Sunday, May 27, 2007

Materializing a palace in the Himalayas


Materializing a
palace in the Himalayas





From



Autobiography of a Yogi
by Paramahansa Yogananda


"Babaji's first
meeting with Lahiri Mahasaya is an enthralling
story, and one of the few which gives us a
detailed glimpse of the deathless guru."

These words were Swami Kebalananda's
preamble to a wondrous tale. The first time he
recounted it I was literally spellbound. On many
other occasions I coaxed my gentle Sanskrit tutor
to repeat the story, which was later told me in
substantially the same words by Sri Yukteswar.
Both these Lahiri Mahasaya disciples had heard the
awesome tale direct from the lips of their guru.

"My first meeting with Babaji took place in
my thirty-third year," Lahiri Mahasaya had said.
"In the autumn of 1861 I was stationed in Danapur
as a government accountant in the Military
Engineering Department. One morning the office
manager summoned me.

"'Lahiri,' he said, 'a telegram has just
come from our main office. You're to be
transferred to Ranikhet, where an army post [1] is
now being established.'

"With one servant, I set out on the
500-mile trip. Travelling by horse and buggy, we
arrived in thirty days at the Himalayan site of
Ranikhet. [2]

"My office duties were not onerous; I was
able to spend many hours roaming in the
magnificent hills. A rumour reached me that great
saints blessed the region with their presence; I
felt a strong desire to see them. During a ramble
one early afternoon, I was astounded to hear a
distant voice calling my name. I continued my
vigorous upward climb on Drongiri Mountain. A
slight uneasiness beset me at the thought that I
might not be able to retrace my steps before
darkness had descended over the jungle.

"I finally reached a small clearing whose
sides were dotted with caves. On one of the rocky
ledges stood a smiling young man, extending his
hand in welcome. I noticed with astonishment that,
except for his copper-coloured hair, he bore a
remarkable resemblance to myself.

"'Lahiri, you've come!' The saint addressed
me affectionately in Hindi. 'Rest here in this
cave. It was I who called you.'

"I entered a neat little grotto which
contained several woollen blankets and a few
kamandulus (begging bowls).

"'Lahiri, do you remember that seat?' The
yogi pointed to a folded blanket in one corner.

"'No, sir.' Somewhat dazed at the
strangeness of my adventure, I added, 'I must
leave now, before nightfall. I have business in
the morning at my office.'

"The mysterious saint replied in English,
'The office was brought for you, and not you for
the office.'

"I was dumbfounded that this forest ascetic
shouldn't only speak English but also paraphrase
the words of Christ. [3]

"'I see my telegram took effect.' The
yogi's remark was incomprehensible to me; I
inquired his meaning.

"'I refer to the telegram that summoned you
to these isolated parts. It was I who silently
suggested to the mind of your superior officer
that you be transferred to Ranikhet. When one
feels his unity with mankind, all minds become
transmitting stations through which he can work at
will.' He added gently, 'Lahiri, surely this cave
seems familiar to you?'

"As I maintained a bewildered silence, the
saint approached and struck me gently on the
forehead. At his magnetic touch, a wondrous
current swept through my brain, releasing the
sweet seed-memories of my previous life.

"'I remember!' My voice was half-choked
with joyous sobs. 'You're my guru Babaji, who has
belonged to me always! Scenes of the past arise
vividly in my mind; here in this cave I spent many
years of my last incarnation!' As ineffable
recollections overwhelmed me, I tearfully embraced
my master's feet.

"'For more than three decades I've waited
for you here-waited for you to return to me!'
Babaji's voice rang with celestial love. 'You
slipped away and vanished into the tumultuous
waves of the life beyond death. The magic wand of
your karma touched you, and you were gone! Though
you lost sight of me, never did I lose sight of
you! I pursued you over the luminescent astral sea
where the glorious angels sail. Through gloom,
storm, upheaval, and light I followed you, like a
mother bird guarding her young. As you lived out
your human term of womb-life, and emerged a babe,
my eye was ever on you. When you covered your tiny
form in the lotus posture under the Nadia sands in
your childhood, I was invisibly present!
Patiently, month after month, year after year,
I've watched over you, waiting for this perfect
day. Now you're with me! Lo, here's your cave,
loved of yore! I've kept it ever clean and ready
for you. Here's your hallowed asana-blanket, where
you daily sat to fill your expanding heart with
God! Behold there your bowl, from which you often
drank the nectar prepared by me! See how I've kept
the brass cup brightly polished, that you might
drink again therefrom! My own, do you now
understand?'

