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Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
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Reservations Contents  

  1. Brother Ananta and Sister Nalini – 236
  2. The Science of Kriya Yoga – 242
  3. Founding of a Yoga School at Ranchi – 253
  4. Kashi, Reborn and Rediscovered – 262
  5. Rabindranath Tagore and I Compare Schools – 267

25 - Brother Ananta and Sister Nalini

  1. If a sister says: "Train me, I want to get fatter!" she is hardly ideally happy.
  2. A sister may feel all right and live happily within harmonious, well established limits.
  3. Yogananda's oldest brother Ananta after he had asked here-is-how-to-die" Yogananda to be his guru, while Yogananda's sister got the body fat she desired.
Better train for happy, allround living than how to die.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Save your tears," he remarked. "Why shed them till you are sure he is dead?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feeling my sympathy, Dr. Bose pointed unobtrusively to Nalini, and whispered in my ear, "Say, what is this?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Sis, you have been conscientiously observing the spiritual injunctions; your reward is near." I smiled mischievously. "How plump do you want to be—as fat as our aunt who has not seen her feet in years?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I prostrated myself at his feet with joyful relief.

"Sir, you are a master; your word of her recovery is enough. But if you insist I shall at once get her a pearl."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


26 - The science of kriya yoga

The science that also is an art: think well of it
The tortoise swims at sea and lives in water - we could take that into consideration too, not only how fast it breathes.
You can get culture-abused or biased by swaggering, esteemed exotic matters.
Uha Start:
There is many a science that does not work full well, particularly not at the start. We could allow for that.
arrow We are confronted with conspicious yoga teachings that place certain gurus over all things, like Lords. The avenue right here might well be called "Science goes space" - not "Someone goes crazy". To be wasted and abused into getting meticulously dispersed is perhaps not different from "winning the world" in some words of Jesus. If you do not lose your self (selfhood) in a major technology-linked "explosion" that goes faster than the stars move (think of it) - maybe nothing bad happens. Yet moving fast has its price.
"Who knows these things? Who can here declare?" [Passage from a Rikvedic hymn, "The Song of Creation"]
This is the enigmatic look, like it or not.

The science that was no science is hailed by Yogananda, but what does he hide in the matter, and how much of what he tells is right?

Anyway, the basic technique of kriya yoga is the breathing method ujjayi, which is explained in detail here, with no strings attached: [Link]

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

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

Kriya yoga is a simple, psychophysiological method by which the human blood is decarbonised and recharged with oxygen. The atoms of this extra oxygen are transmuted into life current to rejuvenate the brain and spinal centres. [1] By stopping the accumulation of venous blood, the yogi is able to lessen or prevent the decay of tissues; the advanced yogi transmutes his cells into pure energy. Elijah, Jesus, Kabir and other prophets were past masters in the use of kriya or a similar technique, by which they caused their bodies to dematerialise at will.

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

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

Kriya yoga is referred to by Krishna, India's greatest prophet, in a stanza of the Bhagavad Gita: "Offering inhaling breath into the outgoing breath, and offering the outgoing breath into the inhaling breath, the yogi neutralises both these breaths; he thus releases the life force from the heart and brings it under his control." [2] The interpretation is: "The yogi arrests decay in the body by an addition of life force, and arrests the mutations of growth in the body by apan (eliminating current). Thus neutralising decay and growth, by quieting the heart, the yogi learns life control."

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

Kriya yoga is mentioned twice by the ancient sage Patanjali, foremost exponent of yoga, who wrote: "Kriya yoga consists of body discipline, mental control, and meditating on Om." [6] Patanjali speaks of God as the actual cosmic sound of Om [Aum] heard in meditation. [7] Om is the creative Word, [8] the sound of the vibratory motor. Even the yoga-beginner soon inwardly hears the wondrous sound of Om. Receiving this blissful spiritual encouragement, the devotee becomes assured that he is in actual touch with divine realms.

Patanjali refers a second time to the life-control or kriya technique thus: "Liberation can be accomplished by that pranayama which is attained by disjoining the course of inspiration and expiration." [9]

St. Paul knew kriya yoga or a technique very similar to it, by which he could switch life currents to and from the senses. He was therefore able to say: "Verily, I protest by our rejoicing which I have in Christ, I die daily." [10] By daily withdrawing his bodily life force, he united it by yoga union with the rejoicing (eternal bliss) of the Christ consciousness. In that felicitous state, he was consciously aware of being dead to the delusive sensory world of maya.

