CHAPTER 12: Years in My Master's Hermitage
"You have come." Sri Yukteswar greeted me from a tiger
skin on the floor of a
balconied sitting room. His voice was cold, his manner unemotional.
"Yes, dear Master, I am here to follow you." Kneeling,
I touched his feet.
"How can that be? You ignore my wishes."
"No longer, Guruji! Your wish shall be my law!"
"That is better! Now I can assume responsibility for your
"I willingly transfer the burden, Master."
"My first request, then, is that you return home to your
family. I want you to enter college in Calcutta. Your education
should be continued."
"Very well, sir." I hid my consternation. Would importunate
books pursue me down the years? First Father, now Sri Yukteswar!
"Someday you will go to the West. Its people will lend ears
more receptive to India's ancient wisdom if the strange Hindu teacher
has a university degree."
"You know best, Guruji." My gloom departed. The reference
to the West I found puzzling, remote; but my opportunity to please
Master by obedience was vitally immediate.
"You will be near in Calcutta; come here whenever you find
"Every day if possible, Master! Gratefully I accept your
authority in every detail of my life—on one condition."
"That you promise to reveal God to me!"
An hour-long verbal tussle ensued. A master's word cannot be
falsified; it is not lightly given. The implications in the pledge
open out vast metaphysical vistas. A guru must be on intimate terms
indeed with the Creator before he can obligate Him to appear! I
sensed Sri Yukteswar's divine unity, and was determined, as his
disciple, to press my advantage.
"You are of exacting disposition!" Then Master's consent
rang out with compassionate finality:
"Let your wish be my wish."
Lifelong shadow lifted from my heart; the vague search, hither
and yon, was over. I had found eternal shelter in a true guru.
"Come; I will show you the hermitage." Master rose
from his tiger mat. I glanced about me; my gaze fell with astonishment
on a wall picture, garlanded with a spray of jasmine.
"Yes, my divine guru." Sri Yukteswar's tone was reverently
vibrant. "Greater he was, as man and yogi, than any other teacher
whose life came within the range of my investigations."
Silently I bowed before the familiar picture. Soul-homage sped
to the peerless master who, blessing my infancy, had guided my steps
to this hour.
Led by my guru, I strolled over the house and its grounds. Large,
ancient and well-built, the hermitage was surrounded by a massive-pillared
courtyard. Outer walls were moss-covered; pigeons fluttered over
the flat gray roof, unceremoniously sharing the ashram quarters.
A rear garden was pleasant with jackfruit, mango, and plantain trees.
Balustraded balconies of upper rooms in the two-storied building
faced the courtyard from three sides. A spacious ground-floor hall,
with high ceiling supported by colonnades, was used, Master said,
chiefly during the annual festivities of Durgapuja.1 A narrow stairway
led to Sri Yukteswar's sitting room, whose small balcony overlooked
the street. The ashram was plainly furnished; everything was simple,
clean, and utilitarian. Several Western styled chairs, benches,
and tables were in evidence.
Master invited me to stay overnight. A supper of vegetable curry
was served by two young disciples who were receiving hermitage training.
"Guruji, please tell me something of your life." I
was squatting on a straw mat near his tiger skin. The friendly stars
were very close, it seemed, beyond the balcony.
"My family name was Priya Nath Karar. I was born2 here in
Serampore, where Father was a wealthy businessman. He left me this
ancestral mansion, now my hermitage. My formal schooling was little;
I found it slow and shallow. In early manhood, I undertook the responsibilities
of a householder, and have one daughter, now married. My middle
life was blessed with the guidance of Lahiri Mahasaya. After my
wife died, I joined the Swami Order and received the new name of
Sri Yukteswar Giri. 3 Such are my simple annals."
Master smiled at my eager face. Like all biographical sketches,
his words had given the outward facts without revealing the inner
"Guruji, I would like to hear some stories of your childhood."
"I will tell you a few—each one with a moral!" Sri
Yukteswar's eyes twinkled with his warning. "My mother once
tried to frighten me with an appalling story of a ghost in a dark
chamber. I went there immediately, and expressed my disappointment
at having missed the ghost. Mother never told me another horror-tale.
Moral: Look fear in the face and it will cease to trouble you.
"Another early memory is my wish for an ugly dog belonging
to a neighbor. I kept my household in turmoil for weeks to get that
dog. My ears were deaf to offers of pets with more prepossessing
appearance. Moral: Attachment is blinding; it lends an imaginary
halo of attractiveness to the object of desire.
"A third story concerns the plasticity of the youthful mind.
I heard my mother remark occasionally: 'A man who accepts a job
under anyone is a slave.' That impression became so indelibly fixed
that even after my marriage I refused all positions. I met expenses
by investing my family endowment in land. Moral: Good and positive
suggestions should instruct the sensitive ears of children. Their
early ideas long remain sharply etched."
Master fell into tranquil silence. Around midnight he led me
to a narrow cot. Sleep was sound and sweet the first night under
my guru's roof.
Sri Yukteswar chose the following morning to grant me his Kriya
Yoga initiation. The technique I had already received from two disciples
of Lahiri Mahasaya—Father and my tutor, Swami Kebalananda—but in
Master's presence I felt transforming power. At his touch, a great
light broke upon my being, like glory of countless suns blazing
together. A flood of ineffable bliss, overwhelming my heart to an
innermost core, continued during the following day. It was late
that afternoon before I could bring myself to leave the hermitage.
"You will return in thirty days." As I reached my Calcutta
home, the fulfillment of Master's prediction entered with me. None
of my relatives made the pointed remarks I had feared about the
reappearance of the "soaring bird."
I climbed to my little attic and bestowed affectionate glances,
as though on a living presence. "You have witnessed my meditations,
and the tears and storms of my sadhana. Now I have reached the harbor
of my divine teacher."
"Son, I am happy for us both." Father and I sat together
in the evening calm. "You have found your guru, as in miraculous
fashion I once found my own. The holy hand of Lahiri Mahasaya is
guarding our lives. Your master has proved no inaccessible Himalayan
saint, but one near-by. My prayers have been answered: you have
not in your search for God been permanently removed from my sight."
Father was also pleased that my formal studies would be resumed;
he made suitable arrangements. I was enrolled the following day
at the Scottish Church College in Calcutta.
Happy months sped by. My readers have doubtless made the perspicacious
surmise that I was little seen in the college classrooms. The Serampore
hermitage held a lure too irresistible. Master accepted my ubiquitous
presence without comment. To my relief, he seldom referred to the
halls of learning. Though it was plain to all that I was never cut
out for a scholar, I managed to attain minimum passing grades from
time to time.
Daily life at the ashram flowed smoothly, infrequently varied.
My guru awoke before dawn. Lying down, or sometimes sitting on the
bed, he entered a state of samadhi.4 It was simplicity itself to
discover when Master had awakened: abrupt halt of stupendous snores.
5 A sigh or two; perhaps a bodily movement. Then a soundless state
of breathlessness: he was in deep yogic joy.
