time I met Babaji,” Sri Yukteswar went on. “But I had already received KRIYA initiation from Lahiri Mahasaya. He encouraged me to attend the MELA which was convening in January, 1894 at Allahabad. It was my first experience of a KUMBHA; I felt slightly dazed by the clamor and surge of the crowd. In my searching gazes around I saw no illumined face of a master. Passing a bridge on the bank of the Ganges, I noticed an acquaintance standing near-by, his begging bowl extended.

“'Oh, this fair is nothing but a chaos of noise and beggars,' I thought in disillusionment. 'I wonder if Western scientists, patiently enlarging the realms of knowledge for the practical good of mankind, are not more pleasing to God than these idlers who profess religion but concentrate on alms.'

“My smouldering reflections on social reform were interrupted by the voice of a tall sannyasi who halted before me.

“'Sir,' he said, 'a saint is calling you.'

“'Who is he?'

“'Come and see for yourself.'

“Hesitantly following this laconic advice, I soon found myself near a tree whose branches were sheltering a guru with an attractive group of disciples. The master, a bright unusual figure, with sparkling dark eyes, rose at my approach and embraced me.

“'Welcome, Swamiji,' he said affectionately.

“'Sir,' I replied emphatically, 'I am NOT a swami.'

“'Those on whom I am divinely directed to bestow the title of “swami” never cast it off.' The saint addressed me simply, but deep conviction of truth rang in his words; I was engulfed in an instant wave of spiritual blessing. Smiling at my sudden elevation into the ancient monastic order, {FN36-1} I bowed at the feet of the obviously great and angelic being in human form who had thus honored me.

“Babaji-for it was indeed he-motioned me to a seat near him under the tree. He was strong and young, and looked like Lahiri Mahasaya; yet the resemblance did not strike me, even though I had often heard of the extraordinary similarities in the appearance of the two masters. Babaji possesses a power by which he can prevent any specific thought from arising in a person's mind. Evidently the great guru wished me to be perfectly natural in his presence, not overawed by knowledge of his identity.

“'What do you think of the KUMBHA MELA?'

“'I was greatly disappointed, sir.' I added hastily, 'Up until the time I met you. Somehow saints and this commotion don't seem to belong together.'

“'Child,' the master said, though apparently I was nearly twice his own age, 'for the faults of the many, judge not the whole. Everything on earth is of mixed character, like a mingling of sand and sugar. Be like the wise ant which seizes only the sugar, and leaves the sand untouched. Though many sadhus here still wander in delusion, yet the MELA is blessed by a few men of God-realization.'

“In view of my own meeting with this exalted master, I quickly agreed with his observation.

“'Sir,' I commented, 'I have been thinking of the scientific men of the West, greater by far in intelligence than most people congregated here, living in distant Europe and America, professing different creeds, and ignorant of the real values of such MELAS as the present one. They are the men who could benefit greatly by meetings with India's masters. But, although high in intellectual attainments, many Westerners are wedded to rank materialism. Others, famous in science and philosophy, do not recognize the essential unity in religion. Their creeds serve as insurmountable barriers that threaten to separate them from us forever.'

“'I saw that you are interested in the West, as well as the East.' Babaji's face beamed with approval. 'I felt the pangs of your heart, broad enough for all men, whether Oriental or Occidental. That is why I summoned you here.

“'East and West must establish a golden middle path of activity and spirituality combined,' he continued. 'India has much to learn from the West in material development; in return, India can teach the universal methods by which the West will be able to base its religious beliefs on the unshakable foundations of yogic science.

“'You, Swamiji, have a part to play in the coming harmonious exchange between Orient and Occident. Some years hence I shall send you a disciple whom you can train for yoga dissemination in the West. The vibrations there of many spiritually seeking souls come floodlike to me. I perceive potential saints in America and Europe, waiting to be awakened.'“

At this point in his story, Sri Yukteswar turned his gaze fully on mine.

“My son,” he said, smiling in the moonlight, “you are the disciple that, years ago, Babaji promised to send me.”

I was happy to learn that Babaji had directed my steps to Sri Yukteswar, yet it was hard for me to visualize myself in the remote West, away from my beloved guru and the simple hermitage peace.

“Babaji then spoke of the BHAGAVAD GITA,” Sri Yukteswar went on. “To my astonishment, he indicated by a few words of praise that he was aware of the fact that I had written interpretations on various GITA chapters.

“'At my request, Swamiji, please undertake another task,' the great master said. 'Will you not write a short book on the underlying basic unity between the Christian and Hindu scriptures? Show by parallel references that the inspired sons of God have spoken the same truths, now obscured by men's sectarian differences.'

“'Maharaj,' {FN36-2} I answered diffidently, 'what a command! Shall I be able to fulfill it?'

“Babaji laughed softly. 'My son, why do you doubt?' he said reassuringly. 'Indeed, Whose work is all this, and Who is the Doer of all actions? Whatever the Lord has made me say is bound to materialize as truth.'

“I deemed myself empowered by the blessings of the saint, and agreed to write the book. Feeling reluctantly that the parting-hour had arrived, I rose from my leafy seat.

“'Do you know Lahiri?' {FN36-3} the master inquired. 'He is a great soul, isn't he? Tell him of our meeting.' He then gave me a message for Lahiri Mahasaya.

“After I had bowed humbly in farewell, the saint smiled benignly. 'When your book is finished, I shall pay you a visit,' he promised. 'Good-by for the present.'

“I left Allahabad the following day and entrained for Benares. Reaching my guru's home, I poured out the story of the wonderful saint at the KUMBHA MELA.

“'Oh, didn't you recognize him?' Lahiri Mahasaya's eyes were dancing with laughter. 'I see you couldn't, for he prevented you. He is my incomparable guru, the celestial Babaji!'

“'Babaji!' I repeated, awestruck. 'The Yogi-Christ Babaji! The invisible-visible savior Babaji! Oh, if I could just recall the past and be once more in his presence, to show my devotion at his lotus feet!'

“'Never mind,' Lahiri Mahasaya said consolingly. 'He has promised to see you again.'

“'Gurudeva, the divine master asked me to give you a message. “Tell Lahiri,” he said, “that the stored-up power for this life now runs low; it is nearly finished.”'

“At my utterance of these enigmatic words, Lahiri Mahasaya's figure trembled as though touched by a lightning current. In an instant everything about him fell silent; his smiling countenance turned incredibly stern. Like a wooden statue, somber and immovable in its seat, his body became colorless. I was alarmed and bewildered. Never in my life had I seen this joyous soul manifest such awful gravity. The other disciples present stared apprehensively.

“Three hours passed in utter silence. Then Lahiri Mahasaya resumed his natural, cheerful demeanor, and spoke affectionately to each of the chelas. Everyone sighed in relief.

“I realized by my master's reaction that Babaji's message had been an unmistakable signal by which Lahiri Mahasaya understood that his body would soon be untenanted. His awesome silence proved that my guru had instantly controlled his being, cut his last cord of attachment to the material world, and fled to his ever-living identity in Spirit. Babaji's remark had been his way of saying: 'I shall be ever with you.'

“Though Babaji and Lahiri Mahasaya were omniscient, and had no need of communicating with each other through me or any other intermediary, the great ones often condescend to play a part in the human drama. Occasionally they transmit their prophecies through messengers in an ordinary way, that the final fulfillment of their words may infuse greater divine faith in a wide circle of men who later learn the story.

“I soon left Benares, and set to work in Serampore on the scriptural writings requested by Babaji,” Sri Yukteswar continued. “No sooner had I begun my task than I was able to compose a poem dedicated to the deathless guru. The melodious lines flowed effortlessly from my pen, though never before had I attempted Sanskrit poetry.

“In the quiet of night I busied myself over a comparison of the Bible and the scriptures of SANATAN DHARMA. {FN36-4} Quoting the words of the blessed Lord Jesus, I showed that his teachings were in essence one with the revelations of the VEDAS. To my relief, my book was finished in a short time; I realized that this speedy blessing was due to the grace of my PARAM-GURU-MAHARAJ. {FN36-5} The chapters first appeared in the SADHUSAMBAD journal; later they were privately printed as a book by one of my Kidderpore disciples.

“The morning after I had concluded my literary efforts,” Master continued, “I went to the Rai Ghat here to bathe in the Ganges. The ghat was deserted; I stood still for awhile, enjoying the sunny peace. After a dip in the sparkling waters, I started for home. The only sound in the silence was that of my Ganges-drenched cloth, swish-swashing with every step. As I passed beyond the site of the large banyan tree near the river bank, a strong impulse urged me to look back. There, under the shade of the banyan, and surrounded by a few disciples, sat the great Babaji!

“'Greetings, Swamiji!' The beautiful voice of the master rang out to assure me I was not dreaming. 'I see you have successfully completed your book. As I promised, I am here to thank you.'

“With a fast-beating heart, I prostrated myself fully at his feet. 'Param-guruji,' I said imploringly, 'will you and your chelas not honor my near-by home with your presence?'

“The supreme guru smilingly declined. 'No, child,' he said, 'we are people who like the shelter of trees; this spot is quite comfortable.'

“'Please tarry awhile, Master.' I gazed entreatingly at him. 'I shall be back at once with some special sweetmeats.'

“When I returned in a few minutes with a dish of delicacies, lo! the lordly banyan no longer sheltered the celestial troupe. I searched all around the ghat, but in my heart I knew the little band had already fled on etheric wings.

“I was deeply hurt. 'Even if we meet again, I would not care to talk to him,' I assured myself. 'He was unkind to leave me so suddenly.' This was a wrath of love, of course, and nothing more.

“A few months later I visited Lahiri Mahasaya in Benares. As I entered his little parlor, my guru smiled in greeting.

“'Welcome, Yukteswar,' he said. 'Did you just meet Babaji at the threshold of my room?'

“'Why, no,' I answered in surprise.

“'Come here.' Lahiri Mahasaya touched me gently on the forehead; at once I beheld, near the door, the form of Babaji, blooming like a perfect lotus.

“I remembered my old hurt, and did not bow. Lahiri Mahasaya looked at me in astonishment.

“The divine guru gazed at me with fathomless eyes. 'You are annoyed with me.'

“'Sir, why shouldn't I be?' I answered. 'Out of the air you came with your magic group, and into the thin air you vanished.'

“'I told you I would see you, but didn't say how long I would remain.' Babaji laughed softly. 'You were full of excitement. I assure you that I was fairly extinguished in the ether by the gust of your restlessness.'

“I was instantly satisfied by this unflattering explanation. I knelt at his feet; the supreme guru patted me kindly on the shoulder.

“'Child, you must meditate more,' he said. 'Your gaze is not yet faultless-you could not see me hiding behind the sunlight.' With these words in the voice of a celestial flute, Babaji disappeared into the hidden radiance.

“That was one of my last visits to Benares to see my guru,” Sri Yukteswar concluded. “Even as Babaji had foretold at the KUMBHA MELA, the householder-incarnation of Lahiri Mahasaya was drawing to a close. During the summer of 1895 his stalwart body developed a small boil on the back. He protested against lancing; he was working out in his own flesh the evil karma of some of his disciples. Finally a few chelas became very insistent; the master replied cryptically:

“'The body has to find a cause to go; I will be agreeable to whatever you want to do.'

“A short time later the incomparable guru gave up his body in Benares. No longer need I seek him out in his little parlor; I find every day of my life blessed by his omnipresent guidance.”

Years later, from the lips of Swami Keshabananda, {FN36-6} an advanced disciple, I heard many wonderful details about the passing of Lahiri Mahasaya.

“A few days before my guru relinquished his body,” Keshabananda told me, “he materialized himself before me as I sat in my hermitage at Hardwar.

“'Come at once to Benares.' With these words Lahiri Mahasaya vanished.

“I entrained immediately for Benares. At my guru's home I found many disciples assembled. For hours that day {FN36-7} the master expounded the GITA; then he addressed us simply.

“'I am going home.'

“Sobs of anguish broke out like an irresistible torrent.

“'Be comforted; I shall rise again.' After this utterance Lahiri Mahasaya thrice turned his body around in a circle, faced the north in his lotus posture, and gloriously entered the final MAHA-SAMADHI. {FN36-8}

“Lahiri Mahasaya's beautiful body, so dear to the devotees, was cremated with solemn householder rites at Manikarnika Ghat by the holy Ganges,” Keshabananda continued. “The following day, at ten o'clock in the morning, while I was still in Benares, my room was suffused with a great light. Lo! before me stood the flesh and blood form of Lahiri Mahasaya! It looked exactly like his old body, except that it appeared younger and more radiant. My divine guru spoke to me.

“'Keshabananda,' he said, 'it is I. From the disintegrated atoms of my cremated body, I have resurrected a remodeled form. My householder work in the world is done; but I do not leave the earth entirely. Henceforth I shall spend some time with Babaji in the Himalayas, and with Babaji in the cosmos.'

“With a few words of blessing to me, the transcendent master vanished. Wondrous inspiration filled my heart; I was uplifted in Spirit even as were the disciples of Christ and Kabir {FN36-9} when they had gazed on their living gurus after physical death.

“When I returned to my isolated Hardwar hermitage,” Keshabananda went on, “I carried with me the sacred ashes of my guru. I know he has escaped the spatio-temporal cage; the bird of omnipresence is freed. Yet it comforted my heart to enshrine his sacred remains.”

Another disciple who was blessed by the sight of his resurrected guru was the saintly Panchanon Bhattacharya, founder of the Calcutta Arya Mission Institution. {FN36-10}

I visited Panchanon at his Calcutta home, and listened with delight to the story of his many years with the master. In conclusion, he told me of the most marvelous event in his life.

“Here in Calcutta,” Panchanon said, “at ten o'clock of the morning which followed his cremation, Lahiri Mahasaya appeared before me in living glory.”

Swami Pranabananda, the “saint with two bodies,” also confided to me the details of his own supernal experience.

“A few days before Lahiri Mahasaya left his body,” Pranabananda told me at the time he visited my Ranchi school, “I received a letter from him, requesting me to come at once to Benares. I was delayed, however, and could not leave immediately. As I was in the midst of my travel preparations, about ten o'clock in the morning, I was suddenly overwhelmed with joy to see the shining figure of my guru.

“'Why hurry to Benares?' Lahiri Mahasaya said, smiling. 'You shall find me there no longer.'

“As the import of his words dawned on me, I sobbed broken-heartedly, believing that I was seeing him only in a vision.

“The master approached me comfortingly. 'Here, touch my flesh,' he said. 'I am living, as always. Do not lament; am I not with you forever?'“

From the lips of these three great disciples, a story of wondrous truth has emerged: At the morning hour of ten, on the day after the body of Lahiri Mahasaya had been consigned to the flames, the resurrected master, in a real but transfigured body, appeared before three disciples, each one in a different city.

“So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” {FN36-11}

{FN36-1} Sri Yukteswar was later formally initiated into the Swami Order by the MAHANT (monastery head) of Buddh Gaya.

{FN36-2} “Great King"-a title of respect.

{FN36-3} A guru usually refers to his own disciple simply by his name, omitting any title. Thus, Babaji said “Lahiri,” not “Lahiri Mahasaya.”

{FN36-4} Literally, “eternal religion,” the name given to the body of Vedic teachings. SANATAN DHARMA has come to be called HINDUISM since the time of the Greeks who designated the people on the banks of the river Indus as INDOOS, or HINDUS. The word HINDU, properly speaking, refers only to followers of SANATAN DHARMA or Hinduism. The term INDIAN applies equally to Hindus and Mohammedans and other INHABITANTS of the soil of India (and also through the confusing geographical error of Columbus, to the American Mongoloid aboriginals).

The ancient name for India is ARYAVARTA, literally, “abode of the Aryans.” The Sanskrit root of ARYA is “worthy, holy, noble.” The later ethnological misuse of ARYAN to signify not spiritual, but physical, characteristics, led the great Orientalist, Max Muller, to say quaintly: “To me an ethnologist who speaks of an Aryan race, Aryan blood, Aryan eyes and hair, is as great a sinner as a linguist who speaks of a dolichocephalic dictionary or a brachycephalic grammar.”

{FN36-5} PARAM-GURU is literally “guru supreme” or “guru beyond,” signifying a line or succession of teachers. Babaji, the GURU of Lahiri Mahasaya, was the PARAM-GURU of Sri Yukteswar.

{FN36-6} My visit to Keshabananda's ashram is described on pp. 405-408.

{FN36-7} September 26, 1895 is the date on which Lahiri Mahasaya left his body. In a few more days he would have reached his sixty-eighth birthday.

{FN36-8} Facing the north, and thrice revolving the body, are parts of a Vedic rite used by masters who know beforehand when the final hour is about to strike for the physical body. The last meditation, during which the master merges himself in the Cosmic AUM, is called the MAHA, or great, SAMADHI.

{FN36-9} Kabir was a great sixteenth-century saint whose large following included both Hindus and Mohammedans. At the time of his death, the disciples quarreled over the manner of conducting the funeral ceremonies. The exasperated master rose from his final sleep, and gave his instructions. “Half of my remains shall be buried by the Moslem rites;” he said, “let the other half be cremated with a Hindu sacrament.” He then vanished. When the disciples opened the coffin which had contained his body, nothing was found but a dazzling array of gold-colored champak flowers. Half of these were obediently buried by the Moslems, who revere his shrine to this day.

In his youth Kabir was approached by two disciples who wanted minute intellectual guidance along the mystic path. The master responded simply:

“Path presupposes distance; If He be near, no path needest thou at all. Verily it maketh me smile To hear of a fish in water athirst!”

{FN36-10} Panchanon established, in a seventeen-acre garden at Deogarh in Bihar, a temple containing a stone statue of Lahiri Mahasaya. Another statue of the great master has been set by disciples in the little parlor of his Benares home.

{FN36-11} I CORINTHIANS 15:54-55.


CHAPTER 37

I GO TO AMERICA

I GO TO AMERICA

“America! Surely these people are Americans!” This was my thought as a panoramic vision of Western faces passed before my inward view.

Immersed in meditation, I was sitting behind some dusty boxes in the storeroom of the Ranchi school. A private spot was difficult to find during those busy years with the youngsters!

The vision continued; a vast multitude, {FN37−1} gazing at me intently, swept actorlike across the stage of consciousness.

The storeroom door opened; as usual, one of the young lads had discovered my hiding place.

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“Come here, Bimal,” I cried gaily. “I have news for you: the Lord is calling me to America!”

“To America?” The boy echoed my words in a tone that implied I had said “to the moon.”

“Yes! I am going forth to discover America, like Columbus. He thought he had found India; surely there is a karmic link between those two lands!”

Bimal scampered away; soon the whole school was informed by the two−legged newspaper. {FN37−2} I summoned the bewildered faculty and gave the school into its charge.

“I know you will keep Lahiri Mahasaya's yoga ideals of education ever to the fore,” I said. “I shall write you frequently; God willing, someday I shall be back.”

Tears stood in my eyes as I cast a last look at the little boys and the sunny acres of Ranchi. A definite epoch in my life had now closed, I knew; henceforth I would dwell in far lands. I entrained for Calcutta a few hours after my vision. The following day I received an invitation to serve as the delegate from India to an International Congress of Religious Liberals in America. It was to convene that year in Boston, under the auspices of the American Unitarian Association.

My head in a whirl, I sought out Sri Yukteswar in Serampore.

“Guruji, I have just been invited to address a religious congress in America. Shall I go?”

“All doors are open for you,” Master replied simply. “It is now or never.”

“But, sir,” I said in dismay, “what do I know about public speaking? Seldom have I given a lecture, and never in English.”

“English or no English, your words on yoga shall be heard in the West.”

I laughed. “Well, dear guruji, I hardly think the Americans will learn Bengali! Please bless me with a push over the hurdles of the English language.” {FN37−3}

When I broke the news of my plans to Father, he was utterly taken aback. To him America seemed incredibly remote; he feared he might never see me again.

“How can you go?” he asked sternly. “Who will finance you?” As he had affectionately borne the expenses of my education and whole life, he doubtless hoped that his question would bring my project to an embarrassing halt.

“The Lord will surely finance me.” As I made this reply, I thought of the similar one I had given long ago to my brother Ananta in Agra. Without very much guile, I added, “Father, perhaps God will put it into your mind to help me.”

“No, never!” He glanced at me piteously.

I was astounded, therefore, when Father handed me, the following day, a check made out for a large amount.

“I give you this money,” he said, “not in my capacity as a father, but as a faithful disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya. Go then to that far Western land; spread there the creedless teachings of KRIYA YOGA.”

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I was immensely touched at the selfless spirit in which Father had been able to quickly put aside his personal desires. The just realization had come to him during the preceding night that no ordinary desire for foreign travel was motivating my voyage.

“Perhaps we shall not meet again in this life.” Father, who was sixty−seven at this time, spoke sadly.

An intuitive conviction prompted me to reply, “Surely the Lord will bring us together once more.”

As I went about my preparations to leave Master and my native land for the unknown shores of America, I experienced not a little trepidation. I had heard many stories about the materialistic Western atmosphere, one very different from the spiritual background of India, pervaded with the centuried aura of saints. “An Oriental teacher who will dare the Western airs,” I thought, “must be hardy beyond the trials of any Himalayan cold!”

One early morning I began to pray, with an adamant determination to continue, to even die praying, until I heard the voice of God. I wanted His blessing and assurance that I would not lose myself in the fogs of modern utilitarianism. My heart was set to go to America, but even more strongly was it resolved to hear the solace of divine permission.

I prayed and prayed, muffling my sobs. No answer came. My silent petition increased in excruciating crescendo until, at noon, I had reached a zenith; my brain could no longer withstand the pressure of my agonies. If I cried once more with an increased depth of my inner passion, I felt as though my brain would split. At that moment there came a knock outside the vestibule adjoining the Gurpar Road room in which I was sitting. Opening the door, I saw a young man in the scanty garb of a renunciate. He came in, closed the door behind him and, refusing my request to sit down, indicated with a gesture that he wished to talk to me while standing.

“He must be Babaji!” I thought, dazed, because the man before me had the features of a younger Lahiri Mahasaya.

He answered my thought. “Yes, I am Babaji.” He spoke melodiously in Hindi. “Our Heavenly Father has heard your prayer. He commands me to tell you: Follow the behests of your guru and go to America. Fear not; you will be protected.”

After a vibrant pause, Babaji addressed me again. “You are the one I have chosen to spread the message of KRIYA YOGA in the West. Long ago I met your guru Yukteswar at a KUMBHA MELA; I told him then I would send you to him for training.”

I was speechless, choked with devotional awe at his presence, and deeply touched to hear from his own lips that he had guided me to Sri Yukteswar. I lay prostrate before the deathless guru. He graciously lifted me from the floor. Telling me many things about my life, he then gave me some personal instruction, and uttered a few secret prophecies.

“KRIYA YOGA, the scientific technique of God−realization,” he finally said with solemnity, “will ultimately spread in all lands, and aid in harmonizing the nations through man's personal, transcendental perception of the Infinite Father.”

With a gaze of majestic power, the master electrified me by a glimpse of his cosmic consciousness. In a short while he started toward the door.

“Do not try to follow me,” he said. “You will not be able to do so.”

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“Please, Babaji, don't go away!” I cried repeatedly. “Take me with you!”

Looking back, he replied, “Not now. Some other time.”

Overcome by emotion, I disregarded his warning. As I tried to pursue him, I discovered that my feet were firmly rooted to the floor. From the door, Babaji gave me a last affectionate glance. He raised his hand by way of benediction and walked away, my eyes fixed on him longingly.

After a few minutes my feet were free. I sat down and went into a deep meditation, unceasingly thanking God not only for answering my prayer but for blessing me by a meeting with Babaji. My whole body seemed sanctified through the touch of the ancient, ever−youthful master. Long had it been my burning desire to behold him.

Until now, I have never recounted to anyone this story of my meeting with Babaji. Holding it as the most sacred of my human experiences, I have hidden it in my heart. But the thought occurred to me that readers of this autobiography may be more inclined to believe in the reality of the secluded Babaji and his world interests if I relate that I saw him with my own eyes. I have helped an artist to draw a true picture of the great Yogi−Christ of modern India; it appears in this book.

The eve of my departure for the United States found me in Sri Yukteswar's holy presence.

“Forget you were born a Hindu, and don't be an American. Take the best of them both,” Master said in his calm way of wisdom. “Be your true self, a child of God. Seek and incorporate into your being the best qualities of all your brothers, scattered over the earth in various races.”

Then he blessed me: “All those who come to you with faith, seeking God, will be helped. As you look at them, the spiritual current emanating from your eyes will enter into their brains and change their material habits, making them more God−conscious.”

He went on, “Your lot to attract sincere souls is very good. Everywhere you go, even in a wilderness, you will find friends.”

Both of his blessings have been amply demonstrated. I came alone to America, into a wilderness without a single friend, but there I found thousands ready to receive the time−tested soul−teachings.

I left India in August, 1920, on THE CITY OF SPARTA, the first passenger boat sailing for America after the close of World War I. I had been able to book passage only after the removal, in ways fairly miraculous, of many “red−tape” difficulties concerned with the granting of my passport.

During the two−months' voyage a fellow passenger found out that I was the Indian delegate to the Boston congress.

“Swami Yogananda,” he said, with the first of many quaint pronunciations by which I was later to hear my name spoken by the Americans, “please favor the passengers with a lecture next Thursday night. I think we would all benefit by a talk on 'The Battle of Life and How to Fight It.'“

Alas! I had to fight the battle of my own life, I discovered on Wednesday. Desperately trying to organize my ideas into a lecture in English, I finally abandoned all preparations; my thoughts, like a wild colt eyeing a saddle, refused any cooperation with the laws of English grammar. Fully trusting in Master's past assurances, however, I appeared before my Thursday audience in the saloon of the steamer. No eloquence rose to my lips; speechlessly I stood before the assemblage. After an endurance contest lasting ten minutes, the audience

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realized my predicament and began to laugh.

[Illustration: I stand on the dais before one of my classes in America. This class of a thousand yoga students was held in Washington, D.C.—see dc.jpg]

The situation was not funny to me at the moment; indignantly I sent a silent prayer to Master.

“You CAN! Speak!” His voice sounded instantly within my consciousness.

My thoughts fell at once into a friendly relation with the English language. Forty−five minutes later the audience was still attentive. The talk won me a number of invitations to lecture later before various groups in America.

I never could remember, afterward, a word that I had spoken. By discreet inquiry I learned from a number of passengers: “You gave an inspiring lecture in stirring and correct English.” At this delightful news I humbly thanked my guru for his timely help, realizing anew that he was ever with me, setting at naught all barriers of time and space.

Once in awhile, during the remainder of the ocean trip, I experienced a few apprehensive twinges about the coming English−lecture ordeal at the Boston congress.

“Lord,” I prayed, “please let my inspiration be Thyself, and not again the laughter−bombs of the audience!”

THE CITY OF SPARTA docked near Boston in late September. On the sixth of October I addressed the congress with my maiden speech in America. It was well received; I sighed in relief. The magnanimous secretary of the American Unitarian Association wrote the following comment in a published account {FN37−4} of the congress proceedings:

“Swami Yogananda, delegate from the Brahmacharya Ashram of Ranchi, India, brought the greetings of his Association to the Congress. In fluent English and a forcible delivery he gave an address of a philosophical character on 'The Science of Religion,' which has been printed in pamphlet form for a wider distribution. Religion, he maintained, is universal and it is one. We cannot possibly universalize particular customs and convictions, but the common element in religion can be universalized, and we can ask all alike to follow and obey it.”

Due to Father's generous check, I was able to remain in America after the congress was over. Four happy years were spent in humble circumstances in Boston. I gave public lectures, taught classes, and wrote a book of poems, SONGS OF THE SOUL, with a preface by Dr. Frederick B. Robinson, president of the College of the City of New York. {FN37−5}

Starting a transcontinental tour in the summer of 1924, I spoke before thousands in the principal cities, ending my western trip with a vacation in the beautiful Alaskan north.

With the help of large−hearted students, by the end of 1925 I had established an American headquarters on the Mount Washington Estates in Los Angeles. The building is the one I had seen years before in my vision at Kashmir. I hastened to send Sri Yukteswar pictures of these distant American activities. He replied with a postcard in Bengali, which I here translate:

11th August, 1926

Child of my heart, O Yogananda!

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Seeing the photos of your school and students, what joy comes in my life I cannot express in words. I am melting in joy to see your yoga students of different cities. Beholding your methods in chant affirmations, healing vibrations, and divine healing prayers, I cannot refrain from thanking you from my heart. Seeing the gate, the winding hilly way upward, and the beautiful scenery spread out beneath the Mount Washington Estates, I yearn to behold it all with my own eyes.

Everything here is going on well. Through the grace of God, may you ever be in bliss.

SRI YUKTESWAR GIRI

Years sped by. I lectured in every part of my new land, and addressed hundreds of clubs, colleges, churches, and groups of every denomination. Tens of thousands of Americans received yoga initiation. To them all I dedicated a new book of prayer thoughts in 1929−WHISPERS FROM ETERNITY, with a preface by Amelita Galli−Curci. {FN37−6} I give here, from the book, a poem entitled “God! God! God!”, composed one night as I stood on a lecture platform:

From the depths of slumber, As I ascend the spiral stairway of wakefulness, I whisper: God! God! God!

Thou art the food, and when I break my fast Of nightly separation from Thee, I taste Thee, and mentally say: God! God! God!

No matter where I go, the spotlight of my mind Ever keeps turning on Thee; And in the battle din of activity My silent war cry is ever: God! God! God!

When boisterous storms of trials shriek, And when worries howl at me, I drown their clamor, loudly chanting: God! God! God!

When my mind weaves dreams With threads of memories, Then on that magic cloth I find embossed: God! God! God!

Every night, in time of deepest sleep, My peace dreams and calls, Joy! Joy! Joy! And my joy comes singing evermore: God! God! God!

In waking, eating, working, dreaming, sleeping, Serving, meditating, chanting, divinely loving, My soul constantly hums, unheard by any: God! God! God!

