Chapter 1 – My Parents and Early Life

Aum

The infinite potencies of sound derive from the Creative Word, Aum, the cosmic vibratory power behind all atomic energies.

 

Divine Healing

I was blessed about the age of eight with a wonderful healing through the photograph of Lahiri Mahasaya. This experience gave intensification to my love. While at our family estate in Ichapur, Bengal, I was stricken with Asiatic cholera. My life was despaired of; the doctors could do nothing. At my bedside, Mother frantically motioned me to look at Lahiri Mahasaya’s picture on the wall above my head.

“Bow to him mentally!” She knew I was too feeble even to lift my hands in salutation. “If you really show your devotion and inwardly kneel before him, your life will be spared!”

I gazed at his photograph and saw there a blinding light, enveloping my body and the entire room. My nausea and other uncontrollable symptoms disappeared; I was well. At once I felt strong enough to bend over and touch Mother’s feet in appreciation of her immeasurable faith in her guru. Mother pressed her head repeatedly against the little picture.

“O Omnipresent Master, I thank thee that thy light hath healed my son!”

I realized that she too had witnessed the luminous blaze through which I had instantly recovered from a usually fatal disease.

 

Divine Intervention

Our family moved to Lahore in the Punjab. There I acquired a picture of the Divine Mother in the form of the Goddess Kali. It sanctified a small informal shrine on the balcony of our home. An unequivocal conviction came over me that fulfillment would crown any of my prayers uttered in that sacred spot. Standing there with Uma one day, I watched two kites flying over the roofs of the buildings on the opposite side of the very narrow lane.

“Why are you so quiet?” Uma pushed me playfully.

“I am just thinking how wonderful it is that Divine Mother gives me whatever I ask.”

“I suppose She would give you those two kites!” My sister laughed derisively.

“Why not?” I began silent prayers for their possession.

Matches are played in India with kites whose strings are covered with glue and ground glass. Each player attempts to sever the string of his opponent. A freed kite sails over the roofs; there is great fun in catching it. Inasmuch as Uma and I were on the balcony, it seemed impossible that any loosed kite could come into our hands; its string would naturally dangle over the roofs.

The players across the lane began their match. One string was cut; immediately the kite floated in my direction. It was stationary for a moment, through sudden abatement of breeze, which sufficed to firmly entangle the string with a cactus plant on top of the opposite house. A perfect loop was formed for my seizure. I handed the prize to Uma.

“It was just an extraordinary accident, and not an answer to your prayer. If the other kite comes to you, then I shall believe.” Sister’s dark eyes conveyed more amazement than her words.

I continued my prayers with a crescendo intensity. A forcible tug by the other player resulted in the abrupt loss of his kite. It headed toward me, dancing in the wind. My helpful assistant, the cactus plant, again secured the kite string in the necessary loop by which I could grasp it. I presented my second trophy to Uma.

“Indeed, Divine Mother listens to you! This is all too uncanny for me!” Sister bolted away like a frightened fawn.

 

Evenmindedness

“Why be elated by material profit?” Father replied. “The one who pursues a goal of evenmindedness is neither jubilant with gain nor depressed by loss. He knows that man arrives penniless in this world, and departs without a single rupee.”

 

Higher Consciousness (Experiences)

The poet Tennyson has left us, in his Memoirs, an account of his repetitious device for passing beyond the conscious mind into superconsciousness:
“A kind of waking trance — this for lack of a better word — I have frequently had, quite up from boyhood, when I have been all alone,” Tennyson wrote. “This has come upon me through repeating my own name to myself silently, till all at once, as it were out of the intensity of the consciousness of individuality, individuality itself seemed to dissolve and fade away into boundless being, and this not a confused state but the clearest, the surest of the surest, utterly beyond words — where death was an almost laughable impossibility — the loss of personality (if so it were) seeming no extinction, but the only true life.” He wrote further: “It is no nebulous ecstasy, but a state of transcendent wonder, associated with absolute clearness of mind.”

 

Infancy

The helpless humiliations of infancy are not banished from my mind. I was resentfully conscious of not being able to walk or express myself freely. Prayerful surges arose within me as I realized my bodily impotence. My strong emotional life took silent form as words in many languages. Among the inward confusion of tongues, my ear gradually accustomed itself to the circumambient Bengali syllables of my people. The beguiling scope of an infant’s mind! adultly considered limited to toys and toes.

Psychological ferment and my unresponsive body brought me to many obstinate crying-spells. I recall the general family bewilderment at my distress. Happier memories, too, crowd in on me: my mother’s caresses, and my first attempts at lisping phrase and toddling step. These early triumphs, usually forgotten quickly, are yet a natural basis of self-confidence.

