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Years in My Master's Hermitage
come." Sri Yukteswar greeted me from a tiger skin on the floor
of a balconied sitting room. His voice was cold, his manner unemotional.
Master, I am here to follow you." Kneeling, I touched his feet.
that be? You ignore my wishes."
Guruji! Your wish shall be my law!"
is better! Now I can assume responsibility for your life."
transfer the burden, Master."
request, then, is that you return home to your family. I want you
to enter college in Calcutta. Your education should be continued."
sir." I hid my consternation. Would importunate books pursue
me down the years? First Father, now Sri Yukteswar!
you will go to the West. Its people will lend ears more receptive
to India's ancient wisdom if the strange Hindu teacher has a university
best, Guruji." My gloom departed. The reference to the West
I found puzzling, remote; but my opportunity to please Master by
obedience was vitally immediate.
be near in Calcutta; come here whenever you find time."
day if possible, Master! Gratefully I accept your authority in every
detail of my life --- on one condition."
promise to reveal God to me!"
verbal tussle ensued. A master's word cannot be falsified; it is
not lightly given. The implications in the pledge open out vast
metaphysical vistas. A guru must be on intimate terms indeed with
the Creator before he can obligate Him to appear! I sensed Sri Yukteswar's
divine unity, and was determined, as his disciple, to press my advantage.
of exacting disposition!" Then Master's consent rang out with
wish be my wish."
lifted from my heart; the vague search, hither and yon, was over.
I had found eternal shelter in a true guru.
I will show you the hermitage." Master rose from his tiger
mat. I glanced about me; my gaze fell with astonishment on a wall
picture, garlanded with a spray of jasmine.
divine guru." Sri Yukteswar's tone was reverently vibrant.
"Greater he was, as man and yogi, than any other teacher whose
life came within the range of my investigations."
Silently I bowed
before the familiar picture. Soul-homage sped to the peerless master
who, blessing my infancy, had guided my steps to this hour.
by my guru, I strolled over the house and its grounds. Large, ancient
and well-built, the hermitage was surrounded by a massive-pillared
courtyard. Outer walls were moss-covered; pigeons fluttered over
the flat gray roof, unceremoniously sharing the ashram quarters.
A rear garden was pleasant with jackfruit, mango, and plantain trees.
Balustraded balconies of upper rooms in the two-storied building
faced the courtyard from three sides. A spacious ground-floor hall,
with high ceiling supported by colonnades, was used, Master said,
chiefly during the annual festivities of Durgapuja.1 A narrow stairway led to Sri Yukteswar's sitting room, whose small
balcony overlooked the street. The ashram was plainly furnished;
everything was simple, clean, and utilitarian. Several Western styled
chairs, benches, and tables were in evidence.
me to stay overnight. A supper of vegetable curry was served by
two young disciples who were receiving hermitage training.
please tell me something of your life." I was squatting on
a straw mat near his tiger skin. The friendly stars were very close,
it seemed, beyond the balcony.
family name was Priya Nath Karar. I was born2 here in Serampore,
where Father was a wealthy businessman. He left me this ancestral
mansion, now my hermitage. My formal schooling was little; I found
it slow and shallow. In early manhood, I undertook the responsibilities
of a householder, and have one daughter, now married. My middle
life was blessed with the guidance of Lahiri Mahasaya. After my
wife died, I joined the Swami Order and received the new name of
Sri Yukteswar Giri. 3 Such are
my simple annals."
at my eager face. Like all biographical sketches, his words had
given the outward facts without revealing the inner man.
I would like to hear some stories of your childhood."
tell you a few --- each one with a moral!" Sri Yukteswar's eyes
twinkled with his warning. "My mother once tried to frighten
me with an appalling story of a ghost in a dark chamber. I went
there immediately, and expressed my disappointment at having missed
the ghost. Mother never told me another horror-tale. Moral: Look
fear in the face and it will cease to trouble you.
early memory is my wish for an ugly dog belonging to a neighbor.
I kept my household in turmoil for weeks to get that dog. My ears
were deaf to offers of pets with more prepossessing appearance.
Moral: Attachment is blinding; it lends an imaginary halo of attractiveness
to the object of desire.
story concerns the plasticity of the youthful mind. I heard my mother
remark occasionally: 'A man who accepts a job under anyone is a
slave.' That impression became so indelibly fixed that even after
my marriage I refused all positions. I met expenses by investing
my family endowment in land. Moral: Good and positive suggestions
should instruct the sensitive ears of children. Their early ideas
long remain sharply etched."
into tranquil silence. Around midnight he led me to a narrow cot.
Sleep was sound and sweet the first night under my guru's roof.
Yukteswar chose the following morning to grant me his Kriya Yoga initiation. The technique I had already received from two disciples
of Lahiri Mahasaya --- Father and my tutor, Swami Kebalananda --- but in
Master's presence I felt transforming power. At his touch, a great
light broke upon my being, like glory of countless suns blazing
together. A flood of ineffable bliss, overwhelming my heart to an
innermost core, continued during the following day. It was late
that afternoon before I could bring myself to leave the hermitage.
return in thirty days." As I reached my Calcutta home, the
fulfillment of Master's prediction entered with me. None of my relatives
made the pointed remarks I had feared about the reappearance of
the "soaring bird."
climbed to my little attic and bestowed affectionate glances, as
though on a living presence. "You have witnessed my meditations,
and the tears and storms of my sadhana. Now I have reached
the harbor of my divine teacher."
am happy for us both." Father and I sat together in the evening
calm. "You have found your guru, as in miraculous fashion I
once found my own. The holy hand of Lahiri Mahasaya is guarding
our lives. Your master has proved no inaccessible Himalayan saint,
but one near-by. My prayers have been answered: you have not in
your search for God been permanently removed from my sight."
Father was also
pleased that my formal studies would be resumed; he made suitable
arrangements. I was enrolled the following day at the Scottish Church
College in Calcutta.
sped by. My readers have doubtless made the perspicacious surmise
that I was little seen in the college classrooms. The Serampore
hermitage held a lure too irresistible. Master accepted my ubiquitous
presence without comment. To my relief, he seldom referred to the
halls of learning. Though it was plain to all that I was never cut
out for a scholar, I managed to attain minimum passing grades from
time to time.
life at the ashram flowed smoothly, infrequently varied. My guru
awoke before dawn. Lying down, or sometimes sitting on the bed,
he entered a state of samadhi.4 It was
simplicity itself to discover when Master had awakened: abrupt halt
of stupendous snores. 5 A sigh
or two; perhaps a bodily movement. Then a soundless state of breathlessness:
he was in deep yogic joy.
not follow; first came a long walk by the Ganges. Those morning
strolls with my guru --- how real and vivid still! In the easy resurrection
of memory, I often find myself by his side: the early sun is warming
the river. His voice rings out, rich with the authenticity of wisdom.