Breakfast did not follow; first came a long walk by the Ganges.
Those morning strolls with my guru—how real and vivid still! In
the easy resurrection of memory, I often find myself by his side:
the early sun is warming the river. His voice rings out, rich with
the authenticity of wisdom.
A bath; then the midday meal. Its preparation, according to Master's
daily directions, had been the careful task of young disciples.
My guru was a vegetarian. Before embracing monkhood, however, he
had eaten eggs and fish. His advice to students was to follow any
simple diet which proved suited to one's constitution.
Master ate little; often rice, colored with turmeric or juice
of beets or spinach and lightly sprinkled with buffalo ghee or melted
butter. Another day he might have lentil-dhal or channa6 curry with
vegetables. For dessert, mangoes or oranges with rice pudding, or
Visitors appeared in the afternoons. A steady stream poured from
the world into the hermitage tranquillity. Everyone found in Master
an equal courtesy and kindness. To a man who has realized himself
as a soul, not the body or the ego, the rest of humanity assumes
a striking similarity of aspect.
The impartiality of saints is rooted in wisdom. Masters have
escaped maya; its alternating faces of intellect and idiocy no longer
cast an influential glance. Sri Yukteswar showed no special consideration
to those who happened to be powerful or accomplished; neither did
he slight others for their poverty or illiteracy. He would listen
respectfully to words of truth from a child, and openly ignore a
Eight o'clock was the supper hour, and sometimes found lingering
guests. My guru would not excuse himself to eat alone; none left
his ashram hungry or dissatisfied. Sri Yukteswar was never at a
loss, never dismayed by unexpected visitors; scanty food would emerge
a banquet under his resourceful direction. Yet he was economical;
his modest funds went far. "Be comfortable within your purse,"
he often said. "Extravagance will buy you discomfort."
Whether in the details of hermitage entertainment, or his building
and repair work, or other practical concerns, Master manifested
the originality of a creative spirit.
Quiet evening hours often brought one of my guru's discourses,
treasures against time. His every utterance was measured and chiseled
by wisdom. A sublime self-assurance marked his mode of expression:
it was unique. He spoke as none other in my experience ever spoke.
His thoughts were weighed in a delicate balance of discrimination
before he permitted them an outward garb. The essence of truth,
all-pervasive with even a physiological aspect, came from him like
a fragrant exudation of the soul. I was conscious always that I
was in the presence of a living manifestation of God. The weight
of his divinity automatically bowed my head before him.
If late guests detected that Sri Yukteswar was becoming engrossed
with the Infinite, he quickly engaged them in conversation. He was
incapable of striking a pose, or of flaunting his inner withdrawal.
Always one with the Lord, he needed no separate time for communion.
A self-realized master has already left behind the stepping stone
of meditation. "The flower falls when the fruit appears."
But saints often cling to spiritual forms for the encouragement
As midnight approached, my guru might fall into a doze with the
naturalness of a child. There was no fuss about bedding. He often
lay down, without even a pillow, on a narrow davenport which was
the background for his customary tiger-skin seat.
A night-long philosophical discussion was not rare; any disciple
could summon it by intensity of interest. I felt no tiredness then,
no desire for sleep; Master's living words were sufficient. "Oh,
it is dawn! Let us walk by the Ganges." So ended many of my
periods of nocturnal edification.
My early months with Sri Yukteswar culminated in a useful lesson—"How
to Outwit a Mosquito." At home my family always used protective
curtains at night. I was dismayed to discover that in the Serampore
hermitage this prudent custom was honored in the breach. Yet the
insects were in full residency; I was bitten from head to foot.
My guru took pity on me.
"Buy yourself a curtain, and also one for me." He laughed
and added, "If you buy only one, for yourself, all mosquitoes
will concentrate on me!"
I was more than thankful to comply. Every night that I spent
in Serampore, my guru would ask me to arrange the bedtime curtains.
The mosquitoes one evening were especially virulent. But Master
failed to issue his usual instructions. I listened nervously to
the anticipatory hum of the insects. Getting into bed, I threw a
propitiatory prayer in their general direction. A half hour later,
I coughed pretentiously to attract my guru's attention. I thought
I would go mad with the bites and especially the singing drone as
the mosquitoes celebrated bloodthirsty rites.
No responsive stir from Master; I approached him cautiously.
He was not breathing. This was my first observation of him in the
yogic trance; it filled me with fright.
"His heart must have failed!" I placed a mirror under
his nose; no breath-vapor appeared. To make doubly certain, for
minutes I closed his mouth and nostrils with my fingers. His body
was cold and motionless. In a daze, I turned toward the door to
"So! A budding experimentalist! My poor nose!" Master's
voice was shaky with laughter. "Why don't you go to bed? Is
the whole world going to change for you? Change yourself: be rid
of the mosquito consciousness."
Meekly I returned to my bed. Not one insect ventured near. I
realized that my guru had previously agreed to the curtains only
to please me; he had no fear of mosquitoes. His yogic power was
such that he either could will them not to bite, or could escape
to an inner invulnerability.
"He was giving me a demonstration," I thought. "That
is the yogic state I must strive to attain." A yogi must be
able to pass into, and continue in, the superconsciousness, regardless
of multitudinous distractions never absent from this earth. Whether
in the buzz of insects or the pervasive glare of daylight, the testimony
of the senses must be barred. Sound and sight come then indeed,
but to worlds fairer than the banished Eden.7
The instructive mosquitoes served for another early lesson at
the ashram. It was the gentle hour of dusk. My guru was matchlessly
interpreting the ancient texts. At his feet, I was in perfect peace.
A rude mosquito entered the idyl and competed for my attention.
As it dug a poisonous hypodermic needle into my thigh, I automatically
raised an avenging hand. Reprieve from impending execution! An opportune
memory came to me of one of Patanjali's yoga aphorisms—that on ahimsa
"Why didn't you finish the job?"
"Master! Do you advocate taking life?"
"No; but the deathblow already had been struck in your mind."
"I don't understand."
"Patanjali's meaning was the removal of desire to kill."
Sri Yukteswar had found my mental processes an open book. "This
world is inconveniently arranged for a literal practice of ahimsa.
Man may be compelled to exterminate harmful creatures. He is not
under similar compulsion to feel anger or animosity. All forms of
life have equal right to the air of maya. The saint who uncovers
the secret of creation will be in harmony with its countless bewildering
expressions. All men may approach that understanding who curb the
inner passion for destruction."
"Guruji, should one offer himself a sacrifice rather than
kill a wild beast?"
"No; man's body is precious. It has the highest evolutionary
value because of unique brain and spinal centers. These enable the
advanced devotee to fully grasp and express the loftiest aspects
of divinity. No lower form is so equipped. It is true that one incurs
the debt of a minor sin if he is forced to kill an animal or any
living thing. But the Vedas teach that wanton loss of a human body
is a serious transgression against the karmic law."
I sighed in relief; scriptural reinforcement of one's natural
instincts is not always forthcoming.