You do not have to buy Yogananda's exegesis. Kriya (action, practice) in Sanskrit texts hardly ever mean kriya yoga. The word "kriya" was applied to the strenuous Lahiri system of kriya yoga by a secretive yogi called Babaji - plausibly much later than when most Sanskrit texts were made. [More]

Some Sanskrit texts do use the word kriya, but in different contexts, and most likely not with the meanings that Yogananda puts into them either, as "the kriya of Lahiri Mahasaya." (Ch. 11). Further, "kriya yoga is capable of many subdivisions, Lahiri Mahasaya wisely sifted out four steps which he discerned to be those which contained the essential marrow, and which were of the highest value in actual practice." (Ch 35, note 15). At least for beginners, kriya yoga techniques are preliminary practices - pranayama-based - that ideally lead to dhyana (meditation). Patanjali's Yoga Sutras uses this stepwise explanation, and Yogananda uses Patanjali - and faultily, it should be added.

The core technique of kriya yoga is no secret anymore. The Satyananda line has made many kriya techniques public. [Cy; Kta] The core of the kriya system is the breathing method called ujjayi, which is explained in detail here, with no strings attached: [Link]

Contrary to what Yogananda says, Patanjali does not seem to refer kriya methods by his "The practices which make for union with the Soul are: fervent aspiration, spiritual reading, and complete obedience to the Master." (2:1), nor does the Bhagavad Gita in verses 4:1-2 and 4:29. [More]

"Elijah, Jesus, Kabir and other prophets were past masters in the use of kriya or a similar technique . . . St. Paul knew kriya yoga or a technique very similar to it. " Yogananda claims abound, but proof is wanting. That is not the right way to do it. Scriptural evidence that Yogananda seeks to bolster his kriya yoga methods by, gets sordidly misused by him. Quality handling of texts is very much different.

And there is one more thing about Yogananda and his kriya: He simplified the Lahiri system too, in order to adapt it to Westerners. You cannot be completely sure that Yogananda tells the truth in all ways concerning the whole thing. Yogananda's biographer, Dasgupta, tells that first Yogananda made written "Precepta Lessons" to propagate the teachings of kriya yoga to the masses. But there is reason to doubt whether kriya can be given or taught properly by letters and circulars. After Yogananda's passing, changes were also made to the original lessons. [Psy 54]

But before that, Yogananda had made changes in the handed-over methods. Sitting cross- legged was dispensed with. Lifting one's tongue to the soft part of the roof of the mouth (kechari mudra), was dispensed with. Yogananda adopted a few different methods, but "it is not possible through these new methods to fully attain that which is spoken of in the scriptures in terms of kriya yoga," claims Dasgupta, wherever he has that notion from.

Yogananda said that sitting on an armless chair, with the legs hanging and the back straight, would also do. Yogananda taught the Hamsa (Hansa, Hang-Saw, Hong-saw) method of breathing, at times referring to it as "baby kriya". The method is very simple: At regular intervals the natural flow of the breath is observed, not directed, and the sound of "hang" is though along with the ingoing breath, and "saw" along with the outgoing breath, as the breath flows of its own accord throughout. Eyes closed or half-closed, body relaxed, and the spine preferably straight - thirty-forty minutes each session, with shorter sessions of down to five minutes in between. There are some further details to master, omitted here. Hamsa is an ancient meditation method, and there is an Upanishad about it, the Hamsa Upanishad. [So 717-21] It is a "mental method" of watching the breath calmly.

The core method of Kriya breathing, called ujjayi here, is ordinarily practiced separately from the Hamsa training. Yogananda gave instructions for kriyas without tongue-lifing (khechari). The traditionalist Dasgupta: "From the second kriya onward, all of the higher kriyas must be performed with Khechari Mudra. Without Khechari, neither "Thokar" kriya nor "Omkar" kriya can be performed; if anyone says otherwise, then he is not speaking about kriya yoga." The two methods of Thokar and Omkar, are left out in Yogananda's kriya, even if they are said to be essential in the kriya system of Lahiri Baba.

