Don't take my word for anything. - A Yogananda word, in Dietz 1998
It seems to be good counsel; why would Yogananda give it to his woman disciple Margaret Bowen Dietz otherwise? Yet, there is a knack to it.
Mukunda - the later Yogananda - had promised his father Bhagabati that he would complete his high school studies, but he was not diligent.
One afternoon, Nantu, a brilliant classmate came up to him, laughing heartily: "You are utterly unprepared for the finals!" Then he kindly outlined the solutions to various problems he considered likely to be set by the instructors.
"These questions are the bait which will catch many trusting boys in the examination trap. Remember my answers, and you will escape without injury."
In addition, Mukunda sought out a pundit to aid him interpret a Sanskrit verse he had came across when talking a walk. He writes that "familiarity with that particular poem enabled me on the following day to pass the Sanskrit examination. Through the discerning help Nantu had given, I also attained the minimum grade for success in all my other subjects."
His father was pleased.
🙢 Yogananda in turn referred to him as a Christlike soul, one of those who might have the highest Christ-consciousness, as one of eight Christlike souls that Yogananda knew, apart from the eleven Christs that Jesus made, he writes. (Yogananda. "Yogavatar Shama Lahiri Mahasaya's Ladder of Self-Realization for Salvation for All", in Inner Culture, March 1937)
After he got through high school, Mukunda planned to enter an ashram despite his father's plea, "Do not forsake me and your grieving brothers and sisters."
Mukunda did chose to forsake them. Refusing to listen to his father, he set out for a hermitage in Varanasi. It was headed by a thin monk. He thought Mukunda would learn their ways. Mukunda doubted it. The thin ashram head further said,
"Mukunda, I see your father is regularly sending you money. Please return it to him; you require none here." And there was one more thing: "Even when you feel hunger, don't mention it."
At home, Mukunda had been used to a large breakfast at nine o'clock. "Gone were the Calcutta years when I could rebuke the cook for a ten-minute delay."
One day Mukunda fasted, and the next day there were many delicacies ready in the ashram. An appetising aroma filled the air. But all had to wait for the thin head of the ashram. He was on a train.
"Lord hasten the train!" Mukunda prayed.
It was getting dark before the leader entered the door. Mukunda greeted him with unfeigned joy, but the thin man wanted to bathe and meditate before food could be served.
Gnawing stomach! At nine o'clock the meal was served. Mukunda enjoyed it "as one of life's perfect hours." But the thin man soon told him he had spent the last four days without food or drink, due to rules for monks of his particular order. And, "Tonight at home I neglected my dinner." He laughed merrily.
Shame spread within Mukunda, but he ventured a remark. "Suppose I never asked for food, and nobody gives me any. I should starve to death."
"Die then! Die if you must, Mukunda! . . . Do not imagine that rice maintains you."
One day Mukunda lost his taliman, and his relationship with the thin man's followers grew worse, for the ashram household was alienated and hurt by his behaviour.
Mukunda meditated and prayed for teaching visions or a guru. While he was at it, a young priest in the kitchen called him. Mukunda was needed for an errand. The kitchen priest took him with him for a distant market place, and in a narrow lane Mukunda saw one of those Christlike men in ochre robes standing. After ten minutes or so Mukunda was at his feet.
🙢 The man said, "Thou hast come at last my boy," says the Yogananda biography (Dasgupta 2006:25).
"I will love you eternally, gurudeva!" said Mukunda.
🙢 The proxy guru. In the early phases of discipleship, Yogananda glorified his gurus too, using words like avatars, christs, gurudevas. In later phases, in the USA, he seemed to have forgotten or to have toned down the swelling praises of Yukteswar. On one occasion he said Yukteswar was just his proxy guru.
Mukunda told Yukteswar nothing of his life, but was told by him, "You should go back to Calcutta. Why exclude relatives from your love . . .?"
This suggestion dismayed Mukunda. Each family is different, but all the same . . .
"I am not returning home. But I will follow you anywhere [else]," said Mukunda. "Do you think your relatives will laugh at you? . . . You will return in thirty days."
"Never," said Mukunda and was wrong.
The two parted.
Back in the ashram, he overheard that "Mukunda is a parasite, accepting hermitage hospitality without making proper return." He left the ashram with regrets.