It so happened that I never saw Master at close quarters with
a leopard or a tiger. But a deadly cobra once confronted him, only
to be conquered by my guru's love. This variety of snake is much
feared in India, where it causes more than five thousand deaths
annually. The dangerous encounter took place at Puri, where Sri
Yukteswar had a second hermitage, charmingly situated near the Bay
of Bengal. Prafulla, a young disciple of later years, was with Master
on this occasion.
"We were seated outdoors near the ashram," Prafulla
told me. "A cobra appeared near-by, a four-foot length of sheer
terror. Its hood was angrily expanded as it raced toward us. My
guru gave a welcoming chuckle, as though to a child. I was beside
myself with consternation to see Master engage in a rhythmical clapping
of hands.8 He was entertaining the dread visitor! I remained absolutely
quiet, inwardly ejaculating what fervent prayers I could muster.
The serpent, very close to my guru, was now motionless, seemingly
magnetized by his caressing attitude. The frightful hood gradually
contracted; the snake slithered between Master's feet and disappeared
into the bushes.
"Why my guru would move his hands, and why the cobra would
not strike them, were inexplicable to me then," Prafulla concluded. "I
have since come to realize that my divine master is beyond fear
of hurt from any living creature."
One afternoon during my early months at the ashram, found Sri
Yukteswar's eyes fixed on me piercingly.
"You are too thin, Mukunda."
His remark struck a sensitive point. That my sunken eyes and
emaciated appearance were far from my liking was testified to by
rows of tonics in my room at Calcutta. Nothing availed; chronic
dyspepsia had pursued me since childhood. My despair reached an
occasional zenith when I asked myself if it were worth-while to
carry on this life with a body so unsound.
"Medicines have limitations; the creative life-force has
none. Believe that: you shall be well and strong."
Sri Yukteswar's words aroused a conviction of personally-applicable
truth which no other healer—and I had tried many!—had been able
to summon within me.
Day by day, behold! I waxed. Two weeks after Master's hidden
blessing, I had accumulated the invigorating weight which eluded
me in the past. My persistent stomach ailments vanished with a lifelong
permanency. On later occasions I witnessed my guru's instantaneous
divine healings of persons suffering from ominous disease—tuberculosis,
diabetes, epilepsy, or paralysis. Not one could have been more grateful
for his cure than I was at sudden freedom from my cadaverous aspect.
"Years ago, I too was anxious to put on weight," Sri
Yukteswar told me. "During convalescence after a severe illness,
I visited Lahiri Mahasaya in Benares.
"'Sir, I have been very sick and lost many pounds.'
"'I see, Yukteswar,9 you made yourself unwell, and now you
think you are thin.'
"This reply was far from the one I had expected; my guru,
however, added encouragingly:
"'Let me see; I am sure you ought to feel better tomorrow.'
"Taking his words as a gesture of secret healing toward
my receptive mind, I was not surprised the next morning at a welcome
accession of strength. I sought out my master and exclaimed exultingly,
'Sir, I feel much better today.'
"'Indeed! Today you invigorate yourself.'
"'No, master!' I protested. 'It was you who helped me; this
is the first time in weeks that I have had any energy.'
"'O yes! Your malady has been quite serious. Your body is
frail yet; who can say how it will be tomorrow?'
"The thought of possible return of my weakness brought me
a shudder of cold fear. The following morning I could hardly drag
myself to Lahiri Mahasaya's home.
"'Sir, I am ailing again.'
"My guru's glance was quizzical. 'So! Once more you indispose
"'Gurudeva, I realize now that day by day you have been
ridiculing me.' My patience was exhausted. 'I don't understand why
you disbelieve my truthful reports.'
"'Really, it has been your thoughts that have made you feel
alternately weak and strong.' My master looked at me affectionately.
'You have seen how your health has exactly followed your expectations.
Thought is a force, even as electricity or gravitation. The human
mind is a spark of the almighty consciousness of God. I could show
you that whatever your powerful mind believes very intensely would
instantly come to pass.'
"Knowing that Lahiri Mahasaya never spoke idly, I addressed
him with great awe and gratitude: 'Master, if I think I am well
and have regained my former weight, shall that happen?'
"'It is so, even at this moment.' My guru spoke gravely,
his gaze concentrated on my eyes.
"Lo! I felt an increase not alone of strength but of weight.
Lahiri Mahasaya retreated into silence. After a few hours at his
feet, I returned to my mother's home, where I stayed during my visits
"'My son! What is the matter? Are you swelling with dropsy?'
Mother could hardly believe her eyes. My body was now of the same
robust dimensions it had possessed before my illness.
"I weighed myself and found that in one day I had gained
fifty pounds; they remained with me permanently. Friends and acquaintances
who had seen my thin figure were aghast with wonderment. A number
of them changed their mode of life and became disciples of Lahiri
Mahasaya as a result of this miracle.
"My guru, awake in God, knew this world to be nothing but
an objectivized dream of the Creator. Because he was completely
aware of his unity with the Divine Dreamer, Lahiri Mahasaya could
materialize or dematerialize or make any change he wished in the
cosmic vision. 10
"All creation is governed by law," Sri Yukteswar concluded. "The
ones which manifest in the outer universe, discoverable by scientists,
are called natural laws. But there are subtler laws ruling the realms
of consciousness which can be known only through the inner science
of yoga. The hidden spiritual planes also have their natural and
lawful principles of operation. It is not the physical scientist
but the fully self-realized master who comprehends the true nature
of matter. Thus Christ was able to restore the servant's ear after
it had been severed by one of the disciples."11
Sri Yukteswar was a peerless interpreter of the scriptures. Many
of my happiest memories are centered in his discourses. But his
jeweled thoughts were not cast into ashes of heedlessness or stupidity.
One restless movement of my body, or my slight lapse into absent-mindedness,
sufficed to put an abrupt period to Master's exposition.
"You are not here." Master interrupted himself one
afternoon with this disclosure. As usual, he was keeping track of
my attention with a devastating immediacy.
"Guruji!" My tone was a protest. "I have not stirred;
my eyelids have not moved; I can repeat each word you have uttered!"
"Nevertheless you were not fully with me. Your objection
forces me to remark that in your mental background you were creating
three institutions. One was a sylvan retreat on a plain, another
on a hilltop, a third by the ocean."
Those vaguely formulated thoughts had indeed been present almost
subconsciously. I glanced at him apologetically.
"What can I do with such a master, who penetrates my random
"You have given me that right. The subtle truths I am expounding
cannot be grasped without your complete concentration. Unless necessary
I do not invade the seclusion of others' minds. Man has the natural
privilege of roaming secretly among his thoughts. The unbidden Lord
does not enter there; neither do I venture intrusion."
"You are ever welcome, Master!"
"Your architectural dreams will materialize later. Now is
the time for study!"
Thus incidentally my guru revealed in his simple way the coming
of three great events in my life. Since early youth I had had enigmatic
glimpses of three buildings, each in a different setting. In the
exact sequence Sri Yukteswar had indicated, these visions took ultimate
form. First came my founding of a boys' yoga school on a Ranchi
plain, then my American headquarters on a Los Angeles hilltop, finally
a hermitage in southern California by the vast Pacific.
