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Autobiography of a YOGI
by Paramhansa Yogananda
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"Few there be who solve her mystery! Good and evil is the challenging riddle which life places sphinxlike before every intelligence. Attempting no solution, most men pay forfeit with their lives, penalty now even as in the days of Thebes. Here and there, a towering lonely figure never cries defeat. From the MAYA {FN5-2} of duality he plucks the cleaveless truth of unity."

"You speak with conviction, sir."

"I have long exercised an honest introspection, the exquisitely painful approach to wisdom. Self-scrutiny, relentless observance of one's thoughts, is a stark and shattering experience. It pulverizes the stoutest ego. But true self-analysis mathematically operates to produce seers. The way of 'self-expression,' individual acknowledgments, results in egotists, sure of the right to their private interpretations of God and the universe."

"Truth humbly retires, no doubt, before such arrogant originality." I was enjoying the discussion.

"Man can understand no eternal verity until he has freed himself from pretensions. The human mind, bared to a centuried slime, is teeming with repulsive life of countless world-delusions. Struggles of the battlefields pale into insignificance here, when man first contends with inward enemies! No mortal foes these, to be overcome by harrowing array of might! Omnipresent, unresting, pursuing man even in sleep, subtly equipped with a miasmic weapon, these soldiers of ignorant lusts seek to slay us all. Thoughtless is the man who buries his ideals, surrendering to the common fate. Can he seem other than impotent, wooden, ignominious?"

"Respected Sir, have you no sympathy for the bewildered masses?"

The sage was silent for a moment, then answered obliquely.

"To love both the invisible God, Repository of All Virtues, and visible man, apparently possessed of none, is often baffling! But ingenuity is equal to the maze. Inner research soon exposes a unity in all human minds-the stalwart kinship of selfish motive. In one sense at least, the brotherhood of man stands revealed. An aghast humility follows this leveling discovery. It ripens into compassion for one's fellows, blind to the healing potencies of the soul awaiting exploration."

"The saints of every age, sir, have felt like yourself for the sorrows of the world."

"Only the shallow man loses responsiveness to the woes of others' lives, as he sinks into narrow suffering of his own." The SADHU'S austere face was noticeably softened. "The one who practices a scalpel self-dissection will know an expansion of universal pity. Release is given him from the deafening demands of his ego. The love of God flowers on such soil. The creature finally turns to his Creator, if for no other reason than to ask in anguish: 'Why, Lord, why?' By ignoble whips of pain, man is driven at last into the Infinite Presence, whose beauty alone should lure him."

The sage and I were present in Calcutta's Kalighat Temple, whither I had gone to view its famed magnificence. With a sweeping gesture, my chance companion dismissed the ornate dignity.

"Bricks and mortar sing us no audible tune; the heart opens only to the human chant of being."

We strolled to the inviting sunshine at the entrance, where throngs of devotees were passing to and fro.

"You are young." The sage surveyed me thoughtfully. "India too is young. The ancient RISHIS {FN5-3} laid down ineradicable patterns of spiritual living. Their hoary dictums suffice for this day and land. Not outmoded, not unsophisticated against the guiles of materialism, the disciplinary precepts mold India still. By millenniums-more than embarrassed scholars care to compute!-the skeptic Time has validated Vedic worth. Take it for your heritage."

As I was reverently bidding farewell to the eloquent SADHU, he revealed a clairvoyant perception:

"After you leave here today, an unusual experience will come your way."

I quitted the temple precincts and wandered along aimlessly. Turning a corner, I ran into an old acquaintance-one of those long-winded fellows whose conversational powers ignore time and embrace eternity.

"I will let you go in a very short while, if you will tell me all that has happened during the six years of our separation."

"What a paradox! I must leave you now."

But he held me by the hand, forcing out tidbits of information. He was like a ravenous wolf, I thought in amusement; the longer I spoke, the more hungrily he sniffed for news. Inwardly I petitioned the Goddess Kali to devise a graceful means of escape.

My companion left me abruptly. I sighed with relief and doubled my pace, dreading any relapse into the garrulous fever. Hearing rapid footsteps behind me, I quickened my speed. I dared not look back. But with a bound, the youth rejoined me, jovially clasping my shoulder.

"I forgot to tell you of Gandha Baba (Perfume Saint), who is gracing yonder house." He pointed to a dwelling a few yards distant. "Do meet him; he is interesting. You may have an unusual experience. Good-by," and he actually left me.

The similarly worded prediction of the SADHU at Kalighat Temple flashed to my mind. Definitely intrigued, I entered the house and was ushered into a commodious parlor. A crowd of people were sitting, Orient-wise, here and there on a thick orange-colored carpet. An awed whisper reached my ear:

"Behold Gandha Baba on the leopard skin. He can give the natural perfume of any flower to a scentless one, or revive a wilted blossom, or make a person's skin exude delightful fragrance."

I looked directly at the saint; his quick gaze rested on mine. He was plump and bearded, with dark skin and large, gleaming eyes.

"Son, I am glad to see you. Say what you want. Would you like some perfume?"

"What for?" I thought his remark rather childish.

"To experience the miraculous way of enjoying perfumes."

"Harnessing God to make odors?"

"What of it? God makes perfume anyway."

"Yes, but He fashions frail bottles of petals for fresh use and discard. Can you materialize flowers?"

"I materialize perfumes, little friend."

"Then scent factories will go out of business."

"I will permit them to keep their trade! My own purpose is to demonstrate the power of God."

"Sir, is it necessary to prove God? Isn't He performing miracles in everything, everywhere?"

"Yes, but we too should manifest some of His infinite creative variety."

"How long did it take to master your art?"

"Twelve years."

"For manufacturing scents by astral means! It seems, my honored saint, you have been wasting a dozen years for fragrances which you can obtain with a few rupees from a florist's shop."

"Perfumes fade with flowers."

"Perfumes fade with death. Why should I desire that which pleases the body only?"

"Mr. Philosopher, you please my mind. Now, stretch forth your right hand." He made a gesture of blessing.

I was a few feet away from Gandha Baba; no one else was near enough to contact my body. I extended my hand, which the yogi did not touch.

"What perfume do you want?"

"Rose."

"Be it so."

To my great surprise, the charming fragrance of rose was wafted strongly from the center of my palm. I smilingly took a large white scentless flower from a near-by vase.

"Can this odorless blossom be permeated with jasmine?"

"Be it so."

A jasmine fragrance instantly shot from the petals. I thanked the wonder-worker and seated myself by one of his students. He informed me that Gandha Baba, whose proper name was Vishudhananda, had learned many astonishing yoga secrets from a master in Tibet. The Tibetan yogi, I was assured, had attained the age of over a thousand years.

"His disciple Gandha Baba does not always perform his perfume-feats in the simple verbal manner you have just witnessed." The student spoke with obvious pride in his master. "His procedure differs widely, to accord with diversity in temperaments. He is marvelous! Many members of the Calcutta intelligentsia are among his followers."

I inwardly resolved not to add myself to their number. A guru too literally "marvelous" was not to my liking. With polite thanks to Gandha Baba, I departed. Sauntering home, I reflected on the three varied encounters the day had brought forth.

My sister Uma met me as I entered our Gurpar Road door.

"You are getting quite stylish, using perfumes!"

Without a word, I motioned her to smell my hand.

"What an attractive rose fragrance! It is unusually strong!"

Thinking it was "strongly unusual," I silently placed the astrally scented blossom under her nostrils.

"Oh, I love jasmine!" She seized the flower. A ludicrous bafflement passed over her face as she repeatedly sniffed the odor of jasmine from a type of flower she well knew to be scentless. Her reactions disarmed my suspicion that Gandha Baba had induced an auto-suggestive state whereby I alone could detect the fragrances.

Later I heard from a friend, Alakananda, that the "Perfume Saint" had a power which I wish were possessed by the starving millions of Asia and, today, of Europe as well.

"I was present with a hundred other guests at Gandha Baba's home in Burdwan," Alakananda told me. "It was a gala occasion. Because the yogi was reputed to have the power of extracting objects out of thin air, I laughingly requested him to materialize some out-of-season tangerines. Immediately the LUCHIS {FN5-4} which were present on all the banana-leaf plates became puffed up. Each of the bread-envelopes proved to contain a peeled tangerine. I bit into my own with some trepidation, but found it delicious."

Years later I understood by inner realization how Gandha Baba accomplished his materializations. The method, alas! is beyond the reach of the world's hungry hordes.

The different sensory stimuli to which man reacts-tactual, visual, gustatory, auditory, and olfactory-are produced by vibratory variations in electrons and protons. The vibrations in turn are regulated by "lifetrons," subtle life forces or finer-than-atomic energies intelligently charged with the five distinctive sensory idea-substances.

Gandha Baba, tuning himself with the cosmic force by certain yogic practices, was able to guide the lifetrons to rearrange their vibratory structure and objectivize the desired result. His perfume, fruit and other miracles were actual materializations of mundane vibrations, and not inner sensations hypnotically produced. {FN5-5}

Performances of miracles such as shown by the "Perfume Saint" are spectacular but spiritually useless. Having little purpose beyond entertainment, they are digressions from a serious search for God.

