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Autobiography of a YOGI
by Paramhansa Yogananda
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At Tarakeswar I approached a famous shrine. Hindus regard it with the same veneration that Catholics give to the Lourdes sanctuary in France. Innumerable healing miracles have occurred at Tarakeswar, including one for a member of my family.

"I sat in the temple there for a week," my eldest aunt once told me. "Observing a complete fast, I prayed for the recovery of your Uncle Sarada from a chronic malady. On the seventh day I found a herb materialized in my hand! I made a brew from the leaves, and gave it to your uncle. His disease vanished at once, and has never reappeared."

I entered the sacred Tarakeswar shrine; the altar contains nothing but a round stone. Its circumference, beginningless and endless, makes it aptly significant of the Infinite. Cosmic abstractions are not alien even to the humblest Indian peasant; he has been accused by Westerners, in fact, of living on abstractions!

My own mood at the moment was so austere that I felt disinclined to bow before the stone symbol. God should be sought, I reflected, only within the soul.

I left the temple without genuflection and walked briskly toward the outlying village of Ranbajpur. My appeal to a passer-by for guidance caused him to sink into long cogitation.

"When you come to a crossroad, turn right and keep going," he finally pronounced oracularly.

Obeying the directions, I wended my way alongside the banks of a canal. Darkness fell; the outskirts of the jungle village were alive with winking fireflies and the howls of near-by jackals. The moonlight was too faint to supply any reassurance; I stumbled on for two hours.

Welcome clang of a cowbell! My repeated shouts eventually brought a peasant to my side.

"I am looking for Ram Gopal Babu."

"No such person lives in our village." The man's tone was surly. "You are probably a lying detective."

Hoping to allay suspicion in his politically troubled mind, I touchingly explained my predicament. He took me to his home and offered a hospitable welcome.

"Ranbajpur is far from here," he remarked. "At the crossroad, you should have turned left, not right."

My earlier informant, I thought sadly, was a distinct menace to travelers. After a relishable meal of coarse rice, lentil-DHAL, and curry of potatoes with raw bananas, I retired to a small hut adjoining the courtyard. In the distance, villagers were singing to the loud accompaniment of MRIDANGAS {FN13-1} and cymbals. Sleep was inconsiderable that night; I prayed deeply to be directed to the secret yogi, Ram Gopal.

As the first streaks of dawn penetrated the fissures of my dark room, I set out for Ranbajpur. Crossing rough paddy fields, I trudged over sickled stumps of the prickly plant and mounds of dried clay. An occasionally-met peasant would inform me, invariably, that my destination was "only a KROSHA (two miles)." In six hours the sun traveled victoriously from horizon to meridian, but I began to feel that I would ever be distant from Ranbajpur by one KROSHA.

At midafternoon my world was still an endless paddy field. Heat pouring from the avoidless sky was bringing me to near-collapse. As a man approached at leisurely pace, I hardly dared utter my usual question, lest it summon the monotonous: "Just a KROSHA."

The stranger halted beside me. Short and slight, he was physically unimpressive save for an extraordinary pair of piercing dark eyes.

"I was planning to leave Ranbajpur, but your purpose was good, so I awaited you." He shook his finger in my astounded face. "Aren't you clever to think that, unannounced, you could pounce on me? That professor Behari had no right to give you my address."

Considering that introduction of myself would be mere verbosity in the presence of this master, I stood speechless, somewhat hurt at my reception. His next remark was abruptly put.

"Tell me; where do you think God is?"

"Why, He is within me and everywhere." I doubtless looked as bewildered as I felt.

"All-pervading, eh?" The saint chuckled. "Then why, young sir, did you fail to bow before the Infinite in the stone symbol at the Tarakeswar temple yesterday? {FN13-2} Your pride caused you the punishment of being misdirected by the passer-by who was not bothered by fine distinctions of left and right. Today, too, you have had a fairly uncomfortable time of it!"

I agreed wholeheartedly, wonder-struck that an omniscient eye hid within the unremarkable body before me. Healing strength emanated from the yogi; I was instantly refreshed in the scorching field.

"The devotee inclines to think his path to God is the only way," he said. "Yoga, through which divinity is found within, is doubtless the highest road: so Lahiri Mahasaya has told us. But discovering the Lord within, we soon perceive Him without. Holy shrines at Tarakeswar and elsewhere are rightly venerated as nuclear centers of spiritual power."

The saint's censorious attitude vanished; his eyes became compassionately soft. He patted my shoulder.

"Young yogi, I see you are running away from your master. He has everything you need; you must return to him. Mountains cannot be your guru." Ram Gopal was repeating the same thought which Sri Yukteswar had expressed at our last meeting.

"Masters are under no cosmic compulsion to limit their residence." My companion glanced at me quizzically. "The Himalayas in India and Tibet have no monopoly on saints. What one does not trouble to find within will not be discovered by transporting the body hither and yon. As soon as the devotee is WILLING to go even to the ends of the earth for spiritual enlightenment, his guru appears near-by."

I silently agreed, recalling my prayer in the Benares hermitage, followed by the meeting with Sri Yukteswar in a crowded lane.

"Are you able to have a little room where you can close the door and be alone?"

"Yes." I reflected that this saint descended from the general to the particular with disconcerting speed.

"That is your cave." The yogi bestowed on me a gaze of illumination which I have never forgotten. "That is your sacred mountain. That is where you will find the kingdom of God."

His simple words instantaneously banished my lifelong obsession for the Himalayas. In a burning paddy field I awoke from the monticolous dreams of eternal snows.

"Young sir, your divine thirst is laudable. I feel great love for you." Ram Gopal took my hand and led me to a quaint hamlet. The adobe houses were covered with coconut leaves and adorned with rustic entrances.

The saint seated me on the umbrageous bamboo platform of his small cottage. After giving me sweetened lime juice and a piece of rock candy, he entered his patio and assumed the lotus posture. In about four hours I opened my meditative eyes and saw that the moonlit figure of the yogi was still motionless. As I was sternly reminding my stomach that man does not live by bread alone, Ram Gopal approached me.

"I see you are famished; food will be ready soon."

A fire was kindled under a clay oven on the patio; rice and DHAL were quickly served on large banana leaves. My host courteously refused my aid in all cooking chores. "The guest is God," a Hindu proverb, has commanded devout observance from time immemorial. In my later world travels, I was charmed to see that a similar respect for visitors is manifested in rural sections of many countries. The city dweller finds the keen edge of hospitality blunted by superabundance of strange faces.

The marts of men seemed remotely dim as I squatted by the yogi in the isolation of the tiny jungle village. The cottage room was mysterious with a mellow light. Ram Gopal arranged some torn blankets on the floor for my bed, and seated himself on a straw mat. Overwhelmed by his spiritual magnetism, I ventured a request.

"Sir, why don't you grant me a SAMADHI?"

"Dear one, I would be glad to convey the divine contact, but it is not my place to do so." The saint looked at me with half-closed eyes. "Your master will bestow that experience shortly. Your body is not tuned just yet. As a small lamp cannot withstand excessive electrical voltage, so your nerves are unready for the cosmic current. If I gave you the infinite ecstasy right now, you would burn as if every cell were on fire.

"You are asking illumination from me," the yogi continued musingly, "while I am wondering-inconsiderable as I am, and with the little meditation I have done-if I have succeeded in pleasing God, and what worth I may find in His eyes at the final reckoning."

"Sir, have you not been singleheartedly seeking God for a long time?"

"I have not done much. Behari must have told you something of my life. For twenty years I occupied a secret grotto, meditating eighteen hours a day. Then I moved to a more inaccessible cave and remained there for twenty-five years, entering the yoga union for twenty hours daily. I did not need sleep, for I was ever with God. My body was more rested in the complete calmness of the superconsciousness than it could be by the partial peace of the ordinary subconscious state.

"The muscles relax during sleep, but the heart, lungs, and circulatory system are constantly at work; they get no rest. In superconsciousness, the internal organs remain in a state of suspended animation, electrified by the cosmic energy. By such means I have found it unnecessary to sleep for years. The time will come when you too will dispense with sleep."

"My goodness, you have meditated for so long and yet are unsure of the Lord's favor!" I gazed at him in astonishment. "Then what about us poor mortals?"

"Well, don't you see, my dear boy, that God is Eternity Itself? To assume that one can fully know Him by forty-five years of meditation is rather a preposterous expectation. Babaji assures us, however, that even a little meditation saves one from the dire fear of death and after-death states. Do not fix your spiritual ideal on a small mountain, but hitch it to the star of unqualified divine attainment. If you work hard, you will get there."

Enthralled by the prospect, I asked him for further enlightening words. He related a wondrous story of his first meeting with Lahiri Mahasaya's guru, Babaji. {FN13-3} Around midnight Ram Gopal fell into silence, and I lay down on my blankets. Closing my eyes, I saw flashes of lightning; the vast space within me was a chamber of molten light. I opened my eyes and observed the same dazzling radiance. The room became a part of that infinite vault which I beheld with interior vision.

"Why don't you go to sleep?"

"Sir, how can I sleep in the presence of lightning, blazing whether my eyes are shut or open?"

"You are blessed to have this experience; the spiritual radiations are not easily seen." The saint added a few words of affection.