Master never arrogantly asserted: "I prophesy that such
and such an event shall occur!" He would rather hint: "Don't
you think it may happen?" But his simple speech hid vatic power.
There was no recanting; never did his slightly veiled words prove
Sri Yukteswar was reserved and matter-of-fact in demeanor. There
was naught of the vague or daft visionary about him. His feet were
firm on the earth, his head in the haven of heaven. Practical people
aroused his admiration. "Saintliness is not dumbness! Divine
perceptions are not incapacitating!" he would say. "The
active expression of virtue gives rise to the keenest intelligence."
In Master's life I fully discovered the cleavage between spiritual
realism and the obscure mysticism that spuriously passes as a counterpart.
My guru was reluctant to discuss the superphysical realms. His only "marvelous"
aura was one of perfect simplicity. In conversation he avoided startling
references; in action he was freely expressive. Others talked of
miracles but could manifest nothing; Sri Yukteswar seldom mentioned
the subtle laws but secretly operated them at will.
"A man of realization does not perform any miracle until
he receives an inward sanction," Master explained. "God
does not wish the secrets of His creation revealed promiscuously.12
Also, every individual in the world has inalienable right to his
free will. A saint will not encroach upon that independence."
The silence habitual to Sri Yukteswar was caused by his deep
perceptions of the Infinite. No time remained for the interminable "revelations"
that occupy the days of teachers without self-realization. "In
shallow men the fish of little thoughts cause much commotion. In
oceanic minds the whales of inspiration make hardly a ruffle."
This observation from the Hindu scriptures is not without discerning
Because of my guru's unspectacular guise, only a few of his contemporaries
recognized him as a superman. The popular adage: "He is a fool
that cannot conceal his wisdom," could never be applied to
Sri Yukteswar. Though born a mortal like all others, Master had
achieved identity with the Ruler of time and space. In his life
I perceived a godlike unity. He had not found any insuperable obstacle
to mergence of human with Divine. No such barrier exists, I came
to understand, save in man's spiritual unadventurousness.
I always thrilled at the touch of Sri Yukteswar's holy feet.
Yogis teach that a disciple is spiritually magnetized by reverent
contact with a master; a subtle current is generated. The devotee's
undesirable habit-mechanisms in the brain are often cauterized;
the groove of his worldly tendencies beneficially disturbed. Momentarily
at least he may find the secret veils of maya lifting, and glimpse
the reality of bliss. My whole body responded with a liberating
glow whenever I knelt in the Indian fashion before my guru.
"Even when Lahiri Mahasaya was silent," Master told
me, "or when he conversed on other than strictly religious
topics, I discovered that nonetheless he had transmitted to me ineffable
Sri Yukteswar affected me similarly. If I entered the hermitage
in a worried or indifferent frame of mind, my attitude imperceptibly
changed. A healing calm descended at mere sight of my guru. Every
day with him was a new experience in joy, peace, and wisdom. Never
did I find him deluded or intoxicated with greed or emotion or anger
or any human attachment.
"The darkness of maya is silently approaching. Let us hie
homeward within." With these words at dusk Master constantly
reminded his disciples of their need for Kriya Yoga. A new student
occasionally expressed doubts regarding his own worthiness to engage
in yoga practice.
"Forget the past," Sri Yukteswar would console him. "The
vanished lives of all men are dark with many shames. Human conduct
is ever unreliable until anchored in the Divine. Everything in future
will improve if you are making a spiritual effort now."
Master always had young chelas 13 in his hermitage. Their spiritual
and intellectual education was his lifelong interest: even shortly
before he passed on, he accepted for training two six-year-old boys
and one youth of sixteen. He directed their minds and lives with
that careful discipline in which the word "disciple" is
etymologically rooted. The ashram residents loved and revered their
guru; a slight clap of his hands sufficed to bring them eagerly
to his side. When his mood was silent and withdrawn, no one ventured
to speak; when his laugh rang jovially, children looked upon him
as their own.
Master seldom asked others to render him a personal service,
nor would he accept help from a student unless the willingness were
sincere. My guru quietly washed his clothes if the disciples overlooked
that privileged task. Sri Yukteswar wore the traditional ocher-colored
swami robe; his laceless shoes, in accordance with yogi custom,
were of tiger or deer skin.
Master spoke fluent English, French, Hindi, and Bengali; his
Sanskrit was fair. He patiently instructed his young disciples by
certain short cuts which he had ingeniously devised for the study
of English and Sanskrit.
Master was cautious of his body, while withholding solicitous
attachment. The Infinite, he pointed out, properly manifests through
physical and mental soundness. He discountenanced any extremes.
A disciple once started a long fast. My guru only laughed: "Why
not throw the dog a bone?"
Sri Yukteswar's health was excellent; I never saw him unwell.14
He permitted students to consult doctors if it seemed advisable.
His purpose was to give respect to the worldly custom: "Physicians
must carry on their work of healing through God's laws as applied
to matter." But he extolled the superiority of mental therapy,
and often repeated: "Wisdom is the greatest cleanser."
"The body is a treacherous friend. Give it its due; no more,"
he said. "Pain and pleasure are transitory; endure all dualities
with calmness, while trying at the same time to remove their hold.
Imagination is the door through which disease as well as healing
enters. Disbelieve in the reality of sickness even when you are
ill; an unrecognized visitor will flee!"
Master numbered many doctors among his disciples. "Those
who have ferreted out the physical laws can easily investigate the
science of the soul," he told them. "A subtle spiritual
mechanism is hidden just behind the bodily structure."15
Sri Yukteswar counseled his students to be living liaisons of
Western and Eastern virtues. Himself an executive Occidental in
outer habits, inwardly he was the spiritual Oriental. He praised
the progressive, resourceful and hygienic habits of the West, and
the religious ideals which give a centuried halo to the East.
Discipline had not been unknown to me: at home Father was strict,
Ananta often severe. But Sri Yukteswar's training cannot be described
as other than drastic. A perfectionist, my guru was hypercritical
of his disciples, whether in matters of moment or in the subtle
nuances of behavior.
"Good manners without sincerity are like a beautiful dead
lady," he remarked on suitable occasion. "Straightforwardness
without civility is like a surgeon's knife, effective but unpleasant.
Candor with courtesy is helpful and admirable."
Master was apparently satisfied with my spiritual progress, for
he seldom referred to it; in other matters my ears were no strangers
to reproof. My chief offenses were absentmindedness, intermittent
indulgence in sad moods, non-observance of certain rules of etiquette,
and occasional unmethodical ways.
"Observe how the activities of your father Bhagabati are
well-organized and balanced in every way," my guru pointed
out. The two disciples of Lahiri Mahasaya had met, soon after I
began my pilgrimages to Serampore. Father and Sri Yukteswar admiringly
evaluated the other's worth. Both had built an inner life of spiritual
granite, insoluble against the ages.