A bath; then
the midday meal. Its preparation, according to Master's daily directions,
had been the careful task of young disciples. My guru was a vegetarian.
Before embracing monkhood, however, he had eaten eggs and fish.
His advice to students was to follow any simple diet which proved
suited to one's constitution.
ate little; often rice, colored with turmeric or juice of beets
or spinach and lightly sprinkled with buffalo ghee or melted
butter. Another day he might have lentil-dhal or channa6 curry with vegetables.
For dessert, mangoes or oranges with rice pudding, or jackfruit
in the afternoons. A steady stream poured from the world into the
hermitage tranquillity. Everyone found in Master an equal courtesy
and kindness. To a man who has realized himself as a soul, not the
body or the ego, the rest of humanity assumes a striking similarity
impartiality of saints is rooted in wisdom. Masters have escaped maya; its alternating faces of intellect and idiocy no longer
cast an influential glance. Sri Yukteswar showed no special consideration
to those who happened to be powerful or accomplished; neither did
he slight others for their poverty or illiteracy. He would listen
respectfully to words of truth from a child, and openly ignore a
was the supper hour, and sometimes found lingering guests. My guru
would not excuse himself to eat alone; none left his ashram hungry
or dissatisfied. Sri Yukteswar was never at a loss, never dismayed
by unexpected visitors; scanty food would emerge a banquet under
his resourceful direction. Yet he was economical; his modest funds
went far. "Be comfortable within your purse," he often
said. "Extravagance will buy you discomfort." Whether
in the details of hermitage entertainment, or his building and repair
work, or other practical concerns, Master manifested the originality
of a creative spirit.
hours often brought one of my guru's discourses, treasures against
time. His every utterance was measured and chiseled by wisdom. A
sublime self-assurance marked his mode of expression: it was unique.
He spoke as none other in my experience ever spoke. His thoughts
were weighed in a delicate balance of discrimination before he permitted
them an outward garb. The essence of truth, all-pervasive with even
a physiological aspect, came from him like a fragrant exudation
of the soul. I was conscious always that I was in the presence of
a living manifestation of God. The weight of his divinity automatically
bowed my head before him.
If late guests
detected that Sri Yukteswar was becoming engrossed with the Infinite,
he quickly engaged them in conversation. He was incapable of striking
a pose, or of flaunting his inner withdrawal. Always one with the
Lord, he needed no separate time for communion. A self-realized
master has already left behind the stepping stone of meditation.
"The flower falls when the fruit appears." But saints
often cling to spiritual forms for the encouragement of disciples.
approached, my guru might fall into a doze with the naturalness
of a child. There was no fuss about bedding. He often lay down,
without even a pillow, on a narrow davenport which was the background
for his customary tiger-skin seat.
philosophical discussion was not rare; any disciple could summon
it by intensity of interest. I felt no tiredness then, no desire
for sleep; Master's living words were sufficient. "Oh, it is
dawn! Let us walk by the Ganges." So ended many of my periods
of nocturnal edification.
My early months
with Sri Yukteswar culminated in a useful lesson --- "How to Outwit
a Mosquito." At home my family always used protective curtains
at night. I was dismayed to discover that in the Serampore hermitage
this prudent custom was honored in the breach. Yet the insects were
in full residency; I was bitten from head to foot. My guru took
pity on me.
a curtain, and also one for me." He laughed and added, "If
you buy only one, for yourself, all mosquitoes will concentrate
I was more than
thankful to comply. Every night that I spent in Serampore, my guru
would ask me to arrange the bedtime curtains.
one evening were especially virulent. But Master failed to issue
his usual instructions. I listened nervously to the anticipatory
hum of the insects. Getting into bed, I threw a propitiatory prayer
in their general direction. A half hour later, I coughed pretentiously
to attract my guru's attention. I thought I would go mad with the
bites and especially the singing drone as the mosquitoes celebrated
stir from Master; I approached him cautiously. He was not breathing.
This was my first observation of him in the yogic trance; it filled
me with fright.
must have failed!" I placed a mirror under his nose; no breath-vapor
appeared. To make doubly certain, for minutes I closed his mouth
and nostrils with my fingers. His body was cold and motionless.
In a daze, I turned toward the door to summon help.
budding experimentalist! My poor nose!" Master's voice was
shaky with laughter. "Why don't you go to bed? Is the whole
world going to change for you? Change yourself: be rid of the mosquito
Meekly I returned
to my bed. Not one insect ventured near. I realized that my guru
had previously agreed to the curtains only to please me; he had
no fear of mosquitoes. His yogic power was such that he either could
will them not to bite, or could escape to an inner invulnerability.
was giving me a demonstration," I thought. "That is the
yogic state I must strive to attain." A yogi must be able to
pass into, and continue in, the superconsciousness, regardless of
multitudinous distractions never absent from this earth. Whether
in the buzz of insects or the pervasive glare of daylight, the testimony
of the senses must be barred. Sound and sight come then indeed,
but to worlds fairer than the banished Eden.7
instructive mosquitoes served for another early lesson at the ashram.
It was the gentle hour of dusk. My guru was matchlessly interpreting
the ancient texts. At his feet, I was in perfect peace. A rude mosquito
entered the idyl and competed for my attention. As it dug a poisonous
hypodermic needle into my thigh, I automatically raised an avenging
hand. Reprieve from impending execution! An opportune memory came
to me of one of Patanjali's yoga aphorisms --- that on ahimsa (harmlessness).
you finish the job?"
Do you advocate taking life?"
the deathblow already had been struck in your mind."
meaning was the removal of desire to kill." Sri Yukteswar
had found my mental processes an open book. "This world is
inconveniently arranged for a literal practice of ahimsa. Man may be compelled to exterminate harmful creatures. He is not
under similar compulsion to feel anger or animosity. All forms of
life have equal right to the air of maya. The saint who uncovers
the secret of creation will be in harmony with its countless bewildering
expressions. All men may approach that understanding who curb the
inner passion for destruction."
should one offer himself a sacrifice rather than kill a wild beast?"
man's body is precious. It has the highest evolutionary value because
of unique brain and spinal centers. These enable the advanced devotee
to fully grasp and express the loftiest aspects of divinity. No
lower form is so equipped. It is true that one incurs the debt of
a minor sin if he is forced to kill an animal or any living thing.
But the Vedas teach that wanton loss of a human body is a
serious transgression against the karmic law."
I sighed in
relief; scriptural reinforcement of one's natural instincts is not
It so happened
that I never saw Master at close quarters with a leopard or a tiger.