"'My guru, what can I say?' I murmured
brokenly. 'Where has one ever heard of such
deathless love?' I gazed long and ecstatically on
my eternal treasure, my guru in life and death.

"'Lahiri, you need purification. Drink the
oil in this bowl and lie down by the river.'
Babaji's practical wisdom, I reflected with a
quick, reminiscent smile, was ever to the fore.

"I obeyed his directions. Though the icy
Himalayan night was descending, a comforting
warmth, an inner radiation, began to pulsate in
every cell of my body. I marvelled. Was the
unknown oil endued with a cosmic heat?

"Bitter winds whipped around me in the
darkness, shrieking a fierce challenge. The chill
wavelets of the Gogash River lapped now and then
over my body, outstretched on the rocky bank.
Tigers howled near-by, but my heart was free of
fear; the radiant force newly generated within me
conveyed an assurance of unassailable protection.
Several hours passed swiftly; faded memories of
another life wove themselves into the present
brilliant pattern of reunion with my divine guru.

"My solitary musings were interrupted by
the sound of approaching footsteps. In the
darkness, a man's hand gently helped me to my
feet, and gave me some dry clothing.

"'Come, brother,' my companion said. 'The
master awaits you.'

"He led the way through the forest. The
sombre night was suddenly lit by a steady
luminosity in the distance.

"'Can that be the sunrise?' I inquired.
'Surely the whole night hasn't passed?'

"'The hour is midnight.' My guide laughed
softly. 'Yonder light is the glow of a golden
palace, materialised here tonight by the peerless
Babaji. In the dim past, you once expressed a
desire to enjoy the beauties of a palace. Our
master is now satisfying your wish, thus freeing
you from the bonds of karma.' [4] He added, 'The
magnificent palace will be the scene of your
initiation tonight into kriya yoga. All your
brothers here join in a paean of welcome,
rejoicing at the end of your long exile. Behold!'

"A vast palace of dazzling gold stood
before us. Studded with countless jewels, and set
amidst landscaped gardens, it presented a
spectacle of unparalleled grandeur. Saints of
angelic countenance were stationed by resplendent
gates, half-reddened by the glitter of rubies.
Diamonds, pearls, sapphires, and emeralds of great
size and lustre were imbedded in the decorative
arches.

"I followed my companion into a spacious
reception hall. The odour of incense and of roses
wafted through the air; dim lamps shed a
multicoloured glow. Small groups of devotees, some
fair, some dark-skinned, chanted musically, or sat
in the meditative posture, immersed in an inner
peace. A vibrant joy pervaded the atmosphere.

"'Feast your eyes; enjoy the artistic
splendours of this palace, for it has been brought
into being solely in your honour.' My guide smiled
sympathetically as I uttered a few ejaculations of
wonderment.

"'Brother,' I said, 'the beauty of this
structure surpasses the bounds of human
imagination. Please tell me the mystery of its
origin.'

"'I'll gladly enlighten you.' My
companion's dark eyes sparkled with wisdom. 'In
reality there's nothing inexplicable about this
materialisation. The whole cosmos is a
materialised thought of the Creator. This heavy,
earthly clod, floating in space, is a dream of
God. He made all things out of His consciousness,
even as man in his dream consciousness reproduces
and vivifies a creation with its creatures.

"'God first created the earth as an idea.
Then He quickened it; energy atoms came into
being. He co-ordinated the atoms into this solid
sphere. All its molecules are held together by the
will of God. When He withdraws His will, the earth
again will disintegrate into energy. Energy will
dissolve into consciousness; the earth-idea will
disappear from objectivity.

"'The substance of a dream is held in
materialisation by the subconscious thought of the
dreamer. When that cohesive thought is withdrawn
in wakefulness, the dream and its elements
dissolve. A man closes his eyes and erects a
dream-creation which, on awakening, he
effortlessly dematerialises. He follows the divine
archetypal pattern. Similarly, when he awakens in
cosmic consciousness, he will effortlessly
dematerialise the illusions of the cosmic dream.

"'Being one with the infinite
all-accomplishing Will, Babaji can summon the
elemental atoms to combine and manifest themselves
in any form. This golden palace, instantaneously
created, is real, even as this earth is real.
Babaji created this palatial mansion out of his
mind and is holding its atoms together by the
power of his will, even as God created this earth
and is maintaining it intact.' He added, 'When
this structure has served its purpose, Babaji will
dematerialise it.'