From transient teachers of my earlier life I had imbibed a few
erroneous lessons. A chela, I was told, need not concern himself
strenuously over worldly duties; when I had neglected or carelessly
performed my tasks, I was not chastised. Human nature finds such
instruction very easy of assimilation. Under Master's unsparing
rod, however, I soon recovered from the agreeable delusions of irresponsibility.
"Those who are too good for this world are adorning some
other," Sri Yukteswar remarked. "So long as you breathe
the free air of earth, you are under obligation to render grateful
service. He alone who has fully mastered the breathless state16
is freed from cosmic imperatives. I will not fail to let you know
when you have attained the final perfection."
My guru could never be bribed, even by love. He showed no leniency
to anyone who, like myself, willingly offered to be his disciple.
Whether Master and I were surrounded by his students or by strangers,
or were alone together, he always spoke plainly and upbraided sharply.
No trifling lapse into shallowness or inconsistency escaped his
rebuke. This flattening treatment was hard to endure, but my resolve
was to allow Sri Yukteswar to iron out each of my psychological
kinks. As he labored at this titanic transformation, I shook many
times under the weight of his disciplinary hammer.
"If you don't like my words, you are at liberty to leave
at any time," Master assured me. "I want nothing from
you but your own improvement. Stay only if you feel benefited."
For every humbling blow he dealt my vanity, for every tooth in
my metaphorical jaw he knocked loose with stunning aim, I am grateful
beyond any facility of expression. The hard core of human egotism
is hardly to be dislodged except rudely. With its departure, the
Divine finds at last an unobstructed channel. In vain It seeks to
percolate through flinty hearts of selfishness.
Sri Yukteswar's wisdom was so penetrating that, heedless of remarks,
he often replied to one's unspoken observation. "What a person
imagines he hears, and what the speaker has really implied, may
be poles apart," he said. "Try to feel the thoughts behind
the confusion of men's verbiage."
But divine insight is painful to worldly ears; Master was not
popular with superficial students. The wise, always few in number,
deeply revered him. I daresay Sri Yukteswar would have been the
most sought-after guru in India had his words not been so candid
and so censorious.
"I am hard on those who come for my training," he admitted
to me. "That is my way; take it or leave it. I will never compromise.
But you will be much kinder to your disciples; that is your way.
I try to purify only in the fires of severity, searing beyond the
average toleration. The gentle approach of love is also transfiguring.
The inflexible and the yielding methods are equally effective if
applied with wisdom. You will go to foreign lands, where blunt assaults
on the ego are not appreciated. A teacher could not spread India's
message in the West without an ample fund of accommodative patience
and forbearance." I refuse to state the amount of truth I later
came to find in Master's words!
Though Sri Yukteswar's undissembling speech prevented a large
following during his years on earth, nevertheless his living spirit
manifests today over the world, through sincere students of his
Kriya Yoga and other teachings. He has further dominion in men's
souls than ever Alexander dreamed of in the soil.
Father arrived one day to pay his respects to Sri Yukteswar.
My parent expected, very likely, to hear some words in my praise.
He was shocked to be given a long account of my imperfections. It
was Master's practice to recount simple, negligible shortcomings
with an air of portentous gravity. Father rushed to see me. "From
your guru's remarks I thought to find you a complete wreck!"
My parent was between tears and laughter.
The only cause of Sri Yukteswar's displeasure at the time was
that I had been trying, against his gentle hint, to convert a certain
man to the spiritual path.
With indignant speed I sought out my guru. He received me with
downcast eyes, as though conscious of guilt. It was the only time
I ever saw the divine lion meek before me. The unique moment was
savored to the full.
"Sir, why did you judge me so mercilessly before my astounded
father? Was that just?"
"I will not do it again." Master's tone was apologetic.
Instantly I was disarmed. How readily the great man admitted
his fault! Though he never again upset Father's peace of mind, Master
relentlessly continued to dissect me whenever and wherever he chose.
New disciples often joined Sri Yukteswar in exhaustive criticism
of others. Wise like the guru! Models of flawless discrimination!
But he who takes the offensive must not be defenseless. The same
carping students fled precipitantly as soon as Master publicly unloosed
in their direction a few shafts from his analytical quiver.
"Tender inner weaknesses, revolting at mild touches of censure,
are like diseased parts of the body, recoiling before even delicate
handling." This was Sri Yukteswar's amused comment on the flighty
There are disciples who seek a guru made in their own image.
Such students often complained that they did not understand Sri
"Neither do you comprehend God!" I retorted on one
occasion. "When a saint is clear to you, you will be one."
Among the trillion mysteries, breathing every second the inexplicable
air, who may venture to ask that the fathomless nature of a master
be instantly grasped?
Students came, and generally went. Those who craved a path of
oily sympathy and comfortable recognitions did not find it at the
hermitage. Master offered shelter and shepherding for the aeons,
but many disciples miserly demanded ego-balm as well. They departed,
preferring life's countless humiliations before any humility. Master's
blazing rays, the open penetrating sunshine of his wisdom, were
too powerful for their spiritual sickness. They sought some lesser
teacher who, shading them with flattery, permitted the fitful sleep
During my early months with Master, I had experienced a sensitive
fear of his reprimands. These were reserved, I soon saw, for disciples
who had asked for his verbal vivisection. If any writhing student
made a protest, Sri Yukteswar would become unoffendedly silent.
His words were never wrathful, but impersonal with wisdom.
Master's insight was not for the unprepared ears of casual visitors;
he seldom remarked on their defects, even if conspicuous. But toward
students who sought his counsel, Sri Yukteswar felt a serious responsibility.
Brave indeed is the guru who undertakes to transform the crude ore
of ego-permeated humanity! A saint's courage roots in his compassion
for the stumbling eyeless of this world.
When I had abandoned underlying resentment, I found a marked
decrease in my chastisement. In a very subtle way, Master melted
into comparative clemency. In time I demolished every wall of rationalization
and subconscious reservation behind which the human personality
generally shields itself.17 The reward was an effortless harmony
with my guru. I discovered him then to be trusting, considerate,
and silently loving. Undemonstrative, however, he bestowed no word
My own temperament is principally devotional. It was disconcerting
at first to find that my guru, saturated with jnana but seemingly
dry of bhakti, 18 expressed himself only in terms of cold spiritual
mathematics. But as I tuned myself to his nature, I discovered no
diminution but rather increase in my devotional approach to God.
A self-realized master is fully able to guide his various disciples
along natural lines of their essential bias.
My relationship with Sri Yukteswar, somewhat inarticulate, nonetheless
possessed all eloquence. Often I found his silent signature on my
thoughts, rendering speech inutile. Quietly sitting beside him,
I felt his bounty pouring peacefully over my being.
Sri Yukteswar's impartial justice was notably demonstrated during
the summer vacation of my first college year. I welcomed the opportunity
to spend uninterrupted months at Serampore with my guru.