Yogananda has mixed some easy method with the original and pure methods and techniques, and left out essential parts of Lahiri's kriya system, to the end that his methods show little resemblance to the methods taught by Lahiri, says Dasgupta, adding that there is a great lack of high-level teachers or gurus in India. [Psy 109-11, passim]

But this is not all. A close study reveals that the kriya prospects of Yogananda's simplified methods are purported to be 144 times better than those of his guru, Yukteswar: First, the time to "get there" takes 12 million years according to Yukteswar, and "only" one million year according to Yogananda. And the effectiveness of Yogananda's simplfied methods - with older essentials left out - is 12 times better than Yukteswar's. I hope you get the picture: it is one of unreliable marketing free from proof, maybe without shame too. [More] [Still more]

As for alleged Bible correspondences, a Bible phrase here and there, taken out of context, may be used by a licker of phrases, but -. What Paul writes about resurrection, which his "I die every day" relates to the second coming of Christ, really. The resurrection Paul talks of, happens in a flash - the dead will be raised [1 Corinthians 15:22-57]. Well, it reminds of the babbling of a drunkard. At any rate, I think Yogananda should have refrained from soap linking in order to "legitimate" kriya among US Christians in his time.

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

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

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

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

The difference between gibberish, superstitious belief and this is . . .? It is wise to ask for pertinent evidence of what is claimed and proclaimed, to save yourself from being trapped in tomfoolery and making a dupe of yourself.

The "spinal centres" are termed chakras (wheels, vortexes) and padmas (lotuses) in kundalini yoga.

An added question is how the life force can revolve and what it revolves around when it is taken up and down through a narrow tube, sushumna nadi. And there are differences in explanations among kriya gurus in this matter too. Lahiri Baba does not use the term "revolve", for example.

You should get valid answers to pertinent questions addressed to the allegedly all-knowing ones. Or are you going to let them get away with claims, claims, and claims like the following:?

One thousand kriya practised in eight hours gives the yogi, in one day, the equivalent of one thousand years of natural evolution: 365,000 years of evolution in one year. In three years, a kriya yogi can thus accomplish by intelligent self-effort the same result which nature brings to pass in a million years.

Which scriptures aver a million years? And if one such scripture should be found at last, are things like that anyway? Yogananda offers no sources for his many tendentious claims by using "the rishis", "the scriptures". Further, a closer look at what Yogananda's guru writes about the time required for evolution in this respect, shows 12 million years, not 1 million - much longer than the known history of mankind.

Further, in his early years in America - by 1925 - Yogananda had sped up by twelve the said efficacy of kriya too - unnoticed by a lot of later disciples [More].

So when we "cut the crap", what evidence do we have about all this? Is it wise to be taken in again and again by Yogananda hype?

The kriya short cut, of course, can be taken only by deeply developed yogis. With the guidance of a guru, such yogis have carefully prepared their bodies and brains to receive the power created by intensive practice.

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

The 'infinite goal' may look like getting dispersed. Do not expect to get rich through having such goals, or getting the job done. Many great-looking, often used guru concepts leave a bitter after-taste.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So shall you feed on death, that feeds on men: And death once dead, there is no more dying then. [13]

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

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

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

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

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

If it is not you who will, who is it? Who has potential? Compare the guru's speach of irrevocable "individuality or free will, given to him simultaneous with a soul". Do not talk against yourself on tall subjects, as that sort of constancy is respectable.

The egohood (ahamkara) is not shallow either.

Yogananda's claim that good folks are just puppets of past karma is once again far- fetched. It leaves out such as unforeseen accidents, dwarfing or insignificant (guru) teachings, sordid surroundings and low-level encounters. A life is also of reciprocal interactions, good and bad company and other influences.

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

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

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

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

Is the guru's kriya yoga really any of the fire rites of the Bhagavad Gita? [4.19-27] If so, where is the evidence? Guru claims are not proofs, authority opinions are not fully good either. Insistent talk is no evidence. [More]

Referring to yoga's sure and methodical efficacy, Lord Krishna praises the technological yogi in the following words: "The yogi is greater than body-disciplining ascetics, greater even than the followers of the path of wisdom (jnana yoga), or of the path of action (karma yoga); be a yogi, disciple Arjuna!" [Slightly modified version] [14]

"Kingly kriya" is not really scientific, according to other Yogananda utterances about it. "Science" tends to be part of his hype.

Yogananda himself had been helped to states he describes - it was not self-help mastery crowning his own efforts. [Ch. 14]

Assertions and claims that are not solidly documented, do not belong to the facts of rigorous science, but to hearsay and speculation. "Man's got to know his limitations." [Clint Eastwood in a Dirty Harry film]

Great claims that are neither substantiated (verified, fit or documented) or sanity-helping, may in time serve "bossism" (authoritarian-minded followers) and cults.


