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Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
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  1. We Do Not Visit Kashmir – 196
  2. We Visit Kashmir – 202
  3. The Heart of a Stone Image – 212
  4. My University Degree – 219
  5. I Become a Monk of the Swami Order – 227

20 - We do not visit Kashmir

Maybe chapters 20 and 21 could be combined into one single travelogue. There is pretty little yoga stuff in any of them.

  1. The yoga-trainee that calls forth unbalanced, angry conduct, had better devote himself to simple success.
  2. Consider how mountains look like mountains first and foremost.
  3. To reach the country and tract you dream of, make practical arrangements for it while there is ample time.
Success depends a lot on timing, and on quality matters, also of those involved.

Father said: "I hardly think your theoretical [Kashmir] trip needs . . . practical props," he remarked, "but here they are."

Our date of departure was set, but Yukteswar refused to go. He exclaimed:

"What are your plans?"

Mukunda wanted to see his uncle and ask for his servant. "Dear uncle," I said, "could you possibly spare me your servant, Lal Dhari?"

My simple request had the effect of an earthquake.

"You selfish young man," his uncle shouted, quivering with wrath, "what a preposterous idea! Who will look after me, if you take my servant on one of your pleasure jaunts?"

"Mukunda, would not you like to stay awhile longer with me?" Sri Yukteswar inquired.

Mukunda suddenly staggered with nausea and a ghastly churning sensation in his stomach. The stabbing pain was intense. He collapsed and believed his life was fast ebbing from his body.

Sri Yukteswar: "You chose to doubt my judgement about taking the trip at this particular time."

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21 - We visit Kashmir

  1. If one's life energies are to last one's own life and get spent as time flies, life force is the pay-off for being alive.
  2. To chant "Ekam sat" ("only oneness exists") in the realm of duality may not impress all and sundry.
  3. Doing well in one's yoga training may be marked by less affect and pretention. Watch out for the one who writes or shouts of gorgeous scenery and gets thrilled by being occupied with company or floating gardens in the air (castles in Spain). There is a chance of someone being shallow ... In fact, good and suitable company and scenery tend to be taken for granted too among little children - happy in themselves, for themselves, through their inwardness (Lesson).
What brings delight, includes bragging and soap opera canon among the shallow. Let them have it. Delight is good.

"English strawberries for sale," cried an old woman.

Yogananda: "What a sour fruit! I could never like strawberries!"

Yukteswar told Yogananda that at a dinner in America his hostess would serve Yogananda strawberries, and he would taste them and say: "What delicious strawberries!"

Yogananda says that as a dinner guest at the home of Mrs. Alice T. Hasey in West Somerville, Massachusetts, he took a mouthful and exclaimed. "What delicious strawberries!" Then he remembered what Yukteswar had foretold.

Yogananda en route to Simla: "The carriage arrived at a small caravanserai. As our horses were led to be watered, Auddy inquired, "Sir, do you mind if I ride awhile with the driver? I'd like to get a little outside air."

Sri Yukteswar gave permission, but remarked to me, "He wants fresh smoke and not fresh air."

"You are right as always," said Yogananda.

They came to central Kashmir. Polar bear I gazed in all directions at sublime snow-capped Himalayas, lying tier on tier like silhouettes of huge polar bears. My eyes feasted exultingly.

After spending happy weeks in Kashmir, I was forced to return to Bengal . . . Sri Yukteswar remained in Srinagar, with Kanai and Auddy. Before I departed, Master hinted that his body would be subject to suffering in Kashmir, saying,

"There's a chance that I may even leave this earth."

"Master dangerously ill." This telegram from Auddy reached me. A letter from Auddy arrived in a few days, informing me that Master had recovered, but his body was reduced to half its usual weight.

Sri Yukteswar considered himself fortunate to suffer that way, we are informed.

Yogananda. "On rare occasions . . . a master who wishes to greatly quicken his disciples' evolution may . . . voluntarily work out on his own body a large measure of their undesirable karma. . . .