At dawn Ram Gopal gave me rock candies and said I must depart. I felt such reluctance to bid him farewell that tears coursed down my cheeks.

"I will not let you go empty-handed." The yogi spoke tenderly. "I will do something for you."

He smiled and looked at me steadfastly. I stood rooted to the ground, peace rushing like a mighty flood through the gates of my eyes. I was instantaneously healed of a pain in my back, which had troubled me intermittently for years. Renewed, bathed in a sea of luminous joy, I wept no more. After touching the saint's feet, I sauntered into the jungle, making my way through its tropical tangle until I reached Tarakeswar.

There I made a second pilgrimage to the famous shrine, and prostrated myself fully before the altar. The round stone enlarged before my inner vision until it became the cosmical spheres, ring within ring, zone after zone, all dowered with divinity.

I entrained happily an hour later for Calcutta. My travels ended, not in the lofty mountains, but in the Himalayan presence of my Master.

{FN13-1} Hand-played drums, used only for devotional music.

{FN13-2} One is reminded here of Dostoevski's observation: "A man who bows down to nothing can never bear the burden of himself."

{FN13-3} See chapter 35.



CHAPTER: 14

AN EXPERIENCE IN COSMIC CONSCIOUSNESS

"I am here, Guruji." My shamefacedness spoke more eloquently for me.

"Let us go to the kitchen and find something to eat." Sri Yukteswar's manner was as natural as if hours and not days had separated us.

"Master, I must have disappointed you by my abrupt departure from my duties here; I thought you might be angry with me."

"No, of course not! Wrath springs only from thwarted desires. I do not expect anything from others, so their actions cannot be in opposition to wishes of mine. I would not use you for my own ends; I am happy only in your own true happiness."

"Sir, one hears of divine love in a vague way, but for the first time I am having a concrete example in your angelic self! In the world, even a father does not easily forgive his son if he leaves his parent's business without warning. But you show not the slightest vexation, though you must have been put to great inconvenience by the many unfinished tasks I left behind."

We looked into each other's eyes, where tears were shining. A blissful wave engulfed me; I was conscious that the Lord, in the form of my guru, was expanding the small ardors of my heart into the incompressible reaches of cosmic love.

A few mornings later I made my way to Master's empty sitting room. I planned to meditate, but my laudable purpose was unshared by disobedient thoughts. They scattered like birds before the hunter.

"Mukunda!" Sri Yukteswar's voice sounded from a distant inner balcony.

I felt as rebellious as my thoughts. "Master always urges me to meditate," I muttered to myself. "He should not disturb me when he knows why I came to his room."

He summoned me again; I remained obstinately silent. The third time his tone held rebuke.

"Sir, I am meditating," I shouted protestingly.

"I know how you are meditating," my guru called out, "with your mind distributed like leaves in a storm! Come here to me."

Snubbed and exposed, I made my way sadly to his side.

"Poor boy, the mountains couldn't give what you wanted." Master spoke caressively, comfortingly. His calm gaze was unfathomable. "Your heart's desire shall be fulfilled."

Sri Yukteswar seldom indulged in riddles; I was bewildered. He struck gently on my chest above the heart.

My body became immovably rooted; breath was drawn out of my lungs as if by some huge magnet. Soul and mind instantly lost their physical bondage, and streamed out like a fluid piercing light from my every pore. The flesh was as though dead, yet in my intense awareness I knew that never before had I been fully alive. My sense of identity was no longer narrowly confined to a body, but embraced the circumambient atoms. People on distant streets seemed to be moving gently over my own remote periphery. The roots of plants and trees appeared through a dim transparency of the soil; I discerned the inward flow of their sap.

The whole vicinity lay bare before me. My ordinary frontal vision was now changed to a vast spherical sight, simultaneously all-perceptive. Through the back of my head I saw men strolling far down Rai Ghat Road, and noticed also a white cow who was leisurely approaching. When she reached the space in front of the open ashram gate, I observed her with my two physical eyes. As she passed by, behind the brick wall, I saw her clearly still.

All objects within my panoramic gaze trembled and vibrated like quick motion pictures. My body, Master's, the pillared courtyard, the furniture and floor, the trees and sunshine, occasionally became violently agitated, until all melted into a luminescent sea; even as sugar crystals, thrown into a glass of water, dissolve after being shaken. The unifying light alternated with materializations of form, the metamorphoses revealing the law of cause and effect in creation.

An oceanic joy broke upon calm endless shores of my soul. The Spirit of God, I realized, is exhaustless Bliss; His body is countless tissues of light. A swelling glory within me began to envelop towns, continents, the earth, solar and stellar systems, tenuous nebulae, and floating universes. The entire cosmos, gently luminous, like a city seen afar at night, glimmered within the infinitude of my being. The sharply etched global outlines faded somewhat at the farthest edges; there I could see a mellow radiance, ever-undiminished. It was indescribably subtle; the planetary pictures were formed of a grosser light.

The divine dispersion of rays poured from an Eternal Source, blazing into galaxies, transfigured with ineffable auras. Again and again I saw the creative beams condense into constellations, then resolve into sheets of transparent flame. By rhythmic reversion, sextillion worlds passed into diaphanous luster; fire became firmament.

I cognized the center of the empyrean as a point of intuitive perception in my heart. Irradiating splendor issued from my nucleus to every part of the universal structure. Blissful AMRITA, the nectar of immortality, pulsed through me with a quicksilverlike fluidity. The creative voice of God I heard resounding as AUM, {FN14-1} the vibration of the Cosmic Motor.

Suddenly the breath returned to my lungs. With a disappointment almost unbearable, I realized that my infinite immensity was lost. Once more I was limited to the humiliating cage of a body, not easily accommodative to the Spirit. Like a prodigal child, I had run away from my macrocosmic home and imprisoned myself in a narrow microcosm.

My guru was standing motionless before me; I started to drop at his holy feet in gratitude for the experience in cosmic consciousness which I had long passionately sought. He held me upright, and spoke calmly, unpretentiously.

"You must not get overdrunk with ecstasy. Much work yet remains for you in the world. Come; let us sweep the balcony floor; then we shall walk by the Ganges."

I fetched a broom; Master, I knew, was teaching me the secret of balanced living. The soul must stretch over the cosmogonic abysses, while the body performs its daily duties. When we set out later for a stroll, I was still entranced in unspeakable rapture. I saw our bodies as two astral pictures, moving over a road by the river whose essence was sheer light.

"It is the Spirit of God that actively sustains every form and force in the universe; yet He is transcendental and aloof in the blissful uncreated void beyond the worlds of vibratory phenomena," {FN14-2} Master explained. "Saints who realize their divinity even while in the flesh know a similar twofold existence. Conscientiously engaging in earthly work, they yet remain immersed in an inward beatitude. The Lord has created all men from the limitless joy of His being. Though they are painfully cramped by the body, God nevertheless expects that souls made in His image shall ultimately rise above all sense identifications and reunite with Him."

The cosmic vision left many permanent lessons. By daily stilling my thoughts, I could win release from the delusive conviction that my body was a mass of flesh and bones, traversing the hard soil of matter. The breath and the restless mind, I saw, were like storms which lashed the ocean of light into waves of material forms-earth, sky, human beings, animals, birds, trees. No perception of the Infinite as One Light could be had except by calming those storms. As often as I silenced the two natural tumults, I beheld the multitudinous waves of creation melt into one lucent sea, even as the waves of the ocean, their tempests subsiding, serenely dissolve into unity.

A master bestows the divine experience of cosmic consciousness when his disciple, by meditation, has strengthened his mind to a degree where the vast vistas would not overwhelm him. The experience can never be given through one's mere intellectual willingness or open-mindedness. Only adequate enlargement by yoga practice and devotional BHAKTI can prepare the mind to absorb the liberating shock of omnipresence. It comes with a natural inevitability to the sincere devotee. His intense craving begins to pull at God with an irresistible force. The Lord, as the Cosmic Vision, is drawn by the seeker's magnetic ardor into his range of consciousness.