Hypnotism has been used by physicians in minor operations as a sort of psychical chloroform for persons who might be endangered by an anesthetic. But a hypnotic state is harmful to those often subjected to it; a negative psychological effect ensues which in time deranges the brain cells. Hypnotism is trespass into the territory of another's consciousness. Its temporary phenomena have nothing in common with the miracles performed by men of divine realization. Awake in God, true saints effect changes in this dream-world by means of a will harmoniously attuned to the Creative Cosmic Dreamer.

Ostentatious display of unusual powers are decried by masters. The Persian mystic, Abu Said, once laughed at certain FAKIRS who were proud of their miraculous powers over water, air, and space.

"A frog is also at home in the water!" Abu Said pointed out in gentle scorn. "The crow and the vulture easily fly in the air; the Devil is simultaneously present in the East and in the West! A true man is he who dwells in righteousness among his fellow men, who buys and sells, yet is never for a single instant forgetful of God!" On another occasion the great Persian teacher gave his views on the religious life thus: "To lay aside what you have in your head (selfish desires and ambitions); to freely bestow what you have in your hand; and never to flinch from the blows of adversity!"

Neither the impartial sage at Kalighat Temple nor the Tibetan-trained yogi had satisfied my yearning for a guru. My heart needed no tutor for its recognitions, and cried its own "Bravos!" the more resoundingly because unoften summoned from silence. When I finally met my master, he taught me by sublimity of example alone the measure of a true man.

{FN5-1} Kali represents the eternal principle in nature. She is traditionally pictured as a four-armed woman, standing on the form of the God Shiva or the Infinite, because nature or the phenomenal world is rooted in the Noumenon. The four arms symbolize cardinal attributes, two beneficent, two destructive, indicating the essential duality of matter or creation.

{FN5-2} Cosmic illusion; literally, "the measurer." MAYA is the magical power in creation by which limitations and divisions are apparently present in the Immeasurable and Inseparable. Emerson wrote the following poem, to which he gave the title of MAYA:

Illusion works impenetrable, Weaving webs innumerable, Her gay pictures never fail, Crowd each other, veil on veil, Charmer who will be believed By man who thirsts to be deceived.

{FN5-3} The RISHIS, literally "seers," were the authors of the VEDAS in an indeterminable antiquity..

{FN5-4} Flat, round Indian bread..

{FN5-5} Laymen scarcely realize the vast strides of twentieth-century science. Transmutation of metals and other alchemical dreams are seeing fulfillment every day in centers of scientific research over the world. The eminent French chemist, M. Georges Claude, performed "miracles" at Fontainebleau in 1928 before a scientific assemblage through his chemical knowledge of oxygen transformations. His "magician's wand" was simple oxygen, bubbling in a tube on a table. The scientist "turned a handful of sand into precious stones, iron into a state resembling melted chocolate and, after depriving flowers of their tints, turned them into the consistency of glass.

"M. Claude explained how the sea could be turned by oxygen transformations into many millions of pounds of horsepower; how water which boils is not necessarily burning; how little mounds of sand, by a single whiff of the oxygen blowpipe, could be changed into sapphires, rubies, and topazes; and he predicted the time when it will be possible for men to walk on the bottom of the ocean minus the diver's equipment. Finally the scientist amazed his onlookers by turning their faces black by taking the red out of the sun's rays."

This noted French scientist has produced liquid air by an expansion method in which he has been able to separate the various gases of the air, and has discovered various means of mechanical utilization of differences of temperature in sea water.



CHAPTER: 6

THE TIGER SWAMI

"I have discovered the Tiger Swami's address. Let us visit him tomorrow."

This welcome suggestion came from Chandi, one of my high school friends. I was eager to meet the saint who, in his premonastic life, had caught and fought tigers with his naked hands. A boyish enthusiasm over such remarkable feats was strong within me.

The next day dawned wintry cold, but Chandi and I sallied forth gaily. After much vain hunting in Bhowanipur, outside Calcutta, we arrived at the right house. The door held two iron rings, which I sounded piercingly. Notwithstanding the clamor, a servant approached with leisurely gait. His ironical smile implied that visitors, despite their noise, were powerless to disturb the calmness of a saint's home.

Feeling the silent rebuke, my companion and I were thankful to be invited into the parlor. Our long wait there caused uncomfortable misgivings. India's unwritten law for the truth seeker is patience; a master may purposely make a test of one's eagerness to meet him. This psychological ruse is freely employed in the West by doctors and dentists!

Finally summoned by the servant, Chandi and I entered a sleeping apartment. The famous Sohong {FN6-1} Swami was seated on his bed. The sight of his tremendous body affected us strangely. With bulging eyes, we stood speechless. We had never before seen such a chest or such football-like biceps. On an immense neck, the swami's fierce yet calm face was adorned with flowing locks, beard and moustache. A hint of dovelike and tigerlike qualities shone in his dark eyes. He was unclothed, save for a tiger skin about his muscular waist.

Finding our voices, my friend and I greeted the monk, expressing our admiration for his prowess in the extraordinary feline arena.

"Will you not tell us, please, how it is possible to subdue with bare fists the most ferocious of jungle beasts, the royal Bengals?"

"My sons, it is nothing to me to fight tigers. I could do it today if necessary." He gave a childlike laugh. "You look upon tigers as tigers; I know them as pussycats."

"Swamiji, I think I could impress my subconsciousness with the thought that tigers are pussycats, but could I make tigers believe it?"

"Of course strength also is necessary! One cannot expect victory from a baby who imagines a tiger to be a house cat! Powerful hands are my sufficient weapon."

He asked us to follow him to the patio, where he struck the edge of a wall. A brick crashed to the floor; the sky peered boldly through the gaping lost tooth of the wall. I fairly staggered in astonishment; he who can remove mortared bricks from a solid wall with one blow, I thought, must surely be able to displace the teeth of tigers!

"A number of men have physical power such as mine, but still lack in cool confidence. Those who are bodily but not mentally stalwart may find themselves fainting at mere sight of a wild beast bounding freely in the jungle. The tiger in its natural ferocity and habitat is vastly different from the opium-fed circus animal!

"Many a man with herculean strength has nonetheless been terrorized into abject helplessness before the onslaught of a royal Bengal. Thus the tiger has converted the man, in his own mind, to a state as nerveless as the pussycat's. It is possible for a man, owning a fairly strong body and an immensely strong determination, to turn the tables on the tiger, and force it to a conviction of pussycat defenselessness. How often I have done just that!"

I was quite willing to believe that the titan before me was able to perform the tiger-pussycat metamorphosis. He seemed in a didactic mood; Chandi and I listened respectfully.

"Mind is the wielder of muscles. The force of a hammer blow depends on the energy applied; the power expressed by a man's bodily instrument depends on his aggressive will and courage. The body is literally manufactured and sustained by mind. Through pressure of instincts from past lives, strengths or weaknesses percolate gradually into human consciousness. They express as habits, which in turn ossify into a desirable or an undesirable body. Outward frailty has mental origin; in a vicious circle, the habit-bound body thwarts the mind. If the master allows himself to be commanded by a servant, the latter becomes autocratic; the mind is similarly enslaved by submitting to bodily dictation."

At our entreaty, the impressive swami consented to tell us something of his own life.

"My earliest ambition was to fight tigers. My will was mighty, but my body was feeble."

An ejaculation of surprise broke from me. It appeared incredible that this man, now "with Atlantean shoulders, fit to bear," could ever have known weakness.

"It was by indomitable persistency in thoughts of health and strength that I overcame my handicap. I have every reason to extol the compelling mental vigor which I found to be the real subduer of royal Bengals."

"Do you think, revered swami, that I could ever fight tigers?" This was the first, and the last, time that the bizarre ambition ever visited my mind!

"Yes." He was smiling. "But there are many kinds of tigers; some roam in jungles of human desires. No spiritual benefit accrues by knocking beasts unconscious. Rather be victor over the inner prowlers."

"May we hear, sir, how you changed from a tamer of wild tigers to a tamer of wild passions?"

The Tiger Swami fell into silence. Remoteness came into his gaze, summoning visions of bygone years. I discerned his slight mental struggle to decide whether to grant my request. Finally he smiled in acquiescence.

"When my fame reached a zenith, it brought the intoxication of pride. I decided not only to fight tigers but to display them in various tricks. My ambition was to force savage beasts to behave like domesticated ones. I began to perform my feats publicly, with gratifying success.

"One evening my father entered my room in pensive mood.

"'Son, I have words of warning. I would save you from coming ills, produced by the grinding wheels of cause and effect.'

"'Are you a fatalist, Father? Should superstition be allowed to discolor the powerful waters or my activities?'

"'I am no fatalist, son. But I believe in the just law of retribution, as taught in the holy scriptures. There is resentment against you in the jungle family; sometime it may act to your cost.'

"'Father, you astonish me! You well know what tigers are-beautiful but merciless! Even immediately after an enormous meal of some hapless creature, a tiger is fired with fresh lust at sight of new prey. It may be a joyous gazelle, frisking over the jungle grass. Capturing it and biting an opening in the soft throat, the malevolent beast tastes only a little of the mutely crying blood, and goes its wanton way.