 

Lahiri Mahasaya

His picture had a surpassing influence over my life. As I grew, the thought of the master grew with me. In meditation I would often see his photographic image emerge from its small frame and, taking a living form, sit before me. When I attempted to touch the feet of his luminous body, it would change and again become the picture. As childhood slipped into boyhood, I found Lahiri Mahasaya transformed in my mind from a little image, cribbed in a frame, to a living, enlightening presence. I frequently prayed to him in moments of trial or confusion, finding within me his solacing direction. At first I grieved because he was no longer physically living. As I began to discover his secret omnipresence, I lamented no more. He had often written to those of his disciples who were over-anxious to see him: “Why come to view my bones and flesh, when I am ever within range of your kutastha (spiritual sight)?”

 

Names of God

There are 108 names for God in the Hindu scriptures, each one carrying a different shade of philosophical meaning.

 

Iswara, a Sanskrit name for God as Ruler of the universe; from the root is, to rule.

 

Kali is a symbol of God in the aspect of eternal Mother Nature.

 

Reincarnation

I find my earliest memories covering the anachronistic features of a previous incarnation. Clear recollections came to me of a distant life, a yogi* amidst the Himalayan snows. These glimpses of the past, by some dimensionless link, also afforded me a glimpse of the future.

 

My far-reaching memories are not unique. Many yogis are known to have retained their self-consciousness without interruption by the dramatic transition to and from “life” and “death.” If man be solely a body, its loss indeed places the final period to identity. But if prophets down the millenniums spake with truth, man is essentially of incorporeal nature. The persistent core of human egoity is only temporarily allied with sense perception.

 

Spirit

“I am Spirit. Can your camera reflect the omnipresent Invisible?”

 

Shortly after my healing through the potency of the guru’s picture, I had an influential spiritual vision. Sitting on my bed one morning, I fell into a deep reverie.

“What is behind the darkness of closed eyes?” This probing thought came powerfully into my mind. An immense flash of light at once manifested to my inward gaze. Divine shapes of saints, sitting in meditation posture in mountain caves, formed like miniature cinema pictures on the large screen of radiance within my forehead.

“Who are you?” I spoke aloud.

“We are the Himalayan yogis.” The celestial response is difficult to describe; my heart was thrilled.

“Ah, I long to go to the Himalayas and become like you!” The vision vanished, but the silvery beams expanded in ever-widening circles to infinity.

“What is this wondrous glow?”

“I am Iswara. I am Light.” The voice was as murmuring clouds.

Out of the slow dwindling of my divine ecstasy, I salvaged a permanent legacy of inspiration to seek God. “He is eternal, ever-new Joy!” This memory persisted long after the day of rapture.

 

Will Power and Affirmations

Another early recollection is outstanding; and literally so, for I bear the scar to this day. My elder sister Uma and I were seated in the early morning under a neem tree in our Gorakhpur compound. She was helping me with a Bengali primer, what time I could spare my gaze from the near-by parrots eating ripe margosa fruit. Uma complained of a boil on her leg, and fetched a jar of ointment. I smeared a bit of the salve on my forearm.

“Why do you use medicine on a healthy arm?”

“Well, Sis, I feel I am going to have a boil tomorrow. I am testing your ointment on the spot where the boil will appear.”

“You little liar!”

“Sis, don’t call me a liar until you see what happens in the morning.” Indignation filled me.

Uma was unimpressed, and thrice repeated her taunt. An adamant resolution sounded in my voice as I made slow reply.

“By the power of will in me, I say that tomorrow I shall have a fairly large boil in this exact place on my arm; and your boil shall swell to twice its present size!”

Morning found me with a stalwart boil on the indicated spot; the dimensions of Uma’s boil had doubled. With a shriek, my sister rushed to Mother. “Mukunda has become a necromancer!” Gravely, Mother instructed me never to use the power of words for doing harm. I have always remembered her counsel, and followed it.

My boil was surgically treated. A noticeable scar, left by the doctor’s incision, is present today. On my right forearm is a constant reminder of the power in man’s sheer word.

Those simple and apparently harmless phrases to Uma, spoken with deep concentration, had possessed sufficient hidden force to explode like bombs and produce definite, though injurious, effects. I understood, later, that the explosive vibratory power in speech could be wisely directed to free one’s life from difficulties, and thus operate without scar or rebuke.

 

The infinite potencies of sound derive from the Creative Word, Aum, the cosmic vibratory power behind all atomic energies. Any word spoken with clear realization and deep concentration has a materializing value. Loud or silent repetition of inspiring words has been found effective in Coueism and similar systems of psychotherapy; the secret lies in the stepping-up of the mind’s vibratory rate.

The poet Tennyson has left us, in his Memoirs, an account of his repetitious device for passing beyond the conscious mind into superconsciousness:
“A kind of waking trance — this for lack of a better word — I have frequently had, quite up from boyhood, when I have been all alone,” Tennyson wrote. “This has come upon me through repeating my own name to myself silently, till all at once, as it were out of the intensity of the consciousness of individuality, individuality itself seemed to dissolve and fade away into boundless being, and this not a confused state but the clearest, the surest of the surest, utterly beyond words — where death was an almost laughable impossibility — the loss of personality (if so it were) seeming no extinction, but the only true life.” He wrote further: “It is no nebulous ecstasy, but a state of transcendent wonder, associated with absolute clearness of mind.”

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