I wrote, in my later years, the following poem, "Samadhi," endeavoring to convey the glory of its cosmic state:

Vanished the veils of light and shade, Lifted every vapor of sorrow, Sailed away all dawns of fleeting joy, Gone the dim sensory mirage. Love, hate, health, disease, life, death, Perished these false shadows on the screen of duality. Waves of laughter, scyllas of sarcasm, melancholic whirlpools, Melting in the vast sea of bliss. The storm of MAYA stilled By magic wand of intuition deep. The universe, forgotten dream, subconsciously lurks, Ready to invade my newly-wakened memory divine. I live without the cosmic shadow, But it is not, bereft of me; As the sea exists without the waves, But they breathe not without the sea. Dreams, wakings, states of deep TURIA sleep, Present, past, future, no more for me, But ever-present, all-flowing I, I, everywhere. Planets, stars, stardust, earth, Volcanic bursts of doomsday cataclysms, Creation's molding furnace, Glaciers of silent x-rays, burning electron floods, Thoughts of all men, past, present, to come, Every blade of grass, myself, mankind, Each particle of universal dust, Anger, greed, good, bad, salvation, lust, I swallowed, transmuted all Into a vast ocean of blood of my own one Being! Smoldering joy, oft-puffed by meditation Blinding my tearful eyes, Burst into immortal flames of bliss, Consumed my tears, my frame, my all. Thou art I, I am Thou, Knowing, Knower, Known, as One! Tranquilled, unbroken thrill, eternally living, ever-new peace! Enjoyable beyond imagination of expectancy, SAMADHI bliss! Not an unconscious state Or mental chloroform without wilful return, SAMADHI but extends my conscious realm Beyond limits of the mortal frame To farthest boundary of eternity Where I, the Cosmic Sea, Watch the little ego floating in Me. The sparrow, each grain of sand, fall not without My sight. All space floats like an iceberg in My mental sea. Colossal Container, I, of all things made. By deeper, longer, thirsty, guru-given meditation Comes this celestial SAMADHI. Mobile murmurs of atoms are heard, The dark earth, mountains, vales, lo! molten liquid! Flowing seas change into vapors of nebulae! AUM blows upon vapors, opening wondrously their veils, Oceans stand revealed, shining electrons, Till, at last sound of the cosmic drum, Vanish the grosser lights into eternal rays Of all-pervading bliss. From joy I came, for joy I live, in sacred joy I melt. Ocean of mind, I drink all creation's waves. Four veils of solid, liquid, vapor, light, Lift aright. Myself, in everything, enters the Great Myself. Gone forever, fitful, flickering shadows of mortal memory. Spotless is my mental sky, below, ahead, and high above. Eternity and I, one united ray. A tiny bubble of laughter, I Am become the Sea of Mirth Itself.

Sri Yukteswar taught me how to summon the blessed experience at will, and also how to transmit it to others if their intuitive channels were developed. For months I entered the ecstatic union, comprehending why the UPANISHADS say God is RASA, "the most relishable." One day, however, I took a problem to Master.

"I want to know, sir-when shall I find God?"

"You have found Him."

"O no, sir, I don't think so!"

My guru was smiling. "I am sure you aren't expecting a venerable Personage, adorning a throne in some antiseptic corner of the cosmos! I see, however, that you are imagining that the possession of miraculous powers is knowledge of God. One might have the whole universe, and find the Lord elusive still! Spiritual advancement is not measured by one's outward powers, but only by the depth of his bliss in meditation.

"EVER-NEW JOY IS GOD. He is inexhaustible; as you continue your meditations during the years, He will beguile you with an infinite ingenuity. Devotees like yourself who have found the way to God never dream of exchanging Him for any other happiness; He is seductive beyond thought of competition.

"How quickly we weary of earthly pleasures! Desire for material things is endless; man is never satisfied completely, and pursues one goal after another. The 'something else' he seeks is the Lord, who alone can grant lasting joy.

"Outward longings drive us from the Eden within; they offer false pleasures which only impersonate soul-happiness. The lost paradise is quickly regained through divine meditation. As God is unanticipatory Ever-Newness, we never tire of Him. Can we be surfeited with bliss, delightfully varied throughout eternity?"

"I understand now, sir, why saints call the Lord unfathomable. Even everlasting life could not suffice to appraise Him."

"That is true; but He is also near and dear. After the mind has been cleared by KRIYA YOGA of sensory obstacles, meditation furnishes a twofold proof of God. Ever-new joy is evidence of His existence, convincing to our very atoms. Also, in meditation one finds His instant guidance, His adequate response to every difficulty."

"I see, Guruji; you have solved my problem." I smiled gratefully. "I do realize now that I have found God, for whenever the joy of meditation has returned subconsciously during my active hours, I have been subtly directed to adopt the right course in everything, even details."

"Human life is beset with sorrow until we know how to tune in with the Divine Will, whose 'right course' is often baffling to the egoistic intelligence. God bears the burden of the cosmos; He alone can give unerring counsel."

{FN14-1} "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."-JOHN 1:1.

{FN14-2} "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son."-JOHN 5:22. "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him."-JOHN 1:18. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father."-JOHN 14:12. "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said to you."-JOHN 14:26.

These Biblical words refer to the threefold nature of God as Father, Son, Holy Ghost (SAT, TAT, AUM in the Hindu scriptures). God the Father is the Absolute, Unmanifested, existing BEYOND vibratory creation. God the Son is the Christ Consciousness (Brahma or KUTASTHA CHAITANYA) existing WITHIN vibratory creation; this Christ Consciousness is the "only begotten" or sole reflection of the Uncreated Infinite. Its outward manifestation or "witness" is AUM or Holy Ghost, the divine, creative, invisible power which structures all creation through vibration. AUM the blissful Comforter is heard in meditation and reveals to the devotee the ultimate Truth.



CHAPTER: 15

THE CAULIFLOWER ROBBERY

"Master, a gift for you! These six huge cauliflowers were planted with my hands; I have watched over their growth with the tender care of a mother nursing her child." I presented the basket of vegetables with a ceremonial flourish.

"Thank you!" Sri Yukteswar's smile was warm with appreciation. "Please keep them in your room; I shall need them tomorrow for a special dinner."

I had just arrived in Puri {FN15-1} to spend my college summer vacation with my guru at his seaside hermitage. Built by Master and his disciples, the cheerful little two-storied retreat fronts on the Bay of Bengal.

I awoke early the following morning, refreshed by the salty sea breezes and the charm of my surroundings. Sri Yukteswar's melodious voice was calling; I took a look at my cherished cauliflowers and stowed them neatly under my bed.

"Come, let us go to the beach." Master led the way; several young disciples and myself followed in a scattered group. Our guru surveyed us in mild criticism.

"When our Western brothers walk, they usually take pride in unison. Now, please march in two rows; keep rhythmic step with one another." Sri Yukteswar watched as we obeyed; he began to sing: "Boys go to and fro, in a pretty little row." I could not but admire the ease with which Master was able to match the brisk pace of his young students.

"Halt!" My guru's eyes sought mine. "Did you remember to lock the back door of the hermitage?"

[Illustration: MY GURU'S SEASIDE HERMITAGE AT PURI A steady stream of visitors poured from the world into the hermitage tranquillity. A number of learned men came with the expectation of meeting an orthodox religionist. A supercilious smile or a glance of amused tolerance occasionally betreayed that the newcomers anticipated nothing more than a few pious platitudes. Yet their reluctant departure would bring an expressed conviction that Sri Yukteswar had shown precise insight into their specialized fields of knowledge. My guru always had young resident disciples in his hermitage. He directed their minds and lives with that careful discipline in which the word "disciple" is etymologically rooted.—see puri.jpg]

"I think so, sir."

Sri Yukteswar was silent for a few minutes, a half-suppressed smile on his lips. "No, you forgot," he said finally. "Divine contemplation must not be made an excuse for material carelessness. You have neglected your duty in safeguarding the ashram; you must be punished."

I thought he was obscurely joking when he added: "Your six cauliflowers will soon be only five."

We turned around at Master's orders and marched back until we were close to the hermitage.

"Rest awhile. Mukunda, look across the compound on our left; observe the road beyond. A certain man will arrive there presently; he will be the means of your chastisement."

I concealed my vexation at these incomprehensible remarks. A peasant soon appeared on the road; he was dancing grotesquely and flinging his arms about with meaningless gestures. Almost paralyzed with curiosity, I glued my eyes on the hilarious spectacle. As the man reached a point in the road where he would vanish from our view, Sri Yukteswar said, "Now, he will return."

The peasant at once changed his direction and made for the rear of the ashram. Crossing a sandy tract, he entered the building by the back door. I had left it unlocked, even as my guru had said. The man emerged shortly, holding one of my prized cauliflowers. He now strode along respectably, invested with the dignity of possession.

The unfolding farce, in which my role appeared to be that of bewildered victim, was not so disconcerting that I failed in indignant pursuit. I was halfway to the road when Master recalled me. He was shaking from head to foot with laughter.

"That poor crazy man has been longing for a cauliflower," he explained between outbursts of mirth. "I thought it would be a good idea if he got one of yours, so ill-guarded!"

I dashed to my room, where I found that the thief, evidently one with a vegetable fixation, had left untouched my gold rings, watch, and money, all lying openly on the blanket. He had crawled instead under the bed where, completely hidden from casual sight, one of my cauliflowers had aroused his singlehearted desire.

I asked Sri Yukteswar that evening to explain the incident which had, I thought, a few baffling features.

My guru shook his head slowly. "You will understand it someday. Science will soon discover a few of these hidden laws."

When the wonders of radio burst some years later on an astounded world, I remembered Master's prediction. Age-old concepts of time and space were annihilated; no peasant's home so narrow that London or Calcutta could not enter! The dullest intelligence enlarged before indisputable proof of one aspect of man's omnipresence.

The "plot" of the cauliflower comedy can be best understood by a radio analogy. Sri Yukteswar was a perfect human radio. Thoughts are no more than very gentle vibrations moving in the ether. Just as a sensitized radio picks up a desired musical number out of thousands of other programs from every direction, so my guru had been able to catch the thought of the half-witted man who hankered for a cauliflower, out of the countless thoughts of broadcasting human wills in the world. {FN15-2} By his powerful will, Master was also a human broadcasting station, and had successfully directed the peasant to reverse his steps and go to a certain room for a single cauliflower.

Intuition {FN15-3} is soul guidance, appearing naturally in man during those instants when his mind is calm. Nearly everyone has had the experience of an inexplicably correct "hunch," or has transferred his thoughts effectively to another person.