27 - Founding a yoga school at Ranchi

A stiffened frame is "for God"
To "pretty-paint", skjønnmale, is a typical Yogananda feature. Uha Start:
"Joined Babaji" seems like a fairly "stiffened frame".
arrow "Unlimited supply" is another "stiffened frame" (stereotype) Yogananda makes much use of in other places. arrow

"WHY ARE you averse to organisational work?"

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

"It is a thankless task, sir," I answered. "No matter what the leader does or does not, he's criticised."

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

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

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

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

"Sir," I had protested in alarm, "you know that my desire in this life is to espouse only the cosmic beloved."

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

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

Because someone has much expanded perception, it is not necessarily all- knowing.

Contrary to what the orator Yogananda teaches, he could not always accomplish what he set his mind on, be it a a publishing deal in Philadelphia or a certain school at his American headquarters - or stopping his heart to raise funds among wealthy Indians. The biography contains an instructive episode:

When Yogananda visited India, his youngest brother Bishnu Charan wanted Yogananda to stop his heart at a gathering of millionaires and thus clear the way for financial donations. Quite a few wealthy ones came together, wanting to see Yogananda demonstrate this. But later, Bishnu Charan disappointedly said, "Mejda [Yogananda] ruined everything. He was not able to stop his heart from beating" - at that meeting. Yukteswar commented, "He (Yogananda) has a disease -- where a ghoul comes and sits on his back. First there was Basu-ghoul, and now Bishtu [Bishnu]-ghoul is sitting on his back." [Psy 83, retold]

The term "increased supply" seems far better than "unlimited" so long as there is no good evidence of unlimited supply. Also: How unlimited is unlimited? Is terrible waste included too?

Having a heart and no rosary bead is far better than having a rosary bead and being heartless, not genuine.

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

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

This sounds good - but is trickery really a proper source of joy and a fit foundation of anything of value? It has to be determined.

Yogananda's biographer furnishes details. The Maharaja said that he would like to see the ashram-school that had already been begun. Yogananda was preparing for just such an event, but the total studentship of the school amounted to only one. He called in some others to represent themselves as brahmachari-students, at least for that day in front of the maharaja. Giving them some quick training in reciting verses and clothing each of them in yellow garments, these youths were dressed up as little chaste monks. To the sound of conch shells the maharaja was welcomed. After the children recited Sanskrit verses with palms in prayerful gesture, there was devotional singing and chanting. The maharajaa was so pleased to see the garbed youths and hear their recitation of verses and devotional songs that he promised to take up the financial responsibility for establishing and running a brahmacharya vidyalaya. Yogananda became overcome with joy.

Trickery had paid for the time, and fair deals had flown out of the window. However, deceit is improper, and may cause fatal illness in time. The headmaster should be a good example instead. [Psy 30]

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

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

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

The Ranchi pupils kept their hair long and usually were unable to take proper care of it, so many of them suffered from lice in the scalp. A Bengali lady who had gathered information about the school, spoke of her son: "If I enroll him in Ranchi, he will come back with a head full of lice!" [Psy 44]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"You are holding me back. Please let me go; let me go!"

"All right," I answered in the dream.

I awoke at once, and cried out, "Boys, the deer is dying!" The children rushed to my side.

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

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

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

While Yogananda was living at the Ranchi Brahmacharya Vidyalaya, one night he screamed out from his room. He said that a cot penetrated through his closed door and a horrific being was seated upon that cot. From that time on, a student would sleep in a separate cot in his room. Yogananda said that if he slept alone, he saw many different beings, and some of the times he woke up in fear. [Psy 112]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Bhagabati," he said, "what are you doing about yourself? Do not you see your son racing to the infinite?" I blushed to hear his praise before my father. The swami went on, "You recall how often our blessed guru used to say: 'Banat, banat, ban jai.' [6] So keep up kriya yoga ceaselessly, and reach the divine portals quickly."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"'Sanandan, be prepared; I am going to kick the frame. [7]

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

"'Be not selfish,' he said, 'nor grieve for me. I have been long cheerfully serving you all; now rejoice and wish me godspeed. I go to meet my cosmic beloved.' In a whisper, Pranabanandaji added, 'I shall be reborn shortly. After enjoying a short period of the infinite bliss, I shall return to earth and join Babaji. [8] You shall soon know when and where my soul has been encased in a new body.'

