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Beyond Duality

Beyond Duality

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Researched and compiled by Dr. Norman Williams, Col. K. K. Nair and Barry Oborne, this book deals with the lives and teachings of Saints and enlightened spiritual teachers of modern times. The book does not endorse, nor is it funded by, any particular religion or cult.
Researched and compiled by Dr. Norman Williams, Col. K. K. Nair and Barry Oborne, this book deals with the lives and teachings of Saints and enlightened spiritual teachers of modern times. The book does not endorse, nor is it funded by, any particular religion or cult.

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1
 
 BEYOND DUALITY 
Sketches of Enlightened Spiritual Teachers of Modern Times
 
Researched and compiled by:Dr. Norman WilliamsCol. K. K. NairAndBarry Oborne
Production and Copyright text © 2004: Norman Williams, 209 Markham St. Armidale, NSW 2350, Australia.Copyright artwork © 2004 Alive Creative Design, 175A Brown St. Armidale, NSW 2350, Australia, and Barry Oborne,E.mail: awilliams@northnet.com.auThe profits of this book, after tax, are donated to various charities in Third World Countries.
 
2 
CONTENTS
Authors’ Note 3Foreword by the Honourable O. Rajagopal 4Introduction - Perceptions of the World 5PART - I GREAT MYSTICAL SAINTS. SATGURUS, AVATARSAND ENLIGHTENED SPIRITUAL TEACHERS of the 20
th
 CENTURY 10Ch. 1 - Sri Ramakrishna and Disciples 10Ch. 2 - Rama Tirtha 19Ch. 3 - Bhagawan Nityananda 23Ch. 4 - Sri Ramana Maharshi 28Ch. 5 - Jiddu Krishnamurti 38Ch. 6 - Paramhansa Yogananda 46Ch. 7 - Sri Anandamayi Ma 51Ch. 8 - Neem Karoli Baba 59Ch. 9 - Swami Sivananda 63Ch. 10 - Swami Chinmayananda and other Swamis 66Ch. 11 - Bahi Sahib - the Sufi way 68Ch. 12 - Papaji 75Ch. 13 - The Dalai Lama 80Ch. 14 - The Venerable Ajahn Chah 86Ch. 15 - Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj 92Ch. 16 - Robert Adams 98Ch. 17 - Satya Sai Baba 104Ch. 18 - Mother Teresa 111Ch. 19 - Amma 115PART - II ENLIGHTENMENT TEACHERS OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM 128Ch. 20 Ramesh Balsekar 129Ch. 21 Vijai Shankar 131Ch. 22 Byron Katie 135Ch. 23 Eckhart Tolle 138Ch. 24 Satyam Nadeen 144APPENDIX I-A COURSE IN MIRACLES-A Synopsis 149APPENDIX II- SCIENCE AND RELIGION 153POSTSCRIPT - A SUMMARY 161BIBLIOGRAPHY 170COVER: A depiction of the Mahayantra, the Sricakra, a figure of special power symbolic of the DivineMother who is the Source of all Consciousness and of all phenomena.
 
3
 AUTHORS’ NOTE
Many recent religious commentators draw attention to the shocking events that are takingplace in the world today. Religions back factions in war, pedophilic priests abound and women areabused in the name of religion. The environment is in dire straits, corporations plunder peoples’savings, and even with the wonders of modern technical farming, around one billion people go tosleep hungry every night. Moreover, although a thin veneer of sensitivity has appeared, the results of altercations are no less unpleasant than the brutality of the dark ages. It seems that science,technology and democracy, that were to deliver a world free of hardship, disease and unpleasantthings like bugs, is letting us down. So what hope is there for what can be thought of as ‘liberation’for mankind? It does not seem that civics or religion can provide the solution to mankind’s problems.The religions, for the most part, seem to be much too far removed from their ‘Source’, and in civics(and the religions) there is too much thinking, planning, scheming, judging and self-interest foranything they contrive to be effective in providing whatever-it-is that mankind needs to be happy andlive in harmony.From whatever angle it is viewed, the problem seems to lie with mankind’s level of consciousness and in the egoic thought system that he has developed. And in every case it seemsthat, in the presence of the seers, the founders of religions (and also many who didn’t foundreligions), a different state of consciousness was engendered; albeit, in most cases, for only verylimited periods of time. It was with this in mind that we undertook to look at the lives, actions andteachings of individuals of modern times, who seemed to us to have what the seers of ancient timeshad. The result is the present book, and we would like to point out that it is not filled with thecomments and interpretations of he authors. Rather, it is comprised almost entirely of the sayings of the individuals themselves, and the observations, comments and conclusions of people, still living inmany cases, who knew them; or others, were there has been a clear and contiguous lineage. In mostcases the places where they lived and taught have been visited, and in the case of the still-livingones, they have, where possible, been visited or even spoken to.The reactions to the book, and we have seen many now, have varied. Most people, at least,have found it interesting. A very few have found it offensive; it did not conform to the mentalimages they had of one or several of individuals sketched. But with yet others, particularly thosewhom we feel may have been searching, an extraordinary resonance seem to have come from thewords in a manner that can best be described as the generation of a feeling of love. The words of themasters seemed to have had, for them the power to neutralize, for a moment, the overbearing natureof the egoic mind and to reveal something quite pristine. It could be said that everyone, at somepoint in their lives, comes face to face with the demon of the egoic mind, and that there areenlightened individuals who have realized this Truth so that their words can help dispel the demon.These are some of the things that they have said:
“The dying, the cripple, the mental, the unloved - they are Jesus in disguise. Speak kindly to them. Let there be kindnessin your voice... Don’t only give your care; give your heart as well... The poor give us much more than we give them. Onlyin heaven will we know just how much we owe them for helping us to love God better - because of them.” From: MotherTeresa, Chapter 18.“In our lives we have two possibilities: indulging in the world or going beyond the world... Worldly wisdom, howeverappealing it seems is only so in a worldly sense. The Buddha taught the practice of letting go. Don’t carry anythingaround... Peace comes from doing this with your whole body and mind... Not clinging any more, or if there’s still clinging,it becomes less and less. From: Ajahn Chah, Ch. 14.“Mind is thought existing as subjects and objects. In life the first wave of consciousness is ‘I’, then ‘I am’, then ‘I am this,I am that’, and ‘This belongs to me.’ Here the mind begins. Now keep quiet, and do not allow any desire to arise from theSource. Just for an instant of time don’t give rise to any desire. You will find that you have no-mind and you will see thatyou are somewhere indescribable, in tremendous happiness. And then you will see who you really are.” From: Papaji, Ch.12.
 
4“My voice is your voice; no powers, kings, devils or gods can withstand it - inevitable is the order of Truth. My head isyour head; cut it off and a thousand will grow... I shall shower oceans of love and bathe the world in joy. All societies aremine! Come; for I shall pour out floods of love. Every force is mine, small and great.” From: Rama Tirtha, Ch. 2.“Each and every drop of Mother’s blood, each and every particle of energy is for her children... The purpose of this bodyand of Mother’s whole life is to serve her children.” From: Amma, Ch. 19.“In the strange stillness of that part of the world (the Rishi Valley in India), with the silence undisturbed by the hoot of owls, he woke up to find something totally different and new. This was in no way to be confused with, the gods of ‘religion’: Desire cannot possibly reach it, words cannot fathom it, nor can the string of thought wind itself around it. Thewhole universe is in it, measureless to man... There is only a sense of incredible vastness and immense beauty... It is aworld without image, symbol or word, without waves of memory. Love was in the death of every minute and each deathwas the returning of love. It was not attachment; it had no roots; it flowered without pause and it was a flame which burntaway the borders, the carefully built fences, of ego consciousness.” From: J. Krishnamurti, Ch. 5.She had an experience of a blue flame: It slipped itself into her heart and she looked at it with wonder, “It was still, small, alight-blue flame trembling softly, and it had the infinite sweetness of pure love, like an offering of flowers made with gentlehands, the heart full of stillness and wonder and peace.” From: Chasm of Fire, See Ch. 11.“In the midst of chaos I know that all is well! No thoughts about it - just a gentle, loving gratitude that is always present.When you were a small child, you heard your God speak to you, and you listened. Then the mind grew strong anddominated your life. (Then), after a lifetime of futile seeking... God comes back into the forefront of your awareness.”From: Satyam Nadeen, Ch. 24.“The nameless, formless Reality, the transcendent awareness in which you will become permanently awake, is precisely thesame Reality that you have perceived blossoming around you... The perfectly peaceful Absolute is not different from theplayful relative universe.” From: Ramakrishna, Ch. 1.“I opened my eyes and the soft luminosity filtering through the curtains was love itself. Everything was fresh and pristine -as if it had just come into existence.” From: Eckhart Tolle, Ch. 23.“All my rage, all my thoughts that had been troubling me, my whole world, was gone. At the same time laughter welled upfrom within the depths and just poured out. Everything was unrecognizable. It was as if something else had woken up. Itopened its eyes. It was looking through Katie’s eyes. And it was so delighted! It was intoxicated with joy. There wasnothing separate, nothing unacceptable to it; everything was its very own self.”
 
From: Byron Katie, Chapter 22.
“To talk of God only is worthwhile, all else is verily pain and in vain.”
Sri Anandamayi Ma, 1924 Ch. 7.
May their words help you to find the Truth?
FORWARD
“Beyond Duality” is a unique book containing biographical sketches of saints – living and dead – and spiritualteachers of the twentieth century. They hail not only from India, the home of spirituality, but also from other countries.The book contains a fairly detailed life sketch and important teachings of renowned spiritual Masters like ShriRamakrishna Paramahansa, Swami Vivekananda, Rama Tirtha, Ramana Maharshi, Paramahansa Yogananda,Anandamayi Ma, Swami Chinmayananda, famous for his Geetha Jnana Yagnas, the venerable Dalai Lama, SwamiShivananda, Nityananda, Mother Teresa, Bhagawan Sathya Sai Baba and internationally acclaimed Sadguru MataAmritananda Mayi Devi (AMMA). The readers are introduced to nineteen spiritual Masters and five spiritual Teachers.Fifteen of them come from India.These Masters come from different backgrounds. It has been said that no saint is similar to the other. This isbut natural, for they have come to this world to serve the cause of dharma, from place to place and time to time, as thesituation warrants. They have different missions to perform. Yet the basic thrust of their different messages remains thesame. Satyam (Truth), Dharmam (Righteousness), Premam (Love) and Seva (Service to others). These eternal principlesare universal in nature. These messages are well known; they are preached widely from every pulpit. There are anynumber of books written enumerating the virtues of these teachings. They are aplenty. Unfortunately for us those who
 
5are living these principles are very rare to come by. This book, or rather compilation, takes us to meet these greatpersonages. We are indeed lucky that some of those great Masters like Bhagawan Satya Sai Baba and Sadguru MataAmritanandamayi Devi are still alive to guide Millions of Devotees. They can be approached and we can convinceourselves that the great truths spoken by the realised Masters are still valid and relevant for the future of humanity.Their guidance is sought after by the high and mighty, even to solve their day to day problems.This book also provides sufficient material for those who are interested in academic pursuits also. I believe thatthis commendable work will provide enough material to satisfy their thirst for spiritual knowledge and give practicalguidelines for those sincere seekers who want to tread the path laid down by the great Masters.I would like to complement the authors Norman Williams, K. K. Nair and Barry Osborn, who havepainstakingly researched and collated the material. I have great pleasure to write the forward for an ennobling work,which should make many sincere seekers find their way to the presence of the spiritual Masters.O. RAJAGOPALFormer Minister of State for Defense, Parliamentary Affairs and Railways, India.
?
 Introduction
 PERCEPTIONS OF THE WORLD
All your material plans and even great achievements have gone by the wayside. You start to think what is life allabout? What is its meaning? Who am I? You have no idea what’s going on because no one has ever been able to explainthese things to you. So you come to believe that life is just a chance: you were born, you have gone through prevailingconditions and experiences, and you get old and die. But this is not how it is; and there are those who know the Truth,capital ‘T’ Truth. This book introduces the reader to some of them - some of the great saints, mystics and enlightenedspiritual masters of modern times. They tell us that the material world is a dream being experienced by the egoic mind inan illusion of time. The essence of the dream is separateness from God or for those who don’t believe in God then from aSupreme Consciousness; and reality is the realization of union with this ‘Entity’ - then there is unalloyed joy andhappiness. Although there has never been any question about this from the point of view of the saints and mystics of theworld, whatever their religious background, there are fundamental differences in understanding between the philosophicalviews of West and East; and they need to be aired before the following sketches can be clearly appreciated. Consider thesequestions:Is the world of matter, this universe of which we are a part, reality? - “Yes” says the West; because the world of matter is the only reality the senses and the intellect can perceive. “No” says Eastern mysticism, because the world of matter, perceived by the senses and cognized by the intellect, is finite and changeable; reality is changeless, infinite andimmortal when experienced by the inner man - the Spirit or Atman, or what Buddhism calls Buddha nature. And after all,few would deny that man has a spiritual dimension other than the ‘personality’ that we know so well; or that the ‘logical’intellectual mind frequently comes across imponderables that question perceived ‘reality’. One could say that it is anarrogance to assume that only those things that can be ‘understood’ by the mind are reality. Quantum physics is full of things that can’t actually be ‘understood‘.Is man separate from God? - “Yes” says the West because God, if such is even given cognisance at all, created theworld including man. God is the creator and we are the created. There is duality - God and his creation. “No” says the East,because God manifested
as
the universe. God is therefore in the world of matter and the world of matter is in God.Godliness is in everything - and there is only
One
.Even though the Bible, the bastion of duality in the West, proclaims that God created man in his own image, andJesus exhorts man to “know thyself ... The Kingdom of Heaven is within ... The Father is in me and I am in the Father” -these and other sayings do not suggest the same concept of unicity that occurs in the East. Millennia earlier than the periodof the Bible, an anonymous Eastern sage made this observation: “
Tat Tvam Asi
”: God is the substratum of all existence and“I Am That”. Changeable matter cannot be real. It can only exist in time, and time is an illusion. This encapsulates theconcept of Advaita Vedanta and it is the philosophy and the experience of the individuals considered in this book.It may be said that if the only reality is the material world, then the leaders and the thinkers of the West whoproclaim this view, should know all about it and should be able to explain it to the people so that they can live in harmony,but this they have never been able to do. The prevalent worldview of society is simply that there are ‘me’ and ‘you’, ‘mine’and ‘yours’ - and mostly ‘mine’; and consequently there is judgment, desire, anger, anxiety, fear and depression - all theemotions of the world.. In modern times, in the ‘developed’ world, there is an economic engine that drives society and has,like the rest of nature, survival of the fittest as its principal ethic. And it uses greed, exploitation and consumption to
 
6generate growth and wealth. But although wealth, one could surmise, should diminish fear and increase happiness, itinstead gives rise to more fear, confusion and less happiness.In duality there are also ego-created ‘gods’ who stand separate from man: “Please may we prevail against the axesof evil” has become our clarion call to these ‘gods’. Sadly these gods today predominate in the developed Western worldin which most of us believe. And it is the world of the egoic mind, separated from the Creator. Further, it is a world thatexists in time, represented by a past of history projected into an imagined future. The past is filled, for the most part, withwars, conquests and conflict - of exploiting, killing, devouring and suffering - and the future is filled with fears andexpectations. It has not changed in these attributes from its primal beginnings to the present technological age.On the other hand in societies that subscribe to Eastern philosophies, notwithstanding the fact that they too mayfollow the ethos of ‘me’ and ‘mine’ and may be hell-bent on becoming westernised, we notice that deep within theirconsciousness there is also an ingrained concept of onenes
s
.
Another reality:
Notwithstanding the dominant worldview, there really are saints and mystics who havetranscended the egoic mind and awakened to see a timeless world of measureless joy and immense beauty, where “loveflowers with the death of every minute.” What they have to say, as will be seen, is not about religion but about thefundamental nature of God and of all creation. There is no duality in it and there is the end of loneliness and separation.Such individuals are beacons to whom we can look for evidence that there is another way than the brutal but sanitizedDisney Land world that we know so well. And they can be guides to those ready to find this other reality. This concept wasbeautifully expressed by just such an enlightened individual, Swami Vivekananda (see Chapter 1), who was probably thefirst Indian saint, and one of the very few genuine ones, to visit the West. In addressing the founding conference of theWorld Parliament of Religions in 1893 in Chicago, he said:
“Each soul is potentially divine. The goal of life is to realize this divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work or worship, or psychic control or philosophy - by one or all of these, and become free. Thisis the whole of religion. Doctrines or dogmas, rituals or books, temples or forms are but secondary details... Religion is not taught as a science of experience. This should not be. There is however a small group of individuals who teach religion from experience. They are called mystics, and these mystics who occur in every religion, speak the same tongue and teachthe same truth. This is the real science of religion. As mathematics in every part of the world does not differ so the mysticsdo not differ. They are all similarly constituted. Their experience is the same, and this becomes law... and the book fromwhich to learn religion is your own heart.”
 So the root of the problems of the world is separation from ‘God’ and belief in the crazy world dreamed up by theegoic mind. In the ‘developed’ modern world the belief is so strong that
 
truth is seldom perceived. Instead the modernworld is permeated by mindstuff - which has given rise to a serious and dangerous dilemma.
 Mindstuff and the dilemma of the modern world 
It could be said that, above the very small needs necessary for a comfortable survival, the more you have the moreunhappy you will be. This is why, in general, people are happier in poor countries than in the satiated developed ones.In the modern world the ego personality is firmly in charge and runs all our governments, cultures, economicsystems, academic and religious institutions, wars and conflicts. It is given credence by thinkers, writers, commentators,politicians, economists, and religious pundits, and is believed to be good for society. The ego personality is very muchconcerned with and focused on the physical body. On one hand it adulates the perfect body and on another it worriescontinuously about health and appearance. In its separateness from other egoic minds and bodies it becomes a master of  judgment, attachment and aversion, and though it forms alliances, which are always temporary and fragile, it (or thealliance) covertly, and sometimes overtly, delights in the other’s discomforts while abhorring criticism directed at itself.The ego’s world is driven by the pursuit of personal gratification in the forms of praise, recognition, career fulfillment andso on, over the personal gratification of others; and all these gratifications are eulogized as healthy competition and thepursuit of ‘excellence’.The ego’s world is very popular with mankind. At its lowest level it can be represented by food, drink, sex,shelter, attire, recognition and entertainment. At the middle level it is all these things plus, nice houses and cars, insuranceand holidays abroad. At the upper level it is all these plus power and control - and though every intergradation can be seen,all the representations are empowered by what Malcolm Muggeridge called “the cold corridors of cash” (see Chapter 18).A recent and popular TV program, in referring to its heroes, said that what they were after was: “Money, sex and puttingdown their enemies - like everyone else.”But as the egoic mind attempts to generate comfort and pleasure, it is always against a background of uncertaintythat ranges from barely subliminal anxiety to hysteria and paranoia. Daily life, with its vicissitudes and unknowns, becomesmostly a grinding task focused on the perceived needs of survival: paying the mortgage, keeping up with the Jones‘, and allthe other ruthless demands of living. If this seems in doubt read the biographies and autobiographies of the rich andfamous, and reflect on Emerson’s conclusion that “the majority of men lead lives of quiet desperation”.The egoic mind is also the substance of boredom. It needs repeated stimulation, pleasure and entertainment, forvirtually its only relief takes place through these temporary gratifications. Further, there are compelling sensual andprocreative urges that seek fulfillment almost independently of what we imagine to be our will. Sigmund Freud had plentyto say on these when he initiated the psychoanalytical movement in the early twentieth century. And through all of thisthere always lurks the fear of death. To serve this latter the ego has projected an externalized infinite deity in the name of 
 