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Sometimes−usually on the first of the month when the bills rolled in for upkeep of the Mount Washington and other Self−Realization Fellowship centers!−I thought longingly of the simple peace of India. But daily I saw a widening understanding between West and East; my soul rejoiced.

I have found the great heart of America expressed in the wondrous lines by Emma Lazarus, carved at the base of the Statue of Liberty, the “Mother of Exiles”:

From her beacon−hand Glows world−wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air−bridged harbor that twin cities frame. “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest−tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

{FN37−1} Many of those faces I have since seen in the West, and instantly recognized..

{FN37−2} Swami Premananda, now the leader of the Self−Realization Church of All Religions in Washington, D.C., was one of the students at the Ranchi school at the time I left there for America. (He was then Brahmachari Jotin.)

{FN37−3} Sri Yukteswar and I ordinarily conversed in Bengali.

{FN37−4} NEW PILGRIMAGES OF THE SPIRIT (Boston: Beacon Press, 1921).

{FN37−5} Dr. and Mrs. Robinson visited India in 1939, and were honored guests at the Ranchi school.

{FN37−6} Mme. Galli−Curci and her husband, Homer Samuels, the pianist, have been Kriya Yoga students for twenty years. The inspiring story of the famous prima donna's years of music has been recently published (GALLI−CURCI'S LIFE OF SONG, by C. E. LeMassena, Paebar Co., New York, 1945).


CHAPTER 38

LUTHER BURBANK - A SAINT AMIDST THE ROSES

LUTHER BURBANK
- A SAINT AMIDST THE ROSES

“The secret of improved plant breeding, apart from scientific knowledge, is love.” Luther Burbank uttered this wisdom as I walked beside him in his Santa Rosa garden. We halted near a bed of edible cacti.

“While I was conducting experiments to make 'spineless' cacti,” he continued, “I often talked to the plants to create a vibration of love. 'You have nothing to fear,' I would tell them. 'You don't need your defensive thorns. I will protect you.' Gradually the useful plant of the desert emerged in a thornless variety.”

I was charmed at this miracle. “Please, dear Luther, give me a few cacti leaves to plant in my garden at Mount Washington.”

A workman standing near-by started to strip off some leaves; Burbank prevented him.

“I myself will pluck them for the swami.” He handed me three leaves, which later I planted, rejoicing as they grew to huge estate.

The great horticulturist told me that his first notable triumph was the large potato, now known by his name. With the indefatigability of genius, he went on to present the world with hundreds of crossed improvements on nature-his new Burbank varieties of tomato, corn, squash, cherries, plums, nectarines, berries, poppies, lilies, roses.

I focused my camera as Luther led me before the famous walnut tree by which he had proved that natural evolution can be telescopically hastened.

“In only sixteen years,” he said, “this walnut tree reached a state of abundant nut production to which an unaided nature would have brought the tree in twice that time.”

[Illustration: Luther Burbank, beloved friend, poses with me in his Santa Rosa garden.—see burbank.jpg]

[Illustration: Luther Burbank—see burbank2.jpg]

Burbank's little adopted daughter came romping with her dog into the garden.

“She is my human plant.” Luther waved to her affectionately. “I see humanity now as one vast plant, needing for its highest fulfillments only love, the natural blessings of the great outdoors, and intelligent crossing and selection. In the span of my own lifetime I have observed such wondrous progress in plant evolution that I look forward optimistically to a healthy, happy world as soon as its children are taught the principles of simple and rational living. We must return to nature and nature's God.”

“Luther, you would delight in my Ranchi school, with its outdoor classes, and atmosphere of joy and simplicity.”

My words touched the chord closest to Burbank's heart-child education. He plied me with questions, interest gleaming from his deep, serene eyes.

“Swamiji,” he said finally, “schools like yours are the only hope of a future millennium. I am in revolt against the educational systems of our time, severed from nature and stifling of all individuality. I am with you heart and soul in your practical ideals of education.”

As I was taking leave of the gentle sage, he autographed a small volume and presented it to me. {FN38-1} “Here is my book on THE TRAINING OF THE HUMAN PLANT,” {FN38-2} he said. “New types of training are needed-fearless experiments. At times the most daring trials have succeeded in bringing out the best in fruits and flowers. Educational innovations for children should likewise become more numerous, more courageous.”

I read his little book that night with intense interest. His eye envisioning a glorious future for the race, he wrote: “The most stubborn living thing in this world, the most difficult to swerve, is a plant once fixed in certain habits. . . . Remember that this plant has preserved its individuality all through the ages; perhaps it is one which can be traced backward through eons of time in the very rocks themselves, never having varied to any great extent in all these vast periods. Do you suppose, after all these ages of repetition, the plant does not become possessed of a will, if you so choose to call it, of unparalleled tenacity? Indeed, there are plants, like certain of the palms, so persistent that no human power has yet been able to change them. The human will is a weak thing beside the will of a plant. But see how this whole plant's lifelong stubbornness is broken simply by blending a new life with it, making, by crossing, a complete and powerful change in its life. Then when the break comes, fix it by these generations of patient supervision and selection, and the new plant sets out upon its new way never again to return to the old, its tenacious will broken and changed at last.

“When it comes to so sensitive and pliable a thing as the nature of a child, the problem becomes vastly easier.”

Magnetically drawn to this great American, I visited him again and again. One morning I arrived at the same time as the postman, who deposited in Burbank's study about a thousand letters. Horticulturists wrote him from all parts of the world.

“Swamiji, your presence is just the excuse I need to get out into the garden,” Luther said gaily. He opened a large desk-drawer containing hundreds of travel folders.

“See,” he said, “this is how I do my traveling. Tied down by my plants and correspondence, I satisfy my desire for foreign lands by a glance now and then at these pictures.”

My car was standing before his gate; Luther and I drove along the streets of the little town, its gardens bright with his own varieties of Santa Rosa, Peachblow, and Burbank roses.

“My friend Henry Ford and I both believe in the ancient theory of reincarnation,” Luther told me. “It sheds light on aspects of life otherwise inexplicable. Memory is not a test of truth; just because man fails to remember his past lives does not prove he never had them. Memory is blank concerning his womb-life and infancy, too; but he probably passed through them!” He chuckled.

The great scientist had received KRIYA initiation during one of my earlier visits. “I practice the technique devoutly, Swamiji,” he said. After many thoughtful questions to me about various aspects of yoga, Luther remarked slowly:

“The East indeed possesses immense hoards of knowledge which the West has scarcely begun to explore.”

Intimate communion with nature, who unlocked to him many of her jealously guarded secrets, had given Burbank a boundless spiritual reverence.

“Sometimes I feel very close to the Infinite Power,” he confided shyly. His sensitive, beautifully modeled face lit with his memories. “Then I have been able to heal sick persons around me, as well as many ailing plants.”

He told me of his mother, a sincere Christian. “Many times after her death,” Luther said, “I have been blessed by her appearance in visions; she has spoken to me.”

We drove back reluctantly toward his home and those waiting thousand letters.

“Luther,” I remarked, “next month I am starting a magazine to present the truth-offerings of East and West. Please help me decide on a good name for the journal.”

We discussed titles for awhile, and finally agreed on EAST-WEST. After we had reentered his study, Burbank gave me an article he had written on “Science and Civilization.”

“This will go in the first issue of EAST-WEST,” I said gratefully.

As our friendship grew deeper, I called Burbank my “American saint.” “Behold a man,” I quoted, “in whom there is no guile!” His heart was fathomlessly deep, long acquainted with humility, patience, sacrifice. His little home amidst the roses was austerely simple; he knew the worthlessness of luxury, the joy of few possessions. The modesty with which he wore his scientific fame repeatedly reminded me of the trees that bend low with the burden of ripening fruits; it is the barren tree that lifts its head high in an empty boast.

I was in New York when, in 1926, my dear friend passed away. In tears I thought, “Oh, I would gladly walk all the way from here to Santa Rosa for one more glimpse of him!” Locking myself away from secretaries and visitors, I spent the next twenty-four hours in seclusion.

The following day I conducted a Vedic memorial rite around a large picture of Luther. A group of my American students, garbed in Hindu ceremonial clothes, chanted the ancient hymns as an offering was made of flowers, water, and fire-symbols of the bodily elements and their release in the Infinite Source.

Though the form of Burbank lies in Santa Rosa under a Lebanon cedar that he planted years ago in his garden, his soul is enshrined for me in every wide-eyed flower that blooms by the wayside. Withdrawn for a time into the spacious spirit of nature, is that not Luther whispering in her winds, walking her dawns?

His name has now passed into the heritage of common speech. Listing “burbank” as a transitive verb, Webster's New International Dictionary defines it: “To cross or graft (a plant). Hence, figuratively, to improve (anything, as a process or institution) by selecting good features and rejecting bad, or by adding good features.”

“Beloved Burbank,” I cried after reading the definition, “your very name is now a synonym for goodness!”

LUTHER BURBANK

SANTA ROSA, CALIFORNIA

U.S.A.

December 22, 1924

I have examined the Yogoda system of Swami Yogananda and in my opinion it is ideal for training and harmonizing man's physical, mental, and spiritual natures. Swami's aim is to establish “How-to-Live” schools throughout the world, wherein education will not confine itself to intellectual development alone, but also training of the body, will, and feelings.

Through the Yogoda system of physical, mental, and spiritual unfoldment by simple and scientific methods of concentration and meditation, most of the complex problems of life may be solved, and peace and good-will come upon earth. The Swami's idea of right education is plain commonsense, free from all mysticism and non-praciticality; otherwise it would not have my approval.

I am glad to have this opportunity of heartily joining with the Swami in his appeal for international schools on the art of living which, if established, will come as near to bringing the millennium as anything with which I am acquainted.

{FN38-1} Burbank also gave me an autographed picture of himself. I treasure it even as a Hindu merchant once treasured a picture of Lincoln. The Hindu, who was in America during the Civil War years, conceived such an admiration for Lincoln that he was unwilling to return to India until he had obtained a portrait of the Great Emancipator. Planting himself adamantly on Lincoln's doorstep, the merchant refused to leave until the astonished President permitted him to engage the services of Daniel Huntington, the famous New York artist. When the portrait was finished, the Hindu carried it in triumph to Calcutta.

[Illustration: Luther Burbank's signature—see bsignature.jpg]

{FN38-2} New York: Century Co., 1922.


CHAPTER 39

THERESE NEUMANN, THE CATHOLIC STIGMATIST

THERESE NEUMANN,
THE CATHOLIC STIGMATIST

“Return to india. I have waited for you patiently for fifteen years. Soon I shall swim out of the body and on to the Shining Abode. Yogananda, come!”

Sri Yukteswar's voice sounded startlingly in my inner ear as I sat in meditation at my Mt. Washington headquarters. Traversing ten thousand miles in the twinkling of an eye, his message penetrated my being like a flash of lightning.

Fifteen years! Yes, I realized, now it is 1935; I have spent fifteen years in spreading my guru's teachings in America. Now he recalls me.

That afternoon I recounted my experience to a visiting disciple. His spiritual development under KRIYA YOGA was so remarkable that I often called him “saint,” remembering Babaji's prophecy that America too would produce men and women of divine realization through the ancient yogic path.

This disciple and a number of others generously insisted on making a donation for my travels. The financial problem thus solved, I made arrangements to sail, via Europe, for India. Busy weeks of preparations at Mount Washington! In March, 1935 I had the Self-Realization Fellowship chartered under the laws of the State of California as a non-profit corporation. To this educational institution go all public donations as well as the revenue from the sale of my books, magazine, written courses, class tuition, and every other source of income.

“I shall be back,” I told my students. “Never shall I forget America.”

At a farewell banquet given to me in Los Angeles by loving friends, I looked long at their faces and thought gratefully, “Lord, he who remembers Thee as the Sole Giver will never lack the sweetness of friendship among mortals.”

I sailed from New York on June 9, 1935 {FN39-1} in the EUROPA. Two students accompanied me: my secretary, Mr. C. Richard Wright, and an elderly lady from Cincinnati, Miss Ettie Bletch. We enjoyed the days of ocean peace, a welcome contrast to the past hurried weeks. Our period of leisure was short-lived; the speed of modern boats has some regrettable features!

Like any other group of inquisitive tourists, we walked around the huge and ancient city of London. The following day I was invited to address a large meeting in Caxton Hall, at which I was introduced to the London audience by Sir Francis Younghusband. Our party spent a pleasant day as guests of Sir Harry Lauder at his estate in Scotland. We soon crossed the English Channel to the continent, for I wanted to make a special pilgrimage to Bavaria. This would be my only chance, I felt, to visit the great Catholic mystic, Therese Neumann of Konnersreuth.

Years earlier I had read an amazing account of Therese. Information given in the article was as follows:

(1) Therese, born in 1898, had been injured in an accident at the age of twenty; she became blind and paralyzed.

(2) She miraculously regained her sight in 1923 through prayers to St. Teresa, “The Little Flower.” Later Therese Neumann's limbs were instantaneously healed.

(3) From 1923 onward, Therese has abstained completely from food and drink, except for the daily swallowing of one small consecrated wafer.

(4) The stigmata, or sacred wounds of Christ, appeared in 1926 on Therese's head, breast, hands, and feet. On Friday of every week thereafter, she has passed through the Passion of Christ, suffering in her own body all his historic agonies.

(5) Knowing ordinarily only the simple German of her village, during her Friday trances Therese utters phrases which scholars have identified as ancient Aramaic. At appropriate times in her vision, she speaks Hebrew or Greek.

(6) By ecclesiastical permission, Therese has several times been under close scientific observation. Dr. Fritz Gerlick, editor of a Protestant German newspaper, went to Konnersreuth to “expose the Catholic fraud,” but ended up by reverently writing her biography. {FN39-2}

As always, whether in East or West, I was eager to meet a saint. I rejoiced as our little party entered, on July 16th, the quaint village of Konnersreuth. The Bavarian peasants exhibited lively interest in our Ford automobile (brought with us from America) and its assorted group-an American young man, an elderly lady, and an olive-hued Oriental with long hair tucked under his coat collar.

Therese's little cottage, clean and neat, with geraniums blooming by a primitive well, was alas! silently closed. The neighbors, and even the village postman who passed by, could give us no information. Rain began to fall; my companions suggested that we leave.

“No,” I said stubbornly, “I will stay here until I find some clue leading to Therese.”

Two hours later we were still sitting in our car amidst the dismal rain. “Lord,” I sighed complainingly, “why didst Thou lead me here if she has disappeared?”

An English-speaking man halted beside us, politely offering his aid.

“I don't know for certain where Therese is,” he said, “but she often visits at the home of Professor Wurz, a seminary master of Eichstatt, eighty miles from here.”

The following morning our party motored to the quiet village of Eichstatt, narrowly lined with cobblestoned streets. Dr. Wurz greeted us cordially at his home; “Yes, Therese is here.” He sent her word of the visitors. A messenger soon appeared with her reply.

“Though the bishop has asked me to see no one without his permission, I will receive the man of God from India.”

Deeply touched at these words, I followed Dr. Wurz upstairs to the sitting room. Therese entered immediately, radiating an aura of peace and joy. She wore a black gown and spotless white head dress. Although her age was thirty-seven at this time, she seemed much younger, possessing indeed a childlike freshness and charm. Healthy, well-formed, rosy-cheeked, and cheerful, this is the saint that does not eat!

Therese greeted me with a very gentle handshaking. We both beamed in silent communion, each knowing the other to be a lover of God.

Dr. Wurz kindly offered to serve as interpreter. As we seated ourselves, I noticed that Therese was glancing at me with naive curiosity; evidently Hindus had been rare in Bavaria.

“Don't you eat anything?” I wanted to hear the answer from her own lips.

“No, except a consecrated rice-flour wafer, once every morning at six o'clock.”

“How large is the wafer?”

“It is paper-thin, the size of a small coin.” She added, “I take it for sacramental reasons; if it is unconsecrated, I am unable to swallow it.”

“Certainly you could not have lived on that, for twelve whole years?”

“I live by God's light.” How simple her reply, how Einsteinian!

“I see you realize that energy flows to your body from the ether, sun, and air.”

A swift smile broke over her face. “I am so happy to know you understand how I live.”

“Your sacred life is a daily demonstration of the truth uttered by Christ: 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.'“ {FN39-3}

Again she showed joy at my explanation. “It is indeed so. One of the reasons I am here on earth today is to prove that man can live by God's invisible light, and not by food only.”

“Can you teach others how to live without food?”

She appeared a trifle shocked. “I cannot do that; God does not wish it.”

As my gaze fell on her strong, graceful hands, Therese showed me a little, square, freshly healed wound on each of her palms. On the back of each hand, she pointed out a smaller, crescent-shaped wound, freshly healed. Each wound went straight through the hand. The sight brought to my mind distinct recollection of the large square iron nails with crescent-tipped ends, still used in the Orient, but which I do not recall having seen in the West.

The saint told me something of her weekly trances. “As a helpless onlooker, I observe the whole Passion of Christ.” Each week, from Thursday midnight until Friday afternoon at one o'clock, her wounds open and bleed; she loses ten pounds of her ordinary 121-pound weight. Suffering intensely in her sympathetic love, Therese yet looks forward joyously to these weekly visions of her Lord.

I realized at once that her strange life is intended by God to reassure all Christians of the historical authenticity of Jesus' life and crucifixion as recorded in the New Testament, and to dramatically display the ever-living bond between the Galilean Master and his devotees.

Professor Wurz related some of his experiences with the saint.

“Several of us, including Therese, often travel for days on sight-seeing trips throughout Germany,” he told me. “It is a striking contrast-while we have three meals a day, Therese eats nothing. She remains as fresh as a rose, untouched by the fatigue which the trips cause us. As we grow hungry and hunt for wayside inns, she laughs merrily.”

The professor added some interesting physiological details: “Because Therese takes no food, her stomach has shrunk. She has no excretions, but her perspiration glands function; her skin is always soft and firm.”

At the time of parting, I expressed to Therese my desire to be present at her trance.

“Yes, please come to Konnersreuth next Friday,” she said graciously. “The bishop will give you a permit. I am very happy you sought me out in Eichstatt.”

Therese shook hands gently, many times, and walked with our party to the gate. Mr. Wright turned on the automobile radio; the saint examined it with little enthusiastic chuckles. Such a large crowd of youngsters gathered that Therese retreated into the house. We saw her at a window, where she peered at us, childlike, waving her hand.

From a conversation the next day with two of Therese's brothers, very kind and amiable, we learned that the saint sleeps only one or two hours at night. In spite of the many wounds in her body, she is active and full of energy. She loves birds, looks after an aquarium of fish, and works often in her garden. Her correspondence is large; Catholic devotees write her for prayers and healing blessings. Many seekers have been cured through her of serious diseases.

Her brother Ferdinand, about twenty-three, explained that Therese has the power, through prayer, of working out on her own body the ailments of others. The saint's abstinence from food dates from a time when she prayed that the throat disease of a young man of her parish, then preparing to enter holy orders, be transferred to her own throat.

On Thursday afternoon our party drove to the home of the bishop, who looked at my flowing locks with some surprise. He readily wrote out the necessary permit. There was no fee; the rule made by the Church is simply to protect Therese from the onrush of casual tourists, who in previous years had flocked on Fridays by the thousands.

We arrived Friday morning about nine-thirty in Konnersreuth. I noticed that Therese's little cottage possesses a special glass-roofed section to afford her plenty of light. We were glad to see the doors no longer closed, but wide-open in hospitable cheer. There was a line of about twenty visitors, armed with their permits. Many had come from great distances to view the mystic trance.

Therese had passed my first test at the professor's house by her intuitive knowledge that I wanted to see her for spiritual reasons, and not just to satisfy a passing curiosity.

My second test was connected with the fact that, just before I went upstairs to her room, I put myself into a yogic trance state in order to be one with her in telepathic and televisic rapport. I entered her chamber, filled with visitors; she was lying in a white robe on the bed. With Mr. Wright following closely behind me, I halted just inside the threshold, awestruck at a strange and most frightful spectacle.

[Illustration: THERESE NEUMANN, Famous Catholic Stigmatist who inspired my 1935 pilgrimage to Konnersreuth, Bavaria—see neumann.jpg]

Blood flowed thinly and continuously in an inch-wide stream from Therese's lower eyelids. Her gaze was focused upward on the spiritual eye within the central forehead. The cloth wrapped around her head was drenched in blood from the stigmata wounds of the crown of thorns. The white garment was redly splotched over her heart from the wound in her side at the spot where Christ's body, long ages ago, had suffered the final indignity of the soldier's spear-thrust.

Therese's hands were extended in a gesture maternal, pleading; her face wore an expression both tortured and divine. She appeared thinner, changed in many subtle as well as outward ways. Murmuring words in a foreign tongue, she spoke with slightly quivering lips to persons visible before her inner sight.

As I was in attunement with her, I began to see the scenes of her vision. She was watching Jesus as he carried the cross amidst the jeering multitude. {FN39-4} Suddenly she lifted her head in consternation: the Lord had fallen under the cruel weight. The vision disappeared. In the exhaustion of fervid pity, Therese sank heavily against her pillow.

At this moment I heard a loud thud behind me. Turning my head for a second, I saw two men carrying out a prostrate body. But because I was coming out of the deep superconscious state, I did not immediately recognize the fallen person. Again I fixed my eyes on Therese's face, deathly pale under the rivulets of blood, but now calm, radiating purity and holiness. I glanced behind me later and saw Mr. Wright standing with his hand against his cheek, from which blood was trickling.

“Dick,” I inquired anxiously, “were you the one who fell?”

“Yes, I fainted at the terrifying spectacle.”

“Well,” I said consolingly, “you are brave to return and look upon the sight again.”

Remembering the patiently waiting line of pilgrims, Mr. Wright and I silently bade farewell to Therese and left her sacred presence. {FN39-5}

The following day our little group motored south, thankful that we were not dependent on trains, but could stop the Ford wherever we chose throughout the countryside. We enjoyed every minute of a tour through Germany, Holland, France, and the Swiss Alps. In Italy we made a special trip to Assisi to honor the apostle of humility, St. Francis. The European tour ended in Greece, where we viewed the Athenian temples, and saw the prison in which the gentle Socrates {FN39-6} had drunk his death potion. One is filled with admiration for the artistry with which the Greeks have everywhere wrought their very fancies in alabaster.

We took ship over the sunny Mediterranean, disembarking at Palestine. Wandering day after day over the Holy Land, I was more than ever convinced of the value of pilgrimage. The spirit of Christ is all-pervasive in Palestine; I walked reverently by his side at Bethlehem, Gethsemane, Calvary, the holy Mount of Olives, and by the River Jordan and the Sea of Galilee.

Our little party visited the Birth Manger, Joseph's carpenter shop, the tomb of Lazarus, the house of Martha and Mary, the hall of the Last Supper. Antiquity unfolded; scene by scene, I saw the divine drama that Christ once played for the ages.

On to Egypt, with its modern Cairo and ancient pyramids. Then a boat down the narrow Red Sea, over the vasty Arabian Sea; lo, India!

{FN39-1} The remarkable inclusion here of a complete date is due to the fact that my secretary, Mr. Wright, kept a travel diary.

{FN39-2} Other books on her life are THERESE NEUMANN: A STIGMATIST OF OUR DAY, and FURTHER CHRONICLES OF THERESE NEUMANN, both by Friedrich Ritter von Lama (Milwaukee: Bruce Pub. Co.).

{FN39-3} MATTHEW 4:4. Man's body battery is not sustained by gross food (bread) alone, but by the vibratory cosmic energy (word, or AUM). The invisible power flows into the human body through the gate of the medulla oblongata. This sixth bodily center is located at the back of the neck at the top of the five spinal CHAKRAS (Sanskrit for “wheels" or centers of radiating force). The medulla is the principal entrance for the body's supply of universal life force (AUM), and is directly connected with man's power of will, concentrated in the seventh or Christ Consciousness center (KUTASTHA) in the third eye between the eyebrows. Cosmic energy is then stored up in the brain as a reservoir of infinite potentialities, poetically mentioned in the VEDAS as the “thousand-petaled lotus of light.” The Bible invariably refers to AUM as the “Holy Ghost” or invisible life force which divinely upholds all creation. “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”-I CORINTHIANS 6:19.

{FN39-4} During the hours preceding my arrival, Therese had already passed through many visions of the closing days in Christ's life. Her entrancement usually starts with scenes of the events which followed the Last Supper. Her visions end with Jesus' death on the cross or, occasionally, with his entombment.

{FN39-5} Therese has survived the Nazi persecution, and is still present in Konnersreuth, according to 1945 American news dispatches from Germany.

{FN39-6} A passage in Eusebius relates an interesting encounter between Socrates and a Hindu sage. The passage runs: “Aristoxenus, the musician, tells the following story about the Indians. One of these men met Socrates at Athens, and asked him what was the scope of his philosophy. 'An inquiry into human phenomena,' replied Socrates. At this the Indian burst out laughing. 'How can a man inquire into human phenomena,' he said, 'when he is ignorant of divine ones?'“ The Aristoxenus mentioned was a pupil of Aristotle, and a noted writer on harmonics. His date is 330 B.C.


CHAPTER 40

I RETURN TO INDIA

I RETURN TO INDIA

Gratefully I was inhaling the blessed air of India. Our boat RAJPUTANA docked on August 22, 1935 in the huge harbor of Bombay. Even this, my first day off the ship, was a foretaste of the year ahead-twelve months of ceaseless activity. Friends had gathered at the dock with garlands and greetings; soon, at our suite in the Taj Mahal Hotel, there was a stream of reporters and photographers.

Bombay was a city new to me; I found it energetically modern, with many innovations from the West. Palms line the spacious boulevards; magnificent state structures vie for interest with ancient temples. Very little time was given to sight-seeing, however; I was impatient, eager to see my beloved guru and other dear ones. Consigning the Ford to a baggage car, our party was soon speeding eastward by train toward Calcutta. {FN40-1}

Our arrival at Howrah Station found such an immense crowd assembled to greet us that for awhile we were unable to dismount from the train. The young Maharaja of Kasimbazar and my brother Bishnu headed the reception committee; I was unprepared for the warmth and magnitude of our welcome.

Preceded by a line of automobiles and motorcycles, and amidst the joyous sound of drums and conch shells, Miss Bletch, Mr. Wright, and myself, flower-garlanded from head to foot, drove slowly to my father's home.

My aged parent embraced me as one returning from the dead; long we gazed on each other, speechless with joy. Brothers and sisters, uncles, aunts, and cousins, students and friends of years long past were grouped around me, not a dry eye among us. Passed now into the archives of memory, the scene of loving reunion vividly endures, unforgettable in my heart.

As for my meeting with Sri Yukteswar, words fail me; let the following description from my secretary suffice.

“Today, filled with the highest anticipations, I drove Yoganandaji from Calcutta to Serampore,” Mr. Wright recorded in his travel diary. “We passed by quaint shops, one of them the favorite eating haunt of Yoganandaji during his college days, and finally entered a narrow, walled lane. A sudden left turn, and there before us towered the simple but inspiring two-story ashram, its Spanish-style balcony jutting from the upper floor.

The pervasive impression was that of peaceful solitude.

“In grave humility I walked behind Yoganandaji into the courtyard within the hermitage walls. Hearts beating fast, we proceeded up some old cement steps, trod, no doubt, by myriads of truth-seekers. The tension grew keener and keener as on we strode. Before us, near the head of the stairs, quietly appeared the Great One, Swami Sri Yukteswarji, standing in the noble pose of a sage.

“My heart heaved and swelled as I felt myself blessed by the privilege of being in his sublime presence. Tears blurred my eager sight when Yoganandaji dropped to his knees, and with bowed head offered his soul's gratitude and greeting, touching with his hand his guru's feet and then, in humble obeisance, his own head. He rose then and was embraced on both sides of the bosom by Sri Yukteswarji.

“No words passed at the beginning, but the most intense feeling was expressed in the mute phrases of the soul. How their eyes sparkled and were fired with the warmth of renewed soul-union! A tender vibration surged through the quiet patio, and even the sun eluded the clouds to add a sudden blaze of glory.

“On bended knee before the master I gave my own unexpressed love and thanks, touching his feet, calloused by time and service, and receiving his blessing. I stood then and faced two beautiful deep eyes smouldering with introspection, yet radiant with joy. We entered his sitting room, whose whole side opened to the outer balcony first seen from the street. The master braced himself against a worn davenport, sitting on a covered mattress on the cement floor. Yoganandaji and I sat near the guru's feet, with orange-colored pillows to lean against and ease our positions on the straw mat.

“I tried and tried to penetrate the Bengali conversation between the two Swamijis-for English, I discovered, is null and void when they are together, although Swamiji Maharaj, as the great guru is called by others, can and often does speak it. But I perceived the saintliness of the Great One through his heart-warming smile and twinkling eyes. One quality easily discernible in his merry, serious conversation is a decided positiveness in statement-the mark of a wise man, who knows he knows, because he knows God. His great wisdom, strength of purpose, and determination are apparent in every way.

“Studying him reverently from time to time, I noted that he is of large, athletic stature, hardened by the trials and sacrifices of renunciation. His poise is majestic. A decidedly sloping forehead, as if seeking the heavens, dominates his divine countenance. He has a rather large and homely nose, with which he amuses himself in idle moments, flipping and wiggling it with his fingers, like a child. His powerful dark eyes are haloed by an ethereal blue ring. His hair, parted in the middle, begins as silver and changes to streaks of silvery-gold and silvery-black, ending in ringlets at his shoulders. His beard and moustache are scant or thinned out, yet seem to enhance his features and, like his character, are deep and light at the same time.

“He has a jovial and rollicking laugh which comes from deep in his chest, causing him to shake and quiver throughout his body-very cheerful and sincere. His face and stature are striking in their power, as are his muscular fingers. He moves with a dignified tread and erect posture.

“He was clad simply in the common DHOTI and shirt, both once dyed a strong ocher color, but now a faded orange.