A very strong mind, however, can transcend all physical difficulties and attain to God-realisation."

Yogananda: "Many people imagine that every spiritual master has, or should have, the health and strength of a Sandow. The assumption is unfounded."

Vedic teaching: "Ekam sat," – "Only one exists."

NUDGES. As for going places, try to see things for yourself, to bulwark against menial glorifications. "An honest witness tells the truth, but a false witness tells lies." (Proverbs 12:17). Consider the "average days and conditions" too. The chances are the postcard scenes are not fully or well representative of all the days - rainy days, dreary days, icy cold winter days and weeks of thunder, earthquackes and worse. It is quite easy to be more or less taken in.

It is wise to keep proper reserve when it comes to a glamorising fellow's descriptions and tales. Their background descriptions could be menial or inadequate to sceneries "as shown on TV"; or to first-hand experiences of quite typical features had by all right fellows. If there are hard lies in them, it could be even worse.

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22 - The heart of a stone image

  1. Blunt, offending people sometimes get the welcomes they deserve.
  2. There are many sorts of welcomes, as we will see in this chapter - and starving oneself does not help a bit. "You have to be tough to be inside Nature and with Mother God," seems to be the ancient credo within this line of representation.
  3. Sleek rhetorics may sometimes be undermined by apt imagery.
See for example Wikipedia's "Kali" article and images to get much needed counterweight and balance. And what about apt proverbs? "The beauty of murderous Kali is in the eye of the beholder" may be a reminder too, in an odd sort of way.

Abridged:

Mukunda's sister to him: "As a [Ahem!] loyal Hindu wife, I do not wish to complain of my husband. But . . . you can help him. Will you?"

"I will do anything I can." I smiled. An inspiration seized me. He wanted to bring her husband with him to Dakshineswar, where there is a big temple.

Her sister's husband: "Mukunda, how can you admire worthless humbugs? . . . This excursion, I suppose, is a scheme to reform me?"

Mukunda and his sister's husband came to the site, and Mukunda prayed on: "Divine mother, You are hidden in the temple behind closed doors. I wanted to offer a special prayer to you today on behalf of my brother-in-law."

A delightful cold wave descended over my back and under my feet, banishing all discomfort. Then the temple became greatly magnified. Its large door slowly opened, revealing the stone figure of goddess Kali. The breath was withdrawn from my lungs; my body became very still, though not inert.

I could see clearly. I observed people walking to and fro over distant acres. Though I was breathless, yet I was able to move my hands and feet, standing there in the sunny courtyard, everything but the temple and the form of the goddess Kali 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 ready to levitate.

Behind the temple walls I suddenly glimpsed my brother-in-law. I could effortlessly discern the course of his thoughts. I turned to the goddess:

"Won't you spiritually change my sister's husband?"

"Your wish is granted!"

I looked happily at my brother-in-law. I saw him running, and as he approached me, shaking his fist.

I jumped to the shelter of the pillared hall, where Satish pursued me angrily. He blurted out. "Where's my food? Now the temple is closed; you failed to notify the authorities; we are left without lunch!" He was beside himself with rage, for he had been without food for six hours . . .

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 said, "I will seek the divine mother from now on; someday I must surely find her!'"

Yogananda propaganda comes in the name of Jesus too.


Years later, he visited the couple, and the thought came to him that his brother-in-law's life span would not be long. His sister: "I am well, and my husband is sick. However, I am going to be the first one to die. It will not be long now."

Yogananda: "I was in America when my sister died. He was informed that one morning she dressed herself in her bridal finery. "'This is my last day of service to you on earth,' she told him. Later later she had a heart attack and died quickly. Her husband addressed her picture: "You cannot long remain away from me," and died shortly after, he who changed at Dakshineswar to a silent saint.

