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Yogi Stories 6

RESERVATIONS Yogi stories, yoga tales, etc. 

Master Squirrel

FACE Once an old hermit lived on a brink by the sea at a place where a mother squirrel fostered her young. The hermit was so fond of this company that he was reborn as a female squirrel to look after youngs, he too (this has gone too far already).

[Yes, that's what the holy man did, and an avatar squirrel he was, decrees Yogananda, and vouches for a fairy tale against nearly all odds in so doing.]

Great waves took the holy squirrel's nests and cubs one day she was away looking for eggs and other food for them. She saw that the big sea had taken them, and started to threaten the sea. "Bring me back my children, or I will dry you up with my bushy tail," she said.

The sea gave no particular reply. So the squirrel mother started to dry the ocean by soaking her tail in the sea and letting the water drip off on dry land - again and again. Little did she consider that the water would seep and run down into the sea again. But the sea got so alarmed by the squrrel's determination that it swelled up a huge wave where the cubs were floating, and put them all beside her on the brink - and lo, they were all alive and well again, after being drowned and gone for many days.

To This:

What do we have here? It's surrealism. Those who have read into the ancient collection of Hindu fables that is called the Panchatantra, may be reminded of The Plover Who Fought the Ocean (This elaborate fable stretches into its following fables and ends in the middle of The Lion and the Ram.) To make a check much easier: The next tale is a substantially simplified version of the ancient fable. It is based on Franklin Edgerton's reconstructed version. Note the main plot is largely the same.

Key similarities can rouse suspicion that Yogananda's "true story" is at heart an old fable in new clothes, with a twist or two to suit the grip on gullible followers. Consider that the guru does not tell an entertaining tale for fun, or talks of birds who get back plover eggs from the sea; he speaks of an avatar animal with a bushy tail who allegedly triumped over sea and waves and nature and death - which makes the tale all the more astounding when you consider it is meant to be received as a true story among his followers.

The Americanised guru ventures this claim too: The squirrel was a holy incarnation of a liberated sage. That sage was so very fond of caring for squirrels that he did not mind becoming a squirrel either, in a more drastic drama than the Borgia sentence: "Become a dog in shape". Here is an ancient Indian story of someone who became a deer: [Tale]

The one who is bereaved has to learn to get to grips with the facts. Several stages of recovery has to be passed through, step by step. The squirrel had reached the denial stage - it could not come to terms with what had happened - when all difficulties were aborted by an unseemly happening.

As for humans turning into avatar animals, here is a friendly piece of advise: Do not stoop below what you are already. There is much a squirrel and monkey and dog lack ways and means to do. Even an elephant cannot do much to drain the ocean if he wanted to.

This is to say to the gullible and Yogananda-ensnared ones:

Do not be taken in by soap foam that is not substantial.

Don't sacrifice your sense of realism and fair play altogether on the alter of "the-guru-knows-best".

The Plovers and the Sea

Once on a time in a certain place on the sea-shore dwelt a pair of plovers. Now once when the female bird was about to lay her eggs, she said to her mate: 'Oh, find some place that is suitable for me to lay my eggs.'

He said: 'Why surely this very place is excellent; lay your eggs right here.'

She replied: 'Don't speak of this place; it is dangerous, for perhaps the flood-tide of the sea may wash up with its waves and carry off my young.'

He said: 'My dear, the sea cannot undertake such a conflict with me.'

She replied laughingly: 'There is a great difference between your power and the sea's! How can you fail to realize your own strength and weakness? And it is said: 'It is hard to know oneself, and to appraise one's capacity or incapacity for a given task. He who has this kind of discernment does not come to grief even in a difficult situation. And again: 'If one heeds not the advice of friends and well-wishers, he soon may perish.'

The male plover said: 'My dear, do you think that I am so irresponsible? Now be not afraid; while my right wing protects you, who can do you harm?'

Then the female bird laid her eggs in that same place. But the sea had overheard his previous boasting and, curious about the matter, carried off the eggs while thinking: 'I will just see what he will do.'

Then when she saw that the nest was empty, the female bird was filled with grief and said to her mate: 'Now see, this disaster has happened to unhappy me just as I told you before: Because we chose an unfavourable place, we have lost our young.'