7religion.It seems that almost all of our lives in the modern technological consumer-society world, is an attempt to escapefrom a consuming sense of isolation that the ego has created. And when there is no sense of true spirituality, the end of lifeis becoming more and more a slow epicurean crawl towards senile dementia. Medical science and technology, oncethought to hold the solution to this problem, are letting us down.
Glimmerings of truth
The subtlety of the ego is so well developed that even great thinkers and philosophers are fooled by it. The Frenchwriter sometimes thought of as the father of modern philosophy, Rene Descartes, was completely misled when he said: “Ithink therefore I exist.” The mind is continuously regaled with an almost endless parade of thoughts which are the productsof memory. They can never be new and are always the jaded past parading as the present. A great observer said thateveryday life presents only recurring changes with a magnitude that is always much the same. We seem, he said, compelledto a life of acting out an almost diabolical destiny - orchestrated by the egoic mind. Nevertheless, some have perceived thismind for what it is and recognized it as the culprit.The writer Paul Zweig, at a time of transition in his life, began to feel as if he had been chosen for attention by apersonal ego demon, whose bizarre humour, he said, had turned his face into a nightmare. In his book 
Three Journeys
- seeBibliography - he wrote:
“Some recipe of wishes dating from the earliest mixture of my being had created an awful dish”.
He had, he wrote,intended to be completely happy but something had gone wrong and he began to suspect, to his horror, that the demon washimself 
 
:
“It shadowed me from within... loving when I loved, speaking when I spoke. Every spoonful of my existence went,somehow, into its mouth - and because of it everything went wrong. Food did not feed me, but it; success did not please me,but it; and the creature reclined in the sultriness of my inner existence while I shivered and became thin.”
The Chinese writer and Nobel Prize winner, Gao Xingjian, makes a similar observation in his book 
Soul Mountain
. He writes,
“I don’t know if you have ever observed this strange thing, the self 
(the egoic self)
... I once looked at a photo of me on themonthly bus ticket I had... At first I thought I had a charming smile; but 
(
then) there was also an anxiety which betrayed acute loneliness and fleeting snatches of terror - certainly not a winner - and there was a bitterness which stifled thecommon smile of unthinking happiness and doubted that sort of happiness. This was very scary... and I didn’t want to go nolooking at the photo... The problem is the mind; this is the monster which torments me no end... Arrogance, pride,complacency or anxiety, jealousy and hatred all stem from this. The egoic self is in fact the source of mankind’s misery. So,does this unhappy conclusion mean that the self should therefore be killed? Is it just vanity? The Buddha said: All themyriad phenomena are vanity, and the absence of phenomena is also vanity.”
Aldous Huxley concluded that every man and woman, “Even the most healthy and well endowed individuals whohave made what the jargon of psychology calls ‘an excellent adjustment to life’ - may suddenly, or gradually with age,arrive at a feeling of damnation that is nothing more nor less than being confronted by one’s own sweating ego self: ourcommon consciousness, generally dulled, but sometimes acute and naked, of behaving like the average sensual humanbeings that we are.” And this, the mystics also tell us, stems from our belief that we are the doers, the movers and theshakers of the world; and for the religious, ‘God’s little helpers’ in a world of judging, rewarding and punishing.But for some, Huxley asserts, the demands of living may yet be superficial to a deep longing for harmony withnature and oneness with life - a need that is seldom perceived and even more seldom realized and satisfied. The pursuit of this wish is what leads us to search for a guide; who, for success, must be someone quite extraordinary, a saint or mystic,who knows how to deal with the mind and the ego and can show the way to the universal truth: “This is liberation, this isenlightenment, this is the beatific vision, in which all things are perceived as they are ‘in themselves’ and not in relation tothe craving and abhorring ego.”
West and East
Western psychology and Western biological and medical science recognize only the egoic mind - and to somedegree, little understood, the subconscious. These are considered to be the ‘software’ and ‘databases’ of the mind, with thebrain being the ‘hardware’. Modern psychology, counseling, sociology and so on are largely concerned with the controland treatment of bruised and deranged egoic minds, which is a daunting task - as can be surmised from the low level of success in the treatment of psychological illnesses. The ego is recognized in the West as the unquestioned master of allworldly activities, and psychology describes it as a ‘self regulating principle’ - something that must be given cognizanceand respect. But Sigmund Freud, firmly steeped in fathoming the machinations of the egoic mind, could conceive thepossibility of something greater than this when he wrote, “If the ego were merely a part of the ‘Id’ that is modified by theinfluence of the perceptual system, the representative of the mind in the real external world, we should have a simple stateof things to deal with.” But after wrestling to comprehend the elemental forces active within our psyche, he concluded inhis Lecture No. 35 -
 A Philosophy of Life
- that, “Psycho-analysis is not, in my opinion, in a position to create a
Weltanschauung
of its own.” As for scientific thought, he believed: “It is still in its infancy, there are many of the greatproblems with which it has as yet been unable to cope.” This is why, to understand anything beyond the egoic mind, wehave to turn to Eastern philosophy.
The basic elements of Hinduism:
Christopher Isherwood in his book 
 Ramakrishna and His Disciples
, made a
 
8gallant effort in summing up the basic elements and terminology of Eastern philosophy. It is paraphrased as follows:Brahman is the ultimate Reality, the Godhead. Brahman, in its role as the Source, is considered to be female (Devi or theDivine Mother) and that which gives birth, even to the gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva - which are therefore subordinateto Brahman and are perishable.When Brahman occurs in manifested, created, objects of the world - such as a human being, it is called the Atman, thePurusha or the Self. Generally, in the sensual world, the Atman becomes deluded as the Jiva, the egoic self, living induality. The word ‘soul’, not used in the East, could be either the Atman (the pure soul) or the Jiva, the deluded ‘personal’and perishable soul.Brahman and Atman do not act, they just
are
.Shakti, maya or prakriti act and do things - they are the ‘power’ of Brahman.Brahman in association with its power is called Ishwara - God with the attributes of action - similar to the concept of Godthe Father in association with the Holy Spirit. Christ, in man, is the Atman or the Self. Ishwara, thus, can be considered tobe the same as the Christian Trinity.Man (the Jiva soul) can become one with the Atman by the simple recognition of his essential nature. By becomingrealized or enlightened he ‘knows’ he is in union with God. The same is true in Sufism and, though not usually officiallycondoned, in Christian mysticism. (In Western Christian dogmatics, dreamt up when Rome accepted Christianity, to sayone is God is considered to be blasphemy).The three functions of Ishwara are: creation (undertaken by Brahma in association with his power Sarasvati), sustaining(undertaken by Vishnu with his power Lakshmi), and dissolving (undertaken by Shiva with his power Parvati). Other formsof power are Durga and Kali, which are aspects of Devi and therefore may be regarded as the power of powers. Thus,Ishwara creates the universe, sustains it for a while, and then dissolves it - and it is all set in phases of time of which thereare specific amounts. These phases are called Yugas and the last before dissolution is Kali Yuga, when things are indecline - as many believe of the world in the present age.Vishnu is believed to have incarnated in Human form a number of times, with Rama and Krishna in Hindu theology beingthe best-known examples. Jesus and the Buddha are also considered by some to be incarnations of Vishnu, along withmany others. In Hinduism such incarnations are given the name Avatar.
The mind in Eastern philosophy:
Here the mind is perceived to be more complex than that of the simpleWestern model (a thinking function based on the brain that serves an ego consciousness). In Eastern philosophy the mindis made up of several more psychic elements which may be those relegated to the mysterious ‘subconscious’ of the West.The lowest of these are the ego and the mind (manas) and its companion the intellect (buddhi). They are concerned verymuch with the gross physical body, the senses and relationships to the material world.Then there is a subtle body in which reside thoughts and emotions and ancestral likes and dislikes, the vasanas,and cultural tendencies and habits called samsaras. The subtle body persists after physical death and may also be thevehicle of out-of-body experiences during physical life. Much has been written about these things in the transcendentalmedia. The subtle body also has a physiological system comprising ‘nerve’ channels running roughly in the vicinity of thespine from the coccyx to the crown of the head. The channels are associated with a system are chakra
s
(wheels) placedfrom the lower abdomen to the heart and throat, and higher yogic plexi between the eyes to the crown of the head. Thelowest of these is the
 
Muladhara, located between anus and genitalia. At the base of the spine is the Swadhisthana, then inthe region of the navel is the Manipura. At the heart is the Anahata chakra and at the throat the Vushuddi, while in the headare the Ajna chakra behind the eyes and the Sahasra at the crown. These attributes of the subtle body are known to yogis.The kundalini is the dormant psychic energy of the subtle body located beneath the Muladhara that can beawakened through yoga to rise up through the chakras - see
 Devatma Shakti
. The turning of the chakras brings psychic andphysical experiences and the perception of deities and other worlds - of which there are several more than the simplisticheaven and hell of Western theology. Acupuncture and some forms of massage are focused on the chakras and theconducting pathways of the subtle body, and the stimulation of the kundalini and the chakras is important in some types of yoga.The psyche also has a supracausal body which is devoid of all thought and where the state of deep sleep resides. Itis said to be blissful because within the supracausal body a blissful escape from the egoic mind is experienced. Deep sleepis the closest that worldly-bound individuals get to enlightenment. When we wake up from a bout of deep sleep we forgetthe experience almost immediately but if we are alert, which mostly we are not, we may be able for a moment to discern atrace of this bliss. Much more often the ego switches in and brings up concerns of the body and the worldly realm.All these
 
psychic elements are associated with sheaths (kosa
s
) that keep them separate and encapsulated. Theoutermost sheath is the food sheath of the gross physical body which enfolds the sense organs and the organs of action.Beneath this is the vital-air sheath, the prana sheath (pranakosa) which is not only the physical breath but can be said to bethat which controls and moderates the whole physiology of the organism. The prana therefore has control over thefunctioning of the body and an understanding of it is important in yoga for maintaining bodily health and control. Finallythere is the innermost sheath known as the bliss sheath, the anandakosa - the sheath of the supracausal body.Through yoga and the yogic powers of certain practitioners and adepts, these psychic elements can be penetratedand explored to some degree. This has been affirmed by the sages of the East and by psychics generally, but the practice of yoga for the attainment of psychic experiences, though popular, is not recommended by enlightened spiritual teachers -because such experiences amount to the opening of a kind of Pandora’s Box and can easily bring about physical and
 
9mental dysfunction. But, it is said, if they occur naturally, or through the agency of a truly enlightened being, they areokay.In the manifest state of human beings, individuals are subject to the gunas (tendencies of behaviour) of whichthere are three primary ones: tamas (inertia and sloth), rajas (passion and energy) and satvas (spirituality).
The Self, the Atman:
Over and above the psychic elements, and not generally perceivable by ordinary thought,there exists the higher entity mentioned before - the Atman or the Self. (The ‘soul’ of Christianity may be the Jiva that isassociated with the mind and body and also with the subtle body, although the word Soul, in a higher sense, has also beenused for the Self). All the sheaths cover and conceal the Atman, which has been described as Consciousness itself. TheAtman is the God-essence in all created objects.All these things have been described and explained by enlightened spiritual teachers. They also explain theconcept of karma, the existence of other worlds, rebirth and so on. Such matters are not elaborated further here but onepoint needs to be mentioned because of a conviction, often smugly adhered to in the West and considered to be very bad,that Hindus and Eastern philosophy in general, supports the worship of ‘idols’. Is this a valid and justifiable point of view?The answer may be both yes and no. If the universe is seen as the manifestation of the Absolute, then the worship of anything real (that is, anything not a product of the egoic mind), is the worship of God - such worship will be pristine andholy. In this case idols are nothing more than symbols, as are the statues of saints and virgins, and the crosses, stars,shrines, icons and calligraphy of the ‘Western’ religions. But in Eastern philosophy, which makes it more realistic thanWestern theocracy, the symbols are also perceived as something that must go - when enlightenment is attained. So theanswer to the above question is also no. The ultimate aim of worship is to become free of worship and attain the Self -which is to love God. So, one may ask, why did God create us? The answer is simply to love Him - and nothing more thanthis is necessary.
Celestial experiences, miracles
 Such happenings are mentioned here because of their importance in supporting belief systems. Actually sciencehas now proved the existence of ‘things’ that defy Aristotelian logic, that could be called ‘miraculous’ but this is hardlygiven credence in the fields of biological and medical science. Worldview of modern times still perceives a mechanisticuniverse. In contrast to these well entrenched views and even the views of ordinary science, there is incontrovertibleevidence of the veracity of miracle-like things, and evidence that they are actually normal. Good writers have expoundedthese matters in books like
The Dancing Wu Li Masters
,
The Tao of Physics, A New Science of Life and The Self-AwareUniverse
- see Bibliography, as do the many publications of quantum physics - which also rejects the commonunderstanding of time. See Science and Religion Chapter - Appendix II.But aside from quantum physics there is also well documented anecdotal as well as confirmed evidence of manyesoteric phenomena. For example, there are individuals who remember other lives or other worlds. In a phenomenonknown as the Charles Bonnet Syndrome, some apparently normal and definitely not deranged people have clear visions of what can only be described as other places and other times : A woman sees cows grazing in a winter field and commentson the cruelty of this to others who see the field as empty; another is followed around by two children in Victorian dress;yet another sees bright flowers growing everywhere she walks (see
 Hindustani Times
of 23 October 2000). Such visionsare said to be experienced by literally millions of people.In ordinary medical science, anyone who sees visions or talks with angels is automatically relegated to the nuthouse; but Colin Wilson, in a comparison between some of the inmates of lunatic asylums and the writings of the mysticalphilosopher Swedenborg, (who was beyond criticism and the threat of being burned for heresy because of his protection bythe Swedish king, and also because he was a solid citizen and civil servant), draws attention to the remarkable and uncannysimilarities between the exclamations of certain of the “lunatics” and those of the great mystical philosopher himself. Addto this the occurrence of visions of the past that have been materially authenticated - see
The Book of Time
and many otherwell researched books by Colin Wilson and other authors, and we should be able to see clear evidence of the collapse of linear time and the existence of miracles. But miracles are not necessarily about the parting of the Red Sea and curingcancer, yet they may create a great stir and an outpouring of religious fervour when they occur. It is in the occurrence of such miracles that saints and enlightened individuals come into their own - but usually unintentionally. Miraculous eventsand spiritually enlightening experiences often occur around such people, sometimes with great regularity and in a way thatclears up doubts for many. In common understanding miracles range from healing - the blind see, the lame walk and thedead are raised - to the generation of feelings and changes in spiritual comprehension. If we look at the best knownmiracles of recent times they have usually been around visions and experiences of the heart. Some children see a vision of the Virgin and are so overwhelmed and entranced by it that others around them can sense their ecstasy, their changes inappearance, behaviour and so on; and then a kind of divine energy comes into play. Pretty soon there are crowds of peopleenthralled by the vision that they themselves do not even see. The force of this energy then becomes unstoppable and theresults are well known. After this, and in the years and decades that follow, miracles of the healing type may occur at thevery place where the event first took place. And such miracles of healing, or the happening of other intensely-wished-forevents against all odds, seem clearly now to be examples of the individuals own power of creation, and common evidencefor the laws of quantum physics.A good example of a highly personal miracle of the heart type and a demonstration of the energy that flows from asaintly being at such times, concerns the great yogi Baba Muktananda - whose ability to impart mystical experiences made
 
10him popular in the West through the 1970’s. The account is given by Paul Zweig in his book 
Three Journeys
- seeBibliography. He (Zweig) is taken, somewhat unwillingly, to meet Baba Muktananda in New York by a friend and islistening as people are introduced and are asking questions or making comments. Zweig wrote, “The sorts of questionsrubbed me the wrong way; they seemed full of personal melodrama: ‘Sometimes I feel within me...’ ‘I know in my heart...’‘My cosmic feelings’...” - and so on. But then a young woman began speaking to Muktananda. She explained that she hadlived for several years in India and in a tremulous voice she said that she had a question to ask. Paul Zweig continued: “Ifound myself paying attention suddenly, not so much to what she was saying as to the note of vulnerability in her voice.When she meditated, she said, the experience of silvery light was intense, but then nightmarish forms came between herand the light, and she was frightened. When she lifted her hand, as if to describe the nightmares, it began to shake. ThenSuddenly I was shaking too. I felt as if I was rooted to the floor, yet trembling with intense feeling. I had to make an effortnot to cry, but it wasn’t simply grief, for my body had become buoyant and warm... Even after the hand was tucked away inher lap, and Muktananda’s voice had begun to speak, I went on staring while the forms and colours of the room glidedbefore my eyes like paper cut-outs. The words ‘afloat in tears’ repeated themselves over and over in my mind... I wasaware that my mouth was hanging open, yet I couldn’t seem to close it... My jaws felt like hinged gates into a cave of tears... And all the while I held my tears in by an effort of subtle attention. The tears seeped into my face anyway, a few ata time.”But notwithstanding all the well recorded experiences of miracles and visions of other worlds that seem toentrance us so much, they are just miracles and worlds. They are all dualistic and bound in time, for in them there arealways figures interacting with other figures in a succession of events that form a panorama of time. They, the miraclesthemselves rather than the feelings they generate, do not have anything to do with liberation, for liberation is something yetagain.
 Enlightened teachers
Experiencing reality is not a mental process but involves transcending the egoic mind. A renowned spiritualteacher of modern times, Nisargadatta Maharaj (Chapter 15) said that the liberated see beyond the world, and whatoccupies the whole field of consciousness of someone bound in the personal world, will be only a speck to an enlightenedbeing, “a momentary appearance in consciousness”
.
But can this be explained? Only by negation and analogy. Everypositive explanation is from memory and is therefore inapplicable, yet the enlightened state, Nisargadatta explained, issupremely actual and therefore possible and realizable.Historically and since time immemorial there have been gifted individuals who studied, practiced and realizedunion with the Ultimate - and some have been given credence enough for religions to form around them. But in the West itis often supposed that such beings - saints and so on - if they existed at all, lived only in the ancient past. Most of us are just not comfortable with the idea of modern-day saints and are only prepared to accept ‘saintly’ beings, who practiceausterities and do good works, such as Mother Teresa (Chapter 18) - and only as long as they remain strictly mortal. Sageswho have supernatural powers and who, perhaps, lived for hundreds of years are, on the whole, repulsive to Westernoutlook and have been shunned by great thinkers like Carl Jung and even one of the individuals considered here,Krishnamurti (Chapter 5).Although it may be something of a digression a short account is given here of a modern sage who has lived to agreat age. It was recounted by the indomitable guru researcher, Surjan Singh Uban (see
The Gurus of India
), who was anIndian Army surgeon and wartime hero of the Burma campaign of World War II. He studied gurus and wonder workers formost of his life and one of these was Sri Bawa Hari Das Ji Maharaj. In 1955 Sri Bawa was a forest sage in the Himalayasreputed to be over 150 years old at that time. Surjan Singh, following a long series of unusual events, found himself climbing through the Himalayan jungle in a quest to meet this ancient sage. He writes:
“The path was rough, uphill and full of tall grass amongst the pine trees, where, I was told, cobras were quite common.The orderly told me, however, that the cobras were harmless and were only there to protect this great yogi. There were panthers also, I presumed, for the same purpose. I had my own doubts about the capability of these wild animals to sift good men from bad; mistaken identity could spell a painful death...Sweating and puffing we arrived at the gate of the yogi’s beautiful cottage... Whilst the orderly shouted to theguru to come out and open the gate, I was forming a mental picture of a very old man, bent down by age and hardly able towalk. Instead I saw a lean, erect and sprightly figure come quickly up to the gate. ... The yogi appeared rather curt when heasked me the purpose of my visit but after explanation his stern face became kind and charming... Hesitatingly I broached the subject of this yogi’s guru - who was reputed to be even older. He replied: ‘My guru isover 400 years old and sits in that part of the Himalayas’, - pointing a finger to snow covered peaks. He then explained how he had wandered for some twenty years along the coast of the Arabian Gulf and over the Tibetan plateau undergoingausterities and hoping to find his Inner Being, all without any result. After he had become considerably emaciated and had lost all hope of finding his goal, he walked back into India, and settled down in a decrepit old temple. He started singingGod’s name and some villagers would bring him milk or rice and join him in his devotional singing. One day a crazy fellowcame from nowhere. He had a shoe on one foot and the other was bare. As he entered the temple with one shoe on thewhole congregation shouted at him pointing out the sacrilege he was committing by entering the temple with a shoe on. He just laughed and said, ’which temple are you talking about? The whole world is God’s temple. Anyway, I have come to take your miserable priest’, and taking the yogi by the arm and marching him away, he said, ‘I have been sent by my guruji,
 