The human mind, free from the static of restlessness, can perform through its antenna of intuition all the functions of complicated radio mechanisms-sending and receiving thoughts, and tuning out undesirable ones. As the power of a radio depends on the amount of electrical current it can utilize, so the human radio is energized according to the power of will possessed by each individual.

All thoughts vibrate eternally in the cosmos. By deep concentration, a master is able to detect the thoughts of any mind, living or dead. Thoughts are universally and not individually rooted; a truth cannot be created, but only perceived. The erroneous thoughts of man result from imperfections in his discernment. The goal of yoga science is to calm the mind, that without distortion it may mirror the divine vision in the universe.

Radio and television have brought the instantaneous sound and sight of remote persons to the firesides of millions: the first faint scientific intimations that man is an all-pervading spirit. Not a body confined to a point in space, but the vast soul, which the ego in most barbaric modes conspires in vain to cramp.

"Very strange, very wonderful, seemingly very improbable phenomena may yet appear which, when once established, will not astonish us more than we are now astonished at all that science has taught us during the last century," Charles Robert Richet, Nobel Prizeman in physiology, has declared. "It is assumed that the phenomena which we now accept without surprise, do not excite our astonishment because they are understood. But this is not the case. If they do not surprise us it is not because they are understood, it is because they are familiar; for if that which is not understood ought to surprise us, we should be surprised at everything-the fall of a stone thrown into the air, the acorn which becomes an oak, mercury which expands when it is heated, iron attracted by a magnet, phosphorus which burns when it is rubbed. . . . The science of today is a light matter; the revolutions and evolutions which it will experience in a hundred thousand years will far exceed the most daring anticipations. The truths-those surprising, amazing, unforeseen truths-which our descendants will discover, are even now all around us, staring us in the eyes, so to speak, and yet we do not see them. But it is not enough to say that we do not see them; we do not wish to see them; for as soon as an unexpected and unfamiliar fact appears, we try to fit it into the framework of the commonplaces of acquired knowledge, and we are indignant that anyone should dare to experiment further."

A humorous occurrence took place a few days after I had been so implausibly robbed of a cauliflower. A certain kerosene lamp could not be found. Having so lately witnessed my guru's omniscient insight, I thought he would demonstrate that it was child's play to locate the lamp.

Master perceived my expectation. With exaggerated gravity he questioned all ashram residents. A young disciple confessed that he had used the lamp to go to the well in the back yard.

Sri Yukteswar gave the solemn counsel: "Seek the lamp near the well."

I rushed there; no lamp! Crestfallen, I returned to my guru. He was now laughing heartily, without compunction for my disillusionment.

"Too bad I couldn't direct you to the vanished lamp; I am not a fortune teller!" With twinkling eyes, he added, "I am not even a satisfactory Sherlock Holmes!"

I realized that Master would never display his powers when challenged, or for a triviality.

Delightful weeks sped by. Sri Yukteswar was planning a religious procession. He asked me to lead the disciples over the town and beach of Puri. The festive day dawned as one of the hottest of the summer.

"Guruji, how can I take the barefooted students over the fiery sands?" I spoke despairingly.

"I will tell you a secret," Master responded. "The Lord will send an umbrella of clouds; you all shall walk in comfort."

I happily organized the procession; our group started from the ashram with a SAT-SANGA banner. {FN15-4} Designed by Sri Yukteswar, it bore the symbol of the single {FN15-5} eye, the telescopic gaze of intuition.

No sooner had we left the hermitage than the part of the sky which was overhead became filled with clouds as though by magic. To the accompaniment of astonished ejaculations from all sides, a very light shower fell, cooling the city streets and the burning seashore. The soothing drops descended during the two hours of the parade. The exact instant at which our group returned to the ashram, the clouds and rain passed away tracelessly.

"You see how God feels for us," Master replied after I had expressed my gratitude. "The Lord responds to all and works for all. Just as He sent rain at my plea, so He fulfills any sincere desire of the devotee. Seldom do men realize how often God heeds their prayers. He is not partial to a few, but listens to everyone who approaches Him trustingly. His children should ever have implicit faith in the loving-kindness of their Omnipresent Father." {FN15-6}

Sri Yukteswar sponsored four yearly festivals, at the equinoxes and solstices, when his students gathered from far and near. The winter solstice celebration was held in Serampore; the first one I attended left me with a permanent blessing.

The festivities started in the morning with a barefoot procession along the streets. The voices of a hundred students rang out with sweet religious songs; a few musicians played the flute and KHOL KARTAL (drums and cymbals). Enthusiastic townspeople strewed the path with flowers, glad to be summoned from prosaic tasks by our resounding praise of the Lord's blessed name. The long tour ended in the courtyard of the hermitage. There we encircled our guru, while students on upper balconies showered us with marigold blossoms.

Many guests went upstairs to receive a pudding of CHANNA and oranges. I made my way to a group of brother disciples who were serving today as cooks. Food for such large gatherings had to be cooked outdoors in huge cauldrons. The improvised wood-burning brick stoves were smoky and tear-provoking, but we laughed merrily at our work. Religious festivals in India are never considered troublesome; each one does his part, supplying money, rice, vegetables, or his personal services.

Master was soon in our midst, supervising the details of the feast. Busy every moment, he kept pace with the most energetic young student.

A SANKIRTAN (group chanting), accompanied by the harmonium and hand-played Indian drums, was in progress on the second floor. Sri Yukteswar listened appreciatively; his musical sense was acutely perfect.

"They are off key!" Master left the cooks and joined the artists. The melody was heard again, this time correctly rendered.

In India, music as well as painting and the drama is considered a divine art. Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva-the Eternal Trinity-were the first musicians. The Divine Dancer Shiva is scripturally represented as having worked out the infinite modes of rhythm in His cosmic dance of universal creation, preservation, and dissolution, while Brahma accentuated the time-beat with the clanging cymbals, and Vishnu sounded the holy MRIDANGA or drum. Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu, is always shown in Hindu art with a flute, on which he plays the enrapturing song that recalls to their true home the human souls wandering in MAYA-delusion. Saraswati, goddess of wisdom, is symbolized as performing on the VINA, mother of all stringed instruments. The SAMA VEDA of India contains the world's earliest writings on musical science.

The foundation stone of Hindu music is the RAGAS or fixed melodic scales. The six basic RAGAS branch out into 126 derivative RAGINIS (wives) and PUTRAS (sons). Each RAGA has a minimum of five notes: a leading note (VADI or king), a secondary note (SAMAVADI or prime minister), helping notes (ANUVADI, attendants), and a dissonant note (VIVADI, the enemy).

Each one of the six basic RAGAS has a natural correspondence with a certain hour of the day, season of the year, and a presiding deity who bestows a particular potency. Thus, (1) the HINDOLE RAGA is heard only at dawn in the spring, to evoke the mood of universal love; (2) DEEPAKA RAGA is played during the evening in summer, to arouse compassion; (3) MEGHA RAGA is a melody for midday in the rainy season, to summon courage; (4) BHAIRAVA RAGA is played in the mornings of August, September, October, to achieve tranquillity; (5) SRI RAGA is reserved for autumn twilights, to attain pure love; (6) MALKOUNSA RAGA is heard at midnights in winter, for valor.

The ancient rishis discovered these laws of sound alliance between nature and man. Because nature is an objectification of AUM, the Primal Sound or Vibratory Word, man can obtain control over all natural manifestations through the use of certain MANTRAS or chants. {FN15-7} Historical documents tell of the remarkable powers possessed by Miyan Tan Sen, sixteenth century court musician for Akbar the Great. Commanded by the Emperor to sing a night RAGA while the sun was overhead, Tan Sen intoned a MANTRA which instantly caused the whole palace precincts to become enveloped in darkness.

Indian music divides the octave into 22 SRUTIS or demi-semitones. These microtonal intervals permit fine shades of musical expression unattainable by the Western chromatic scale of 12 semitones. Each one of the seven basic notes of the octave is associated in Hindu mythology with a color, and the natural cry of a bird or beast-DO with green, and the peacock; RE with red, and the skylark; MI with golden, and the goat; FA with yellowish white, and the heron; SOL with black, and the nightingale; LA with yellow, and the horse; SI with a combination of all colors, and the elephant.

Three scales-major, harmonic minor, melodic minor-are the only ones which Occidental music employs, but Indian music outlines 72 THATAS or scales. The musician has a creative scope for endless improvisation around the fixed traditional melody or RAGA; he concentrates on the sentiment or definitive mood of the structural theme and then embroiders it to the limits of his own originality. The Hindu musician does not read set notes; he clothes anew at each playing the bare skeleton of the RAGA, often confining himself to a single melodic sequence, stressing by repetition all its subtle microtonal and rhythmic variations. Bach, among Western composers, had an understanding of the charm and power of repetitious sound slightly differentiated in a hundred complex ways.

Ancient Sanskrit literature describes 120 TALAS or time-measures. The traditional founder of Hindu music, Bharata, is said to have isolated 32 kinds of TALA in the song of a lark. The origin of TALA or rhythm is rooted in human movements-the double time of walking, and the triple time of respiration in sleep, when inhalation is twice the length of exhalation. India has always recognized the human voice as the most perfect instrument of sound. Hindu music therefore largely confines itself to the voice range of three octaves. For the same reason, melody (relation of successive notes) is stressed, rather than harmony (relation of simultaneous notes).