But a deadly cobra once confronted him, only to be conquered by
my guru's love. This variety of snake is much feared in India, where
it causes more than five thousand deaths annually. The dangerous
encounter took place at Puri, where Sri Yukteswar had a second hermitage,
charmingly situated near the Bay of Bengal. Prafulla, a young disciple
of later years, was with Master on this occasion.
were seated outdoors near the ashram," Prafulla told me. "A
cobra appeared near-by, a four-foot length of sheer terror. Its
hood was angrily expanded as it raced toward us. My guru gave a
welcoming chuckle, as though to a child. I was beside myself with
consternation to see Master engage in a rhythmical clapping of hands.8 He was entertaining
the dread visitor! I remained absolutely quiet, inwardly ejaculating
what fervent prayers I could muster. The serpent, very close to
my guru, was now motionless, seemingly magnetized by his caressing
attitude. The frightful hood gradually contracted; the snake slithered
between Master's feet and disappeared into the bushes.
guru would move his hands, and why the cobra would not strike them,
were inexplicable to me then," Prafulla concluded. "I
have since come to realize that my divine master is beyond fear
of hurt from any living creature."
during my early months at the ashram, found Sri Yukteswar's eyes
fixed on me piercingly.
too thin, Mukunda."
His remark struck
a sensitive point. That my sunken eyes and emaciated appearance
were far from my liking was testified to by rows of tonics in my
room at Calcutta. Nothing availed; chronic dyspepsia had pursued
me since childhood. My despair reached an occasional zenith when
I asked myself if it were worth-while to carry on this life with
a body so unsound.
have limitations; the creative life-force has none. Believe that:
you shall be well and strong."
words aroused a conviction of personally-applicable truth which
no other healer --- and I had tried many! --- had been able to summon within
Day by day,
behold! I waxed. Two weeks after Master's hidden blessing, I had
accumulated the invigorating weight which eluded me in the past.
My persistent stomach ailments vanished with a lifelong permanency.
On later occasions I witnessed my guru's instantaneous divine healings
of persons suffering from ominous disease --- tuberculosis, diabetes,
epilepsy, or paralysis. Not one could have been more grateful for
his cure than I was at sudden freedom from my cadaverous aspect.
ago, I too was anxious to put on weight," Sri Yukteswar told
me. "During convalescence after a severe illness, I visited
Lahiri Mahasaya in Benares.
I have been very sick and lost many pounds.'
see, Yukteswar,9 you made yourself
unwell, and now you think you are thin.'
was far from the one I had expected; my guru, however, added encouragingly:
me see; I am sure you ought to feel better tomorrow.'
his words as a gesture of secret healing toward my receptive mind,
I was not surprised the next morning at a welcome accession of strength.
I sought out my master and exclaimed exultingly, 'Sir, I feel much
Today you invigorate yourself.'
I protested. 'It was you who helped me; this is the first time in
weeks that I have had any energy.'
Your malady has been quite serious. Your body is frail yet; who
can say how it will be tomorrow?'
of possible return of my weakness brought me a shudder of cold fear.
The following morning I could hardly drag myself to Lahiri Mahasaya's
I am ailing again.'
glance was quizzical. 'So! Once more you indispose yourself.'
I realize now that day by day you have been ridiculing me.' My patience
was exhausted. 'I don't understand why you disbelieve my truthful
it has been your thoughts that have made you feel alternately weak
and strong.' My master looked at me affectionately. 'You have seen
how your health has exactly followed your expectations. Thought
is a force, even as electricity or gravitation. The human mind is
a spark of the almighty consciousness of God. I could show you that
whatever your powerful mind believes very intensely would instantly
come to pass.'
that Lahiri Mahasaya never spoke idly, I addressed him with great
awe and gratitude: 'Master, if I think I am well and have regained
my former weight, shall that happen?'
so, even at this moment.' My guru spoke gravely, his gaze concentrated
on my eyes.
felt an increase not alone of strength but of weight. Lahiri Mahasaya
retreated into silence. After a few hours at his feet, I returned
to my mother's home, where I stayed during my visits to Benares.
What is the matter? Are you swelling with dropsy?' Mother could
hardly believe her eyes. My body was now of the same robust dimensions
it had possessed before my illness.
myself and found that in one day I had gained fifty pounds; they
remained with me permanently. Friends and acquaintances who had
seen my thin figure were aghast with wonderment. A number of them
changed their mode of life and became disciples of Lahiri Mahasaya
as a result of this miracle.
guru, awake in God, knew this world to be nothing but an objectivized
dream of the Creator. Because he was completely aware of his unity
with the Divine Dreamer, Lahiri Mahasaya could materialize or dematerialize
or make any change he wished in the cosmic vision. 10
creation is governed by law," Sri Yukteswar concluded. "The
ones which manifest in the outer universe, discoverable by scientists,
are called natural laws. But there are subtler laws ruling the realms
of consciousness which can be known only through the inner science
of yoga. The hidden spiritual planes also have their natural and
lawful principles of operation. It is not the physical scientist
but the fully self-realized master who comprehends the true nature
of matter. Thus Christ was able to restore the servant's ear after
it had been severed by one of the disciples."11
was a peerless interpreter of the scriptures. Many of my happiest
memories are centered in his discourses. But his jeweled thoughts
were not cast into ashes of heedlessness or stupidity. One restless
movement of my body, or my slight lapse into absent-mindedness,
sufficed to put an abrupt period to Master's exposition.
not here." Master interrupted himself one afternoon with this
disclosure. As usual, he was keeping track of my attention with
a devastating immediacy.
My tone was a protest. "I have not stirred; my eyelids have
not moved; I can repeat each word you have uttered!"
you were not fully with me. Your objection forces me to remark that
in your mental background you were creating three institutions.
One was a sylvan retreat on a plain, another on a hilltop, a third
by the ocean."
formulated thoughts had indeed been present almost subconsciously.
I glanced at him apologetically.
I do with such a master, who penetrates my random musings?"
given me that right. The subtle truths I am expounding cannot be
grasped without your complete concentration. Unless necessary I
do not invade the seclusion of others' minds. Man has the natural
privilege of roaming secretly among his thoughts. The unbidden Lord
does not enter there; neither do I venture intrusion."
ever welcome, Master!"
dreams will materialize later. Now is the time for study!"
my guru revealed in his simple way the coming of three great events
in my life. Since early youth I had had enigmatic glimpses of three
buildings, each in a different setting. In the exact sequence Sri
Yukteswar had indicated, these visions took ultimate form. First
came my founding of a boys' yoga school on a Ranchi plain, then
my American headquarters on a Los Angeles hilltop, finally a hermitage
in southern California by the vast Pacific.
arrogantly asserted: "I prophesy that such and such an event
shall occur!" He would rather hint: "Don't you think it
may happen?" But his simple speech hid vatic power. There was
no recanting; never did his slightly veiled words prove false.
was reserved and matter-of-fact in demeanor. There was naught of
the vague or daft visionary about him. His feet were firm on the
earth, his head in the haven of heaven. Practical people aroused
his admiration. "Saintliness is not dumbness! Divine perceptions
are not incapacitating!" he would say. "The active expression
of virtue gives rise to the keenest intelligence."
life I fully discovered the cleavage between spiritual realism and
the obscure mysticism that spuriously passes as a counterpart. My
guru was reluctant to discuss the superphysical realms. His only
"marvelous" aura was one of perfect simplicity. In conversation
he avoided startling references; in action he was freely expressive.