11
who says you are now fit to take up initiation with him. Accompany me and I will take you there in a moment.’ ”
Surjan Singh continued contact with Sri Bawa for many years and could see no significant changes in hisappearance. He wrote in his book, “What I have read in
 Autobiography of a Yogi
by Yogananda about the legendaryBabaji (see Chapter 6), made sense only after I had met Sri Bawa Hari Das.”
Keys to finding an enlightened spiritual teacher:
Generally enlightened spiritual teachers are not to beconfused with most of the often pleasant men and women who give lessons in yoga and meditation or preside over ashramsand spiritual centres all over the world. Enlightened individuals have always been quite rare but we should also not assumethat those founders of the religions are the only true ones. In religious history there have also been those whose influencewas confined to tiny regions and lasted only for a decade or two. But they also had the effect of stimulating spiritualfervour. For example, Aldous Huxley, in his book 
The Devils of Loudun
, gives examples from seventeenth century Francethat were only locally recognized. He writes of the town of Loudun at the time of the narrative:
“It had no saints, no man or woman whose mere presence is self-validating proof of a deeper insight into the eternalreality, a closer union with the divine Ground of all being. Not until sixty years later did such a person appear within thecity walls. When, after the most harrowing of physical and spiritual adventures, Louise de Tronchay came to work at thehospital of Loudun, she at once became the centre of an intense and eager spiritual life. People of all ages and of everyclass came flocking to ask her about God.”
And in another part of France of the same period, a Carmelite nun who had been a disciple of Saint Teresa,wrenched the heart of Jean-Joseph Surin, one of the individuals biographised in
The Devils of Loudun
. Huxley againwrites:
“He listened spell bound to a voice that talked, in labouring guttural French, of the love of God and the bliss of union, of humility and self-naughting, of the purification of the heart and the emptying of the busy and distracting mind.. Praying oneday, he became aware of a supernatural light, a light that seemed to reveal the essential nature of God... The memory of that illumination and the unearthly bliss by which the experience had been accompanied never left him.”
One of the characteristics of all enlightened individuals is that they exude a feeling of God’s love - not to beconfused with connubial love. Paul Zweig, in his book 
Three Journeys
, talks about this form of love - which in the East iscalled Bhakti. He writes:
“Most of us would probably agree that love is our ideal emotion, and we would say it a little wistfully, because there havebeen only a few short times in our lives when we have known, personally, the dislocating power of love. The rest of the timewe find it necessary to preserve certain limits: to have affection, to like, to feel tenderness, to ‘love’ with civility and constraint, expecting the same civility and restraint in the ‘love’ that others feel for us. The other, more extreme kind of love, we idealize by using only elevated language when we talk about it. We direct it towards beautiful objects, or Jesuswhom we visualize with the aid of highly stylised images... Our reverence doesn’t require that we change the way we livebecause the beloved ideal is hopelessly remote from our imperfect existences... Yet this ideal is marked by an almost  forgotten trace of an undefined longing which can be overpowering, almost religious in its insinuating attraction. Even a pop tune has the power, sometimes, to make us feel like exiles wandering about in an empty world... We listen to the songand for a minute the ideal isn’t rose-colored any more. It sinks its teeth into us like something hungry that would break apart our lives if we let it. And all the great legends of love and death mutter and turn over in our psyches... To experiencethe great dislocating power of Bhakti, we must come before the true saints and gurus with humility and have our pr 
essing
minds put into neutral.”
So whatever criteria are used in discerning the enlightened from those still bound in egoic delusion, the presenceof a feeling of the dislocating power of love must be the most reliable, for :
“Though they may speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, they are as sounding brass, or atinkling cymbal.”
 
It is definitely not about what religion is followed. Religion is nothing more than the medium of spiritual practice forpeople from different cultures. Mother Teresa said:There is only one god and everyone should be seen as equal before GodWe should help a Hindu to be a better Hindu, a Muslim a better Muslim and a Catholic a better CatholicNo enlightened teacher will ever tell you to change your religion;Rather he or she will tell you to:
FIND OUT WHO YOU REALLY ARE
 
 
12
  PART - I GREAT MYSTICAL SAINTS, AVATARS ANDSATGURUS - & ENLIGHTENED SPIRITUALTEACHERS OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY 
 
A NOTE BY A. E. D’AGNINO
Seeker, Writer, Artist - Venezuela
As a spiritual seeker who has been coming to India since 1964, and has had the good fortune to meet eight of the greatMasters who’s life and teachings form the substance of this wonderfully compassionate book: Sri Mata AnandamayiMa, J. Krishnamurti, Vimala Thakar, Swami Muktananda, Neem Karoli Baba, Papaji, Sri Satya Sai Baba, and Sri MataAmritanandamayi; I want to give testimony of the authenticity in which their biographies and teachings have beenpresented, and to recommend it highly to students of the philosophy and practice of Non Duality.?
Chapter 1
 RAMAKRISHNA AND DISCIPLES
With the blue mountain for her ink,With a branch of the heaven tree for her pen,With the earth for her writing leaf, Let the goddess Sarada describe your greatness,She could not - though she wrote for ever.“Oh great lord God,” Ramakrishna cried:“How can I tell them of your glory?”
1
 
 Background 
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa was one of India’s greatest mystical saints of recent times. Although himself almost illiterate, his influence was so powerful that it left behind several generations of disciples who established andcontinue to operate the highly regarded and internationally recognized Ramakrishna Order of Monks and the RamakrishnaMission and Institute, which have centres in many parts of the world. Both have their headquarters in Calcutta close to thetemple where Ramakrishna served as a priest. The Ramakrishna Order of Monks is a residence and a training facility formonks and visitors belonging to the worldwide Vedanta Societies. The Ramakrishna Mission, unlike the Order - which hasa purely spiritual function - is largely devoted to philanthropic and cultural activities in India and elsewhere.Ramakrishna was born of a poor Brahmin family in a small village in West Bengal in 1836. His father was avillage pundit (religious teacher) and the young Ramakrishna showed spiritual leanings from an early age. His firstsignificant mystical experience came to him when he was seven. It occurred just before a heavy tropical storm when thesky was filled with bruised and brooding blue-black clouds. Suddenly he saw a flight of pure white cranes, stark against thelooming background. He was stunned by the beauty of the sight and fell into a mystical trance in which he lay unconsciousfor several hours. From that time onwards, and even to the end of his life, he remained precariously poised between normaland trance-like states. At the age of nine, while appearing as Shiva in a school play, he was carried away by the exaltedrole and fell into an ecstatic, God-enraptured state for three days. The school play was cancelled.Later Ramakrishna trained as a Brahmin priest and at the age of twenty, because it was proving difficult to get amore experienced incumbent, he was appointed to the position of chief priest in a newly constructed Kali temple at
1
From the Mahimna Stotra.
 
 
13Dakshineswar, on the banks of the Ganges River in Calcutta. His worship now became centred on the image of Kali in thetemple. It took the form of intense desire to receive visions of the Divine Mother, and also of Krishna. In these God-intoxicated states he would dance naked at night in a nearby burial site and beat his head on the ground, weeping in hislonging for union with the Mother of the Universe. Later that transformation occurred and during these bhavas(identifications with deities) he would decorate his own body with flowers and sandalwood paste as his attention to theKali idol in the temple waned. But the bhavas were pursued with such intense devotion that they alarmed the templeauthorities who relieved him, temporarily, of his duties.Also concerned about his excessive zeal and believing that marriage would help him to settle down, his parentsagreed to a marriage contract that the son had proposed. (He was after all an official Brahmin priest). But then theydiscovered the ‘bride’ was just three years old - so that many years passed before she moved into the temple. The marriagewas never consummated but later the wife came to be called Sarada Devi, a subject of intense devotion herself. For manyyears Ramakrishna worshipped her as an incarnation of the Divine Mother, as did the disciples that followed - see later. Following the ‘marriage’ he was allowed to return to the Dakshineswar temple where he continued, though in asomewhat abated form, to experience God-intoxicated raptures. Any reference to God could send him into the trance-likestate of samadhi, and because of this he was regarded with some measure of contempt by many of the temple servants.Another of his bhavas was to the God Rama and to attract him he took the part of Rama’s favourite general of the
 Ramayana
, the monkey-god Hanuman. Then he went through a period of longing for Krishna and would dress as a womanto attract the deity. His appearance was so woman-like that it was said to convince the closest observers. At This period of his life he was often regarded as strange indeed and this, along with accusations of debauchery, became a means of denigration by some and a license for holier-than-thou forms of criticism to arise. It seems that sometimes, when he sawdrunkards, he would go into the street and dance with them - because the sight of their reeling made him think of the wayholy men sometimes reel about in apparent drunken ecstasy. He had a friend who was a well known dramatist of thosetimes, G. C. Ghosh, with whom he sometimes danced when Ghosh was drunk and called at the temple after escapades of debauchery. Unquestionably however, as witnessed by his closest disciples, some of whom became enlightened mastersthemselves, Ramakrishna was neither a drunkard nor sexually active and remained celibate and temperate throughout hisentire life. In the confines of temple life it would have been impossible to conceal clandestine activities. For example, asrecorded by Christopher Isherwood, one of the young disciples (Jagendra Nath Choudhary, who became SwamiYogananda and was one of six disciples whom Ramakrishna referred to as “ishwarakotis” – free from Karma, who wouldallow themselves to be reincarnated to serve mankind), thinking that the master was paying a secret visit to his wife, spiedon him. Later Ramakrishna appeared from the opposite direction but commented that the spying was correct action: “Youshould check your Guru by watching day and night,” He said. His nature was such that he simply could see no fault; butthat he did not know what was going on was not the case. On one occasion Ghosh called late at night in a high state of inebriation. He had left a bottle of wine in the carriage, but Ramakrishna, somehow knowing this, had sent one of theservants to fetch it and insisted that his visitor drink it all up – after which he was fairly sick and no doubt experienced thefolly of over indulgence.During this early period, long before he began to draw a following of well-educated disciples, he learned tantricforms of yoga, and eventually under the tutelage of a Naga sadhu, Tota Puri, he was taught to meditate on the ‘FormlessAbsolute’ - which involved mentally decapitating his favourite deity, Kali. Tota Puri also, with full knowledge of hismarriage, initiated him into sanyas (monkhood). And then, from being a wandering mendicant who had never spent morethan a few days in any one place, Tota Puri stayed at the temple as Ramakrishna’s devotee - the master became thedisciple. After this Ramakrishna spent six months in the state known to yogis as
nirvikalpa samadhi
- in total union withGod and completely oblivious to the world. He had to be fed and tended by others. Eventually he came down to earth. Hehad by that time lost all traces of individual identity and was totally free of ego. He spent the rest of his life completelyimmersed in the knowledge that the world and its phenomena were simply, as he put it, “Waves emanating from theCosmic Mind.” He said:
”When I think of the Supreme Being as inactive, neither creating nor destroying, I call him Brahman or Purusha, theimpersonal God. When I think of him as active, creating or destroying, I call him Shakti or Prakriti, the personal God. But the distinction does not mean a difference; both are the same Being - as milk and whiteness are the same, as the serpent and its undulations are the same. It is impossible to conceive one without the other.”
At this time he was around 25 years old and still regarded as a fool by some of the temple servants. But thenanother wandering aesthetic, a female monk known as the Bhairavi, came to the temple. She was a woman of extremelystrong character and striking beauty, who immediately recognized Ramakrishna as divine. She claimed that he had to bean Avatar (a direct incarnation of God) because there are nineteen kinds of spiritual mood, and these can only becombined in an Avatar. Ramakrishna had demonstrated all these moods. She called for a conference famous pundits -well known for their strong opinions - and, after some debate, these had to agree that he did, indeed, have all the attributesof an Avatar. Ramakrishna took it all calmly and said, “So they think that! Well, anyway, I’m glad it’s not a disease.”From that time on he was taken more seriously, and later again, over the last few years of his life, he began training themostly well-educated young men from good families, who, entranced by his mere presence, gathered around him. Theywould carry the Ramakrishna teachings to the world.
 
14
Teachings
Ramakrishna’s verbal teachings, for the most part, took the form of sayings and stories in response to events andcircumstances as they occurred in the dharma of life, and they resulted in numerous parables. He taught by direct statementbased on the most supreme spiritual authority, and by the demonstration of samadhi and his state of God-intoxication, his joy and his song and dance. Collections of his sayings have been printed and are available from the Ramakrishna Missions.Probably the most important record is
The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna
, which is based on a diary kept by a disciple,Mahendra Das Gupta, who became the Master Mahasaya - see further on. Another,
The Life of Sri Ramakrishna,
is anaccount of a French writer of that time, Romain Rolland - who tried to relate Ramakrishna’s sayings to those of Jesus.Ramakrishna did not set out to form a new religion but was one the first masters of modern times to beresponsible for what could be called a ‘renaissance’ and reform of the ancient philosophy of Vedanta. Although he was inno way scholarly, his innate wisdom attracted some of the most highly regarded scholars of India. These are someexamples of his many recorded teachings:His comment made to a sadhu who came to him for instruction, encapsulates his views and demonstrates hisexalted state of awareness. He said:
“The nameless, formless Reality, the transcendent awareness in which you are now permanently awake, is precisely thesame Reality that you have perceived blossoming around you... The perfectly peaceful Absolute is not different from the playful relative universe.”
With regard to the playful relative universe, he said that the world always has to have trouble makers: “Otherwise the plotdoesn’t thicken - then there’s no fun.” This is one of the most striking examples that can be found of the difference in theway the world is seen by the enlightened, compared to the judging worldly-bound.Nevertheless, he also considered matters of the world to be obstacles to liberation. One of the greatest obstaclesto progress towards attainment of the higher vision was, he said: “The aggregate of the lustful and voluptuous sensationsassociated with the sexual act.” But notwithstanding this view of sex he was neither a sexist nor a bigot. Ramakrishnarevered all women, of whatever type, as incarnations of the Divine Mother. As explained, his own wife, Sarada Devi, wasalso worshipped as the Divine Mother. And after the death of Ramakrishna she became a leading figure for devotionwithin the Ramakrishna Mission and Order. He did discourage his young and unmarried disciples from womanizing. Hewould say, “I don’t know what people see in women, they are just meat and bone and fat.” He maintained that if a youngperson, of whatever sex or sexual proclivity, maintains absolute continence for 12 years, the mind will certainly becomeopen to the knowledge of God.But Ramakrishna had no illusions about human nature and refrained from indulging in judgment. One parable iswonderfully illustrative of this point of view:
“Two friends were walking past a place where the word of God was being preached. One said, ‘I must go and hear this sermon and join the pious congregation in the worship of God.’ But from across the road came the sounds of revelry and the second friend said, ‘I think I prefer to join the merrymakers and flirt with the dancing girls over there.’ Thetwo friends parted company, one to enter the temple, the other to sport with the revelers. In a short while the one who had chosen the house of pleasure tired of his amusement and was struck by the folly of what was taking place around him. Hesaid to himself, ‘What am I doing, why have I come here when I could have joined my companion in hearkening to the word of God?’ Across the road his companion, bored with the monotonous drone of the preacher, said to himself, ‘I wish I had  joined my companion in his fun instead of listening to this rigmarole.’ Which of these two, the sage might well ask, was thebetter man? Or were they not both the same person? Two beings that dwell in each one of us.”
Ramakrishna recognized four classes of men: The ever free (like Vivekananda) who are in the world for the goodof others, to serve and teach the truth. Then there are the liberated, like the mahatmas, who are not entangled in the world:“seeking women and gold,” - and are always meditating on the lotus feet of God. Thirdly there are the seekers who want tobe liberated - some will succeed and some will not. Finally, there are the majority of men, who are in bondage and stuck inthe world. They never think of God and are full of lust, greed and gossip. What should a seeker do? Ramakrishna said thatfrom time to time he should seek the company of holy men, seek solitude and meditate on God; use discrimination andpray for devotion and faith; faith is everything - there is nothing greater.On being asked how long a devotee should perform the rituals of worship, he said, “When you shed tears, andyour hair stands on end when you utter the name of God, then you will know you no longer need to perform rituals - andthe rituals will drop away from you themselves. Then it is enough to just say the name of God, or just the word Om.Ritualistic worship becomes merged in the sacred Gayatri mantra; and then Gayatri becomes merged in Om.”To those who were married, like Mahendra Das Gupta, he would say attend to your duties. Wife, father, mother,children - live with them and serve them, but know in your heart of hearts that they are not your own: “If you are in familylife without having cultivated love for God, you will get more and more entangled and will be unable to withstand dangers,grief and sorrows; if you have not acquired dispassion, knowledge and devotion. In the world, the only thoughts are of lustand greed.”Ramakrishna was fond of practical jokes and was skilled at imitating others in a humorous manner. He wouldsometimes parody the arrogant British by strutting around and uttering fruity English-sounding words and syllables. But hewas always gentle and filled with love and humour and without aggression. He believed in being assertive only whennecessary, without doing harm to anyone. This view was illustrated in a story, thus:
There was a dangerous cobra that lived in a field so that herdsmen would never go there. One day a holy man passed 
 
