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Materializing a Palace in the Himalaya
"Babaji's first meeting with Lahiri Mahasaya is an enthralling
story, and one of the few which gives us a detailed glimpse of the
were Swami Kebalananda's preamble to a wondrous tale. The first
time he recounted it I was literally spellbound. On many other occasions
I coaxed my gentle Sanskrit tutor to repeat the story, which was
later told me in substantially the same words by Sri Yukteswar.
Both these Lahiri Mahasaya disciples had heard the awesome tale
direct from the lips of their guru.
meeting with Babaji took place in my thirty-third year," Lahiri
Mahasaya had said. "In the autumn of 1861 I was stationed in
Danapur as a government accountant in the Military Engineering Department. One morning the office manager summoned me.
he said, 'a telegram has just come from our main office. You are
to be transferred to Ranikhet, where an army post1 is now being
one servant, I set out on the 500-mile trip. Traveling by horse
and buggy, we arrived in thirty days at the Himalayan site of Ranikhet.2
duties were not onerous; I was able to spend many hours roaming
in the magnificent hills. A rumor reached me that great saints blessed
the region with their presence; I felt a strong desire to see them.
During a ramble one early afternoon, I was astounded to hear a distant
voice calling my name. I continued my vigorous upward climb on Drongiri
Mountain. A slight uneasiness beset me at the thought that I might
not be able to retrace my steps before darkness had descended over
reached a small clearing whose sides were dotted with caves. On
one of the rocky ledges stood a smiling young man, extending his
hand in welcome. I noticed with astonishment that, except for his
copper-colored hair, he bore a remarkable resemblance to myself.
you have come!' The saint addressed me affectionately in Hindi.
'Rest here in this cave. It was I who called you.'
entered a neat little grotto which contained several woolen blankets
and a few kamandulus (begging bowls).
do you remember that seat?' The yogi pointed to a folded blanket
in one corner.
sir.' Somewhat dazed at the strangeness of my adventure, I added,
'I must leave now, before nightfall. I have business in the morning
at my office.'
saint replied in English, 'The office was brought for
you, and not you for the office.'
was dumbfounded that this forest ascetic should not only speak English
but also paraphrase the words of Christ.3
my telegram took effect.' The yogi's remark was incomprehensible
to me; I inquired his meaning.
to the telegram that summoned you to these isolated parts. It was
I who silently suggested to the mind of your superior officer that
you be transferred to Ranikhet. When one feels his unity with mankind,
all minds become transmitting stations through which he can work
at will.' He added gently, 'Lahiri, surely this cave seems familiar
"As I maintained
a bewildered silence, the saint approached and struck me gently
on the forehead. At his magnetic touch, a wondrous current swept
through my brain, releasing the sweet seed-memories of my previous
My voice was half-choked with joyous sobs. 'You are my guru Babaji,
who has belonged to me always! Scenes of the past arise vividly
in my mind; here in this cave I spent many years of my last incarnation!'
As ineffable recollections overwhelmed me, I tearfully embraced
my master's feet.
more than three decades I have waited for you here --- waited for you
to return to me!' Babaji's voice rang with celestial love. 'You
slipped away and vanished into the tumultuous waves of the life
beyond death. The magic wand of your karma touched you, and you
were gone! Though you lost sight of me, never did I lose sight of
you! I pursued you over the luminescent astral sea where the glorious
angels sail. Through gloom, storm, upheaval, and light I followed
you, like a mother bird guarding her young. As you lived out your
human term of womb-life, and emerged a babe, my eye was ever on
you. When you covered your tiny form in the lotus posture under
the Nadia sands in your childhood, I was invisibly present! Patiently,
month after month, year after year, I have watched over you, waiting
for this perfect day. Now you are with me! Lo, here is your cave,
loved of yore! I have kept it ever clean and ready for you. Here
is your hallowed asana-blanket, where you daily sat to fill
your expanding heart with God! Behold there your bowl, from which
you often drank the nectar prepared by me! See how I have kept the
brass cup brightly polished, that you might drink again therefrom!
My own, do you now understand?'
what can I say?' I murmured brokenly. 'Where has one ever heard
of such deathless love?' I gazed long and ecstatically on my eternal
treasure, my guru in life and death.
you need purification. Drink the oil in this bowl and lie down by
the river.' Babaji's practical wisdom, I reflected with a quick,
reminiscent smile, was ever to the fore.
his directions. Though the icy Himalayan night was descending, a
comforting warmth, an inner radiation, began to pulsate in every
cell of my body. I marveled. Was the unknown oil endued with a cosmical
winds whipped around me in the darkness, shrieking a fierce challenge.