“Glancing about, I observed that this rather dilapidated room suggested the owner's non-attachment to material comforts. The weather-stained white walls of the long chamber were streaked with fading blue plaster. At one end of the room hung a picture of Lahiri Mahasaya, garlanded in simple devotion. There was also an old picture showing Yoganandaji as he had first arrived in Boston, standing with the other delegates to the Congress of Religions.

“I noted a quaint concurrence of modernity and antiquation. A huge, cut-glass, candle-light chandelier was covered with cobwebs through disuse, and on the wall was a bright, up-to-date calendar. The whole room emanated a fragrance of peace and calmness. Beyond the balcony I could see coconut trees towering over the hermitage in silent protection.

“It is interesting to observe that the master has merely to clap his hands together and, before finishing, he is served or attended by some small disciple. Incidentally, I am much attracted to one of them-a thin lad, named Prafulla, {FN40-2} with long black hair to his shoulders, a most penetrating pair of sparkling black eyes, and a heavenly smile; his eyes twinkle, as the corners of his mouth rise, like the stars and the crescent moon appearing at twilight.

“Swami Sri Yukteswarji's joy is obviously intense at the return of his 'product' (and he seems to be somewhat inquisitive about the 'product's product'). However, predominance of the wisdom-aspect in the Great One's nature hinders his outward expression of feeling.

“Yoganandaji presented him with some gifts, as is the custom when the disciple returns to his guru. We sat down later to a simple but well-cooked meal. All the dishes were vegetable and rice combinations. Sri Yukteswarji was pleased at my use of a number of Indian customs, 'finger-eating' for example.

“After several hours of flying Bengali phrases and the exchange of warm smiles and joyful glances, we paid obeisance at his feet, bade adieu with a PRONAM, {FN40-3} and departed for Calcutta with an everlasting memory of a sacred meeting and greeting. Although I write chiefly of my external impressions of him, yet I was always conscious of the true basis of the saint-his spiritual glory. I felt his power, and shall carry that feeling as my divine blessing.”

From America, Europe, and Palestine I had brought many presents for Sri Yukteswar. He received them smilingly, but without remark. For my own use, I had bought in Germany a combination umbrella-cane. In India I decided to give the cane to Master.

“This gift I appreciate indeed!” My guru's eyes were turned on me with affectionate understanding as he made the unwonted comment. From all the presents, it was the cane that he singled out to display to visitors.

“Master, please permit me to get a new carpet for the sitting room.” I had noticed that Sri Yukteswar's tiger skin was placed over a torn rug.

“Do so if it pleases you.” My guru's voice was not enthusiastic. “Behold, my tiger mat is nice and clean; I am monarch in my own little kingdom. Beyond it is the vast world, interested only in externals.”

As he uttered these words I felt the years roll back; once again I am a young disciple, purified in the daily fires of chastisement!

As soon as I could tear myself away from Serampore and Calcutta, I set out, with Mr. Wright, for Ranchi. What a welcome there, a veritable ovation! Tears stood in my eyes as I embraced the selfless teachers who had kept the banner of the school flying during my fifteen years' absence. The bright faces and happy smiles of the residential and day students were ample testimony to the worth of their many-sided school and yoga training.

Yet, alas! the Ranchi institution was in dire financial difficulties. Sir Manindra Chandra Nundy, the old Maharaja whose Kasimbazar Palace had been converted into the central school building, and who had made many princely donations was now dead. Many free, benevolent features of the school were now seriously endangered for lack of sufficient public support.

I had not spent years in America without learning some of its practical wisdom, its undaunted spirit before obstacles. For one week I remained in Ranchi, wrestling with critical problems. Then came interviews in Calcutta with prominent leaders and educators, a long talk with the young Maharaja of Kasimbazar, a financial appeal to my father, and lo! the shaky foundations of Ranchi began to be righted. Many donations including one huge check arrived in the nick of time from my American students.

Within a few months after my arrival in India, I had the joy of seeing the Ranchi school legally incorporated. My lifelong dream of a permanently endowed yoga educational center stood fulfilled. That vision had guided me in the humble beginnings in 1917 with a group of seven boys.

In the decade since 1935, Ranchi has enlarged its scope far beyond the boys' school. Widespread humanitarian activities are now carried on there in the Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasaya Mission.

The school, or Yogoda Sat-Sanga Brahmacharya Vidyalaya, conducts outdoor classes in grammar and high school subjects. The residential students and day scholars also receive vocational training of some kind. The boys themselves regulate most of their activities through autonomous committees. Very early in my career as an educator I discovered that boys who impishly delight in outwitting a teacher will cheerfully accept disciplinary rules that are set by their fellow students. Never a model pupil myself, I had a ready sympathy for all boyish pranks and problems.

Sports and games are encouraged; the fields resound with hockey and football practice. Ranchi students often win the cup at competitive events. The outdoor gymnasium is known far and wide. Muscle recharging through will power is the YOGODA feature: mental direction of life energy to any part of the body. The boys are also taught ASANAS (postures), sword and LATHI (stick) play, and jujitsu. The Yogoda Health Exhibitions at the Ranchi VIDYALAYA have been attended by thousands.

Instruction in primary subjects is given in Hindi to the KOLS, SANTALS, and MUNDAS, aboriginal tribes of the province. Classes for girls only have been organized in near-by villages.

The unique feature at Ranchi is the initiation into KRIYA YOGA. The boys daily practice their spiritual exercises, engage in GITA chanting, and are taught by precept and example the virtues of simplicity, self-sacrifice, honor, and truth. Evil is pointed out to them as being that which produces misery; good as those actions which result in true happiness. Evil may be compared to poisoned honey, tempting but laden with death.

Overcoming restlessness of body and mind by concentration techniques has achieved astonishing results: it is no novelty at Ranchi to see an appealing little figure, aged nine or ten years, sitting for an hour or more in unbroken poise, the unwinking gaze directed to the spiritual eye. Often the picture of these Ranchi students has returned to my mind, as I observed collegians over the world who are hardly able to sit still through one class period. {FN40-4}

Ranchi lies 2000 feet above sea level; the climate is mild and equable. The twenty-five acre site, by a large bathing pond, includes one of the finest orchards in India-five hundred fruit trees-mango, guava, litchi, jackfruit, date. The boys grow their own vegetables, and spin at their CHARKAS.

A guest house is hospitably open for Western visitors. The Ranchi library contains numerous magazines, and about a thousand volumes in English and Bengali, donations from the West and the East. There is a collection of the scriptures of the world. A well-classified museum displays archeological, geological, and anthropological exhibits; trophies, to a great extent, of my wanderings over the Lord's varied earth.

The charitable hospital and dispensary of the Lahiri Mahasaya Mission, with many outdoor branches in distant villages, have already ministered to 150,000 of India's poor. The Ranchi students are trained in first aid, and have given praiseworthy service to their province at tragic times of flood or famine.

In the orchard stands a Shiva temple, with a statue of the blessed master, Lahiri Mahasaya. Daily prayers and scripture classes are held in the garden under the mango bowers.

Branch high schools, with the residential and yoga features of Ranchi, have been opened and are now flourishing. These are the Yogoda Sat-Sanga Vidyapith (School) for Boys, at Lakshmanpur in Bihar; and the Yogoda Sat-Sanga High School and hermitage at Ejmalichak in Midnapore.

A stately Yogoda Math was dedicated in 1939 at Dakshineswar, directly on the Ganges. Only a few miles north of Calcutta, the new hermitage affords a haven of peace for city dwellers. Suitable accommodations are available for Western guests, and particularly for those seekers who are intensely dedicating their lives to spiritual realization. The activities of the Yogoda Math include a fortnightly mailing of Self-Realization Fellowship teachings to students in various parts of India.

It is needless to say that all these educational and humanitarian activities have required the self-sacrificing service and devotion of many teachers and workers. I do not list their names here, because they are so numerous; but in my heart each one has a lustrous niche. Inspired by the ideals of Lahiri Mahasaya, these teachers have abandoned promising worldly goals to serve humbly, to give greatly.

Mr. Wright formed many fast friendships with Ranchi boys; clad in a simple DHOTI, he lived for awhile among them. At Ranchi, Calcutta, Serampore, everywhere he went, my secretary, who has a vivid gift of description, hauled out his travel diary to record his adventures. One evening I asked him a question.

“Dick, what is your impression of India?”

“Peace,” he said thoughtfully. “The racial aura is peace.”

{FN40-1} We broke our journey in Central Provinces, halfway across the continent, to see Mahatma Gandhi at Wardha. Those days are described in chapter 44.

{FN40-2} Prafulla was the lad who had been present with Master when a cobra approached (see page 116).

{FN40-3} Literally, “holy name,” a word of greeting among Hindus, accompanied by palm-folded hands lifted from the heart to the forehead in salutation. A PRONAM in India takes the place of the Western greeting by handshaking.

{FN40-4} Mental training through certain concentration techniques has produced in each Indian generation men of prodigious memory. Sir T. Vijayaraghavachari, in the HINDUSTAN TIMES, has described the tests put to the modern professional “memory men” of Madras. “These men,” he wrote, “were unusually learned in Sanskrit literature. Seated in the midst of a large audience, they were equal to the tests that several members of the audience simultaneously put them to. The test would be like this: one person would start ringing a bell, the number of rings having to be counted by the 'memory man.' A second person would dictate from a paper a long exercise in arithmetic, involving addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. A third would go on reciting from the RAMAYANA or the MAHABHARATA a long series of poems, which had to be reproduced; a fourth would set problems in versification which required the composition of verses in proper meter on a given subject, each line to end in a specified word, a fifth man would carry on with a sixth a theological disputation, the exact language of which had to be quoted in the precise order in which the disputants conducted it, and a seventh man was all the while turning a wheel, the number of revolutions of which had to be counted. The memory expert had simultaneously to do all these feats purely by mental processes, as he was allowed no paper and pencil. The strain on the faculties must have been terrific. Ordinarily men in unconscious envy are apt to depreciate such efforts by affecting to believe that they involve only the exercise of the lower functionings of the brain. It is not, however, a pure question of memory. The greater factor is the immense concentration of mind.”


CHAPTER 41

AN IDYL IN SOUTH INDIA

AN IDYL IN SOUTH INDIA

“You are the first Westerner, Dick, ever to enter that shrine. Many others have tried in vain.”

At my words Mr. Wright looked startled, then pleased. We had just left the beautiful Chamundi Temple in the hills overlooking Mysore in southern India. There we had bowed before the gold and silver altars of the Goddess Chamundi, patron deity of the family of the reigning maharaja.

“As a souvenir of the unique honor,” Mr. Wright said, carefully stowing away a few blessed rose petals, “I will always preserve this flower, sprinkled by the priest with rose water.”

My companion and I {FN41−1} were spending the month of November, 1935, as guests of the State of Mysore. The Maharaja, H.H. Sri Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV, is a model prince with intelligent devotion to his people. A pious Hindu, the Maharaja has empowered a Mohammedan, the able Mirza Ismail, as his Dewan or Premier. Popular representation is given to the seven million inhabitants of Mysore in both an Assembly and a Legislative Council.

The heir to the Maharaja, H.H. the Yuvaraja, Sir Sri Krishna Narasingharaj Wadiyar, had invited my secretary and me to visit his enlightened and progressive realm. During the past fortnight I had addressed thousands of Mysore citizens and students, at the Town Hall, the Maharajah's College, the University Medical School; and three mass meetings in Bangalore, at the National High School, the Intermediate College, and the Chetty Town Hall where over three thousand persons had assembled. Whether the eager listeners had been able to credit the glowing picture I drew of America, I know not; but the applause had always been loudest when I spoke of the mutual benefits that could flow from exchange of the best features in East and West.

Mr. Wright and I were now relaxing in the tropical peace. His travel diary gives the following account of his impressions of Mysore:

“Brilliantly green rice fields, varied by tasseled sugar cane patches, nestle at the protective foot of rocky hills−hills dotting the emerald panorama like excrescences of black stone−and the play of colors is enhanced by the sudden and dramatic disappearance of the sun as it seeks rest behind the solemn hills.

“Many rapturous moments have been spent in gazing, almost absent−mindedly, at the ever−changing canvas of God stretched across the firmament, for His touch alone is able to produce colors that vibrate with the freshness of life. That youth of colors is lost when man tries to imitate with mere pigments, for the Lord resorts to a more simple and effective medium−oils that are neither oils nor pigments, but mere rays of light. He tosses a splash of light here, and it reflects red; He waves the brush again and it blends gradually into orange and gold; then with a piercing thrust He stabs the clouds with a streak of purple that leaves a ringlet or fringe of red oozing out of the wound in the clouds; and so, on and on, He plays, night and morning alike, ever−changing, ever−new, ever−fresh; no patterns, no duplicates, no colors just the same. The beauty of the Indian change in day to night is beyond compare elsewhere; often the sky looks as if God had taken all the colors in His kit and given them one mighty kaleidoscopic toss into the heavens.

“I must relate the splendor of a twilight visit to the huge Krishnaraja Sagar Dam, {FN41−2} constructed twelve miles outside of Mysore. Yoganandaji and I boarded a small bus and, with a small boy as official

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cranker or battery substitute, started off over a smooth dirt road, just as the sun was setting on the horizon and squashing like an overripe tomato.

“Our journey led past the omnipresent square rice fields, through a line of comforting banyan trees, in between a grove of towering coconut palms, with vegetation nearly as thick as in a jungle, and finally, approaching the crest of a hill, we came face−to−face with an immense artificial lake, reflecting the stars and fringe of palms and other trees, surrounded by lovely terraced gardens and a row of electric lights on the brink of the dam−and below it our eyes met a dazzling spectacle of colored beams playing on geyserlike fountains, like so many streams of brilliant ink pouring forth−gorgeously blue waterfalls, arresting red cataracts, green and yellow sprays, elephants spouting water, a miniature of the Chicago World's Fair, and yet modernly outstanding in this ancient land of paddy fields and simple people, who have given us such a loving welcome that I fear it will take more than my strength to bring Yoganandaji back to America.

“Another rare privilege−my first elephant ride. Yesterday the Yuvaraja invited us to his summer palace to enjoy a ride on one of his elephants, an enormous beast. I mounted a ladder provided to climb aloft to the HOWDAH or saddle, which is silk−cushioned and boxlike; and then for a rolling, tossing, swaying, and heaving down into a gully, too much thrilled to worry or exclaim, but hanging on for dear life!”

Southern India, rich with historical and archaeological remains, is a land of definite and yet indefinable charm. To the north of Mysore is the largest native state in India, Hyderabad, a picturesque plateau cut by the mighty Godavari River. Broad fertile plains, the lovely Nilgiris or “Blue Mountains,” other regions with barren hills of limestone or granite. Hyderabad history is a long, colorful story, starting three thousand years ago under the Andhra kings, and continuing under Hindu dynasties until A.D. 1294, when it passed to a line of Moslem rulers who reign to this day.

The most breath−taking display of architecture, sculpture, and painting in all India is found at Hyderabad in the ancient rock−sculptured caves of Ellora and Ajanta. The Kailasa at Ellora, a huge monolithic temple, possesses carved figures of gods, men, and beasts in the stupendous proportions of a Michelangelo. Ajanta is the site of five cathedrals and twenty−five monasteries, all rock excavations maintained by tremendous frescoed pillars on which artists and sculptors have immortalized their genius.

Hyderabad City is graced by the Osmania University and by the imposing Mecca Masjid Mosque, where ten thousand Mohammedans may assemble for prayer.

Mysore State too is a scenic wonderland, three thousand feet above sea level, abounding in dense tropical forests, the home of wild elephants, bison, bears, panthers, and tigers. Its two chief cities, Bangalore and Mysore, are clean, attractive, with many parks and public gardens.

Hindu architecture and sculpture achieved their highest perfection in Mysore under the patronage of Hindu kings from the eleventh to the fifteenth centuries. The temple at Belur, an eleventh−century masterpiece completed during the reign of King Vishnuvardhana, is unsurpassed in the world for its delicacy of detail and exuberant imagery.

The rock pillars found in northern Mysore date from the third century B.C., illuminating the memory of King Asoka. He succeeded to the throne of the Maurya dynasty then prevailing; his empire included nearly all of modern India, Afghanistan, and Baluchistan. This illustrious emperor, considered even by Western historians to have been an incomparable ruler, has left the following wisdom on a rock memorial:

This religious inscription has been engraved in order that our sons and grandsons may not think a new conquest is necessary; that they may not think conquest by the sword deserves the name of conquest; that they may see in it nothing but destruction and violence; that they may consider nothing as true conquest save the

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conquest of religion. Such conquests have value in this world and in the next.

[Illustration: My companions and I pose before the “dream in marble,” the Taj Mahal at Agra.—see taj.jpg]

Asoka was a grandson of the formidable Chandragupta Maurya (known to the Greeks as Sandrocottus), who in his youth had met Alexander the Great. Later Chandragupta destroyed the Macedonian garrisons left in India, defeated the invading Greek army of Seleucus in the Punjab, and then received at his Patna court the Hellenic ambassador Megasthenes.

Intensely interesting stories have been minutely recorded by Greek historians and others who accompanied or followed after Alexander in his expedition to India. The narratives of Arrian, Diodoros, Plutarch, and Strabo the geographer have been translated by Dr. J. W. M'Crindle {FN41−3} to throw a shaft of light on ancient India. The most admirable feature of Alexander's unsuccessful invasion was the deep interest he displayed in Hindu philosophy and in the yogis and holy men whom he encountered from time to time and whose society he eagerly sought. Shortly after the Greek warrior had arrived in Taxila in northern India, he sent a messenger, Onesikritos, a disciple of the Hellenic school of Diogenes, to fetch an Indian teacher, Dandamis, a great sannyasi of Taxila.

“Hail to thee, O teacher of Brahmins!” Onesikritos said after seeking out Dandamis in his forest retreat. “The son of the mighty God Zeus, being Alexander who is the Sovereign Lord of all men, asks you to go to him, and if you comply, he will reward you with great gifts, but if you refuse, he will cut off your head!”

The yogi received this fairly compulsive invitation calmly, and “did not so much as lift up his head from his couch of leaves.”

“I also am a son of Zeus, if Alexander be such,” he commented. “I want nothing that is Alexander's, for I am content with what I have, while I see that he wanders with his men over sea and land for no advantage, and is never coming to an end of his wanderings.

“Go and tell Alexander that God the Supreme King is never the Author of insolent wrong, but is the Creator of light, of peace, of life, of water, of the body of man and of souls; He receives all men when death sets them free, being in no way subject to evil disease. He alone is the God of my homage, who abhors slaughter and instigates no wars.

“Alexander is no god, since he must taste of death,” continued the sage in quiet scorn. “How can such as he be the world's master, when he has not yet seated himself on a throne of inner universal dominion? Neither as yet has he entered living into Hades, nor does he know the course of the sun through the central regions of the earth, while the nations on its boundaries have not so much as heard his name!”

After this chastisement, surely the most caustic ever sent to assault the ears of the “Lord of the World,” the sage added ironically, “If Alexander's present dominions be not capacious enough for his desires, let him cross the Ganges River; there he will find a region able to sustain all his men, if the country on this side be too narrow to hold him. {FN41−4}

“Know this, however, that what Alexander offers and the gifts he promises are things to me utterly useless; the things I prize and find of real use and worth are these leaves which are my house, these blooming plants which supply me with daily food, and the water which is my drink; while all other possessions which are amassed with anxious care are wont to prove ruinous to those who gather them, and cause only sorrow and vexation, with which every poor mortal is fully fraught. As for me, I lie upon the forest leaves, and having nothing which requires guarding, close my eyes in tranquil slumber; whereas had I anything to guard, that would banish sleep. The earth supplies me with everything, even as a mother her child with milk. I go

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wherever I please, and there are no cares with which I am forced to cumber myself.

“Should Alexander cut off my head, he cannot also destroy my soul. My head alone, then silent, will remain, leaving the body like a torn garment upon the earth, whence also it was taken. I then, becoming Spirit, shall ascend to my God, who enclosed us all in flesh and left us upon earth to prove whether, when here below, we shall live obedient to His ordinances and who also will require of us all, when we depart hence to His presence, an account of our life, since He is Judge of all proud wrongdoing; for the groans of the oppressed become the punishment of the oppressor.

“Let Alexander then terrify with these threats those who wish for wealth and who dread death, for against us these weapons are both alike powerless; the Brahmins neither love gold nor fear death. Go then and tell Alexander this: Dandamis has no need of aught that is yours, and therefore will not go to you, and if you want anything from Dandamis, come you to him.”

With close attention Alexander received through Onesikritos the message from the yogi, and “felt a stronger desire than ever to see Dandamis who, though old and naked, was the only antagonist in whom he, the conqueror of many nations, had met more than his match.”

Alexander invited to Taxila a number of Brahmin ascetics noted for their skill in answering philosophical questions with pithy wisdom. An account of the verbal skirmish is given by Plutarch; Alexander himself framed all the questions.

“Which be the more numerous, the living or the dead?”

“The living, for the dead are not.”

“Which breeds the larger animals, the sea or the land?”

“The land, for the sea is only a part of land.”

“Which is the cleverest of beasts?”

“That one with which man is not yet acquainted.” (Man fears the unknown.)

“Which existed first, the day or the night?”

“The day was first by one day.” This reply caused Alexander to betray surprise; the Brahmin added: “Impossible questions require impossible answers.”

“How best may a man make himself beloved?”

“A man will be beloved if, possessed with great power, he still does not make himself feared.”

“How may a man become a god?” {FN41−5}

“By doing that which it is impossible for a man to do.”

“Which is stronger, life or death?”

“Life, because it bears so many evils.”

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Alexander succeeded in taking out of India, as his teacher, a true yogi. This man was Swami Sphines, called “Kalanos” by the Greeks because the saint, a devotee of God in the form of Kali, greeted everyone by pronouncing Her auspicious name.

Kalanos accompanied Alexander to Persia. On a stated day, at Susa in Persia, Kalanos gave up his aged body by entering a funeral pyre in view of the whole Macedonian army. The historians record the astonishment of the soldiers who observed that the yogi had no fear of pain or death, and who never once moved from his position as he was consumed in the flames. Before leaving for his cremation, Kalanos had embraced all his close companions, but refrained from bidding farewell to Alexander, to whom the Hindu sage had merely remarked:

“I shall see you shortly in Babylon.”

Alexander left Persia, and died a year later in Babylon. His Indian guru's words had been his way of saying he would be present with Alexander in life and death.

The Greek historians have left us many vivid and inspiring pictures of Indian society. Hindu law, Arrian tells us, protects the people and “ordains that no one among them shall, under any circumstances, be a slave but that, enjoying freedom themselves, they shall respect the equal right to it which all possess. For those, they thought, who have learned neither to domineer over nor cringe to others will attain the life best adapted for all vicissitudes of lot.” {FN41−6}

“The Indians,” runs another text, “neither put out money at usury, nor know how to borrow. It is contrary to established usage for an Indian either to do or suffer a wrong, and therefore they neither make contracts nor require securities.” Healing, we are told, was by simple and natural means. “Cures are effected rather by regulating diet than by the use of medicines. The remedies most esteemed are ointments and plasters. All others are considered to be in great measure pernicious.” Engagement in war was restricted to the KSHATRIYAS or warrior caste. “Nor would an enemy coming upon a husbandman at his work on his land, do him any harm, for men of this class being regarded as public benefactors, are protected from all injury. The land thus remaining unravaged and producing heavy crops, supplies the inhabitants with the requisites to make life enjoyable.” {FN41−7}

The Emperor Chandragupta who in 305 B.C. had defeated Alexander's general, Seleucus, decided seven years later to hand over the reins of India's government to his son. Traveling to South India, Chandragupta spent the last twelve years of his life as a penniless ascetic, seeking self−realization in a rocky cave at Sravanabelagola, now honored as a Mysore shrine. Near−by stands the world's largest statue, carved out of an immense boulder by the Jains in A.D. 983 to honor the saint Comateswara.

The ubiquitous religious shrines of Mysore are a constant reminder of the many great saints of South India. One of these masters, Thayumanavar, has left us the following challenging poem:

You can control a mad elephant; You can shut the mouth of the bear and the tiger; You can ride a lion; You can play with the cobra; By alchemy you can eke out your livelihood; You can wander through the universe incognito; You can make vassals of the gods; You can be ever youthful; You can walk on water and live in fire; But control of the mind is better and more difficult.

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In the beautiful and fertile State of Travancore in the extreme south of India, where traffic is conveyed over rivers and canals, the Maharaja assumes every year a hereditary obligation to expiate the sin incurred by wars and the annexation in the distant past of several petty states to Travancore. For fifty−six days annually the Maharaja visits the temple thrice daily to hear Vedic hymns and recitations; the expiation ceremony ends with the LAKSHADIPAM or illumination of the temple by a hundred thousand lights.

The great Hindu lawgiver Manu {FN41−8} has outlined the duties of a king. “He should shower amenities like Indra (lord of the gods); collect taxes gently and imperceptibly as the sun obtains vapor from water; enter into the life of his subjects as the wind goes everywhere; mete out even justice to all like Yama (god of death); bind transgressors in a noose like Varuna (Vedic deity of sky and wind); please all like the moon, burn up vicious enemies like the god of fire; and support all like the earth goddess.

“In war a king should not fight with poisonous or fiery weapons nor kill weak or unready or weaponless foes or men who are in fear or who pray for protection or who run away. War should be resorted to only as a last resort. Results are always doubtful in war.”

Madras Presidency on the southeast coast of India contains the flat, spacious, sea−girt city of Madras, and Conjeeveram, the Golden City, capital site of the Pallava dynasty whose kings ruled during the early centuries of the Christian era. In modern Madras Presidency the nonviolent ideals of Mahatma Gandhi have made great headway; the white distinguishing “Gandhi caps” are seen everywhere. In the south generally the Mahatma has effected many important temple reforms for “untouchables” as well as caste−system reforms.

The origin of the caste system, formulated by the great legislator Manu, was admirable. He saw clearly that men are distinguished by natural evolution into four great classes: those capable of offering service to society through their bodily labor (SUDRAS); those who serve through mentality, skill, agriculture, trade, commerce, business life in general (VAISYAS); those whose talents are administrative, executive, and protective−rulers and warriors (KSHATRIYAS); those of contemplative nature, spiritually inspired and inspiring (BRAHMINS). “Neither birth nor sacraments nor study nor ancestry can decide whether a person is twice−born (i.e., a BRAHMIN);” the MAHABHARATA declares, “character and conduct only can decide.” {FN41−9} Manu instructed society to show respect to its members insofar as they possessed wisdom, virtue, age, kinship or, lastly, wealth. Riches in Vedic India were always despised if they were hoarded or unavailable for charitable purposes. Ungenerous men of great wealth were assigned a low rank in society.

Serious evils arose when the caste system became hardened through the centuries into a hereditary halter. Social reformers like Gandhi and the members of very numerous societies in India today are making slow but sure progress in restoring the ancient values of caste, based solely on natural qualification and not on birth. Every nation on earth has its own distinctive misery−producing karma to deal with and remove; India, too, with her versatile and invulnerable spirit, shall prove herself equal to the task of caste−reformation.

So entrancing is southern India that Mr. Wright and I yearned to prolong our idyl. But time, in its immemorial rudeness, dealt us no courteous extensions. I was scheduled soon to address the concluding session of the Indian Philosophical Congress at Calcutta University. At the end of the visit to Mysore, I enjoyed a talk with Sir C. V. Raman, president of the Indian Academy of Sciences. This brilliant Hindu physicist was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1930 for his important discovery in the diffusion of light−the “Raman Effect” now known to every schoolboy.

Waving a reluctant farewell to a crowd of Madras students and friends, Mr. Wright and I set out for the north. On the way we stopped before a little shrine sacred to the memory of Sadasiva Brahman, {FN41−10} in whose eighteenth−century life story miracles cluster thickly. A larger Sadasiva shrine at Nerur, erected by the Raja of Pudukkottai, is a pilgrimage spot which has witnessed numerous divine healings.

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Many quaint stories of Sadasiva, a lovable and fully−illumined master, are still current among the South Indian villagers. Immersed one day in SAMADHI on the bank of the Kaveri River, Sadasiva was seen to be carried away by a sudden flood. Weeks later he was found buried deep beneath a mound of earth. As the villagers' shovels struck his body, the saint rose and walked briskly away.

Sadasiva never spoke a word or wore a cloth. One morning the nude yogi unceremoniously entered the tent of a Mohammedan chieftain. His ladies screamed in alarm; the warrior dealt a savage sword thrust at Sadasiva, whose arm was severed. The master departed unconcernedly. Overcome by remorse, the Mohammedan picked up the arm from the floor and followed Sadasiva. The yogi quietly inserted his arm into the bleeding stump. When the warrior humbly asked for some spiritual instruction, Sadasiva wrote with his finger on the sands:

“Do not do what you want, and then you may do what you like.”

The Mohammedan was uplifted to an exalted state of mind, and understood the saint's paradoxical advice to be a guide to soul freedom through mastery of the ego.

The village children once expressed a desire in Sadasiva's presence to see the Madura religious festival, 150 miles away. The yogi indicated to the little ones that they should touch his body. Lo! instantly the whole group was transported to Madura. The children wandered happily among the thousands of pilgrims. In a few hours the yogi brought his small charges home by his simple mode of transportation. The astonished parents heard the vivid tales of the procession of images, and noted that several children were carrying bags of Madura sweets.

An incredulous youth derided the saint and the story. The following morning he approached Sadasiva.

“Master,” he said scornfully, “why don't you take me to the festival, even as you did yesterday for the other children?”

Sadasiva complied; the boy immediately found himself among the distant city throng. But alas! where was the saint when the youth wanted to leave? The weary boy reached his home by the ancient and prosaic method of foot locomotion.

{FN41−1} Miss Bletch, unable to maintain the active pace set by Mr. Wright and myself, remained happily with my relatives in Calcutta.