"'Tigers are the most contemptible of the jungle breed! Who knows? my blows may inject some slight sanity of consideration into their thick heads. I am headmaster in a forest finishing school, to teach them gentle manners!

"'Please, Father, think of me as tiger tamer and never as tiger killer. How could my good actions bring ill upon me? I beg you not to impose any command that I change my way of life.'"

Chandi and I were all attention, understanding the past dilemma. In India a child does not lightly disobey his parents' wishes.

"In stoic silence Father listened to my explanation. He followed it with a disclosure which he uttered gravely.

"'Son, you compel me to relate an ominous prediction from the lips of a saint. He approached me yesterday as I sat on the veranda in my daily meditation.

"'"Dear friend, I come with a message for your belligerent son. Let him cease his savage activities. Otherwise, his next tiger-encounter shall result in his severe wounds, followed by six months of deathly sickness. He shall then forsake his former ways and become a monk."'

"This tale did not impress me. I considered that Father had been the credulous victim of a deluded fanatic."

The Tiger Swami made this confession with an impatient gesture, as though at some stupidity. Grimly silent for a long time, he seemed oblivious of our presence. When he took up the dangling thread of his narrative, it was suddenly, with subdued voice.

"Not long after Father's warning, I visited the capital city of Cooch Behar. The picturesque territory was new to me, and I expected a restful change. As usual everywhere, a curious crowd followed me on the streets. I would catch bits of whispered comment:

"'This is the man who fights wild tigers.'

"'Has he legs, or tree-trunks?'

"'Look at his face! He must be an incarnation of the king of tigers himself!'

"You know how village urchins function like final editions of a newspaper! With what speed do the even-later speech-bulletins of the women circulate from house to house! Within a few hours, the whole city was in a state of excitement over my presence.

"I was relaxing quietly in the evening, when I heard the hoofbeats of galloping horses. They stopped in front of my dwelling place. In came a number of tall, turbaned policemen.

"I was taken aback. 'All things are possible unto these creatures of human law,' I thought. 'I wonder if they are going to take me to task about matters utterly unknown to me.' But the officers bowed with unwonted courtesy.

"'Honored Sir, we are sent to welcome you on behalf of the Prince of Cooch Behar. He is pleased to invite you to his palace tomorrow morning.'

"I speculated awhile on the prospect. For some obscure reason I felt sharp regret at this interruption in my quiet trip. But the suppliant manner of the policemen moved me; I agreed to go.

"I was bewildered the next day to be obsequiously escorted from my door into a magnificent coach drawn by four horses. A servant held an ornate umbrella to protect me from the scorching sunlight. I enjoyed the pleasant ride through the city and its woodland outskirts. The royal scion himself was at the palace door to welcome me. He proffered his own gold-brocaded seat, smilingly placing himself in a chair of simpler design.

"'All this politeness is certainly going to cost me something!' I thought in mounting astonishment. The prince's motive emerged after a few casual remarks.

"'My city is filled with the rumor that you can fight wild tigers with nothing more than your naked hands. Is it a fact?'

"'It is quite true.'

"'I can scarcely believe it! You are a Calcutta Bengali, nurtured on the white rice of city folk. Be frank, please; have you not been fighting only spineless, opium-fed animals?' His voice was loud and sarcastic, tinged with provincial accent.

"I vouchsafed no reply to his insulting question.

"'I challenge you to fight my newly-caught tiger, Raja Begum. {FN6-2} If you can successfully resist him, bind him with a chain, and leave his cage in a conscious state, you shall have this royal Bengal! Several thousand rupees and many other gifts shall also be bestowed. If you refuse to meet him in combat, I shall blazon your name throughout the state as an impostor!'

"His insolent words struck me like a volley of bullets. I shot an angry acceptance. Half risen from the chair in his excitement, the prince sank back with a sadistic smile. I was reminded of the Roman emperors who delighted in setting Christians in bestial arenas.

"'The match will be set for a week hence. I regret that I cannot give you permission to view the tiger in advance.'

"Whether the prince feared I might seek to hypnotize the beast, or secretly feed him opium, I know not!

"I left the palace, noting with amusement that the royal umbrella and panoplied coach were now missing.

"The following week I methodically prepared my mind and body for the coming ordeal. Through my servant I learned of fantastic tales. The saint's direful prediction to my father had somehow got abroad, enlarging as it ran. Many simple villagers believed that an evil spirit, cursed by the gods, had reincarnated as a tiger which took various demoniac forms at night, but remained a striped animal during the day. This demon-tiger was supposed to be the one sent to humble me.

"Another imaginative version was that animal prayers to Tiger Heaven had achieved a response in the shape of Raja Begum. He was to be the instrument to punish me-the audacious biped, so insulting to the entire tiger species! A furless, fangless man daring to challenge a claw-armed, sturdy-limbed tiger! The concentrated venom of all humiliated tigers-the villagers declared-had gathered momentum sufficient to operate hidden laws and bring about the fall of the proud tiger tamer.

"My servant further apprized me that the prince was in his element as manager of the bout between man and beast. He had supervised the erection of a storm-proof pavilion, designed to accommodate thousands. Its center held Raja Begum in an enormous iron cage, surrounded by an outer safety room. The captive emitted a ceaseless series of blood-curdling roars. He was fed sparingly, to kindle a wrathful appetite. Perhaps the prince expected me to be the meal of reward!

"Crowds from the city and suburbs bought tickets eagerly in response to the beat of drums announcing the unique contest. The day of battle saw hundreds turned away for lack of seats. Many men broke through the tent openings, or crowded any space below the galleries."

As the Tiger Swami's story approached a climax, my excitement mounted with it; Chandi also was raptly mute.

"Amidst piercing sound-explosions from Raja Begum, and the hubbub of the somewhat terrified crowd, I quietly made my appearance. Scantily clad around the waist, I was otherwise unprotected by clothing. I opened the bolt on the door of the safety room and calmly locked it behind me. The tiger sensed blood. Leaping with a thunderous crash on his bars, he sent forth a fearsome welcome. The audience was hushed with pitiful fear; I seemed a meek lamb before the raging beast.

"In a trice I was within the cage; but as I slammed the door, Raja Begum was headlong upon me. My right hand was desperately torn. Human blood, the greatest treat a tiger can know, fell in appalling streams. The prophecy of the saint seemed about to be fulfilled.

"I rallied instantly from the shock of the first serious injury I had ever received. Banishing the sight of my gory fingers by thrusting them beneath my waist cloth, I swung my left arm in a bone-cracking blow. The beast reeled back, swirled around the rear of the cage, and sprang forward convulsively. My famous fistic punishment rained on his head.

"But Raja Begum's taste of blood had acted like the maddening first sip of wine to a dipsomaniac long-deprived. Punctuated by deafening roar, the brute's assaults grew in fury. My inadequate defense of only one hand left me vulnerable before claws and fangs. But I dealt out dazing retribution. Mutually ensanguined, we struggled as to the death. The cage was pandemonium, as blood splashed in all directions, and blasts of pain and lethal lust came from the bestial throat.

"'Shoot him!' 'Kill the tiger!' Shrieks arose from the audience. So fast did man and beast move, that a guard's bullet went amiss. I mustered all my will force, bellowed fiercely, and landed a final concussive blow. The tiger collapsed and lay quietly.

"Like a pussycat!" I interjected.

The swami laughed in hearty appreciation, then continued the engrossing tale.

"Raja Begum was vanquished at last. His royal pride was further humbled: with my lacerated hands, I audaciously forced open his jaws. For a dramatic moment, I held my head within the yawning deathtrap. I looked around for a chain. Pulling one from a pile on the floor, I bound the tiger by his neck to the cage bars. In triumph I moved toward the door.

"But that fiend incarnate, Raja Begum, had stamina worthy of his supposed demoniac origin. With an incredible lunge, he snapped the chain and leaped on my back. My shoulder fast in his jaws, I fell violently. But in a trice I had him pinned beneath me. Under merciless blows, the treacherous animal sank into semiconsciousness. This time I secured him more carefully. Slowly I left the cage.

"I found myself in a new uproar, this time one of delight. The crowd's cheer broke as though from a single gigantic throat. Disastrously mauled, I had yet fulfilled the three conditions of the fight-stunning the tiger, binding him with a chain, and leaving him without requiring assistance for myself. In addition, I had so drastically injured and frightened the aggressive beast that he had been content to overlook the opportune prize of my head in his mouth!

"After my wounds were treated, I was honored and garlanded; hundreds of gold pieces showered at my feet. The whole city entered a holiday period. Endless discussions were heard on all sides about my victory over one of the largest and most savage tigers ever seen. Raja Begum was presented to me, as promised, but I felt no elation. A spiritual change had entered my heart. It seemed that with my final exit from the cage I had also closed the door on my worldly ambitions.

"A woeful period followed. For six months I lay near death from blood poisoning. As soon as I was well enough to leave Cooch Behar, I returned to my native town.