Saints: To be on the safer ground, remember the artist who made the Kali image too. The artist is often forgotten when it comes to religious artifacts. Yet dare to ask: "What is of most value, a thing or a living being, in the light of the proverb, "A temple of bone is more than a temple of stone"? Compare a New Testament letter. "Do you not know that your body is a temple . . . ? Therefore, honour God with your body." (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

The Catholic Church has not exactly the same definition of 'saint' as Yogananda, and has a formal procedure for appointing someone to sainthood. In the Catholic Church, a "saint" is anyone in heaven. whereas the title "Saint" is used for someone who has been formally canonised by the Church as "holder of the keys of the kingdom of heaven." There are many persons that the Church believes to be in Heaven and yet not formally canonised and who are called "saints" because of the fame of their holiness. Sometimes the word "saint" also denotes living Christians. Yogananda and his SRF church appears to infringe on "saint", then.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church a saint is defined as anyone who is in Heaven, except for the angels and archangels. There are many examples of people who lived in great sin and became saints, including a repentant thief who was crucified. The formal process of recognition involves deliberation by a synod of bishops. If successful, the Saint is officially given a day on the church calendar - after the Church ultimately came to recognise it.

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23 - I receive my university degree

  1. It can be an error to teach fine things to undeserving ones.
  2. Cheating is different from taming study. You do not have to become frantic in your studies if others take you through it wholly or in part.
  3. "Cut out useless phrases," says Martin Cutts, and "point it out" (etc). In a good study we go for such things and benefit from it. [Peg 42]
Teach fine things, wholly or in part, and do not ignore fit study methods along with that.

When Yogananda passed a college exam, his teacher, Professor Ghoshal thundered: "Sheer brazen luck!" adding, "You are sure to fail in the AB finals."

Yogananda: "The strained relationship between us was not due to any fault of his, but solely to my absences from classes and inattention in them." (note)

Yogananda staggered painfully – with the lowest possible passing marks – through all his final tests, and after four years of college, was eligible to sit for the AB examinations.

One night about eleven o'clock, Yukteswar questioned him gravely.

"When do your AB examinations start?"

"Five days from now, sir."

"I hope you are in readiness for them."

"You know how my days have been passed . . . How can I enact a farce by appearing for those difficult finals?"

Sri Yukteswar: "You must appear . . . be present for the examinations; answer them the best way you can."

Yogananda: "Uncontrollable tears were coursing down my face. I felt that Master's command was unreasonable." Yukteswar laughed, and Yogananda felt his burdens lifted. Yukteswar asked Yogananda to get in touch with Romesh Chandra Dutt in your boarding-house, saying that "the Lord will inspire him to help you with the examinations. . . . Romesh will find time for you."

Romesh then spent several hours each day in coaching Yogananda in his various subjects. During the examination in English literature, the questions dictated to Yogananda by Romesh were on the examination sheet. Day by he spent many hours with Romesh, who formulated questions that he thought were likely to be set by the professors, and day by day those questions appeared in almost the same form on the examination sheets.

The news were spread that success seemed probable for the "Mad Monk". Hopwever, one morning when Yogananda was thinking over the examination in English literature, he realised, "I had made a serious error . . . 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 three less than the passing mark." Yogananda rushed to Yukteswar and poured out his troubles.

"Sir . . . I am quite unworthy."

"Cheer up, Mukunda."

"I left the hermitage in a more tranquil mood," and was told by a classmate: "This year, for the first time, the required passing mark in English literature has been lowered."

Then, in connection with the examination in Bengali, his tutor Romesh called him back one morning "as I was leaving the boarding-house on my way to the examination hall."

Yogananda ran ran back to the house.

Romesh told him. "I've just had a hunch that this year the professors have planned to massacre the students by asking questions from our ancient literature." Romesh then briefly outlined two stories from the life of a renowned philanthropist, Vidyasagar.

The first instruction of the examination sheet in Bengali was: "Write two instances of the charities of Vidyasagar." He could not have passed the Bengali examination that year without the help of Romesh.