15
through the field but as the snake approached he put a spell on it so that it was unable to attack. Then he said to the snake,“I will give you a mantra and from now on you will not attack any creature.” And the holy man passed on his way. But soon the herdsmen learned that the snake was now harmless and they threw stones at it and beat it badly. The snakecrawled into a hole and nearly died. Some time later the holy man passed by again and on seeing the poor condition of thesnake, asked, “What’s wrong with you, you look terrible?” The snake explained and the holy man said, “You were very foolish, I told you not to bite people, I didn’t say not to hiss.”
His indifference to the forms of worship:
To illustrate the egalitarian nature of his beliefs he would say:
“Greeting to the Jnani; Greeting at the feet of the Bhakta - to the devout who believe in the formless, and to the devout whobelieve in the God of form. Greeting to the men of old who knew Brahman! And greeting to the moderns who knows thetruth.
He would maintain that there is sometimes a need for images, even if made of clay: “God himself has arranged many waysof worship to suit the varied temperaments of his worshipers in their different stages of growth.”But Ramakrishna was convinced that, on the spiritual path, personal experience was much more important thanspiritual instruction or practices based on extreme forms of tapasya (spiritual burning and austerities) - because the state of liberation is several times removed from the phenomenal world which surrounds us and cannot be comprehended, exceptby experience. To illustrate this he told a tale of a blind man who wanted to know what milk looked like. One person said,‘White like a crane.’ ‘What is a crane?’ He asked, and another said, ‘Like a sickle.’ And then he was told that a sicklewas like a bent arm. Finally the blind man came to a conclusion: ‘Ah,’ he said, ‘Milk is white like a bent arm.’He had little time for extreme forms of asceticism and said, “If twenty years of asceticism merely enables you towalk on water, better pay a boatman and save your effort.” Further, he paid little heed to theoretical matters and thedogmas of different creeds. To him religion was a living experience and he was convinced that the actual participation inthe practices of other faiths (than Hinduism) - and particularly Christianity, was also a part of experience and a means of understanding God. His main form of teaching to the many disciples and devotees that gathered around him was, like thatof all great beings, by the infusion of his grace - simply by being in his presence they acquired grace and some of themwent on to become enlightened masters in their own rights. It was these two phenomena that most influenced his disciples;the experience of his presence, and the philosophy of the universality of religion. And it was these characteristics that ledto the eventual recognition of Ramakrishna throughout the world as one of the great saints of modern times. The spread of Sanatana Dharma, the universality of religion, was further advanced, and continues to be advanced, through the teachingsof swamis of the Ramakrishna Mission.
 Last days
For more than a year before he passed away it was known that Ramakrishna was suffering from throat cancer, yet,through what must have been terrible pain even to the last day and the last hour he continued with the teaching of theyoung disciples. During this last year he continued to laugh, to joke and sometimes, in a croaky voice, to sing. ChristopherIsherwood writes that one of the attendants formed the opinion that he was not suffering at all: “The eyes of the saintregarded the wasting of the body with a kind of calm, secret amusement, as only the horrible disease was only amasquerade. Lex Hixton, in his book 
Great Swan
, writes of the experience of an attending doctor. Ramakrishna, his faceliterally shining with heavenly joy, would say: “Please open your entire being… Why feel self-conscious about calling thedivine name with total abandon?” (The doctor was recalcitrant about this, feeling that it would detract from hisprofessional standing).Hixton writes that it was during this period that he expressed most strongly his conviction that the Divine Motherwas the Source of all Consciousness. He said:
“I experienced the Divine Mother as a young pregnant woman who gave birth to the manifest world, cradled it and nursed it for a while and then began to swallow it. As it entered the dark mouth in the form of a radiant child, it was immediatelyrevealed to be devoid of any substantial and independent existence. The Cosmic Mother then cried in a charming voice:‘Come delusion, come illusion! The Divine Magician alone is Real!’ … All phenomena, including Divine Forms, are sheer transparency. There’s nothing to hold on to, here of anywhere.”
Even to his last day and his last hour he continued with the teaching of the young disciples. Two days before hisdeath he said, “He who was Rama and he who was Krishna, is now Ramakrishna - in the body lying here... Not in theVedantic sense and not in the sense of the Absolute, but in the sense of reincarnation of a Bodhisattva.” Just before hisdeath his skin took on an extraordinary lustre. He placed his hand upon his heart and said, “All phenomena emanate fromhere”.The disciples were to spread the message of the universality of God through the world. So to the last hour hespoke to them on this matter, and to others he said again and again, “Take care of these boys.” On the last day, afterlistening to devotional songs, the master began to shudder and the hairs on his body stood on end. Tears of joy flowedfrom his eyes. They seemed to be seeing some beatific vision for there was an enraptured smile on his lips. Then in aringing voice he cried three times the name of his beloved Kali, and lay back in silence, surrounded by the disciples. Adoctor felt for the pulse and said that it had stopped. But then, after some time, a tremulous vibration seemed to runthrough the body and at this the hairs on the heads of the assembled disciples stood on end. Simultaneously, as if promptedby a higher power, they cried “Jai Ramakrishna” - it was the mahasamadhi of a truly great being.Ramakrishna had trained a band of young intellectuals, agnostics, and rebels against the established order of the
 
16day, to comprehend the truth of God. Most had belonged to the Brahmo Samraj Sect that opposed the worship of idols. Atthe same time some, like Vivekananda, were against the concept of Advaita, that everything could lay claim to the name of God. In the end, by the time they began their various missions, they were all alloyed into the belief of not limiting God inany way at all.
Some major disciples
Of the young monks Vivekananda and Brahmananda were the most pivotal in establishing the Order, andRamakrishna had spent much of his time during his last year training them. He had great love for Vivekananda saying thathe was a reincarnation of Narayana (Vishnu). At one point Vivekananda was tormented by the existence of ‘evil’ in theworld; and then one night, in the presence of the master: a screen was lifted - and he saw the perfect harmony betweenGod’s justice and mercy and its relationship to all of creation. From that time on he became totally indifferent to praise orblame in the world. At first Vivekananda was opposed to both idol worship and the notion of everyone being God as inAdvaita: “What’s this nonsense about I am God, you are God, and anything that is born and dies is God?” Ramakrishnaanswered, “You may not be able to accept these truths at present, but is that reason to condemn the great sages who taughtthem? Why do you try to limit God’s nature? Keep calling to him. He is truth itself. Whatever he reveals to you, believethat to be true.” The attitude of accepting God in every form was the key to the success of Vivekananda’s presentation of Vedanta philosophy to the first meeting of the World Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893. At this meeting hedescribed the teachings of Ramakrishna on the unity of all religions; that all religions have the same goal and that theteachings of Jesus, the Buddha, Mohammed and others are merely different aspects of one divine Reality.After his death Ramakrishna’s teachings were spread widely by his leading disciples who became the first monksof the Ramakrishna Order. There were seventeen young disciples and a number of older lay disciples: Balram Bose andKeshab Sen, and Mahendra Das Gupta and G. K. Ghosh who have already been mentioned, and of course, Sarada Devi.Following the death of the master the young disciples found an old house near the Ganges said to be haunted. It was allthat they could afford. Here they enshrined Ramakrishna’s bed with his picture upon it and his ashes nearby on a stool.(Some of the ashes had already been deposited at a village house elsewhere but the boys had secreted some to have withthem.) They slept on mats on the floor and sometimes went hungry, and they called themselves the ‘dhanas’ - the ghostcompanions of Shiva. They would gather together and discuss the teachings of Ramakrishna, Jesus, and other sages andthey would sing kirtans long into the night. It was here that they assumed their monastic names, and often Mahendra DasGupta - the Master Mahasaya to be - would visit and join in their activities.
Swami Vivekananda:
As part of his mission Vivekananda traveled the length and breadth of India, preachingand visiting holy sites. It was at this time that the Maharaja of Ketri offered sponsorship for his visit to America. On returnto Calcutta he became the first head of the Ramakrishna Order and during the following years he traveled widely in theUnited States and Europe expounding Ramakrishna’s vision. He was a sublime lecturer and usually spoke to packedhouses. He was also a tireless opponent of the concept of dualism in religion. Almost everyone responded to the deep bell-like voice of this most unusual of human beings - someone who expressed exactly what he meant - the truth of man’sessential divinity. He would say: “He, for whom you have been weeping and praying in churches and temples, is your ownSelf.” But as leader of the Order, he never forgot that he was a disciple of Ramakrishna and an equal with his fellowmonks. This is an example of his teaching:
“If living by rule alone ensures excellence, if it be virtue to strictly follow the rules, say then who is a greater devotee, aholier saint, than a railway train ? .. The dualist thinks you cannot be moral unless you have a God with an iron rod in Hishand, ready to punish you. Suppose a horse had to give us a lecture on morality, one of those cab horses who moves onlywith the whip. He begins to speak about human beings and says they are very immoral. Why? ‘Because I know they are not whipped regularly.’... I hate this world, this dream, this horrible nightmare, we have created with its churches, its fair faces and falsehearts, its howling righteousness on the surface and utter hollowness beneath, and, above all, its sanctified shop keeping .. Let the barks of puppies not frighten you - no, not even the thunderbolts of heaven - but stand up and work.”
Vivekananda’s zeal for God and abhorrence of worldly matters is shown by a letter to some of his devoteeswritten in 1894. It said: “Stick to God! Who cares what comes to the body or to anything else! Through the pangs of deathsay - my God, my Love! Thou art here, I see Thee. Thou art with me, I feel Thee. I am Thine, take me. I am not of theworlds but Thine. Leave me not. Do not go for glass beads, leaving the mine of diamonds. This life is a great chance. Whyseekest thou the pleasures of the world!
 He
is the fountain of all bliss. Seek for the highest, and you shall reach thehighest.”His touring and pioneering days ended in 1900 by which time he had become sick and exhausted; but he wasmuch calmer and happier after returning to the math, than during the hectic days. He wrote: “I feel the rest of the soul morethan the body - the battles lost and won. I have packed my things and await the Great Deliverer.” It has been suggested thathis death was a predetermined act. Not of desperate suicide but in the way that holy beings are said to be able to decide thetime of their deaths. He went to his room on the 4th of July 1902 and after meditating he called a young monk to fan himas he lay on his bed. Some time later his hand trembled and he breathed once very deeply and then lay still with his eyesfixed in apparent ecstasy. After some time it was realized that he had passed from the worldly realm.In his short lifetime Vivekananda became an institution in India and, although never involved in politicalactivities, he had thrust upon him political and ambassadorial status for India - even though the Order steadfastly refused to
 
17comment on political matters, especially in those early days of the independence struggle. Today his statue stands at theGateway to India, in Mumbai. He died barely sixteen years after the death of the master, at the age of thirty-nine.
Swami Brahmananda:
Known as Maharaj, Swami Brahmananda became the second head of the Order and heldthis position for many years until just before his death in 1923. His character was very different from that of Vivekananda,being quiet and reserved, and he remained in India looking after the young monks and the new disciples. His influence onthem was outstanding and helped to carry on the Ramakrishna tradition into its third generation. As a young disciple thegentle yielding boy became the gentle deeply wise Brahmananda, under whose leadership the mission came to maturity. Hesteadfastly maintained that the first concern of monks must be spirituality, and its success must be judged by the inner stateof its members. Isherwood wrote that Maharaj’s care for others extended far beyond ordinary compassion and was deeplyspiritual. He seemed to be in mental communication with everyone in the order and was aware of their unspoken problems,even at long distances when young monks had to go overseas - see the example of Swami Prabhavananda
 
below.It was said that even when members of the Order were being admonished by Brahmananda, they wouldexperience an undercurrent of joy. And he was so utterly fearless that others lost their fear in his presence. He had deeplysearching eyes and at times would look strikingly like Ramakrishna. He was not an accomplished speaker but ratherinspired by silence - instilling a feeling of peace, and an inclination to meditate, in others. He said:
“Religion is a most practical thing. It doesn’t matter if one believes or not. It’s like science. If one performs spiritualdisciplines, the result is bound to come, even practicing mechanically - if one persists one will get everything in time. And remember, if you take one step towards God, God will take a hundred steps towards you. And why did God create us? Sothat we may love him.”
Brahmananda was immensely fond of music, whether devotional or not, and he said that sound itself, like silence,is God - everything is God.
Sarada Devi:
For most of her life she was simply in the background - a shy ordinary woman. But after the deathof the master, when she was on pilgrimage, she started to become more and more the “Holy Mother” to the young monks.To call her ‘Mother’ was not simply an expression of respect, for the young monks began to feel her maternal qualities.Slowly, as she grew older, she came to inhabit a world of her children and was unable to see fault in them. At first she wasunwilling to assume a spiritual role as a teacher but she began to be such after a number of visions of Ramakrishna. Shebegan also to help the new and unfolding Order to establish. It came to be that any wish that she expressed was observedinstantly. She was considered to be one with the Mother of the Universe and one with Ramakrishna, and she became the
de facto
head of the Order.In 1920 she began to isolate herself as she experienced recurring fevers and it became clear that her end was near.And when a young monk asked what will become of us? She replied, “Why are you afraid? You have seen the Master.”
Swami
 
Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood:
We probably can discern as much or more about a thirdgeneration master, Swami Prabhavananda, as we can about the earlier figures, from the sensitive accounts of the Britishwriter Christopher Isherwood. Isherwood became a devotee and disciple of one of these monks, Swami Prabhavananda,and wrote of him in his book 
 My Guru and His Disciple
- see Bibliography. Prabhavananda was a disciple of Brahmanandaand never met Ramakrishna personally. He intimated that there was a long-standing relationship with Brahmananda andthat he may have been a mentor of Brahmananda in an earlier incarnation. When, as a young prospective monk, he firstmet Brahmananda, the latter said to him, “Son, haven’t I seen you before?” And much later, towards the end of his life,Prabhavananda related an incident which may support this belief. He explained it thus: “I was sitting cross-legged in frontof Maharaj (Brahmananda) with his feet resting on my knees. This was the position in which I often used to massage hisfeet. Then something happened to me which I cannot explain, though I feel certain that it was at Maharaj’s doing. I foundmyself in a condition in which I was talking and talking, forgetting my usual constraint. It seems to me I spoke freely andeven eloquently for a long time, but I do not remember what I said. Maharaj listened and said nothing. Then suddenly Ireturned to normal consciousness and became aware of Maharaj leaning towards me and asking with an amused smile,‘What did you say?’ I then realized I was addressing him as ‘tumi’ (the familiar form of ‘you’, used with equals or juniorsand friends). I hastened to correct myself, repeating the sentence - I have forgotten what it was - but using ‘apani’ (therespectful form of ‘you’ by which we addressed him). After this it occurred to me that this may have been Brahmananda’sway of revealing our association from an earlier life in which I was the mentor and Brahmananda the student.”In 1923 Swami Brahmananda died and shortly after this Prabhavananda, who was barely thirty, was transferred tothe California Mission as an assistant swami. Some time after this he became head of the Southern California Branch untilhis death in 1976, aged 83. For much of this time, from 1939 onwards, Isherwood was one of his devotees and, to adegree, his disciple - the one of the book title. He has given a detailed account of this relationship which was both as thefriend and the mentor of Isherwood. Together they produced an important biography of Ramakrishna and the firstgeneration of monks called
 Ramakrishna and His Disciples
- see Bibliography. From
 My Guru and His Disciple
one candiscern that some of the successors of the great Ramakrishna were still on the path themselves for most of their lives, butwhile none of them ventured to presume themselves ‘gurus’, it was obvious that, in the end, many of them had becomeenlightened beings.Isherwood records many of the comments and feelings that Prabhavananda conveyed to him. At one time, whenaged 62, he said to Isherwood after a ceremony, “I get so bored with philosophy nowadays - even with Shankara (the 8thcentury reviver of Advaita). Then he intimated that he had always been intensely aware of the presence of Brahmananda.He said, “If there hadn’t been others there, I’d have balled like a baby... I used to want visions and ecstasies but now I
 
18don’t care. I only pray to love God.” Isherwood commented: “He’s like a young man in love.” And some time laterPrabhavananda said, “I want to have this joy not only occasionally but always - then I can pass it on to all of you.”Later in his life Prabhavananda’s began to feel the presence of the Lord almost continuously; he no longer had tomake much effort - sometimes it was Ramakrishna, sometimes Sarada Devi, or Maharaj (Swami Brahmananda). He said,“When I met Maharaj I knew that one could know God... It’s all Maharaj... Everything he told me is coming true; I didn’tunderstand him at the time. Now I begin to know what he was talking about.” Isherwood recounts: “He kept repeatingMaharaj matters most to him - even more than Ramakrishna, because he actually
knew
Maharaj. He was in a wonderfullyexalted mood and said, speaking of Maharaj, “Chris (Isherwood), I saw him! His Joy, the nowness of it, was so beautiful.”He told Isherwood that he had come to realize more and more that Maharaj, Swamiji (Vivekananda), Holy Mother, andRamakrishna, “are all the same.”Something that speaks worlds for the exalted state that some of the successors of Ramakrishna must haveachieved, was concerned with the relationship with Krishnamurti (Chapter 5). Both Isherwood and Aldous Huxley were, atone time, official disciples of Swami Prabhavananda, even though Huxley had stronger leanings towards Krishnamurti -who abhorred the idea of priests and gurus. Nevertheless, Krishnamurti and Prabhavananda met on a number of occasionsand showed the greatest respect and humility towards each other. (Krishnamurti was actually under fire from theRamakrishna Mission at that time - because Mrs. Anne Besant, Krishnamurti’s self-appointed patron, had dared to suggestthat he, Krishnamurti, was an ‘Avatar’ - and therefore equal in Hindu mythological belief, to Ramakrishna).Prabhavananda’s death was characteristic of the deaths of many great beings, serene and focused. Isherwoodwrote that in the afternoon he had had a heart attack and was very weak. (Previously he had told Isherwood that after anearlier heart attack he hadn’t been afraid - he had simply observed the palpitations of his heart.) On the occasion of hisdeath he spoke of Maharaj (Brahmananda) and then was quiet. Later he asked, “What time?” and on being told said, “No,too soon - it must be midnight.” - Just before midnight his lips began to move and his eyes were turned up, and just aftermidnight those around him began chanting, “Om, Hari Om, Ramakrishna.” With the first Hari Om, he gently exhaled hislast breath and died. (It is generally agreed that he wanted to wait for midnight because the following day was July thefourth - auspicious not because of the American celebration, but because Vivekananda had died on a fourth of July.)
The Master Mahasaya:
Of all the disciples of Ramakrishna, the one who gained the greatest status as a saint of that period in India was the Master Mahasaya. His greatness almost equaled that of Ramakrishna himself. He had been adisciple of Ramakrishna’s for the last five years of the latter’s life. Unlike most of the others he did not take sanyas(monkhood) but was married and led a family life until old age. Paul Brunton met the Master Mahasaya in Calcutta in1935. He was in his seventies at the time. On being asked to say something about Ramakrishna, he said this:
“Ah, you raise the subject about which I best love to talk... It is nearly half a century since he left us, but his blessed memory can never leave me; always it remains fresh and fragrant in my heart. I was constantly in his society for the last  five years of his life. The result was that I became a changed man; my whole attitude to life was reversed... He threw aspiritual spell upon all who visited him. Even materialistic persons who came to scoff became dumb in his presence... Theyhad to bow before his tremendous spirituality which was so real that it could be felt. He taught us that pride, riches,wealth, worldly honors, worldly position are trivialities in comparison with that spirituality - fleeting illusions that deceivemen.Often he would pass into trances of so palpably divine a nature that we who gathered around him then would feelthat he was a God, rather than a man. Strangely, too,
 
he possessed the power of inducing a similar state in his disciples bymeans of a single touch; in this state they could understand the deep mysteries of God by means of direct perception. I had been educated along Western lines. My head was filled with intellectual pride. I had served as a professor at different times. Ramakrishna was living in the temple of Dakshineswar... There I found him one unforgettable spring dayand listened to his simple expression of spiritual ideas born of his own experience. I made a feeble attempt to argue withhim but soon became tongue-tied in that sacred presence, whose effect on me was too deep for words. Again and again I visited him, unable to stay away from this poor, humble but divine person, until Ramakrishnaone day humorously remarked, ‘A peacock was given a dose of opium at four o’clock. The next day it appeared at exactlythe same hour. It was under the spell of opium and came for another dose.’... That was true, symbolically speaking. I had never enjoyed such blissful experiences as when I was in the presence of Ramakrishna, so you can wonder why I cameagain and again. And so I became one of his group of intimate disciples, as distinguished from merely occasional visitors. Ramakrishna has gone, but as you travel through India, you will see some of the social, philanthropic, medicaland educational work being done throughout the country under the inspiration of those early disciples of his, most of whom, alas, have now passed away too.People should associate frequently with truly holy men who have real spiritual experience. Constant contact withthem will assist them to bring out their latent spirituality. Higher men turn our minds and wills towards divine objects. Above all, they cause an intense longing for spiritual life. Therefore the society of such men is very important as the first step, and often it is also the last, as Ramakrishna himself used to say.”
Paul Brunton’s comments on Master Mahasaya himself are as follow: “Night after night I come, less to hear theutterances of Mahasaya than to bask in the spiritual sunshine of his presence. The atmosphere around him is tender andbeautiful, gentle and loving; he has found some inner bliss and the radiation of it seems palpable. Often I forget his words,but I cannot forget his benignant personality. That which drew him again and again to Ramakrishna seems to draw me toMahasaya also, and I begin to understand how potent must have been the influence of the teacher when the pupil exercises
 
