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A "Perfume Saint" Displays
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose
under the heaven."
I did not have
this wisdom of Solomon to comfort me; I gazed searchingly about
me, on any excursion from home, for the face of my destined guru.
But my path did not cross his own until after the completion of
my high school studies.
Two years elapsed
between my flight with Amar toward the Himalayas, and the great
day of Sri Yukteswar's arrival into my life. During that interim
I met a number of sages --- the "Perfume Saint," the "Tiger
Swami," Nagendra Nath Bhaduri, Master Mahasaya, and the famous
Bengali scientist, Jagadis Chandra Bose.
with the "Perfume Saint" had two preambles, one harmonious
and the other humorous.
simple. Everything else is complex. Do not seek absolute values
in the relative world of nature."
philosophical finalities gently entered my ear as I stood silently
before a temple image of Kali. Turning, I confronted a tall man
whose garb, or lack of it, revealed him a wandering sadhu.
have indeed penetrated the bewilderment of my thoughts!" I
smiled gratefully. "The confusion of benign and terrible aspects
in nature, as symbolized by Kali1,
has puzzled wiser heads than mine!"
there be who solve her mystery! Good and evil is the challenging
riddle which life places sphinxlike before every intelligence. Attempting
no solution, most men pay forfeit with their lives, penalty now
even as in the days of Thebes. Here and there, a towering lonely
figure never cries defeat. From the maya2 of duality he plucks the cleaveless truth of unity."
with conviction, sir."
long exercised an honest introspection, the exquisitely painful
approach to wisdom. Self-scrutiny, relentless observance of one's
thoughts, is a stark and shattering experience. It pulverizes the
stoutest ego. But true self-analysis mathematically operates to
produce seers. The way of 'self-expression,' individual acknowledgments,
results in egotists, sure of the right to their private interpretations
of God and the universe."
humbly retires, no doubt, before such arrogant originality."
I was enjoying the discussion.
understand no eternal verity until he has freed himself from pretensions.
The human mind, bared to a centuried slime, is teeming with repulsive
life of countless world-delusions. Struggles of the battlefields
pale into insignificance here, when man first contends with inward
enemies! No mortal foes these, to be overcome by harrowing array
of might! Omnipresent, unresting, pursuing man even in sleep, subtly
equipped with a miasmic weapon, these soldiers of ignorant lusts
seek to slay us all. Thoughtless is the man who buries his ideals,
surrendering to the common fate. Can he seem other than impotent,
Sir, have you no sympathy for the bewildered masses?"
The sage was
silent for a moment, then answered obliquely.
both the invisible God, Repository of All Virtues, and visible man,
apparently possessed of none, is often baffling! But ingenuity is
equal to the maze. Inner research soon exposes a unity in all human
minds --- the stalwart kinship of selfish motive. In one sense at least,
the brotherhood of man stands revealed. An aghast humility follows
this leveling discovery. It ripens into compassion for one's fellows,
blind to the healing potencies of the soul awaiting exploration."
of every age, sir, have felt like yourself for the sorrows of the
the shallow man loses responsiveness to the woes of others' lives,
as he sinks into narrow suffering of his own." The sadhu's austere face was noticeably softened. "The one who practices
a scalpel self-dissection will know an expansion of universal pity.
Release is given him from the deafening demands of his ego. The
love of God flowers on such soil. The creature finally turns to
his Creator, if for no other reason than to ask in anguish: 'Why,
Lord, why?' By ignoble whips of pain, man is driven at last into
the Infinite Presence, whose beauty alone should lure him."
The sage and
I were present in Calcutta's Kalighat Temple, whither I had gone
to view its famed magnificence. With a sweeping gesture, my chance
companion dismissed the ornate dignity.
and mortar sing us no audible tune; the heart opens only to the
human chant of being."
strolled to the inviting sunshine at the entrance, where throngs
of devotees were passing to and fro.
are young." The sage surveyed me thoughtfully. "India
too is young. The ancient rishis 3 laid down ineradicable patterns of spiritual living. Their hoary
dictums suffice for this day and land. Not outmoded, not unsophisticated
against the guiles of materialism, the disciplinary precepts mold
India still. By millenniums --- more than embarrassed scholars care
to compute! --- the skeptic Time has validated Vedic worth. Take it
for your heritage."
I was reverently bidding farewell to the eloquent sadhu, he revealed a clairvoyant perception:
you leave here today, an unusual experience will come your way."