{FN41−2} This dam, a huge hydro−electric installation, lights Mysore City and gives power to factories for silks, soaps, and sandalwood oil. The sandalwood souvenirs from Mysore possess a delightful fragrance which time does not exhaust; a slight pinprick revives the odor. Mysore boasts some of the largest pioneer industrial undertakings in India, including the Kolar Gold Mines, the Mysore Sugar Factory, the huge iron and steel works at Bhadravati, and the cheap and efficient Mysore State Railway which covers many of the state's 30,000 square miles.

The Maharaja and Yuvaraja who were my hosts in Mysore in 1935 have both recently died. The son of the Yuvaraja, the present Maharaja, is an enterprising ruler, and has added to Mysore's industries a large airplane factory.

{FN41−3} Six volumes on ANCIENT INDIA (Calcutta, 1879).

{FN41−5} Neither Alexander nor any of his generals ever crossed the Ganges. Finding determined resistance in the northwest, the Macedonian army refused to penetrate farther; Alexander was forced to leave India and

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seek his conquests in Persia.

{FN41−5} From this question we may surmise that the “Son of Zeus" had an occasional doubt that he had already attained perfection.

{FN41−6} All Greek observers comment on the lack of slavery in India, a feature at complete variance with the structure of Hellenic society.

{FN41−7} CREATIVE INDIA by Prof. Benoy Kumar Sarkar gives a comprehensive picture of India's ancient and modern achievements and distinctive values in economics, political science, literature, art, and social philosophy. (Lahore: Motilal Banarsi Dass, Publishers, 1937, 714 pp., $5.00.)

Another recommended volume is INDIAN CULTURE THROUGH THE AGES, by S. V. Venatesvara (New York: Longmans, Green &Co., $5.00).

{FN41−8} Manu is the universal lawgiver; not alone for Hindu society, but for the world. All systems of wise social regulations and even justice are patterned after Manu. Nietzsche has paid the following tribute: “I know of no book in which so many delicate and kindly things are said to woman as in the LAWBOOK OF MANU; those old graybeards and saints have a manner of being gallant to women which perhaps cannot be surpassed . . . an incomparably intellectual and superior work . . . replete with noble values, it is filled with a feeling of perfection, with a saying of yea to life, and a triumphant sense of well−being in regard to itself and to life; the sun shines upon the whole book.”

{FN41−9} “Inclusion in one of these four castes originally depended not on a man's birth but on his natural capacities as demonstrated by the goal in life he elected to achieve,” an article in EAST−WEST for January, 1935, tells us. “This goal could be (1) KAMA, desire, activity of the life of the senses (SUDRA stage), (2) ARTHA, gain, fulfilling but controlling the desires (VAISYA stage), (3) DHARMA, self−discipline, the life of responsibility and right action (KSHATRIYA stage), (4) MOKSHA, liberation, the life of spirituality and religious teaching (BRAHMIN stage). These four castes render service to humanity by (1) body, (2) mind, (3) will power, (4) Spirit.

“These four stages have their correspondence in the eternal GUNAS or qualities of nature, TAMAS, RAJAS, and SATTVA: obstruction, activity, and expansion; or, mass, energy, and intelligence. The four natural castes are marked by the GUNAS as (1) TAMAS (ignorance), (2) TAMAS−RAJAS (mixture of ignorance and activity), (3) RAJAS−SATTVA (mixture of right activity and enlightenment), (4) SATTVA (enlightenment). Thus has nature marked every man with his caste, by the predominance in himself of one, or the mixture of two, of the GUNAS. Of course every human being has all three GUNAS in varying proportions. The guru will be able rightly to determine a man's caste or evolutionary status.

“To a certain extent, all races and nations observe in practice, if not in theory, the features of caste. Where there is great license or so−called liberty, particularly in intermarriage between extremes in the natural castes, the race dwindles away and becomes extinct. The PURANA SAMHITA compares the offspring of such unions to barren hybrids, like the mule which is incapable of propagation of its own species. Artificial species are eventually exterminated. History offers abundant proof of numerous great races which no longer have any living representatives. The caste system of India is credited by her most profound thinkers with being the check or preventive against license which has preserved the purity of the race and brought it safely through millenniums of vicissitudes, while other races have vanished in oblivion.”

{FN41−10} His full title was Sri Sadasivendra Saraswati Swami. The illustrious successor in the formal Shankara line, Jagadguru Sri Shankaracharya of Sringeri Math, wrote an inspiring ODE dedicated to Sadasiva. EAST−WEST for July, 1942, carried an article on Sadasiva's life.


CHAPTER 42

LAST DAYS WITH MY GURU

LAST DAYS WITH MY GURU

“Guruji, I am glad to find you alone this morning.” I had just arrived at the Serampore hermitage, carrying a fragrant burden of fruit and roses. Sri Yukteswar glanced at me meekly.

“What is your question?” Master looked about the room as though he were seeking escape.

“Guruji, I came to you as a high-school youth; now I am a grown man, even with a gray hair or two. Though you have showered me with silent affection from the first hour to this, do you realize that once only, on the day of meeting, have you ever said, 'I love you'?” I looked at him pleadingly.

Master lowered his gaze. “Yogananda, must I bring out into the cold realms of speech the warm sentiments best guarded by the wordless heart?”

“Guruji, I know you love me, but my mortal ears ache to hear you say so.”

“Be it as you wish. During my married life I often yearned for a son, to train in the yogic path. But when you came into my life, I was content; in you I have found my son.” Two clear teardrops stood in Sri Yukteswar's eyes. “Yogananda, I love you always.”

“Your answer is my passport to heaven.” I felt a weight lift from my heart, dissolved forever at his words. Often had I wondered at his silence. Realizing that he was unemotional and self-contained, yet sometimes I feared I had been unsuccessful in fully satisfying him. His was a strange nature, never utterly to be known; a nature deep and still, unfathomable to the outer world, whose values he had long transcended.

A few days later, when I spoke before a huge audience at Albert Hall in Calcutta, Sri Yukteswar consented to sit beside me on the platform, with the Maharaja of Santosh and the Mayor of Calcutta. Though Master made no remark to me, I glanced at him from time to time during my address, and thought I detected a pleased twinkle in his eyes.

Then came a talk before the alumni of Serampore College. As I gazed upon my old classmates, and as they gazed on their own “Mad Monk,” tears of joy showed unashamedly. My silver-tongued professor of philosophy, Dr. Ghoshal, came forward to greet me, all our past misunderstandings dissolved by the alchemist Time.

A Winter Solstice Festival was celebrated at the end of December in the Serampore hermitage. As always, Sri Yukteswar's disciples gathered from far and near. Devotional SANKIRTANS, solos in the nectar-sweet voice of Kristo-da, a feast served by young disciples, Master's profoundly moving discourse under the stars in the thronged courtyard of the ashram-memories, memories! Joyous festivals of years long past! Tonight, however, there was to be a new feature.

“Yogananda, please address the assemblage-in English.” Master's eyes were twinkling as he made this doubly unusual request; was he thinking of the shipboard predicament that had preceded my first lecture in English? I told the story to my audience of brother disciples, ending with a fervent tribute to our guru.

“His omnipresent guidance was with me not alone on the ocean steamer,” I concluded, “but daily throughout my fifteen years in the vast and hospitable land of America.”

After the guests had departed, Sri Yukteswar called me to the same bedroom where-once only, after a festival of my early years-I had been permitted to sleep on his wooden bed. Tonight my guru was sitting there quietly, a semicircle of disciples at his feet. He smiled as I quickly entered the room.

“Yogananda, are you leaving now for Calcutta? Please return here tomorrow. I have certain things to tell you.”

The next afternoon, with a few simple words of blessing, Sri Yukteswar bestowed on me the further monastic title of PARAMHANSA. {FN42-1}

“It now formally supersedes your former title of SWAMI,” he said as I knelt before him. With a silent chuckle I thought of the struggle which my American students would undergo over the pronunciation of PARAMHANSAJI. {FN42-2}

“My task on earth is now finished; you must carry on.” Master spoke quietly, his eyes calm and gentle. My heart was palpitating in fear.

“Please send someone to take charge of our ashram at Puri,” Sri Yukteswar went on. “I leave everything in your hands. You will be able to successfully sail the boat of your life and that of the organization to the divine shores.”

In tears, I was embracing his feet; he rose and blessed me endearingly.

The following day I summoned from Ranchi a disciple, Swami Sebananda, and sent him to Puri to assume the hermitage duties. {FN42-3} Later my guru discussed with me the legal details of settling his estate; he was anxious to prevent the possibility of litigation by relatives, after his death, for possession of his two hermitages and other properties, which he wished to be deeded over solely for charitable purposes.

“Arrangements were recently made for Master to visit Kidderpore, {FN42-4} but he failed to go.” Amulaya Babu, a brother disciple, made this remark to me one afternoon; I felt a cold wave of premonition. To my pressing inquiries, Sri Yukteswar only replied, “I shall go to Kidderpore no more.” For a moment, Master trembled like a frightened child.

(“Attachment to bodily residence, springing up of its own nature [i.e., arising from immemorial roots, past experiences of death],” Patanjali wrote, {FN42-5} “is present in slight degree even in great saints.” In some of his discourses on death, my guru had been wont to add: “Just as a long-caged bird hesitates to leave its accustomed home when the door is opened.”)

“Guruji,” I entreated him with a sob, “don't say that! Never utter those words to me!”

Sri Yukteswar's face relaxed in a peaceful smile. Though nearing his eighty-first birthday, he looked well and strong.

Basking day by day in the sunshine of my guru's love, unspoken but keenly felt, I banished from my conscious mind the various hints he had given of his approaching passing.

“Sir, the KUMBHA MELA is convening this month at Allahabad.” I showed Master the MELA dates in a Bengali almanac. {FN42-6}

“Do you really want to go?”

Not sensing Sri Yukteswar's reluctance to have me leave him, I went on, “Once you beheld the blessed sight of Babaji at an Allahabad KUMBHA. Perhaps this time I shall be fortunate enough to see him.”

“I do not think you will meet him there.” My guru then fell into silence, not wishing to obstruct my plans.

When I set out for Allahabad the following day with a small group, Master blessed me quietly in his usual manner. Apparently I was remaining oblivious to implications in Sri Yukteswar's attitude because the Lord wished to spare me the experience of being forced, helplessly, to witness my guru's passing. It has always happened in my life that, at the death of those dearly beloved by me, God has compassionately arranged that I be distant from the scene. {FN42-7}

Our party reached the KUMBHA MELA on January 23, 1936. The surging crowd of nearly two million persons was an impressive sight, even an overwhelming one. The peculiar genius of the Indian people is the reverence innate in even the lowliest peasant for the worth of the Spirit, and for the monks and sadhus who have forsaken worldly ties to seek a diviner anchorage. Imposters and hypocrites there are indeed, but India respects all for the sake of the few who illumine the whole land with supernal blessings. Westerners who were viewing the vast spectacle had a unique opportunity to feel the pulse of the land, the spiritual ardor to which India owes her quenchless vitality before the blows of time.

[Illustration: The woman yogi, Shankari Mai Jiew, only living disciple of the great Trailanga Swami. The turbaned figure seated directly beside her is Swami Benoyananda, a director of our Ranchi yoga school for boys in Bihar. The picture was taken at the Hardwar Kumbha Mela in 1938; the woman saint was then 112 years old.—see majiew.jpg]

[Illustration: Krishnananda, at the 1936 Allahabad Kumbha Mela, with his tame vegetarian lioness.—see lion.jpg]

[Illustration: Second-floor dining patio of Sri Yukteswar's Serampore hermitage. I am seated (in center) at my guru's feet.—see serampore.jpg]

The first day was spent by our group in sheer staring. Here were countless bathers, dipping in the holy river for remission of sins; there we saw solemn rituals of worship; yonder were devotional offerings being strewn at the dusty feet of saints; a turn of our heads, and a line of elephants, caparisoned horses and slow-paced Rajputana camels filed by, or a quaint religious parade of naked sadhus, waving scepters of gold and silver, or flags and streamers of silken velvet.

Anchorites wearing only loincloths sat quietly in little groups, their bodies besmeared with the ashes that protect them from the heat and cold. The spiritual eye was vividly represented on their foreheads by a single spot of sandalwood paste. Shaven-headed swamis appeared by the thousands, ocher-robed and carrying their bamboo staff and begging bowl. Their faces beamed with the renunciate's peace as they walked about or held philosophical discussions with disciples.

Here and there under the trees, around huge piles of burning logs, were picturesque sadhus, {FN42-8} their hair braided and massed in coils on top of their heads. Some wore beards several feet in length, curled and tied in a knot. They meditated quietly, or extended their hands in blessing to the passing throng-beggars, maharajas on elephants, women in multicolored SARIS—their bangles and anklets tinkling, FAKIRS with thin arms held grotesquely aloft, BRAHMACHARIS carrying meditation elbow-props, humble sages whose solemnity hid an inner bliss. High above the din we heard the ceaseless summons of the temple bells.

On our second MELA day my companions and I entered various ashrams and temporary huts, offering PRONAMS to saintly personages. We received the blessing of the leader of the GIRI branch of the Swami Order-a thin, ascetical monk with eyes of smiling fire. Our next visit took us to a hermitage whose guru had observed for the past nine years the vows of silence and a strict fruitarian diet. On the central dais in the ashram hall sat a blind sadhu, Pragla Chakshu, profoundly learned in the SHASTRAS and highly revered by all sects.

After I had given a brief discourse in Hindi on VEDANTA, our group left the peaceful hermitage to greet a near-by swami, Krishnananda, a handsome monk with rosy cheeks and impressive shoulders. Reclining near him was a tame lioness. Succumbing to the monk's spiritual charm—not, I am sure, to his powerful physique!-the jungle animal refuses all meat in favor of rice and milk. The swami has taught the tawny-haired beast to utter “AUM” in a deep, attractive growl-a cat devotee!

Our next encounter, an interview with a learned young sadhu, is well described in Mr. Wright's sparkling travel diary.

“We rode in the Ford across the very low Ganges on a creaking pontoon bridge, crawling snakelike through the crowds and over narrow, twisting lanes, passing the site on the river bank which Yoganandaji pointed out to me as the meeting place of Babaji and Sri Yukteswarji. Alighting from the car a short time later, we walked some distance through the thickening smoke of the sadhus' fires and over the slippery sands to reach a cluster of tiny, very modest mud-and-straw huts. We halted in front of one of these insignificant temporary dwellings, with a pygmy doorless entrance, the shelter of Kara Patri, a young wandering sadhu noted for his exceptional intelligence. There he sat, cross-legged on a pile of straw, his only covering-and incidentally his only possession-being an ocher cloth draped over his shoulders.

“Truly a divine face smiled at us after we had crawled on all fours into the hut and PRONAMED at the feet of this enlightened soul, while the kerosene lantern at the entrance flickered weird, dancing shadows on the thatched walls. His face, especially his eyes and perfect teeth, beamed and glistened. Although I was puzzled by the Hindi, his expressions were very revealing; he was full of enthusiasm, love, spiritual glory. No one could be mistaken as to his greatness.

“Imagine the happy life of one unattached to the material world; free of the clothing problem; free of food craving, never begging, never touching cooked food except on alternate days, never carrying a begging bowl; free of all money entanglements, never handling money, never storing things away, always trusting in God; free of transportation worries, never riding in vehicles, but always walking on the banks of the sacred rivers; never remaining in one place longer than a week in order to avoid any growth of attachment.

“Such a modest soul! unusually learned in the VEDAS, and possessing an M.A. degree and the title of SHASTRI (master of scriptures) from Benares University. A sublime feeling pervaded me as I sat at his feet; it all seemed to be an answer to my desire to see the real, the ancient India, for he is a true representative of this land of spiritual giants.”

I questioned Kara Patri about his wandering life. “Don't you have any extra clothes for winter?”

“No, this is enough.”

“Do you carry any books?”

“No, I teach from memory those people who wish to hear me.”

“What else do you do?”

“I roam by the Ganges.”

At these quiet words, I was overpowered by a yearning for the simplicity of his life. I remembered America, and all the responsibilities that lay on my shoulders.

“No, Yogananda,” I thought, sadly for a moment, “in this life roaming by the Ganges is not for you.”

Autobiography of a Yogi

CHAPTER 42. LAST DAYS WITH MY GURU 232

After the sadhu had told me a few of his spiritual realizations, I shot an abrupt question.

“Are you giving these descriptions from scriptural lore, or from inward experience?”

“Half from book learning,” he answered with a straightforward smile, “and half from experience.”

We sat happily awhile in meditative silence. After we had left his sacred presence, I said to Mr. Wright, “He is a king sitting on a throne of golden straw.”

We had our dinner that night on the MELA grounds under the stars, eating from leaf plates pinned together with sticks. Dishwashings in India are reduced to a minimum!

Two more days of the fascinating KUMBHA; then northwest along the Jumna banks to Agra. Once again I gazed on the Taj Mahal; in memory Jitendra stood by my side, awed by the dream in marble. Then on to the Brindaban ashram of Swami Keshabananda.

My object in seeking out Keshabananda was connected with this book. I had never forgotten Sri Yukteswar's request that I write the life of Lahiri Mahasaya. During my stay in India I was taking every opportunity of contacting direct disciples and relatives of the Yogavatar. Recording their conversations in voluminous notes, I verified facts and dates, and collected photographs, old letters, and documents. My Lahiri Mahasaya portfolio began to swell; I realized with dismay that ahead of me lay arduous labors in authorship. I prayed that I might be equal to my role as biographer of the colossal guru. Several of his disciples feared that in a written account their master might be belittled or misinterpreted.

“One can hardly do justice in cold words to the life of a divine incarnation,” Panchanon Bhattacharya had once remarked to me.

Other close disciples were similarly satisfied to keep the Yogavatar hidden in their hearts as the deathless preceptor. Nevertheless, mindful of Lahiri Mahasaya's prediction about his biography, I spared no effort to secure and substantiate the facts of his outward life.

Swami Keshabananda greeted our party warmly at Brindaban in his Katayani Peith Ashram, an imposing brick building with massive black pillars, set in a beautiful garden. He ushered us at once into a sitting room adorned with an enlargement of Lahiri Mahasaya's picture. The swami was approaching the age of ninety, but his muscular body radiated strength and health. With long hair and a snow-white beard, eyes twinkling with joy, he was a veritable patriarchal embodiment. I informed him that I wanted to mention his name in my book on India's masters.

“Please tell me about your earlier life.” I smiled entreatingly; great yogis are often uncommunicative.

Keshabananda made a gesture of humility. “There is little of external moment. Practically my whole life has been spent in the Himalayan solitudes, traveling on foot from one quiet cave to another. For a while I maintained a small ashram outside Hardwar, surrounded on all sides by a grove of tall trees. It was a peaceful spot little visited by travelers, owing to the ubiquitous presence of cobras.” Keshabananda chuckled. “Later a Ganges flood washed away the hermitage and cobras alike. My disciples then helped me to build this Brindaban ashram.”

One of our party asked the swami how he had protected himself against the Himalayan tigers. {FN42-9}

Keshabananda shook his head. “In those high spiritual altitudes,” he said, “wild beasts seldom molest the yogis. Once in the jungle I encountered a tiger face-to-face. At my sudden ejaculation, the animal was transfixed as though turned to stone.” Again the swami chuckled at his memories.

“Occasionally I left my seclusion to visit my guru in Benares. He used to joke with me over my ceaseless travels in the Himalayan wilderness.

“'You have the mark of wanderlust on your foot,' he told me once. 'I am glad that the sacred Himalayas are extensive enough to engross you.'

“Many times,” Keshabananda went on, “both before and after his passing, Lahiri Mahasaya has appeared bodily before me. For him no Himalayan height is inaccessible!”

Two hours later he led us to a dining patio. I sighed in silent dismay. Another fifteen-course meal! Less than a year of Indian hospitality, and I had gained fifty pounds! Yet it would have been considered the height of rudeness to refuse any of the dishes, carefully prepared for the endless banquets in my honor. In India (nowhere else, alas!) a well-padded swami is considered a delightful sight. {FN42-10}

[Illustration: Mr. Wright, myself, Miss Bletch—in Egypt—see camel.jpg]

[Illustration: Rabindranath Tagore, inspired poet of Bengal, and Nobel Prizeman in literature—see tagore.jpg]

[Illustration: Mr. Wright and I pose with the venerable Swami Keshabananda and a disciple at the stately hermitage in Brindaban—see keshabananda.jpg]

After dinner, Keshabananda led me to a secluded nook.

“Your arrival is not unexpected,” he said. “I have a message for you.”

I was surprised; no one had known of my plan to visit Keshabananda.

“While roaming last year in the northern Himalayas near Badrinarayan,” the swami continued, “I lost my way. Shelter appeared in a spacious cave, which was empty, though the embers of a fire glowed in a hole in the rocky floor. Wondering about the occupant of this lonely retreat, I sat near the fire, my gaze fixed on the sunlit entrance to the cave.

“'Keshabananda, I am glad you are here.' These words came from behind me. I turned, startled, and was dazzled to behold Babaji! The great guru had materialized himself in a recess of the cave. Overjoyed to see him again after many years, I prostrated myself at his holy feet.

“'I called you here,' Babaji went on. 'That is why you lost your way and were led to my temporary abode in this cave. It is a long time since our last meeting; I am pleased to greet you once more.'

“The deathless master blessed me with some words of spiritual help, then added: 'I give you a message for Yogananda. He will pay you a visit on his return to India. Many matters connected with his guru and with the surviving disciples of Lahiri will keep Yogananda fully occupied. Tell him, then, that I won't see him this time, as he is eagerly hoping; but I shall see him on some other occasion.'“

I was deeply touched to receive from Keshabananda's lips this consoling promise from Babaji. A certain hurt in my heart vanished; I grieved no longer that, even as Sri Yukteswar had hinted, Babaji did not appear at the KUMBHA MELA.

Spending one night as guests of the ashram, our party set out the following afternoon for Calcutta. Riding over a bridge of the Jumna River, we enjoyed a magnificent view of the skyline of Brindaban just as the sun set fire to the sky-a veritable furnace of Vulcan in color, reflected below us in the still waters.

The Jumna beach is hallowed by memories of the child Sri Krishna. Here he engaged with innocent sweetness in his LILAS (plays) with the GOPIS (maids), exemplifying the supernal love which ever exists between a divine incarnation and his devotees. The life of Lord Krishna has been misunderstood by many Western commentators. Scriptural allegory is baffling to literal minds. A hilarious blunder by a translator will illustrate this point. The story concerns an inspired medieval saint, the cobbler Ravidas, who sang in the simple terms of his own trade of the spiritual glory hidden in all mankind:

Under the vast vault of blue Lives the divinity clothed in hide.

One turns aside to hide a smile on hearing the pedestrian interpretation given to Ravidas' poem by a Western writer:

“He afterwards built a hut, set up in it an idol which he made from a hide, and applied himself to its worship.”

Ravidas was a brother disciple of the great Kabir. One of Ravidas' exalted chelas was the Rani of Chitor. She invited a large number of Brahmins to a feast in honor of her teacher, but they refused to eat with a lowly cobbler. As they sat down in dignified aloofness to eat their own uncontaminated meal, lo! each Brahmin found at his side the form of Ravidas. This mass vision accomplished a widespread spiritual revival in Chitor.

In a few days our little group reached Calcutta. Eager to see Sri Yukteswar, I was disappointed to hear that he had left Serampore and was now in Puri, about three hundred miles to the south.

“Come to Puri ashram at once.” This telegram was sent on March 8th by a brother disciple to Atul Chandra Roy Chowdhry, one of Master's chelas in Calcutta. News of the message reached my ears; anguished at its implications, I dropped to my knees and implored God that my guru's life be spared. As I was about to leave Father's home for the train, a divine voice spoke within.

“Do not go to Puri tonight. Thy prayer cannot he granted.”

“Lord,” I said, grief-stricken, “Thou dost not wish to engage with me in a 'tug of war' at Puri, where Thou wilt have to deny my incessant prayers for Master's life. Must he, then, depart for higher duties at Thy behest?”

In obedience to the inward command, I did not leave that night for Puri. The following evening I set out for the train; on the way, at seven o'clock, a black astral cloud suddenly covered the sky. {FN42-11} Later, while the train roared toward Puri, a vision of Sri Yukteswar appeared before me. He was sitting, very grave of countenance, with a light on each side.

“Is it all over?” I lifted my arms beseechingly.

He nodded, then slowly vanished.

As I stood on the Puri train platform the following morning, still hoping against hope, an unknown man approached me.

“Have you heard that your Master is gone?” He left me without another word; I never discovered who he was nor how he had known where to find me.

Stunned, I swayed against the platform wall, realizing that in diverse ways my guru was trying to convey to me the devastating news. Seething with rebellion, my soul was like a volcano. By the time I reached the Puri hermitage I was nearing collapse. The inner voice was tenderly repeating: “Collect yourself. Be calm.”

I entered the ashram room where Master's body, unimaginably lifelike, was sitting in the lotus posture-a picture of health and loveliness. A short time before his passing, my guru had been slightly ill with fever, but before the day of his ascension into the Infinite, his body had become completely well. No matter how often I looked at his dear form I could not realize that its life had departed. His skin was smooth and soft; in his face was a beatific expression of tranquillity. He had consciously relinquished his body at the hour of mystic summoning.

“The Lion of Bengal is gone!” I cried in a daze.

I conducted the solemn rites on March 10th. Sri Yukteswar was buried {FN42-12} with the ancient rituals of the swamis in the garden of his Puri ashram. His disciples later arrived from far and near to honor their guru at a vernal equinox memorial service. The AMRITA BAZAR PATRIKA, leading newspaper of Calcutta, carried his picture and the following report:

The death BHANDARA ceremony for Srimat Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri Maharaj, aged 81, took place at Puri on March 21. Many disciples came down to Puri for the rites.

One of the greatest expounders of the BHAGAVAD GITA, Swami Maharaj was a great disciple of Yogiraj Sri Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasaya of Benares. Swami Maharaj was the founder of several Yogoda Sat-Sanga (Self-Realization Fellowship) centers in India, and was the great inspiration behind the yoga movement which was carried to the West by Swami Yogananda, his principal disciple. It was Sri Yukteswarji's prophetic powers and deep realization that inspired Swami Yogananda to cross the oceans and spread in America the message of the masters of India.

His interpretations of the BHAGAVAD GITA and other scriptures testify to the depth of Sri Yukteswarji's command of the philosophy, both Eastern and Western, and remain as an eye-opener for the unity between Orient and Occident. As he believed in the unity of all religious faiths, Sri Yukteswar Maharaj established SADHU SABHA (Society of Saints) with the cooperation of leaders of various sects and faiths, for the inculcation of a scientific spirit in religion. At the time of his demise he nominated Swami Yogananda his successor as the president of SADHU SABHA.

India is really poorer today by the passing of such a great man. May all fortunate enough to have come near him inculcate in themselves the true spirit of India's culture and SADHANA which was personified in him.

I returned to Calcutta. Not trusting myself as yet to go to the Serampore hermitage with its sacred memories, I summoned Prafulla, Sri Yukteswar's little disciple in Serampore, and made arrangements for him to enter the Ranchi school.

“The morning you left for the Allahabad MELA,” Prafulla told me, “Master dropped heavily on the davenport.

“'Yogananda is gone!' he cried. 'Yogananda is gone!' He added cryptically, 'I shall have to tell him some other way.' He sat then for hours in silence.”

My days were filled with lectures, classes, interviews, and reunions with old friends. Beneath a hollow smile and a life of ceaseless activity, a stream of black brooding polluted the inner river of bliss which for so many years had meandered under the sands of all my perceptions.

“Where has that divine sage gone?” I cried silently from the depths of a tormented spirit.

No answer came.

“It is best that Master has completed his union with the Cosmic Beloved,” my mind assured me. “He is eternally glowing in the dominion of deathlessness.”

“Never again may you see him in the old Serampore mansion,” my heart lamented. “No longer may you bring your friends to meet him, or proudly say: 'Behold, there sits India's JNANAVATAR!'“

Mr. Wright made arrangements for our party to sail from Bombay for the West in early June. After a fortnight in May of farewell banquets and speeches at Calcutta, Miss Bletch, Mr. Wright and myself left in the Ford for Bombay. On our arrival, the ship authorities asked us to cancel our passage, as no room could be found for the Ford, which we would need again in Europe.

“Never mind,” I said gloomily to Mr. Wright. “I want to return once more to Puri.” I silently added, “Let my tears once again water the grave of my guru.”

{FN42-1} Literally, PARAM, highest; HANSA, swan. The HANSA is represented in scriptural lore as the vehicle of Brahma, Supreme Spirit; as the symbol of discrimination, the white HANSA swan is thought of as able to separate the true SOMA nectar from a mixture of milk and water. HAM-SA (pronounced HONG-SAU) are two sacred Sanskrit chant words possessing a vibratory connection with the incoming and outgoing breath. AHAM-SA is literally “I am He.”

{FN42-2} They have generally evaded the difficulty by addressing me as SIR.

{FN42-3} At the Puri ashram, Swami Sebananda is still conducting a small, flourishing yoga school for boys, and meditation groups for adults. Meetings of saints and pundits convene there periodically.

{FN42-4} A section of Calcutta.

{FN42-5} APHORISMS: II:9.

{FN42-6} Religious MELAS are mentioned in the ancient MAHABHARATA. The Chinese traveler Hieuen Tsiang has left an account of a vast KUMBHA MELA held in A.D. 644 at Allahabad. The largest MELA is held every twelfth year; the next largest (ARDHA or half) KUMBHA occurs every sixth year. Smaller MELAS convene every third year, attracting about a million devotees. The four sacred MELA cities are Allahabad, Hardwar, Nasik, and Ujjain.

Early Chinese travelers have left us many striking pictures of Indian society. The Chinese priest, Fa-Hsien, wrote an account of his eleven years in India during the reign of Chandragupta II (early 4th century). The Chinese author relates: “Throughout the country no one kills any living thing, nor drinks wine. . . . They do not keep pigs or fowl; there are no dealings in cattle, no butchers' shops or distilleries. Rooms with beds and mattresses, food and clothes, are provided for resident and traveling priests without fail, and this is the same in all places. The priests occupy themselves with benevolent ministrations and with chanting liturgies; or they sit in meditation.” Fa-Hsien tells us the Indian people were happy and honest; capital punishment was unknown.