The deeper aim of the early rishi-musicians was to blend the singer with the Cosmic Song which can be heard through awakening of man's occult spinal centers. Indian music is a subjective, spiritual, and individualistic art, aiming not at symphonic brilliance but at personal harmony with the Oversoul. The Sanskrit word for musician is BHAGAVATHAR, "he who sings the praises of God." The SANKIRTANS or musical gatherings are an effective form of yoga or spiritual discipline, necessitating deep concentration, intense absorption in the seed thought and sound. Because man himself is an expression of the Creative Word, sound has the most potent and immediate effect on him, offering a way to remembrance of his divine origin.

The SANKIRTAN issuing from Sri Yukteswar's second-story sitting room on the day of the festival was inspiring to the cooks amidst the steaming pots. My brother disciples and I joyously sang the refrains, beating time with our hands.

By sunset we had served our hundreds of visitors with KHICHURI (rice and lentils), vegetable curry, and rice pudding. We laid cotton blankets over the courtyard; soon the assemblage was squatting under the starry vault, quietly attentive to the wisdom pouring from Sri Yukteswar's lips. His public speeches emphasized the value of KRIYA YOGA, and a life of self-respect, calmness, determination, simple diet, and regular exercise.

A group of very young disciples then chanted a few sacred hymns; the meeting concluded with SANKIRTAN. From ten o'clock until midnight, the ashram residents washed pots and pans, and cleared the courtyard. My guru called me to his side.

"I am pleased over your cheerful labors today and during the past week of preparations. I want you with me; you may sleep in my bed tonight."

This was a privilege I had never thought would fall to my lot. We sat awhile in a state of intense divine tranquillity. Hardly ten minutes after we had gotten into bed, Master rose and began to dress.

"What is the matter, sir?" I felt a tinge of unreality in the unexpected joy of sleeping beside my guru.

"I think that a few students who missed their proper train connections will be here soon. Let us have some food ready."

"Guruji, no one would come at one o'clock in the morning!"

"Stay in bed; you have been working very hard. But I am going to cook."

At Sri Yukteswar's resolute tone, I jumped up and followed him to the small daily-used kitchen adjacent to the second-floor inner balcony. Rice and DHAL were soon boiling.

My guru smiled affectionately. "Tonight you have conquered fatigue and fear of hard work; you shall never be bothered by them in the future."

As he uttered these words of lifelong blessing, footsteps sounded in the courtyard. I ran downstairs and admitted a group of students.

"Dear brother, how reluctant we are to disturb Master at this hour!" One man addressed me apologetically. "We made a mistake about train schedules, but felt we could not return home without a glimpse of our guru."

"He has been expecting you and is even now preparing your food."

Sri Yukteswar's welcoming voice rang out; I led the astonished visitors to the kitchen. Master turned to me with twinkling eyes.

"Now that you have finished comparing notes, no doubt you are satisfied that our guests really did miss their train!"

I followed him to his bedroom a half hour later, realizing fully that I was about to sleep beside a godlike guru.

{FN15-1} Puri, about 310 miles south of Calcutta, is a famous pilgrimage city for devotees of Krishna; his worship is celebrated there with two immense annual festivals, SNANAYATRA and RATHAYATRA.

{FN15-2} The 1939 discovery of a radio microscope revealed a new world of hitherto unknown rays. "Man himself as well as all kinds of supposedly inert matter constantly emits the rays that this instrument 'sees,'" reported the ASSOCIATED PRESS. "Those who believe in telepathy, second sight, and clairvoyance, have in this announcement the first scientific proof of the existence of invisible rays which really travel from one person to another. The radio device actually is a radio frequency spectroscope. It does the same thing for cool, nonglowing matter that the spectroscope does when it discloses the kinds of atoms that make the stars. . . . The existence of such rays coming from man and all living things has been suspected by scientists for many years. Today is the first experimental proof of their existence. The discovery shows that every atom and every molecule in nature is a continuous radio broadcasting station. . . . Thus even after death the substance that was a man continues to send out its delicate rays. The wave lengths of these rays range from shorter than anything now used in broadcasting to the longest kind of radio waves. The jumble of these rays is almost inconceivable. There are millions of them. A single very large molecule may give off 1,000,000 different wave lengths at the same time. The longer wave lengths of this sort travel with the ease and speed of radio waves. . . . There is one amazing difference between the new radio rays and familiar rays like light. This is the prolonged time, amounting to thousands of years, which these radio waves will keep on emitting from undisturbed matter."

{FN15-3} One hesitates to use "intuition"; Hitler has almost ruined the word along with more ambitious devastations. The Latin root meaning of INTUITION is "inner protection." The Sanskrit word AGAMA means intuitional knowledge born of direct soul-perception; hence certain ancient treatises by the rishis were called AGAMAS.

{FN15-4} SAT is literally "being," hence "essence; reality." SANGA is "association." Sri Yukteswar called his hermitage organization SAT-SANGA, "fellowship with truth."

{FN15-5} "If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light."-MATTHEW 6:22. During deep meditation, the single or spiritual eye becomes visible within the central part of the forehead. This omniscient eye is variously referred to in scriptures as the third eye, the star of the East, the inner eye, the dove descending from heaven, the eye of Shiva, the eye of intuition, etc.

{FN15-6} "He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see? . . . he that teacheth man knowledge, shall he not know?"-PSALM 94:9-10.

{FN15-7} Folklore of all peoples contains references to incantations with power over nature. The American Indians are well-known to have developed sound rituals for rain and wind. Tan Sen, the great Hindu musician, was able to quench fire by the power of his song. Charles Kellogg, the California naturalist, gave a demonstration of the effect of tonal vibration on fire in 1926 before a group of New York firemen. "Passing a bow, like an enlarged violin bow, swiftly across an aluminum tuning fork, he produced a screech like intense radio static. Instantly the yellow gas flame, two feet high, leaping inside a hollow glass tube, subsided to a height of six inches and became a sputtering blue flare. Another attempt with the bow, and another screech of vibration, extinguished it."



CHAPTER: 16

OUTWITTING THE STARS

"Mukunda, why don't you get an astrological armlet?"

"Should I, Master? I don't believe in astrology."

"It is never a question of BELIEF; the only scientific attitude one can take on any subject is whether it is TRUE. The law of gravitation worked as efficiently before Newton as after him. The cosmos would be fairly chaotic if its laws could not operate without the sanction of human belief.

"Charlatans have brought the stellar science to its present state of disrepute. Astrology is too vast, both mathematically {FN16-1} and philosophically, to be rightly grasped except by men of profound understanding. If ignoramuses misread the heavens, and see there a scrawl instead of a script, that is to be expected in this imperfect world. One should not dismiss the wisdom with the 'wise.'

"All parts of creation are linked together and interchange their influences. The balanced rhythm of the universe is rooted in reciprocity," my guru continued. "Man, in his human aspect, has to combat two sets of forces-first, the tumults within his being, caused by the admixture of earth, water, fire, air, and ethereal elements; second, the outer disintegrating powers of nature. So long as man struggles with his mortality, he is affected by the myriad mutations of heaven and earth.

"Astrology is the study of man's response to planetary stimuli. The stars have no conscious benevolence or animosity; they merely send forth positive and negative radiations. Of themselves, these do not help or harm humanity, but offer a lawful channel for the outward operation of cause-effect equilibriums which each man has set into motion in the past.

"A child is born on that day and at that hour when the celestial rays are in mathematical harmony with his individual karma. His horoscope is a challenging portrait, revealing his unalterable past and its probable future results. But the natal chart can be rightly interpreted only by men of intuitive wisdom: these are few.

"The message boldly blazoned across the heavens at the moment of birth is not meant to emphasize fate-the result of past good and evil-but to arouse man's will to escape from his universal thralldom. What he has done, he can undo. None other than himself was the instigator of the causes of whatever effects are now prevalent in his life. He can overcome any limitation, because he created it by his own actions in the first place, and because he has spiritual resources which are not subject to planetary pressure.

"Superstitious awe of astrology makes one an automaton, slavishly dependent on mechanical guidance. The wise man defeats his planets—which is to say, his past-by transferring his allegiance from the creation to the Creator. The more he realizes his unity with Spirit, the less he can be dominated by matter. The soul is ever-free; it is deathless because birthless. It cannot be regimented by stars.

"Man IS a soul, and HAS a body. When he properly places his sense of identity, he leaves behind all compulsive patterns. So long as he remains confused in his ordinary state of spiritual amnesia, he will know the subtle fetters of environmental law.

"God is harmony; the devotee who attunes himself will never perform any action amiss. His activities will be correctly and naturally timed to accord with astrological law. After deep prayer and meditation he is in touch with his divine consciousness; there is no greater power than that inward protection."

"Then, dear Master, why do you want me to wear an astrological bangle?" I ventured this question after a long silence, during which I had tried to assimilate Sri Yukteswar's noble exposition.

"It is only when a traveler has reached his goal that he is justified in discarding his maps. During the journey, he takes advantage of any convenient short cut. The ancient rishis discovered many ways to curtail the period of man's exile in delusion. There are certain mechanical features in the law of karma which can be skillfully adjusted by the fingers of wisdom.

