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An Interview with the Sacred Mother
Mother, I was baptized in infancy by your prophet-husband. He was
the guru of my parents and of my own guru Sri Yukteswarji. Will you
therefore give me the privilege of hearing a few incidents in your
I was addressing
Srimati Kashi Moni, the life-companion of Lahiri Mahasaya. Finding
myself in Benares for a short period, I was fulfilling a long-felt
desire to visit the venerable lady. She received me graciously at
the old Lahiri homestead in the Garudeswar Mohulla section of Benares.
Although aged, she was blooming like a lotus, silently emanating
a spiritual fragrance. She was of medium build, with a slender neck
and fair skin. Large, lustrous eyes softened her motherly face.
are welcome here. Come upstairs."
Kashi Moni led
the way to a very small room where, for a time, she had lived with
her husband. I felt honored to witness the shrine in which the peerless
master had condescended to play the human drama of matrimony. The
gentle lady motioned me to a pillow seat by her side.
years before I came to realize the divine stature of my husband,"
she began. "One night, in this very room, I had a vivid dream.
Glorious angels floated in unimaginable grace above me. So realistic
was the sight that I awoke at once; the room was strangely enveloped
in dazzling light.
in lotus posture, was levitated in the center of the room, surrounded
by angels who were worshiping him with the supplicating dignity
of palm-folded hands. Astonished beyond measure, I was convinced
that I was still dreaming.
Lahiri Mahasaya said, 'you are not dreaming. Forsake your sleep
forever and forever.' As he slowly descended to the floor, I prostrated
myself at his feet.
I cried, 'again and again I bow before you! Will you pardon me for
having considered you as my husband? I die with shame to realize
that I have remained asleep in ignorance by the side of one who
is divinely awakened. From this night, you are no longer my husband,
but my guru. Will you accept my insignificant self as your disciple?'1
touched me gently. 'Sacred soul, arise. You are accepted.' He motioned
toward the angels. 'Please bow in turn to each of these holy saints.'
had finished my humble genuflections, the angelic voices sounded
together, like a chorus from an ancient scripture.
of the Divine One, thou art blessed. We salute thee.' They bowed
at my feet and lo! their refulgent forms vanished. The room darkened.
guru asked me to receive initiation into Kriya Yoga.
course,' I responded. 'I am sorry not to have had its blessing earlier
in my life.'
was not ripe.' Lahiri Mahasaya smiled consolingly. 'Much of your
karma I have silently helped you to work out. Now you are willing
my forehead. Masses of whirling light appeared; the radiance gradually
formed itself into the opal-blue spiritual eye, ringed in gold and
centered with a white pentagonal star.
your consciousness through the star into the kingdom of the Infinite.'
My guru's voice had a new note, soft like distant music.
after vision broke as oceanic surf on the shores of my soul. The
panoramic spheres finally melted in a sea of bliss. I lost myself
in ever-surging blessedness. When I returned hours later to awareness
of this world, the master gave me the technique of Kriya Yoga.
that night on, Lahiri Mahasaya never slept in my room again. Nor,
thereafter, did he ever sleep. He remained in the front room downstairs,
in the company of his disciples both by day and by night."
lady fell into silence. Realizing the uniqueness of her relationship
with the sublime yogi, I finally ventured to ask for further reminiscences.
are greedy. Nevertheless you shall have one more story." She
smiled shyly. "I will confess a sin which I committed against
my guru-husband. Some months after my initiation, I began to feel
forlorn and neglected. One morning Lahiri Mahasaya entered this
little room to fetch an article; I quickly followed him. Overcome
by violent delusion, I addressed him scathingly.
all your time with the disciples. What about your responsibilities
for your wife and children? I regret that you do not interest yourself
in providing more money for the family.'
glanced at me for a moment, then lo! he was gone. Awed and frightened,
I heard a voice resounding from every part of the room:
all nothing, don't you see? How could a nothing like me produce
riches for you?'