"'I know now that my teacher is the holy man who gave the wise warning.' I humbly made this confession to my father. 'Oh, if I could only find him!' My longing was sincere, for one day the saint arrived unheralded.

"'Enough of tiger taming.' He spoke with calm assurance. 'Come with me; I will teach you to subdue the beasts of ignorance roaming in jungles of the human mind. You are used to an audience: let it be a galaxy of angels, entertained by your thrilling mastery of yoga!'

"I was initiated into the spiritual path by my saintly guru. He opened my soul-doors, rusty and resistant with long disuse. Hand in hand, we soon set out for my training in the Himalayas."

Chandi and I bowed at the swami's feet, grateful for his vivid outline of a life truly cyclonic. I felt amply repaid for the long probationary wait in the cold parlor!

{FN6-1} SOHONG was his monastic name. He was popularly known as the "Tiger Swami."

{FN6-2} "Prince Princess"-so named to indicate that this beast possessed the combined ferocity of tiger and tigress.



CHAPTER: 7

THE LEVITATING SAINT

"I saw a yogi remain in the air, several feet above the ground, last night at a group meeting." My friend, Upendra Mohun Chowdhury, spoke impressively.

I gave him an enthusiastic smile. "Perhaps I can guess his name. Was it Bhaduri Mahasaya, of Upper Circular Road?"

Upendra nodded, a little crestfallen not to be a news-bearer. My inquisitiveness about saints was well-known among my friends; they delighted in setting me on a fresh track.

"The yogi lives so close to my home that I often visit him." My words brought keen interest to Upendra's face, and I made a further confidence.

"I have seen him in remarkable feats. He has expertly mastered the various PRANAYAMAS {FN7-1} of the ancient eightfold yoga outlined by Patanjali. {FN7-2} Once Bhaduri Mahasaya performed the BHASTRIKA PRANAYAMA before me with such amazing force that it seemed an actual storm had arisen in the room! Then he extinguished the thundering breath and remained motionless in a high state of superconsciousness. {FN7-3} The aura of peace after the storm was vivid beyond forgetting."

"I heard that the saint never leaves his home." Upendra's tone was a trifle incredulous.

"Indeed it is true! He has lived indoors for the past twenty years. He slightly relaxes his self-imposed rule at the times of our holy festivals, when he goes as far as his front sidewalk! The beggars gather there, because Saint Bhaduri is known for his tender heart."

"How does he remain in the air, defying the law of gravitation?"

"A yogi's body loses its grossness after use of certain PRANAYAMAS. Then it will levitate or hop about like a leaping frog. Even saints who do not practice a formal yoga {FN7-4} have been known to levitate during a state of intense devotion to God."

"I would like to know more of this sage. Do you attend his evening meetings?" Upendra's eyes were sparkling with curiosity.

"Yes, I go often. I am vastly entertained by the wit in his wisdom. Occasionally my prolonged laughter mars the solemnity of his gatherings. The saint is not displeased, but his disciples look daggers!"

On my way home from school that afternoon, I passed Bhaduri Mahasaya's cloister and decided on a visit. The yogi was inaccessible to the general public. A lone disciple, occupying the ground floor, guarded his master's privacy. The student was something of a martinet; he now inquired formally if I had an "engagement." His guru put in an appearance just in time to save me from summary ejection.

"Let Mukunda come when he will." The sage's eyes twinkled. "My rule of seclusion is not for my own comfort, but for that of others. Worldly people do not like the candor which shatters their delusions. Saints are not only rare but disconcerting. Even in scripture, they are often found embarrassing!"

I followed Bhaduri Mahasaya to his austere quarters on the top floor, from which he seldom stirred. Masters often ignore the panorama of the world's ado, out of focus till centered in the ages. The contemporaries of a sage are not alone those of the narrow present.

"Maharishi, {FN7-5} you are the first yogi I have known who always stays indoors."

"God plants his saints sometimes in unexpected soil, lest we think we may reduce Him to a rule!"

The sage locked his vibrant body in the lotus posture. In his seventies, he displayed no unpleasing signs of age or sedentary life. Stalwart and straight, he was ideal in every respect. His face was that of a RISHI, as described in the ancient texts. Noble-headed, abundantly bearded, he always sat firmly upright, his quiet eyes fixed on Omnipresence.

The saint and I entered the meditative state. After an hour, his gentle voice roused me.

"You go often into the silence, but have you developed ANUBHAVA?" {FN7-6} He was reminding me to love God more than meditation. "Do not mistake the technique for the Goal."

He offered me some mangoes. With that good-humored wit that I found so delightful in his grave nature, he remarked, "People in general are more fond of JALA YOGA (union with food) than of DHYANA YOGA (union with God)."

His yogic pun affected me uproariously.

"What a laugh you have!" An affectionate gleam came into his gaze. His own face was always serious, yet touched with an ecstatic smile. His large, lotus eyes held a hidden divine laughter.

"Those letters come from far-off America." The sage indicated several thick envelopes on a table. "I correspond with a few societies there whose members are interested in yoga. They are discovering India anew, with a better sense of direction than Columbus! I am glad to help them. The knowledge of yoga is free to all who will receive, like the ungarnishable daylight.

"What RISHIS perceived as essential for human salvation need not be diluted for the West. Alike in soul though diverse in outer experience, neither West nor East will flourish if some form of disciplinary yoga be not practiced."

The saint held me with his tranquil eyes. I did not realize that his speech was a veiled prophetic guidance. It is only now, as I write these words, that I understand the full meaning in the casual intimations he often gave me that someday I would carry India's teachings to America.



"Maharishi, I wish you would write a book on yoga for the benefit of the world."

"I am training disciples. They and their students will be living volumes, proof against the natural disintegrations of time and the unnatural interpretations of the critics." Bhaduri's wit put me into another gale of laughter.

I remained alone with the yogi until his disciples arrived in the evening. Bhaduri Mahasaya entered one of his inimitable discourses. Like a peaceful flood, he swept away the mental debris of his listeners, floating them Godward. His striking parables were expressed in a flawless Bengali.

This evening Bhaduri expounded various philosophical points connected with the life of Mirabai, a medieval Rajputani princess who abandoned her court life to seek the company of sadhus. One great-sannyasi refused to receive her because she was a woman; her reply brought him humbly to her feet.

"Tell the master," she had said, "that I did not know there was any Male in the universe save God; are we all not females before Him?" (A scriptural conception of the Lord as the only Positive Creative Principle, His creation being naught but a passive MAYA.)

Mirabai composed many ecstatic songs which are still treasured in India; I translate one of them here:

"If by bathing daily God could be realized Sooner would I be a whale in the deep; If by eating roots and fruits He could be known Gladly would I choose the form of a goat; If the counting of rosaries uncovered Him I would say my prayers on mammoth beads; If bowing before stone images unveiled Him A flinty mountain I would humbly worship; If by drinking milk the Lord could be imbibed Many calves and children would know Him; If abandoning one's wife would summon God Would not thousands be eunuchs? Mirabai knows that to find the Divine One The only indispensable is Love."

Several students put rupees in Bhaduri's slippers which lay by his side as he sat in yoga posture. This respectful offering, customary in India, indicates that the disciple places his material goods at the guru's feet. Grateful friends are only the Lord in disguise, looking after His own.

"Master, you are wonderful!" A student, taking his leave, gazed ardently at the patriarchal sage. "You have renounced riches and comforts to seek God and teach us wisdom!" It was well-known that Bhaduri Mahasaya had forsaken great family wealth in his early childhood, when single-mindedly he entered the yogic path.

"You are reversing the case!" The saint's face held a mild rebuke. "I have left a few paltry rupees, a few petty pleasures, for a cosmic empire of endless bliss. How then have I denied myself anything? I know the joy of sharing the treasure. Is that a sacrifice? The shortsighted worldly folk are verily the real renunciates! They relinquish an unparalleled divine possession for a poor handful of earthly toys!"

I chuckled over this paradoxical view of renunciation-one which puts the cap of Croesus on any saintly beggar, whilst transforming all proud millionaires into unconscious martyrs.

"The divine order arranges our future more wisely than any insurance company." The master's concluding words were the realized creed of his faith. "The world is full of uneasy believers in an outward security. Their bitter thoughts are like scars on their foreheads. The One who gave us air and milk from our first breath knows how to provide day by day for His devotees."

I continued my after-school pilgrimages to the saint's door. With silent zeal he aided me to attain ANUBHAVA. One day he moved to Ram Mohan Roy Road, away from the neighborhood of my Gurpar Road home. His loving disciples had built him a new hermitage, known as "Nagendra Math." {FN7-7}

Although it throws me ahead of my story by a number of years, I will recount here the last words given to me by Bhaduri Mahasaya. Shortly before I embarked for the West, I sought him out and humbly knelt for his farewell blessing:

"Son, go to America. Take the dignity of hoary India for your shield. Victory is written on your brow; the noble distant people will well receive you."

{FN7-1} Methods of controlling life-force through regulation of breath.

{FN7-2} The foremost ancient exponent of yoga.