"All human ills arise from some transgression of universal law. The scriptures point out that man must satisfy the laws of nature, while not discrediting the divine omnipotence. He should say: 'Lord, I trust in Thee, and know Thou canst help me, but I too will do my best to undo any wrong I have done.' By a number of means-by prayer, by will power, by yoga meditation, by consultation with saints, by use of astrological bangles-the adverse effects of past wrongs can be minimized or nullified.

"Just as a house can be fitted with a copper rod to absorb the shock of lightning, so the bodily temple can be benefited by various protective measures. Ages ago our yogis discovered that pure metals emit an astral light which is powerfully counteractive to negative pulls of the planets. Subtle electrical and magnetic radiations are constantly circulating in the universe; when a man's body is being aided, he does not know it; when it is being disintegrated, he is still in ignorance. Can he do anything about it?

"This problem received attention from our rishis; they found helpful not only a combination of metals, but also of plants and-most effective of all-faultless jewels of not less than two carats. The preventive uses of astrology have seldom been seriously studied outside of India. One little-known fact is that the proper jewels, metals, or plant preparations are valueless unless the required weight is secured, and unless these remedial agents are worn next to the skin."

"Sir, of course I shall take your advice and get a bangle. I am intrigued at the thought of outwitting a planet!"

"For general purposes I counsel the use of an armlet made of gold, silver, and copper. But for a specific purpose I want you to get one of silver and lead." Sri Yukteswar added careful directions.

"Guruji, what 'specific purpose' do you mean?"

"The stars are about to take an unfriendly interest in you, Mukunda. Fear not; you shall be protected. In about a month your liver will cause you much trouble. The illness is scheduled to last for six months, but your use of an astrological armlet will shorten the period to twenty-four days."

I sought out a jeweler the next day, and was soon wearing the bangle. My health was excellent; Master's prediction slipped from my mind. He left Serampore to visit Benares. Thirty days after our conversation, I felt a sudden pain in the region of my liver. The following weeks were a nightmare of excruciating pain. Reluctant to disturb my guru, I thought I would bravely endure my trial alone.

But twenty-three days of torture weakened my resolution; I entrained for Benares. There Sri Yukteswar greeted me with unusual warmth, but gave me no opportunity to tell him my woes in private. Many devotees visited Master that day, just for a DARSHAN. {FN16-2} Ill and neglected, I sat in a corner. It was not until after the evening meal that all guests had departed. My guru summoned me to the octagonal balcony of the house.

"You must have come about your liver disorder." Sri Yukteswar's gaze was averted; he walked to and fro, occasionally intercepting the moonlight. "Let me see; you have been ailing for twenty-four days, haven't you?"

"Yes, sir."

"Please do the stomach exercise I have taught you."

"If you knew the extent of my suffering, Master, you would not ask me to exercise." Nevertheless I made a feeble attempt to obey him.

"You say you have pain; I say you have none. How can such contradictions exist?" My guru looked at me inquiringly.

I was dazed and then overcome with joyful relief. No longer could I feel the continuous torment that had kept me nearly sleepless for weeks; at Sri Yukteswar's words the agony vanished as though it had never been.

I started to kneel at his feet in gratitude, but he quickly prevented me.

"Don't be childish. Get up and enjoy the beauty of the moon over the Ganges." But Master's eyes were twinkling happily as I stood in silence beside him. I understood by his attitude that he wanted me to feel that not he, but God, had been the Healer.

I wear even now the heavy silver and lead bangle, a memento of that day-long-past, ever-cherished-when I found anew that I was living with a personage indeed superhuman. On later occasions, when I brought my friends to Sri Yukteswar for healing, he invariably recommended jewels or the bangle, extolling their use as an act of astrological wisdom.

I had been prejudiced against astrology from my childhood, partly because I observed that many people are sequaciously attached to it, and partly because of a prediction made by our family astrologer: "You will marry three times, being twice a widower." I brooded over the matter, feeling like a goat awaiting sacrifice before the temple of triple matrimony.

"You may as well be resigned to your fate," my brother Ananta had remarked. "Your written horoscope has correctly stated that you would fly from home toward the Himalayas during your early years, but would be forcibly returned. The forecast of your marriages is also bound to be true."

A clear intuition came to me one night that the prophecy was wholly false. I set fire to the horoscope scroll, placing the ashes in a paper bag on which I wrote: "Seeds of past karma cannot germinate if they are roasted in the divine fires of wisdom." I put the bag in a conspicuous spot; Ananta immediately read my defiant comment.

"You cannot destroy truth as easily as you have burnt this paper scroll." My brother laughed scornfully.

It is a fact that on three occasions before I reached manhood, my family tried to arrange my betrothal. Each time I refused to fall in with the plans, {FN16-3} knowing that my love for God was more overwhelming than any astrological persuasion from the past.

"The deeper the self-realization of a man, the more he influences the whole universe by his subtle spiritual vibrations, and the less he himself is affected by the phenomenal flux." These words of Master's often returned inspiringly to my mind.

Occasionally I told astrologers to select my worst periods, according to planetary indications, and I would still accomplish whatever task I set myself. It is true that my success at such times has been accompanied by extraordinary difficulties. But my conviction has always been justified: faith in the divine protection, and the right use of man's God-given will, are forces formidable beyond any the "inverted bowl" can muster.

The starry inscription at one's birth, I came to understand, is not that man is a puppet of his past. Its message is rather a prod to pride; the very heavens seek to arouse man's determination to be free from every limitation. God created each man as a soul, dowered with individuality, hence essential to the universal structure, whether in the temporary role of pillar or parasite. His freedom is final and immediate, if he so wills; it depends not on outer but inner victories.

Sri Yukteswar discovered the mathematical application of a 24,000-year equinoctial cycle to our present age. {FN16-4} The cycle is divided into an Ascending Arc and a Descending Arc, each of 12,000 years. Within each Arc fall four YUGAS or Ages, called KALI, DWAPARA, TRETA, and SATYA, corresponding to the Greek ideas of Iron, Bronze, Silver, and Golden Ages.

My guru determined by various calculations that the last KALI YUGA or Iron Age, of the Ascending Arc, started about A.D. 500. The Iron Age, 1200 years in duration, is a span of materialism; it ended about A.D. 1700. That year ushered in DWAPARA YUGA, a 2400-year period of electrical and atomic-energy developments, the age of telegraph, radio, airplanes, and other space-annihilators.

The 3600-year period of TRETA YUGA will start in A.D. 4100; its age will be marked by common knowledge of telepathic communications and other time-annihilators. During the 4800 years of SATYA YUGA, final age in an ascending arc, the intelligence of a man will be completely developed; he will work in harmony with the divine plan.

A descending arc of 12,000 years, starting with a descending Golden Age of 4800 years, then begins {FN16-5} for the world; man gradually sinks into ignorance. These cycles are the eternal rounds of MAYA, the contrasts and relativities of the phenomenal universe. {FN16-6} Man, one by one, escapes from creation's prison of duality as he awakens to consciousness of his inseverable divine unity with the Creator.

Master enlarged my understanding not only of astrology but of the world's scriptures. Placing the holy texts on the spotless table of his mind, he was able to dissect them with the scalpel of intuitive reasoning, and to separate errors and interpolations of scholars from the truths as originally expressed by the prophets.

"Fix one's vision on the end of the nose." This inaccurate interpretation of a BHAGAVAD GITA stanza, {FN16-7} widely accepted by Eastern pundits and Western translators, used to arouse Master's droll criticism.

"The path of a yogi is singular enough as it is," he remarked. "Why counsel him that he must also make himself cross-eyed? The true meaning of NASIKAGRAM is 'origin of the nose, not 'end of the nose.' The nose begins at the point between the two eyebrows, the seat of spiritual vision." {FN16-8} Because of one SANKHYA {FN16-9} aphorism, "ISWAR-ASHIDHA,"-"A Lord of Creation cannot be deduced" or "God is not proved," {FN16-10}—many scholars call the whole philosophy atheistical.

"The verse is not nihilistic," Sri Yukteswar explained. "It merely signifies that to the unenlightened man, dependent on his senses for all final judgments, proof of God must remain unknown and therefore non-existent. True SANKHYA followers, with unshakable insight born of meditation, understand that the Lord is both existent and knowable."

Master expounded the Christian Bible with a beautiful clarity. It was from my Hindu guru, unknown to the roll call of Christian membership, that I learned to perceive the deathless essence of the Bible, and to understand the truth in Christ's assertion-surely the most thrillingly intransigent ever uttered: "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." {FN16-11}

The great masters of India mold their lives by the same godly ideals which animated Jesus; these men are his proclaimed kin: "Whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." {FN16-12} "If ye continue in my word," Christ pointed out, "then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." {FN16-13} Freemen all, lords of themselves, the Yogi-Christs of India are part of the immortal fraternity: those who have attained a liberating knowledge of the One Father.

"The Adam and Eve story is incomprehensible to me!" I observed with considerable heat one day in my early struggles with the allegory. "Why did God punish not only the guilty pair, but also the innocent unborn generations?"