I quitted the
temple precincts and wandered along aimlessly. Turning a corner,
I ran into an old acquaintance --- one of those long-winded fellows
whose conversational powers ignore time and embrace eternity.
let you go in a very short while, if you will tell me all that has
happened during the six years of our separation."
paradox! I must leave you now."
But he held
me by the hand, forcing out tidbits of information. He was like
a ravenous wolf, I thought in amusement; the longer I spoke, the
more hungrily he sniffed for news. Inwardly I petitioned the Goddess
Kali to devise a graceful means of escape.
left me abruptly. I sighed with relief and doubled my pace, dreading
any relapse into the garrulous fever. Hearing rapid footsteps behind
me, I quickened my speed. I dared not look back. But with a bound,
the youth rejoined me, jovially clasping my shoulder.
to tell you of Gandha Baba (Perfume Saint), who is gracing yonder
house." He pointed to a dwelling a few yards distant. "Do
meet him; he is interesting. You may have an unusual experience.
Good-by," and he actually left me.
similarly worded prediction of the sadhu at Kalighat Temple
flashed to my mind. Definitely intrigued, I entered the house and
was ushered into a commodious parlor. A crowd of people were sitting,
Orient-wise, here and there on a thick orange-colored carpet. An
awed whisper reached my ear:
Gandha Baba on the leopard skin. He can give the natural perfume
of any flower to a scentless one, or revive a wilted blossom, or
make a person's skin exude delightful fragrance."
I looked directly
at the saint; his quick gaze rested on mine. He was plump and bearded,
with dark skin and large, gleaming eyes.
am glad to see you. Say what you want. Would you like some perfume?"
for?" I thought his remark rather childish.
the miraculous way of enjoying perfumes."
God to make odors?"
of it? God makes perfume anyway."
He fashions frail bottles of petals for fresh use and discard. Can
you materialize flowers?"
perfumes, little friend."
scent factories will go out of business."
permit them to keep their trade! My own purpose is to demonstrate
the power of God."
it necessary to prove God? Isn't He performing miracles in everything,
we too should manifest some of His infinite creative variety."
did it take to master your art?"
scents by astral means! It seems, my honored saint, you have been
wasting a dozen years for fragrances which you can obtain with a
few rupees from a florist's shop."
fade with flowers."
fade with death. Why should I desire that which pleases the body
you please my mind. Now, stretch forth your right hand." He
made a gesture of blessing.
I was a few
feet away from Gandha Baba; no one else was near enough to contact
my body. I extended my hand, which the yogi did not touch.
perfume do you want?"
To my great
surprise, the charming fragrance of rose was wafted strongly from
the center of my palm. I smilingly took a large white scentless
flower from a near-by vase.
odorless blossom be permeated with jasmine?"
A jasmine fragrance
instantly shot from the petals. I thanked the wonder-worker and
seated myself by one of his students. He informed me that Gandha
Baba, whose proper name was Vishudhananda, had learned many astonishing
yoga secrets from a master in Tibet. The Tibetan yogi, I was assured,
had attained the age of over a thousand years.
Gandha Baba does not always perform his perfume-feats in the simple
verbal manner you have just witnessed." The student spoke with
obvious pride in his master. "His procedure differs widely,
to accord with diversity in temperaments. He is marvelous! Many
members of the Calcutta intelligentsia are among his followers."
I inwardly resolved
not to add myself to their number. A guru too literally "marvelous"
was not to my liking. With polite thanks to Gandha Baba, I departed.
Sauntering home, I reflected on the three varied encounters the
day had brought forth.
My sister Uma
met me as I entered our Gurpar Road door.
getting quite stylish, using perfumes!"
Without a word,
I motioned her to smell my hand.
an attractive rose fragrance! It is unusually strong!"
was "strongly unusual," I silently placed the astrally
scented blossom under her nostrils.
love jasmine!" She seized the flower. A ludicrous bafflement
passed over her face as she repeatedly sniffed the odor of jasmine
from a type of flower she well knew to be scentless. Her reactions
disarmed my suspicion that Gandha Baba had induced an auto-suggestive
state whereby I alone could detect the fragrances.
Later I heard
from a friend, Alakananda, that the "Perfume Saint" had
a power which I wish were possessed by the starving millions of
Asia and, today, of Europe as well.
was present with a hundred other guests at Gandha Baba's home in
Burdwan," Alakananda told me. "It was a gala occasion.