{FN7-3} French professors were the first in the West to be willing to scientifically investigate the possibilities of the superconscious mind. Professor Jules-Bois, member of the L'Ecole de Psychologie of the Sorbonne, lectured in America in 1928; he told his audiences that French scientists have accorded recognition to the superconsciousness, "which is the exact opposite of Freud's subconscious mind and is the faculty which makes man really man and not just a super-animal." M. Jules-Bois explained that the awakening of the higher consciousness "was not to be confused with Coueism or hypnotism. The existence of a superconscious mind has long been recognized philosophically, being in reality the Oversoul spoken of by Emerson, but only recently has it been recognized scientifically." The French scientist pointed out that from the superconsciousness come inspiration, genius, moral values. "Belief in this is not mysticism though it recognized and valued the qualities which mystics preached."

{FN7-4} St. Theresa of Avila and other Christian saints were often observed in a state of levitation.

{FN7-5} "Great sage."

{FN7-6} Actual perception of God.

{FN7-7} The saint's full name was Nagendranath Bhaduri. MATH means hermitage or ASHRAM.



CHAPTER: 8

INDIA'S GREAT SCIENTIST, J.C. BOSE

"Jagadis Chandra Bose's wireless inventions antedated those of Marconi."

Overhearing this provocative remark, I walked closer to a sidewalk group of professors engaged in scientific discussion. If my motive in joining them was racial pride, I regret it. I cannot deny my keen interest in evidence that India can play a leading part in physics, and not metaphysics alone.

"What do you mean, sir?"

The professor obligingly explained. "Bose was the first one to invent a wireless coherer and an instrument for indicating the refraction of electric waves. But the Indian scientist did not exploit his inventions commercially. He soon turned his attention from the inorganic to the organic world. His revolutionary discoveries as a plant physiologist are outpacing even his radical achievements as a physicist."

I politely thanked my mentor. He added, "The great scientist is one of my brother professors at Presidency College."

I paid a visit the next day to the sage at his home, which was close to mine on Gurpar Road. I had long admired him from a respectful distance. The grave and retiring botanist greeted me graciously. He was a handsome, robust man in his fifties, with thick hair, broad forehead, and the abstracted eyes of a dreamer. The precision in his tones revealed the lifelong scientific habit.

"I have recently returned from an expedition to scientific societies of the West. Their members exhibited intense interest in delicate instruments of my invention which demonstrate the indivisible unity of all life. {FN8-1} The Bose crescograph has the enormity of ten million magnifications. The microscope enlarges only a few thousand times; yet it brought vital impetus to biological science. The crescograph opens incalculable vistas."

"You have done much, sir, to hasten the embrace of East and West in the impersonal arms of science."

"I was educated at Cambridge. How admirable is the Western method of submitting all theory to scrupulous experimental verification! That empirical procedure has gone hand in hand with the gift for introspection which is my Eastern heritage. Together they have enabled me to sunder the silences of natural realms long uncommunicative. The telltale charts of my crescograph {FN8-2} are evidence for the most skeptical that plants have a sensitive nervous system and a varied emotional life. Love, hate, joy, fear, pleasure, pain, excitability, stupor, and countless appropriate responses to stimuli are as universal in plants as in animals."

"The unique throb of life in all creation could seem only poetic imagery before your advent, Professor! A saint I once knew would never pluck flowers. 'Shall I rob the rosebush of its pride in beauty? Shall I cruelly affront its dignity by my rude divestment?' His sympathetic words are verified literally through your discoveries!"

"The poet is intimate with truth, while the scientist approaches awkwardly. Come someday to my laboratory and see the unequivocable testimony of the crescograph."

Gratefully I accepted the invitation, and took my departure. I heard later that the botanist had left Presidency College, and was planning a research center in Calcutta.

When the Bose Institute was opened, I attended the dedicatory services. Enthusiastic hundreds strolled over the premises. I was charmed with the artistry and spiritual symbolism of the new home of science. Its front gate, I noted, was a centuried relic from a distant shrine. Behind the lotus {FN8-3} fountain, a sculptured female figure with a torch conveyed the Indian respect for woman as the immortal light-bearer. The garden held a small temple consecrated to the Noumenon beyond phenomena. Thought of the divine incorporeity was suggested by absence of any altar-image.



Bose's speech on this great occasion might have issued from the lips of one of the inspired ancient RISHIS.

"I dedicate today this Institute as not merely a laboratory but a temple." His reverent solemnity stole like an unseen cloak over the crowded auditorium. "In the pursuit of my investigations I was unconsciously led into the border region of physics and physiology. To my amazement, I found boundary lines vanishing, and points of contact emerging, between the realms of the living and the non-living. Inorganic matter was perceived as anything but inert; it was athrill under the action of multitudinous forces.

"A universal reaction seemed to bring metal, plant and animal under a common law. They all exhibited essentially the same phenomena of fatigue and depression, with possibilities of recovery and of exaltation, as well as the permanent irresponsiveness associated with death. Filled with awe at this stupendous generalization, it was with great hope that I announced my results before the Royal Society—results demonstrated by experiments. But the physiologists present advised me to confine myself to physical investigations, in which my success had been assured, rather than encroach on their preserves. I had unwittingly strayed into the domain of an unfamiliar caste system and so offended its etiquette.

"An unconscious theological bias was also present, which confounds ignorance with faith. It is often forgotten that He who surrounded us with this ever-evolving mystery of creation has also implanted in us the desire to question and understand. Through many years of miscomprehension, I came to know that the life of a devotee of science is inevitably filled with unending struggle. It is for him to cast his life as an ardent offering-regarding gain and loss, success and failure, as one.

"In time the leading scientific societies of the world accepted my theories and results, and recognized the importance of the Indian contribution to science. {FN8-4} Can anything small or circumscribed ever satisfy the mind of India? By a continuous living tradition, and a vital power of rejuvenescence, this land has readjusted itself through unnumbered transformations. Indians have always arisen who, discarding the immediate and absorbing prize of the hour, have sought for the realization of the highest ideals in life-not through passive renunciation, but through active struggle. The weakling who has refused the conflict, acquiring nothing, has had nothing to renounce. He alone who has striven and won can enrich the world by bestowing the fruits of his victorious experience.

"The work already carried out in the Bose laboratory on the response of matter, and the unexpected revelations in plant life, have opened out very extended regions of inquiry in physics, in physiology, in medicine, in agriculture, and even in psychology. Problems hitherto regarded as insoluble have now been brought within the sphere of experimental investigation.

"But high success is not to be obtained without rigid exactitude. Hence the long battery of super-sensitive instruments and apparatus of my design, which stand before you today in their cases in the entrance hall. They tell you of the protracted efforts to get behind the deceptive seeming into the reality that remains unseen, of the continuous toil and persistence and resourcefulness called forth to overcome human limitations. All creative scientists know that the true laboratory is the mind, where behind illusions they uncover the laws of truth.

"The lectures given here will not be mere repetitions of second-hand knowledge. They will announce new discoveries, demonstrated for the first time in these halls. Through regular publication of the work of the Institute, these Indian contributions will reach the whole world. They will become public property. No patents will ever be taken. The spirit of our national culture demands that we should forever be free from the desecration of utilizing knowledge only for personal gain.

"It is my further wish that the facilities of this Institute be available, so far as possible, to workers from all countries. In this I am attempting to carry on the traditions of my country. So far back as twenty-five centuries, India welcomed to its ancient universities, at Nalanda and Taxila, scholars from all parts of the world.

"Although science is neither of the East nor of the West but rather international in its universality, yet India is specially fitted to make great contributions. {FN8-5} The burning Indian imagination, which can extort new order out of a mass of apparently contradictory facts, is held in check by the habit of concentration. This restraint confers the power to hold the mind to the pursuit of truth with an infinite patience."

Tears stood in my eyes at the scientist's concluding words. Is "patience" not indeed a synonym of India, confounding Time and the historians alike?

I visited the research center again, soon after the day of opening. The great botanist, mindful of his promise, took me to his quiet laboratory.

"I will attach the crescograph to this fern; the magnification is tremendous. If a snail's crawl were enlarged in the same proportion, the creature would appear to be traveling like an express train!"

My gaze was fixed eagerly on the screen which reflected the magnified fern-shadow. Minute life-movements were now clearly perceptible; the plant was growing very slowly before my fascinated eyes. The scientist touched the tip of the fern with a small metal bar. The developing pantomime came to an abrupt halt, resuming the eloquent rhythms as soon as the rod was withdrawn.

"You saw how any slight outside interference is detrimental to the sensitive tissues," Bose remarked. "Watch; I will now administer chloroform, and then give an antidote."

The effect of the chloroform discontinued all growth; the antidote was revivifying. The evolutionary gestures on the screen held me more raptly than a "movie" plot. My companion (here in the role of villain) thrust a sharp instrument through a part of the fern; pain was indicated by spasmodic flutters. When he passed a razor partially through the stem, the shadow was violently agitated, then stilled itself with the final punctuation of death.