{FN42-7} I was not present at the deaths of my mother, elder brother Ananta, eldest sister Roma, Master, Father, or of several close disciples.

(Father passed on at Calcutta in 1942, at the age of eighty-nine.)

{FN42-8} The hundreds of thousands of Indian sadhus are controlled by an executive committee of seven leaders, representing seven large sections of India. The present MAHAMANDALESWAR or president is Joyendra Puri. This saintly man is extremely reserved, often confining his speech to three words-Truth, Love, and Work. A sufficient conversation!

{FN42-9} There are many methods, it appears, for outwitting a tiger. An Australian explorer, Francis Birtles, has recounted that he found the Indian jungles “varied, beautiful, and safe.” His safety charm was flypaper. “Every night I spread a quantity of sheets around my camp and was never disturbed,” he explained. “The reason is psychological. The tiger is an animal of great conscious dignity. He prowls around and challenges man until he comes to the flypaper; he then slinks away. No dignified tiger would dare face a human being after squatting down upon a sticky flypaper!”

{FN42-10} After I returned to America I took off sixty-five pounds.

{FN42-11} Sri Yukteswar passed at this hour-7:00 P.M., March 9, 1936.

{FN42-12} Funeral customs in India require cremation for householders; swamis and monks of other orders are not cremated, but buried. (There are occasional exceptions.) The bodies of monks are symbolically considered to have undergone cremation in the fire of wisdom at the time of taking the monastic vow.


CHAPTER 43

THE RESURRECTION OF SRI YUKTESWAR

THE RESURRECTION OF SRI YUKTESWAR

“Lord Krishna!” The glorious form of the avatar appeared in a shimmering blaze as I sat in my room at the Regent Hotel in Bombay. Shining over the roof of a high building across the street, the ineffable vision had suddenly burst on my sight as I gazed out of my long open third-story window.

The divine figure waved to me, smiling and nodding in greeting. When I could not understand the exact message of Lord Krishna, he departed with a gesture of blessing. Wondrously uplifted, I felt that some spiritual event was presaged.

My Western voyage had, for the time being, been cancelled. I was scheduled for several public addresses in Bombay before leaving on a return visit to Bengal.

Sitting on my bed in the Bombay hotel at three o'clock in the afternoon of June 19, 1936-one week after the vision of Krishna-I was roused from my meditation by a beatific light. Before my open and astonished eyes, the whole room was transformed into a strange world, the sunlight transmuted into supernal splendor.

Waves of rapture engulfed me as I beheld the flesh and blood form of Sri Yukteswar!

“My son!” Master spoke tenderly, on his face an angel-bewitching smile.

For the first time in my life I did not kneel at his feet in greeting but instantly advanced to gather him hungrily in my arms. Moment of moments! The anguish of past months was toll I counted weightless against the torrential bliss now descending.

“Master mine, beloved of my heart, why did you leave me?” I was incoherent in an excess of joy. “Why did you let me go to the KUMBHA MELA? How bitterly have I blamed myself for leaving you!”

[Illustration: KRISHNA, ANCIENT PROPHET OF INDIA, A modern artist's conception of the divine teacher whose spiritual counsel in the Bhagavad Gita has become the Hindu Bible. Krishna is portrayed in Hindu art with a peacock feather in his hair (symbol of the Lord's lila, play or creative sport), and carrying a flute, whose enrapturing notes awaken the devotees, one by one, from their sleep of maya or cosmic delusion.—see krishna.jpg]

“I did not want to interfere with your happy anticipation of seeing the pilgrimage spot where first I met Babaji. I left you only for a little while; am I not with you again?”

“But is it YOU, Master, the same Lion of God? Are you wearing a body like the one I buried beneath the cruel Puri sands?”

“Yes, my child, I am the same. This is a flesh and blood body. Though I see it as ethereal, to your sight it is physical. From the cosmic atoms I created an entirely new body, exactly like that cosmic-dream physical body which you laid beneath the dream-sands at Puri in your dream-world. I am in truth resurrected-not on earth but on an astral planet. Its inhabitants are better able than earthly humanity to meet my lofty standards. There you and your exalted loved ones shall someday come to be with me.”

“Deathless guru, tell me more!”

Master gave a quick, mirthful chuckle. “Please, dear one,” he said, “won't you relax your hold a little?”

“Only a little!” I had been embracing him with an octopus grip. I could detect the same faint, fragrant, natural odor which had been characteristic of his body before. The thrilling touch of his divine flesh still persists around the inner sides of my arms and in my palms whenever I recall those glorious hours.

“As prophets are sent on earth to help men work out their physical karma, so I have been directed by God to serve on an astral planet as a savior,” Sri Yukteswar explained. “It is called HIRANYALOKA or 'Illumined Astral Planet.' There I am aiding advanced beings to rid themselves of astral karma and thus attain liberation from astral rebirths. The dwellers on Hiranyaloka are highly developed spiritually; all of them had acquired, in their last earth-incarnation, the meditation-given power of consciously leaving their physical bodies at death. No one can enter Hiranyaloka unless he has passed on earth beyond the state of SABIKALPA SAMADHI into the higher state of NIRBIKALPA SAMADHI. {FN43-1}

“The Hiranyaloka inhabitants have already passed through the ordinary astral spheres, where nearly all beings from earth must go at death; there they worked out many seeds of their past actions in the astral worlds. None but advanced beings can perform such redemptive work effectually in the astral worlds. Then, in order to free their souls more fully from the cocoon of karmic traces lodged in their astral bodies, these higher beings were drawn by cosmic law to be reborn with new astral bodies on Hiranyaloka, the astral sun or heaven, where I have resurrected to help them. There are also highly advanced beings on Hiranyaloka who have come from the superior, subtler, causal world.”

My mind was now in such perfect attunement with my guru's that he was conveying his word-pictures to me partly by speech and partly by thought-transference. I was thus quickly receiving his idea-tabloids.

“You have read in the scriptures,” Master went on, “that God encased the human soul successively in three bodies-the idea, or causal, body; the subtle astral body, seat of man's mental and emotional natures; and the gross physical body. On earth a man is equipped with his physical senses. An astral being works with his consciousness and feelings and a body made of lifetrons. {FN43-2} A causal-bodied being remains in the blissful realm of ideas. My work is with those astral beings who are preparing to enter the causal world.”

“Adorable Master, please tell me more about the astral cosmos.” Though I had slightly relaxed my embrace at Sri Yukteswar's request, my arms were still around him. Treasure beyond all treasures, my guru who had laughed at death to reach me!

“There are many astral planets, teeming with astral beings,” Master began. “The inhabitants use astral planes, or masses of light, to travel from one planet to another, faster than electricity and radioactive energies.

“The astral universe, made of various subtle vibrations of light and color, is hundreds of times larger than the material cosmos. The entire physical creation hangs like a little solid basket under the huge luminous balloon of the astral sphere. Just as many physical suns and stars roam in space, so there are also countless astral solar and stellar systems. Their planets have astral suns and moons, more beautiful than the physical ones. The astral luminaries resemble the aurora borealis-the sunny astral aurora being more dazzling than the mild-rayed moon-aurora. The astral day and night are longer than those of earth.

“The astral world is infinitely beautiful, clean, pure, and orderly. There are no dead planets or barren lands. The terrestrial blemishes—weeds, bacteria, insects, snakes-are absent. Unlike the variable climates and seasons of the earth, the astral planets maintain the even temperature of an eternal spring, with occasional luminous white snow and rain of many-colored lights. Astral planets abound in opal lakes and bright seas and rainbow rivers.

“The ordinary astral universe-not the subtler astral heaven of Hiranyaloka-is peopled with millions of astral beings who have come, more or less recently, from the earth, and also with myriads of fairies, mermaids, fishes, animals, goblins, gnomes, demigods and spirits, all residing on different astral planets in accordance with karmic qualifications. Various spheric mansions or vibratory regions are provided for good and evil spirits. Good ones can travel freely, but the evil spirits are confined to limited zones. In the same way that human beings live on the surface of the earth, worms inside the soil, fish in water, and birds in air, so astral beings of different grades are assigned to suitable vibratory quarters.

“Among the fallen dark angels expelled from other worlds, friction and war take place with lifetronic bombs or mental MANTRIC {FN43-3} vibratory rays. These beings dwell in the gloom-drenched regions of the lower astral cosmos, working out their evil karma.

“In the vast realms above the dark astral prison, all is shining and beautiful. The astral cosmos is more naturally attuned than the earth to the divine will and plan of perfection. Every astral object is manifested primarily by the will of God, and partially by the will-call of astral beings. They possess the power of modifying or enhancing the grace and form of anything already created by the Lord. He has given His astral children the freedom and privilege of changing or improving at will the astral cosmos. On earth a solid must be transformed into liquid or other form through natural or chemical processes, but astral solids are changed into astral liquids, gases, or energy solely and instantly by the will of the inhabitants.

“The earth is dark with warfare and murder in the sea, land, and air,” my guru continued, “but the astral realms know a happy harmony and equality. Astral beings dematerialize or materialize their forms at will. Flowers or fish or animals can metamorphose themselves, for a time, into astral men. All astral beings are free to assume any form, and can easily commune together. No fixed, definite, natural law hems them round-any astral tree, for example, can be successfully asked to produce an astral mango or other desired fruit, flower, or indeed any other object. Certain karmic restrictions are present, but there are no distinctions in the astral world about desirability of various forms. Everything is vibrant with God's creative light.

“No one is born of woman; offspring are materialized by astral beings through the help of their cosmic will into specially patterned, astrally condensed forms. The recently physically disembodied being arrives in an astral family through invitation, drawn by similar mental and spiritual tendencies.

“The astral body is not subject to cold or heat or other natural conditions. The anatomy includes an astral brain, or the thousand-petaled lotus of light, and six awakened centers in the SUSHUMNA, or astral cerebro-spinal axis. The heart draws cosmic energy as well as light from the astral brain, and pumps it to the astral nerves and body cells, or lifetrons. Astral beings can affect their bodies by lifetronic force or by MANTRIC vibrations.

“The astral body is an exact counterpart of the last physical form. Astral beings retain the same appearance which they possessed in youth in their previous earthly sojourn; occasionally an astral being chooses, like myself, to retain his old age appearance.” Master, emanating the very essence of youth, chuckled merrily.

“Unlike the spacial, three-dimensional physical world cognized only by the five senses, the astral spheres are visible to the all-inclusive sixth sense-intuition,” Sri Yukteswar went on. “By sheer intuitional feeling, all astral beings see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. They possess three eyes, two of which are partly closed. The third and chief astral eye, vertically placed on the forehead, is open. Astral beings have all the outer sensory organs-ears, eyes, nose, tongue, and skin-but they employ the intuitional sense to experience sensations through any part of the body; they can see through the ear, or nose, or skin. They are able to hear through the eyes or tongue, and can taste through the ears or skin, and so forth. {FN43-4}

“Man's physical body is exposed to countless dangers, and is easily hurt or maimed; the ethereal astral body may occasionally be cut or bruised but is healed at once by mere willing.”

“Gurudeva, are all astral persons beautiful?”

“Beauty in the astral world is known to be a spiritual quality, and not an outward conformation,” Sri Yukteswar replied. “Astral beings therefore attach little importance to facial features. They have the privilege, however, of costuming themselves at will with new, colorful, astrally materialized bodies. Just as worldly men don new array for gala events, so astral beings find occasions to bedeck themselves in specially designed forms.

“Joyous astral festivities on the higher astral planets like Hiranyaloka take place when a being is liberated from the astral world through spiritual advancement, and is therefore ready to enter the heaven of the causal world. On such occasions the Invisible Heavenly Father, and the saints who are merged in Him, materialize Themselves into bodies of Their own choice and join the astral celebration. In order to please His beloved devotee, the Lord takes any desired form. If the devotee worshiped through devotion, he sees God as the Divine Mother. To Jesus, the Father-aspect of the Infinite One was appealing beyond other conceptions. The individuality with which the Creator has endowed each of His creatures makes every conceivable and inconceivable demand on the Lord's versatility!” My guru and I laughed happily together.

“Friends of other lives easily recognize one another in the astral world,” Sri Yukteswar went on in his beautiful, flutelike voice. “Rejoicing at the immortality of friendship, they realize the indestructibility of love, often doubted at the time of the sad, delusive partings of earthly life.

“The intuition of astral beings pierces through the veil and observes human activities on earth, but man cannot view the astral world unless his sixth sense is somewhat developed. Thousands of earth-dwellers have momentarily glimpsed an astral being or an astral world.

“The advanced beings on Hiranyaloka remain mostly awake in ecstasy during the long astral day and night, helping to work out intricate problems of cosmic government and the redemption of prodigal sons, earthbound souls. When the Hiranyaloka beings sleep, they have occasional dreamlike astral visions. Their minds are usually engrossed in the conscious state of highest NIRBIKALPA bliss.

“Inhabitants in all parts of the astral worlds are still subject to mental agonies. The sensitive minds of the higher beings on planets like Hiranyaloka feel keen pain if any mistake is made in conduct or perception of truth. These advanced beings endeavor to attune their every act and thought with the perfection of spiritual law.

“Communication among the astral inhabitants is held entirely by astral telepathy and television; there is none of the confusion and misunderstanding of the written and spoken word which earth-dwellers must endure. Just as persons on the cinema screen appear to move and act through a series of light pictures, and do not actually breathe, so the astral beings walk and work as intelligently guided and coordinated images of light, without the necessity of drawing power from oxygen. Man depends upon solids, liquids, gases, and energy for sustenance; astral beings sustain themselves principally by cosmic light.”

“Master mine, do astral beings eat anything?” I was drinking in his marvelous elucidations with the receptivity of all my faculties-mind, heart, soul. Superconscious perceptions of truth are permanently real and changeless, while fleeting sense experiences and impressions are never more than temporarily or relatively true, and soon lose in memory all their vividness. My guru's words were so penetratingly imprinted on the parchment of my being that at any time, by transferring my mind to the superconscious state, I can clearly relive the divine experience.

“Luminous raylike vegetables abound in the astral soils,” he answered. “The astral beings consume vegetables, and drink a nectar flowing from glorious fountains of light and from astral brooks and rivers. Just as invisible images of persons on the earth can be dug out of the ether and made visible by a television apparatus, later being dismissed again into space, so the God-created, unseen astral blueprints of vegetables and plants floating in the ether are precipitated on an astral planet by the will of its inhabitants. In the same way, from the wildest fancy of these beings, whole gardens of fragrant flowers are materialized, returning later to the etheric invisibility. Although dwellers on the heavenly planets like Hiranyaloka are almost freed from any necessity of eating, still higher is the unconditioned existence of almost completely liberated souls in the causal world, who eat nothing save the manna of bliss.

“The earth-liberated astral being meets a multitude of relatives, fathers, mothers, wives, husbands, and friends, acquired during different incarnations on earth, {FN43-5} as they appear from time to time in various parts of the astral realms. He is therefore at a loss to understand whom to love especially; he learns in this way to give a divine and equal love to all, as children and individualized expressions of God. Though the outward appearance of loved ones may have changed, more or less according to the development of new qualities in the latest life of any particular soul, the astral being employs his unerring intuition to recognize all those once dear to him in other planes of existence, and to welcome them to their new astral home. Because every atom in creation is inextinguishably dowered with individuality, {FN43-6} an astral friend will be recognized no matter what costume he may don, even as on earth an actor's identity is discoverable by close observation despite any disguise.

“The span of life in the astral world is much longer than on earth. A normal advanced astral being's average life period is from five hundred to one thousand years, measured in accordance with earthly standards of time. As certain redwood trees outlive most trees by millenniums, or as some yogis live several hundred years though most men die before the age of sixty, so some astral beings live much longer than the usual span of astral existence. Visitors to the astral world dwell there for a longer or shorter period in accordance with the weight of their physical karma, which draws them back to earth within a specified time.

“The astral being does not have to contend painfully with death at the time of shedding his luminous body. Many of these beings nevertheless feel slightly nervous at the thought of dropping their astral form for the subtler causal one. The astral world is free from unwilling death, disease, and old age. These three dreads are the curse of earth, where man has allowed his consciousness to identify itself almost wholly with a frail physical body requiring constant aid from air, food, and sleep in order to exist at all.

“Physical death is attended by the disappearance of breath and the disintegration of fleshly cells. Astral death consists of the dispersement of lifetrons, those manifest units of energy which constitute the life of astral beings. At physical death a being loses his consciousness of flesh and becomes aware of his subtle body in the astral world. Experiencing astral death in due time, a being thus passes from the consciousness of astral birth and death to that of physical birth and death. These recurrent cycles of astral and physical encasement are the ineluctable destiny of all unenlightened beings. Scriptural definitions of heaven and hell sometimes stir man's deeper-than-subconscious memories of his long series of experiences in the blithesome astral and disappointing terrestrial worlds.”

“Beloved Master,” I asked, “will you please describe more in detail the difference between rebirth on the earth and in the astral and causal spheres?”

“Man as an individualized soul is essentially causal-bodied,” my guru explained. “That body is a matrix of the thirty-five IDEAS required by God as the basic or causal thought forces from which He later formed the subtle astral body of nineteen elements and the gross physical body of sixteen elements.

“The nineteen elements of the astral body are mental, emotional, and lifetronic. The nineteen components are intelligence; ego; feeling; mind (sense-consciousness); five instruments of KNOWLEDGE, the subtle counterparts of the senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch; five instruments of ACTION, the mental correspondence for the executive abilities to procreate, excrete, talk, walk, and exercise manual skill; and five instruments of LIFE FORCE, those empowered to perform the crystallizing, assimilating, eliminating, metabolizing, and circulating functions of the body. This subtle astral encasement of nineteen elements survives the death of the physical body, which is made of sixteen gross metallic and nonmetallic elements.

“God thought out different ideas within Himself and projected them into dreams. Lady Cosmic Dream thus sprang out decorated in all her colossal endless ornaments of relativity.

“In thirty-five thought categories of the causal body, God elaborated all the complexities of man's nineteen astral and sixteen physical counterparts. By condensation of vibratory forces, first subtle, then gross, He produced man's astral body and finally his physical form. According to the law of relativity, by which the Prime Simplicity has become the bewildering manifold, the causal cosmos and causal body are different from the astral cosmos and astral body; the physical cosmos and physical body are likewise characteristically at variance with the other forms of creation.

“The fleshly body is made of the fixed, objectified dreams of the Creator. The dualities are ever-present on earth: disease and health, pain and pleasure, loss and gain. Human beings find limitation and resistance in three-dimensional matter. When man's desire to live is severely shaken by disease or other causes, death arrives; the heavy overcoat of the flesh is temporarily shed. The soul, however, remains encased in the astral and causal bodies. {FN43-7} The adhesive force by which all three bodies are held together is desire. The power of unfulfilled desires is the root of all man's slavery.

“Physical desires are rooted in egotism and sense pleasures. The compulsion or temptation of sensory experience is more powerful than the desire-force connected with astral attachments or causal perceptions.

“Astral desires center around enjoyment in terms of vibration. Astral beings enjoy the ethereal music of the spheres and are entranced by the sight of all creation as exhaustless expressions of changing light. The astral beings also smell, taste, and touch light. Astral desires are thus connected with an astral being's power to precipitate all objects and experiences as forms of light or as condensed thoughts or dreams.

“Causal desires are fulfilled by perception only. The nearly-free beings who are encased only in the causal body see the whole universe as realizations of the dream-ideas of God; they can materialize anything and everything in sheer thought. Causal beings therefore consider the enjoyment of physical sensations or astral delights as gross and suffocating to the soul's fine sensibilities. Causal beings work out their desires by materializing them instantly. {FN43-8} Those who find themselves covered only by the delicate veil of the causal body can bring universes into manifestation even as the Creator. Because all creation is made of the cosmic dream-texture, the soul thinly clothed in the causal has vast realizations of power.

“A soul, being invisible by nature, can be distinguished only by the presence of its body or bodies. The mere presence of a body signifies that its existence is made possible by unfulfilled desires. {FN43-9}

“So long as the soul of man is encased in one, two, or three body-containers, sealed tightly with the corks of ignorance and desires, he cannot merge with the sea of Spirit. When the gross physical receptacle is destroyed by the hammer of death, the other two coverings-astral and causal-still remain to prevent the soul from consciously joining the Omnipresent Life. When desirelessness is attained through wisdom, its power disintegrates the two remaining vessels. The tiny human soul emerges, free at last; it is one with the Measureless Amplitude.”

I asked my divine guru to shed further light on the high and mysterious causal world.

“The causal world is indescribably subtle,” he replied. “In order to understand it, one would have to possess such tremendous powers of concentration that he could close his eyes and visualize the astral cosmos and the physical cosmos in all their vastness-the luminous balloon with the solid basket-as existing in ideas only. If by this superhuman concentration one succeeded in converting or resolving the two cosmoses with all their complexities into sheer ideas, he would then reach the causal world and stand on the borderline of fusion between mind and matter. There one perceives all created things—solids, liquids, gases, electricity, energy, all beings, gods, men, animals, plants, bacteria-as forms of consciousness, just as a man can close his eyes and realize that he exists, even though his body is invisible to his physical eyes and is present only as an idea.

“Whatever a human being can do in fancy, a causal being can do in reality. The most colossal imaginative human intelligence is able, in mind only, to range from one extreme of thought to another, to skip mentally from planet to planet, or tumble endlessly down a pit of eternity, or soar rocketlike into the galaxied canopy, or scintillate like a searchlight over milky ways and the starry spaces. But beings in the causal world have a much greater freedom, and can effortlessly manifest their thoughts into instant objectivity, without any material or astral obstruction or karmic limitation.

“Causal beings realize that the physical cosmos is not primarily constructed of electrons, nor is the astral cosmos basically composed of lifetrons-both in reality are created from the minutest particles of God-thought, chopped and divided by MAYA, the law of relativity which intervenes to apparently separate the Noumenon from His phenomena.

“Souls in the causal world recognize one another as individualized points of joyous Spirit; their thought-things are the only objects which surround them. Causal beings see the difference between their bodies and thoughts to be merely ideas. As a man, closing his eyes, can visualize a dazzling white light or a faint blue haze, so causal beings by thought alone are able to see, hear, feel, taste, and touch; they create anything, or dissolve it, by the power of cosmic mind.

“Both death and rebirth in the causal world are in thought. Causal-bodied beings feast only on the ambrosia of eternally new knowledge. They drink from the springs of peace, roam on the trackless soil of perceptions, swim in the ocean-endlessness of bliss. Lo! see their bright thought-bodies zoom past trillions of Spirit-created planets, fresh bubbles of universes, wisdom-stars, spectral dreams of golden nebulae, all over the skiey blue bosom of Infinity!

“Many beings remain for thousands of years in the causal cosmos. By deeper ecstasies the freed soul then withdraws itself from the little causal body and puts on the vastness of the causal cosmos. All the separate eddies of ideas, particularized waves of power, love, will, joy, peace, intuition, calmness, self-control, and concentration melt into the ever-joyous Sea of Bliss. No longer does the soul have to experience its joy as an individualized wave of consciousness, but is merged in the One Cosmic Ocean, with all its waves-eternal laughter, thrills, throbs.

“When a soul is out of the cocoon of the three bodies it escapes forever from the law of relativity and becomes the ineffable Ever-Existent. {FN43-10} Behold the butterfly of Omnipresence, its wings etched with stars and moons and suns! The soul expanded into Spirit remains alone in the region of lightless light, darkless dark, thoughtless thought, intoxicated with its ecstasy of joy in God's dream of cosmic creation.”

“A free soul!” I ejaculated in awe.

“When a soul finally gets out of the three jars of bodily delusions,” Master continued, “it becomes one with the Infinite without any loss of individuality. Christ had won this final freedom even before he was born as Jesus. In three stages of his past, symbolized in his earth-life as the three days of his experience of death and resurrection, he had attained the power to fully arise in Spirit.

“The undeveloped man must undergo countless earthly and astral and causal incarnations in order to emerge from his three bodies. A master who achieves this final freedom may elect to return to earth as a prophet to bring other human beings back to God, or like myself he may choose to reside in the astral cosmos. There a savior assumes some of the burden of the inhabitants' karma {FN43-11} and thus helps them to terminate their cycle of reincarnation in the astral cosmos and go on permanently to the causal spheres. Or a freed soul may enter the causal world to aid its beings to shorten their span in the causal body and thus attain the Absolute Freedom.”

“Resurrected One, I want to know more about the karma which forces souls to return to the three worlds.” I could listen forever, I thought, to my omniscient Master. Never in his earth-life had I been able at one time to assimilate so much of his wisdom. Now for the first time I was receiving a clear, definite insight into the enigmatic interspaces on the checkerboard of life and death.

“The physical karma or desires of man must be completely worked out before his permanent stay in astral worlds becomes possible,” my guru elucidated in his thrilling voice. “Two kinds of beings live in the astral spheres. Those who still have earthly karma to dispose of and who must therefore reinhabit a gross physical body in order to pay their karmic debts could be classified, after physical death, as temporary visitors to the astral world rather than as permanent residents.

“Beings with unredeemed earthly karma are not permitted after astral death to go to the high causal sphere of cosmic ideas, but must shuttle to and fro from the physical and astral worlds only, conscious successively of their physical body of sixteen gross elements, and of their astral body of nineteen subtle elements. After each loss of his physical body, however, an undeveloped being from the earth remains for the most part in the deep stupor of the death-sleep and is hardly conscious of the beautiful astral sphere. After the astral rest, such a man returns to the material plane for further lessons, gradually accustoming himself, through repeated journeys, to the worlds of subtle astral texture.

“Normal or long-established residents of the astral universe, on the other hand, are those who, freed forever from all material longings, need return no more to the gross vibrations of earth. Such beings have only astral and causal karma to work out. At astral death these beings pass to the infinitely finer and more delicate causal world. Shedding the thought-form of the causal body at the end of a certain span, determined by cosmic law, these advanced beings then return to Hiranyaloka or a similar high astral planet, reborn in a new astral body to work out their unredeemed astral karma.

“My son, you may now comprehend more fully that I am resurrected by divine decree,” Sri Yukteswar continued, “as a savior of astrally reincarnating souls coming back from the causal sphere, in particular, rather than of those astral beings who are coming up from the earth. Those from the earth, if they still retain vestiges of material karma, do not rise to the very high astral planets like Hiranyaloka.

“Just as most people on earth have not learned through meditation-acquired vision to appreciate the superior joys and advantages of astral life and thus, after death, desire to return to the limited, imperfect pleasures of earth, so many astral beings, during the normal disintegration of their astral bodies, fail to picture the advanced state of spiritual joy in the causal world and, dwelling on thoughts of the more gross and gaudy astral happiness, yearn to revisit the astral paradise. Heavy astral karma must be redeemed by such beings before they can achieve after astral death a permanent stay in the causal thought-world, so thinly partitioned from the Creator.

“Only when a being has no further desires for experiences in the pleasing-to-the-eye astral cosmos, and cannot be tempted to go back there, does he remain in the causal world. Completing there the work of redeeming all causal karma or seeds of past desires, the confined soul thrusts out the last of the three corks of ignorance and, emerging from the final jar of the causal body, commingles with the Eternal.

“Now do you understand?” Master smiled so enchantingly!

“Yes, through your grace. I am speechless with joy and gratitude.”

Never from song or story had I ever received such inspiring knowledge. Though the Hindu scriptures refer to the causal and astral worlds and to man's three bodies, how remote and meaningless those pages compared with the warm authenticity of my resurrected Master! For him indeed existed not a single “undiscover'd country from whose bourn no traveller returns”!

“The interpenetration of man's three bodies is expressed in many ways through his threefold nature,” my great guru went on. “In the wakeful state on earth a human being is conscious more or less of his three vehicles. When he is sensuously intent on tasting, smelling, touching, listening, or seeing, he is working principally through his physical body. Visualizing or willing, he is working mainly through his astral body. His causal medium finds expression when man is thinking or diving deep in introspection or meditation; the cosmical thoughts of genius come to the man who habitually contacts his causal body. In this sense an individual may be classified broadly as 'a material man,' 'an energetic man,' or 'an intellectual man.'

“A man identifies himself about sixteen hours daily with his physical vehicle. Then he sleeps; if he dreams, he remains in his astral body, effortlessly creating any object even as do the astral beings. If man's sleep be deep and dreamless, for several hours he is able to transfer his consciousness, or sense of I-ness, to the causal body; such sleep is revivifying. A dreamer is contacting his astral and not his causal body; his sleep is not fully refreshing.”

I had been lovingly observing Sri Yukteswar while he gave his wondrous exposition.

“Angelic guru,” I said, “your body looks exactly as it did when last I wept over it in the Puri ashram.”

“O yes, my new body is a perfect copy of the old one. I materialize or dematerialize this form any time at will, much more frequently than I did while on earth. By quick dematerialization, I now travel instantly by light express from planet to planet or, indeed, from astral to causal or to physical cosmos.” My divine guru smiled. “Though you move about so fast these days, I had no difficulty in finding you at Bombay!”

“O Master, I was grieving so deeply about your death!”

“Ah, wherein did I die? Isn't there some contradiction?” Sri Yukteswar's eyes were twinkling with love and amusement.

“You were only dreaming on earth; on that earth you saw my dream-body,” he went on. “Later you buried that dream-image. Now my finer fleshly body-which you behold and are even now embracing rather closely!-is resurrected on another finer dream-planet of God. Someday that finer dream-body and finer dream-planet will pass away; they too are not forever. All dream-bubbles must eventually burst at a final wakeful touch. Differentiate, my son Yogananda, between dreams and Reality!”

This idea of VEDANTIC {FN43-12} resurrection struck me with wonder. I was ashamed that I had pitied Master when I had seen his lifeless body at Puri. I comprehended at last that my guru had always been fully awake in God, perceiving his own life and passing on earth, and his present resurrection, as nothing more than relativities of divine ideas in the cosmic dream.