Others talked of miracles but could manifest nothing; Sri Yukteswar
seldom mentioned the subtle laws but secretly operated them at will.
man of realization does not perform any miracle until he receives
an inward sanction," Master explained. "God does not wish
the secrets of His creation revealed promiscuously.12 Also, every individual in the world has inalienable right to his
free will. A saint will not encroach upon that independence."
habitual to Sri Yukteswar was caused by his deep perceptions of
the Infinite. No time remained for the interminable "revelations"
that occupy the days of teachers without self-realization. "In
shallow men the fish of little thoughts cause much commotion. In
oceanic minds the whales of inspiration make hardly a ruffle."
This observation from the Hindu scriptures is not without discerning
Because of my
guru's unspectacular guise, only a few of his contemporaries recognized
him as a superman. The popular adage: "He is a fool that cannot
conceal his wisdom," could never be applied to Sri Yukteswar.
Though born a mortal like all others, Master had achieved identity
with the Ruler of time and space. In his life I perceived a godlike
unity. He had not found any insuperable obstacle to mergence of
human with Divine. No such barrier exists, I came to understand,
save in man's spiritual unadventurousness.
always thrilled at the touch of Sri Yukteswar's holy feet. Yogis
teach that a disciple is spiritually magnetized by reverent contact
with a master; a subtle current is generated. The devotee's undesirable
habit-mechanisms in the brain are often cauterized; the groove of
his worldly tendencies beneficially disturbed. Momentarily at least
he may find the secret veils of maya lifting, and glimpse
the reality of bliss. My whole body responded with a liberating
glow whenever I knelt in the Indian fashion before my guru.
Lahiri Mahasaya was silent," Master told me, "or when
he conversed on other than strictly religious topics, I discovered
that nonetheless he had transmitted to me ineffable knowledge."
affected me similarly. If I entered the hermitage in a worried or
indifferent frame of mind, my attitude imperceptibly changed. A
healing calm descended at mere sight of my guru. Every day with
him was a new experience in joy, peace, and wisdom. Never did I
find him deluded or intoxicated with greed or emotion or anger or
any human attachment.
darkness of maya is silently approaching. Let us hie homeward
within." With these words at dusk Master constantly reminded
his disciples of their need for Kriya Yoga. A new student
occasionally expressed doubts regarding his own worthiness to engage
in yoga practice.
the past," Sri Yukteswar would console him. "The vanished
lives of all men are dark with many shames. Human conduct is ever
unreliable until anchored in the Divine. Everything in future will
improve if you are making a spiritual effort now."
always had young chelas 13 in his hermitage. Their spiritual and intellectual education was
his lifelong interest: even shortly before he passed on, he accepted
for training two six-year-old boys and one youth of sixteen. He
directed their minds and lives with that careful discipline in which
the word "disciple" is etymologically rooted. The ashram
residents loved and revered their guru; a slight clap of his hands
sufficed to bring them eagerly to his side. When his mood was silent
and withdrawn, no one ventured to speak; when his laugh rang jovially,
children looked upon him as their own.
asked others to render him a personal service, nor would he accept
help from a student unless the willingness were sincere. My guru
quietly washed his clothes if the disciples overlooked that privileged
task. Sri Yukteswar wore the traditional ocher-colored swami robe;
his laceless shoes, in accordance with yogi custom, were of tiger
or deer skin.
fluent English, French, Hindi, and Bengali; his Sanskrit was fair.
He patiently instructed his young disciples by certain short cuts
which he had ingeniously devised for the study of English and Sanskrit.
was cautious of his body, while withholding solicitous attachment.
The Infinite, he pointed out, properly manifests through physical
and mental soundness. He discountenanced any extremes. A disciple
once started a long fast. My guru only laughed: "Why not throw
the dog a bone?"
Yukteswar's health was excellent; I never saw him unwell.14 He permitted students to consult doctors if it seemed advisable.
His purpose was to give respect to the worldly custom: "Physicians
must carry on their work of healing through God's laws as applied
to matter." But he extolled the superiority of mental therapy,
and often repeated: "Wisdom is the greatest cleanser."
is a treacherous friend. Give it its due; no more," he said.
"Pain and pleasure are transitory; endure all dualities with
calmness, while trying at the same time to remove their hold. Imagination
is the door through which disease as well as healing enters. Disbelieve
in the reality of sickness even when you are ill; an unrecognized
visitor will flee!"
numbered many doctors among his disciples. "Those who have
ferreted out the physical laws can easily investigate the science
of the soul," he told them. "A subtle spiritual mechanism
is hidden just behind the bodily structure."15
counseled his students to be living liaisons of Western and Eastern
virtues. Himself an executive Occidental in outer habits, inwardly
he was the spiritual Oriental. He praised the progressive, resourceful
and hygienic habits of the West, and the religious ideals which
give a centuried halo to the East.
not been unknown to me: at home Father was strict, Ananta often
severe. But Sri Yukteswar's training cannot be described as other
than drastic. A perfectionist, my guru was hypercritical of his
disciples, whether in matters of moment or in the subtle nuances
without sincerity are like a beautiful dead lady," he remarked
on suitable occasion. "Straightforwardness without civility
is like a surgeon's knife, effective but unpleasant. Candor with
courtesy is helpful and admirable."
Master was apparently
satisfied with my spiritual progress, for he seldom referred to
it; in other matters my ears were no strangers to reproof. My chief
offenses were absentmindedness, intermittent indulgence in sad moods,
non-observance of certain rules of etiquette, and occasional unmethodical
how the activities of your father Bhagabati are well-organized and
balanced in every way," my guru pointed out. The two disciples
of Lahiri Mahasaya had met, soon after I began my pilgrimages to
Serampore. Father and Sri Yukteswar admiringly evaluated the other's
worth. Both had built an inner life of spiritual granite, insoluble
against the ages.
transient teachers of my earlier life I had imbibed a few erroneous
lessons. A chela, I was told, need not concern himself strenuously
over worldly duties; when I had neglected or carelessly performed
my tasks, I was not chastised. Human nature finds such instruction
very easy of assimilation. Under Master's unsparing rod, however,
I soon recovered from the agreeable delusions of irresponsibility.
who are too good for this world are adorning some other," Sri
Yukteswar remarked. "So long as you breathe the free air of
earth, you are under obligation to render grateful service. He alone
who has fully mastered the breathless state16 is freed from cosmic imperatives. I will not fail to let you know
when you have attained the final perfection."