"As I remained silent in awe, my guide made
a sweeping gesture. 'This shimmering palace,
superbly embellished with jewels, hasn't been
built by human effort or with laboriously mined
gold and gems. It stands solidly, a monumental
challenge to man. [5] Whoever realises himself as
a son of God, even as Babaji has done, can reach
any goal by the infinite powers hidden within him.
A common stone locks within itself the secret of
stupendous atomic energy; [6] even so, a mortal is
yet a powerhouse of divinity.'

"The sage picked up from a near-by table a
graceful vase whose handle was blazing with
diamonds. 'Our great guru created this palace by
solidifying myriads of free cosmic rays,' he went
on. 'Touch this vase and its diamonds; they will
satisfy all the tests of sensory experience.'

"I examined the vase, and passed my hand
over the smooth room-walls, thick with glistening
gold. Each of the jewels scattered lavishly about
was worthy of a king's collection. Deep
satisfaction spread over my mind. A submerged
desire, hidden in my subconsciousness from lives
now gone, seemed simultaneously gratified and
extinguished.

"My stately companion led me through ornate
arches and corridors into a series of chambers
richly furnished in the style of an emperor's
palace. We entered an immense hall. In the centre
stood a golden throne, encrusted with jewels
shedding a dazzling medley of colours. There, in
lotus posture, sat the supreme Babaji. I knelt on
the shining floor at his feet.

"'Lahiri, are you still feasting on your
dream desires for a golden palace?' My guru's eyes
were twinkling like his own sapphires. 'Wake! All
your earthly thirsts are about to be quenched
forever.' He murmured some mystic words of
blessing. 'My son, arise. Receive your initiation
into the kingdom of God through kriya yoga.'

"Babaji stretched out his hand; a homa
(sacrificial) fire appeared, surrounded by fruits
and flowers. I received the liberating yogic
technique before this flaming altar.

"The rites were completed in the early
dawn. I felt no need for sleep in my ecstatic
state, and wandered around the palace, filled on
all sides with treasures and priceless objets
d'art. Descending to the gorgeous gardens, I
noticed, near-by, the same caves and barren
mountain ledges which yesterday had boasted no
adjacency to palace or flowered terrace.

"Re-entering the palace, fabulously
glistening in the cold Himalayan sunlight, I
sought the presence of my master. He was still
enthroned, surrounded by many quiet disciples.

"'Lahiri, you're hungry.' Babaji added,
'Close your eyes.'

"When I reopened them, the enchanting
palace and its picturesque gardens had
disappeared. My own body and the forms of Babaji
and the cluster of chelas were all now seated on
the bare ground at the exact site of the vanished
palace, not far from the sunlit entrances of the
rocky grottoes. I recalled that my guide had
remarked that the palace would be dematerialised,
its captive atoms released into the
thought-essence from which it had sprung. Although
stunned, I looked trustingly at my guru. I knew
not what to expect next on this day of miracles.

"'The purpose for which the palace was
created has now been served,' Babaji explained. He
lifted an earthen vessel from the ground. 'Put
your hand there and receive whatever food you
desire.'

"As soon as I touched the broad, empty
bowl, it became heaped with hot butter-fried
luchis, curry, and rare sweetmeats. I helped
myself, observing that the vessel was ever-filled.
At the end of my meal I looked around for water.
My guru pointed to the bowl before me. Lo! the
food had vanished; in its place was water, clear
as from a mountain stream.

"'Few mortals know that the kingdom of God
includes the kingdom of mundane fulfilments,'
Babaji observed. 'The divine realm extends to the
earthly, but the latter, being illusory, can't
include the essence of reality.'

"'Beloved guru, last night you demonstrated
for me the link of beauty in heaven and earth!' I
smiled at memories of the vanished palace; surely
no simple yogi had ever received initiation into
the august mysteries of Spirit amidst surroundings
of more impressive luxury! I gazed tranquilly at
the stark contrast of the present scene. The gaunt
ground, the skyey roof, the caves offering
primitive shelter-all seemed a gracious natural
setting for the seraphic saints around me.