The chill wavelets of the Gogash River lapped now and then over
my body, outstretched on the rocky bank. Tigers howled near-by,
but my heart was free of fear; the radiant force newly generated
within me conveyed an assurance of unassailable protection. Several
hours passed swiftly; faded memories of another life wove themselves
into the present brilliant pattern of reunion with my divine guru.
musings were interrupted by the sound of approaching footsteps.
In the darkness, a man's hand gently helped me to my feet, and gave
me some dry clothing.
brother,' my companion said. 'The master awaits you.'
the way through the forest. The somber night was suddenly lit by
a steady luminosity in the distance.
be the sunrise?' I inquired. 'Surely the whole night has not passed?'
hour is midnight.' My guide laughed softly. 'Yonder light is the
glow of a golden palace, materialized here tonight by the peerless
Babaji. In the dim past, you once expressed a desire to enjoy the
beauties of a palace. Our master is now satisfying your wish, thus
freeing you from the bonds of karma.'4 He added, 'The magnificent palace will be the scene of your initiation
tonight into Kriya Yoga. All your brothers here join in a
paean of welcome, rejoicing at the end of your long exile. Behold!'
palace of dazzling gold stood before us. Studded with countless
jewels, and set amidst landscaped gardens, it presented a spectacle
of unparalleled grandeur. Saints of angelic countenance were stationed
by resplendent gates, half-reddened by the glitter of rubies. Diamonds,
pearls, sapphires, and emeralds of great size and luster were imbedded
in the decorative arches.
my companion into a spacious reception hall. The odor of incense
and of roses wafted through the air; dim lamps shed a multicolored
glow. Small groups of devotees, some fair, some dark-skinned, chanted
musically, or sat in the meditative posture, immersed in an inner
peace. A vibrant joy pervaded the atmosphere.
your eyes; enjoy the artistic splendors of this palace, for it has
been brought into being solely in your honor.' My guide smiled sympathetically
as I uttered a few ejaculations of wonderment.
I said, 'the beauty of this structure surpasses the bounds of human
imagination. Please tell me the mystery of its origin.'
gladly enlighten you.' My companion's dark eyes sparkled with wisdom.
'In reality there is nothing inexplicable about this materialization.
The whole cosmos is a materialized thought of the Creator. This
heavy, earthly clod, floating in space, is a dream of God. He made
all things out of His consciousness, even as man in his dream consciousness
reproduces and vivifies a creation with its creatures.
created the earth as an idea. Then He quickened it; energy atoms
came into being. He coordinated the atoms into this solid sphere.
All its molecules are held together by the will of God. When He
withdraws His will, the earth again will disintegrate into energy.
Energy will dissolve into consciousness; the earth-idea will disappear
of a dream is held in materialization by the subconscious thought
of the dreamer. When that cohesive thought is withdrawn in wakefulness,
the dream and its elements dissolve. A man closes his eyes and erects
a dream-creation which, on awakening, he effortlessly dematerializes.
He follows the divine archetypal pattern. Similarly, when he awakens
in cosmic consciousness, he will effortlessly dematerialize the
illusions of the cosmic dream.
one with the infinite all-accomplishing Will, Babaji can summon
the elemental atoms to combine and manifest themselves in any form.
This golden palace, instantaneously created, is real, even as this
earth is real. Babaji created this palatial mansion out of his mind
and is holding its atoms together by the power of his will, even
as God created this earth and is maintaining it intact.' He added,
'When this structure has served its purpose, Babaji will dematerialize
I remained silent in awe, my guide made a sweeping gesture. 'This
shimmering palace, superbly embellished with jewels, has not been
built by human effort or with laboriously mined gold and gems. It
stands solidly, a monumental challenge to man. 5 Whoever realizes himself as a son of God, even as Babaji has done,
can reach any goal by the infinite powers hidden within him. A common
stone locks within itself the secret of stupendous atomic energy;6 even so, a mortal is yet a powerhouse of divinity.'
picked up from a near-by table a graceful vase whose handle was
blazing with diamonds. 'Our great guru created this palace by solidifying
myriads of free cosmic rays,' he went on. 'Touch this vase and its
diamonds; they will satisfy all the tests of sensory experience.'
the vase, and passed my hand over the smooth room-walls, thick with
glistening gold. Each of the jewels scattered lavishly about was
worthy of a king's collection. Deep satisfaction spread over my
mind. A submerged desire, hidden in my subconsciousness from lives
now gone, seemed simultaneously gratified and extinguished.
companion led me through ornate arches and corridors into a series
of chambers richly furnished in the style of an emperor's palace.