My guru could
never be bribed, even by love. He showed no leniency to anyone who,
like myself, willingly offered to be his disciple. Whether Master
and I were surrounded by his students or by strangers, or were alone
together, he always spoke plainly and upbraided sharply. No trifling
lapse into shallowness or inconsistency escaped his rebuke. This
flattening treatment was hard to endure, but my resolve was to allow
Sri Yukteswar to iron out each of my psychological kinks. As he
labored at this titanic transformation, I shook many times under
the weight of his disciplinary hammer.
don't like my words, you are at liberty to leave at any time,"
Master assured me. "I want nothing from you but your own improvement.
Stay only if you feel benefited."
For every humbling
blow he dealt my vanity, for every tooth in my metaphorical jaw
he knocked loose with stunning aim, I am grateful beyond any facility
of expression. The hard core of human egotism is hardly to be dislodged
except rudely. With its departure, the Divine finds at last an unobstructed
channel. In vain It seeks to percolate through flinty hearts of
wisdom was so penetrating that, heedless of remarks, he often replied
to one's unspoken observation. "What a person imagines he hears,
and what the speaker has really implied, may be poles apart,"
he said. "Try to feel the thoughts behind the confusion of
But divine insight
is painful to worldly ears; Master was not popular with superficial
students. The wise, always few in number, deeply revered him. I
daresay Sri Yukteswar would have been the most sought-after guru
in India had his words not been so candid and so censorious.
hard on those who come for my training," he admitted to me.
"That is my way; take it or leave it. I will never compromise.
But you will be much kinder to your disciples; that is your way.
I try to purify only in the fires of severity, searing beyond the
average toleration. The gentle approach of love is also transfiguring.
The inflexible and the yielding methods are equally effective if
applied with wisdom. You will go to foreign lands, where blunt assaults
on the ego are not appreciated. A teacher could not spread India's
message in the West without an ample fund of accommodative patience
and forbearance." I refuse to state the amount of truth I later
came to find in Master's words!
Sri Yukteswar's undissembling speech prevented a large following
during his years on earth, nevertheless his living spirit manifests
today over the world, through sincere students of his Kriya Yoga and other teachings. He has further dominion in men's souls than
ever Alexander dreamed of in the soil.
one day to pay his respects to Sri Yukteswar. My parent expected,
very likely, to hear some words in my praise. He was shocked to
be given a long account of my imperfections. It was Master's practice
to recount simple, negligible shortcomings with an air of portentous
gravity. Father rushed to see me. "From your guru's remarks
I thought to find you a complete wreck!" My parent was between
tears and laughter.
The only cause
of Sri Yukteswar's displeasure at the time was that I had been trying,
against his gentle hint, to convert a certain man to the spiritual
speed I sought out my guru. He received me with downcast eyes, as
though conscious of guilt. It was the only time I ever saw the divine
lion meek before me. The unique moment was savored to the full.
did you judge me so mercilessly before my astounded father? Was
not do it again." Master's tone was apologetic.
was disarmed. How readily the great man admitted his fault! Though
he never again upset Father's peace of mind, Master relentlessly
continued to dissect me whenever and wherever he chose.
often joined Sri Yukteswar in exhaustive criticism of others. Wise
like the guru! Models of flawless discrimination! But he who takes
the offensive must not be defenseless. The same carping students
fled precipitantly as soon as Master publicly unloosed in their
direction a few shafts from his analytical quiver.
inner weaknesses, revolting at mild touches of censure, are like
diseased parts of the body, recoiling before even delicate handling."
This was Sri Yukteswar's amused comment on the flighty ones.
There are disciples
who seek a guru made in their own image. Such students often complained
that they did not understand Sri Yukteswar.
do you comprehend God!" I retorted on one occasion. "When
a saint is clear to you, you will be one." Among the trillion
mysteries, breathing every second the inexplicable air, who may
venture to ask that the fathomless nature of a master be instantly
and generally went. Those who craved a path of oily sympathy and
comfortable recognitions did not find it at the hermitage. Master
offered shelter and shepherding for the aeons, but many disciples
miserly demanded ego-balm as well. They departed, preferring life's
countless humiliations before any humility. Master's blazing rays,
the open penetrating sunshine of his wisdom, were too powerful for
their spiritual sickness. They sought some lesser teacher who, shading
them with flattery, permitted the fitful sleep of ignorance.
During my early
months with Master, I had experienced a sensitive fear of his reprimands.
These were reserved, I soon saw, for disciples who had asked for
his verbal vivisection. If any writhing student made a protest,
Sri Yukteswar would become unoffendedly silent. His words were never
wrathful, but impersonal with wisdom.
was not for the unprepared ears of casual visitors; he seldom remarked
on their defects, even if conspicuous. But toward students who sought
his counsel, Sri Yukteswar felt a serious responsibility. Brave
indeed is the guru who undertakes to transform the crude ore of
ego-permeated humanity! A saint's courage roots in his compassion
for the stumbling eyeless of this world.
I had abandoned underlying resentment, I found a marked decrease
in my chastisement. In a very subtle way, Master melted into comparative
clemency. In time I demolished every wall of rationalization and
subconscious reservation behind which the human personality generally
shields itself.17 The reward
was an effortless harmony with my guru. I discovered him then to
be trusting, considerate, and silently loving. Undemonstrative,
however, he bestowed no word of affection.
own temperament is principally devotional. It was disconcerting
at first to find that my guru, saturated with jnana but seemingly
dry of bhakti, 18 expressed
himself only in terms of cold spiritual mathematics. But as I tuned
myself to his nature, I discovered no diminution but rather increase
in my devotional approach to God. A self-realized master is fully
able to guide his various disciples along natural lines of their
with Sri Yukteswar, somewhat inarticulate, nonetheless possessed
all eloquence. Often I found his silent signature on my thoughts,
rendering speech inutile. Quietly sitting beside him, I felt his
bounty pouring peacefully over my being.
impartial justice was notably demonstrated during the summer vacation
of my first college year. I welcomed the opportunity to spend uninterrupted
months at Serampore with my guru.
be in charge of the hermitage." Master was pleased over my
enthusiastic arrival. "Your duties will be the reception of
guests, and supervision of the work of the other disciples."