"By first chloroforming a huge tree, I achieved a successful transplantation. Usually, such monarchs of the forest die very quickly after being moved." Jagadis smiled happily as he recounted the life-saving maneuver. "Graphs of my delicate apparatus have proved that trees possess a circulatory system; their sap movements correspond to the blood pressure of animal bodies. The ascent of sap is not explicable on the mechanical grounds ordinarily advanced, such as capillary attraction. The phenomenon has been solved through the crescograph as the activity of living cells. Peristaltic waves issue from a cylindrical tube which extends down a tree and serves as an actual heart! The more deeply we perceive, the more striking becomes the evidence that a uniform plan links every form in manifold nature."

The great scientist pointed to another Bose instrument.

"I will show you experiments on a piece of tin. The life-force in metals responds adversely or beneficially to stimuli. Ink markings will register the various reactions."

Deeply engrossed, I watched the graph which recorded the characteristic waves of atomic structure. When the professor applied chloroform to the tin, the vibratory writings stopped. They recommenced as the metal slowly regained its normal state. My companion dispensed a poisonous chemical. Simultaneous with the quivering end of the tin, the needle dramatically wrote on the chart a death-notice.

"Bose instruments have demonstrated that metals, such as the steel used in scissors and machinery, are subject to fatigue, and regain efficiency by periodic rest. The life-pulse in metals is seriously harmed or even extinguished through the application of electric currents or heavy pressure."

I looked around the room at the numerous inventions, eloquent testimony of a tireless ingenuity.

"Sir, it is lamentable that mass agricultural development is not speeded by fuller use of your marvelous mechanisms. Would it not be easily possible to employ some of them in quick laboratory experiments to indicate the influence of various types of fertilizers on plant growth?"

"You are right. Countless uses of Bose instruments will be made by future generations. The scientist seldom knows contemporaneous reward; it is enough to possess the joy of creative service."

With expressions of unreserved gratitude to the indefatigable sage, I took my leave. "Can the astonishing fertility of his genius ever be exhausted?" I thought.

No diminution came with the years. Inventing an intricate instrument, the "Resonant Cardiograph," Bose then pursued extensive researches on innumerable Indian plants. An enormous unsuspected pharmacopoeia of useful drugs was revealed. The cardiograph is constructed with an unerring accuracy by which a one-hundredth part of a second is indicated on a graph. Resonant records measure infinitesimal pulsations in plant, animal and human structure. The great botanist predicted that use of his cardiograph will lead to vivisection on plants instead of animals.

"Side by side recordings of the effects of a medicine given simultaneously to a plant and an animal have shown astounding unanimity in result," he pointed out. "Everything in man has been foreshadowed in the plant. Experimentation on vegetation will contribute to lessening of human suffering."

Years later Bose's pioneer plant findings were substantiated by other scientists. Work done in 1938 at Columbia University was reported by THE NEW YORK TIMES as follows:

It has been determined within the past few years that when the nerves transmit messages between the brain and other parts of the body, tiny electrical impulses are being generated. These impulses have been measured by delicate galvanometers and magnified millions of times by modern amplifying apparatus. Until now no satisfactory method had been found to study the passages of the impulses along the nerve fibers in living animals or man because of the great speed with which these impulses travel.

Drs. K. S. Cole and H. J. Curtis reported having discovered that the long single cells of the fresh-water plant nitella, used frequently in goldfish bowls, are virtually identical with those of single nerve fibers. Furthermore, they found that nitella fibers, on being excited, propagate electrical waves that are similar in every way, except velocity, to those of the nerve fibers in animals and man. The electrical nerve impulses in the plant were found to be much slower than those in animals. This discovery was therefore seized upon by the Columbia workers as a means for taking slow motion pictures of the passage of the electrical impulses in nerves.

The nitella plant thus may become a sort of Rosetta stone for deciphering the closely guarded secrets close to the very borderland of mind and matter.

The poet Rabindranath Tagore was a stalwart friend of India's idealistic scientist. To him, the sweet Bengali singer addressed the following lines: {FN8-6}

O Hermit, call thou in the authentic words Of that old hymn called SAMA; "Rise! Awake!" Call to the man who boasts his SHASTRIC lore From vain pedantic wranglings profitless, Call to that foolish braggart to come forth Out on the face of nature, this broad earth, Send forth this call unto thy scholar band; Together round thy sacrifice of fire Let them all gather. So may our India, Our ancient land unto herself return O once again return to steadfast work, To duty and devotion, to her trance Of earnest meditation; let her sit Once more unruffled, greedless, strifeless, pure, O once again upon her lofty seat And platform, teacher of all lands.

{FN8-1} "All science is transcendental or else passes away. Botany is now acquiring the right theory-the avatars of Brahma will presently be the textbooks of natural history."-EMERSON.

{FN8-2} From the Latin root, CRESCERE, to increase. For his crescograph and other inventions, Bose was knighted in 1917.

{FN8-3} The lotus flower is an ancient divine symbol in India; its unfolding petals suggest the expansion of the soul; the growth of its pure beauty from the mud of its origin holds a benign spiritual promise.

{FN8-4} "At present, only the sheerest accident brings India into the purview of the American college student. Eight universities (Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Pennsylvania, Chicago, and California) have chairs of Indology or Sanskrit, but India is virtually unrepresented in departments of history, philosophy, fine arts, political science, sociology, or any of the other departments of intellectual experience in which, as we have seen, India has made great contributions. . . . We believe, consequently, that no department of study, particularly in the humanities, in any major university can be fully equipped without a properly trained specialist in the Indic phases of its discipline. We believe, too, that every college which aims to prepare its graduates for intelligent work in the world which is to be theirs to live in, must have on its staff a scholar competent in the civilization of India."-Extracts from an article by Professor W. Norman Brown of the University of Pennsylvania which appeared in the May, 1939, issue of the BULLETIN of the American Council of Learned Societies, 907 15th St., Washington, D. C., 25 cents copy. This issue (#28) contains over 100 pages of a "Basic Bibliography for Indic Studies."

{FN8-5} The atomic structure of matter was well-known to the ancient Hindus. One of the six systems of Indian philosophy is VAISESIKA, from the Sanskrit root VISESAS, "atomic individuality." One of the foremost VAISESIKA expounders was Aulukya, also called Kanada, "the atom-eater," born about 2800 years ago.

In an article in EAST-WEST, April, 1934, a summary of VAISESIKA scientific knowledge was given as follows: "Though the modern 'atomic theory' is generally considered a new advance of science, it was brilliantly expounded long ago by Kanada, 'the atom-eater.' The Sanskrit ANUS can be properly translated as 'atom' in the latter's literal Greek sense of 'uncut' or indivisible. Other scientific expositions of VAISESIKA treatises of the B.C. era include (1) the movement of needles toward magnets, (2) the circulation of water in plants, (3) AKASH or ether, inert and structureless, as a basis for transmitting subtle forces, (4) the solar fire as the cause of all other forms of heat, (5) heat as the cause of molecular change, (6) the law of gravitation as caused by the quality that inheres in earth-atoms to give them their attractive power or downward pull, (7) the kinetic nature of all energy; causation as always rooted in an expenditure of energy or a redistribution of motion, (8) universal dissolution through the disintegration of atoms, (9) the radiation of heat and light rays, infinitely small particles, darting forth in all directions with inconceivable speed (the modern 'cosmic rays' theory), (10) the relativity of time and space.

"VAISESIKA assigned the origin of the world to atoms, eternal in their nature, i.e., their ultimate peculiarities. These atoms were regarded as possessing an incessant vibratory motion. . . . The recent discovery that an atom is a miniature solar system would be no news to the old VAISESIKA philosophers, who also reduced time to its furthest mathematical concept by describing the smallest unit of time (KALA) as the period taken by an atom to traverse its own unit of space."

{FN8-6} Translated from the Bengali of Rabindranath Tagore, by Manmohan Ghosh, in VISWA-BHARATI.



CHAPTER: 9

THE BLISSFUL DEVOTEE AND HIS COSMIC ROMANCE

"Little sir, please be seated. I am talking to my Divine Mother."

Silently I had entered the room in great awe. The angelic appearance of Master Mahasaya fairly dazzled me. With silky white beard and large lustrous eyes, he seemed an incarnation of purity. His upraised chin and folded hands apprized me that my first visit had disturbed him in the midst of his devotions.

His simple words of greeting produced the most violent effect my nature had so far experienced. The bitter separation of my mother's death I had thought the measure of all anguish. Now an agony at separation from my Divine Mother was an indescribable torture of the spirit. I fell moaning to the floor.

"Little sir, quiet yourself!" The saint was sympathetically distressed.

Abandoned in some oceanic desolation, I clutched his feet as the sole raft of my rescue.

"Holy sir, thy intercession! Ask Divine Mother if I find any favor in Her sight!"

This promise is one not easily bestowed; the master was constrained to silence.

Beyond reach of doubt, I was convinced that Master Mahasaya was in intimate converse with the Universal Mother. It was deep humiliation to realize that my eyes were blind to Her who even at this moment was perceptible to the faultless gaze of the saint. Shamelessly gripping his feet, deaf to his gentle remonstrances, I besought him again and again for his intervening grace.

"I will make your plea to the Beloved." The master's capitulation came with a slow, compassionate smile.

What power in those few words, that my being should know release from its stormy exile?

"Sir, remember your pledge! I shall return soon for Her message!" Joyful anticipation rang in my voice that only a moment ago had been sobbing in sorrow.