"He cried again, 'Sanandan, here I kick the frame by the second kriya yoga.' [9]

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

I inquired where Pranabananda was to be reborn.

"That is a sacred trust I cannot divulge to anyone," Sanandan replied. "Perhaps you may find out some other way."

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

alor [A] The slow, well done and non-painful stretching, twisting and holding of main, balancedly composed hatha yoga poses in a regular program for calm, can be much to go for, and talking of combatting stress, "Prevention is better than cure". At least 50% of common medical diseases are stress-related [Hi 505].

alor [B] Reincarnation and soul evolution: Here is a thought experiment: Take a lion. Its regulated living is that of a murderer, not of a thief. That is a "good lion" most likely. If a man lives like a real lion, murders in ambush and finds "good pasture" by it, he is not completely unlike patriarchs, like slave-goading, harem-keeping Abraham. Now the idea is: bullying karma cannot be surmounted as long what lions do as lions do best: killing others. Along with it we may suspect that humans hardly evolve by base living, which tends to rule much conform living.

According to one side to karma, merciless encounters suggest the offender could go downwards - and if gone down, he could go on like that - down and further down - by stages. How to move upwards? Buddha's gentle Middle Way seems fit too.

Those on top profit by massive violence, or ruthlessness brought into system may be or have their killing agents in surveying "the herd", not wholly unlike "good, expert-wise lions" [Mux]. If the king (later: state) did not punish and execute as regulations demanded he would go down, and society too. That would be another side to karma.

Preserve your assets and assert yourself well enough for solid living so as to be on the safe side, since poor people and underdogs may find it hard to cope, and it may be easier fall down from a steep cliff than climbing it. Good order (negentrophy) is more easily ruined than kept, not to say made.


28 - Kashi, reborn and rediscovered

"Leisurely done, done well": On guiding the living souls on
The old soul in the womb "dances" like a sack of potatoes (figurative saying). Uha Start:
It seems easier to guide the living than the dead, but who knows?
arrow The souls of departed ones are (hopefully) luminous after the lemon is squeezed (the body is used). arrow

"Please do not go into the water. Let is bathe by dipping our buckets."

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Sir," he said, "what will be my fate?"

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

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

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

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

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

"Yes," I promised. "If the heavenly Father lends his aid, I will try to find you."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"It looks as though I have located Kashi!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


29 - Rabindranath Tagore and I compare schools

Best education ends in best learning
Splendid education resulting in excellent outputs may bring on a Nobel Prize. However, it has shown up that it is work in the same places (laboratories and the like) as former Nobel prizemen that may do the trick: it increases the odds of getting a prize. We should not think that getting a Nobel prize is the ultimate sign of worthwhile contributions, though: Einstein never got a Nobel prize for his work on the groundbreaking relativity theories, for example. Uha Start:
The critics of "an ideal setting" might say that what is ideal varies. In many African countries it is ideal to have the main school windows facing north due to the heat, and in northern Europe, where light is more scarce, windows may face east and west for the sake of light and getting some warmth too. To repeat: Ideal varies.
arrow An ideal setting fosters togetherness and independence. Needs vary among school childen, including the needs for rambling. Mind the guru's ostentatious demagoguery about ideal settings here. It boils down to "a fine place for school childen", presumably. arrow

tarot "RABINDRANATH Tagore taught us to sing as a natural form of self-expression, like the birds."

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

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

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

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

Bhola curiously inquired the story.

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

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

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

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

"The newspapers published an account of the bold chastisement given by Tagore. I admired the outspoken words of a man unhypnotised by flattery," I went on. "I was introduced to Rabindranath in Calcutta by his secretary, Mr. C. F. Andrews, [1] who was simply attired in a Bengali dhoti. He referred lovingly to Tagore as his gurudeva.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I agreed. "The idealistic and hero-worshipping instincts of the young are starved on an exclusive diet of statistics and chronological eras."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Chapter 25

[1] The gracefully draped dress of Indian women.

[2] Because most persons in India are thin, reasonable plumpness is considered very desirable.

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

Chapter 26

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

[2] Bhagavad Gita, IV:29.

[3] Bhagavad Gita IV:1 - 2.

[4] The author of Manava Dharma Shastras. These institutes of canonized common law are effective in India to this day. The French scholar, Louis Jacolliot, writes that the date of Manu "is lost in the night of the ante - historical period of India; and no scholar has dared to refuse him the title of the most ancient lawgiver in the world." In La Bible dans L'inde, pages 33 - 37, Jacolliot reproduces parallel textual references to prove that the Roman Code of Justinian follows closely the Laws of Manu.