"I sat that afternoon on my blanket,
hallowed by associations of past-life realisations.
My divine guru approached and passed his hand over
my head. I entered the nirbikalpa samadhi state,
remaining unbrokenly in its bliss for seven days.
Crossing the successive strata of self-knowledge,
I penetrated the deathless realms of reality. All
delusive limitations dropped away; my soul was
fully established on the eternal altar of the
Cosmic Spirit. On the eighth day I fell at my
guru's feet and implored him to keep me always
near him in this sacred wilderness.

"'My son,' Babaji said, embracing me, 'your
role in this incarnation must be played on an
outward stage. Prenatally blessed by many lives of
lonely meditation, you must now mingle in the
world of men.

"'A deep purpose underlay the fact that you
didn't meet me this time till you were already a
married man, with modest business
responsibilities. You must put aside your thoughts
of joining our secret band in the Himalayas; your
life lies in the crowded marts, serving as an
example of the ideal yogi-householder.

"'The cries of many bewildered worldly men
and women have not fallen unheard on the ears of
the Great Ones,' he went on. 'You've been chosen
to bring spiritual solace through kriya yoga to
numerous earnest seekers. The millions who are
encumbered by family ties and heavy worldly duties
will take new heart from you, a householder like
themselves. You must guide them to see that the
highest yogic attainments aren't barred to the
family man. Even in the world, the yogi who
faithfully discharges his responsibilities,
without personal motive or attachment, treads the
sure path of enlightenment.

"'No necessity compels you to leave the
world, for inwardly you've already sundered its
every karmic tie. Not of this world, you must yet
be in it. Many years still remain during which you
must conscientiously fulfil your family, business,
civic, and spiritual duties. A sweet new breath of
divine hope will penetrate the arid hearts of
worldly men. From your balanced life, they will
understand that liberation is dependent on inner,
rather than outer, renunciations.'

"How remote seemed my family, the office,
the world, as I listened to my guru in the high
Himalayan solitudes. Yet adamantine truth rang in
his words; I submissively agreed to leave this
blessed haven of peace. Babaji instructed me in
the ancient rigid rules which govern the
transmission of the yogic art from guru to
disciple.

"'Bestow the kriya key only on qualified
chelas,' Babaji said. 'He who vows to sacrifice
all in the quest of the divine is fit to unravel
the final mysteries of life through the science of
meditation.'

"'Angelic guru, as you've already favoured
mankind by resurrecting the lost Kriya art, will
you not increase that benefit by relaxing the
strict requirements for discipleship?' I gazed
beseechingly at Babaji. 'I pray that you permit me
to communicate Kriya to all seekers, even though
at first they can't vow themselves to complete
inner renunciation. The tortured men and women of
the world, pursued by the threefold suffering, [7]
need special encouragement. They may never attempt
the road to freedom if Kriya initiation be
withheld from them.'

"'Be it so. The divine wish has been
expressed through you.' With these simple words,
the merciful guru banished the rigorous safeguards
that for ages had hidden Kriya from the world.
'Give Kriya freely to all who humbly ask for
help.'

"After a silence, Babaji added, 'Repeat to
each of your disciples this majestic promise from
the Bhagavad Gita: "Swalpamasya dharmasya, trayata
mahato bhoyat"-"Even a little bit of the practice
of this religion will save you from dire fears and
colossal sufferings."' [8]

"As I knelt the next morning at my guru's
feet for his farewell blessing, he sensed my deep
reluctance to leave him.

"'There's no separation for us, my beloved
child.' He touched my shoulder affectionately.
'Wherever you are, whenever you call me, I shall
be with you instantly.'

"Consoled by his wondrous promise, and rich
with the newly found gold of God-wisdom, I wended
my way down the mountain. At the office I was
welcomed by my fellow employees, who for ten days
had thought me lost in the Himalayan jungles. A
letter soon arrived from the head office.

"'Lahiri should return to the Danapur [9]
office,' it read. 'His transfer to Ranikhet
occurred by error. Another man should have been
sent to assume the Ranikhet duties.'

"I smiled, reflecting on the hidden
crosscurrents in the events which had led me to
this furthermost spot of India.

"Before returning to Danapur, I spent a few
days with a Bengali family at Moradabad. A party
of six friends gathered to greet me. As I turned
the conversation to spiritual subjects, my host
observed gloomily:

"'Oh, in these days India is destitute of
saints!'

"'Babu,' I protested warmly, 'of course
there are still great masters in this land!'