Kumar, a young
villager from east Bengal, was accepted a fortnight later for hermitage
training. Remarkably intelligent, he quickly won Sri Yukteswar's
affection. For some unfathomable reason, Master was very lenient
to the new resident.
let Kumar assume your duties. Employ your own time in sweeping and
cooking." Master issued these instructions after the new boy
had been with us for a month.
leadership, Kumar exercised a petty household tyranny. In silent
mutiny, the other disciples continued to seek me out for daily counsel.
is impossible! You made me supervisor, yet the others go to him
and obey him." Three weeks later Kumar was complaining to our
guru. I overheard him from an adjoining room.
why I assigned him to the kitchen and you to the parlor." Sri
Yukteswar's withering tones were new to Kumar. "In this way
you have come to realize that a worthy leader has the desire to
serve, and not to dominate. You wanted Mukunda's position, but could
not maintain it by merit. Return now to your earlier work as cook's
After this humbling
incident, Master resumed toward Kumar a former attitude of unwonted
indulgence. Who can solve the mystery of attraction? In Kumar our
guru discovered a charming fount which did not spurt for the fellow
disciples. Though the new boy was obviously Sri Yukteswar's favorite,
I felt no dismay. Personal idiosyncrasies, possessed even by masters,
lend a rich complexity to the pattern of life. My nature is seldom
commandeered by a detail; I was seeking from Sri Yukteswar a more
inaccessible benefit than an outward praise.
venomously to me one day without reason; I was deeply hurt.
is swelling to the bursting point!" I added a warning whose
truth I felt intuitively: "Unless you mend your ways, someday
you will be asked to leave this ashram."
Kumar repeated my remark to our guru, who had just entered the room.
Fully expecting to be scolded, I retired meekly to a corner.
Mukunda is right." Master's reply to the boy came with unusual
coldness. I escaped without castigation.
A year later,
Kumar set out for a visit to his childhood home. He ignored the
quiet disapproval of Sri Yukteswar, who never authoritatively controlled
his disciples' movements. On the boy's return to Serampore in a
few months, a change was unpleasantly apparent. Gone was the stately
Kumar with serenely glowing face. Only an undistinguished peasant
stood before us, one who had lately acquired a number of evil habits.
me and brokenheartedly discussed the fact that the boy was now unsuited
to the monastic hermitage life.
I will leave it to you to instruct Kumar to leave the ashram tomorrow;
I can't do it!" Tears stood in Sri Yukteswar's eyes, but he
controlled himself quickly. "The boy would never have fallen
to these depths had he listened to me and not gone away to mix with
undesirable companions. He has rejected my protection; the callous
world must be his guru still."
departure brought me no elation; sadly I wondered how one with power
to win a master's love could ever respond to cheaper allures. Enjoyment
of wine and sex are rooted in the natural man, and require no delicacies
of perception for their appreciation. Sense wiles are comparable
to the evergreen oleander, fragrant with its multicolored flowers:
every part of the plant is poisonous. The land of healing lies within,
radiant with that happiness blindly sought in a thousand misdirections.19
is two-edged," Master once remarked in reference to Kumar's
brilliant mind. "It may be used constructively or destructively
like a knife, either to cut the boil of ignorance, or to decapitate
one's self. Intelligence is rightly guided only after the mind has
acknowledged the inescapability of spiritual law."
My guru mixed
freely with men and women disciples, treating all as his children.
Perceiving their soul equality, he showed no distinction or partiality.
you do not know whether you are a man or a woman," he said.
"Just as a man, impersonating a woman, does not become one,
so the soul, impersonating both man and woman, has no sex. The soul
is the pure, changeless image of God."
never avoided or blamed women as objects of seduction. Men, he said,
were also a temptation to women. I once inquired of my guru why
a great ancient saint had called women "the door to hell."
must have proved very troublesome to his peace of mind in his early
life," my guru answered causticly. "Otherwise he would
have denounced, not woman, but some imperfection in his own self-control."
If a visitor
dared to relate a suggestive story in the hermitage, Master would
maintain an unresponsive silence. "Do not allow yourself to
be thrashed by the provoking whip of a beautiful face," he
told the disciples. "How can sense slaves enjoy the world?
Its subtle flavors escape them while they grovel in primal mud.
All nice discriminations are lost to the man of elemental lusts."
Students seeking to escape from the dualistic maya delusion
received from Sri Yukteswar patient and understanding counsel.
the purpose of eating is to satisfy hunger, not greed, so the sex
instinct is designed for the propagation of the species according
to natural law, never for the kindling of insatiable longings,"
he said. "Destroy wrong desires now; otherwise they will follow
you after the astral body is torn from its physical casing. Even
when the flesh is weak, the mind should be constantly resistant.
If temptation assails you with cruel force, overcome it by impersonal
analysis and indomitable will. Every natural passion can be mastered.
your powers. Be like the capacious ocean, absorbing within all the
tributary rivers of the senses. Small yearnings are openings in
the reservoir of your inner peace, permitting healing waters to
be wasted in the desert soil of materialism. The forceful activating
impulse of wrong desire is the greatest enemy to the happiness of
man. Roam in the world as a lion of self-control; see that the frogs
of weakness don't kick you around."
is finally freed from all instinctive compulsions. He transforms
his need for human affection into aspiration for God alone, a love
solitary because omnipresent.
mother lived in the Rana Mahal district of Benares where I had first
visited my guru. Gracious and kindly, she was yet a woman of very
decided opinions. I stood on her balcony one day and watched mother
and son talking together. In his quiet, sensible way, Master was
trying to convince her about something. He was apparently unsuccessful,
for she shook her head with great vigor.
nay, my son, go away now! Your wise words are not for me! I am not
backed away without further argument, like a scolded child. I was
touched at his great respect for his mother even in her unreasonable
moods. She saw him only as her little boy, not as a sage. There
was a charm about the trifling incident; it supplied a sidelight
on my guru's unusual nature, inwardly humble and outwardly unbendable.
regulations do not allow a swami to retain connection with worldly
ties after their formal severance. He cannot perform the ceremonial
family rites which are obligatory on the householder. Yet Shankara,
the ancient founder of the Swami Order, disregarded the injunctions.
At the death of his beloved mother, he cremated her body with heavenly
fire which he caused to spurt from his upraised hand.
also ignored the restrictions, in a fashion less spectacular. When
his mother passed on, he arranged the crematory services by the
holy Ganges in Benares, and fed many Brahmins in conformance with
The shastric prohibitions were intended to help swamis overcome
narrow identifications. Shankara and Sri Yukteswar had wholly merged
their beings in the Impersonal Spirit; they needed no rescue by
rule. Sometimes, too, a master purposely ignores a canon in order
to uphold its principle as superior to and independent of form.
Thus Jesus plucked ears of corn on the day of rest. To the inevitable
critics he said: "The sabbath was made for man, and not man
for the sabbath." 20
Outside of the
scriptures, seldom was a book honored by Sri Yukteswar's perusal.