“I have now told you, Yogananda, the truths of my life, death, and resurrection. Grieve not for me; rather broadcast everywhere the story of my resurrection from the God-dreamed earth of men to another God-dreamed planet of astrally garbed souls! New hope will be infused into the hearts of misery-mad, death-fearing dreamers of the world.”

“Yes, Master!” How willingly would I share with others my joy at his resurrection!

“On earth my standards were uncomfortably high, unsuited to the natures of most men. Often I scolded you more than I should have. You passed my test; your love shone through the clouds of all reprimands.” He added tenderly, “I have also come today to tell you: Never again shall I wear the stern gaze of censure. I shall scold you no more.”

How much I had missed the chastisements of my great guru! Each one had been a guardian angel of protection.

“Dearest Master! Rebuke me a million times-do scold me now!”

“I shall chide you no more.” His divine voice was grave, yet with an undercurrent of laughter. “You and I shall smile together, so long as our two forms appear different in the MAYA-dream of God. Finally we shall merge as one in the Cosmic Beloved; our smiles shall be His smile, our unified song of joy vibrating throughout eternity to be broadcast to God-tuned souls!”

Sri Yukteswar gave me light on certain matters which I cannot reveal here. During the two hours that he spent with me in the Bombay hotel room he answered my every question. A number of world prophecies uttered by him that June day in 1936 have already come to pass.

“I leave you now, beloved one!” At these words I felt Master melting away within my encircling arms.

“My child,” his voice rang out, vibrating into my very soul-firmament, “whenever you enter the door of NIRBIKALPA SAMADHI and call on me, I shall come to you in flesh and blood, even as today.”

With this celestial promise Sri Yukteswar vanished from my sight. A cloud-voice repeated in musical thunder: “Tell all! Whosoever knows by NIRBIKALPA realization that your earth is a dream of God can come to the finer dream-created planet of Hiranyaloka, and there find me resurrected in a body exactly like my earthly one. Yogananda, tell all!”

Gone was the sorrow of parting. The pity and grief for his death, long robber of my peace, now fled in stark shame. Bliss poured forth like a fountain through endless, newly opened soul-pores. Anciently clogged with disuse, they now widened in purity at the driving flood of ecstasy. Subconscious thoughts and feelings of my past incarnations shed their karmic taints, lustrously renewed by Sri Yukteswar's divine visit.

In this chapter of my autobiography I have obeyed my guru's behest and spread the glad tiding, though it confound once more an incurious generation. Groveling, man knows well; despair is seldom alien; yet these are perversities, no part of man's true lot. The day he wills, he is set on the path to freedom. Too long has he hearkened to the dank pessimism of his “dust-thou-art” counselors, heedless of the unconquerable soul.

I was not the only one privileged to behold the Resurrected Guru.

One of Sri Yukteswar's chelas was an aged woman, affectionately known as MA (Mother), whose home was close to the Puri hermitage. Master had often stopped to chat with her during his morning walk. On the evening of March 16, 1936, Ma arrived at the ashram and asked to see her guru.

“Why, Master died a week ago!” Swami Sebananda, now in charge of the Puri hermitage, looked at her sadly.

“That's impossible!” She smiled a little. “Perhaps you are just trying to protect the guru from insistent visitors?”

“No.” Sebananda recounted details of the burial. “Come,” he said, “I will take you to the front garden to Sri Yukteswarji's grave.”

Ma shook her head. “There is no grave for him! This morning at ten o'clock he passed in his usual walk before my door! I talked to him for several minutes in the bright outdoors.

“'Come this evening to the ashram,' he said.

“I am here! Blessings pour on this old gray head! The deathless guru wanted me to understand in what transcendent body he had visited me this morning!”

The astounded Sebananda knelt before her.

“Ma,” he said, “what a weight of grief you lift from my heart! He is risen!”

{FN43-1} In SABIKALPA SAMADHI the devotee has spiritually progressed to a state of inward divine union, but cannot maintain his cosmic consciousness except in the immobile trance-state. By continuous meditation, he reaches the superior state of NIRBIKALPA SAMADHI, where he moves freely in the world and performs his outward duties without any loss of God-realization.

{FN43-2} Sri Yukteswar used the word PRANA; I have translated it as lifetrons. The Hindu scriptures refer not only to the ANU, “atom,” and to the PARAMANU, “beyond the atom,” finer electronic energies; but also to PRANA, “creative lifetronic force.” Atoms and electrons are blind forces; PRANA is inherently intelligent. The pranic lifetrons in the spermatozoa and ova, for instance, guide the embryonic development according to a karmic design.

{FN43-3} Adjective of MANTRA, chanted seed-sounds discharged by the mental gun of concentration. The PURANAS (ancient SHASTRAS or treatises) describe these MANTRIC wars between DEVAS and ASURAS (gods and demons). An ASURA once tried to slay a DEVA with a potent chant. But due to mispronunciation the mental bomb acted as a boomerang and killed the demon.

{FN43-4} Examples of such powers are not wanting even on earth, as in the case of Helen Keller and other rare beings.

{FN43-5} Lord Buddha was once asked why a man should love all persons equally. “Because,” the great teacher replied, “in the very numerous and varied lifespans of each man, every other being has at one time or another been dear to him.”

{FN43-6} The eight elemental qualities which enter into all created life, from atom to man, are earth, water, fire, air, ether, motion, mind, and individuality. (BHAGAVAD GITA: VII:4.)

{FN43-7} Body signifies any soul-encasement, whether gross or subtle. The three bodies are cages for the Bird of Paradise.

{FN43-8} Even as Babaji helped Lahiri Mahasaya to rid himself of a subconscious desire from some past life for a palace, as described in chapter 34.

{FN43-9} “And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.”-LUKE 17:37. Wherever the soul is encased in the physical body or in the astral body or in the causal body, there the eagles of desires-which prey on human sense weaknesses, or on astral and causal attachments-will also gather to keep the soul a prisoner.

{FN43-10} “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out (i.e., shall reincarnate no more). . . . To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”-REVELATION 3:12, 21.

{FN43-11} Sri Yukteswar was signifying that, even as in his earthly incarnation he had occasionally assumed the weight of disease to lighten his disciples' karma, so in the astral world his mission as a savior enabled him to take on certain astral karma of dwellers on Hiranyaloka, and thus hasten their evolution into the higher causal world.

{FN43-12} Life and death as relativities of thought only. VEDANTA points out that God is the only Reality; all creation or separate existence is MAYA or illusion. This philosophy of monism received its highest expression in the UPANISHAD commentaries of Shankara.


CHAPTER 44

WITH MAHATMA GANDHI AT WARDHA

WITH MAHATMA GANDHI AT WARDHA

“Welcome to Wardha!” Mahadev Desai, secretary to Mahatma Gandhi, greeted Miss Bletch, Mr. Wright, and myself with these cordial words and the gift of wreaths of KHADDAR (homespun cotton). Our little group had just dismounted at the Wardha station on an early morning in August, glad to leave the dust and heat of the train. Consigning our luggage to a bullock cart, we entered an open motor car with Mr. Desai and his companions, Babasaheb Deshmukh and Dr. Pingale. A short drive over the muddy country roads brought us to MAGANVADI, the ashram of India's political saint.

Mr. Desai led us at once to the writing room where, cross−legged, sat Mahatma Gandhi. Pen in one hand and a scrap of paper in the other, on his face a vast, winning, warm−hearted smile!

“Welcome!” he scribbled in Hindi; it was a Monday, his weekly day of silence.

Though this was our first meeting, we beamed on each other affectionately. In 1925 Mahatma Gandhi had honored the Ranchi school by a visit, and had inscribed in its guest−book a gracious tribute.

The tiny 100−pound saint radiated physical, mental, and spiritual health. His soft brown eyes shone with intelligence, sincerity, and discrimination; this statesman has matched wits and emerged the victor in a thousand legal, social, and political battles. No other leader in the world has attained the secure niche in the hearts of his people that Gandhi occupies for India's unlettered millions. Their spontaneous tribute is his famous title−MAHATMA, “great soul.” {FN44−1} For them alone Gandhi confines his attire to the widely−cartooned loincloth, symbol of his oneness with the downtrodden masses who can afford no more.

[Illustration: MAHATMA GANDHI, I enjoy a quiet lunch with India's political saint at his hermitage in Wardha, August, 1935.—see gandhi.jpg]

“The ashram residents are wholly at your disposal; please call on them for any service.” With characteristic courtesy, the Mahatma handed me this hastily−written note as Mr. Desai led our party from the writing room toward the guest house.

Our guide led us through orchards and flowering fields to a tile−roofed building with latticed windows. A front−yard well, twenty−five feet across, was used, Mr. Desai said, for watering stock; near−by stood a revolving cement wheel for threshing rice. Each of our small bedrooms proved to contain only the irreducible minimum−a bed, handmade of rope. The whitewashed kitchen boasted a faucet in one corner and a fire pit for cooking in another. Simple Arcadian sounds reached our ears−the cries of crows and sparrows, the lowing of cattle, and the rap of chisels being used to chip stones.

Observing Mr. Wright's travel diary, Mr. Desai opened a page and wrote on it a list of SATYAGRAHA {FN44−2} vows taken by all the Mahatma's strict followers (SATYAGRAHIS):

“Nonviolence; Truth; Non−Stealing; Celibacy; Non−Possession; Body−Labor; Control of the Palate; Fearlessness; Equal Respect for all Religions; SWADESHI (use of home manufactures); Freedom from Untouchability. These eleven should be observed as vows in a spirit of humility.”

(Gandhi himself signed this page on the following day, giving the date also−August 27, 1935.)

Two hours after our arrival my companions and I were summoned to lunch. The Mahatma was already seated under the arcade of the ashram porch, across the courtyard from his study. About twenty−five barefooted SATYAGRAHIS were squatting before brass cups and plates. A community chorus of prayer; then a meal served from large brass pots containing CHAPATIS (whole−wheat unleavened bread) sprinkled with GHEE; TALSARI (boiled and diced vegetables), and a lemon jam.

The Mahatma ate CHAPATIS, boiled beets, some raw vegetables, and oranges. On the side of his plate was a large lump of very bitter NEEM leaves, a notable blood cleanser. With his spoon he separated a portion and placed it on my dish. I bolted it down with water, remembering childhood days when Mother had forced me to swallow the disagreeable dose. Gandhi, however, bit by bit was eating the NEEM paste with as much relish as if it had been a delicious sweetmeat.

In this trifling incident I noted the Mahatma's ability to detach his mind from the senses at will. I recalled the famous appendectomy performed on him some years ago. Refusing anesthetics, the saint had chatted cheerfully with his disciples throughout the operation, his infectious smile revealing his unawareness of pain.

The afternoon brought an opportunity for a chat with Gandhi's noted disciple, daughter of an English admiral, Miss Madeleine Slade, now called Mirabai. {FN44−3} Her strong, calm face lit with enthusiasm as she told me, in flawless Hindi, of her daily activities.

“Rural reconstruction work is rewarding! A group of us go every morning at five o'clock to serve the near−by villagers and teach them simple hygiene. We make it a point to clean their latrines and their mud−thatched huts. The villagers are illiterate; they cannot be educated except by example!” She laughed gaily.

I looked in admiration at this highborn Englishwoman whose true Christian humility enables her to do the scavengering work usually performed only by “untouchables.”

“I came to India in 1925,” she told me. “In this land I feel that I have 'come back home.' Now I would never be willing to return to my old life and old interests.”

We discussed America for awhile. “I am always pleased and amazed,” she said, “to see the deep interest in spiritual subjects exhibited by the many Americans who visit India.” {FN44−4}

Mirabai's hands were soon busy at the CHARKA (spinning wheel), omnipresent in all the ashram rooms and, indeed, due to the Mahatma, omnipresent throughout rural India.

Gandhi has sound economic and cultural reasons for encouraging the revival of cottage industries, but he does not counsel a fanatical repudiation of all modern progress. Machinery, trains, automobiles, the telegraph have played important parts in his own colossal life! Fifty years of public service, in prison and out, wrestling daily with practical details and harsh realities in the political world, have only increased his balance, open−mindedness, sanity, and humorous appreciation of the quaint human spectacle.

Our trio enjoyed a six o'clock supper as guests of Babasaheb Deshmukh. The 7:00 P.M. prayer hour found us back at the MAGANVADI ashram, climbing to the roof where thirty SATYAGRAHIS were grouped in a semicircle around Gandhi. He was squatting on a straw mat, an ancient pocket watch propped up before him. The fading sun cast a last gleam over the palms and banyans; the hum of night and the crickets had started. The atmosphere was serenity itself; I was enraptured.

A solemn chant led by Mr. Desai, with responses from the group; then a GITA reading. The Mahatma motioned to me to give the concluding prayer. Such divine unison of thought and aspiration! A memory forever: the Wardha roof top meditation under the early stars.

Punctually at eight o'clock Gandhi ended his silence. The herculean labors of his life require him to apportion his time minutely.

“Welcome, Swamiji!” The Mahatma's greeting this time was not via paper. We had just descended from the roof to his writing room, simply furnished with square mats (no chairs), a low desk with books, papers, and a few ordinary pens (not fountain pens); a nondescript clock ticked in a corner. An all−pervasive aura of peace and devotion. Gandhi was bestowing one of his captivating, cavernous, almost toothless smiles.

“Years ago,” he explained, “I started my weekly observance of a day of silence as a means for gaining time to look after my correspondence. But now those twenty−four hours have become a vital spiritual need. A periodical decree of silence is not a torture but a blessing.”

I agreed wholeheartedly. {FN44−5} The Mahatma questioned me about America and Europe; we discussed India and world conditions.

“Mahadev,” Gandhi said as Mr. Desai entered the room, “please make arrangements at Town Hall for Swamiji to speak there on yoga tomorrow night.”

As I was bidding the Mahatma good night, he considerately handed me a bottle of citronella oil.

“The Wardha mosquitoes don't know a thing about AHIMSA, {FN44−6} Swamiji!” he said, laughing.

The following morning our little group breakfasted early on a tasty wheat porridge with molasses and milk. At ten−thirty we were called to the ashram porch for lunch with Gandhi and the SATYAGRAHIS. Today the menu included brown rice, a new selection of vegetables, and cardamom seeds.

Noon found me strolling about the ashram grounds, on to the grazing land of a few imperturbable cows. The protection of cows is a passion with Gandhi.

“The cow to me means the entire sub−human world, extending man's sympathies beyond his own species,” the Mahatma has explained. “Man through the cow is enjoined to realize his identity with all that lives. Why the ancient rishis selected the cow for apotheosis is obvious to me. The cow in India was the best comparison; she was the giver of plenty. Not only did she give milk, but she also made agriculture possible. The cow is a poem of pity; one reads pity in the gentle animal. She is the second mother to millions of mankind. Protection of the cow means protection of the whole dumb creation of God. The appeal of the lower order of creation is all the more forceful because it is speechless.”

Three daily rituals are enjoined on the orthodox Hindu. One is BHUTA YAJNA, an offering of food to the animal kingdom. This ceremony symbolizes man's realization of his obligations to less evolved forms of creation, instinctively tied to bodily identifications which also corrode human life, but lacking in that quality of liberating reason which is peculiar to humanity. BHUTA YAJNA thus reinforces man's readiness to succor the weak, as he in turn is comforted by countless solicitudes of higher unseen beings. Man is also under bond for rejuvenating gifts of nature, prodigal in earth, sea, and sky. The evolutionary barrier of incommunicability among nature, animals, man, and astral angels is thus overcome by offices of silent love.

The other two daily YAJNAS are PITRI and NRI. PITRI YAJNA is an offering of oblations to ancestors, as a symbol of man's acknowledgment of his debt to the past, essence of whose wisdom illumines humanity today. NRI YAJNA is an offering of food to strangers or the poor, symbol of the present responsibilities of man, his duties to contemporaries.

In the early afternoon I fulfilled a neighborly NRI YAJNA by a visit to Gandhi's ashram for little girls. Mr. Wright accompanied me on the ten−minute drive. Tiny young flowerlike faces atop the long−stemmed colorful SARIS! At the end of a brief talk in Hindi {FN44−7} which I was giving outdoors, the skies unloosed a sudden downpour. Laughing, Mr. Wright and I climbed aboard the car and sped back to MAGANVADI amidst sheets of driving silver. Such tropical intensity and splash!

Reentering the guest house I was struck anew by the stark simplicity and evidences of self−sacrifice which are everywhere present. The Gandhi vow of non−possession came early in his married life. Renouncing an extensive legal practice which had been yielding him an annual income of more than $20,000, the Mahatma dispersed all his wealth to the poor.

Sri Yukteswar used to poke gentle fun at the commonly inadequate conceptions of renunciation.

“A beggar cannot renounce wealth,” Master would say. “If a man laments: 'My business has failed; my wife has left me; I will renounce all and enter a monastery,' to what worldly sacrifice is he referring? He did not renounce wealth and love; they renounced him!”

Saints like Gandhi, on the other hand, have made not only tangible material sacrifices, but also the more difficult renunciation of selfish motive and private goal, merging their inmost being in the stream of humanity as a whole.

The Mahatma's remarkable wife, Kasturabai, did not object when he failed to set aside any part of his wealth for the use of herself and their children. Married in early youth, Gandhi and his wife took the vow of celibacy after the birth of several sons. {FN44−8} A tranquil heroine in the intense drama that has been their life together, Kasturabai has followed her husband to prison, shared his three−week fasts, and fully borne her share of his endless responsibilities. She has paid Gandhi the following tribute:

I thank you for having had the privilege of being your lifelong companion and helpmate. I thank you for the most perfect marriage in the world, based on BRAHMACHARYA (self−control) and not on sex. I thank you for having considered me your equal in your life work for India. I thank you for not being one of those husbands who spend their time in gambling, racing, women, wine, and song, tiring of their wives and children as the little boy quickly tires of his childhood toys. How thankful I am that you were not one of those husbands who devote their time to growing rich on the exploitation of the labor of others.

How thankful I am that you put God and country before bribes, that you had the courage of your convictions and a complete and implicit faith in God. How thankful I am for a husband that put God and his country before me. I am grateful to you for your tolerance of me and my shortcomings of youth, when I grumbled and rebelled against the change you made in our mode of living, from so much to so little.

As a young child, I lived in your parents' home; your mother was a great and good woman; she trained me, taught me how to be a brave, courageous wife and how to keep the love and respect of her son, my future husband. As the years passed and you became India's most beloved leader, I had none of the fears that beset the wife who may be cast aside when her husband has climbed the ladder of success, as so often happens in other countries. I knew that death would still find us husband and wife.

For years Kasturabai performed the duties of treasurer of the public funds which the idolized Mahatma is able to raise by the millions. There are many humorous stories in Indian homes to the effect that husbands are nervous about their wives' wearing any jewelry to a Gandhi meeting; the Mahatma's magical tongue, pleading for the downtrodden, charms the gold bracelets and diamond necklaces right off the arms and necks of the wealthy into the collection basket!

One day the public treasurer, Kasturabai, could not account for a disbursement of four rupees. Gandhi duly published an auditing in which he inexorably pointed out his wife's four rupee discrepancy.

I had often told this story before classes of my American students. One evening a woman in the hall had given an outraged gasp.

“Mahatma or no Mahatma,” she had cried, “if he were my husband I would have given him a black eye for such an unnecessary public insult!”

After some good−humored banter had passed between us on the subject of American wives and Hindu wives, I had gone on to a fuller explanation.

“Mrs. Gandhi considers the Mahatma not as her husband but as her guru, one who has the right to discipline her for even insignificant errors,” I had pointed out. “Sometime after Kasturabai had been publicly rebuked, Gandhi was sentenced to prison on a political charge. As he was calmly bidding farewell to his wife, she fell at his feet. 'Master,' she said humbly, 'if I have ever offended you, please forgive me.'“ {FN44−9}

At three o'clock that afternoon in Wardha, I betook myself, by previous appointment, to the writing room of the saint who had been able to make an unflinching disciple out of his own wife−rare miracle! Gandhi looked up with his unforgettable smile.

“Mahatmaji,” I said as I squatted beside him on the uncushioned mat, “please tell me your definition of AHIMSA.”

“The avoidance of harm to any living creature in thought or deed.”

“Beautiful ideal! But the world will always ask: May one not kill a cobra to protect a child, or one's self?”

“I could not kill a cobra without violating two of my vows—fearlessness, and non−killing. I would rather try inwardly to calm the snake by vibrations of love. I cannot possibly lower my standards to suit my circumstances.” With his amazing candor, Gandhi added, “I must confess that I could not carry on this conversation were I faced by a cobra!”

I remarked on several very recent Western books on diet which lay on his desk.

“Yes, diet is important in the SATYAGRAHA movement−as everywhere else,” he said with a chuckle. “Because I advocate complete continence for SATYAGRAHIS, I am always trying to find out the best diet for the celibate. One must conquer the palate before he can control the procreative instinct. Semi−starvation or unbalanced diets are not the answer. After overcoming the inward GREED for food, a SATYAGRAHI must continue to follow a rational vegetarian diet with all necessary vitamins, minerals, calories, and so forth. By inward and outward wisdom in regard to eating, the SATYAGRAHI'S sexual fluid is easily turned into vital energy for the whole body.”

The Mahatma and I compared our knowledge of good meat−substitutes. “The avocado is excellent,” I said. “There are numerous avocado groves near my center in California.”

Gandhi's face lit with interest. “I wonder if they would grow in Wardha? The SATYAGRAHIS would appreciate a new food.”

“I will be sure to send some avocado plants from Los Angeles to Wardha.” {FN44−10} I added, “Eggs are a high−protein food; are they forbidden to SATYAGRAHIS?”

“Not unfertilized eggs.” The Mahatma laughed reminiscently. “For years I would not countenance their use; even now I personally do not eat them. One of my daughters−in−law was once dying of malnutrition; her doctor insisted on eggs. I would not agree, and advised him to give her some egg−substitute.

“'Gandhiji,' the doctor said, 'unfertilized eggs contain no life sperm; no killing is involved.'

“I then gladly gave permission for my daughter−in−law to eat eggs; she was soon restored to health.”

On the previous night Gandhi had expressed a wish to receive the KRIYA YOGA of Lahiri Mahasaya. I was touched by the Mahatma's open−mindedness and spirit of inquiry. He is childlike in his divine quest, revealing that pure receptivity which Jesus praised in children, ”. . . of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

The hour for my promised instruction had arrived; several SATYAGRAHIS now entered the room−Mr. Desai, Dr. Pingale, and a few others who desired the KRIYA technique.

I first taught the little class the physical YOGODA exercises. The body is visualized as divided into twenty parts; the will directs energy in turn to each section. Soon everyone was vibrating before me like a human motor. It was easy to observe the rippling effect on Gandhi's twenty body parts, at all times completely exposed to view! Though very thin, he is not unpleasingly so; the skin of his body is smooth and unwrinkled.

Later I initiated the group into the liberating technique of KRIYA YOGA.

The Mahatma has reverently studied all world religions. The Jain scriptures, the Biblical New Testament, and the sociological writings of Tolstoy {FN44−11} are the three main sources of Gandhi's nonviolent convictions. He has stated his credo thus:

I believe the Bible, the KORAN, and the ZEND−AVESTA {FN44−12} to be as divinely inspired as the VEDAS. I believe in the institution of Gurus, but in this age millions must go without a Guru, because it is a rare thing to find a combination of perfect purity and perfect learning. But one need not despair of ever knowing the truth of one's religion, because the fundamentals of Hinduism as of every great religion are unchangeable, and easily understood.

I believe like every Hindu in God and His oneness, in rebirth and salvation. . . . I can no more describe my feeling for Hinduism than for my own wife. She moves me as no other woman in the world can. Not that she has no faults; I daresay she has many more than I see myself. But the feeling of an indissoluble bond is there. Even so I feel for and about Hinduism with all its faults and limitations. Nothing delights me so much as the music of the GITA, or the RAMAYANA by Tulsidas. When I fancied I was taking my last breath, the GITA was my solace.

Hinduism is not an exclusive religion. In it there is room for the worship of all the prophets of the world. {FN44−13} It is not a missionary religion in the ordinary sense of the term. It has no doubt absorbed many tribes in its fold, but this absorption has been of an evolutionary, imperceptible character. Hinduism tells each man to worship God according to his own faith or DHARMA, {FN44−14} and so lives at peace with all religions.

Of Christ, Gandhi has written: “I am sure that if He were living here now among men, He would bless the lives of many who perhaps have never even heard His name . . . just as it is written: 'Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord . . . but he that doeth the will of my Father.' {FN44−15} In the lesson of His own life, Jesus gave humanity the magnificent purpose and the single objective toward which we all ought to aspire. I believe that He belongs not solely to Christianity, but to the entire world, to all lands and races.”

On my last evening in Wardha I addressed the meeting which had been called by Mr. Desai in Town Hall. The room was thronged to the window sills with about 400 people assembled to hear the talk on yoga. I spoke first in Hindi, then in English. Our little group returned to the ashram in time for a good−night glimpse of Gandhi, enfolded in peace and correspondence.

Night was still lingering when I rose at 5:00 A.M. Village life was already stirring; first a bullock cart by the ashram gates, then a peasant with his huge burden balanced precariously on his head. After breakfast our trio sought out Gandhi for farewell PRONAMS. The saint rises at four o'clock for his morning prayer.

“Mahatmaji, good−by!” I knelt to touch his feet. “India is safe in your keeping!”

Years have rolled by since the Wardha idyl; the earth, oceans, and skies have darkened with a world at war. Alone among great leaders, Gandhi has offered a practical nonviolent alternative to armed might. To redress grievances and remove injustices, the Mahatma has employed nonviolent means which again and again have proved their effectiveness. He states his doctrine in these words:

I have found that life persists in the midst of destruction. Therefore there must be a higher law than that of destruction. Only under that law would well−ordered society be intelligible and life worth living.

If that is the law of life we must work it out in daily existence. Wherever there are wars, wherever we are confronted with an opponent, conquer by love. I have found that the certain law of love has answered in my own life as the law of destruction has never done.

In India we have had an ocular demonstration of the operation of this law on the widest scale possible. I don't claim that nonviolence has penetrated the 360,000,000 people in India, but I do claim it has penetrated deeper than any other doctrine in an incredibly short time.

It takes a fairly strenuous course of training to attain a mental state of nonviolence. It is a disciplined life, like the life of a soldier. The perfect state is reached only when the mind, body, and speech are in proper coordination. Every problem would lend itself to solution if we determined to make the law of truth and nonviolence the law of life.

Just as a scientist will work wonders out of various applications of the laws of nature, a man who applies the laws of love with scientific precision can work greater wonders. Nonviolence is infinitely more wonderful and subtle than forces of nature like, for instance, electricity. The law of love is a far greater science than any modern science.

Consulting history, one may reasonably state that the problems of mankind have not been solved by the use of brute force. World War I produced a world−chilling snowball of war karma that swelled into World War II. Only the warmth of brotherhood can melt the present colossal snowball of war karma which may otherwise grow into World War III. This unholy trinity will banish forever the possibility of World War IV by a finality of atomic bombs. Use of jungle logic instead of human reason in settling disputes will restore the earth to a jungle. If brothers not in life, then brothers in violent death.

War and crime never pay. The billions of dollars that went up in the smoke of explosive nothingness would have been sufficient to have made a new world, one almost free from disease and completely free from poverty. Not an earth of fear, chaos, famine, pestilence, the DANSE MACABRE, but one broad land of peace, of prosperity, and of widening knowledge.

The nonviolent voice of Gandhi appeals to man's highest conscience. Let nations ally themselves no longer with death, but with life; not with destruction, but with construction; not with the Annihilator, but with the Creator.

“One should forgive, under any injury,” says the MAHABHARATA. “It hath been said that the continuation of species is due to man's being forgiving. Forgiveness is holiness; by forgiveness the universe is held together. Forgiveness is the might of the mighty; forgiveness is sacrifice; forgiveness is quiet of mind. Forgiveness and gentleness are the qualities of the self−possessed. They represent eternal virtue.”

Nonviolence is the natural outgrowth of the law of forgiveness and love. “If loss of life becomes necessary in a righteous battle,” Gandhi proclaims, “one should be prepared, like Jesus, to shed his own, not others', blood. Eventually there will be less blood spilt in the world.”

Epics shall someday be written on the Indian SATYAGRAHIS who withstood hate with love, violence with nonviolence, who allowed themselves to be mercilessly slaughtered rather than retaliate. The result on certain historic occasions was that the armed opponents threw down their guns and fled, shamed, shaken to their depths by the sight of men who valued the life of another above their own.

“I would wait, if need be for ages,” Gandhi says, “rather than seek the freedom of my country through bloody means.” Never does the Mahatma forget the majestic warning: “All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” {FN44−16} Gandhi has written:

I call myself a nationalist, but my nationalism is as broad as the universe. It includes in its sweep all the nations of the earth. {FN44−17} My nationalism includes the well−being of the whole world. I do not want my India to rise on the ashes of other nations. I do not want India to exploit a single human being. I want India to be strong in order that she can infect the other nations also with her strength. Not so with a single nation in Europe today; they do not give strength to the others.

President Wilson mentioned his beautiful fourteen points, but said: “After all, if this endeavor of ours to arrive at peace fails, we have our armaments to fall back upon.” I want to reverse that position, and I say: “Our armaments have failed already. Let us now be in search of something new; let us try the force of love and God which is truth.” When we have got that, we shall want nothing else.

By the Mahatma's training of thousands of true SATYAGRAHIS (those who have taken the eleven rigorous vows mentioned in the first part of this chapter), who in turn spread the message; by patiently educating the Indian masses to understand the spiritual and eventually material benefits of nonviolence; by arming his people with nonviolent weapons—non−cooperation with injustice, the willingness to endure indignities, prison, death itself rather than resort to arms; by enlisting world sympathy through countless examples of heroic martyrdom among SATYAGRAHIS, Gandhi has dramatically portrayed the practical nature of nonviolence, its solemn power to settle disputes without war.