Master was more amused by my vehemence than my ignorance. "GENESIS is deeply symbolic, and cannot be grasped by a literal interpretation," he explained. "Its 'tree of life' is the human body. The spinal cord is like an upturned tree, with man's hair as its roots, and afferent and efferent nerves as branches. The tree of the nervous system bears many enjoyable fruits, or sensations of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. In these, man may rightfully indulge; but he was forbidden the experience of sex, the 'apple' at the center of the bodily garden. {FN16-14}

"The 'serpent' represents the coiled-up spinal energy which stimulates the sex nerves. 'Adam' is reason, and 'Eve' is feeling. When the emotion or Eve-consciousness in any human being is overpowered by the sex impulse, his reason or Adam also succumbs. {FN16-15}

"God created the human species by materializing the bodies of man and woman through the force of His will; He endowed the new species with the power to create children in a similar 'immaculate' or divine manner. {FN16-16} Because His manifestation in the individualized soul had hitherto been limited to animals, instinct-bound and lacking the potentialities of full reason, God made the first human bodies, symbolically called Adam and Eve. To these, for advantageous upward evolution, He transferred the souls or divine essence of two animals. {FN16-17} In Adam or man, reason predominated; in Eve or woman, feeling was ascendant. Thus was expressed the duality or polarity which underlies the phenomenal worlds. Reason and feeling remain in a heaven of cooperative joy so long as the human mind is not tricked by the serpentine energy of animal propensities.

"The human body was therefore not solely a result of evolution from beasts, but was produced by an act of special creation by God. The animal forms were too crude to express full divinity; the human being was uniquely given a tremendous mental capacity-the 'thousand-petaled lotus' of the brain-as well as acutely awakened occult centers in the spine.

"God, or the Divine Consciousness present within the first created pair, counseled them to enjoy all human sensibilities, but not to put their concentration on touch sensations. {FN16-18} These were banned in order to avoid the development of the sex organs, which would enmesh humanity in the inferior animal method of propagation. The warning not to revive subconsciously-present bestial memories was not heeded. Resuming the way of brute procreation, Adam and Eve fell from the state of heavenly joy natural to the original perfect man.

"Knowledge of 'good and evil' refers to the cosmic dualistic compulsion. Falling under the sway of MAYA through misuse of his feeling and reason, or Eve-and Adam-consciousness, man relinquishes his right to enter the heavenly garden of divine self-sufficiency. {FN16-19} The personal responsibility of every human being is to restore his 'parents' or dual nature to a unified harmony or Eden."

As Sri Yukteswar ended his discourse, I glanced with new respect at the pages of GENESIS.

"Dear Master," I said, "for the first time I feel a proper filial obligation toward Adam and Eve!"

{FN16-1} From astronomical references in ancient Hindu scriptures, scholars have been able to correctly ascertain the dates of the authors. The scientific knowledge of the rishis was very great; in the KAUSHITAKI BRAHMANA we find precise astronomical passages which show that in 3100 B.C. the Hindus were far advanced in astronomy, which had a practical value in determining the auspicious times for astrological ceremonies. In an article in EAST-WEST, February, 1934, the following summary is given of the JYOTISH or body of Vedic astronomical treatises: "It contains the scientific lore which kept India at the forefront of all ancient nations and made her the mecca of seekers after knowledge. The very ancient BRAHMAGUPTA, one of the JYOTISH works, is an astronomical treatise dealing with such matters as the heliocentric motion of the planetary bodies in our solar system, the obliquity of the ecliptic, the earth's spherical form, the reflected light of the moon, the earth's daily axial revolution, the presence of fixed stars in the Milky Way, the law of gravitation, and other scientific facts which did not dawn in the Western world until the time of Copernicus and Newton."

It is now well-known that the so-called "Arabic numerals," without whose symbols advanced mathematics is difficult, came to Europe in the 9th century, via the Arabs, from India, where that system of notation had been anciently formulated. Further light on India's vast scientific heritage will be found in Dr. P. C. Ray's HISTORY OF HINDU CHEMISTRY, and in Dr. B. N. Seal's POSITIVE SCIENCES OF THE ANCIENT HINDUS.

{FN16-2} The blessing which flows from the mere sight of a saint.

{FN16-3} One of the girls whom my family selected as a possible bride for me, afterwards married my cousin, Prabhas Chandra Ghose.

{FN16-4} A series of thirteen articles on the historical verification of Sri Yukteswar's YUGA theory appeared in the magazine EAST-WEST (Los Angeles) from September, 1932, to September, 1933.

{FN16-5} In the year A.D. 12,500.

{FN16-6} The Hindu scriptures place the present world-age as occurring within the KALI YUGA of a much longer universal cycle than the simple 24,000-year equinoctial cycle with which Sri Yukteswar was concerned. The universal cycle of the scriptures is 4,300,560,000 years in extent, and measures out a Day of Creation or the length of life assigned to our planetary system in its present form. This vast figure given by the rishis is based on a relationship between the length of the solar year and a multiple of Pi (3.1416, the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle).

The life span for a whole universe, according to the ancient seers, is 314,159,000,000,000 solar years, or "One Age of Brahma."

Scientists estimate the present age of the earth to be about two billion years, basing their conclusions on a study of lead pockets left as a result of radioactivity in rocks. The Hindu scriptures declare that an earth such as ours is dissolved for one of two reasons: the inhabitants as a whole become either completely good or completely evil. The world-mind thus generates a power which releases the captive atoms held together as an earth.

Dire pronouncements are occasionally published regarding an imminent "end of the world." The latest prediction of doom was given by Rev. Chas. G. Long of Pasadena, who publicly set the "Day of Judgment" for Sept. 21, 1945. UNITED PRESS reporters asked my opinion; I explained that world cycles follow an orderly progression according to a divine plan. No earthly dissolution is in sight; two billion years of ascending and descending equinoctial cycles are yet in store for our planet in its present form. The figures given by the rishis for the various world ages deserve careful study in the West; the magazine TIME (Dec. 17, 1945, p. 6) called them "reassuring statistics."

{FN16-7} chapter VI:13.

{FN16-8} "The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness."-LUKE 11:34-35.

{FN16-9} One of the six systems of Hindu philosophy. SANKHYA teaches final emancipation through knowledge of twenty-five principles, starting with PRAKRITI or nature and ending with PURUSHA or soul.

{FN16-10} SANKHYA APHORISMS, I:92.

{FN16-11} MATTHEW 24:35.

{FN16-12} MATTHEW 12:50.

{FN16-13} JOHN 8:31-32. St. John testified: "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (even to them who are established in the Christ Consciousness)."-JOHN 1:12.

{FN16-14} "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die."-GENESIS 3:2-3.

{FN16-15} "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. The woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat."-GEN. 3:12-13.

{FN16-16} "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it."-GEN. 1:27-28.

{FN16-17} "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."-GEN. 2:7.

{FN16-18} "Now the serpent (sex force) was more subtil than any beast of the field" (any other sense of the body).-GEN. 3:1.

{FN16-19} "And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed."-GEN. 2:8. "Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken."-GEN. 3:23. The divine man first made by God had his consciousness centered in the omnipotent single eye in the forehead (eastward). The all-creative powers of his will, focused at that spot, were lost to man when he began to "till the ground" of his physical nature.



CHAPTER: 17

SASI AND THE THREE SAPPHIRES

"Because you and my son think so highly of Swami Sri Yukteswar, I will take a look at him." The tone of voice used by Dr. Narayan Chunder Roy implied that he was humoring the whim of half-wits. I concealed my indignation, in the best traditions of the proselyter.

My companion, a veterinary surgeon, was a confirmed agnostic. His young son Santosh had implored me to take an interest in his father. So far my invaluable aid had been a bit on the invisible side.

Dr. Roy accompanied me the following day to the Serampore hermitage. After Master had granted him a brief interview, marked for the most part by stoic silence on both sides, the visitor brusquely departed.

"Why bring a dead man to the ashram?" Sri Yukteswar looked at me inquiringly as soon as the door had closed on the Calcutta skeptic.

"Sir! The doctor is very much alive!"

"But in a short time he will be dead."

I was shocked. "Sir, this will be a terrible blow to his son. Santosh yet hopes for time to change his father's materialistic views. I beseech you, Master, to help the man."

"Very well; for your sake." My guru's face was impassive. "The proud horse doctor is far gone in diabetes, although he does not know it. In fifteen days he will take to his bed. The physicians will give him up for lost; his natural time to leave this earth is six weeks from today. Due to your intercession, however, on that date he will recover. But there is one condition. You must get him to wear an astrological bangle; he will doubtless object as violently as one of his horses before an operation!" Master chuckled.

After a silence, during which I wondered how Santosh and I could best employ the arts of cajolery on the recalcitrant doctor, Sri Yukteswar made further disclosures.

"As soon as the man gets well, advise him not to eat meat. He will not heed this counsel, however, and in six months, just as he is feeling at his best, he will drop dead. Even that six-month extension of life is granted him only because of your plea."

The following day I suggested to Santosh that he order an armlet at the jeweler's. It was ready in a week, but Dr. Roy refused to put it on.

"I am in the best of health. You will never impress me with these astrological superstitions." The doctor glanced at me belligerently.

I recalled with amusement that Master had justifiably compared the man to a balky horse. Another seven days passed; the doctor, suddenly ill, meekly consented to wear the bangle. Two weeks later the physician in attendance told me that his patient's case was hopeless. He supplied harrowing details of the ravages inflicted by diabetes.