19such a fascination upon me. When our last night came... the good Master takes my hand... He says softly, ‘My task hasalmost come to an end. This body has nearly finished what God sent it here to do. Accept my blessing before I go’.”In fact, by a strange ‘coincidence’, Paul Brunton met a wandering sadhu some time later and far to the south inTamil Nadu. The sadhu, quite unprompted, asked him what he felt about the Master Mahasaya. Paul Brunton wassurprised but said that he loved him greatly and would go to see him soon. The sadhu then said, “You will never see theMaster in this short life again for the hand of death is already approaching him”. And so it happened, a few months laterthe Master Mahasaya passed away.
 Practicalities
The Belur Math is located on the banks of the Ganges, opposite the Dakshineswar Kali Temple whereRamakrishna served an a priest. The ashes of Ramakrishna’s most famous disciple, Swami Vivekananda, and those of Ramakrishna’s wife Sarada Devi are interred here, and there is a small museum of Swami Vivekananda’s memorabilia.The math has a comfortable guest house for serious devotees of Ramakrishna and for members of the various VedantaSocieties. Others may stay for a few days with prior permission. Payment is by appropriate donation. Contact details are asfollow: Belur math, (Attention of General secretary), Ramakrishna Mission, PO Belur math 211202, District Howrah,West Bengal, India. Tel. (Internat.) +91 33 654 1146 /1180 /1144 /5391 (local) 033 654 1146 etc. Fax. (Internat.)+91 33654 4346 (local) 033 654 4346.Most visitors stay at the Ramakrishna Institute of Culture which is mainly concerned with cultural andsociological works. Contact details are as follow: Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, (Attention of the Secretary),Gol Park, Calcutta 700 029, West Bengal, India. Tel. (Internat.) +913374 1303 /1304 /1305 (local) 033 741303 etc. Fax.(Internat.) +9133 741307 (local) 033 741307. The Website is:www.Sriramakrishna.org 
 
Chapter 2
 RAMA TIRTHA - A SAINT OF PRACTICAL VEDANTA
 I can wear the silver threads of moonlight... I can dance in the waves of the sea. I am the breeze that proudly walks and the wind inebriated.
Rama Tirtha was born in West Punjab (now Pakistan) in 1873 and died in 1906. He was related to Gosain TulsiDas, the mystical saint reputed to be the author of the Ramayana. His mother is also said to have been the aunt of Papaji(Ch.12). In his short life he became one of India’s best-loved saints and, along with Vivekananda and Yogananda, wasconsidered to be one of the very few fully-realized Indian spiritual teachers to travel to the West. During this period heentranced audiences with his interpretations of Western philosophy and Vedanta and his explanations of the universality of all religions from Sufism to Christianity, and Buddhism to Hinduism. He said of himself (in the third person), “Ramaguarantees that anybody in this world who hears his speeches (or reads his books), would get his doubts removed andwould be sure to come to the conviction of his own divinity.”
 Background 
From infancy Rama was regarded as a beautiful and charming child who radiated extraordinary grace andintelligence and won the hearts of all who encountered him. His early life was recorded by Shribad Rama Sharma in hisbook 
Swami Rama Tirtha - the Apostle of Practical Vedanta
- see Bibliography. As a child he would sometimes fall intomystical trances. At school he was placed under the guardianship of Baghat Dhanna Rama, a saintly man who wielded agreat influence on his life by expounding the
Yoga Vasistha
- the story of the enlightenment of the Hindu deity Rama underthe tutelage of the sage Vasistha.The young Rama Tirtha became a brilliant scholar and at the age of 22 with high distinctions and an MA degree,was appointed as a professor of mathematics at Lahore University. Here he gave an indication of his exalted state when hewrote to his guardian as follows: “The degree of concentration and pure divine feeling is wonderfully high these days andGod consciousness is possessing with a marvelous sweep. As the body is subject to fickle whims and constant change, Iwill never, never identify myself with this naughty will-o-the-wisp”. He had been married early in the Brahmin traditionbut in 1897, at the age of twenty four, he left his family for ramblings in sacred spots and in the forests around Rishikesh,Northern India, and completely devoted his life to spirituality. In 1901, at the age of 28 and with the persuasion of SwamiVivekananda (Chapter 1), he took sanyas (monkhood).It was said that he behaved as if ‘God intoxicated’ through most of his adult life and at times would weep tears of  joy and ecstasy and lose himself, even during his public lectures. He was never pedantic and would not judge others’opinions. He was extremely polite to all persons and also to animals and even inanimate things. Even to his pens and books
 
20he would talk lovingly - to him they were all God. An observer of that period, Sadar Puran Singh, said, “No words couldpaint the charm of this person.” - see Introduction to
 In the Woods of God Realization
Vol. II. He toiled day and nightpracticing spiritual exercises and at times attained visions of Krishna and other celestial beings. To these he would alsoapply scientific observation and concluded, after looking Krishna squarely in the eyes, that he (Krishna) was a product of his own (Rama Tirtha’s) divinity, that marked a particular state of mind-concentration - his vision was nothing but amanifestation of his exalted state of mind.He was above all fear, anxiety and annoyance - a state to which he rose through constant practice andperseverance, from (in his own words) the lowest depths of ignorance and superstition. And he said to all comers, “If I cando it so can you... My voice is your voice… No powers, kings, devils or gods can withstand it - inevitable is the order of Truth. My head is your head; cut it off and a thousand will grow.”Whenever he could Rama went to the Himalayan hills where, it is said, after spending time alone in the forestsnear Rishikesh, he realized the Atman. Of himself he would say: “The whole universe serves me as this body. I shine in thelightning and roar in the thunder... I flutter in the leaves - I am in all.”Rama was a great admirer of the Sufi tradition and would talk of the Sufi saint Shems of Tabrez as if talking of himself. He said: “Shems forgot he was born... he forgot his personality... he was all divinity. It is said that when he walkedpeople heard, as if coming from the pores of his body as a song, ‘Haq Analhaq, Haq Analhaq’ - God, I am God. Ordinarypeople were enraged and murdered him for heresy but Shems seemed not even aware of it. Whom would they kill? He wasimpaled on a spike with his face still glowing with the glory of God. And from every hair came the same sweet song - ‘HaqAnalhaq’.”In 1904 and 1905 Rama traveled to Japan, America, Europe, Egypt and throughout India. His talks werespellbinding and laden with the divine ecstasy of a realized being. They were, in effect, miracles. In Egypt he waswelcomed by Mohammedans as he spoke in Persian in a mosque. His opening words were: “I shall shower oceans of loveand bathe the world in joy. All societies are mine! Come; for I shall pour out floods of love. Every force is mine, small andgreat - Welcome!” And in America, as if in harmony with the worship of physical power characteristic of that nation, hewent on a cross country run with marines and finished several hours before the next runners.In his talks he would first warm the heart of the listener and then the intellect. His scholarship was astounding,covering Western philosophy, mathematics, chemistry, biology and evolution - so that he could talk of Vedanta (SanatanaDharma), which embraces all these philosophies, to a Western audience. Of Vedanta he knew every detail and he couldexpound on every mantra, analyzing every word with acute accuracy. Upon his farewell from America devotees wrote thefollowing touching little poem for him:
TO DEAR RAMA
Like a golden oriole neath the pines, Rama chants to us his blessed lines,Rich freighted with the Orient’s lore, he spreads it out upon our Western shore,A bird of passage on the wing, he brings a message from the King,And this: his clear resounding call - is all for God, and God for all!His message given he flits afar, a swiftly coursing meteor,But leaves of heavn’ly fire a trace, a new-born love for all his race.Adieu sweet Rama, thy radiant smile, a soul in hades would beguile.And though we may not meet again, upon this changing earthly plane,We know to thee all good must be, for thou in God hath God in thee.
Teachings
It seems that the teachings or Rama were made potent through the divine and unseen energy that emanated fromhim - the ‘silent teaching’ so to speak. For example, one man commented after hearing a talk on the
 Bhagavad Gita
, asfollows: “I had no faith in the
 Bhagavad Gita
, nor did I find anything worthy of admiration in the life of Krishna. Yet thecharm of his speech and the spell of his words was such that I felt induced to read about these things - the effect itproduced on me was simply indescribable.”Rama maintained that the scriptures should be studied like chemistry and physics, with our own experience as theultimate authority. He proclaimed: “Develop self confidence and reliance. Be a free thinker - judge for yourself, and listento the inner voice so that you understand the Truth and the Truth alone. Avoid dogmas and blind faith. All the prophets inthe world can’t help unless you remove your own darkness!”One of his main and often-repeated teachings was that renunciation was a necessary ingredient on the path toenlightenment in this life. In defense of this would say: “The love of God that is good for you must also be good for yourwife or husband. The Truth is eternal and the world momentary... (and) sensuous engagements are nothing but a deadcarcass - those who run after them are behaving no better than dogs. If you could love the Truth even half as much as youlove your wife you would
realize
immediately.” But he would sometimes add that it does not mean giving up the family,but rather giving up attachments. He would say, “Happiness is within you. Don’t suffer from any desire. Overcome bodyconsciousness. Give up your ego which is the root of selfishness and the worst defilement. Be above body and mindconsciousness.”Rama did not try to retain any of his talks but some of them were recorded and collected by his chief disciple
 
21Swami Narayana and these have been published in nine volumes under the title
 In the Woods of God Realization
- seePracticalities. These are some examples of his teachings:
The path to Truth:
Rama said that the path to the Truth is a contradiction in terms, for the Truth is not far distantsomewhere else, but within. To attain it we simply have to
undo
what we have spent our lives doing in making our ownprisons - that is, fabricating our ‘personalities’. There is some effort required for all attachments: loves and hates, and alldesires, are shackles and chains - as are all debased yearnings, superstitions, and prejudices. He said, “It’s a great dealmore than refraining from conjugal activities; house, dog, mother, child and so on - so make yourself free of 
all
that keepsyou bound to the world!”
On spirituality and psychic powers:
In answer to a question on the desirability of contact with departed spirits,Rama expounded on the cosmic worlds. He explained that there are three basic worlds: the gross physical world, thepsychic or astral world, and the world of the unknown. The heavens and hells of the religions all belong to the second - butthey are all of them simply
worlds
; that is, they exist in the illusion of time and duality. To hanker after any of them, evenwhere you may imagine a departed soul to be, is worldliness. It will not lead to true immortality. He said, “In India thereare many yogis and psychics who know about the astral world but we should not bow to them on our knees for peace andhappiness because we cannot get that from them. They are far from being holy. There was a man in India who wasapparently dead for six months in a state called
kheahari mudra
known to yogis. It seems to be a wonder of wonders butthis man was far from being happy and free.”He explained that everyone wants to enlarge and extend their personal dominion, but personal power binds just asmuch as material wealth does. Such fakirs may be happy when they are in a state of samadhi, which is a good state, but onthe material plane they are just as miserable as anybody else. Keeping the mind in a state of trance for hours is notnecessarily brought about by divine wisdom - for when they wake, Rama said: “The snake of passion awakens also! So, isit right to develop psychic powers? For your own sakes remember it is just worldliness. Rama recommends no huntingafter shadows and ghosts. It is your own self that appears as ghosts and spirits... In dreams the rivers and mountains arewithin you. You split yourself into the phenomena (the objects), and the little thinking agent (the ‘subject’ - your egoicself). But in reality you are the subject
and 
the object. You are the lovely rose and the nightingale. Everything is you: theghosts, the gods and angels, the sinners and the saints - all are you. Know that, feel that, realize that - and you are free.This is attained through the path of renunciation... Place all your confidence in yourself and nothing will make you fall.”
Aids to spiritual practice - pranayana:
Rama often taught about practices to aid realization. He said,
Thereare eight principal methods of yoga but one is mentioned by Rama for getting out of the dumps and to control thoughts, itis control of the breath (pranayana)... Through pranayana you gain strength and expel diseases; but most people fall sick when they hear this from Rama, because they prolong the steps excessively. So be natural, be judicious, try to increasegradually.” He also explained that there is nothing mystical in pranayana, nothing supernatural - it just helps toconcentrate the mind. This is his description of one of the basic pranayana exercises:
Sit upright with the right thumb on the right nostril and inhale long and deeply thinking that divinity is beinginhaled. When filled close the left nostril and keep the breath in the lungs, abdomen and all cavities and think you aredivinity permeating every atom of the universe. As the breath fills your body realize that you are the Truth that fills theuniverse. When you cannot hold the breath any longer exhale slowly through the right nostril feeling that impurities and ignorance are being exhaled - weakness, fear, anxiety, worry. Now take the hand away but hold the breath out for sometime and let the mind feel that it is divinity - the Atman, and not limited by anything in the world. Now relax and breathe asif you have been exercising for some time until recovered. This resting is actually also part of the pranayana. Then beginthe process again but this time inhaling first through the right nostril and exhaling through the left.
Chanting sacred syllables:
Rama said that the sages threw themselves into ecstasies by chanting the sacredsyllable Om. It does not belong to any language; it comes from within; it resembles a child’s cry and the sound occurs inevery language, animals say it; it pervades life through prana and brings relief to the sick; mentally saying SO-HAM inbreathing in and out, is chanting OM mindfully - thus reality runs through the breath. These are his instructions:
Soham is a prayer not of asking but of realization. Sit at ease with back straight and understand there is only onereality. Chant OM! - feel it, let the OM be your symbol. Chant with your whole soul. All powers I am - All joy, all Truth -OM! .. Light, fearlessness is me - no attachment or aversion - OM! .. I hear in all ears, see in all eyes. In all minds I think - OM! .. Sages aspire to know me - OM! .. The light of stars is me - OM! … All your troubles will disappear as you lose your small self that makes the world more real than God. If the body feels sick, leave it aside. Feel healthy and you
will
be.The small ifs and I’s will be gotten rid of with your own divinity.
The secret of Rest :
Rama recognized that the demands of life bring tension but the secret of rest was not to giveup work but to rely on renunciation. Give yourself to any work that presents itself but while working take short rests andthink, “The body is nothing.” You have nothing to do with its actions or results. You are a witness only. Close your eyesand unburden thought. The more you unburden thought the stronger you will feel.
Lecture to yourself :
In a talk delivered in America and recorded in Volume II of 
 In the Woods of God  Realization
, Rama advocated lecturing to yourself : in the sense of, and based on, a study of the scriptures - marking thefaults that have to be removed and crushing them one by one. Persuade yourself of the need to give up desires becausedesires inhibit concentration. If greed or grief exist, reflect why? Chant OM and subdue them. He said: “One by one takeup the dragon’s heads and lecture on each to yourself. And while meditating chant OM.” Rama maintained that the basiccause of all evils is ignorance. It reveals itself in the desire to identify with the body and bodily pleasures, and the tendency
 
22to be grieved, injured and afflicted : “So, do not starve and do not overfeed - be the master!”
On centering:
Rama said, “Whatever you are doing keep your thoughts always at home. Be not ‘centre out’.Continuously contemplate the light of the world as yourself. Always be in touch with your divinity... Those who are reallyhappy are those who keep themselves above worldly pleasures and pains.” Children, for example, are mostly abovecausation, enjoying everything and caring not for reason - and so they are cheerful and happy. We should struggle alwaysto be above the plane of causation. He said, “I am simply the witness of phenomena, never entangled, ever above.. Allphenomena are simply harmonic vibrations of the upward and downward motions of the universe, the rising and bringingdown of the step.”
Death, the physical body and the subtle body :
The human being is like a horse and rider. The physical body isthe horse but the rider is the subtle body. This leads to confusion in thinking about such matters as death and freedom. Allmust die to the physical body yet no one entertains death. Everyone carries on developing connections, promoting growthand engaging in activities as if death will never take hold of them. Rama explains, “The cause of this is that your real Self,is incapable of death... But the attributes of the real Self are, by mistake, attributed to the mortal body, and in the mortalbody we find nothing that could give us belief in immortality.” So why can’t we believe in death practically since it is socertain a thing? According to Vedanta it is because the real Self - the Soul or Atman, is incapable of death - and thisthought is universal, even in the animal kingdom.
Conflict and bloodshed:
Similarly we believe in “freedom” but no one is really free in the world because of somany attachments, desires and temptations - sweet fruits, delicious food, attractive colours, prosperity - they all make usslaves. In a lecture entitled
Sin; its relation to the Atman
, which appears in Volume I of 
 In the Woods of God Realization
,Rama continues to develop the concept of attributes of the Atman being incorrectly applied to the body. Themisidentifications also apply to sin, guilt and conflict, and the notion of ‘freedom’ - particularly as it prevailed at that time- the turn of the 20
th
century. The cause of bloodshed, he maintained, was related to the notion of freedom which very fewunderstood. There is no freedom in the world because everything of the world is bound by time, space and causation.Every thought and deed is determined by the chain of causation which binds us, so how can we be free? “Yet,” he said,“We are so concerned about freedom - explain that! This idealized “freedom” comes from the Atman, which really
is
free -unlimited, unbound. But we want to have freedom for the body, mind and gross self (the egoic personality) which arebound and hence are not capable of freedom.”In regard to “sin” he said that everyone in the world, from the point of view of the egoic self, is a sinner -responsible for defects, deficiencies and so on. Yet nobody, except in religious perversion, considers himself to be a sinner- even convicted criminals maintain their innocence. But in church they switch to another mode and confess their sins. Of these tendencies Rama asked, “Is this not an anomaly? According to Vedanta the belief that we are not sinners is testamentto the true holy character of the Atman, the inner Self - which really
is
sinless and pure - the holy of holies. In the pursuitof wealth there is no limit and no happiness is ever achieved. Therefore the cause of peace must be something else. Yeteveryone wants wealth... ‘Gain the whole world but lose your soul’ - What does that mean? According to Vedanta the
real
 Self is the cause of wanting to possess the world - but while in the body this cannot be achieved... No one sees this.”He explained that while Jesus spoke about the giving up of riches and the need for renunciation, we still hankerafter riches and comfort - even missionaries and dignitaries of the church do this. Rama said that the antidote to thisdilemma is to understand that the cause of the ignorance, that makes us confuse body and spirit, is that we attribute to thebody what is of the Self, and to the Self, the misery of the body. So, he said, “Remove this ignorance and you will see therich man with no money and the monarch of the world with no land and property. It is said that Alexander the Great lookedat the smiling face of a saint and asked him to come to Greece. The saint just laughed and said, ‘The world is in me - whyshould I go to Greece?’ Alexander got angry and was going to chop his head off but the saint just laughed and said, ‘I amthe power that makes your hands move’ - and the sword just dropped to the ground.”
The cardinal sins:
According to Vedanta there is a power that leads you to anger, greed, vanity, attachment,sensuality, and so on. It is the same energy as the Atman. We can’t remove the propensity for sin by preaching, but we canspiritualize this energy. However faulty and sinful the physical individual may be, the sinlessness of the real Self must alsobe there - must sometimes make itself felt, because it is there and cannot be destroyed. The cardinal sins of vanity andpride and the need for flattery, Rama maintained, are not deadly but are universal. He said, “From the lowest vermin to thehighest god, flattery is welcome. Even dogs enjoy flattery. How is it? Even the gods of higher worlds are apprised byflattery. In Christian practice prayers are mostly comprised of asking for things by the use of flattery. Vedanta explains thatthe cause of feeling good from flattery is due to the real Self. It is not that the statements are true when applied to worldlyindividuals, but they seem true because there is something behind the senses, some potent force to which flattery can berendered. The sinfulness of wanting flattery is the mistake of rendering it to the body and the egoic small ‘personality’self.”Avarice is also universal; animals, men, women, everybody has it. Such greed is never satisfied and the more wehave the more is greed inflamed. All the preaching cannot strangle it. Rama asks, “Is it due to Satan? Not so. Vedantaexplains it as the Atman asserting itself. Its energy cannot be crushed - but you can make the right use of it. Eradicate theerror of your misunderstanding and realize the Self and then it is impossible for you to seek these outside things toaccumulate around your body.”Anger, according to the explanation of Vedanta, occurs because the Self is absolutely free and universal so thatthe ego is not satisfied to be limited in any way. Sensuality is wanting all the beauty of the Self but in the world it becomes
 