I cried, 'I implore pardon a million times! My sinful eyes can see
you no more; please appear in your sacred form.'
here.' This reply came from above me. I looked up and saw the master
materialize in the air, his head touching the ceiling. His eyes
were like blinding flames. Beside myself with fear, I lay sobbing
at his feet after he had quietly descended to the floor.
he said, 'seek divine wealth, not the paltry tinsel of earth. After
acquiring inward treasure, you will find that outward supply is
always forthcoming.' He added, 'One of my spiritual sons will make
provision for you.'
words naturally came true; a disciple did leave a considerable
sum for our family."
thanked Kashi Moni for sharing with me her wondrous experiences.2 On the following
day I returned to her home and enjoyed several hours of philosophical
discussion with Tincouri and Ducouri Lahiri. These two saintly sons
of India's great yogi followed closely in his ideal footsteps. Both
men were fair, tall, stalwart, and heavily bearded, with soft voices
and an old-fashioned charm of manner.
His wife was
not the only woman disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya; there were hundreds
of others, including my mother. A woman chela once asked the guru
for his photograph. He handed her a print, remarking, "If you
deem it a protection, then it is so; otherwise it is only a picture."
few days later this woman and Lahiri Mahasaya's daughter-in-law
happened to be studying the Bhagavad Gita at a table behind
which hung the guru's photograph. An electrical storm broke out
with great fury.
Mahasaya, protect us!" The women bowed before the picture.
Lightning struck the book which they had been reading, but the two
devotees were unhurt.
as though a sheet of ice had been placed around me to ward off the
scorching heat," the chela explained.
performed two miracles in connection with a woman disciple, Abhoya.
She and her husband, a Calcutta lawyer, started one day for Benares
to visit the guru. Their carriage was delayed by heavy traffic;
they reached the Howrah main station only to hear the Benares train
whistling for departure.
the ticket office, stood quietly.
Mahasaya, I beseech thee to stop the train!" she silently prayed.
"I cannot suffer the pangs of delay in waiting another day
to see thee."
The wheels of
the snorting train continued to move round and round, but there
was no onward progress. The engineer and passengers descended to
the platform to view the phenomenon. An English railroad guard approached
Abhoya and her husband. Contrary to all precedent, he volunteered
he said, "give me the money. I will buy your tickets while
you get aboard."
As soon as the
couple was seated and had received the tickets, the train slowly
moved forward. In panic, the engineer and passengers clambered again
to their places, knowing neither how the train started, nor why
it had stopped in the first place.
the home of Lahiri Mahasaya in Benares, Abhoya silently prostrated
herself before the master, and tried to touch his feet.
yourself, Abhoya," he remarked. "How you love to bother
me! As if you could not have come here by the next train!"
Lahiri Mahasaya on another memorable occasion. This time she wanted
his intercession, not with a train, but with the stork.
you to bless me that my ninth child may live," she said. "Eight
babies have been born to me; all died soon after birth."
The master smiled
sympathetically. "Your coming child will live. Please follow
my instructions carefully. The baby, a girl, will be born at night.
See that the oil lamp is kept burning until dawn. Do not fall asleep
and thus allow the light to become extinguished."
was a daughter, born at night, exactly as foreseen by the omniscient
guru. The mother instructed her nurse to keep the lamp filled with
oil. Both women kept the urgent vigil far into the early morning
hours, but finally fell asleep. The lamp oil was almost gone; the
light flickered feebly.
door unlatched and flew open with a violent sound. The startled
women awoke. Their astonished eyes beheld the form of Lahiri Mahasaya.
behold, the light is almost gone!" He pointed to the lamp,
which the nurse hastened to refill. As soon as it burned again brightly,
the master vanished. The door closed; the latch was affixed without
child survived; in 1935, when I made inquiry, she was still living.
of Lahiri Mahasaya's disciples, the venerable Kali Kumar Roy, related
to me many fascinating details of his life with the master.
was often a guest at his Benares home for weeks at a time,"
Roy told me. "I observed that many saintly figures, danda3 swamis,
arrived in the quiet of night to sit at the guru's feet. Sometimes
they would engage in discussion of meditational and philosophical
points. At dawn the exalted guests would depart. I found during
my visits that Lahiri Mahasaya did not once lie down to sleep.
an early period of my association with the master, I had to contend
with the opposition of my employer," Roy went on. "He
was steeped in materialism.
want religious fanatics on my staff,' he would sneer. 'If I ever
meet your charlatan guru, I shall give him some words to remember.'
threat failed to interrupt my regular program; I spent nearly every
evening in my guru's presence. One night my employer followed me
and rushed rudely into the parlor. He was doubtless fully bent on
uttering the pulverizing remarks he had promised. No sooner had
the man seated himself than Lahiri Mahasaya addressed the little
group of about twelve disciples.
you all like to see a picture?'
nodded, he asked us to darken the room. 'Sit behind one another
in a circle,' he said, 'and place your hands over the eyes of the
man in front of you.'
not surprised to see that my employer also was following, albeit
unwillingly, the master's directions. In a few minutes Lahiri Mahasaya
asked us what we were seeing.