Because the yogi was reputed to have the power of extracting objects
out of thin air, I laughingly requested him to materialize some
out-of-season tangerines. Immediately the luchis4 which were present
on all the banana-leaf plates became puffed up. Each of the bread-envelopes
proved to contain a peeled tangerine. I bit into my own with some
trepidation, but found it delicious."
I understood by inner realization how Gandha Baba accomplished his
materializations. The method, alas! is beyond the reach of the world's
sensory stimuli to which man reacts --- tactual, visual, gustatory,
auditory, and olfactory --- are produced by vibratory variations in
electrons and protons. The vibrations in turn are regulated by "lifetrons,"
subtle life forces or finer-than-atomic energies intelligently charged
with the five distinctive sensory idea-substances.
Baba, tuning himself with the cosmic force by certain yogic practices,
was able to guide the lifetrons to rearrange their vibratory structure
and objectivize the desired result. His perfume, fruit and other
miracles were actual materializations of mundane vibrations, and
not inner sensations hypnotically produced.5
of miracles such as shown by the "Perfume Saint" are spectacular
but spiritually useless. Having little purpose beyond entertainment,
they are digressions from a serious search for God.
been used by physicians in minor operations as a sort of psychical
chloroform for persons who might be endangered by an anesthetic.
But a hypnotic state is harmful to those often subjected to it;
a negative psychological effect ensues which in time deranges the
brain cells. Hypnotism is trespass into the territory of another's
consciousness. Its temporary phenomena have nothing in common with
the miracles performed by men of divine realization. Awake in God,
true saints effect changes in this dream-world by means of a will
harmoniously attuned to the Creative Cosmic Dreamer.
display of unusual powers are decried by masters. The Persian mystic,
Abu Said, once laughed at certain fakirs who were proud of
their miraculous powers over water, air, and space.
is also at home in the water!" Abu Said pointed out in gentle
scorn. "The crow and the vulture easily fly in the air; the
Devil is simultaneously present in the East and in the West! A true
man is he who dwells in righteousness among his fellow men, who
buys and sells, yet is never for a single instant forgetful of God!"
On another occasion the great Persian teacher gave his views on
the religious life thus: "To lay aside what you have in your
head (selfish desires and ambitions); to freely bestow what you
have in your hand; and never to flinch from the blows of adversity!"
impartial sage at Kalighat Temple nor the Tibetan-trained yogi had
satisfied my yearning for a guru. My heart needed no tutor for its
recognitions, and cried its own "Bravos!" the more resoundingly
because unoften summoned from silence. When I finally met my master,
he taught me by sublimity of example alone the measure of a true
Kali represents the eternal principle in nature. She is traditionally
pictured as a four-armed woman, standing on the form of the God
Shiva or the Infinite, because nature or the phenomenal world is
rooted in the Noumenon. The four arms symbolize cardinal attributes,
two beneficent, two destructive, indicating the essential duality
of matter or creation.
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Cosmic illusion; literally, "the measurer." Maya is the
magical power in creation by which limitations and divisions are
apparently present in the Immeasurable and Inseparable.
Emerson wrote the following poem, to which he gave the title of
Illusion works impenetrable,
Weaving webs innumerable,
Her gay pictures never fail,
Crowd each other, veil on veil,
Charmer who will be believed
By man who thirsts to be deceived.
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The rishis, literally "seers," were the authors of the
Vedas in an indeterminable antiquity.
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Flat, round Indian bread.
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Laymen scarcely realize the vast strides of twentieth-century science.
Transmutation of metals and other alchemical dreams are seeing fulfillment
every day in centers of scientific research over the world. The
eminent French chemist, M. Georges Claude, performed "miracles"
at Fontainebleau in 1928 before a scientific assemblage through
his chemical knowledge of oxygen transformations. His "magician's
wand" was simple oxygen, bubbling in a tube on a table. The
scientist "turned a handful of sand into precious stones, iron
into a state resembling melted chocolate and, after depriving flowers
of their tints, turned them into the consistency of glass.
explained how the sea could be turned by oxygen transformations
into many millions of pounds of horsepower; how water which boils
is not necessarily burning; how little mounds of sand, by a single
whiff of the oxygen blowpipe, could be changed into sapphires, rubies,
and topazes; and he predicted the time when it will be possible
for men to walk on the bottom of the ocean minus the diver's equipment.
Finally the scientist amazed his onlookers by turning their faces
black by taking the red out of the sun's rays."
This noted French scientist has produced liquid air by an expansion
method in which he has been able to separate the various gases of
the air, and has discovered various means of mechanical utilization
of differences of temperature in sea water.
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