We entered an immense hall. In the center stood a golden throne,
encrusted with jewels shedding a dazzling medley of colors. There,
in lotus posture, sat the supreme Babaji. I knelt on the shining
floor at his feet.
are you still feasting on your dream desires for a golden palace?'
My guru's eyes were twinkling like his own sapphires. 'Wake! All
your earthly thirsts are about to be quenched forever.' He murmured
some mystic words of blessing. 'My son, arise. Receive your initiation
into the kingdom of God through Kriya Yoga.'
stretched out his hand; a homa (sacrificial) fire appeared,
surrounded by fruits and flowers. I received the liberating yogic
technique before this flaming altar.
rites were completed in the early dawn. I felt no need for sleep
in my ecstatic state, and wandered around the palace, filled on
all sides with treasures and priceless objets d'art. Descending
to the gorgeous gardens, I noticed, near-by, the same caves and
barren mountain ledges which yesterday had boasted no adjacency
to palace or flowered terrace.
the palace, fabulously glistening in the cold Himalayan sunlight,
I sought the presence of my master. He was still enthroned, surrounded
by many quiet disciples.
you are hungry.' Babaji added, 'Close your eyes.'
reopened them, the enchanting palace and its picturesque gardens
had disappeared. My own body and the forms of Babaji and the cluster
of chelas were all now seated on the bare ground at the exact site
of the vanished palace, not far from the sunlit entrances of the
rocky grottos. I recalled that my guide had remarked that the palace
would be dematerialized, its captive atoms released into the thought-essence
from which it had sprung. Although stunned, I looked trustingly
at my guru. I knew not what to expect next on this day of miracles.
for which the palace was created has now been served,' Babaji explained.
He lifted an earthen vessel from the ground. 'Put your hand there
and receive whatever food you desire.'
soon as I touched the broad, empty bowl, it became heaped with hot
butter-fried luchis, curry, and rare sweetmeats. I helped
myself, observing that the vessel was ever-filled. At the end of
my meal I looked around for water. My guru pointed to the bowl before
me. Lo! the food had vanished; in its place was water, clear as
from a mountain stream.
know that the kingdom of God includes the kingdom of mundane fulfillments,'
Babaji observed. 'The divine realm extends to the earthly, but the
latter, being illusory, cannot include the essence of reality.'
guru, last night you demonstrated for me the link of beauty in heaven
and earth!' I smiled at memories of the vanished palace; surely
no simple yogi had ever received initiation into the august mysteries
of Spirit amidst surroundings of more impressive luxury! I gazed
tranquilly at the stark contrast of the present scene. The gaunt
ground, the skyey roof, the caves offering primitive shelter --- all
seemed a gracious natural setting for the seraphic saints around
sat that afternoon on my blanket, hallowed by associations of past-life
realizations. My divine guru approached and passed his hand over
my head. I entered the nirbikalpa samadhi state, remaining
unbrokenly in its bliss for seven days. Crossing the successive
strata of self-knowledge, I penetrated the deathless realms of reality.
All delusive limitations dropped away; my soul was fully established
on the eternal altar of the Cosmic Spirit. On the eighth day I fell
at my guru's feet and implored him to keep me always near him in
this sacred wilderness.
Babaji said, embracing me, 'your role in this incarnation must be
played on an outward stage. Prenatally blessed by many lives of
lonely meditation, you must now mingle in the world of men.
purpose underlay the fact that you did not meet me this time until
you were already a married man, with modest business responsibilities.
You must put aside your thoughts of joining our secret band in the
Himalayas; your life lies in the crowded marts, serving as an example
of the ideal yogi-householder.
cries of many bewildered worldly men and women have not fallen unheard
on the ears of the Great Ones,' he went on. 'You have been chosen
to bring spiritual solace through Kriya Yoga to numerous
earnest seekers. The millions who are encumbered by family ties
and heavy worldly duties will take new heart from you, a householder
like themselves. You must guide them to see that the highest yogic
attainments are not barred to the family man. Even in the world,
the yogi who faithfully discharges his responsibilities, without
personal motive or attachment, treads the sure path of enlightenment.
compels you to leave the world, for inwardly you have already sundered
its every karmic tie. Not of this world, you must yet be in it.