"Mukunda! How foolishly you are throwing away your life!" his elder brother said, and came upon a plan to make Mukunda stop wasting his life:
"I send you and your fellow disciple Jitendra this morning to the near-by city of Brindaban. You must not take a single rupee; you must not beg, either for food or money; you must not reveal your predicament to anyone; you must not go without your meals; and you must not be stranded in Brindaban. If you return to my bungalow here before twelve o'clock tonight, without having broken any rule of the test, I shall be the most astonished man in Agra!"
He also decided so send one of Mukanda's friends with him: "You must go along as a witness and, very likely, a fellow victim!"
Mukunda accepted the challenge, and then he and a friend were escorted to the train and got one-way tickets to Brindaban, a location associated with Hare Krishna.
In Brindaban they were carried off and well fed with delicacies by a sympathetic and wealthy stranger. Later a young man came up to them and offered to be their host and guide, for he thought Mukunda was his guru, after Krishna had appeared in a vision and showed him two forsaken figures under a tree. He toured Brindaban with Mukunda and his friend, and they visited Krishna shrines.
Their guide gave them many sweetmeats, and held out a bundle of rupee notes and two tickets, just bought to Agra, where the two came from.
Midnight was approaching when the two friends entered the big brother's bedroom in Agra and astonished him.
Next morning the two friends made a visit to Taj Mahal in Agra. Then they travelled south by train toward Bengal. Mukunda and his travelling friend parted company, and Mukunda went alone to where Yukteswar lived. It was four weeks since Yukteswar in Varanasi had said Mukunda would come to him in four weeks.
🙢 For the lack of enough good order, comfort and sustenance in the home, some try to find it outside it.
"I am here to follow you," said Mukunda, kneeling, and touching his feet. "Your wish shall be my law!"
🙢 One should see through marring, dilapidated display. When the later Yogananada left by boat for America, Yukteswar asked him to base his teachings in the West on a book Yukteswar had written, and gave him a copy. But the sad fact is that most of Yogananda's output in America was different. Yukteswar's wish was not Yogananda's law in the big bulk his lectures and commentaries that Yogananda's publisher, SRF has edited and published since.[Yogananda book reviews]
At that time Yukteswar trusted him much, and said: "That is better! Now I can assume responsibility for your life . . . return home to your family . . . enter college in Calcutta."
🙢 Trust without able insights that matter, or foresight, can bring on disappointments. It showed up that the later Yogananda disappointed Yukteswar much, and on at least two occasions too much for Yukteswar to bear. It is described in the Yogananda biography (Dasgupta 2006).
"Someday you will go to the West. . . . Come here whenever you find time."
"Every day if possible . . . [if you] promise to reveal God to me!" said Mukunda.
After an hour's (!) verbal tussle, Yukteswar said, "Let your wish be my wish."
🙢 Mukunda writes he had found eternal shelter in a true guru. It should have been "shelter in a proxy guru," if he meant what he said to a woman disciple, Durga Mata (1992/93) - A quote above)
Yukteswar had a moss-covered house and a rear garden with jackfruit, mango and plantain trees. Balustraded balconies of upper rooms in the two-storied building faced the courtyard from three sides. There was a spacious ground-floor hall with high ceiling supported by colonnades, and Yukteswar's sitting room had a small balcony overlooking the quie Rai Ghat Lane.
Next morning, Yukteswar initiated Mukunda in kriya yoga. Mukunda had already received the technique from his father and from Swami Kebalananda, Mukunda's Sanskrit tutor.
Mukunda's father was pleased that Mukunda would study on, and made arrangements. Mukunda was enrolled the following day at the Scottish Church College in Calcutta, and managed to get minimum passing grades from time to time.
As midnight approached, Yukteswar might fall into a doze. He often lay down, without even a pillow, on a davenport, which is a narrow, upholstered sofa or a small writing desk.
One afternoon Yukteswar said, "You are too thin, Mukunda . . . Years ago, I too was anxious to put on weight," Yukteswar told further. He was ailing back then, and asked his own guru, "If I think I am well and have regained my former weight, shall that happen?"
"It is so . . ."
"Be comfortable within your purse. Extravagance will buy you discomfort." [The counsel presupposes you have a purse to be comfortable within.]
"The Vedas teach that wanton loss of a human body is a serious transgression."
"Saintliness is not dumbness! Divine perceptions are not incapacitating!"
"A man of realisation doesn't perform any miracle till he receives an inward sanction."
"In shallow men the fish of little thoughts cause much commotion."
"The vanished lives of all men . . . ever unreliable."