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

[6] Patanjali's Aphorisms, 2:1. In using the words KRIYA YOGA, Patanjali was referring to either the exact technique taught by Babaji, or one very similar to it. That it was a definite technique of life control is proved by Patanjali's Aphorism II:49.

[7] Patanjali's Aphorisms, I:27.

[8] "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." - John 1:1 - 3. Aum (Om) of the Vedas became the sacred word Amin of the Moslems, Hum of the Tibetans, and Amen of the Christians (its meaning in Hebrew being sure, faithful). "These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God." - Revelations 3:14.

[9] Aphorisms II:49..

[10] I Corinthians 15:31. "Our rejoicing" is the correct translation; not, as usually given, "your rejoicing." St. Paul was referring to the omnipresence of the Christ consciousness..

[11] Kalpa means time or aeon. Sabikalpa means subject to time or change; some link with prakriti or matter remains. Nirbikalpa means timeless, changeless; this is the highest state of Samadhi.

[12] According to the Lincoln Library of Essential Information, p. 1030, the giant tortoise lives between 200 and 300 years.

[13] Shakespeare: Sonnet #146.

[14] Bhagavad Gita, VI:46.

Chapter 27

[1] Vidyalaya, school. Brahmacharya here refers to one of the four stages in the Vedic plan for man's life, as comprising that of (1) the celibate student (Brahmachari); (2) the householder with worldly responsibilities (Grihastha); (3) the hermit (Vanaprastha); (4) the forest dweller or wanderer, free from all earthly concerns (Sannyasi). This ideal scheme of life, while not widely observed in modern India, still has many devout followers. The four stages are carried out religiously under the lifelong direction of a guru.

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

[3] Mark 10:29 - 30..

[4] Yogoda: Yoga, union, harmony, equilibrium; DA, that which imparts. Sat - Sanga: Sat, truth; sanga, fellowship. In the West, to avoid the use of a Sanskrit name, the Yogoda Sat-Sanga movement has been called the Self-Realization Fellowship.

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

[6] One of Lahiri Mahasaya's favorite remarks, given as encouragement for his students' perseverance. A free translation is: "Striving, striving, one day behold! the Divine Goal!"

[7] i.e., give up the body.

[8] Lahiri Mahasaya's guru, who is still living. (See chapter 33.)

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

[10] My meeting with Keshabananda is described in chapter 42.

Chapter 28

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

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

[3] Prokash Das is the present director of our Yogoda Math (hermitage) at Dakshineswar in Bengal.

Chapter 29

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

[2] "The soul having been often born, or, as the Hindus say, 'traveling the path of existence through thousands of births' . . . there is nothing of which she has not gained the knowledge; no wonder that she is able to recollect . . . what formerly she knew. . . . For inquiry and learning is reminiscence all." - Emerson.

[3] Rabindranath, too, in his sixties, engaged in a serious study of painting. Exhibitions of his "futuristic" work were given some years ago in European capitals and New York.

[4] Gitanjali (New York: Macmillan Co.). A thoughtful study of the poet will be found in The Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore, by the celebrated scholar, Sir S. Radhakrishnan (Macmillan, 1918). Another expository volume is B. K. Roy's Rabindranath Tagore: The Man and His Poetry (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1915). Buddha and the Gospel of Buddhism (New York: Putnam's, 1916), by the eminent Oriental art authority, Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, contains a number of illustrations in color by the poet's brother, Abanindra Nath Tagore.


Autobiography of a Yogi chapters, Paramahansa Yogananda, Literature  

Cy: Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust, 1981.

Ebu: Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica 2009 Ultimate Reference Suite DVD. London: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2009.

Hi: Smith, Carolyn D., ed, et al. Hilgard's Introduction to Psychology. 14th ed. Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth, 2003.

Kta: Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. Kundalini Tantra. 8th ed. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust, 2001.

Mux: Bühler, Georg, tr. The Laws of Manu. Delhi: Banarsidass (Reprint from Oxford University's 1886-edition), 1984.

Pa: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 11th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1971.

Psy: Dasgupta, Sailendra. Paramhansa Swami Yogananda: Life-portrait and Reminiscences. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 2006. Pdf: and at Google Books, partial view.

So: Deussen, Paul, trans. Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Vols 1-2. Varanasi: Banarsidass, 1980.

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