"You may be in charge of the hermitage." Master was
pleased over my enthusiastic arrival. "Your duties will be
the reception of guests, and supervision of the work of the other
Kumar, a young villager from east Bengal, was accepted a fortnight
later for hermitage training. Remarkably intelligent, he quickly
won Sri Yukteswar's affection. For some unfathomable reason, Master
was very lenient to the new resident.
"Mukunda, let Kumar assume your duties. Employ your own
time in sweeping and cooking." Master issued these instructions
after the new boy had been with us for a month.
Exalted to leadership, Kumar exercised a petty household tyranny.
In silent mutiny, the other disciples continued to seek me out for
"Mukunda is impossible! You made me supervisor, yet the
others go to him and obey him." Three weeks later Kumar was
complaining to our guru. I overheard him from an adjoining room.
"That's why I assigned him to the kitchen and you to the
parlor." Sri Yukteswar's withering tones were new to Kumar. "In
this way you have come to realize that a worthy leader has the desire
to serve, and not to dominate. You wanted Mukunda's position, but
could not maintain it by merit. Return now to your earlier work
as cook's assistant."
After this humbling incident, Master resumed toward Kumar a former
attitude of unwonted indulgence. Who can solve the mystery of attraction?
In Kumar our guru discovered a charming fount which did not spurt
for the fellow disciples. Though the new boy was obviously Sri Yukteswar's
favorite, I felt no dismay. Personal idiosyncrasies, possessed even
by masters, lend a rich complexity to the pattern of life. My nature
is seldom commandeered by a detail; I was seeking from Sri Yukteswar
a more inaccessible benefit than an outward praise.
Kumar spoke venomously to me one day without reason; I was deeply
"Your head is swelling to the bursting point!" I added
a warning whose truth I felt intuitively: "Unless you mend
your ways, someday you will be asked to leave this ashram."
Laughing sarcastically, Kumar repeated my remark to our guru,
who had just entered the room. Fully expecting to be scolded, I
retired meekly to a corner.
"Maybe Mukunda is right." Master's reply to the boy
came with unusual coldness. I escaped without castigation.
A year later, Kumar set out for a visit to his childhood home.
He ignored the quiet disapproval of Sri Yukteswar, who never authoritatively
controlled his disciples' movements. On the boy's return to Serampore
in a few months, a change was unpleasantly apparent. Gone was the
stately Kumar with serenely glowing face. Only an undistinguished
peasant stood before us, one who had lately acquired a number of
Master summoned me and brokenheartedly discussed the fact that
the boy was now unsuited to the monastic hermitage life.
"Mukunda, I will leave it to you to instruct Kumar to leave
the ashram tomorrow; I can't do it!" Tears stood in Sri Yukteswar's
eyes, but he controlled himself quickly. "The boy would never
have fallen to these depths had he listened to me and not gone away
to mix with undesirable companions. He has rejected my protection;
the callous world must be his guru still."
Kumar's departure brought me no elation; sadly I wondered how
one with power to win a master's love could ever respond to cheaper
allures. Enjoyment of wine and sex are rooted in the natural man,
and require no delicacies of perception for their appreciation.
Sense wiles are comparable to the evergreen oleander, fragrant with
its multicolored flowers: every part of the plant is poisonous.
The land of healing lies within, radiant with that happiness blindly
sought in a thousand misdirections.19
"Keen intelligence is two-edged," Master once remarked
in reference to Kumar's brilliant mind. "It may be used constructively
or destructively like a knife, either to cut the boil of ignorance,
or to decapitate one's self. Intelligence is rightly guided only
after the mind has acknowledged the inescapability of spiritual
My guru mixed freely with men and women disciples, treating all
as his children. Perceiving their soul equality, he showed no distinction
"In sleep, you do not know whether you are a man or a woman,"
he said. "Just as a man, impersonating a woman, does not become
one, so the soul, impersonating both man and woman, has no sex.
The soul is the pure, changeless image of God."
Sri Yukteswar never avoided or blamed women as objects of seduction.
Men, he said, were also a temptation to women. I once inquired of
my guru why a great ancient saint had called women "the door
"A girl must have proved very troublesome to his peace of
mind in his early life," my guru answered causticly. "Otherwise
he would have denounced, not woman, but some imperfection in his
If a visitor dared to relate a suggestive story in the hermitage,
Master would maintain an unresponsive silence. "Do not allow
yourself to be thrashed by the provoking whip of a beautiful face,"
he told the disciples. "How can sense slaves enjoy the world?
Its subtle flavors escape them while they grovel in primal mud.
All nice discriminations are lost to the man of elemental lusts."
Students seeking to escape from the dualistic maya delusion received
from Sri Yukteswar patient and understanding counsel.
"Just as the purpose of eating is to satisfy hunger, not
greed, so the sex instinct is designed for the propagation of the
species according to natural law, never for the kindling of insatiable
longings," he said. "Destroy wrong desires now; otherwise
they will follow you after the astral body is torn from its physical
casing. Even when the flesh is weak, the mind should be constantly
resistant. If temptation assails you with cruel force, overcome
it by impersonal analysis and indomitable will. Every natural passion
can be mastered.
"Conserve your powers. Be like the capacious ocean, absorbing
within all the tributary rivers of the senses. Small yearnings are
openings in the reservoir of your inner peace, permitting healing
waters to be wasted in the desert soil of materialism. The forceful
activating impulse of wrong desire is the greatest enemy to the
happiness of man. Roam in the world as a lion of self-control; see
that the frogs of weakness don't kick you around."
The devotee is finally freed from all instinctive compulsions.
He transforms his need for human affection into aspiration for God
alone, a love solitary because omnipresent.
Sri Yukteswar's mother lived in the Rana Mahal district of Benares
where I had first visited my guru. Gracious and kindly, she was
yet a woman of very decided opinions. I stood on her balcony one
day and watched mother and son talking together. In his quiet, sensible
way, Master was trying to convince her about something. He was apparently
unsuccessful, for she shook her head with great vigor.
"Nay, nay, my son, go away now! Your wise words are not
for me! I am not your disciple!"
Sri Yukteswar backed away without further argument, like a scolded
child. I was touched at his great respect for his mother even in
her unreasonable moods. She saw him only as her little boy, not
as a sage. There was a charm about the trifling incident; it supplied
a sidelight on my guru's unusual nature, inwardly humble and outwardly
The monastic regulations do not allow a swami to retain connection
with worldly ties after their formal severance. He cannot perform
the ceremonial family rites which are obligatory on the householder.
Yet Shankara, the ancient founder of the Swami Order, disregarded
the injunctions. At the death of his beloved mother, he cremated
her body with heavenly fire which he caused to spurt from his upraised
Sri Yukteswar also ignored the restrictions, in a fashion less
spectacular. When his mother passed on, he arranged the crematory
services by the holy Ganges in Benares, and fed many Brahmins in
conformance with age-old custom.
The shastric prohibitions were intended to help swamis overcome
narrow identifications. Shankara and Sri Yukteswar had wholly merged
their beings in the Impersonal Spirit; they needed no rescue by
rule. Sometimes, too, a master purposely ignores a canon in order
to uphold its principle as superior to and independent of form.