"The body is a friend. Give it its due." [Abr. The positive spin of this contraction is not in the original.]
"Don't allow yourself to be thrashed by the provoking whip of a beautiful face."
Yogananda: "Yukteswar was a peerless interpreter of the scriptures."
🙢 Alas, Yukteswar was not skilled as a "peerless interpreter" in that field, but a tendentious and biased Bible interpreter. He often ran over the Bible text itself for the sake of venting personal and unfounded opinions . [Evidence] Dare to ask, "If Yukteswar did not comprehend Bible stories even reasonably well, did he comprehend the true nature of matter and the heavens?" Another: "Did he understand the true significance of the fact that Yogananda was a Kali-worshipping guy?"
Once Yukteswar suddenly stopped discoursing, saying Mukunda's attention was not fully with him. Mukunda protested.
Yukteswar: "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."
Mukunda admitted it, apologetically.
Yukteswar would hint: "Don't you think it may happen?"
Yogananda: "Never did his slightly veiled words prove false."
🙢 Could a "Don't you think that . . ." hint prove false at any time?
Heeding silence above much drunkenness
Yogananda: "I always thrilled at the touch of . . . Yukteswar's . . . feet. . . . Never did I find him . . . intoxicated."
Yukteswar: "When Lahiri Mahasaya [his guru] was silent, . . . I discovered that . . . he had transmitted to me ineffable knowledge." [If unutterable, what to say or do about it?]
"Even if you put a snake in a bamboo tube, you cannot change its wriggling disposition (Japanese proverb)."
🙢 If you hammer a snake to make it straight, that won't happen unless you kill it. Accordingly, hammering discipline helps dying. Later in life, Yogananda used to say, "I killed Yogananda long ago." [◦Source] It might be soap good for Yukteswar to know he did not do it. However -
Yogananda: "Father was strict . . . But Sri Yukteswar's training . . drastic . . . hypercritical."
Yogananda admits: "My chief offences were absentmindedness, intermittent indulgence in sad moods, non-observance of certain rules of etiquette, and occasional unmethodical ways." [Obviously carried on to his Rubaiyat Soap Commentary.]
Yogananda on Yukteswar: "He showed no leniency to . . . myself . . .he always spoke plainly and upbraided sharply. No . . . 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 laboured at this titanic transformation, I shook many times under the weight of his disciplinary hammer. Yogananda's biographer Saliendra Dasgupta writes something else that Yogananda said about Yukteswar: "He was a bit too tough in his ways." Dasgupta fills in how Yogananda "feared [Yukteswar] terribly when it came to practical matters of daily life. His behavior towards [Yukteswar] always was like that of a child." (Dasgupta 2006:30)
To fear a bad man greatly - that is wise. But here we are faced with authoritarian matters.
🙢 Above we find titanic Mukunda flaws, according to himself: being shallow, inconsistent, inflated (flattening needed), and with various kinks (mental bends, twists, etc.).
Yukteswar: "If you don't like my words, you are at liberty to leave at any time ... Stay only if you feel benefited."
🙢 The later Yogananda deviated from this, and wanted to control followers even for lifetimes if they first had been sworn in to his line of gurus in the name of "non-swear Jesus". The practice continues, and goes against Human Rights Laws. Better get aware of this in advance than getting hurt after a little. [Spirit-serfs by the kriya yoga oath]
Very awkward Yogananda teachings on top of Yukteswar
"Human egotism is hardly to be dislodged except rudely."
🙢 Egotism is not necessarily bad; it is bad in creeps. Normal persons should not give in to maiming or dangerous teaching. There is a page that goes into this subject at length here. [Don't confuse egohood with egotism]
"The divine finds at last [it] seeks to percolate through flinty hearts of selfishness."
🙢 Compare Yogananda's unsystemathic turn from teaching expanding selfishness to teaching unselfishness.
Brokenhearted and not popular
Master wasn't popular ... [but could have been] the most sought-after guru in India had his words not been so candid and so censorious."
🙢 "Of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: "It might have been!" (John Greenleaf Whittier). Yogananda says, in effect, playing on fame: "If Yukteswar had not been who he was, things might have been fame." One should refrain from taking wild claims at face value, or give in to big boasts, "the bigger the better," on Yogananda's own word, "Don't take my word for anything. - A Yogananda word (Dietz 1998)
Yukteswar attracted carping students who fled when he in turn analysed them.
🙢 A favourable group climate and delicate handling is something to thank for.