Many years still remain during which you must conscientiously fulfill
your family, business, civic, and spiritual duties. A sweet new
breath of divine hope will penetrate the arid hearts of worldly
men. From your balanced life, they will understand that liberation
is dependent on inner, rather than outer, renunciations.'
seemed my family, the office, the world, as I listened to my guru
in the high Himalayan solitudes. Yet adamantine truth rang in his
words; I submissively agreed to leave this blessed haven of peace.
Babaji instructed me in the ancient rigid rules which govern the
transmission of the yogic art from guru to disciple.
the Kriya key only on qualified chelas,' Babaji said. 'He
who vows to sacrifice all in the quest of the Divine is fit to unravel
the final mysteries of life through the science of meditation.'
guru, as you have already favored mankind by resurrecting the lost Kriya art, will you not increase that benefit by relaxing the
strict requirements for discipleship?' I gazed beseechingly at Babaji.
'I pray that you permit me to communicate Kriya to all seekers,
even though at first they cannot vow themselves to complete inner
renunciation. The tortured men and women of the world, pursued by
the threefold suffering,7 need special encouragement. They may never attempt the road to freedom
if Kriya initiation be withheld from them.'
it so. The divine wish has been expressed through you.' With these
simple words, the merciful guru banished the rigorous safeguards
that for ages had hidden Kriya from the world. 'Give Kriya freely to all who humbly ask for help.'
a silence, Babaji added, 'Repeat to each of your disciples this
majestic promise from the Bhagavad Gita: "Swalpamasya
dharmasya, trayata mahato bhoyat" --- "Even a little bit
of the practice of this religion will save you from dire fears and
"As I knelt
the next morning at my guru's feet for his farewell blessing, he
sensed my deep reluctance to leave him.
is no separation for us, my beloved child.' He touched my shoulder
affectionately. 'Wherever you are, whenever you call me, I shall
be with you instantly.'
by his wondrous promise, and rich with the newly found gold of God-wisdom,
I wended my way down the mountain. At the office I was welcomed
by my fellow employees, who for ten days had thought me lost in
the Himalayan jungles. A letter soon arrived from the head office.
should return to the Danapur9 office,' it
read. 'His transfer to Ranikhet occurred by error. Another man should
have been sent to assume the Ranikhet duties.'
reflecting on the hidden crosscurrents in the events which had led
me to this furthermost spot of India.
returning to Danapur, I spent a few days with a Bengali family at
Moradabad. A party of six friends gathered to greet me. As I turned
the conversation to spiritual subjects, my host observed gloomily:
these days India is destitute of saints!'
I protested warmly, 'of course there are still great masters in
"In a mood
of exalted fervor, I felt impelled to relate my miraculous experiences
in the Himalayas. The little company was politely incredulous.
one man said soothingly, 'your mind has been under a strain in those
rarefied mountain airs. This is some daydream you have recounted.'
with the enthusiasm of truth, I spoke without due thought. 'If I
call him, my guru will appear right in this house.'
gleamed in every eye; it was no wonder that the group was eager
to behold a saint materialized in such a strange way. Half-reluctantly,
I asked for a quiet room and two new woolen blankets.
will materialize from the ether,' I said. 'Remain silently outside
the door; I shall soon call you.'
into the meditative state, humbly summoning my guru. The darkened
room soon filled with a dim aural moonlight; the luminous figure
of Babaji emerged.
do you call me for a trifle?' The master's gaze was stern. 'Truth
is for earnest seekers, not for those of idle curiosity. It is easy
to believe when one sees; there is nothing then to deny. Supersensual
truth is deserved and discovered by those who overcome their natural
materialistic skepticism.' He added gravely, 'Let me go!'
entreatingly at his feet. 'Holy guru, I realize my serious error;
I humbly ask pardon. It was to create faith in these spiritually
blinded minds that I ventured to call you. Because you have graciously
appeared at my prayer, please do not depart without bestowing a
blessing on my friends. Unbelievers though they be, at least they
were willing to investigate the truth of my strange assertions.'