Thus Jesus plucked ears of corn on the day of rest. To the inevitable
critics he said: "The sabbath was made for man, and not man
for the sabbath." 20
Outside of the scriptures, seldom was a book honored by Sri Yukteswar's
perusal. Yet he was invariably acquainted with the latest scientific
discoveries and other advancements of knowledge. A brilliant conversationalist,
he enjoyed an exchange of views on countless topics with his guests.
My guru's ready wit and rollicking laugh enlivened every discussion.
Often grave, Master was never gloomy. "To seek the Lord, one
need not disfigure his face," he would remark. "Remember
that finding God will mean the funeral of all sorrows."
Among the philosophers, professors, lawyers and scientists who
came to the hermitage, a number arrived for their first visit with
the expectation of meeting an orthodox religionist. A supercilious
smile or a glance of amused tolerance occasionally betrayed that
the newcomers anticipated nothing more than a few pious platitudes.
Yet their reluctant departure would bring an expressed conviction
that Sri Yukteswar had shown precise insight into their specialized
My guru ordinarily was gentle and affable to guests; his welcome
was given with charming cordiality. Yet inveterate egotists sometimes
suffered an invigorating shock. They confronted in Master either
a frigid indifference or a formidable opposition: ice or iron!
A noted chemist once crossed swords with Sri Yukteswar. The visitor
would not admit the existence of God, inasmuch as science has devised
no means of detecting Him.
"So you have inexplicably failed to isolate the Supreme
Power in your test tubes!" Master's gaze was stern. "I
recommend an unheard-of experiment. Examine your thoughts unremittingly
for twenty-four hours. Then wonder no longer at God's absence."
A celebrated pundit received a similar jolt. With ostentatious
zeal, the scholar shook the ashram rafters with scriptural lore.
Resounding passages poured from the Mahabharata, the Upanishads,21
the bhasyas22 of Shankara.
"I am waiting to hear you." Sri Yukteswar's tone was
inquiring, as though utter silence had reigned. The pundit was puzzled.
"Quotations there have been, in superabundance." Master's
words convulsed me with mirth, as I squatted in my corner, at a
respectful distance from the visitor. "But what original commentary
can you supply, from the uniqueness of your particular life? What
holy text have you absorbed and made your own? In what ways have
these timeless truths renovated your nature? Are you content to
be a hollow victrola, mechanically repeating the words of other
"I give up!" The scholar's chagrin was comical. "I
have no inner realization."
For the first time, perhaps, he understood that discerning placement
of the comma does not atone for a spiritual coma.
"These bloodless pedants smell unduly of the lamp,"
my guru remarked after the departure of the chastened one. "They
prefer philosophy to be a gentle intellectual setting-up exercise.
Their elevated thoughts are carefully unrelated either to the crudity
of outward action or to any scourging inner discipline!"
Master stressed on other occasions the futility of mere book
"Do not confuse understanding with a larger vocabulary,"
he remarked. "Sacred writings are beneficial in stimulating
desire for inward realization, if one stanza at a time is slowly
assimilated. Continual intellectual study results in vanity and
the false satisfaction of an undigested knowledge."
Sri Yukteswar related one of his own experiences in scriptural
edification. The scene was a forest hermitage in eastern Bengal,
where he observed the procedure of a renowned teacher, Dabru Ballav.
His method, at once simple and difficult, was common in ancient
Dabru Ballav had gathered his disciples around him in the sylvan
solitudes. The holy Bhagavad Gita was open before them. Steadfastly
they looked at one passage for half an hour, then closed their eyes.
Another half hour slipped away. The master gave a brief comment.
Motionless, they meditated again for an hour. Finally the guru spoke.
"Have you understood?"
"Yes, sir." One in the group ventured this assertion.
"No; not fully. Seek the spiritual vitality that has given
these words the power to rejuvenate India century after century."
Another hour disappeared in silence. The master dismissed the students,
and turned to Sri Yukteswar.
"Do you know the Bhagavad Gita?"
"No, sir, not really; though my eyes and mind have run through
its pages many times."
"Thousands have replied to me differently!" The great
sage smiled at Master in blessing. "If one busies himself with
an outer display of scriptural wealth, what time is left for silent
inward diving after the priceless pearls?"
Sri Yukteswar directed the study of his own disciples by the
same intensive method of one-pointedness. "Wisdom is not assimilated
with the eyes, but with the atoms," he said. "When your
conviction of a truth is not merely in your brain but in your being,
you may diffidently vouch for its meaning." He discouraged
any tendency a student might have to construe book-knowledge as
a necessary step to spiritual realization.
"The rishis wrote in one sentence profundities that commentating
scholars busy themselves over for generations," he remarked. "Endless
literary controversy is for sluggard minds. What more liberating
thought than 'God is'—nay, 'God'?"
But man does not easily return to simplicity. It is seldom "God"
for him, but rather learned pomposities. His ego is pleased, that
he can grasp such erudition.
Men who were pridefully conscious of high worldly position were
likely, in Master's presence, to add humility to their other possessions.
A local magistrate once arrived for an interview at the seaside
hermitage in Puri. The man, who held a reputation for ruthlessness,
had it well within his power to oust us from the ashram. I cautioned
my guru about the despotic possibilities. But he seated himself
with an uncompromising air, and did not rise to greet the visitor.
Slightly nervous, I squatted near the door. The man had to content
himself with a wooden box; my guru did not request me to fetch a
chair. There was no fulfillment of the magistrate's obvious expectation
that his importance would be ceremoniously acknowledged.
A metaphysical discussion ensued. The guest blundered through
misinterpretations of the scriptures. As his accuracy sank, his
"Do you know that I stood first in the M. A. examination?"
Reason had forsaken him, but he could still shout.
"Mr. Magistrate, you forget that this is not your courtroom,"
Master replied evenly. "From your childish remarks I would
have surmised that your college career was unremarkable. A university
degree, in any case, is not remotely related to Vedic realization.
Saints are not produced in batches every semester like accountants."
After a stunned silence, the visitor laughed heartily.
"This is my first encounter with a heavenly magistrate,"
he said. Later he made a formal request, couched in the legal terms
which were evidently part and parcel of his being, to be accepted
as a "probationary" disciple.
My guru personally attended to the details connected with the
management of his property. Unscrupulous persons on various occasions
attempted to secure possession of Master's ancestral land. With
determination and even by instigating lawsuits, Sri Yukteswar outwitted
every opponent. He underwent these painful experiences from a desire
never to be a begging guru, or a burden on his disciples.
His financial independence was one reason why my alarmingly outspoken
Master was innocent of the cunnings of diplomacy. Unlike those teachers
who have to flatter their supporters, my guru was impervious to
the influences, open or subtle, of others' wealth. Never did I hear
him ask or even hint for money for any purpose. His hermitage training
was given free and freely to all disciples.