Yet he was invariably acquainted with the latest scientific discoveries
and other advancements of knowledge. A brilliant conversationalist,
he enjoyed an exchange of views on countless topics with his guests.
My guru's ready wit and rollicking laugh enlivened every discussion.
Often grave, Master was never gloomy. "To seek the Lord, one
need not disfigure his face," he would remark. "Remember
that finding God will mean the funeral of all sorrows."
Among the philosophers,
professors, lawyers and scientists who came to the hermitage, a
number arrived for their first visit with the expectation of meeting
an orthodox religionist. A supercilious smile or a glance of amused
tolerance occasionally betrayed that the newcomers anticipated nothing
more than a few pious platitudes. Yet their reluctant departure
would bring an expressed conviction that Sri Yukteswar had shown
precise insight into their specialized fields.
My guru ordinarily
was gentle and affable to guests; his welcome was given with charming
cordiality. Yet inveterate egotists sometimes suffered an invigorating
shock. They confronted in Master either a frigid indifference or
a formidable opposition: ice or iron!
A noted chemist
once crossed swords with Sri Yukteswar. The visitor would not admit
the existence of God, inasmuch as science has devised no means of
have inexplicably failed to isolate the Supreme Power in your test
tubes!" Master's gaze was stern. "I recommend an unheard-of
experiment. Examine your thoughts unremittingly for twenty-four
hours. Then wonder no longer at God's absence."
celebrated pundit received a similar jolt. With ostentatious zeal,
the scholar shook the ashram rafters with scriptural lore. Resounding
passages poured from the Mahabharata, the Upanishads,21 the bhasyas22 of Shankara.
"I am waiting
to hear you." Sri Yukteswar's tone was inquiring, as though
utter silence had reigned. The pundit was puzzled.
there have been, in superabundance." Master's words convulsed
me with mirth, as I squatted in my corner, at a respectful distance
from the visitor. "But what original commentary can you supply,
from the uniqueness of your particular life? What holy text have
you absorbed and made your own? In what ways have these timeless
truths renovated your nature? Are you content to be a hollow victrola,
mechanically repeating the words of other men?"
up!" The scholar's chagrin was comical. "I have no inner
For the first
time, perhaps, he understood that discerning placement of the comma
does not atone for a spiritual coma.
bloodless pedants smell unduly of the lamp," my guru remarked
after the departure of the chastened one. "They prefer philosophy
to be a gentle intellectual setting-up exercise. Their elevated
thoughts are carefully unrelated either to the crudity of outward
action or to any scourging inner discipline!"
on other occasions the futility of mere book learning.
confuse understanding with a larger vocabulary," he remarked.
"Sacred writings are beneficial in stimulating desire for inward
realization, if one stanza at a time is slowly assimilated. Continual
intellectual study results in vanity and the false satisfaction
of an undigested knowledge."
related one of his own experiences in scriptural edification. The
scene was a forest hermitage in eastern Bengal, where he observed
the procedure of a renowned teacher, Dabru Ballav. His method, at
once simple and difficult, was common in ancient India.
Dabru Ballav had gathered his disciples around him in the sylvan
solitudes. The holy Bhagavad Gita was open before them. Steadfastly
they looked at one passage for half an hour, then closed their eyes.
Another half hour slipped away. The master gave a brief comment.
Motionless, they meditated again for an hour. Finally the guru spoke.
One in the group ventured this assertion.
fully. Seek the spiritual vitality that has given these words the
power to rejuvenate India century after century." Another hour
disappeared in silence. The master dismissed the students, and turned
to Sri Yukteswar.
you know the Bhagavad Gita?"
sir, not really; though my eyes and mind have run through its pages
have replied to me differently!" The great sage smiled at Master
in blessing. "If one busies himself with an outer display of
scriptural wealth, what time is left for silent inward diving after
the priceless pearls?"
directed the study of his own disciples by the same intensive method
of one-pointedness. "Wisdom is not assimilated with the eyes,
but with the atoms," he said. "When your conviction of
a truth is not merely in your brain but in your being, you may diffidently
vouch for its meaning." He discouraged any tendency a student
might have to construe book-knowledge as a necessary step to spiritual
"The rishis wrote in one sentence profundities that commentating
scholars busy themselves over for generations," he remarked.
"Endless literary controversy is for sluggard minds. What more
liberating thought than 'God is' --- nay, 'God'?"
But man does
not easily return to simplicity. It is seldom "God" for
him, but rather learned pomposities. His ego is pleased, that he
can grasp such erudition.
Men who were
pridefully conscious of high worldly position were likely, in Master's
presence, to add humility to their other possessions. A local magistrate
once arrived for an interview at the seaside hermitage in Puri.
The man, who held a reputation for ruthlessness, had it well within
his power to oust us from the ashram. I cautioned my guru about
the despotic possibilities. But he seated himself with an uncompromising
air, and did not rise to greet the visitor. Slightly nervous, I
squatted near the door. The man had to content himself with a wooden
box; my guru did not request me to fetch a chair. There was no fulfillment
of the magistrate's obvious expectation that his importance would
be ceremoniously acknowledged.
discussion ensued. The guest blundered through misinterpretations
of the scriptures. As his accuracy sank, his ire rose.
know that I stood first in the M. A. examination?" Reason had
forsaken him, but he could still shout.
you forget that this is not your courtroom," Master replied
evenly. "From your childish remarks I would have surmised that
your college career was unremarkable. A university degree, in any
case, is not remotely related to Vedic realization. Saints are not
produced in batches every semester like accountants."
After a stunned
silence, the visitor laughed heartily.
my first encounter with a heavenly magistrate," he said. Later
he made a formal request, couched in the legal terms which were
evidently part and parcel of his being, to be accepted as a "probationary"
My guru personally
attended to the details connected with the management of his property.
Unscrupulous persons on various occasions attempted to secure possession
of Master's ancestral land. With determination and even by instigating
lawsuits, Sri Yukteswar outwitted every opponent. He underwent these
painful experiences from a desire never to be a begging guru, or
a burden on his disciples.
independence was one reason why my alarmingly outspoken Master was
innocent of the cunnings of diplomacy. Unlike those teachers who
have to flatter their supporters, my guru was impervious to the
influences, open or subtle, of others' wealth. Never did I hear
him ask or even hint for money for any purpose. His hermitage training
was given free and freely to all disciples.
court deputy arrived one day at the Serampore ashram to serve Sri
Yukteswar with a legal summons. A disciple named Kanai and myself
were also present. The officer's attitude toward Master was offensive.
do you good to leave the shadows of your hermitage and breathe the
honest air of a courtroom." The deputy grinned contemptuously.