"In a mood of exalted fervour, I felt
impelled to relate my miraculous experiences in
the Himalayas. The little company was politely
incredulous.

"'Lahiri,' one man said soothingly, 'your
mind has been under a strain in those rarefied
mountain airs. This is some daydream you've
recounted.'

"Burning with the enthusiasm of truth, I
spoke without due thought. 'If I call him, my guru
will appear right in this house.'

"Interest gleamed in every eye; it was no
wonder that the group was eager to behold a saint
materialised in such a strange way.
Half-reluctantly, I asked for a quiet room and two
new woollen blankets.

"'The master will materialise from the
ether,' I said. 'Remain silently outside the door;
I shall soon call you.'

"I sank into the meditative state, humbly
summoning my guru. The darkened room soon filled
with a dim aural moonlight; the luminous figure of
Babaji emerged.

"'Lahiri, do you call me for a trifle?' The
master's gaze was stern. 'Truth is for earnest
seekers, not for those of idle curiosity. It's
easy to believe when one sees; there's nothing
then to deny. Supersensual truth is deserved and
discovered by those who overcome their natural
materialistic scepticism.' He added gravely, 'Let
me go!'

"I fell entreatingly at his feet. 'Holy
guru, I realise my serious error; I humbly ask
pardon. It was to create faith in these
spiritually blinded minds that I ventured to call
you. Because you've graciously appeared at my
prayer, please don't depart without bestowing a
blessing on my friends. Unbelievers though they
be, at least they were willing to investigate the
truth of my strange assertions.'

"'Very well; I'll stay awhile. I don't wish
your word discredited before your friends.'
Babaji's face had softened, but he added gently,
'Henceforth, my son, I shall come when you need
me, and not always when you call me. [ [10]'

"Tense silence reigned in the little group
when I opened the door. As if mistrusting their
senses, my friends stared at the lustrous figure
on the blanket seat.

"'This is mass-hypnotism!' One man laughed
blatantly. 'No one could possibly have entered
this room without our knowledge!'

"Babaji advanced smilingly and motioned to
each one to touch the warm, solid flesh of his
body. Doubts dispelled, my friends prostrated
themselves on the floor in awed repentance.

"'Let halua [11] be prepared.' Babaji made
this request, I knew, to further assure the group
of his physical reality. While the porridge was
boiling, the divine guru chatted affably. Great
was the metamorphosis of these doubting Thomases
into devout St. Pauls. After we had eaten, Babaji
blessed each of us in turn. There was a sudden
flash; we witnessed the instantaneous
dechemicalisation of the electronic elements of
Babaji's body into a spreading vaporous light. The
God-tuned will power of the master had loosened
its grasp of the ether atoms held together as his
body; forthwith the trillions of tiny lifetronic
sparks faded into the infinite reservoir.

"'With my own eyes I've seen the conqueror
of death.' Maitra, [12] one of the group, spoke
reverently. His face was transfigured with the joy
of his recent awakening. 'The supreme guru played
with time and space, as a child plays with
bubbles. I've beheld one with the keys of heaven
and earth.'

"I soon returned to Danapur. Firmly
anchored in the Spirit, again I assumed the
manifold business and family obligations of a
householder."

Lahiri Mahasaya also related to Swami
Kebalananda and Sri Yukteswar the story of another
meeting with Babaji, under circumstances which
recalled the guru's promise: "I shall come
whenever you need me."

"The scene was a Kumbha Mela at Allahabad,"
Lahiri Mahasaya told his disciples. "I had gone
there during a short vacation from my office
duties. As I wandered amidst the throng of monks
and sadhus who had come from great distances to
attend the holy festival, I noticed an ash-smeared
ascetic who was holding a begging bowl. The
thought arose in my mind that the man was
hypocritical, wearing the outward symbols of
renunciation without a corresponding inward grace.

"No sooner had I passed the ascetic than my
astounded eye fell on Babaji. He was kneeling in
front of a matted-haired anchorite.

"'Guruji!' I hastened to his side. 'Sir,
what are you doing here?'

"'I'm washing the feet of this renunciate,
and then I shall clean his cooking utensils.'
Babaji smiled at me like a little child; I knew he
was intimating that he wanted me to criticise no
one, but to see the Lord as residing equally in
all body-temples, whether of superior or inferior
men. The great guru added, 'By serving wise and
ignorant sadhus, I'm learning the greatest of
virtues, pleasing to God above all
others-humility.'"