Gandhi has already won through nonviolent means a greater number of political concessions for his land than have ever been won by any leader of any country except through bullets. Nonviolent methods for eradication of all wrongs and evils have been strikingly applied not only in the political arena but in the delicate and complicated field of Indian social reform. Gandhi and his followers have removed many longstanding feuds between Hindus and Mohammedans; hundreds of thousands of Moslems look to the Mahatma as their leader. The untouchables have found in him their fearless and triumphant champion. “If there be a rebirth in store for me,” Gandhi wrote, “I wish to be born a pariah in the midst of pariahs, because thereby I would be able to render them more effective service.”

The Mahatma is indeed a “great soul,” but it was illiterate millions who had the discernment to bestow the title. This gentle prophet is honored in his own land. The lowly peasant has been able to rise to Gandhi's high challenge. The Mahatma wholeheartedly believes in the inherent nobility of man. The inevitable failures have never disillusioned him. “Even if the opponent plays him false twenty times,” he writes, “the SATYAGRAHI is ready to trust him the twenty−first time, for an implicit trust in human nature is the very essence of the creed.” {FN44−18}

“Mahatmaji, you are an exceptional man. You must not expect the world to act as you do.” A critic once made this observation.

“It is curious how we delude ourselves, fancying that the body can be improved, but that it is impossible to evoke the hidden powers of the soul,” Gandhi replied. “I am engaged in trying to show that if I have any of those powers, I am as frail a mortal as any of us and that I never had anything extraordinary about me nor have I now. I am a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have enough humility to confess my errors and to retrace my steps. I own that I have an immovable faith in God and His goodness, and an unconsumable passion for truth and love. But is that not what every person has latent in him? If we are to make progress, we must not repeat history but make new history. We must add to the inheritance left by our ancestors. If we may make new discoveries and inventions in the phenomenal world, must we declare our bankruptcy in the spiritual domain? Is it impossible to multiply the exceptions so as to make them the rule? Must man always be brute first and man after, if at all?” {FN44−19}

Americans may well remember with pride the successful nonviolent experiment of William Penn in founding his 17th century colony in Pennsylvania. There were “no forts, no soldiers, no militia, even no arms.” Amidst the savage frontier wars and the butcheries that went on between the new settlers and the Red Indians, the Quakers of Pennsylvania alone remained unmolested. “Others were slain; others were massacred; but they were safe. Not a Quaker woman suffered assault; not a Quaker child was slain, not a Quaker man was tortured.” When the Quakers were finally forced to give up the government of the state, “war broke out, and some Pennsylvanians were killed. But only three Quakers were killed, three who had so far fallen from their faith as to carry weapons of defence.”

“Resort to force in the Great War (I) failed to bring tranquillity,” Franklin D. Roosevelt has pointed out. “Victory and defeat were alike sterile. That lesson the world should have learned.”

“The more weapons of violence, the more misery to mankind,” Lao−tzu taught. “The triumph of violence ends in a festival of mourning.”

“I am fighting for nothing less than world peace,” Gandhi has declared. “If the Indian movement is carried to success on a nonviolent SATYAGRAHA basis, it will give a new meaning to patriotism and, if I may say so in all humility, to life itself.”

Before the West dismisses Gandhi's program as one of an impractical dreamer, let it first reflect on a definition of SATYAGRAHA by the Master of Galilee:

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: {FN44−20} but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

Gandhi's epoch has extended, with the beautiful precision of cosmic timing, into a century already desolated and devastated by two World Wars. A divine handwriting appears on the granite wall of his life: a warning against the further shedding of blood among brothers.

MAHATMA GANDHI'S HANDWRITING IN HINDI

[Illustration—see gandhi2.jpg]

Mahatma Gandhi visited my high school with yoga training at Ranchi. He graciously wrote the above lines in the Ranchi guest−book. The translation is: “This institution has deeply impressed my mind. I cherish high hopes that this school will encourage the further practical use of the spinning wheel.”

(SIGNED) MOHANDAS GANDHI September 17, 1925

[Illustration—see gandhiflag.jpg]

A national flag for India was designed in 1921 by Gandhi. The stripes are saffron, white and green; the CHARKA (spinning wheel) in the center is dark blue. “The CHARKA symbolizes energy,” he wrote, “and reminds us that during the past eras of prosperity in India's history, hand spinning and other domestic crafts were prominent.”

{FN44−1} His family name is Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. He never refers to himself as “Mahatma.”

{FN44−2} The literal translation from Sanskrit is “holding to truth.” SATYAGRAHA is the famous nonviolence movement led by Gandhi.

{FN44−3} False and alas! malicious reports were recently circulated that Miss Slade has severed all her ties with Gandhi and forsaken her vows. Miss Slade, the Mahatma's SATYAGRAHA disciple for twenty years, issued a signed statement to the UNITED PRESS, dated Dec. 29, 1945, in which she explained that a series of baseless rumors arose after she had departed, with Gandhi's blessings, for a small site in northeastern India near the Himalayas, for the purpose of founding there her now−flourishing KISAN ASHRAM (center for medical and agricultural aid to peasant farmers). Mahatma Gandhi plans to visit the new ashram during 1946.

{FN44−4} Miss Slade reminded me of another distinguished Western woman, Miss Margaret Woodrow Wilson, eldest daughter of America's great president. I met her in New York; she was intensely interested in India. Later she went to Pondicherry, where she spent the last five years of her life, happily pursuing a path of discipline at the feet of Sri Aurobindo Ghosh. This sage never speaks; he silently greets his disciples on three annual occasions only.

{FN44−5} For years in America I had been observing periods of silence, to the consternation of callers and secretaries.

{FN44−6} Harmlessness; nonviolence; the foundation rock of Gandhi's creed. He was born into a family of strict Jains, who revere AHIMSA as the root−virtue. Jainism, a sect of Hinduism, was founded in the 6th century B.C. by Mahavira, a contemporary of Buddha. Mahavira means “great hero”; may he look down the centuries on his heroic son Gandhi!

{FN44−7} Hindi is the lingua franca for the whole of India. An Indo−Aryan language based largely on Sanskrit roots, Hindi is the chief vernacular of northern India. The main dialect of Western Hindi is Hindustani, written both in the DEVANAGARI (Sanskrit) characters and in Arabic characters. Its subdialect, Urdu, is spoken by Moslems.

{FN44−8} Gandhi has described his life with a devastating candor in THE STORY OF MY EXPERIMENTS WITH TRUTH (Ahmedabad: Navajivan Press, 1927−29, 2 vol.) This autobiography has been summarized in MAHATMA GANDHI, HIS OWN STORY, edited by C. F. Andrews, with an introduction by John Haynes Holmes (New York: Macmillan Co., 1930).

Many autobiographies replete with famous names and colorful events are almost completely silent on any phase of inner analysis or development. One lays down each of these books with a certain dissatisfaction, as though saying: “Here is a man who knew many notable persons, but who never knew himself.” This reaction is impossible with Gandhi's autobiography; he exposes his faults and subterfuges with an impersonal devotion to truth rare in annals of any age.

{FN44−9} Kasturabai Gandhi died in imprisonment at Poona on February 22, 1944. The usually unemotional Gandhi wept silently. Shortly after her admirers had suggested a Memorial Fund in her honor, 125 lacs of rupees (nearly four million dollars) poured in from all over India. Gandhi has arranged that the fund be used for village welfare work among women and children. He reports his activities in his English weekly, HARIJAN.

{FN44−10} I sent a shipment to Wardha, soon after my return to America. The plants, alas! died on the way, unable to withstand the rigors of the long ocean transportation.

{FN44−11} Thoreau, Ruskin, and Mazzini are three other Western writers whose sociological views Gandhi has studied carefully.

{FN44−12} The sacred scripture given to Persia about 1000 B.C. by Zoroaster.

{FN44−13} The unique feature of Hinduism among the world religions is that it derives not from a single great founder but from the impersonal Vedic scriptures. Hinduism thus gives scope for worshipful incorporation into its fold of prophets of all ages and all lands. The Vedic scriptures regulate not only devotional practices but all important social customs, in an effort to bring man's every action into harmony with divine law.

{FN44−14} A comprehensive Sanskrit word for law; conformity to law or natural righteousness; duty as inherent in the circumstances in which a man finds himself at any given time. The scriptures define DHARMA as “the natural universal laws whose observance enables man to save himself from degradation and suffering.”

{FN44−15} MATTHEW 7:21.

{FN44−16} MATTHEW 26:52.

{FN44−17} “Let not a man glory in this, that he love his country; Let him rather glory in this, that he love his kind.”−PERSIAN PROVERB.

{FN44−18} “Then came Peter to him and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”−MATTHEW 18:21−22.

{FN44−19} Charles P. Steinmetz, the great electrical engineer, was once asked by Mr. Roger W. Babson: “What line of research will see the greatest development during the next fifty years?” “I think the greatest discovery will be made along spiritual lines,” Steinmetz replied. “Here is a force which history clearly teaches has been the greatest power in the development of men. Yet we have merely been playing with it and have never seriously studied it as we have the physical forces. Someday people will learn that material things do not bring happiness and are of little use in making men and women creative and powerful. Then the scientists of the world will turn their laboratories over to the study of God and prayer and the spiritual forces which as yet have hardly been scratched. When this day comes, the world will see more advancement in one generation than it has seen in the past four.”

{FN44−20} That is, resist not evil with evil. (MATTHEW 5:38−39)


CHAPTER 45

THE BENGALI “JOY−PERMEATED” MOTHER

THE BENGALI “JOY−PERMEATED” MOTHER

“Sir, please do not leave India without a glimpse of Nirmala Devi. Her sanctity is intense; she is known far and wide as Ananda Moyi Ma (Joy−Permeated Mother).” My niece, Amiyo Bose, gazed at me earnestly.

“Of course! I want very much to see the woman saint.” I added, “I have read of her advanced state of God−realization. A little article about her appeared years ago in EAST−WEST.”

“I have met her,” Amiyo went on. “She recently visited my own little town of Jamshedpur. At the entreaty of a disciple, Ananda Moyi Ma went to the home of a dying man. She stood by his bedside; as her hand touched his forehead, his death−rattle ceased. The disease vanished at once; to the man's glad astonishment, he was well.”

A few days later I heard that the Blissful Mother was staying at the home of a disciple in the Bhowanipur section of Calcutta. Mr. Wright and I set out immediately from my father's Calcutta home. As the Ford neared the Bhowanipur house, my companion and I observed an unusual street scene.

Ananda Moyi Ma was standing in an open−topped automobile, blessing a throng of about one hundred disciples. She was evidently on the point of departure. Mr. Wright parked the Ford some distance away, and accompanied me on foot toward the quiet assemblage. The woman saint glanced in our direction; she alit from her car and walked toward us.

“Father, you have come!” With these fervent words she put her arm around my neck and her head on my shoulder. Mr. Wright, to whom I had just remarked that I did not know the saint, was hugely enjoying this extraordinary demonstration of welcome. The eyes of the one hundred chelas were also fixed with some surprise on the affectionate tableau.

I had instantly seen that the saint was in a high state of SAMADHI. Utterly oblivious to her outward garb as a woman, she knew herself as the changeless soul; from that plane she was joyously greeting another devotee of God. She led me by the hand into her automobile.

“Ananda Moyi Ma, I am delaying your journey!” I protested.

“Father, I am meeting you for the first time in this life, after ages!” she said. “Please do not leave yet.”

We sat together in the rear seats of the car. The Blissful Mother soon entered the immobile ecstatic state. Her beautiful eyes glanced heavenward and, half−opened, became stilled, gazing into the near−far inner Elysium. The disciples chanted gently: “Victory to Mother Divine!”

I had found many men of God−realization in India, but never before had I met such an exalted woman saint. Her gentle face was burnished with the ineffable joy that had given her the name of Blissful Mother. Long black tresses lay loosely behind her unveiled head. A red dot of sandalwood paste on her forehead symbolized the spiritual eye, ever open within her. Tiny face, tiny hands, tiny feet−a contrast to her spiritual magnitude!

I put some questions to a near−by woman chela while Ananda Moyi Ma remained entranced.

“The Blissful Mother travels widely in India; in many parts she has hundreds of disciples,” the chela told me. “Her courageous efforts have brought about many desirable social reforms. Although a Brahmin, the saint recognizes no caste distinctions. {FN45−1} A group of us always travel with her, looking after her comforts. We have to mother her; she takes no notice of her body. If no one gave her food, she would not eat, or make any inquiries. Even when meals are placed before her, she does not touch them. To prevent her disappearance from this world, we disciples feed her with our own hands. For days together she often stays in the divine trance, scarcely breathing, her eyes unwinking. One of her chief disciples is her husband. Many years ago, soon after their marriage, he took the vow of silence.”

The chela pointed to a broad−shouldered, fine−featured man with long hair and hoary beard. He was standing quietly in the midst of the gathering, his hands folded in a disciple's reverential attitude.

Refreshed by her dip in the Infinite, Ananda Moyi Ma was now focusing her consciousness on the material world.

“Father, please tell me where you stay.” Her voice was clear and melodious.

“At present, in Calcutta or Ranchi; but soon I shall be returning to America.”

“America?”

“Yes. An Indian woman saint would be sincerely appreciated there by spiritual seekers. Would you like to go?”

“If Father can take me, I will go.”

This reply caused her near−by disciples to start in alarm.

“Twenty or more of us always travel with the Blissful Mother,” one of them told me firmly. “We could not live without her. Wherever she goes, we must go.”

Reluctantly I abandoned the plan, as possessing an impractical feature of spontaneous enlargement!

“Please come at least to Ranchi, with your disciples,” I said on taking leave of the saint. “As a divine child yourself, you will enjoy the little ones in my school.”

“Whenever Father takes me, I will gladly go.”

A short time later the Ranchi VIDYALAYA was in gala array for the saint's promised visit. The youngsters looked forward to any day of festivity−no lessons, hours of music, and a feast for the climax!

“Victory! Ananda Moyi Ma, ki jai!” This reiterated chant from scores of enthusiastic little throats greeted the saint's party as it entered the school gates. Showers of marigolds, tinkle of cymbals, lusty blowing of conch shells and beat of the MRIDANGA drum! The Blissful Mother wandered smilingly over the sunny VIDYALAYA grounds, ever carrying within her the portable paradise.

“It is beautiful here,” Ananda Moyi Ma said graciously as I led her into the main building. She seated herself with a childlike smile by my side. The closest of dear friends, she made one feel, yet an aura of remoteness was ever around her−the paradoxical isolation of Omnipresence.

“Please tell me something of your life.”

“Father knows all about it; why repeat it?” She evidently felt that the factual history of one short incarnation was beneath notice.

I laughed, gently repeating my question.

“Father, there is little to tell.” She spread her graceful hands in a deprecatory gesture. “My consciousness has never associated itself with this temporary body. Before I came on this earth, Father, 'I was the same.' As a little girl, 'I was the same.' I grew into womanhood, but still 'I was the same.' When the family in which I had been born made arrangements to have this body married, 'I was the same.' And when, passion−drunk, my husband came to me and murmured endearing words, lightly touching my body, he received a violent shock, as if struck by lightning, for even then 'I was the same.'

“My husband knelt before me, folded his hands, and implored my pardon.

“'Mother,' he said, 'because I have desecrated your bodily temple by touching it with the thought of lust−not knowing that within it dwelt not my wife but the Divine Mother−I take this solemn vow: I shall be your disciple, a celibate follower, ever caring for you in silence as a servant, never speaking to anyone again as long as I live. May I thus atone for the sin I have today committed against you, my guru.'

“Even when I quietly accepted this proposal of my husband's, 'I was the same.' And, Father, in front of you now, 'I am the same.' Ever afterward, though the dance of creation change around me in the hall of eternity, 'I shall be the same.'“

Ananda Moyi Ma sank into a deep meditative state. Her form was statue−still; she had fled to her ever−calling kingdom. The dark pools of her eyes appeared lifeless and glassy. This expression is often present when saints remove their consciousness from the physical body, which is then hardly more than a piece of soulless clay. We sat together for an hour in the ecstatic trance. She returned to this world with a gay little laugh.

“Please, Ananda Moyi Ma,” I said, “come with me to the garden. Mr. Wright will take some pictures.”

“Of course, Father. Your will is my will.” Her glorious eyes retained the unchanging divine luster as she posed for many photographs.

Time for the feast! Ananda Moyi Ma squatted on her blanket−seat, a disciple at her elbow to feed her. Like an infant, the saint obediently swallowed the food after the chela had brought it to her lips. It was plain that the Blissful Mother did not recognize any difference between curries and sweetmeats!

As dusk approached, the saint left with her party amidst a shower of rose petals, her hands raised in blessing on the little lads. Their faces shone with the affection she had effortlessly awakened.

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength:” Christ has proclaimed, “this is the first commandment.” {FN45−2}

Casting aside every inferior attachment, Ananda Moyi Ma offers her sole allegiance to the Lord. Not by the hairsplitting distinctions of scholars but by the sure logic of faith, the childlike saint has solved the only problem in human life−establishment of unity with God. Man has forgotten this stark simplicity, now befogged by a million issues. Refusing a monotheistic love to God, the nations disguise their infidelity by punctilious respect before the outward shrines of charity. These humanitarian gestures are virtuous, because for a moment they divert man's attention from himself, but they do not free him from his single responsibility in life, referred to by Jesus as the first commandment. The uplifting obligation to love God is assumed with man's first breath of an air freely bestowed by his only Benefactor.

On one other occasion after her Ranchi visit I had opportunity to see Ananda Moyi Ma. She stood among her disciples some months later on the Serampore station platform, waiting for the train.

“Father, I am going to the Himalayas,” she told me. “Generous disciples have built me a hermitage in Dehra Dun.”

As she boarded the train, I marveled to see that whether amidst a crowd, on a train, feasting, or sitting in silence, her eyes never looked away from God. Within me I still hear her voice, an echo of measureless sweetness:

“Behold, now and always one with the Eternal, 'I am ever the same.'“

{FN45−1} I find some further facts of Ananda Moyi Ma's life, printed in EAST−WEST. The saint was born in 1893 at Dacca in central Bengal. Illiterate, she has yet stunned the intellectuals by her wisdom. Her verses in Sanskrit have filled scholars with wonderment. She has brought consolation to bereaved persons, and effected miraculous cures, by her mere presence.

{FN45−2} MARK 12:30.


CHAPTER 46

THE WOMAN YOGI WHO NEVER EATS

THE WOMAN YOGI WHO NEVER EATS

“Sir, whither are we bound this morning?” Mr. Wright was driving the Ford; he took his eyes off the road long enough to gaze at me with a questioning twinkle. From day to day he seldom knew what part of Bengal he would be discovering next.

“God willing,” I replied devoutly, “we are on our way to see an eighth wonder of the world-a woman saint whose diet is thin air!”

“Repetition of wonders-after Therese Neumann.” But Mr. Wright laughed eagerly just the same; he even accelerated the speed of the car. More extraordinary grist for his travel diary! Not one of an average tourist, that!

The Ranchi school had just been left behind us; we had risen before the sun. Besides my secretary and myself, three Bengali friends were in the party. We drank in the exhilarating air, the natural wine of the morning. Our driver guided the car warily among the early peasants and the two-wheeled carts, slowly drawn by yoked, hump-shouldered bullocks, inclined to dispute the road with a honking interloper.

“Sir, we would like to know more of the fasting saint.”

“Her name is Giri Bala,” I informed my companions. “I first heard about her years ago from a scholarly gentleman, Sthiti Lal Nundy. He often came to the Gurpar Road home to tutor my brother Bishnu.”

“'I know Giri Bala well,' Sthiti Babu told me. 'She employs a certain yoga technique which enables her to live without eating. I was her close neighbor in Nawabganj near Ichapur. {FN46-1} I made it a point to watch her closely; never did I find evidence that she was taking either food or drink. My interest finally mounted so high that I approached the Maharaja of Burdwan {FN46-2} and asked him to conduct an investigation. Astounded at the story, he invited her to his palace. She agreed to a test and lived for two months locked up in a small section of his home. Later she returned for a palace visit of twenty days; and then for a third test of fifteen days. The Maharaja himself told me that these three rigorous scrutinies had convinced him beyond doubt of her non-eating state.'

“This story of Sthiti Babu's has remained in my mind for over twenty-five years,” I concluded. “Sometimes in America I wondered if the river of time would not swallow the YOGINI {FN46-3} before I could meet her. She must be quite aged now. I do not even know where, or if, she lives. But in a few hours we shall reach Purulia; her brother has a home there.”

By ten-thirty our little group was conversing with the brother, Lambadar Dey, a lawyer of Purulia.

“Yes, my sister is living. She sometimes stays with me here, but at present she is at our family home in Biur.” Lambadar Babu glanced doubtfully at the Ford. “I hardly think, Swamiji, that any automobile has ever penetrated into the interior as far as Biur. It might be best if you all resign yourselves to the ancient jolt of the bullock cart!”

As one voice our party pledged loyalty to the Pride of Detroit.

“The Ford comes from America,” I told the lawyer. “It would be a shame to deprive it of an opportunity to get acquainted with the heart of Bengal!”

“May Ganesh {FN46-4} go with you!” Lambadar Babu said, laughing. He added courteously, “If you ever get there, I am sure Giri Bala will be glad to see you. She is approaching her seventies, but continues in excellent health.”

“Please tell me, sir, if it is absolutely true that she eats nothing?” I looked directly into his eyes, those telltale windows of the mind.

[Illustration: GIRI BALA, This great woman yogi has not taken food or drink since 1880. I am pictured with her, in 1936, at her home in the isolated Bengal village of Biur. Her non-eating state has been rigorously investigated by the Maharaja of Burdwan. She employs a certain yoga technique to recharge her body with cosmic energy from the ether, sun, and air.—see giribala.jpg]

“It is true.” His gaze was open and honorable. “In more than five decades I have never seen her eat a morsel. If the world suddenly came to an end, I could not be more astonished than by the sight of my sister's taking food!”

We chuckled together over the improbability of these two cosmic events.

“Giri Bala has never sought an inaccessible solitude for her yoga practices,” Lambadar Babu went on. “She has lived her entire life surrounded by her family and friends. They are all well accustomed now to her strange state. Not one of them who would not be stupefied if Giri Bala suddenly decided to eat anything! Sister is naturally retiring, as befits a Hindu widow, but our little circle in Purulia and in Biur all know that she is literally an 'exceptional' woman.”

The brother's sincerity was manifest. Our little party thanked him warmly and set out toward Biur. We stopped at a street shop for curry and LUCHIS, attracting a swarm of urchins who gathered round to watch Mr. Wright eating with his fingers in the simple Hindu manner. {FN46-5} Hearty appetites caused us to fortify ourselves against an afternoon which, unknown at the moment, was to prove fairly laborious.

Our way now led east through sun-baked rice fields into the Burdwan section of Bengal. On through roads lined with dense vegetation; the songs of the MAYNAS and the stripe-throated BULBULS streamed out from trees with huge, umbrellalike branches. A bullock cart now and then, the RINI, RINI, MANJU, MANJU squeak of its axle and iron-shod wooden wheels contrasting sharply in mind with the SWISH, SWISH of auto tires over the aristocratic asphalt of the cities.

“Dick, halt!” My sudden request brought a jolting protest from the Ford. “That overburdened mango tree is fairly shouting an invitation!”

The five of us dashed like children to the mango-strewn earth; the tree had benevolently shed its fruits as they had ripened.

“Full many a mango is born to lie unseen,” I paraphrased, “and waste its sweetness on the stony ground.”

“Nothing like this in America, Swamiji, eh?” laughed Sailesh Mazumdar, one of my Bengali students.

“No,” I admitted, covered with mango juice and contentment. “How I have missed this fruit in the West! A Hindu's heaven without mangoes is inconceivable!”

I picked up a rock and downed a proud beauty hidden on the highest limb.

“Dick,” I asked between bites of ambrosia, warm with the tropical sun, “are all the cameras in the car?”

“Yes, sir; in the baggage compartment.”

“If Giri Bala proves to be a true saint, I want to write about her in the West. A Hindu YOGINI with such inspiring powers should not live and die unknown-like most of these mangoes.”

Half an hour later I was still strolling in the sylvan peace.

“Sir,” Mr. Wright remarked, “we should reach Giri Bala before the sun sets, to have enough light for photographs.” He added with a grin, “The Westerners are a skeptical lot; we can't expect them to believe in the lady without any pictures!”

This bit of wisdom was indisputable; I turned my back on temptation and reentered the car.

“You are right, Dick,” I sighed as we sped along, “I sacrifice the mango paradise on the altar of Western realism. Photographs we must have!”

The road became more and more sickly: wrinkles of ruts, boils of hardened clay, the sad infirmities of old age! Our group dismounted occasionally to allow Mr. Wright to more easily maneuver the Ford, which the four of us pushed from behind.

“Lambadar Babu spoke truly,” Sailesh acknowledged. “The car is not carrying us; we are carrying the car!”

Our climb-in, climb-out auto tedium was beguiled ever and anon by the appearance of a village, each one a scene of quaint simplicity.

“Our way twisted and turned through groves of palms among ancient, unspoiled villages nestling in the forest shade,” Mr. Wright has recorded in his travel diary, under date of May 5, 1936. “Very fascinating are these clusters of thatched mud huts, decorated with one of the names of God on the door; many small, naked children innocently playing about, pausing to stare or run wildly from this big, black, bullockless carriage tearing madly through their village. The women merely peep from the shadows, while the men lazily loll beneath the trees along the roadside, curious beneath their nonchalance. In one place, all the villagers were gaily bathing in the large tank (in their garments, changing by draping dry cloths around their bodies, dropping the wet ones). Women bearing water to their homes, in huge brass jars.

“The road led us a merry chase over mount and ridge; we bounced and tossed, dipped into small streams, detoured around an unfinished causeway, slithered across dry, sandy river beds and finally, about 5:00 P.M., we were close to our destination, Biur. This minute village in the interior of Bankura District, hidden in the protection of dense foliage, is unapproachable by travelers during the rainy season, when the streams are raging torrents and the roads serpentlike spit the mud-venom.

“Asking for a guide among a group of worshipers on their way home from a temple prayer (out in the lonely field), we were besieged by a dozen scantily clad lads who clambered on the sides of the car, eager to conduct us to Giri Bala.

“The road led toward a grove of date palms sheltering a group of mud huts, but before we had reached it, the Ford was momentarily tipped at a dangerous angle, tossed up and dropped down. The narrow trail led around trees and tank, over ridges, into holes and deep ruts. The car became anchored on a clump of bushes, then grounded on a hillock, requiring a lift of earth clods; on we proceeded, slowly and carefully; suddenly the way was stopped by a mass of brush in the middle of the cart track, necessitating a detour down a precipitous ledge into a dry tank, rescue from which demanded some scraping, adzing, and shoveling. Again and again the road seemed impassable, but the pilgrimage must go on; obliging lads fetched spades and demolished the obstacles (shades of Ganesh!) while hundreds of children and parents stared.

“Soon we were threading our way along the two ruts of antiquity, women gazing wide-eyed from their hut doors, men trailing alongside and behind us, children scampering to swell the procession. Ours was perhaps the first auto to traverse these roads; the 'bullock cart union' must be omnipotent here! What a sensation we created-a group piloted by an American and pioneering in a snorting car right into their hamlet fastness, invading the ancient privacy and sanctity!

“Halting by a narrow lane we found ourselves within a hundred feet of Giri Bala's ancestral home. We felt the thrill of fulfillment after the long road struggle crowned by a rough finish. We approached a large, two-storied building of brick and plaster, dominating the surrounding adobe huts; the house was under the process of repair, for around it was the characteristically tropical framework of bamboos.

“With feverish anticipation and suppressed rejoicing we stood before the open doors of the one blessed by the Lord's 'hungerless' touch. Constantly agape were the villagers, young and old, bare and dressed, women aloof somewhat but inquisitive too, men and boys unabashedly at our heels as they gazed on this unprecedented spectacle.

“Soon a short figure came into view in the doorway-Giri Bala! She was swathed in a cloth of dull, goldish silk; in typically Indian fashion, she drew forward modestly and hesitatingly, peering slightly from beneath the upper fold of her SWADESHI cloth. Her eyes glistened like smouldering embers in the shadow of her head piece; we were enamored by a most benevolent and kindly face, a face of realization and understanding, free from the taint of earthly attachment.

“Meekly she approached and silently assented to our snapping a number of pictures with our 'still' and 'movie' cameras. {FN46-6} Patiently and shyly she endured our photo techniques of posture adjustment and light arrangement. Finally we had recorded for posterity many photographs of the only woman in the world who is known to have lived without food or drink for over fifty years. (Therese Neumann, of course, has fasted since 1923.) Most motherly was Giri Bala's expression as she stood before us, completely covered in the loose-flowing cloth, nothing of her body visible but her face with its downcast eyes, her hands, and her tiny feet. A face of rare peace and innocent poise-a wide, childlike, quivering lip, a feminine nose, narrow, sparkling eyes, and a wistful smile.”

Mr. Wright's impression of Giri Bala was shared by myself; spirituality enfolded her like her gently shining veil. She PRONAMED before me in the customary gesture of greeting from a householder to a monk. Her simple charm and quiet smile gave us a welcome beyond that of honeyed oratory; forgotten was our difficult, dusty trip.

The little saint seated herself cross-legged on the verandah. Though bearing the scars of age, she was not emaciated; her olive-colored skin had remained clear and healthy in tone.

“Mother,” I said in Bengali, “for over twenty-five years I have thought eagerly of this very pilgrimage! I heard about your sacred life from Sthiti Lal Nundy Babu.”

She nodded in acknowledgment. “Yes, my good neighbor in Nawabganj.”

“During those years I have crossed the oceans, but I never forgot my early plan to someday see you. The sublime drama that you are here playing so inconspicuously should be blazoned before a world that has long forgotten the inner food divine.”

The saint lifted her eyes for a minute, smiling with serene interest.

“Baba (honored father) knows best,” she answered meekly.