23nothing but gratifying the senses of the physical body. Attachment and grief is the wanting that things around you shouldnot change while, in reality, in the world everything is in a state of flux. Of all these things Rama said, “The mistake of attaching vanity or pride to the body is the cause of seeking aggrandizement of the body, of becoming frustrated and angry,and of wanting things to be permanent - and this wanting is based on ignorance. So if ignorance could be called ‘Satan’ wemight say: ‘Here comes Satan which puts things into confusion’... You will never be able to do away with animal passionsunless you do away with all that attracts you... You stand above all these passions and then you will be perfectly free,perfectly full of bliss - this truly is heaven!”
 Rama’s early death
V. C. Lucknow, in a foreword of Volume III of 
 In the Woods of God Realization
, wrote the following words: “In the caseof Rama Tirtha the sword was too keen for the scabbard. At the early age of 33 he laid himself to rest, as romantic in deathas in life, in the icy bubbling waters of the Ganga in Tehri, on the beautiful festival day of Dipawali in 1906... A strangemystical anticipation of his own death was seen in his poetic expression of immortality, written a few weeks before hisdemise:
“Oh death! Take away this body if you please. I care not. I have enough of bodies to use. I can wear the silver threads of moonlight. I can roam as divine minstrel and put on the guise of hilly streams and mountain brooks. I can dancein the waves of the sea. I am the breeze that proudly walks and the wind inebriated. All these are my wandering shapes of change. I came down from yonder hills, raised the dead, awakened the sleeping, unveiled the fair faces of some and wiped the tears of weeping ones. The bulbul and the rose both I saw and comforted them. Him I touched, her I touched. Now I doff my hat and off I am. Here I go and there I go, and none can find me. I keep nothing with me. “
It may be said that such as he comes to this world for a short time, throws out some hints and then departs. Hedraws out love and then disappears, leaving people to stand on their own feet.
 Practicalities
Rama Tirtha became a monk of the Ramakrishna order. His heritage was the salvaged transcriptions of some of his talks, collected by the chief disciple of his lifetime, Swami Narayana. (The first three are English language talks). Thetalks have been published in nine volumes under the
 
title
In the Woods of God Realization,
by the
Rama Tirtha Pratiisthan:
9, Vishnupuri, Church Road, Aliganj, Lucknow 26602, India. Tel. +91522332376. E.mail:webmaster@ramatirtha.orgInUSA the agent for publications is Blue Dove Foundation, 4204 Sorento Valley Blvd. Suite K, San Diego, CA 92121,USA. E.mail:mail@bluedove.org 
 
Chapter 3
 BHAGAWAN NITYANANDA
 He spoke in a strange language, addressing no one in particular, and everyone present felt he was speaking to him or her alone.
Bhagawan Nityananda is one of the great mystical saints of the twentieth century and has become a householdname in many parts of Mumbai (Bombay) and Maharashtra. Thousands of people still go to his grave, his MahasamadhiShrine, in Ganeshpuri near Mumbai, to his ashram in Kanhangad, Kerela and other places where had lived, to ask forblessings. His origins and nature are shrouded in mystery but his influence on those that came to him was, and still is, quiteprofound. He was an avadahoot, a recluse, who did not give verbal teachings. Yet his ‘silent teachings’ and social worksfor poor villagers were quite remarkable - see further on. These are the comments of a devotee who visited him for the firsttime in the early 1940’s - see
 Bhagawan Nityananda of Ganeshpuri.
 
“Rain poured down in sheets. In the enclosed veranda, the atmosphere was filled with the sulphurous odors fromthe nearby hot springs. A few rain-drenched visitors were staring, wide-eyed, through the bars of a window at the ebony figure seated alone on a hard wooden bench inside. He was as motionless as a black granite statue - gazing into space far beyond human vision. The visitors waited expectantly for some indication that this being was alive and not merely a statue. But he seemed totally unaware of their presence. Then, after a few minutes, the figure did move: He lowered his gaze and spoke. A high-pitched voice broke the silence of the dark, rainy afternoon. He spoke in a strange language, addressing noone in particular, and continued speaking until everyone present felt he was speaking to him or her alone. My rain-soaked clothes were completely dry by now and I started sweating under them when he looked at me and asked, ‘Did you take a bath in the hot springs? Did you have the Darshan of Vajreshwari?’ Awe struck, I could only nod... Bhagawan Nityananda was a giant among the Siddha Masters of his time. There have been very few who have equaled hisstature throughout history. Nevertheless, his life was completely shrouded in mystery until Swami Muktananda, his worthydisciple, opened the treasure house of his own spiritual experiences, and I was shown who Nityananda truly was.”
 
 
24
 Early life
Bhagawan Nityananda is considered to be an Avatar - that is, he was already enlightened at birth and, likeRamakrishna, Anandamayi Ma and Amma, needed no guru or spiritual guide. In spite of his great popularity, details of hisbirth and his growing up are not clearly known, so that there are several versions. It is believed he may have been bornaround 1897 in Kerela, being found in strange circumstances as a baby on a forest path and guarded by a cobra. He livedwith his adopted father, Ishwar Iyer - a well known lawyer, through his childhood to the age of around ten. He wasapparently mischievous but instinctively knew the scriptures in great detail.His adopted father took him on a pilgrimage when he was ten to the holy town of Kashi (also known as Varanasiand Benares), after which he insisted on going off on his own. As indicated in
Gurudev Nityananda
- see Bibliography, it isbelieved that during this period he spent around ten years in the Himalayas.He first re-appeared in Kanhangad in south Karnataka at the age of about 20 in 1916 or 1917, and lived for sometime in a nearby forest cave in deep meditation. This place is now called Guruvan (Guru’s Forest) and is considered to be aholy and mysterious place and is a destination of pilgrimage for devotees from Mangalore and elsewhere - who go there onthe occasion of the anniversary of his death.After some time he began to travel again, but mainly around Karnataka and Kerela. It is also believed that thesetravels took him to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) when a boat on which he had been working, left suddenly. This was during the FirstWorld War and officials in Ceylon, seeing an apparently ordinary healthy young fellow, tried to recruit him into the army.However, Bhagawan was having none of this and foiled them by slowing his heart beat so much during the medicalexamination that the doctors thought he had died.During this wandering period he lived alone and never remained anywhere for long. Usually he traveled on foot -at faster than lightning speed on some occasions - because, like many great Siddhas, he would sometimes be seen indifferent places at the same time. He appeared to be always in a state of total bliss. It was said that he was almost alwayssmiling and lived in childlike innocence, so people began to call him Nityananda - one who is always in bliss. He acceptedfood and water only when it was offered and sometimes it appeared that he did not eat for long periods of time.Consequently, it was believed that he didn’t really need anything - he was complete in himself.After several years in South India he began again to travel further afield and visited holy sites throughout India -on a pilgrimage of blessing, and receiving the blessings, of places with great spiritual energy. Swami Muktananda, in hisbiography
 Nityananda of Ganeshpuri
, records that he could describe each pilgrimage site in great detail. According tosome sources of information he may again have lived in the Himalayas during this period. But later he returned to theSouth.Around the year 1925, he started to build a road and develop a meditation cave complex near Kanhangad, whichattracted the attention of the authorities. They wondered where this strange ‘fakir’ was getting the money for theseenterprises. He was asked by visiting officials to explain and, according to records of the time, he took them to a crocodileinfested lake where he dove in and came up with handfuls of new rupee coins. Awestruck, the officials returned to theirheadquarters; but later another visit was made, this time led by the arrogant English Collector Sahib of South Karnataka, aMr. Gawne. They traveled along the road in question and eventually met the Bhagawan. Immediately, it seems, a markedchange was wrought in Mr. Gawne - who dropped his official stance and appeared quite humbled. Bhagawan said that if he(Mr. Gawne) wanted the road he could have it. After this, apparently satisfied, the party retraced its steps, and as theyreached the start of the road they were amazed to see a perfect Public-Works-Department road sign bearing the nameGawne Road.Bhgawan’s building days resulted in an extensive cave complex and also a large ashram near the town of Kanhangad a few miles from the Guruvan cave; but in 1933, when the construction of the ashram was complete, he madeanother move. He had spent the first half of his life as a wandering avadahoot around India but he now made his way toGaneshpuri where he spent the second half of his life.
The Ganeshpuri period 
The Ganeshpuri area is considered to be a very holy place where, in ancient times, the Sage Vasistha (the Guru of Rama) is said to have performed a great Yajna (fire ceremony) and installed a statue of Lord Ganesh in a temple.Bhagawan Nityananda arrived in the early
 
nineteen
 
thirties when he would have been about 35 or 36 years of age. At firsthe lived near the Vajreshwari temple, built by Shree Chimnaji Appa, a Maratha ruler - to commemorate a victory over thePortuguese at the nearby coastal city of Vasai. He also spent time at the village of Akloli; at both places he built resthouses for visiting sadhus and sunk wells. In Vajreshwari he also established a clinic, a maternity home, a restaurant and aschool.Later he settled in Ganeshpuri town around 2.5 kilometers from Vajreshwari, near the hot springs of theBimeshwar Mahadev Temple. The
 
Ganeshpuri valley was at that time surrounded by forest. The Tejasa River flows besidethe town, where the now-famous hot springs are located, and the valley is overlooked by Mount Mandagni - which isbelieved to be the ‘Mandakini Mountain’ mentioned in scriptures.At the time of Bhgawan’s arrival the area was a forested wilderness full of snakes and wild animals, includingleopards and tigers. There was only an overgrown Shiva temple with the hot springs beside it. This is now the site of Bhagawan’s samadhi shrine. At first he lived in a simple hut near the hot springs while the temple as well as the hot springsfacilities were being renovated. This ancient Shiva temple has a Shiva lingam known as Bimeshwar Mahadev. To this daya continuous trickle of holy water falls from the dome of the temple onto the lingam. This water is considered to be
 
25extremely sacred - no less so than water of the Ganges that flows from Shiva’s locks. During the very early morningsBhagawan used to bathe at the hot springs. Here devotees would watch him and receive his Darshan - and after that theywould feel very happy.From the earliest days many devotees used to come to have the Darshan of Bhagawan even though there was noplace for them to stay. Later, in 1956, devotees built a larger accommodation called Kailas Nivas where Bhagawan lived,and since then the village has grown steadily to become a small town with simple hotels, rental apartments, shops, a clinicand electrification. There is a frequent bus service to the nearby cities of Thane, Vasai and Virar.During the building of the road to Ganeshpuri, which was undertaken at the instigation of Bhagawan, the activityagain came to the notice of Government and an official was sent to investigate. The official report noted that Ganeshpurihad become a place of pilgrimage and a road would have had to be built anyway, and since this was already done by thisstrange ‘fakir’ the Government had been spared the expense. Nevertheless, the District Forest officer and the Collectorcame to inspect. When they saw Bhagawan Nityananda they withdrew but expressed surprise that someone dressed in aloincloth could be engaged in works of such social benefit.Nowadays there are blocks of flats in and around Ganeshpuri but there are still many farms, paddy fields andforested hills near the town. Hundreds of people visit Bhagawan’s Mahasamadhi shrine daily, and thousands visit onspecial occasions.
Siddhis; miracles
The miraculous happenings that took place around Nityananda were numerous. They are a subject of greatinterest in India and constitute much of the biography associated with him. Bhagawan’s miracles are considered to be of the highest type and not to be confused with those of the wonder-working yogis that abound in India. Higher miraclesmanifest of their own accord and are the reason that so many miracles occur around great beings, often without even theirown awareness of them.
 
Reports of Bhagawan’s siddhi
s
would fill volumes and only a few of the best known ones are mentioned here.Some events of his dealings with officialdom have already been described. Apart from these he is said to have causedseveral streams to flow which were not there before he came on the scene; one in his meditation cave at Guruvan, andanother at the site of his ashram near Kanhangad. The former, the cave at Guruvan, is considered to be a place where thepower of performing siddhis can be attained by yogis and there are eight huge stones there that are symbols of the eightpsychic powers.Bhagawan had a great liking for inducing siddhi
s
in his dealings with officials. In one place he was thrown intogoal for vagrancy, but when his gaolers saw him standing outside at the same time as he was in his cell, they quicklyrealized that he was something that should not to be meddled with, and he was released. He also had a great liking fortrains and would get on them from time to time. On one occasion the guard put what he perceived to be a simple fellow ina dhoti off at a station because he didn’t have a ticket. But when the driver tried to start the train it wouldn’t move - notuntil locals told the guard that Bhagawan was a divine being, and he was allowed to board again. On other occasions, whena guard asked him for his ticket, he produced hundreds of perfect tickets from his dhoti.Once he was observed to be walking on the surface of the Pavanja River in South Kanara in the State of Karnataka, and on another occasion the Netravati River mysteriously flooded inundating the town of Bantwal where thepeople had been ungracious to him. When they realized their mistake a delegation met him and asked him to intervene - hedid and the floods rapidly subsided.Later, in Ganeshpuri, the miracles
 
continued. On one occasion when sitting before a group of devotees, to theirgreat alarm a tiger came up behind him. He turned and gently touched the tiger’s paws and said, “Devi’s vehicle has comefor her Darshan”. (The Goddess Durga traditionally rides on a tiger). After this the tiger quietly turned and disappearedinto the surrounding jungle.
Powers of Yoga
: On two recorded occasions Bhagawan went into trance-like states and appeared to his devoteesand other witnesses to be quite dead. The devotees naturally became very alarmed. The first occasion was in 1922 or 1923in Mangalore. Some devotees were sitting with the master in the evening when they noticed that he appeared to be in atrance, and even after a long time had elapsed he remained motionless. Suddenly there was a flash of light on the wall andthe master became quite stiff and was not breathing. The devotees thought he had died and many devotees came to paytheir respects. But suddenly, on the afternoon of the following day, he come back to life. When questioned he commentedsimply that the time was not yet.The second well-recorded event occurred around 1933 on Chowpatty beach in Bombay. He asked devotees tobury him in the sand and dig him up only late in evening. His comment this time was that he had to go to Delhi to do somework. These are striking examples of his mastery of yoga, but the most remarkable feature of his life is not miracles, norhis powers of yoga, but Bhagawan himself and the influence he wielded on thousands of devotees.
What he was like - his ashrams
It is said that Bhagawan was always very tranquil, and in his presence those who were disturbed or had questionswould become silent and would receive answers to their questions in mysterious ways - through a gesture or a cryptic wordfull of profound meaning. Even his casual remarks wrought profound effects on those near him, or if addressed to aparticular individual or group of individuals, would bring about a feeling of deep calm and happiness. The atmospherearound him and in his ashram was always very disciplined - his tranquility and silence was transmitted to others who
 
26became silent too. His appearance was always auspicious, radiant and attractive. In the heat or cold he wore only a dhotiand sometimes a short blanket as a cloak. Baba Muktananda describes his appearance thus:
“His skin was like a dark shining jewel with divine radiance. His forehead was high and arched, and his face completelycaptivating. Thick eyebrows curved over his large beautiful eyes. A river of love poured forth from his glance... “
 Even to this day to view one of the old films made of him, fills the viewer with a feeling of awe. Bhagawan never used thefirst person when referring to himself. One of his biographers, M. U. Hatengdi records:
“On no single occasion either in His youth or later in Ganeshpuri, was He ever found using the first person singular (“I”)in reference to himself. It would always be ‘this one’ and ‘from here’. “
 Bhagawan loved solitude and silence and was not given to the performance of rituals or to intellectual discourse.He had no gospel to preach. But once when a rich visitor insisted on him and his family being blessed by touch, heuncharacteristically explained that blessing is not given by placing one’s hand on somebody’s head - it is an internaltransmission. In this way a master blesses countless people even when they are not present before him.He lived very simply and often lay on a plain concrete bench covered with a single blanket. He was also achampion of the poor and set up many feeding, health and other social programs. Even to this day children and wanderingholy men are fed daily at the temple of his samadhi shrine in Ganeshpuri.He loved children and the sounds of their voices playing around him could be heard all day long. He also lovedanimals and was frequently seen feeding them. He had a special relationship to snakes and it is said that on his first arrivalin Ganeshpuri - which was infested with cobras at that time, he asked them to move away so that his devotees would not bedisturbed. To this day the area of the temple and residence is said to be free of snakes - though they abound nearby.Bhagawan never seemed to sleep. He was absorbed inwardly and in the turia state, (a higher yogic state beyond the threecommon states of wakefulness, dreams and deep sleep). In the scriptures it is described thus:
 It is beyond the heat of the sun, the blowing of the wind, and the coolness of the moon; beyond starlight and the blaze of  fire; beyond pain and death - It is supremely blissful, eternal, and peaceful.“
 He used to say, “This one is everything.” Once when a photographer asked if he could take a picture, he replied,“Take a picture of the world - this one is the world. Is there any place where this one doesn’t exist? In everything there is aglimpse of the one.”
Teachings
As indicated before, Bhagawan did not give lectures or hold long discourses. His teaching was by the divineinfusion of spiritual knowledge. Swami Muktananda, who lived nearby, became one of the main interpreters of Bhagawan’s protracted remarks. A devotee, Shree D. M. Parukelar, a respected lawyer, had the privilege on occasions tosit at Bhagawan’s feet and hear his sutra teachings. He would write down the words and take them to Baba Muktanandawho would then elucidate their meaning.As far as actual teachings go Bhagawan would emphasize purity of mind, purity of feeling, and faith in God. Heused to tell his devotees to meditate. When people asked questions he might say, “Why talk so much! Meditate! You willget everything through meditation.”
 Shaktipat:
Though it is not necessarily supported by recorded evidence, Bhagawan Nityananda was said to beone of the few masters who advocated the direct giving of 
shaktipat 
(spiritual energy) to fairly large numbers of devotees.Shaktipat is often considered to be one of the keys to enlightenment, but can also lead to enhancement of the ego in thosewho are not ready to receive it.
 A strange association
A strange encounter between a newly-discovered ‘guru avatar’ called Ajja (grandfather) and BhagawanNityananda, was described by Andrew Cohen in the fall/winter issue of 
What is Enlightenment 
, Issue No. 14. AlthoughAjja has been around for many years, he was only recently discovered (in 1991) by a well known Indian pundit, BannanjeGovindacharya. While touring villages and expounding the teachings of Vedanta he recognized Ajja as an extraordinarybeing. His recognition spread and he is now honoured as a living master of Advaita and a large Ashram near Bangalore hasbeen made for him. Some devotees believe him to be a reincarnation of Mahatma Ghandi but on this he does not comment.He is hardly known in the West and it seems that many of his Indian devotees, quite understandably, want to keep it thisway. His story goes something like this:Ajja’s was born in 1926 into a wealthy farming family. He had no particular interest in spiritual matters but waspossessed of unusual purity of heart. As a young man he was struck by a terrible pain, beginning in the heart and soonencompassing his entire body. The pain lasted for around six months and then dispersed as quickly as it had arrived. Then,after a period of deep contemplation for several months on the nature of the pain that had afflicted him, he was able toarrive at the conclusion that the pain was bondage - and the cause of bondage is karma. He realized that karma is createdby the thoughts of the mind concerned with the small self - the ego. On the last night of this contemplative period heconcluded that money was the most important thing in the world of the small self, and that all fear and insecurity wasrooted in attachment to it. At this instant he experienced an astounding vision of a beautiful woman whose body was redand who, to his horror, had blood pouring from her mouth. This he recognized as death incarnate and with the vision camethe conviction that the root problem of money was possession, and possession was death. The vision of the woman thenchanged into a door and at this point he asked himself, “Who Am I?” The door then opened and he passed through itleaving his body - through the top of his head. Following this, his body lay on the floor apparently dead, but was guarded
 