Father was wreathed in smiles, and Yogananda thanked Yukteswar.

So Yogananda got a formal BA (AB) grade by timely help. But was he well educated? There is a difference between a formal education and actual competence which can lead to substantial accomplishments. These two - the formal qualifications and the actual qualifications - do not always agree.

The curve of forgetting reveals more in its way about how not to study the Yogananda way. Prepare for a sad tale: [Yogananda's Rubaiyat molestations]

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24 - I become a monk of the swami order

  1. In the ancient Hindu ways of life, monks and other renouncers spend time on advancing in spirit.
  2. Citing Carl G. Jung may be done wisely and well, and otherwise. There are many ways of citing, both in and out of context.
  3. Severe responsibilities hardly depend on outward tokens, including robes.
Basic ways depend on many things and may change with time. It is evidenced when one age is transmuted into another. For example, early Vedic gods, Rigvedic gods, included Asuras: they were not demonised back then; that shift came about in later Vedic texts and later Hinduism. (Wikipedia, "Rigvedic deities")

Yoga training had better be beneficial, no matter your age. Try to keep to favourable methods and teachings and sensible all-round guidelines. That is a basic attitude.


On a sunny Thursday in July, 1914, a few weeks Mukunda had graduated from college, he was made a silk-clad swami. At that time, he was allowed to choose his monk's name. "Forsaking your family name of Mukunda Lal Ghosh, from now on you shall be called Yogananda of the Giri [mountain] branch of the swami order," said Yukteswar, his guru - later dethroned to be called his proxy guru . . .

Silk-clad Yogananda sang a reminding song, "I am He."

"I am me" seems more attuned to "I am who I am (and may be becoming)" as a burning bush told Moses.

A swami traditionally belongs to the ancient monastic and formal order that was organised in its present form by Shankara. The meaning of the Sanskrit root of the word "swami" is "one who is one with his Self" ("Swa" stands for self). The usage of this word is not just for a yogi but also used for a religious guru, with or without disciples. (Wikipedia, "Swami"; "Dashanami Sampradaya").

In addition to his new name, the swami takes a title which shows which of the ten subdivisions of the swami order he is part of: Aranya - forest; Asrama - hermitage; Bharati - land; Giri - mountain, rock; Parvata - mountain; Puri - tract; Sagara - sea; Saraswati - wisdom of nature; Tirtha - crossing place, ford: a place of pilgrimage, especially one by a river or lake.; Vana - forest.

A yogi may be either married or unmarried. Yoga is applicable to people of every clime and time. The Yoga system as outlined by Patanjali is known as the Eightfold Path. The first steps, (1) yama and (2) niyama, require observance of five negative and five 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 (posture); (4) pranayama (dealing with life currents); and (5) pratyahara (inward-turning).

The last steps are forms of higher yoga: (6) dharana (focusing); (7) dhyana (prolonged focusing, i.e., meditation), and (8) steadied focusing, also called samadhi (superconscious perception).

Yoga could be good for your. Dr. Jung writes about hatha-yoga: "There is good cause for Yoga to have many adherents . . . it promises undreamed-of possibilities. . . .

"Yoga is, as I can readily believe, the . . . unity."

"In Plato's Timaeus story of Atlantis, he tells of the inhabitants . . . The lost continent is believed [by some] to have vanished about 9500 BC. through a cataclysm of nature." (An undreamt of possibility - Note)

Contents


Autobiography of a Yogi chapters, Paramahansa Yogananda, Literature  

Peg: Cutts, Martin. The Plain English Guide. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Yy: Goleman, David. The Varieties of the Meditative Experience. London: Rider, 1975.

Autobiography of a Yogi, chapters, Paramahansa Yogananda, paramhansa, To top Section Set Next

Autobiography of a Yogi, chapters, Paramahansa Yogananda, paramhansa. USER'S GUIDE: [Link]
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