Yogananda: "Yukteswar's impartial justice did not hinder him from having personal favourite idiosyncrasies. Once his favourite ashram boy, Kumar, had to leave. Yukteswar brokenheartedly discussed with Mukunda that the boy was now unsuited.
"Mukunda, I will leave it to you to instruct Kumar to leave the ashram tomorrow; I cannot do it!" Tears stood in Sri Yukteswar's eyes.
🙢 Yogananda also speaks of "I-cannot-do-it!"-Yukteswar as one of indomitable will. Maybe it was a won't-power that was manifested above. . . . "My majestic master could easily have been an emperor or world-shaking warrior had his mind been centred on fame or worldly achievement." All right, maybe with many tears in his eyes, in case. "Worse things happen at sea," is a proverb.Monastic regulations don't allow a swami to retain connection with worldly ties after their formal severance. Yukteswar ignored the restrictions.
A scholar to Yukteswar. "I have no inner realisation."
Yukteswar stressed the futility of mere book learning.
In a forest hermitage in eastern Bengal, Yukteswar observed the teaching method of Dabru Ballav. The Bhagavad Gita was open before the gathered disciples. 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? ... No; not fully."
Another hour disappeared. Ballav dismissed the students, and turned to Yukteswar.
"Do you know the Bhagavad Gita?"
"Thousands have replied to me differently!"
🙢 If we trust that Yukteswar was right, what about Yukteswar's commentary on the Bhagavad Gita (Sriyukteshvar 2002). Is it worth getting, or do we err in getting it? Yukteswar had earlier said he did not understand it (above), but all the same he came to think he had his guru's support, blessings and approval in writing it. (Sriyukteshvar 2002, Preface). As for the publishing of it, here is more:
Nervously squatting Mukunda
Once a man visited Yukteswar's ashram. Mukunda squatted nervously near the door. Another time a court deputy arrived at the Serampore ashram to serve Yukteswar with a legal summons. The officer said,
"It will do you good to leave the shadows of your hermitage and breathe the honest air of a courtroom."
Yogananda: "The unfailing composure of a saint is impressive."
After six months as Yukteswar's underling, Mukunda wanted to go to the Himalayas and asked Yukteswar for permission in ungrateful words. He had grown impatient with hermitage duties and college studies.
🙢 Hence, being ungrateful and shirking the studies might be added to a list of "wrigglings" (see former chapter)
Yukteswar: "Many hillmen live in the Himalayas, yet possess no god-perception. Wisdom is better sought from a man of realisation than from an inert mountain."
Mukunda repeated his plea, got no answer at all, but took it for a consent. The next morning The following morning he sought out a Sanskrit professor at Scottish Church College and asked for the address of a 'sleepless saint' at Ranbajpur, near Tarakeswar.
Mukunda entrained at once for Tarakeswar. "Innumerable healing miracles have occurred at Tarakeswar, including one for a member of my family." A healing herb had materialised in the hand of his eldest aunt there. She made a brew from the leaves, and a disease vanished at once and never reappeared.
In Tarakeswar, Mukunda felt disinclined to bow before a round stone, and went looking for 'the sleepless saint' Ram Gopan Muzumdar through paddy fields and across mounds of dried clay. In the middle of the afternoon a stranger approached leisurely and stopped beside him.
"I was planning to leave Ranbajpur, but I waited for you. That professor had no right to give you my address."
Mukunda stood speechless, somewhat hurt.
"Why did you fail to bow before the stone in Tarakeswar?" He patted Mukunda's shoulder. "I see you are running away from your master. You must return to him and your room-cave, your sacred mountain."
"I see you are famished. . . . You are asking illumination from me. . . . The muscles relax during sleep."
Ram Gopal fell into silence, and Mukunda lay down.
"You are blessed to have this experience," Ram Gopal said, and at dawn he gave him rock candies and said he must leave. Tears coursed down Mukunda's cheeks.
"I will do something for you." He smiled, and Mukunda was instantaneously healed, renewed, and sauntered into the jungle.
[Retold, much abridged]
On the path of truth, uncosmic consciousness is far more than cosmic. You have to transcend the cosmos too if the aim is true grits or Self-actualisation. So don't get stuck in the next best only.
Mukunda Gets a Strike on His Chest
Mukunda returned shame-faced to Yukteswar. "I must have disappointed you."
"Of course not!"
Later, Mukunda tried to meditate, but was restless, with flying thoughts.
"Mukunda!" Yukteswar summoned him three times.