I could not contain myself.
word of your impudence and you will be on the floor!" I advanced
Kanai's shout was simultaneous with my own. "Dare you bring
your blasphemies into this sacred ashram?"
But Master stood
protectingly in front of his abuser. "Don't get excited over
nothing. This man is only doing his rightful duty."
dazed at his varying reception, respectfully offered a word of apology
and sped away.
Amazing it was
to find that a master with such a fiery will could be so calm within.
He fitted the Vedic definition of a man of God: "Softer than
the flower, where kindness is concerned; stronger than the thunder,
where principles are at stake."
There are always
those in this world who, in Browning's words, "endure no light,
being themselves obscure." An outsider occasionally berated
Sri Yukteswar for an imaginary grievance. My imperturbable guru
listened politely, analyzing himself to see if any shred of truth
lay within the denunciation. These scenes would bring to my mind
one of Master's inimitable observations: "Some people try to
be tall by cutting off the heads of others!"
unfailing composure of a saint is impressive beyond any sermon.
"He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he
that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city."23
I often reflected
that my majestic Master could easily have been an emperor or world-shaking
warrior had his mind been centered on fame or worldly achievement.
He had chosen instead to storm those inner citadels of wrath and
egotism whose fall is the height of a man.
"Worship of Durga." This is the chief festival of the
Bengali year and lasts for nine days around the end of September.
Immediately following is the ten-day festival of Dashahara ("the
One who removes ten sins"-three of body, three of mind, four
of speech). Both pujas are sacred to Durga, literally "the
Inaccessible," an aspect of Divine Mother, Shakti, the female
creative force personified.
Back to text
Sri Yukteswar was born on May 10, 1855.
Back to text
Yukteswar means "united to God." Giri is a classificatory
distinction of one of the ten ancient Swami branches. Sri means
"holy"; it is not a name but a title of respect.
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Literally, "to direct together." Samadhi is a superconscious
state of ecstasy in which the yogi perceives the identity of soul
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Snoring, according to physiologists, is an indication of utter relaxation
(to the oblivious practitioner, solely).
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Dhal is a thick soup made from split peas or other pulses. Channa
is a cheese of fresh curdled milk, cut into squares and curried
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The omnipresent powers of a yogi, whereby he sees, hears, tastes,
smells, and feels his oneness in creation without the use of sensory
organs, have been described as follows in the Taittiriya Aranyaka:
"The blind man pierced the pearl; the fingerless put a thread
into it; the neckless wore it; and the tongueless praised it."
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The cobra swiftly strikes at any moving object within its range.
Complete immobility is usually one's sole hope of safety.
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Lahiri Mahasaya actually said "Priya" (first or given
name), not "Yukteswar" (monastic name, not received by
my guru during Lahiri Mahasaya's lifetime). (See page 109.) Yukteswar"
is substituted here, and in a few other places in this book, in
order to avoid the confusion, to reader, of two names.
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"Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when
ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."-Mark
11:24. Masters who possess the Divine Vision are fully able to transfer
their realizations to advanced disciples, as Lahiri Mahasaya did
for Sri Yukteswar on this occasion.
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one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his
right ear. And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And
he touched his ear and healed him."-Luke 22:50-51.
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not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls
before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn
again and rend you."-Matthew 7:6.
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Disciples; from Sanskrit verb root, "to serve."
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He was once ill in Kashmir, when I was absent from him. (See page
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A courageous medical man, Charles Robert Richet, awarded the Nobel
Prize in physiology, wrote as follows: "Metaphysics is not
yet officially a science, recognized as such. But it is going to
be. . . . At Edinburgh, I was able to affirm before 100 physiologists
that our five senses are not our only means of knowledge and that
a fragment of reality sometimes reaches the intelligence in other
ways. . . . Because a fact is rare is no reason that it does not
exist. Because a study is difficult, is that a reason for not understanding
it? . . . Those who have railed at metaphysics as an occult science
will be as ashamed of themselves as those who railed at chemistry
on the ground that pursuit of the philosopher's stone was illusory.
. . . In the matter of principles there are only those of Lavoisier,
Claude Bernard, and Pasteur-the experimental everywhere and always.
Greetings, then, to the new science which is going to change the
orientation of human thought."
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Samadhi: perfect union of the individualized soul with the Infinite
Back to text
The subconsciously guided rationalizations of the mind are utterly
different from the infallible guidance of truth which issues from
the superconsciousness. Led by French scientists of the Sorbonne,
Western thinkers are beginning to investigate the possibility of
divine perception in man.
past twenty years, students of psychology, influenced by Freud,
gave all their time to searching the subconscious realms,"
Rabbi Israel H. Levinthal pointed out in 1929. "It is true
that the subconscious reveals much of the mystery that can explain
human actions, but not all of our actions. It can explain the abnormal,
but not deeds that are above the normal. The latest psychology,
sponsored by the French schools, has discovered a new region in
man, which it terms the superconscious. In contrast to the subconscious
which represents the submerged currents of our nature, it reveals
the heights to which our nature can reach. Man represents a triple,
not a double, personality; our conscious and subconscious being
is crowned by a superconsciousness. Many years ago the English psychologist,
F. W. H. Myers, suggested that 'hidden in the deep of our being
is a rubbish heap as well as a treasure house.' In contrast to the
psychology that centers all its researches on the subconscious in
man's nature, this new psychology of the superconscious focuses
its attention upon the treasure-house, the region that alone can
explain the great, unselfish, heroic deeds of men."
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Jnana, wisdom, and bhakti, devotion: two of the main paths to God.
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"Man in his waking state puts forth innumerable efforts for
experiencing sensual pleasures; when the entire group of sensory
organs is fatigued, he forgets even the pleasure on hand and goes
to sleep in order to enjoy rest in the soul, his own nature,"
Shankara, the great Vedantist, has written. "Ultra-sensual
bliss is thus extremely easy of attainment and is far superior to
sense delights which always end in disgust."
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The Upanishads or Vedanta (literally, "end of the Vedas"),
occur in certain parts of the Vedas as essential summaries. The
Upanishads furnish the doctrinal basis of the Hindu religion. They
received the following tribute from Schopenhauer: "How entirely
does the Upanishad breathe throughout the holy spirit of the Vedas!
How is everyone who has become familiar with that incomparable book
stirred by that spirit to the very depths of his soul! From every
sentence deep, original, and sublime thoughts arise, and the whole
is pervaded by a high and holy and earnest spirit. . . . The access
to the Vedas by means of the Upanishads is in my eyes the greatest
privilege this century may claim before all previous centuries."
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Commentaries. Shankara peerlessly expounded the Upanishads.
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Links to Additional Media for Keep A True Lent by Charles Fillmore such as audio and ebooks are located at the bottom of this web page.