I shook my head. "My guru has said that, after a sickness lasting one month, Dr. Roy will be well."

The physician stared at me incredulously. But he sought me out a fortnight later, with an apologetic air.

"Dr. Roy has made a complete recovery!" he exclaimed. "It is the most amazing case in my experience. Never before have I seen a dying man show such an inexplicable comeback. Your guru must indeed be a healing prophet!"

After one interview with Dr. Roy, during which I repeated Sri Yukteswar's advice about a meatless diet, I did not see the man again for six months. He stopped for a chat one evening as I sat on the piazza of my family home on Gurpar Road.

"Tell your teacher that by eating meat frequently, I have wholly regained my strength. His unscientific ideas on diet have not influenced me." It was true that Dr. Roy looked a picture of health.

But the next day Santosh came running to me from his home on the next block. "This morning Father dropped dead!"

This case was one of my strangest experiences with Master. He healed the rebellious veterinary surgeon in spite of his disbelief, and extended the man's natural term on earth by six months, just because of my earnest supplication. Sri Yukteswar was boundless in his kindness when confronted by the urgent prayer of a devotee.

It was my proudest privilege to bring college friends to meet my guru. Many of them would lay aside-at least in the ashram!-their fashionable academic cloak of religious skepticism.

One of my friends, Sasi, spent a number of happy week ends in Serampore. Master became immensely fond of the boy, and lamented that his private life was wild and disorderly.

"Sasi, unless you reform, one year hence you will be dangerously ill." Sri Yukteswar gazed at my friend with affectionate exasperation. "Mukunda is the witness: don't say later that I didn't warn you."

Sasi laughed. "Master, I will leave it to you to interest a sweet charity of cosmos in my own sad case! My spirit is willing but my will is weak. You are my only savior on earth; I believe in nothing else."

"At least you should wear a two-carat blue sapphire. It will help you."

"I can't afford one. Anyhow, dear guruji, if trouble comes, I fully believe you will protect me."

"In a year you will bring three sapphires," Sri Yukteswar replied cryptically. "They will be of no use then."

Variations on this conversation took place regularly. "I can't reform!" Sasi would say in comical despair. "And my trust in you, Master, is more precious to me than any stone!"

A year later I was visiting my guru at the Calcutta home of his disciple, Naren Babu. About ten o'clock in the morning, as Sri Yukteswar and I were sitting quietly in the second-floor parlor, I heard the front door open. Master straightened stiffly.

"It is that Sasi," he remarked gravely. "The year is now up; both his lungs are gone. He has ignored my counsel; tell him I don't want to see him."

Half stunned by Sri Yukteswar's sternness, I raced down the stairway. Sasi was ascending.

"O Mukunda! I do hope Master is here; I had a hunch he might be."

"Yes, but he doesn't wish to be disturbed."

Sasi burst into tears and brushed past me. He threw himself at Sri Yukteswar's feet, placing there three beautiful sapphires.

"Omniscient guru, the doctors say I have galloping tuberculosis! They give me no longer than three more months! I humbly implore your aid; I know you can heal me!"

"Isn't it a bit late now to be worrying over your life? Depart with your jewels; their time of usefulness is past." Master then sat sphinxlike in an unrelenting silence, punctuated by the boy's sobs for mercy.

An intuitive conviction came to me that Sri Yukteswar was merely testing the depth of Sasi's faith in the divine healing power. I was not surprised a tense hour later when Master turned a sympathetic gaze on my prostrate friend.

"Get up, Sasi; what a commotion you make in other people's houses! Return your sapphires to the jeweler's; they are an unnecessary expense now. But get an astrological bangle and wear it. Fear not; in a few weeks you shall be well."

Sasi's smile illumined his tear-marred face like sudden sun over a sodden landscape. "Beloved guru, shall I take the medicines prescribed by the doctors?"

Sri Yukteswar's glance was longanimous. "Just as you wish-drink them or discard them; it does not matter. It is more possible for the sun and moon to interchange their positions than for you to die of tuberculosis." He added abruptly, "Go now, before I change my mind!"

With an agitated bow, my friend hastily departed. I visited him several times during the next few weeks, and was aghast to find his condition increasingly worse.

"Sasi cannot last through the night." These words from his physician, and the spectacle of my friend, now reduced almost to a skeleton, sent me posthaste to Serampore. My guru listened coldly to my tearful report.

"Why do you come here to bother me? You have already heard me assure Sasi of his recovery."

I bowed before him in great awe, and retreated to the door. Sri Yukteswar said no parting word, but sank into silence, his unwinking eyes half-open, their vision fled to another world.

I returned at once to Sasi's home in Calcutta. With astonishment I found my friend sitting up, drinking milk.

"O Mukunda! What a miracle! Four hours ago I felt Master's presence in the room; my terrible symptoms immediately disappeared. I feel that through his grace I am entirely well."

In a few weeks Sasi was stouter and in better health than ever before. {FN17-1} But his singular reaction to his healing had an ungrateful tinge: he seldom visited Sri Yukteswar again! My friend told me one day that he so deeply regretted his previous mode of life that he was ashamed to face Master.

I could only conclude that Sasi's illness had had the contrasting effect of stiffening his will and impairing his manners.

The first two years of my course at Scottish Church College were drawing to a close. My classroom attendance had been very spasmodic; what little studying I did was only to keep peace with my family. My two private tutors came regularly to my house; I was regularly absent: I can discern at least this one regularity in my scholastic career!

In India two successful years of college bring an Intermediate Arts diploma; the student may then look forward to another two years and his A.B. degree.

The Intermediate Arts final examinations loomed ominously ahead. I fled to Puri, where my guru was spending a few weeks. Vaguely hoping that he would sanction my nonappearance at the finals, I related my embarrassing unpreparedness.

But Master smiled consolingly. "You have wholeheartedly pursued your spiritual duties, and could not help neglecting your college work. Apply yourself diligently to your books for the next week: you shall get through your ordeal without failure."

I returned to Calcutta, firmly suppressing all reasonable doubts that occasionally arose with unnerving ridicule. Surveying the mountain of books on my table, I felt like a traveler lost in a wilderness. A long period of meditation brought me a labor-saving inspiration. Opening each book at random, I studied only those pages which lay thus exposed. Pursuing this course during eighteen hours a day for a week, I considered myself entitled to advise all succeeding generations on the art of cramming.

The following days in the examination halls were a justification of my seemingly haphazard procedure. I passed all the tests, though by a hairbreadth. The congratulations of my friends and family were ludicrously mixed with ejaculations betraying their astonishment.

On his return from Puri, Sri Yukteswar gave me a pleasant surprise. "Your Calcutta studies are now over. I will see that you pursue your last two years of university work right here in Serampore."

I was puzzled. "Sir, there is no Bachelor of Arts course in this town." Serampore College, the sole institution of higher learning, offered only a two-year course in Intermediate Arts.

Master smiled mischievously. "I am too old to go about collecting donations to establish an A.B. college for you. I guess I shall have to arrange the matter through someone else."

Two months later Professor Howells, president of Serampore College, publicly announced that he had succeeded in raising sufficient funds to offer a four-year course. Serampore College became a branch affiliation of the University of Calcutta. I was one of the first students to enroll in Serampore as an A.B. candidate.

"Guruji, how kind you are to me! I have been longing to leave Calcutta and be near you every day in Serampore. Professor Howells does not dream how much he owes to your silent help!"

Sri Yukteswar gazed at me with mock severity. "Now you won't have to spend so many hours on trains; what a lot of free time for your studies! Perhaps you will become less of a last-minute crammer and more of a scholar." But somehow his tone lacked conviction.

{FN17-1} In 1936 I heard from a friend that Sasi was still in excellent health.



CHAPTER: 18

A MOHAMMEDAN WONDER-WORKER

"Years ago, right in this very room you now occupy, a Mohammedan wonder-worker performed four miracles before me!"

Sri Yukteswar made this surprising statement during his first visit to my new quarters. Immediately after entering Serampore College, I had taken a room in a near-by boardinghouse, called PANTHI. It was an old-fashioned brick mansion, fronting the Ganges.

"Master, what a coincidence! Are these newly decorated walls really ancient with memories?" I looked around my simply furnished room with awakened interest.

"It is a long story." My guru smiled reminiscently. "The name of the FAKIR {FN18-1} was Afzal Khan. He had acquired his extraordinary powers through a chance encounter with a Hindu yogi.

"'Son, I am thirsty; fetch me some water.' A dust-covered SANNYASI made this request of Afzal one day during his early boyhood in a small village of eastern Bengal.

"'Master, I am a Mohammedan. How could you, a Hindu, accept a drink from my hands?'

"'Your truthfulness pleases me, my child. I do not observe the ostracizing rules of ungodly sectarianism. Go; bring me water quickly.'

"Afzal's reverent obedience was rewarded by a loving glance from the yogi.

"'You possess good karma from former lives,' he observed solemnly. 'I am going to teach you a certain yoga method which will give you command over one of the invisible realms. The great powers that will be yours should be exercised for worthy ends; never employ them selfishly! I perceive, alas! that you have brought over from the past some seeds of destructive tendencies. Do not allow them to sprout by watering them with fresh evil actions. The complexity of your previous karma is such that you must use this life to reconcile your yogic accomplishments with the highest humanitarian goals.'

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