The male bird said: 'My dear, see now what I can do too!'

Then he called an assembly of the birds and told them of his distress caused by the carrying off of his young. Then one bird said: 'We cannot fight with the ocean. But this is what it would be well to do now: let us all of us complain to the vulture [1], the king of birds, and arouse him to remove the cause of our grief.'

So deciding they went to see the vulture and reported to the lordly king of the birds the grief of bereavement which the ocean had caused them by taking their young away. They said: ' We who depend only on our beaks for support, have been injured by the ocean; he has stolen our young.'

The vulture was enraged when he learned of this injury to his subjects. 'The ocean has humiliated me too, by doing this to my subjects."

Then he flew to the ocean and threatened to chastise it: 'Now give the plover back his eggs. Else I shall scorch you with flames and dry up your waves with countless thousands of under-water fires [2] and reduce you to dry land.' [3]

In alarm the ocean gave back the eggs to the plover. [Retold and with a few notes based on Franklin Edgerton's Panchatantra (1965)]


  1. The king of birds was originally the sun conceived as a bird, and later the vulture took over that role.
  2. Hindus of old believed there was an infernal fire under the ocean, and they were right: The core of the earth is on fire.
  3. In the old tale it is the king of the king of birds - Lord Vishnu - who threatens the sea in this way. And Vishnu is believed to incarnate in both humans and animals as an avatar. Compare the reincarnating avatar sage of Yogananda as you will.

Eyebrow Teachings

To recognise the illness is often the beginning of a cure.

"The werewolf can be recognised by its eyebrows. They meet". (From the text)

ONCE there was a man that had been a werewolf from his childhood. He was filled with deep aggressions that were covered up during daytime.

One night he drove with his wife from a party. All of a sudden he felt the hate about to descend on him from inside. He stopped the wagon and gave the reins to his wife, telling,

"If anyone wants to harm you, just hit and strike with your apron."
      And then he was gone into the darkness.

A little later his wife was attacked by a wolf. She slashed at it with the apron. The wolf bit it and wanted to tear it from her. It tore off a piece and ran off with it.

Then her husband popped up. When his wife saw him coming, she could not help noticing he had the torn off shred of apron in his mouth. She yelled:
      "Christ, husband, aren't you a werewolf?"

"Thanks a lot," he replied, "for now I am free."

Since then the bad thing never returned.

Luckily, that werewolf knew his own cure.

It may help to be not easily scared at times.

Eyebrow Teachings

A WEREWOLF is believed to be bewitched to be in animal shape at night, so that everyone that meet it, experiences great fear. Many persons in Europe were killed for being werewolves - that was the fear that had them executed in public or otherwise. Some were taken to be seductive. And in some of the old versions of Little Red Riding Hood, the wolf is a werewolf: someone who looks all right and polished, but . . .

A folkloric belief is that the werewolf can be recognised by its eyebrows. They meet. How true is it as a token of brutality in excess?

A werewolf can get freed from its werewolf lifestyle if another human talks lovingly to it and calls it something like "religious werewolf" - but here we have "lifted" or transported the term into another level, just as Sigmund Freud did with the Oedipus character of an old Greek tale.

We may gather that the werewolf is neat to look at to all appearances (at day and most often otherwise) until the mask falls down (now and then, particulary when there are tensions in the air, as illustrated by howling at the full moon). Something like that could very well fit others than Jack Nicholson's role character in one of the many werewolf films.

Incidentally, a yoga method is to focus on the "eyebrow" part with the aim of making prana currents converge at that point. However, such a confluence may not be wicked at all. [Dao 165-6]

Seductive versions of werewolves may seek their brides like Bluebeard in a French tale.

A werewolf is not to be thought of as a role model.

The Little Man at the Angel's Pillar

Close to the famous clock in the Cathedral of Strassburg there is a little man in stone gazing up at the angel's pillar which supports the south wing of the cathedral. Long ago the little man who is now sculptured in stone, stood there in flesh and blood. He used to stare up at the pillar with a keen eye from top to bottom and again from bottom to top. Then he would shake his head doubtfully each time.

It happened once that a sculptor passed the cathedral and saw the little man looking up, evidently comparing the proportions of the pillar.