An insolent court deputy arrived one day at the Serampore ashram
to serve Sri Yukteswar with a legal summons. A disciple named Kanai
and myself were also present. The officer's attitude toward Master
"It will do you good to leave the shadows of your hermitage
and breathe the honest air of a courtroom." The deputy grinned
contemptuously. I could not contain myself.
"Another word of your impudence and you will be on the floor!"
I advanced threateningly.
"You wretch!" Kanai's shout was simultaneous with my
own. "Dare you bring your blasphemies into this sacred ashram?"
But Master stood protectingly in front of his abuser. "Don't
get excited over nothing. This man is only doing his rightful duty."
The officer, dazed at his varying reception, respectfully offered
a word of apology and sped away.
Amazing it was to find that a master with such a fiery will could
be so calm within. He fitted the Vedic definition of a man of God: "Softer
than the flower, where kindness is concerned; stronger than the
thunder, where principles are at stake."
There are always those in this world who, in Browning's words, "endure
no light, being themselves obscure." An outsider occasionally
berated Sri Yukteswar for an imaginary grievance. My imperturbable
guru listened politely, analyzing himself to see if any shred of
truth lay within the denunciation. These scenes would bring to my
mind one of Master's inimitable observations: "Some people
try to be tall by cutting off the heads of others!"
The unfailing composure of a saint is impressive beyond any sermon. "He
that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth
his spirit than he that taketh a city."23
I often reflected that my majestic Master could easily have been
an emperor or world-shaking warrior had his mind been centered on
fame or worldly achievement. He had chosen instead to storm those
inner citadels of wrath and egotism whose fall is the height of
1 "Worship of Durga." This is the chief festival of
the Bengali year and lasts for nine days around the end of September.
Immediately following is the ten-day festival of Dashahara ("the
One who removes ten sins"-three of body, three of mind, four
of speech). Both pujas are sacred to Durga, literally "the
Inaccessible," an aspect of Divine Mother, Shakti, the female
creative force personified.
2 Sri Yukteswar was born on May 10, 1855.
3 Yukteswar means "united to God." Giri is a classificatory
distinction of one of the ten ancient Swami branches. Sri means "holy";
it is not a name but a title of respect.
4 Literally, "to direct together." Samadhi is a superconscious
state of ecstasy in which the yogi perceives the identity of soul
5 Snoring, according to physiologists, is an indication of utter
relaxation (to the oblivious practitioner, solely).
6 Dhal is a thick soup made from split peas or other pulses.
Channa is a cheese of fresh curdled milk, cut into squares and curried
7 The omnipresent powers of a yogi, whereby he sees, hears, tastes,
smells, and feels his oneness in creation without the use of sensory
organs, have been described as follows in the Taittiriya Aranyaka: "The
blind man pierced the pearl; the fingerless put a thread into it;
the neckless wore it; and the tongueless praised it."
8 The cobra swiftly strikes at any moving object within its range.
Complete immobility is usually one's sole hope of safety.
9 Lahiri Mahasaya actually said "Priya" (first or given
name), not "Yukteswar" (monastic name, not received by
my guru during Lahiri Mahasaya's lifetime). (See page 109.) Yukteswar"
is substituted here, and in a few other places in this book, in
order to avoid the confusion, to reader, of two names.
10 "Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire,
when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."-Mark
11:24. Masters who possess the Divine Vision are fully able to transfer
their realizations to advanced disciples, as Lahiri Mahasaya did
for Sri Yukteswar on this occasion.
11"And one of them smote the servant of the high priest,
and cut off his right ear. And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye
thus far. And he touched his ear and healed him."-Luke 22:50-51.
12"Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast
ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their
feet, and turn again and rend you."-Matthew 7:6.
13 Disciples; from Sanskrit verb root, "to serve."
14 He was once ill in Kashmir, when I was absent from him. (See
15 A courageous medical man, Charles Robert Richet, awarded the
Nobel Prize in physiology, wrote as follows: "Metaphysics is
not yet officially a science, recognized as such. But it is going
to be. . . . At Edinburgh, I was able to affirm before 100 physiologists
that our five senses are not our only means of knowledge and that
a fragment of reality sometimes reaches the intelligence in other
ways. . . . Because a fact is rare is no reason that it does not
exist. Because a study is difficult, is that a reason for not understanding
it? . . . Those who have railed at metaphysics as an occult science
will be as ashamed of themselves as those who railed at chemistry
on the ground that pursuit of the philosopher's stone was illusory.
. . . In the matter of principles there are only those of Lavoisier,
Claude Bernard, and Pasteur-the experimental everywhere and always.
Greetings, then, to the new science which is going to change the
orientation of human thought."
16 Samadhi: perfect union of the individualized soul with the
17 The subconsciously guided rationalizations of the mind are
utterly different from the infallible guidance of truth which issues
from the superconsciousness. Led by French scientists of the Sorbonne,
Western thinkers are beginning to investigate the possibility of
divine perception in man.
"For the past twenty years, students of psychology, influenced
by Freud, gave all their time to searching the subconscious realms,"
Rabbi Israel H. Levinthal pointed out in 1929. "It is true
that the subconscious reveals much of the mystery that can explain
human actions, but not all of our actions. It can explain the abnormal,
but not deeds that are above the normal. The latest psychology,
sponsored by the French schools, has discovered a new region in
man, which it terms the superconscious. In contrast to the subconscious
which represents the submerged currents of our nature, it reveals
the heights to which our nature can reach. Man represents a triple,
not a double, personality; our conscious and subconscious being
is crowned by a superconsciousness. Many years ago the English psychologist,
F. W. H. Myers, suggested that 'hidden in the deep of our being
is a rubbish heap as well as a treasure house.' In contrast to the
psychology that centers all its researches on the subconscious in
man's nature, this new psychology of the superconscious focuses
its attention upon the treasure-house, the region that alone can
explain the great, unselfish, heroic deeds of men."
18 Jnana, wisdom, and bhakti, devotion: two of the main paths
19 "Man in his waking state puts forth innumerable efforts
for experiencing sensual pleasures; when the entire group of sensory
organs is fatigued, he forgets even the pleasure on hand and goes
to sleep in order to enjoy rest in the soul, his own nature,"
Shankara, the great Vedantist, has written. "Ultra-sensual
bliss is thus extremely easy of attainment and is far superior to
sense delights which always end in disgust."
20 Mark 2:27.
21 The Upanishads or Vedanta (literally, "end of the Vedas"),
occur in certain parts of the Vedas as essential summaries. The
Upanishads furnish the doctrinal basis of the Hindu religion. They
received the following tribute from Schopenhauer: "How entirely
does the Upanishad breathe throughout the holy spirit of the Vedas!
How is everyone who has become familiar with that incomparable book
stirred by that spirit to the very depths of his soul! From every
sentence deep, original, and sublime thoughts arise, and the whole
is pervaded by a high and holy and earnest spirit. . . . The access
to the Vedas by means of the Upanishads is in my eyes the greatest
privilege this century may claim before all previous centuries."
22 Commentaries. Shankara peerlessly expounded the Upanishads.
23 Proverbs 16:32.
Source: Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
Original 1946 Edition.