27by a Muslim farmer who had received a cosmic instruction to look after it. He would not allow members of the family totouch it (with a view to cremation). Then, after some time, a ball of light appeared and entered the body at which point heopened his eyes, rose up, and said, “The one who was here is gone - someone else has come. I am not the body, I have nomother, I have no father - I am that brightness!”These events had a profound effect on him and after a period of adjustment (during which his family had himcommitted to a mental asylum - where he was declared to be quite sane), he left home and spent the next twenty yearscompletely God-intoxicated, wandering about as a naked avadahoot. He would dance and sing and move about whereverthe inclination took him, oblivious to the elements and to his surroundings. The Muslim farmer, Ishmael, became hisconstant companion and looked after his physical needs. Then in 1961, while in Rishikesh, he heard an internal voice thatsaid:
“Come to me. You come to me. This one is here in Ganeshpuri.”
 He recognized this immediately as a message from Bhagawan Nityananda and journeyed to Ganeshpuri to meetHim. It is said that they spent only five minutes together staring into each others eyes in complete silence; but after thisAjja came down from his solitary state, returned to his home, and re-entered the life of the world - though only in thelocation of his village in the South Indian State of Karnataka.He presumably had a small following but was virtually unknown outside his immediate circle until he wasdiscovered as indicated above. When questioned by Andrew Cohen on his connection with Mahatma Ghandi, he said,“What I experienced was Universal Soul... We cannot see our own face... That is left to others.”Andrew’s conclusion after meeting Ajja and observing a session with both devotees and potential detractors, whoquestioned his spiritual authority, was that in the end, what profoundly moved him was this extraordinary man’s utteremptiness of a personal self. He seemed to be literally an example of someone whose mind and body had become trulyempty and through which that ‘One without a second’ could shine - “untainted by even a trace of any individuality.”One could wonder if Ajja, in the ‘lineage’ tradition, is the true successor to Bhagawan Nityananda. From whatlittle is known it seems that his teachings would best lie in his presence itself - his silent teachings, and that any attempt toverbalize them would only reduce their efficacy. Bhagawan Nityananda was also such a master who left no books andseldom spoke. Ajja then, albeit with a forty year time gap, could be said to be continuing the teachings of that great saint.But where Bhagawan Nityananda may have throw a banana or a pebble at a devotee too full of mindstuff, Ajja bears allwith equanimity and fields questions with what seems to be a simple return to the ‘Absolute’. These are some examplescited by Andrew Cohen:
“ ... Words are coming, it is true. Through this vehicle, some unknown force is acting; some power is working, using thisbody as an instrument. It is not this body that is speaking...”“There is no relationship between the state of bliss (and) ... my actions.”... Words come out, but between the words that come out and that ultimate reality there is no relationship. ““I don’t have the experience that I am a jivan mukta, I don’t have anything. When the ‘I’ is gone, the consciousness doesnot even raise the feeling of ‘I’. So for a jnani that question does not arise. When there is no question of thinking, thenordinary action as in day-to-day life does not take place. Our thoughts are transformed into contemplation, and then our day-to-day routine interactions become spiritual. In that the regular routine itself becomes spiritual life. That itself is yogiclife. That itself is divine life.”“You have to have the experience. Only then will you be able to understand.” (and) “Some people are the embodiment of love but the nature of their love is beyond the senses. You cannot see it with your eyes. You cannot describe it with your words.”
 He has a concern, reflecting Buddhist philosophy, for the enlightenment of all beings. He said,
“This message is for the whole of humanity. If I alone become free, it is not enough to make me happy. Everyone should become free. Everysoul has to become free. I have had a glimpse of that possibility, and if all were free, that would be true bliss for me.”
And on advice to devotees:
“We must understand how, by doing action, we can reach that state
(where there is nodifference between birth and death).
What kind of action will help us to become liberated? Chanting the name of God,contemplation, surrender, truth, non-violence, detached action. One who, during his lifetime, can translate the knowledgeof the Self into action that one deserves to realize the extreme blissful state. ... ‘Who am I? What is the secret of my life, mybirth? ‘Understanding this, realizing this through his search, even when he is engaged in actions and duties, he attains hisoriginal nature, which is bliss. So it is through action that he becomes transformed“ ... “Any action which is done as a dutywithout expectation of a result ... any action, if you do it without expectation and selfishness, is transformed into duty. Thisleads you to a state where there are no emotions. One is doing but he is not doing. There is no feeling that ‘I am doingsomething’- what happened to that ‘I’? It doesn’t happen all of a sudden. It has to pass through various stages. However,even the most elementary state of bliss is bliss itself.”“One loses his existence through knowledge and action. Through these he becomes free. Then he himself is a jivan mukta. But when that ‘I’ has gone, what is there? Where is the question then? ”“Meditation is the starting point. In the beginning you should sit. You should have that internal preparation. One has todiscipline oneself. But it is not enough only to sit. It is not merely that the body must sit; your mind must also sit...”“The wandering mind itself is the world. The mind should not be wandering. Unless the mind is controlled, there is nomeditation.”
 
“Who am I? - This inquiry is the foundation. When you go in search of that, it is possible to find the answer to every
 
28
question on this earth ... you will reach a state where there is nothing ... That state is Atman, ... Until then, ego is there.Then it is not ... ‘I’ means the state where nothing is there. It’s over. No sadhana is required for this - only search.”“We all have to go beyond thought to that state where there are no obstacles at all ... every individual has the capacity tobecome That..”
 
 Bhagawan Nityananda’s death
By 1960 Bhagawan Nityananda’s health began to deteriorate, but nevertheless he continued to give Darshan towhoever came to see him. But in 1961, two months before his death he stopped eating except for a little fruit and water. Hebecame quite thin. On the 25th of July he asked to be moved to another building ‘to rest’ for fifteen days. Fifteen dayslater, in the presence of a few close devotees, he died. His last words were “Sadhu became Swami, Swami became Deva,and now it is Sthira Samadhi.” His disciples decided to leave his body there for 48 hours so the devotees could have hisDarshan.
 
People were deeply distressed and many wondered who would help them now in their times of sorrow anddistress. Everywhere people spoke of Bhagawan and what he had done for them. Day and night people kept coming and itis estimated that between three and four hundred thousand people came for this final Darshan. He was interred at the siteof his first hut in Ganeshpuri and subsequently a large temple was built on the site, with a beautiful statue of ShreeGurudev. It is today a place of pilgrimage for thousands of devotees who still receive his Darshan and have their prayersanswered.
 Major Disciples
Bhagawan Nityananda had three principle disciples: Sri Jananand Swami who lived most of his later life in theKanhangad cave complex built by Bhagawan - he died in 1982; Sri Shaligram Swami, who lived in Ganeshpuri for manyyears and died just before Bhagawan himself; and Swami Muktananda. Swami Muktananda became Bhagawan’s bestknown successor (particularly in the West) and gained fame as one of the most powerful yogis of the twentieth century. Hecontinued to spread the message of Bhagawan Nityananda and other Siddhas for some twenty years before he died. HisMain ashram, called Gurudev Siddha Peeth, is very close to Ganeshpuri, and he established other ashrams in India, theUSA, Australia and Europe.
 Practicalities
Bhagawan Nityananda’s Samadhi Shrine, temple and former residence is in the village of Ganeshpuri, north of Mumbai. It can be reached by train and bus, or is around two hours drive by car. The entire town is imbued with hispresence. There are a number of small hotels that offer budget accommodation and rooms and apartments can be rented.Both the Bhagawan’s Ganeshpuri Temple and the nearby Gurudev Siddha Peeth Ashram, founded by Gurudev’s principledisciple, Baba Muktananda, who became a great spiritual teacher in his own right, perform arati to him daily. Twodisciples of Muktananda who carry on his teachings are: Swami Chidvilasananda (Gurumayi), who heads the organizationset up by Baba Muktananda, see www.siddhayoga.org; and Swami Nityananda, who has ashrams in Pine Bush, NY. andHaridwar, India - E.mail.mandir108@aol.com Bhagawan’s ashram at Kanhangad in Kerela offers accommodation and the opportunity to meditate in theGuruvanam cave. See www.Bhagawan.org E.mail:info@Bhagawannityananda.org 
 
Chapter 4
 RAMANA MAHARSHI 
 Experience is the word. Knowledge implies subject and object. But experience is non-terminous, eternal.
It may be true to say that Ramana Maharshi became India’s most-loved saint of the 20
th
century - and the greatestproponent of the path to realization through Self inquiry. A modern teacher of Vedanta, Swami Dayananda - see
What is Enlightenment 
Fall/Winter 1998 - pointed out that Ramana had discovered a means of converting all questions into theprimal question of Self inquiry - “Who
are
You?” He said, “If someone asked him, ‘Are you enlightened?’ he would say,‘Who are you who wants to know? - Find out who you are.’... Another fellow asks, ‘What is God?’ and he answers, ‘Whoare you that is asking this question?’ This is a way of answering questions that he adopted to turn the person towards hisinner Self. He was telling people: ‘Understand who you are. That’s what is important’.”Ramana Maharshi tried to convince everyone that divine Consciousness, the only reality, was their natural state.His explanations on the attributes of the mind and the relationship to the Self, or God, were probably the most explicit of the time. From this he developed, to a fine state of proficiency, his method of teaching Self inquiry.It is said that Ramana’s mission in life was among the most successful in awakening people to their own divinityand to this day the ashram in Tiruvannamalai, not far from Chennai (Madras), that he founded in 1922, is a powerful seatof learning and a centre to which myriads of seekers come to pursue their sadhana.
 
29Much of the information in this chapter is sourced from many excellent publications on Ramana and in particular:
Sri Maharshi - A short sketch of his life, Who Am I? The Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi,
and
Meditations
,
The Ramana Way
- see Bibliography. Appreciation is also expressed to the Trustees of the Ramanashram for thehospitality given during the research carried out for this account.
 Early Life
Ramana Maharshi was born in December 1879 to a middle class family in the town of Tiruchuli in Tamil Nadu,South India. He was named Venkataraman and in contrast to the often-heard stories predicting the forthcoming of greatbeings, there were no wandering ascetics who came to tell of his immanent arrival; and his mother had no premonition thatDivinity was about to descend on her. It seems, perhaps, that the gods knew that Ramana would have given short shrift toany such extravagance. However, he was born on an auspicious day, the anniversary of the day Lord Shiva appeared to hisdevotees Gautama and Patanjali.Later, when he was in his teens, the family moved to the larger town of Madurai and young Venkataraman wassent to English medium schools; first Scot’s Middle School and then the American Mission High School. He thus receivedsomething of a Western education and influence in his formative years. Furthermore, the family as a whole, thoughBrahmin, seemed to be somewhat Western and ‘Indian Civil Service’ orientated. As a boy he showed little interest inspiritual life and was much more interested in games than in academic pursuits. The only unusual characteristic of theyoung Ramana was a tendency to go into trance-like states from time to time, from which it was difficult to awaken him.When this happened at school, and because he was bigger than average and consequently better at sports, other boyssometimes used the opportunity to pelt him with mud balls and other missiles.
 Enlightenment
The first evidence of this event occurred just before his 16
th
birthday. For some reason he had casually asked arelative where he had just come from. The reply was “Arunachala” - a mountain believed to be endowed with mysticalpowers and to be the original home of Shiva in the form of the primal lingam - see further on. Then, for no apparentreason, the reply had a startling effect on the boy, filling him with a feeling of awe and immense joy. Later anotherauspicious event occurred; he came across a biography of famous Tamil Saints (the
Periapuranam
), and this also stirredhim deeply to the heart and again filled him with immense joy. These occurrences preceded what is believed to be hisexperience of enlightenment which occurred shortly afterwards when he had turned sixteen, in June 1896. This was bothhis first and ultimate experience of the state of enlightenment, from which he never changed or wavered throughout hisentire life. The experience, which was the impetus for his realization of the Self, took the form of a terrifying fear and theactual experience of death. Much later he described it thus :
“The shock of death made me at once introspective. I said to myself mentally, ‘Now death has come. What does it mean?What is it that is dying? - This body dies. ‘As I said so to myself the symptoms of death followed, yet I remained consciousof the inert body condition as well as the ‘I’ quite apart from it. On stretching the limbs they became rigid, breath had stopped and there was hardly any symptom of life in the body. ‘Well then, I said to myself, this body is dead. It will becarried to the burning ground and reduced to ashes. But with the death of the body, am I dead? - this body cannot be the‘I’ for it now lies silent and inert, while I feel the full force of my personality, of the ‘I’ existing by itself - apart from thebody. So ‘I’ am the Spirit, a thing transcending the body.’ All this was not a mere intellectual process. It flashed before mevividly as living truth, a matter of indubitable and direct experience, which has continued from that moment right up to thistime.”
His state of God intoxication:
The realization experience had a remarkable effect on his personality. From beinga typical school boy with many likes and dislikes he became completely detached from friends and family while at thesame time being filled with humility and lack of concern for everyday matters. While he had formerly resented injusticeand retaliated against it, he now accepted everything with equanimity. As far as food was concerned he ate anything thatwas given to him without comment. Furthermore, his whole attitude towards temples and religious symbols such as idolschanged completely. From irreverence and indifference he became spiritually absorbed and would go daily to the localtemple (the Meenakshi temple) and spend long hours of adoration in front of the idols. And he would pray for the descentof Grace so that he could be like the Saints of the
Periapuranam
. He would become lost in the depths of the Divine within.Tears would flow but withou
t
feelings of pleasure or pain.
 
To Tiruvannamalai and Arunachala
Some six weeks after this event and amidst growing estrangement from members of his family he had the thought,“What business have I here?” And he made the decision that he would go to Tiruvannamalai and the holy mountArunachala. He took three rupees from the family coffers, which he reasoned was enough to reach his destination a fewhundred kilometers north of Madurai, and set off leaving this letter for his family:
“I leave, in search of my ‘Father’ and in obedience to his command, started from here. This is only embarking on avirtuous enterprise. Therefore, none should grieve over this affair. To trace this out no money need be spent.”
After what was an arduous journey in those days he reached Tiruvannamalai and made his way straight to thetemple of Arunachala and mentally announced his arrival to the temple deity Arunaschaleswar. He abandoned all hispossessions except for a strip of cloth to be used as a loin cloth, and sat in silence in the temple. This, however, soon
 
30attracted the attentions of urchins who made him the object of their pranks, so he moved to an unattended and undergroundpart of the temple known as Patala, where few were brave enough to enter. Here, in a place infected by vermin, heremained for many days, being eaten by insects and rats. But so oblivious was he to his body, and so absorbed in bliss of the Self, that he felt almost no discomfort. Eventually the sight of this young man and the intensity of his tapas (austerity)was so moving that local sadhus began to look after him. From this time he began to be known as a holy being as he movedfrom place to place in the temple compound meditating and in complete silence. And thus he acquired his first temporary,and later other, more permanent, attendants.Although he remained in silence, pilgrims began to visit him regularly to experience his presence, and have hissilent darshan. But as the visitors became more and more intrusive and became a constant source of disturbance, he movedout of town to a small temple (the Gurumurtham temple) where he spent the next eighteen months and where his identitywas eventually established. It happened this way:An attendant, with devotional zeal, began to perform religious ceremonies to him, offering flowers and food,uttering sacred syllables and mantras, burning camphor and so on. On the occasion of a subsequent visit he saw, written incharcoal on the wall, the words: “This (food) alone is the service (needed) for this (body).” This was the first indicationthat pujas were not necessary and the first indication that the young swami (as he was by then considered) was ready tocommunicate. After this another devotee, a government servant, continually asked him, on each occasion of visiting, for aclue to his identity. Then he again wrote, this time on a slip of paper, his name and place of birth, “Venkataraman,Tiruchuzhi.”The discovery soon became public knowledge and reached the ears of his family in Madurai who then proceededto Tiruvannamalai to try to persuade him to return to Madurai where, since he was now a publicly recognized saint, theycould attend him - but to no avail. He wrote on another slip of paper:
“The Ordainer controls the fate of souls in accordance with their past deeds - their parabdha karma. Whatever is destined not to happen will not happen. Whatever is destined to happen will happen, do what you may to stop it. This is certain. Thebest course therefore, for one is to be silent.”
This became one of the cornerstones of his teaching and a confirmation of his firm belief in the principles of Advaita Vedanta. After the family’s departure he moved to a cave on the side of Mount Arunachala, the Virupaksha cave,overlooking the Arunachala temple.
 His first teaching
The young Swami had been living in complete silence and more or less without any form of communication formore than three years, so that the extent of his spiritual attainment and understanding was more a matter of speculationthan certainty. However, around this time, and apparently out of compassion for the many sincere seekers that were drawnto him, he began to write down answers to questions. Two of his earliest devotees (Sri Ganbhiram Sesahayya and SriSivaprakasam Pillai) put a series of questions to him in 1902 (when Ramana was about 22 years of age) relating to Self-inquiry, Ramana’s principle teaching. These questions and their answers have been preserved with care and publishedunder the title
Self Inquiry
and
Who am I?
- see Bibliography. The answers were spontaneous and direct and are indicatedas follow (From
Sri Maharshi - A short life sketch
):
“By incessantly pursuing within yourself the inquiry ‘Who am I?’ you will know your true Self and thereby attain salvation.“The real ‘I’ or the Self is not any of the five senses, nor the sense objects, nor the organs of action, nor the prana (breathand vital energy), nor the mind, nor even the deep sleep state, where there is no cognisance of any of these.“That which remains after excluding each of the above, is the real ‘I’ and that is pure consciousness.
“The mind can find rest only when it has found the answer to the query, Who am I?
“The first and foremost of all thoughts is the ‘I -thought’.
(It is only the awareness of ‘I’ that makes the difference betweenman and thinking computer. This a computer can never have.)
“The mind and the ego are one and the same.”“In the body what asserts itself as ‘I’ is but the mind. Therefore, if you inquire whence the ‘I -thought’ arises, it will plainlybe seen that the Heart is the source.“Do not even murmur ‘I’ but inquire keenly within what it is that now shines within the Heart as ‘I’. Transcending theintermittent flow of thoughts there arises the continuous unbroken awareness, silent and spontaneous as ‘I’ - ‘I’ in the Heart. If one catches it and remains still. It will completely annihilate the sense of ‘I’ in the body and itself disappear asthe fire of burning camphor. Sages and scriptures proclaim this to be Liberation.”
 Return to the world; what he was like
As indicated before, Ramana is one of India’s best-loved saints. His compassion for those who came to him forguidance slowly drew him back to the world and as he became more communicative he started answering queries verbally.Nevertheless, his main teaching method was carried out in total silence - see further on. His nature was kindness andhumility itself and he would allow no one to treat him in any special way. He acquired the name Ramana Maharshi in 1907when he was 28 years old - when a well-known Sanskrit scholar and poet called Ganapathi Muni became his close devoteeand proposed the name Ramana as a derivation of Venkataraman. The other devotees present at that time agreed and fromthen onwards he became Ramana Maharshi (Maharishi - Great Rishi).From 1907 until 1922 he lived in various locations on the hill of Arunachala, attending to the spiritual needs of 
 