Descending the long stairway, I was overwhelmed by memories. This house at 50 Amherst Street, now the residence of Master Mahasaya, had once been my family home, scene of my mother's death. Here my human heart had broken for the vanished mother; and here today my spirit had been as though crucified by absence of the Divine Mother. Hallowed walls, silent witness of my grievous hurts and final healing!

My steps were eager as I returned to my Gurpar Road home. Seeking the seclusion of my small attic, I remained in meditation until ten o'clock. The darkness of the warm Indian night was suddenly lit with a wondrous vision.

Haloed in splendor, the Divine Mother stood before me. Her face, tenderly smiling, was beauty itself.

"Always have I loved thee! Ever shall I love thee!"

The celestial tones still ringing in the air, She disappeared.

The sun on the following morning had hardly risen to an angle of decorum when I paid my second visit to Master Mahasaya. Climbing the staircase in the house of poignant memories, I reached his fourth-floor room. The knob of the closed door was wrapped around with a cloth; a hint, I felt, that the saint desired privacy. As I stood irresolutely on the landing, the door was opened by the master's welcoming hand. I knelt at his holy feet. In a playful mood, I wore a solemn mask over my face, hiding the divine elation.

"Sir, I have come-very early, I confess!-for your message. Did the Beloved Mother say anything about me?"

"Mischievous little sir!"

Not another remark would he make. Apparently my assumed gravity was unimpressive.

"Why so mysterious, so evasive? Do saints never speak plainly?" Perhaps I was a little provoked.

"Must you test me?" His calm eyes were full of understanding. "Could I add a single word this morning to the assurance you received last night at ten o'clock from the Beautiful Mother Herself?"

Master Mahasaya possessed control over the flood-gates of my soul: again I plunged prostrate at his feet. But this time my tears welled from a bliss, and not a pain, past bearing.

"Think you that your devotion did not touch the Infinite Mercy? The Motherhood of God, that you have worshiped in forms both human and divine, could never fail to answer your forsaken cry."

Who was this simple saint, whose least request to the Universal Spirit met with sweet acquiescence? His role in the world was humble, as befitted the greatest man of humility I ever knew. In this Amherst Street house, Master Mahasaya {FN9-1} conducted a small high school for boys. No words of chastisement passed his lips; no rule and ferule maintained his discipline. Higher mathematics indeed were taught in these modest classrooms, and a chemistry of love absent from the textbooks. He spread his wisdom by spiritual contagion rather than impermeable precept. Consumed by an unsophisticated passion for the Divine Mother, the saint no more demanded the outward forms of respect than a child.

"I am not your guru; he shall come a little later," he told me. "Through his guidance, your experiences of the Divine in terms of love and devotion shall be translated into his terms of fathomless wisdom."

Every late afternoon, I betook myself to Amherst Street. I sought Master Mahasaya's divine cup, so full that its drops daily overflowed on my being. Never before had I bowed in utter reverence; now I felt it an immeasurable privilege even to tread the same ground which Master Mahasaya sanctified.

"Sir, please wear this champak garland I have fashioned especially for you." I arrived one evening, holding my chain of flowers. But shyly he drew away, repeatedly refusing the honor. Perceiving my hurt, he finally smiled consent.

"Since we are both devotees of the Mother, you may put the garland on this bodily temple, as offering to Her who dwells within." His vast nature lacked space in which any egotistical consideration could gain foothold.



"Let us go tomorrow to the Dakshineswar Temple, forever hallowed by my guru." Master Mahasaya was a disciple of a Christlike master, Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa.

The four-mile journey on the following morning was taken by boat on the Ganges. We entered the nine-domed Temple of Kali, where the figures of the Divine Mother and Shiva rest on a burnished silver lotus, its thousand petals meticulously chiseled. Master Mahasaya beamed in enchantment. He was engaged in his inexhaustible romance with the Beloved. As he chanted Her name, my enraptured heart seemed shattered into a thousand pieces.

We strolled later through the sacred precincts, halting in a tamarisk grove. The manna characteristically exuded by this tree was symbolic of the heavenly food Master Mahasaya was bestowing. His divine invocations continued. I sat rigidly motionless on the grass amid the pink feathery tamarisk flowers. Temporarily absent from the body, I soared in a supernal visit.

This was the first of many pilgrimages to Dakshineswar with the holy teacher. From him I learned the sweetness of God in the aspect of Mother, or Divine Mercy. The childlike saint found little appeal in the Father aspect, or Divine Justice. Stern, exacting, mathematical judgment was alien to his gentle nature.

"He can serve as an earthly prototype for the very angels of heaven!" I thought fondly, watching him one day at his prayers. Without a breath of censure or criticism, he surveyed the world with eyes long familiar with the Primal Purity. His body, mind, speech, and actions were effortlessly harmonized with his soul's simplicity.

"My Master told me so." Shrinking from personal assertion, the saint ended any sage counsel with this invariable tribute. So deep was his identity with Sri Ramakrishna that Master Mahasaya no longer considered his thoughts as his own.

Hand in hand, the saint and I walked one evening on the block of his school. My joy was dimmed by the arrival of a conceited acquaintance who burdened us with a lengthy discourse.

"I see this man doesn't please you." The saint's whisper to me was unheard by the egotist, spellbound by his own monologue. "I have spoken to Divine Mother about it; She realizes our sad predicament. As soon as we get to yonder red house, She has promised to remind him of more urgent business."

My eyes were glued to the site of salvation. Reaching its red gate, the man unaccountably turned and departed, neither finishing his sentence nor saying good-by. The assaulted air was comforted with peace.

Another day found me walking alone near the Howrah railway station. I stood for a moment by a temple, silently criticizing a small group of men with drum and cymbals who were violently reciting a chant.

"How undevotionally they use the Lord's divine name in mechanical repetition," I reflected. My gaze was astonished by the rapid approach of Master Mahasaya. "Sir, how come you here?"

The saint, ignoring my question, answered my thought. "Isn't it true, little sir, that the Beloved's name sounds sweet from all lips, ignorant or wise?" He passed his arm around me affectionately; I found myself carried on his magic carpet to the Merciful Presence.

"Would you like to see some bioscopes?" This question one afternoon from Master Mahasaya was mystifying; the term was then used in India to signify motion pictures. I agreed, glad to be in his company in any circumstances. A brisk walk brought us to the garden fronting Calcutta University. My companion indicated a bench near the GOLDIGHI or pond.

"Let us sit here for a few minutes. My Master always asked me to meditate whenever I saw an expanse of water. Here its placidity reminds us of the vast calmness of God. As all things can be reflected in water, so the whole universe is mirrored in the lake of the Cosmic Mind. So my GURUDEVA often said."

Soon we entered a university hall where a lecture was in progress. It proved abysmally dull, though varied occasionally by lantern slide illustrations, equally uninteresting.

"So this is the kind of bioscope the master wanted me to see!" My thought was impatient, yet I would not hurt the saint by revealing boredom in my face. But he leaned toward me confidentially.

"I see, little sir, that you don't like this bioscope. I have mentioned it to Divine Mother; She is in full sympathy with us both. She tells me that the electric lights will now go out, and won't be relit until we have a chance to leave the room."

As his whisper ended, the hall was plunged into darkness. The professor's strident voice was stilled in astonishment, then remarked, "The electrical system of this hall appears to be defective." By this time, Master Mahasaya and I were safely across the threshold. Glancing back from the corridor, I saw that the scene of our martyrdom had again become illuminated.

"Little sir, you were disappointed in that bioscope, {FN9-2} but I think you will like a different one." The saint and I were standing on the sidewalk in front of the university building. He gently slapped my chest over the heart.

A transforming silence ensued. Just as the modern "talkies" become inaudible motion pictures when the sound apparatus goes out of order, so the Divine Hand, by some strange miracle, stifled the earthly bustle. The pedestrians as well as the passing trolley cars, automobiles, bullock carts, and iron-wheeled hackney carriages were all in noiseless transit. As though possessing an omnipresent eye, I beheld the scenes which were behind me, and to each side, as easily as those in front. The whole spectacle of activity in that small section of Calcutta passed before me without a sound. Like a glow of fire dimly seen beneath a thin coat of ashes, a mellow luminescence permeated the panoramic view.

My own body seemed nothing more than one of the many shadows, though it was motionless, while the others flitted mutely to and fro. Several boys, friends of mine, approached and passed on; though they had looked directly at me, it was without recognition.

The unique pantomime brought me an inexpressible ecstasy. I drank deep from some blissful fount. Suddenly my chest received another soft blow from Master Mahasaya. The pandemonium of the world burst upon my unwilling ears. I staggered, as though harshly awakened from a gossamer dream. The transcendental wine removed beyond my reach.

"Little sir, I see you found the second bioscope to your liking." The saint was smiling; I started to drop in gratitude on the ground before him. "You can't do that to me now; you know God is in your temple also! I won't let Divine Mother touch my feet through your hands!"