"I am meditating," Mukunda shouted protestingly.
"I know how you are meditating, with your mind distributed like leaves in a storm! Come here."
Snubbed and exposed, Mukunda made his way sadly to his side.
"Poor boy," said Yukteswar and struck on Mukunda's chest above the heart. As a result, Mukunda could not move and breathe. The roots of plants and trees appeared and he discerned the inward flow of their sap.
He also noticed also a white cow who was leisurely approaching, with his two physical eyes. As she passed by behind a brick wall, he saw her clearly still.
From Poor Boy to Mr. Big Inspired
Sea-joy surged on shores of his soul. Glory began to envelop towns . . . floating universes. The entire cosmos glimmered within him, he tells.
🙢 Afterwards, he died anyway, nectar of immortality or not, at a banquet in 1952.
Mukunda: "I cognised the centre of the empyrean as a point of intuitive perception in my heart . . . the nectar of immortality, pulsed through me."
🙢 Afterwards, he died anyway, nectar of immortality or not, at a banquet in 1952.
Suddenly Mukunda could breathe again. Yukteswar was standing motionless before him, holding him upright, saying.
"You must not get overdrunk . . . let's sweep the balcony floor.
Mukunda fetched a broom and wrote the poem, "Samadhi,", which was abbreviated later by SRF, as if lines in it were of little worth to them. "Don't take my word for anything." - A Yogananda word, in Dietz 1998. In the poem he sought to tell of the "cosmic state" by such as:
Ocean of Blood (A new title)
To clarify these matters still further:
Jesus reserve his teachings and salvation for Jews (Matthew 15:24; 10:5-8; Vermes 2012), but only depraved Jews: those of sound moral and spirit are not called by him, and the healthy do not need him (Mark 2:17; Matthew 9:12-13; 12.11). Jesus further puts his sheep on a path to perdition in that he teaches his sheep what is opposed to sound self-preservation. Thereby eyes, limbs, property, fit living-conditions and life itself soon enough are at risk (Matthew 5: 29-30; 39-42). Finally, marring losses come to those who call him 'Lord, Lord' without doing as he tells. (Luke 6:46)
Yukteswar taught Mukunda how to summon the no-breath state at will, and also how to transmit it to others. One day, however, he took a problem to Yukteswar.
"When shall I find God?"
"You have found him."
"No, I don't think so!"
Yukteswar: "Ever-new joy is God . . . inexhaustible . . . in meditation one finds his instant guidance."
"I see, . . . for whenever the joy of meditation has returned subconsciously during my active hours, I have been subtly directed to adopt the right course in everything, even details."
🙢 He was not: In a revealing letter he rudely shows how he regretted having started Self-Realization Fellowship: "I have done such a horrible act like eating feces by starting an organization."[◦A hand-written Yogananda letter] And there is a court case where the judge was convinced that Yogananda lied in court. Reflect on his "right course in everything" and "The words look good, but the actions woke up many."
There is much trickery in words. Mind the:
Don't take my word for anything." - Yogananda (in Dietz 1998).
If you take that word for anything, it may not be worth much. It is a paradox.
Dasgupta, Sailendra. 2006. Paramhansa Swami Yogananda: Life-portrait and Reminiscences. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse.
Dietz, Margaret Bowen. 1998. Thank You, Master. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity.
Ehrman, Bard D. 2014. How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee. New York: HarperOne.
Fromm, Erich. 1956. The Art of Loving. New York: Harper and Row, 1956.
Durga Mata. 1992/93. A Paramhansa Yogananda Trilogy of Divine Love. Beverly Hills, CA: Joan Wight: "Master Tells Me of His Arjuna Incarnation"
Satyeswarananda, Swami, tr. 1992. Complete Works of Lahiri Mahasay Vol. III: The Upanisads: The Vedic Bibles. San Diego: The Sanskrit Classics, 1992.
Sriyukteshvar, Swami. 2002. Srimad Bhagavad Gita: Spiritual Commentary. Portland, Maine: Yoganiketan.
Vermes, Geza. 2012. From Jewish to Gentile: How the Jesus Movement Became Christianity. Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) 38:06, Nov/Dec.
Yogananda, Paramahansa. 1998. Autobiography of a Yogi. 13th ed. Los Angeles, CA: Self-Realization Fellowship.
Yukteswar, Swami Sri. 1972. The Holy Science. Los Angeles, CA: Self-Realization Fellowship.
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