I was happy that she had taken no offense; one never knows how great yogis or yoginis will react to the thought of publicity. They shun it, as a rule, wishing to pursue in silence the profound soul research. An inner sanction comes to them when the proper time arrives to display their lives openly for the benefit of seeking minds.

“Mother,” I went on, “please forgive me, then, for burdening you with many questions. Kindly answer only those that please you; I shall understand your silence, also.”

She spread her hands in a gracious gesture. “I am glad to reply, insofar as an insignificant person like myself can give satisfactory answers.”

“Oh, no, not insignificant!” I protested sincerely. “You are a great soul.”

“I am the humble servant of all.” She added quaintly, “I love to cook and feed people.”

A strange pastime, I thought, for a non-eating saint!

“Tell me, Mother, from your own lips-do you live without food?”

“That is true.” She was silent for a few moments; her next remark showed that she had been struggling with mental arithmetic. “From the age of twelve years four months down to my present age of sixty-eight—a period of over fifty-six years—I have not eaten food or taken liquids.”

“Are you never tempted to eat?”

“If I felt a craving for food, I would have to eat.” Simply yet regally she stated this axiomatic truth, one known too well by a world revolving around three meals a day!

“But you do eat something!” My tone held a note of remonstrance.

“Of course!” She smiled in swift understanding.

“Your nourishment derives from the finer energies of the air and sunlight, {FN46-7} and from the cosmic power which recharges your body through the medulla oblongata.”

“Baba knows.” Again she acquiesced, her manner soothing and unemphatic.

“Mother, please tell me about your early life. It holds a deep interest for all of India, and even for our brothers and sisters beyond the seas.”

Giri Bala put aside her habitual reserve, relaxing into a conversational mood.

“So be it.” Her voice was low and firm. “I was born in these forest regions. My childhood was unremarkable save that I was possessed by an insatiable appetite. I had been betrothed in early years.

“'Child,' my mother often warned me, 'try to control your greed. When the time comes for you to live among strangers in your husband's family, what will they think of you if your days are spent in nothing but eating?'

“The calamity she had foreseen came to pass. I was only twelve when I joined my husband's people in Nawabganj. My mother-in-law shamed me morning, noon, and night about my gluttonous habits. Her scoldings were a blessing in disguise, however; they roused my dormant spiritual tendencies. One morning her ridicule was merciless.

“'I shall soon prove to you,' I said, stung to the quick, 'that I shall never touch food again as long as I live.'

“My mother-in-law laughed in derision. 'So!' she said, 'how can you live without eating, when you cannot live without overeating?'

“This remark was unanswerable! Yet an iron resolution scaffolded my spirit. In a secluded spot I sought my Heavenly Father.

“'Lord,' I prayed incessantly, 'please send me a guru, one who can teach me to live by Thy light and not by food.'

“A divine ecstasy fell over me. Led by a beatific spell, I set out for the Nawabganj GHAT on the Ganges. On the way I encountered the priest of my husband's family.

“'Venerable sir,' I said trustingly, 'kindly tell me how to live without eating.'

“He stared at me without reply. Finally he spoke in a consoling manner. 'Child,' he said, 'come to the temple this evening; I will conduct a special VEDIC ceremony for you.'

“This vague answer was not the one I was seeking; I continued toward the GHAT. The morning sun pierced the waters; I purified myself in the Ganges, as though for a sacred initiation. As I left the river bank, my wet cloth around me, in the broad glare of day my master materialized himself before me!

“'Dear little one,' he said in a voice of loving compassion, 'I am the guru sent here by God to fulfill your urgent prayer. He was deeply touched by its very unusual nature! From today you shall live by the astral light, your bodily atoms fed from the infinite current.'“

Giri Bala fell into silence. I took Mr. Wright's pencil and pad and translated into English a few items for his information.

The saint resumed the tale, her gentle voice barely audible. “The GHAT was deserted, but my guru cast round us an aura of guarding light, that no stray bathers later disturb us. He initiated me into a KRIA technique which frees the body from dependence on the gross food of mortals. The technique includes the use of a certain MANTRA {FN46-8} and a breathing exercise more difficult than the average person could perform. No medicine or magic is involved; nothing beyond the KRIA.”

In the manner of the American newspaper reporter, who had unknowingly taught me his procedure, I questioned Giri Bala on many matters which I thought would be of interest to the world. She gave me, bit by bit, the following information:

“I have never had any children; many years ago I became a widow. I sleep very little, as sleep and waking are the same to me. I meditate at night, attending to my domestic duties in the daytime. I slightly feel the change in climate from season to season. I have never been sick or experienced any disease. I feel only slight pain when accidentally injured. I have no bodily excretions. I can control my heart and breathing. I often see my guru as well as other great souls, in vision.”

“Mother,” I asked, “why don't you teach others the method of living without food?”

My ambitious hopes for the world's starving millions were nipped in the bud.

“No.” She shook her head. “I was strictly commanded by my guru not to divulge the secret. It is not his wish to tamper with God's drama of creation. The farmers would not thank me if I taught many people to live without eating! The luscious fruits would lie uselessly on the ground. It appears that misery, starvation, and disease are whips of our karma which ultimately drive us to seek the true meaning of life.”

“Mother,” I said slowly, “what is the use of your having been singled out to live without eating?”

“To prove that man is Spirit.” Her face lit with wisdom. “To demonstrate that by divine advancement he can gradually learn to live by the Eternal Light and not by food.”

The saint sank into a deep meditative state. Her gaze was directed inward; the gentle depths of her eyes became expressionless. She gave a certain sigh, the prelude to the ecstatic breathless trance. For a time she had fled to the questionless realm, the heaven of inner joy.

The tropical darkness had fallen. The light of a small kerosene lamp flickered fitfully over the faces of a score of villagers squatting silently in the shadows. The darting glowworms and distant oil lanterns of the huts wove bright eerie patterns into the velvet night. It was the painful hour of parting; a slow, tedious journey lay before our little party.

“Giri Bala,” I said as the saint opened her eyes, “please give me a keepsake-a strip of one of your SARIS.”

She soon returned with a piece of Benares silk, extending it in her hand as she suddenly prostrated herself on the ground.

“Mother,” I said reverently, “rather let me touch your own blessed feet!”

{FN46-1} In northern Bengal.

{FN46-2} H. H. Sir Bijay Chand Mahtab, now dead. His family doubtless possesses some record of the Maharaja's three investigations of Giri Bala.

{FN46-3} Woman yogi.

{FN46-4} “Remover of Obstacles,” the god of good fortune.

{FN46-5} Sri Yukteswar used to say: “The Lord has given us the fruits of the good earth. We like to see our food, to smell it, to taste it—the Hindu likes also to touch it!” One does not mind HEARING it, either, if no one else is present at the meal!

{FN46-6} Mr. Wright also took moving pictures of Sri Yukteswar during his last Winter Solstice Festival in Serampore.

{FN46-7} “What we eat is radiation; our food is so much quanta of energy,” Dr. George W. Crile of Cleveland told a gathering of medical men on May 17, 1933 in Memphis. “This all-important radiation, which releases electrical currents for the body's electrical circuit, the nervous system, is given to food by the sun's rays. Atoms, Dr. Crile says, are solar systems. Atoms are the vehicles that are filled with solar radiance as so many coiled springs. These countless atomfuls of energy are taken in as food. Once in the human body, these tense vehicles, the atoms, are discharged in the body's protoplasm, the radiance furnishing new chemical energy, new electrical currents. 'Your body is made up of such atoms,' Dr. Crile said. 'They are your muscles, brains, and sensory organs, such as the eyes and ears.'“

Someday scientists will discover how man can live directly on solar energy. “Chlorophyll is the only substance known in nature that somehow possesses the power to act as a 'sunlight trap,'“ William L. Laurence writes in the NEW YORK TIMES. “It 'catches' the energy of sunlight and stores it in the plant. Without this no life could exist. We obtain the energy we need for living from the solar energy stored in the plant-food we eat or in the flesh of the animals that eat the plants. The energy we obtain from coal or oil is solar energy trapped by the chlorophyll in plant life millions of years ago. We live by the sun through the agency of chlorophyll.”

{FN46-8} Potent vibratory chant. The literal translation of Sanskrit MANTRA is “instrument of thought,” signifying the ideal, inaudible sounds which represent one aspect of creation; when vocalized as syllables, a MANTRA constitutes a universal terminology. The infinite powers of sound derive from AUM, the “Word” or creative hum of the Cosmic Motor.


CHAPTER 47

I RETURN TO THE WEST

I RETURN TO THE WEST

“I have given many yoga lessons in India and America; but I must confess that, as a Hindu, I am unusually happy to be conducting a class for English students.”

My London class members laughed appreciatively; no political turmoils ever disturbed our yoga peace.

India was now a hallowed memory. It is September, 1936; I am in England to fulfill a promise, given sixteen months earlier, to lecture again in London.

England, too, is receptive to the timeless yoga message. Reporters and newsreel cameramen swarmed over my quarters at Grosvenor House. The British National Council of the World Fellowship of Faiths organized a meeting on September 29th at Whitefield's Congregational Church where I addressed the audience on the weighty subject of “How Faith in Fellowship may Save Civilization.” The eight o'clock lectures at Caxton Hall attracted such crowds that on two nights the overflow waited in Windsor House auditorium for my second talk at nine-thirty. Yoga classes during the following weeks grew so large that Mr. Wright was obliged to arrange a transfer to another hall.

The English tenacity has admirable expression in a spiritual relationship. The London yoga students loyally organized themselves, after my departure, into a Self-Realization Fellowship center, holding their meditation meetings weekly throughout the bitter war years.

Unforgettable weeks in England; days of sight-seeing in London, then over the beautiful countryside. Mr. Wright and I summoned the trusty Ford to visit the birthplaces and tombs of the great poets and heroes of British history.

Our little party sailed from Southampton for America in late October on the BREMEN. The majestic Statue of Liberty in New York harbor brought a joyous emotional gulp not only to the throats of Miss Bletch and Mr. Wright, but to my own.

The Ford, a bit battered from struggles with ancient soils, was still puissant; it now took in its stride the transcontinental trip to California. In late 1936, lo! Mount Washington.

The year-end holidays are celebrated annually at the Los Angeles center with an eight-hour group meditation on December 24th (Spiritual Christmas), followed the next day by a banquet (Social Christmas). The festivities this year were augmented by the presence of dear friends and students from distant cities who had arrived to welcome home the three world travelers.

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The Christmas Day feast included delicacies brought fifteen thousand miles for this glad occasion: GUCCHI mushrooms from Kashmir, canned RASAGULLA and mango pulp, PAPAR biscuits, and an oil of the Indian KEORA flower which flavored our ice cream. The evening found us grouped around a huge sparkling Christmas tree, the near-by fireplace crackling with logs of aromatic cypress.

Gift-time! Presents from the earth's far corners-Palestine, Egypt, India, England, France, Italy. How laboriously had Mr. Wright counted the trunks at each foreign junction, that no pilfering hand receive the treasures intended for loved ones in America! Plaques of the sacred olive tree from the Holy Land, delicate laces and embroideries from Belgium and Holland, Persian carpets, finely woven Kashmiri shawls, everlastingly fragrant sandalwood trays from Mysore, Shiva “bull's eye" stones from Central Provinces, old Indian coins of dynasties long fled, bejeweled vases and cups, miniatures, tapestries, temple incense and perfumes, SWADESHI cotton prints, lacquer work, Mysore ivory carvings, Persian slippers with their inquisitive long toe, quaint old illuminated manuscripts, velvets, brocades, Gandhi caps, potteries, tiles, brasswork, prayer rugs-booty of three continents!

One by one I distributed the gaily wrapped packages from the immense pile under the tree.

“Sister Gyanamata!” I handed a long box to the saintly American lady of sweet visage and deep realization who, during my absence, had been in charge at Mt. Washington. From the paper tissues she lifted a SARI of golden Benares silk.

“Thank you, sir; it brings the pageant of India before my eyes.”

“Mr. Dickinson!” The next parcel contained a gift which I had bought in a Calcutta bazaar. “Mr. Dickinson will like this,” I had thought at the time. A dearly beloved disciple, Mr. Dickinson had been present at every Christmas festivity since the 1925 founding of Mt. Washington. At this eleventh annual celebration, he was standing before me, untying the ribbons of his square little package.

“The silver cup!” Struggling with emotion, he stared at the present, a tall drinking cup. He seated himself some distance away, apparently in a daze. I smiled at him affectionately before resuming my role as Santa Claus.

The ejaculatory evening closed with a prayer to the Giver of all gifts; then a group singing of Christmas carols.

Mr. Dickinson and I were chatting together sometime later.

“Sir,” he said, “please let me thank you now for the silver cup. I could not find any words on Christmas night.”

“I brought the gift especially for you.”

“For forty-three years I have been waiting for that silver cup! It is a long story, one I have kept hidden within me.” Mr. Dickinson looked at me shyly. “The beginning was dramatic: I was drowning. My older brother had playfully pushed me into a fifteen-foot pool in a small town in Nebraska. I was only five years old then. As I was about to sink for the second time under the water, a dazzling multicolored light appeared, filling all space. In the midst was the figure of a man with tranquil eyes and a reassuring smile. My body was sinking for the third time when one of my brother's companions bent a tall slender willow tree in such a low dip that I could grasp it with my desperate fingers. The boys lifted me to the bank and successfully gave me first-aid treatment.

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“Twelve years later, a youth of seventeen, I visited Chicago with my mother. It was 1893; the great World Parliament of Religions was in session. Mother and I were walking down a main street, when again I saw the mighty flash of light. A few paces away, strolling leisurely along, was the same man I had seen years before in vision. He approached a large auditorium and vanished within the door.

[Illustration: Mr. E. E. Dickinson of Los Angeles; he sought a silver cup—see dickinson.jpg]

[Illustration: Sri Yukteswar and myself in Calcutta, 1935. He is carrying the gift umbrella-cane—see gurus.jpg]

[Illustration: A group of Ranchi students and teachers pose with the venerable Maharaja of Kasimbazar (at center, in white). In 1918 he gave his Kasimbazar Palace and twenty-five acres in Ranchi as a permanent site for my yoga school for boys.—see teachers.jpg]

“'Mother,' I cried, 'that was the man who appeared at the time I was drowning!'

“She and I hastened into the building; the man was seated on a lecture platform. We soon learned that he was Swami Vivekananda of India. {FN47-1} After he had given a soul-stirring talk, I went forward to meet him. He smiled on me graciously, as though we were old friends. I was so young that I did not know how to give expression to my feelings, but in my heart I was hoping that he would offer to be my teacher. He read my thought.

“'No, my son, I am not your guru.' Vivekananda gazed with his beautiful, piercing eyes deep into my own. 'Your teacher will come later. He will give you a silver cup.' After a little pause, he added, smiling, 'He will pour out to you more blessings than you are now able to hold.'

“I left Chicago in a few days,” Mr. Dickinson went on, “and never saw the great Vivekananda again. But every word he had uttered was indelibly written on my inmost consciousness. Years passed; no teacher appeared. One night in 1925 I prayed deeply that the Lord would send me my guru. A few hours later, I was awakened from sleep by soft strains of melody. A band of celestial beings, carrying flutes and other instruments, came before my view. After filling the air with glorious music, the angels slowly vanished.

“The next evening I attended, for the first time, one of your lectures here in Los Angeles, and knew then that my prayer had been granted.”

We smiled at each other in silence.

“For eleven years now I have been your KRIYA YOGA disciple,” Mr. Dickinson continued. “Sometimes I wondered about the silver cup; I had almost persuaded myself that Vivekananda's words were only metaphorical. But on Christmas night, as you handed me the square box by the tree, I saw, for the third time in my life, the same dazzling flash of light. In another minute I was gazing on my guru's gift which Vivekananda had foreseen for me forty-three years earlier-a silver cup!”

{FN47-1} The chief disciple of the Christlike master Sri Ramakrishna.


CHAPTER 48

AT ENCINITAS IN CALIFORNIA

AT ENCINITAS IN CALIFORNIA

“A surprise, sir! During your absence abroad we have had this Encinitas hermitage built; it is a 'welcome−home' gift!” Sister Gyanamata smilingly led me through a gate and up a tree−shaded walk.

I saw a building jutting out like a great white ocean liner toward the blue brine. First speechlessly, then with “Oh's!” and “Ah's!”, finally with man's insufficient vocabulary of joy and gratitude, I examined the ashram−sixteen unusually large rooms, each one charmingly appointed.

The stately central hall, with immense ceiling−high windows, looks out on a united altar of grass, ocean, sky−a symphony in emerald, opal, sapphire. A mantle over the hall's huge fireplace holds the framed likeness of Lahiri Mahasaya, smiling his blessing over this far Pacific heaven.

Directly below the hall, built into the very bluff, two solitary meditation caves confront the infinities of sky and sea. Verandahs, sun−bathing nooks, acres of orchard, a eucalypti grove, flagstone paths leading through roses and lilies to quiet arbors, a long flight of stairs ending on an isolated beach and the vast waters! Was dream ever more concrete?

“May the good and heroic and bountiful souls of the saints come here,” reads “A Prayer for a Dwelling,” from the ZEND−AVESTA, fastened on one of the hermitage doors, “and may they go hand in hand with us, giving the healing virtues of their blessed gifts as widespread as the earth, as far−flung as the rivers, as high−reaching as the sun, for the furtherance of better men, for the increase of abundance and glory.

“May obedience conquer disobedience within this house; may peace triumph here over discord; free−hearted giving over avarice, truthful speech over deceit, reverence over contempt. That our minds be delighted, and our souls uplifted, let our bodies be glorified as well; and O Light Divine, may we see Thee, and may we, approaching, come round about Thee, and attain unto Thine entire companionship!”

[Illustration: Encinitas, California, overlooking the Pacific. Main building and part of the grounds of the Self−Realization Fellowship—see encinitas.jpg]

This Self−Realization Fellowship ashram had been made possible through the generosity of a few American disciples, American businessmen of endless responsibilities who yet find time daily for their KRIYA YOGA. Not a word of the hermitage construction had been allowed to reach me during my stay in India and Europe. Astonishment, delight!

During my earlier years in America I had combed the coast of California in quest of a small site for a seaside ashram; whenever I had found a suitable location, some obstacle had invariably arisen to thwart me. Gazing now over the broad acres of Encinitas, {FN48−1} humbly I saw the effortless fulfillment of Sri Yukteswar's long−ago prophecy: “a hermitage by the ocean.”

A few months later, Easter of 1937, I conducted on the smooth lawns at Encinitas the first of many Sunrise Services. Like the magi of old, several hundred students gazed in devotional awe at the daily miracle, the early solar fire rite in the eastern sky. To the west lay the inexhaustible Pacific, booming its solemn praise; in the distance, a tiny white sailing boat, and the lonely flight of a seagull. “Christ, thou art risen!” Not alone with the vernal sun, but in the eternal dawn of Spirit!

Many happy months sped by; in the peace of perfect beauty I was able to complete at the hermitage a long−projected work, COSMIC CHANTS. I set to English words and Western musical notation about forty songs, some original, others my adaptations of ancient melodies. Included were the Shankara chant, “No Birth, No Death”; two favorites of Sri Yukteswar's: “Wake, Yet Wake, O my Saint!” and “Desire, my Great Enemy”; the hoary Sanskrit “Hymn to Brahma”; old Bengali songs, “What Lightning Flash!” and “They Have Heard Thy Name”; Tagore's “Who is in my Temple?”; and a number of my compositions: “I Will be Thine Always,” “In the Land Beyond my Dreams,” “Come Out of the Silent Sky,” “Listen to my Soul Call,” “In the Temple of Silence,” and “Thou Art my Life.”

For a preface to the songbook I recounted my first outstanding experience with the receptivity of Westerners to the quaintly devotional airs of the East. The occasion had been a public lecture; the time, April 18, 1926; the place, Carnegie Hall in New York.

“Mr. Hunsicker,” I had confided to an American student, “I am planning to ask the audience to sing an ancient Hindu chant, 'O God Beautiful!'“

“Sir,” Mr. Hunsicker had protested, “these Oriental songs are alien to American understanding. What a shame if the lecture were to be marred by a commentary of overripe tomatoes!”

I had laughingly disagreed. “Music is a universal language. Americans will not fail to feel the soul−aspiration in this lofty chant.” {FN48−2}

During the lecture Mr. Hunsicker had sat behind me on the platform, probably fearing for my safety. His doubts were groundless; not only had there been an absence of unwelcome vegetables, but for one hour and twenty−five minutes the strains of “O God Beautiful!” had sounded uninterruptedly from three thousand throats. Blase' no longer, dear New Yorkers; your hearts had soared out in a simple paean of rejoicing! Divine healings had taken place that evening among the devotees chanting with love the Lord's blessed name.

The secluded life of a literary minstrel was not my role for long. Soon I was dividing every fortnight between Los Angeles and Encinitas. Sunday services, classes, lectures before clubs and colleges, interviews with students, ceaseless streams of correspondence, articles for EAST−WEST, direction of activities in India and numerous small centers in American cities. Much time was given, also, to the arrangement of KRIYA and other Self−Realization Fellowship teachings into a series of studies for the distant yoga seekers whose zeal recognized no limitation of space.

Joyous dedication of a Self−Realization Church of All Religions took place in 1938 at Washington, D.C. Set amidst landscaped grounds, the stately church stands in a section of the city aptly called “Friendship Heights.” The Washington leader is Swami Premananda, educated at the Ranchi school and Calcutta University. I had summoned him in 1928 to assume leadership of the Washington Self−Realization Fellowship center.

“Premananda,” I told him during a visit to his new temple, “this Eastern headquarters is a memorial in stone to your tireless devotion. Here in the nation's capital you have held aloft the light of Lahiri Mahasaya's ideals.”

Premananda accompanied me from Washington for a brief visit to the Self−Realization Fellowship center in Boston. What joy to see again the KRIYA YOGA band who had remained steadfast since 1920! The Boston leader, Dr. M. W. Lewis, lodged my companion and myself in a modern, artistically decorated suite.

“Sir,” Dr. Lewis said to me, smiling, “during your early years in America you stayed in this city in a single room, without bath. I wanted you to know that Boston possesses some luxurious apartments!”

The shadows of approaching carnage were lengthening over the world; already the acute ear might hear the frightful drums of war. During interviews with thousands in California, and through a world−wide correspondence, I found that men and women were deeply searching their hearts; the tragic outer insecurity had emphasized need for the Eternal Anchorage.

“We have indeed learned the value of meditation,” the leader of the London Self−Realization Fellowship center wrote me in 1941, “and know that nothing can disturb our inner peace. In the last few weeks during the meetings we have heard air−raid warnings and listened to the explosion of delayed−action bombs, but our students still gather and thoroughly enjoy our beautiful service.”

Another letter reached me from war−torn England just before America entered the conflict. In nobly pathetic words, Dr. L. Cranmer Byng, noted editor of THE WISDOM OF THE EAST SERIES, wrote:

“When I read EAST−WEST I realized how far apart we seemed to be, apparently living in two different worlds. Beauty, order, calm, and peace come to me from Los Angeles, sailing into port as a vessel laden with the blessings and comfort of the Holy Grail to a beleaguered city.

“I see as in a dream your palm tree grove, and the temple at Encinitas with its ocean stretches and mountain views, and above all its fellowship of spiritually minded men and women, a community comprehended in unity, absorbed in creative work, and replenished in contemplation. It is the world of my own vision, in the making of which I hoped to bear my little part, and now . . .

“Perhaps in the body I shall never reach your golden shores nor worship in your temple. But it is something and more, to have had the vision and know that in the midst of war there is still a peace that abides in your harbors and among your hills. Greetings to all the Fellowship from a common soldier, written on the watchtower waiting for the dawn.”

The war years brought a spiritual awakening among men whose diversions had never before included a study of the New Testament. One sweet distillment from the bitter herbs of war! To satisfy a growing need, an inspiring little Self−Realization Church of All Religions was built and dedicated in 1942 at Hollywood. The site faces Olive Hill and the distant Los Angeles Planetarium. The church, finished in blue, white, and gold, is reflected amidst the water hyacinths in a large pool. The gardens are gay with flowers, a few startled stone deer, a stained−glass pergola, and a quaint wishing well. Thrown in with the pennies and the kaleidoscopic wishes of man has been many a pure aspiration for the sole treasure of Spirit! A universal benignity flows from small niches with statues of Lahiri Mahasaya and Sri Yukteswar, and of Krishna, Buddha, Confucius, St. Francis, and a beautiful mother−of−pearl reproduction of Christ at the Last Supper.

Another Self−Realization Church of All Religions was founded in 1943 at San Diego. A quiet hilltop temple, it stands in a sloping valley of eucalypti, overlooking sparkling San Diego Bay.

Sitting one evening in this tranquil haven, I was pouring out my heart in song. Under my fingers was the sweet−toned organ of the church, on my lips the yearning plaint of an ancient Bengali devotee who had searched for eternal solace:

In this world, Mother, none can love me; In this world they do not know love divine. Where is there pure loving love? Where is there truly loving Thee? There my heart longs to be.

My companion in the chapel, Dr. Lloyd Kennell, the San Diego center leader, was smiling a little at the words of the song.

“Tell me truly, Paramhansaji, has it been worth it?” He gazed at me with an earnest sincerity. I understood his laconic question: “Have you been happy in America? What about the disillusionments, the heartaches, the center leaders who could not lead, the students who could not be taught?”

“Blessed is the man whom the Lord doth test, Doctor! He has remembered now and then to put a burden on me!” I thought, then, of all the faithful ones, of the love and devotion and understanding that lay in the heart of America. With slow emphasis I went on, “But my answer is: Yes, a thousand times yes! It has been worth−while; it has been a constant inspiration, more than ever I dreamed, to see West and East brought closer in the only lasting bond, the spiritual!”

Silently I added a prayer: “May Babaji and Sri Yukteswarji feel that I have done my part, not disappointing the high hope in which they sent me forth.”

I turned again to the organ; this time my song was tinged with a martial valor:

The grinding wheel of Time doth mar Full many a life of moon and star And many a brightly smiling morn— But still my soul is marching on!

Darkness, death, and failures vied; To block my path they fiercely tried; My fight with jealous Nature's strong— But still my soul is marching on!

New Year's week of 1945 found me at work in my Encinitas study, revising the manuscript of this book.

“Paramhansaji, please come outdoors.” Dr. Lewis, on a visit from Boston, smiled at me pleadingly from outside my window. Soon we were strolling in the sunshine. My companion pointed to new towers in process of construction along the edge of the Fellowship property adjoining the coast highway.

“Sir, I see many improvements here since my last visit.” Dr. Lewis comes twice annually from Boston to Encinitas.

“Yes, Doctor, a project I have long considered is beginning to take definite form. In these beautiful surroundings I have started a miniature world colony. Brotherhood is an ideal better understood by example than precept! A small harmonious group here may inspire other ideal communities over the earth.”

“A splendid idea, sir! The colony will surely be a success if everyone sincerely does his part!”

“'World' is a large term, but man must enlarge his allegiance, considering himself in the light of a world citizen,” I continued. “A person who truly feels: 'The world is my homeland; it is my America, my India, my Philippines, my England, my Africa,' will never lack scope for a useful and happy life. His natural local pride will know limitless expansion; he will be in touch with creative universal currents.”

Dr. Lewis and I halted above the lotus pool near the hermitage. Below us lay the illimitable Pacific.

“These same waters break equally on the coasts of West and East, in California and China.” My companion threw a little stone into the first of the oceanic seventy million square miles. “Encinitas is a symbolic spot for a world colony.”

“That is true, Doctor. We shall arrange here for many conferences and Congresses of Religion, inviting delegates from all lands. Flags of the nations will hang in our halls. Diminutive temples will be built over the grounds, dedicated to the world's principal religions.

“As soon as possible,” I went on, “I plan to open a Yoga Institute here. The blessed role of KRIYA YOGA in the West has hardly more than just begun. May all men come to know that there is a definite, scientific technique of self−realization for the overcoming of all human misery!”

[Illustration: Speakers at a 1945 Interracial Meeting in San Francisco during the convening of the Peace Conference. (Left to right) Dr. Maneck Anklesaria, John Cohee, myself, Hugh E. MacBeth, Vince M. Townsend, Jr., Richard B. Moore—see sanfr.jpg]

[Illustration: The Self−Realization Church of All Religions in Washington, D.C., whose leader, Swami Premananda, is here pictured with me—see premananda.jpg]

[Illustration: My venerable father, seated in the tranquil lotus posture, Calcutta, 1936—see father2.jpg]

Far into the night my dear friend−the first KRIYA YOGI in America—discussed with me the need for world colonies founded on a spiritual basis. The ills attributed to an anthropomorphic abstraction called “society” may be laid more realistically at the door of Everyman. Utopia must spring in the private bosom before it can flower in civic virtue. Man is a soul, not an institution; his inner reforms alone can lend permanence to outer ones. By stress on spiritual values, self−realization, a colony exemplifying world brotherhood is empowered to send inspiring vibrations far beyond its locale.

August 15, 1945, close of Global War II! End of a world; dawn of an enigmatic Atomic Age! The hermitage residents gathered in the main hall for a prayer of thanksgiving. “Heavenly Father, may never it be again! Thy children go henceforth as brothers!”

Gone was the tension of war years; our spirits purred in the sun of peace. I gazed happily at each of my American comrades.

“Lord,” I thought gratefully, “Thou hast given this monk a large family!”

{FN48−1} A small town on Coast Highway 101, Encinitas is 100 miles south of Los Angeles, and 25 miles north of San Diego.

{FN48−2} I translate here the words of Guru Nanak's song:

O God beautiful! O God beautiful! In the forest, Thou art green, In the mountain, Thou art high, In the river, Thou art restless, In the ocean, Thou art grave! To the serviceful, Thou art service, To the lover, Thou art love, To the sorrowful, Thou art sympathy, To the yogi, Thou art bliss! O God beautiful! O God beautiful! At Thy feet, O I do bow!