"It seems to me you are finding fault with the pillar, my good fellow," the stone-cutter remarked, and the little man nodded.

"Well, what do you think of it? Speak out my man," said the master, tapping the fellow's shoulder encouragingly.

"The pillar is splendid," began the latter slowly, "the apostles, the angels, and the Lord are beautiful too. But there is one thing troubling me. The slender pillar cannot support that heavy vault much longer; it will soon totter and fall down, and all will go to pieces."

The sculptor looked alternately at the work of art and at its fault-finder. A contemptuous smile passed over his features. "You are quite convinced you are right, are not you?" he asked.

The man repeated his doubts.

"Well," cried the stone-cutter, "then you will remain there always, gazing at the pillar till it sinks down, crushed by the vault."

He went straight off into his workshop, seized hammer and chisel, and formed the little man into stone just as he was, looking upwards with a knowing face.

This little figure is still there with both hands leaning on the balustrade of St. Nicholas' chapel. Perhaps he will remain there for many a century more too.

"Like a thinker": The yoga method

If you read the story in the light of yoga, looking up and being met with contempt for it, stand out as crucial. Just try to sit calmly and gaze upwards by "staring" at an imagined spot 110 cm ahead of you and sixty degrees upwards. Relax all facial muscles while you fix your gaze like that. If you start to get blissful through such regular practice, good for you! Your eyes may be halfclosed or closed. However, closed eyes are recommended for such practice at public places, for staring for long like this - with nothing in particular to look at - can appear crazy. There's where scorn may set it, but do your part to avoid it. Behind your closed eyes - provided you are safe and sound - you can adhere to the position and focus of the eyes "like a thinker".

You did not know this to be a well spoken of yoga method? The guru Yogananda calls such fixed staring a sure and swift way to Existence - to Better Life, that is. It happens that people who look for a way out of trouble, lift their eyes heavenward quite as in the outlined method, where you "lift your eyes to the hills of God" by metaphor. The gist of it is to keep one's attention at the subtle center (ajna chakra) between the eyebrows [Say 59], perhaps not as steadily as a dying person, but, well, steadily.

Yet, in Yogananda's Scientific Healing Affirmations he also teaches "Concentrate your will sirnultaneously on the medulla oblongata and on the spot between the eyebrows" [Sca 53]. So you can do it both ways, but it seems to be an error to be taken in by the "sure and swift" of Yogananda. It can be awfully difficult to put faith in his self-contradictive statements, statements that differ greatly from those of his guru: they imply that eye-lifting alone is an utterly slow way and may take much more than just one life-time. Would that be fast enough for you? Too slow, you may say if you read another page and consider the implication of the kriya yoga teachings, where keeping the gaze lifted is for beginners too, and the most advanced methods of the kriya arsenal are secretive and even they - of graceful highway speed and jet plane speed as compared to ox chart speed - may take decades and more future lives to bear fruit. The documentation gathered on these issues, is on another page on-site: [Link].

The Medulla is the lowest portion of the brain stem and is located at the base of the skull. In the yoga teachings of Yogananda's guru Yukteswar, the ajna centre and medulla are secretly connected as vortexes of a nadi (vessel of secret energy). Brain neurology teaches brain connections by other concepts, and on material levels, by comparison.

"There is a nadi (medulla) located between the eyebrows formed like the shape of the back of a tortoise. When one has total absorption - samyama - in that tortoise-nadi, then immediately . . . Light prevails . . . the Ajna Chakra. Through this, the mind enters the sushumna. [Yukteswar, Bhg 1:15-18]

Yogi stories, yoga tales, etc. 
Yogi stories, yoga tales, etc. - END MATTER

Yogi stories, yoga tales, etc., LITERATURE  

Bhg: Sriyukteshvar, Swami. Srimad Bhagavad Gita: Spiritual Commentary. Portland, Mn: Yoganiketan, 2002. On-line at

Ebu: Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica 2006 Ultimate Reference Suite DVD. London: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2006.

Say: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Sayings of Yogananda. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1958.

Scf: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Scientific Healing Affirmations. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1958.

Tpa: Edgerton, Franklin. The Panchatantra: Translated from the Sanskrit. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1965.

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