If anyone observed the unpretentious master and myself as we walked away from the crowded pavement, the onlooker surely suspected us of intoxication. I felt that the falling shades of evening were sympathetically drunk with God. When darkness recovered from its nightly swoon, I faced the new morning bereft of my ecstatic mood. But ever enshrined in memory is the seraphic son of Divine Mother-Master Mahasaya!

Trying with poor words to do justice to his benignity, I wonder if Master Mahasaya, and others among the deep-visioned saints whose paths crossed mine, knew that years later, in a Western land, I would be writing about their lives as divine devotees. Their foreknowledge would not surprise me nor, I hope, my readers, who have come thus far with me.

{FN9-1} These are respectful titles by which he was customarily addressed. His name was Mahendra Nath Gupta; he signed his literary works simply "M."

{FN9-2} The Oxford English Dictionary gives, as rare, this definition of BIOSCOPE: A view of life; that which gives such a view.

Master Mahasaya's choice of a word was, then, peculiarly justified.



CHAPTER: 10

I MEET MY MASTER, SRI YUKTESWAR

"Faith in God can produce any miracle except one-passing an examination without study." Distastefully I closed the book I had picked up in an idle moment.

"The writer's exception shows his complete lack of faith," I thought. "Poor chap, he has great respect for the midnight oil!"

My promise to Father had been that I would complete my high school studies. I cannot pretend to diligence. The passing months found me less frequently in the classroom than in secluded spots along the Calcutta bathing GHATS. The adjoining crematory grounds, especially gruesome at night, are considered highly attractive by the yogi. He who would find the Deathless Essence must not be dismayed by a few unadorned skulls. Human inadequacy becomes clear in the gloomy abode of miscellaneous bones. My midnight vigils were thus of a different nature from the scholar's.

The week of final examinations at the Hindu High School was fast approaching. This interrogatory period, like the sepulchral haunts, inspires a well-known terror. My mind was nevertheless at peace. Braving the ghouls, I was exhuming a knowledge not found in lecture halls. But it lacked the art of Swami Pranabananda, who easily appeared in two places at one time. My educational dilemma was plainly a matter for the Infinite Ingenuity. This was my reasoning, though to many it seems illogic. The devotee's irrationality springs from a thousand inexplicable demonstrations of God's instancy in trouble.

"Hello, Mukunda! I catch hardly a glimpse of you these days!" A classmate accosted me one afternoon on Gurpar Road.

"Hello, Nantu! My invisibility at school has actually placed me there in a decidedly awkward position." I unburdened myself under his friendly gaze.

Nantu, who was a brilliant student, laughed heartily; my predicament was not without a comic aspect.

"You are utterly unprepared for the finals! I suppose it is up to me to help you!"

The simple words conveyed divine promise to my ears; with alacrity I visited my friend's home. He kindly outlined the solutions to various problems he considered likely to be set by the instructors.

"These questions are the bait which will catch many trusting boys in the examination trap. Remember my answers, and you will escape without injury."

The night was far gone when I departed. Bursting with unseasoned erudition, I devoutly prayed it would remain for the next few critical days. Nantu had coached me in my various subjects but, under press of time, had forgotten my course in Sanskrit. Fervently I reminded God of the oversight.

I set out on a short walk the next morning, assimilating my new knowledge to the rhythm of swinging footsteps. As I took a short cut through the weeds of a corner lot, my eye fell on a few loose printed sheets. A triumphant pounce proved them to be Sanskrit verse. I sought out a pundit for aid in my stumbling interpretation. His rich voice filled the air with the edgeless, honeyed beauty of the ancient tongue. {FN10-1}

"These exceptional stanzas cannot possibly be of aid in your Sanskrit test." The scholar dismissed them skeptically.

But familiarity with that particular poem enabled me on the following day to pass the Sanskrit examination. Through the discerning help Nantu had given, I also attained the minimum grade for success in all my other subjects.

Father was pleased that I had kept my word and concluded my secondary school course. My gratitude sped to the Lord, whose sole guidance I perceived in my visit to Nantu and my walk by the unhabitual route of the debris-filled lot. Playfully He had given a dual expression to His timely design for my rescue.

I came across the discarded book whose author had denied God precedence in the examination halls. I could not restrain a chuckle at my own silent comment:

"It would only add to this fellow's confusion, if I were to tell him that divine meditation among the cadavers is a short cut to a high school diploma!"

In my new dignity, I was now openly planning to leave home. Together with a young friend, Jitendra Mazumdar, {FN10-2} I decided to join a Mahamandal hermitage in Benares, and receive its spiritual discipline.

A desolation fell over me one morning at thought of separation from my family. Since Mother's death, my affection had grown especially tender for my two younger brothers, Sananda and Bishnu. I rushed to my retreat, the little attic which had witnessed so many scenes in my turbulent SADHANA. {FN10-3} After a two-hour flood of tears, I felt singularly transformed, as by some alchemical cleanser. All attachment {FN10-4} disappeared; my resolution to seek God as the Friend of friends set like granite within me. I quickly completed my travel preparations.

"I make one last plea." Father was distressed as I stood before him for final blessing. "Do not forsake me and your grieving brothers and sisters."

"Revered Father, how can I tell my love for you! But even greater is my love for the Heavenly Father, who has given me the gift of a perfect father on earth. Let me go, that I someday return with a more divine understanding."

With reluctant parental consent, I set out to join Jitendra, already in Benares at the hermitage. On my arrival the young head swami, Dyananda, greeted me cordially. Tall and thin, of thoughtful mien, he impressed me favorably. His fair face had a Buddhalike composure.

I was pleased that my new home possessed an attic, where I managed to spend the dawn and morning hours. The ashram members, knowing little of meditation practices, thought I should employ my whole time in organizational duties. They gave me praise for my afternoon work in their office.

"Don't try to catch God so soon!" This ridicule from a fellow resident accompanied one of my early departures toward the attic. I went to Dyananda, busy in his small sanctum overlooking the Ganges.

"Swamiji, {FN10-5} I don't understand what is required of me here. I am seeking direct perception of God. Without Him, I cannot be satisfied with affiliation or creed or performance of good works."

The orange-robed ecclesiastic gave me an affectionate pat. Staging a mock rebuke, he admonished a few near-by disciples. "Don't bother Mukunda. He will learn our ways."

I politely concealed my doubt. The students left the room, not overly bent with their chastisement. Dyananda had further words for me.

"Mukunda, I see your father is regularly sending you money. Please return it to him; you require none here. A second injunction for your discipline concerns food. Even when you feel hunger, don't mention it."

Whether famishment gleamed in my eye, I knew not. That I was hungry, I knew only too well. The invariable hour for the first hermitage meal was twelve noon. I had been accustomed in my own home to a large breakfast at nine o'clock.

The three-hour gap became daily more interminable. Gone were the Calcutta years when I could rebuke the cook for a ten-minute delay. Now I tried to control my appetite; one day I undertook a twenty-four hour fast. With double zest I awaited the following midday.

"Dyanandaji's train is late; we are not going to eat until he arrives." Jitendra brought me this devastating news. As gesture of welcome to the swami, who had been absent for two weeks, many delicacies were in readiness. An appetizing aroma filled the air. Nothing else offering, what else could be swallowed except pride over yesterday's achievement of a fast?

"Lord hasten the train!" The Heavenly Provider, I thought, was hardly included in the interdiction with which Dyananda had silenced me. Divine Attention was elsewhere, however; the plodding clock covered the hours. Darkness was descending as our leader entered the door. My greeting was one of unfeigned joy.

"Dyanandaji will bathe and meditate before we can serve food." Jitendra approached me again as a bird of ill omen.

I was in near-collapse. My young stomach, new to deprivation, protested with gnawing vigor. Pictures I had seen of famine victims passed wraithlike before me.

"The next Benares death from starvation is due at once in this hermitage," I thought. Impending doom averted at nine o'clock. Ambrosial summons! In memory that meal is vivid as one of life's perfect hours.

Intense absorption yet permitted me to observe that Dyananda ate absent-mindedly. He was apparently above my gross pleasures.

"Swamiji, weren't you hungry?" Happily surfeited, I was alone with the leader in his study.

"O yes! I have spent the last four days without food or drink. I never eat on trains, filled with the heterogenous vibrations of worldly people. Strictly I observe the SHASTRIC {FN10-6} rules for monks of my particular order.

"Certain problems of our organizational work lie on my mind. Tonight at home I neglected my dinner. What's the hurry? Tomorrow I'll make it a point to have a proper meal." He laughed merrily.

Shame spread within me like a suffocation. But the past day of my torture was not easily forgotten; I ventured a further remark.

"Swamiji, I am puzzled. Following your instruction, suppose I never asked for food, and nobody gives me any. I should starve to death."

"Die then!" This alarming counsel split the air. "Die if you must Mukunda! Never admit that you live by the power of food and not by the power of God! He who has created every form of nourishment, He who has bestowed appetite, will certainly see that His devotee is sustained! Do not imagine that rice maintains you, or that money or men support you! Could they aid if the Lord withdraws your life-breath? They are His indirect instruments merely. Is it by any skill of yours that food digests in your stomach? Use the sword of your discrimination, Mukunda! Cut through the chains of agency and perceive the Single Cause!"

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