I replied, 'a beautiful woman appears. She wears a red-bordered sari, and stands near an elephant-ear plant.' All the other
disciples gave the same description. The master turned to my employer.
'Do you recognize that woman?'
The man was evidently struggling with emotions new to his nature.
'I have been foolishly spending my money on her, though I have a
good wife. I am ashamed of the motives which brought me here. Will
you forgive me, and receive me as a disciple?'
lead a good moral life for six months, I shall accept you.' The
master enigmatically added, 'Otherwise I won't have to initiate
months my employer refrained from temptation; then he resumed his
former relationship with the woman. Two months later he died. Thus
I came to understand my guru's veiled prophecy about the improbability
of the man's initiation."
had a very famous friend, Swami Trailanga, who was reputed to be
over three hundred years old. The two yogis often sat together in
meditation. Trailanga's fame is so widespread that few Hindus would
deny the possibility of truth in any story of his astounding miracles.
If Christ returned to earth and walked the streets of New York,
displaying his divine powers, it would cause the same excitement
that was created by Trailanga decades ago as he passed through the
crowded lanes of Benares.
many occasions the swami was seen to drink, with no ill effect,
the most deadly poisons. Thousands of people, including a few who
are still living, have seen Trailanga floating on the Ganges. For
days together he would sit on top of the water, or remain hidden
for very long periods under the waves. A common sight at the Benares
bathing ghats was the swami's motionless body on the blistering
stone slabs, wholly exposed to the merciless Indian sun. By these
feats Trailanga sought to teach men that a yogi's life does not
depend upon oxygen or ordinary conditions and precautions. Whether
he were above water or under it, and whether or not his body lay
exposed to the fierce solar rays, the master proved that he lived
by divine consciousness: death could not touch him.
The yogi was
great not only spiritually, but physically. His weight exceeded
three hundred pounds: a pound for each year of his life! As he ate
very seldom, the mystery is increased. A master, however, easily
ignores all usual rules of health, when he desires to do so for
some special reason, often a subtle one known only to himself. Great
saints who have awakened from the cosmic mayic dream and realized
this world as an idea in the Divine Mind, can do as they wish with
the body, knowing it to be only a manipulatable form of condensed
or frozen energy. Though physical scientists now understand that
matter is nothing but congealed energy, fully-illumined masters
have long passed from theory to practice in the field of matter-control.
remained completely nude. The harassed police of Benares came to
regard him as a baffling problem child. The natural swami, like
the early Adam in the garden of Eden, was utterly unconscious of
his nakedness. The police were quite conscious of it, however, and
unceremoniously committed him to jail. General embarrassment ensued;
the enormous body of Trailanga was soon seen, in its usual entirety,
on the prison roof. His cell, still securely locked, offered no
clue to his mode of escape.
officers of the law once more performed their duty. This time a
guard was posted before the swami's cell. Might again
retired before right. Trailanga was soon observed in his nonchalant
stroll over the roof. Justice is blind; the outwitted police decided
to follow her example.
great yogi preserved a habitual silence.4 In spite of
his round face and huge, barrel-like stomach, Trailanga ate only
occasionally. After weeks without food, he would break his fast
with potfuls of clabbered milk offered to him by devotees. A skeptic
once determined to expose Trailanga as a charlatan. A large bucket
of calcium-lime mixture, used in whitewashing walls, was placed
before the swami.
the materialist said, in mock reverence, "I have brought you
some clabbered milk. Please drink it."
drained, to the last drop, the containerful of burning lime. In
a few minutes the evildoer fell to the ground in agony.