"'Very well; I will stay awhile.
I do not wish your word discredited before your friends.' Babaji's
face had softened, but he added gently, 'Henceforth, my son, I shall
come when you need me, and not always when you call me.10 '
silence reigned in the little group when I opened the door. As if
mistrusting their senses, my friends stared at the lustrous figure
on the blanket seat.
is mass-hypnotism!' One man laughed blatantly. 'No one could possibly
have entered this room without our knowledge!'
advanced smilingly and motioned to each one to touch the warm, solid
flesh of his body. Doubts dispelled, my friends prostrated themselves
on the floor in awed repentance.
"'Let halua11 be prepared.' Babaji made this request, I knew, to further assure
the group of his physical reality. While the porridge was boiling,
the divine guru chatted affably. Great was the metamorphosis of
these doubting Thomases into devout St. Pauls. After we had eaten,
Babaji blessed each of us in turn. There was a sudden flash; we
witnessed the instantaneous dechemicalization of the electronic
elements of Babaji's body into a spreading vaporous light. The God-tuned
will power of the master had loosened its grasp of the ether atoms
held together as his body; forthwith the trillions of tiny lifetronic
sparks faded into the infinite reservoir.
my own eyes I have seen the conqueror of death.' Maitra,12 one of the group, spoke reverently. His face was transfigured with
the joy of his recent awakening. 'The supreme guru played with time
and space, as a child plays with bubbles. I have beheld one with
the keys of heaven and earth.'
returned to Danapur. Firmly anchored in the Spirit, again I assumed
the manifold business and family obligations of a householder."
also related to Swami Kebalananda and Sri Yukteswar the story of
another meeting with Babaji, under circumstances which recalled
the guru's promise: "I shall come whenever you need me."
scene was a Kumbha Mela at Allahabad," Lahiri Mahasaya
told his disciples. "I had gone there during a short vacation
from my office duties. As I wandered amidst the throng of monks
and sadhus who had come from great distances to attend the holy
festival, I noticed an ash-smeared ascetic who was holding a begging
bowl. The thought arose in my mind that the man was hypocritical,
wearing the outward symbols of renunciation without a corresponding
had I passed the ascetic than my astounded eye fell on Babaji. He
was kneeling in front of a matted-haired anchorite.
I hastened to his side. 'Sir, what are you doing here?'
washing the feet of this renunciate, and then I shall clean his
cooking utensils.' Babaji smiled at me like a little child; I knew
he was intimating that he wanted me to criticize no one, but to
see the Lord as residing equally in all body-temples, whether of
superior or inferior men. The great guru added, 'By serving wise
and ignorant sadhus, I am learning the greatest of virtues, pleasing
to God above all others --- humility.'"
Now a military sanatorium. By 1861 the British Government had already
established certain telegraphic communciations.
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Ranikhet, in the Almora district of United Provinces, is situated
at the foot of Nanda Devi, the highest Himalayan peak (25,661 feet)
in British India.
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"The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath."-Mark
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The karmic law requires that every human wish find ultimate fulfillment.
Desire is thus the chain which binds man to the reincarnational
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"What is a miracle?-'Tis a reproach,
'Tis an implicit satire on mankind."
-Edward Young, in Night Thoughts.
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The theory of the atomic structure of matter was expounded in the
ancient Indian Vaisesika and Nyaya treatises. "There are vast
worlds all placed away within the hollows of each atom, multifarious
as the motes in a sunbeam." -Yoga Vasishtha.
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Physical, mental, and spiritual suffering; manifested, respectively,
in disease, in psychological inadequacies or "complexes,"
and in soul-ignorance.
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A town near Benares.
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In the path to the Infinite, even illumined masters like Lahiri
Mahasaya may suffer from an excess of zeal, and be subject to discipline.
In the Bhagavad Gita, we read many passages where the divine guru
Krishna gives chastisement to the prince of devotees, Arjuna.
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A porridge made of cream of wheat fried in butter, and boiled with
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The man, Maitra, to whom Lahiri Mahasaya is here referring, afterward
became highly advanced in self-realization. I met Maitra shortly
after my graduation from high school; he visited the Mahamandal
hermitage in Benares while I was a resident. He told me then of
Babaji's materialization before the group in Moradabad. "As
a result of the miracle," Maitra explained to me, "I became
a lifelong disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya."
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