swami, help!" he cried. "I am on fire! Forgive my wicked
The great yogi
broke his habitual silence. "Scoffer," he said, "you
did not realize when you offered me poison that my life is one with
your own. Except for my knowledge that God is present in my stomach,
as in every atom of creation, the lime would have killed me. Now
that you know the divine meaning of boomerang, never again play
tricks on anyone."
sinner, healed by Trailanga's words, slunk feebly away.
of pain was not due to any volition of the master, but came about
through unerring application of the law of justice which upholds
creation's farthest swinging orb. Men of God-realization like Trailanga
allow the divine law to operate instantaneously; they have banished
forever all thwarting crosscurrents of ego.
automatic adjustments of righteousness, often paid in an unexpected
coin as in the case of Trailanga and his would be murderer, assuage
our hasty indignance at human injustice. "Vengeance is mine;
I will repay, saith the Lord."5 What need for
man's brief resources? the universe duly conspires for retribution.
Dull minds discredit the possibility of divine justice, love, omniscience,
immortality. "Airy scriptural conjectures!" This insensitive
viewpoint, aweless before the cosmic spectacle, arouses a train
of events which brings its own awakening.
of spiritual law was referred to by Christ on the occasion of his
triumphant entry into Jerusalem. As the disciples and the multitude
shouted for joy, and cried, "Peace in heaven, and glory in
the highest," certain Pharisees complained of the undignified
spectacle. "Master," they protested, "rebuke thy disciples."
tell you," Jesus replied, "that, if these should hold
their peace, the stones would immediately cry out."6
In this reprimand
to the Pharisees, Christ was pointing out that divine justice is
no figurative abstraction, and that a man of peace, though his tongue
be torn from its roots, will yet find his speech and his defense
in the bedrock of creation, the universal order itself.
you," Jesus was saying, "to silence men of peace? As well
may you hope to throttle the voice of God, whose very stones sing
His glory and His omnipresence. Will you demand that men not celebrate
in honor of the peace in heaven, but should only gather together
in multitudes to shout for war on earth? Then make your preparations,
O Pharisees, to overtopple the foundations of the world; for it
is not gentle men alone, but stones or earth, and water and fire
and air that will rise up against you, to bear witness of His ordered
grace of the Christlike yogi, Trailanga, was once bestowed on my sajo mama (maternal uncle). One morning Uncle saw the master
surrounded by a crowd of devotees at a Benares ghat. He managed
to edge his way close to Trailanga, whose feet he touched humbly.
Uncle was astonished to find himself instantly freed from a painful
chronic disease. 7
only known living disciple of the great yogi is a woman, Shankari
Mai Jiew. Daughter of one of Trailanga's disciples, she received
the swami's training from her early childhood. She lived for forty
years in a series of lonely Himalayan caves near Badrinath, Kedarnath,
Amarnath, and Pasupatinath. The brahmacharini (woman ascetic),
born in 1826, is now well over the century mark. Not aged in appearance,
however, she has retained her black hair, sparkling teeth, and amazing
energy. She comes out of her seclusion every few years to attend
the periodical melas or religious fairs.
This woman saint
often visited Lahiri Mahasaya. She has related that one day, in
the Barackpur section near Calcutta, while she was sitting by Lahiri
Mahasaya's side, his great guru Babaji quietly entered the room
and held converse with them both.
On one occasion
her master Trailanga, forsaking his usual silence, honored Lahiri
Mahasaya very pointedly in public. A Benares disciple objected.
he said, "why do you, a swami and a renunciate, show such respect
to a householder?"
Trailanga replied, "Lahiri Mahasaya is like a divine kitten,
remaining wherever the Cosmic Mother has placed him. While dutifully
playing the part of a worldly man, he has received that perfect
self-realization for which I have renounced even my loincloth!"
One is reminded here of Milton's line: "He for God only, she
for God in him."
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The venerable mother passed on at Benares in 1930.
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Staff, symbolizing the spinal cord, carried ritually by certain
orders of monks.
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He was a muni, a monk who observes mauna, spiritual silence. The
Sanskrit root muni is akin to Greek monos, "alone, single,"
from which are derived the English words monk, monism, etc.
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The lives of Trailanga and other great masters remind us of Jesus'
words: "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In
my name (the Christ consciousness) they shall cast out devils; they
shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if
they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall
lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."-Mark 16:17-18.
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