31the devotees who visited or went around with him. He generally stayed at a location known as Virupaksha cave, and in thehot season, the Mango Tree caves. Around 1916 he moved to more commodious accommodation built for him on the hilland known as Skandasramam. But it was not until the death of his mother in 1922 (see below) and when her samadhishrine and temple was built, that he moved permanently to what became the first part of the present-day ashram, located atthe foot of Arunachala. At first it comprised only a simple hut among other accommodations built by individual devotees.But shortly after this a hall was built that served both as his residence and as a meeting place for devotees and visitors.After the move the number of permanent and visiting devotees increased appreciably but at all times he remained humbleand accessible to residents and visitors alike. He participated in the running of the ashram including doing some of thechores. He wore only a loin cloth and set an example of simplicity for all. He sternly discouraged any attempt to garlandhim and never allowed the more ornate religious ceremonies of Hinduism to be performed at the ashram. He received nomoney though, of course, money was donated, as it is today, for the running of the ashram.Ramana had an inordinate love for animals and as a consequence all manner of creatures came to live at theashram and were cared for and fed - a practice which continues to this day. Because he spent so much time on his couch itappears that on one occasion lice began to infect the couch. The inmates wanted to spray them but he forbade them.However, since he went for a walk every day, they did the job during his absence, and when he returned he smilinglycommented that someone had tricked him. On one occasion in 1924 thieves came and started smashing windows to gainaccess. Some of the inmates wanted to challenge them but Ramana would not allow it. His first concern was for an elderlydog and he saw that it was put in a safe place. Then he said, “Let the thieves play their role. We shall stick to ours.” Whenthe thieves could not find any valuables or cash they became angry and beat some of the inmates including Ramanahimself, but he would not allow retaliation. He said, “We are sadhus; we must not give up our dharma. If you strike themsome may receive fatal injuries and the world will justly blame us. They are only misguided men, blinded by ignorance...Sometimes your teeth suddenly bite your tongue. Would you knock out your teeth as a consequence?”
 Elaboration of his teachings
Ramana’s assertion was that nothing exists apart from an indivisible and universal consciousness that is either inits unmanifest form as a beginningless awareness or in its manifest form as the worlds of the universe. For him this meantthat as an individual (personality) he had ceased to exist. His language equated God, the Self, and the Heart as essentiallythe same thing. The unmanifest state he called the Self. He was not overcome by the trappings and appurtenances of Hinduism and, possibly because of his early ‘Western’ exposure and English education, he was able to express himself interms that were largely free of what may have been construed as Eastern ‘mythological’ association. The condition of awareness that is usually deemed to be unexplainable, the effect of enlightenment on the body and the normal humancondition, he described as something like having “a large elephant in a small grass hut.”Throughout his life Ramana continually expounded the teachings of Self inquiry (Atma vichara). For those whopossessed a sufficiently high level of mind control it was the most direct path, and in any case, an essential final step toliberation. For most however, meditation - the concentration on one thought to the exclusion of all others and surrender toGod, may at first be necessary. This was to centre the mind and to learn wisdom, but ultimately vichara is necessary. So, hemaintained, why waste time if we have the ability and can go for it directly.He said that the only permanent self evident reality is that ‘I exist’ or ‘I Am’ - which is yet another name for unitywith the Self. Contemplation of ‘I Am’ by repeatedly asking the question ‘Who Am I?’ is used as a tool to divert the mindfrom externalisation, back to its source. The method centres on the ‘I - thought’ which must be isolated from otherthoughts. The ‘I - thought’ is there because the Self, the Atman, has lost its bearings and externalises, investigating theworld and becoming the ego. All other thoughts arise from the mind (which is the same as the ego and the intellect) andcannot exist without the attention of the ‘I - thought’. He pointed out that the mind becomes fattened by thoughts or groupsand clusters of thoughts that appear continuously. But it is the individual’s attention to them that allows them to exist -latent tendencies come up only when the individual pays attention to them. So, if concentration on the ‘I thought’ isachieved and maintained, and one is alert to the rising of other mind thoughts and repeatedly asks of them the question ‘Towhom is this thought directed?’ - one can repeatedly and continuously revert to the ‘I - thought’. This, Ramana maintained,
can
be done, and the ability to do it successfully increases with practice. “The moment the ego self tries to know itself itscharacter changes to participate less in the ‘jada’ in which it is absorbed… It takes to its heels on Self inquiry.”While all mind-thoughts depend on the ‘I - thought’ for sustenance and disappear if they do not obtain it, the ‘I -thought’ derives its power from its own conscious Source. Ramana explained that consciousness spreads through thevarious nadis (conducting channels of the subtle body) from the heart to the mind and then the body, while the process of vichara (Self inquiry) reverses this flow from the ‘I - thought’ to the thinker (the false self), and then from the thinker tothe consciousness and back to the Heart.Ramana was always patient with seekers asking him questions on Self inquiry but often they asked irrelevantquestions. Commenting on these he said, “Coming here, some people ask: ‘Does the sage, liberated while alive, see theworld? Is he affected by karma? Should the body of a liberated sage resolve itself into light? … and so on.” - And hewould say to them: “Leave liberation alone. Is there bondage? Know this: see
 yourself 
first and foremost.”
On meditation:
As indicated above, Ramana maintained that meditation is necessary as a prerequisite to Self inquiry - for those whose minds are not well focused. It is actually the ego that meditates on the object of meditation; thesubtle ego rather than the gross and overt ego of ordinary life. In the first instance meditation on forms or on a mantra is
 
32recommended so that the mind becomes one with the object of meditation and becomes quite still. But then think: “Who isthe meditator?” or “Who is the worshiper?” The answer is ‘I’, that is, the self - the deluded self; and in this way, byrepeated effort, the true Self can be gained.
 
Eventually, however, it is necessary to dispense with all forms and mantras. Even the great saint Ramakrishna(Chapter 1), at one stage during his sadhana, became fixated on the form of Kali and could proceed no further. A Nagasadhu had to teach him how to meditate on the formless by mentally cutting off the head of the visualized Kali during hismeditation.
Surrender:
For those who could not follow the method of Self inquiry, Ramana recommended surrender -completely surrendering all responsibility for your life to God; free from the idea that there is a person who is capable of acting independently from God. He often spoke of the correct interpretation of surrender to devotees. It was not, as somesupposed, that one did not eat unless someone came and put food into one’s mouth; this would be just too silly and couldbe extended to the need to swallow, should God do this as well - make me swallow? He would say, “In walking it isnecessary to put one foot in front of the other, we do not expect God to do this. And for the business of obtaining food onecould note the advice of Shankara (the 8th century reviver of Advaita) in the
Sadhana Panchakam
, who said: ‘For thetreatment of the disease called hunger one should eat the food received as alms’.”Hence, in the practice of surrender, one should take things as they come in accordance with one’s traditions, butbe free of the feeling that one is doing things oneself; eliminate the concept of being the doer, just be the witness. It is thefeeling of doing that is the bondage but it is necessary to consider by what means such feelings can be overcome. Do thisinstead of doubting if food or medicine should be swallowed: “May I groan if there is pain? May I exhale the breath afterinhaling?”
Bhakti :
Bhakti (divine love) is part of surrender and one should embrace it, but when you talk of love there isduality - the one who loves and the entity called God (or the guru) that is loved. The individual is not separate from God;hence love without duality means one has love for one’s own Self; with love itself being the actual form of God. He said,“Worshipping the formless reality by un-thought thought is the best kind of worship, but this is possible only for thosewithout egoic form.”
 Methods of teaching
Although much of Ramana’s teaching took the form of dialogue between himself and his devotees in answeringquestions, he spent even more time on his couch before his meditating devotees, engaged in silent teaching. He maintainedthat this was the most effective means of teaching for it came directly from the master to the disciple. In his presence thedevotees felt a strong sense of peace and in this state they were most receptive to the teachings. Of the difference betweensilent and spoken (or written) teaching, he said:
“First there is the abstract knowledge and out of it there arises the ego, which in turn gives rise to thought, and that thought to the spoken word. So the word is the great-great-grandson of the original source. If the word can produce effects,imagine how much more powerful must be the Source, obtained in silence.”
In support of silence as the best mode of teaching he recounted a story of someone who composed a bharani (apoetic exposition), in honour of a great master. Some learned pundits objected, saying that such expositions were meantonly for warriors who defeated enemies, it was inappropriate for a mere guru. To resolve this question it was decided thatall concerned should sit in the presence of the master and contemplate the proposal. Immediately they fell into deepmeditation until the master aroused them. Then, unanimously, they agreed that the bharani
was
after all appropriate,because in such a short time the master had defeated the “thousand rutting elephants of their minds”.Teaching by silence has a long history in India with its classical and most famous exponent being SriDakshinamurti, who was supposed to be a manifestation of Shiva himself. It is because of this that Ramana highly valuedand recommended the satsang (company) and darshan, of enlightened beings whenever it could be obtained. He said thatalthough man is
always
with the Self, he does not know it because of his ignorance. Therefore the company of saints is thebest medicine for liberation. By contact with realized beings man gradually loses his ignorance until removal is complete -then God is realized.
 Ramana on gurus
Ramana had strong views on gurus and said that they
must 
be Self realized to be of any use to a seeker. A truesatguru is simultaneously an incarnation of God and the Self of the Heart. He maintained that every seeker needs a satguru- as association with him brings a temporary cessation of mental activity and encourages the development of the samadhi(inner contemplative) habit in the seeker.On the finding of a true satguru, he said that by intense meditation God will provide a suitable guru in accordancewith the devotee’s state of development. The best guru for anyone is one with whom the seeker feels attuned andexperiences peace. A sense of respect will be felt. A true satguru should abide steadily in the Self and look at everyoneequally, and he should also have unshakable courage at all times. A guru who asks the seeker to do this and that, engaginghim in activities, is not a true guru. He maintained that peace, the one thing that is desired by everyone, cannot be attainedin any way, by anyone, and at any time and place, unless stillness of mind is reached through the grace of a satguru.“Therefore always seek that grace with a one-pointed mind.” He said:
“According to the stage of development of the seeker the master manifests as a personal guru, or as the inner Self. By
 
33
grace the seeker can feel that the Self 
is
the master and that God is the personal guru, the Self and the Heart all in one. Because he is both inside and out, his power works in two ways - he gives instructions that enable the seeker to keep hisattention on the inner Self and the inner Self pulls the mind back to its Source”
On the question of whether one should have more than one guru Ramana usually pointed out that there really
is
 only one, the Self. But the company of saints should always be sought. He intimated that there are no hard and fast rules;the ancient sage Dattatreya had had 24 gurus, including the non-human ones of fire and water. And on the question of theresult of having followed a false guru he said, “Each one experiences according to his merits.”On whether everyone needs a personal guru, he said that there may be some rare individuals who do not; butwhen someone pointed out that he (Ramana) didn’t have a guru he replied, “I might have had one - at one time or another.And did I not sing hymns to Arunachala? God appears in some form or other, human or non-human, according to theneeds.” When told that Krishnamurti (Chapter 5), at that time, said that no guru is necessary, he replied, “How did heknow it? One can say so only after realizing, not before.”
 Devotees’ experiences
The poet Ganapathi Muni (see above) became a devotee of Ramana after an experience in 1907 - before Ramanabecame well known. He was in deep meditation at a shrine near Tiruvannamalai when he felt a call that intimated “Godwants you.” He felt compelled to go to the Arunachala temple but there was no indication of anything unusual there. Thenext day he was wandering around aimlessly when Ramana’s presence in a cave on the hill flashed across his mind. Hewent to the cave and fell before Ramana and said, “I have read and studied the whole of Vedanta, yet I have notunderstood what tapas is.” Ramana gazed at him in silence for a short time and then said, “If one watches whence thisnotion of ‘I’ springs, the mind is absorbed in that. That is tapas.”Ganapathi Muni was completely satisfied with this answer. Prior to this encounter he had had a following of disciples of his own, and these now, on his persuasion, became devotees of Ramana. This was one of the events that ledRamana to become more communicative, for he saw that they were in need of instruction. And, in fact, his answers to theirquestions became the source material for the
Sri Ramana Gita
. It describes, to the extent that this is possible, the state of realization of Ramana Maharshi himself.Another extraordinary experience of Ganapathi Muni with Ramana involves astral travel. One day in the templeof the town where he was staying (Tiruvothiyur), Ganapathi experienced an intense desire to be with Ramana. At this pointhe saw Ramana enter the temple and bless him. Ramana explained this occurrence as taking place through astral travel forhis body was still in Arunachala. He explained: “I was lying down, but I was not in a state of trance; yet awake as I was Ifelt my body rising higher and higher. I could see clearly the physical objects growing smaller and smaller until theycompletely disappeared and all around me was a limitless expanse of dazzling light. After some time I felt the body slowlydescend and physical objects below began to appear... I concluded it must be by such means that the Siddhas travel overvast distances within a short time. It occurred to me I was in Tiruvothiyur... (and) some distance away was the templewhere Ganapathi was.”An example of the remarkable effect of being in the presence of an enlightened being comes from a womanknown as Echammal who had experienced the loss of husband and two children and was distraught. She had visited manysadhus but her grief was not assuaged. Finally she heard of Ramana and went to him for his darshan. She stood quietlybefore him for an hour and that brought about a complete change in her feelings. Her mind had received a deep impressionof peace and tranquility and her grief had completely vanished, once and for all. As a result of this she stayed atTiruvannamalai and served him for the last thirty years of her life.An example of the healing of a physical problem is illustrated by the account of a devotee, Ramaswami Aiyar,who was dyspeptic and who had for many years been living only on rice gruel. He wrote, “I was all along dyspeptic and Icould not digest food, nor sleep a wink. I was worrying myself and the swami asked about it. I told him about my health.My head was hot, but in about a minute my whole brain got a cooling sensation. Then a lady brought in cakes and food asa special treat. Many invited me and I declined... But he (Ramana) pressed me and I had a good feast of very hard and richfood. That night was so strange, I slept profoundly.”Ramana never claimed to perform miracles and would take steps to dispel talk about healings and otheroccurrences. Nevertheless, his devotees all knew that many cases of healing and even more remarkable occurrences wereattributable to him. Papaji (Poonjaji) a renowned Advaita teacher of the second half of the 20th century - see Chapter 12,recounted an incident of bringing a young boy back to life. He wrote, “A woman brought her dead son to the Maharshi,placing the body before his couch. The boy had apparently died from a snake bite. The woman begged the Maharshi tobring him back to life, but he deliberately ignored her repeated requests. After a few hours the ashram manager made hertake the corpse away. As she was leaving the ashram she met a snake charmer who claimed that he could cure her son. Theman did something to the boy’s hand, the place where he had been bitten, and the boy immediately revived, even thoughhe had been ‘dead’ for hours. The devotees in the ashram attributed the cure to the Maharshi, saying, “When a problem isbrought to the attention of a being such as Ramana, some automatic divine activity brings about the solution.” PaulBrunton (see below) points out that according to this concept, the Maharshi had done nothing consciously to help the boy,but at a deeper level, his awareness of the problem had caused the right man to appear at the right place and time. Ramana,typically, disclaimed all responsibility for the miraculous cure. ‘Is that so?’ was his only response to news of the boy’sdramatic recovery.
 
34Papaji claims to have received enlightenment from Ramana Maharshi. It appears that after many disappointmentsat the hands of business-oriented gurus, and other non-enlightened teachers, he finally came to Ramana’s ashram. As hadalways been his approach he bluntly asked Ramana, “Have you seen God? - and if you have, can you enable me to seehim?” Ramana replied thus:
“I cannot show you God or enable you to see God because God is not an
object
that can be seen. God is the subject. He isthe Seer. Don’t concern yourself with objects that can be seen. Find out who the Seer is. Then you alone are God.”
Papaji recounts the following as his reaction to these words: “Under that spellbinding gaze I felt every atom of mybody being purified. A process of transformation was going on - the old body was dying, atom by atom, and a new bodywas being created in its place. Then, suddenly, I understood. I knew that this man who had spoken to me was, in reality,what I already was, what I always had been.” (A fuller account of Papaji’s enlightenment experience is given in Chapter12.)Ramana’s mother came to live permanently in Tiruvannamalai in 1916 and became a devotee - receiving nospecial treatment until her death in 1922. In fact he would sometimes tease her in front of others in regard to her strictBrahmin ways. For example he would remark: “Oh! Your cloth has been touched by an untouchable - it is polluted.Religion has gone!” Or, (because strict Brahmins do not eat onions) he would say, “Beware of this onion, they are a greatobstruction to moksha.” In this way Ramana made her shed her old ways and withdraw into herself. In 1922, as her endapproached, he spent many hours at her bedside with his right hand over her heart and his left on her head, until the lifehad passed away. In explaining what happened in those ten or twelve hours, he said, “Innate tendencies (vasanas) and thesubtle memory of past experiences leading to future possibilities became very active. Scene after scene rolled before her inthe subtle consciousness, the other senses having already gone. The soul was passing through a series of experiences, thusavoiding the need for rebirth - and so effecting union with the Supreme Spirit. The soul was at last disrobed of the subtlesheaths before it reached the final destination: the Supreme Peace of Liberation from which there is no return toignorance.”The body was interred at the site of the present ashram. This is now the site of the temple of Sri Matrubhuteswara- the Lord in the Form of the Mother. This event, in fact, was instrumental in the formation of the ashram as it is today, forfrom that time onward Ramana came down regularly from Skandasramam on the hill, and eventually resided therepermanently. He said, “Not of my own accord did I move... Something placed me there and I obeyed... it is the DivineWill.” And from that time onwards his teachings began to spread widely within and beyond India. (Ramana, in fact,maintained that the body of a woman, enlightened while alive, should not be cremated, as it is a temple of God - See
Thesayings of Ramana Maharshi
.)
Foreign visitors:
The French writer Pascaline Mallet in her book 
Turn Eastwards
, writes of her reaction toRamana’s presence: “I took in slowly the strange unforgettable scene, my whole attention fixed on that central figure,whose calm majesty, serene strength and perfect poise seemed to fill the whole place with unutterable peace... TheMaharshi was busy writing, reading letters and newspapers… (But) somehow I had the feeling that all the while he wasliving in a state where time and space do not exist. ... (Yet) His utter impersonality and supreme detachment did notexclude an all-embracing compassion.”One of the first western visitors to the ashram, in the early 1930’s, was the writer Paul Brunton, whose book 
 ASearch in Secret India
is now a classic - see Bibliography. Paul Brunton, after extensive travels is search of esotericexperiences and a true master in India, became a devotee of Ramana. He was shortly to sail to Europe, stronglydisillusioned with ‘holy’ men and Hindu wonder workers, when a mental voice thrust itself into his attention. It said, “Lifeitself is nothing more than a cinema play unrolling its episodes from cradle to grave. Where now are the past scenes - canyou hold them?” Then, as he contemplated the experience of these words in the light of his immanent departure the voiceagain intruded. It added, “Fool! - So this is to be the empty result of years of investigation and aspiration! .. Are you surenone of the men you met here in India can be the master you seek?” And from the gallery of faces that were conjured up,he recounts, “A single face disentangles itself... It was the calm, sphinx-like countenance of the Maharishee.”Paul Brunton decided to delay his departure and return to Ramana and, almost miraculously, felt that he wasalready a changed man - that a “dark burden of wretchedness and doubt” was lifting from his shoulders. His descriptions of encounters with Ramana and his experience of Self inquiry are summarized below. They are also among the most explicitin capturing the atmosphere of that period in the ashram and in rural southern India generally. They are summarized herebut are best read in full:As Brunton entered the meditation hall he witnessed the ‘Maharishee’ sitting on his divan, the joss sticks burningslowly on a nearby table, “His eyes are clearly open and glance at me comprehendingly as I bow, and his mouth isstretched in a kindly smile of welcome.” In his heart Brunton knew that he had come as one seeking to become a disciple.He put his request and his explanations to the ‘Maharishee’ and at length he answered:
‘What is all this talk of masters and disciples? All these differences exist only from the disciple’s standpoint. To the onewho has realized the true Self there is neither master nor disciple...”
It began to voice itself in Brunton’s thoughts, “That the Maharishee was not to be drawn into a direct affirmativeresponse, and the answer must be found in some other way.” The ensuing weeks absorbed him into a strange, unwontedlife. His days were spent in the hall of the ‘Maharishee’, where he would slowly pick up fragments of wisdom and faintclues to the answer he sought: was he to become a disciple?Each day, after breakfast, he made a quiet lazy stroll to the hermitage, halted beside the sweet smelling rose
 
35bushes in the compound garden, or rested under the drooping fronds of palm trees. He felt: “It is a beautiful experience towander around the hermitage garden before the sun has waxed in power and to see and smell the variegated flowers.” Hewould then enter the hall, bow to the ‘Maharishee’, and quietly sit down on folded legs. He never failed to becomegradually aware of the mysterious atmosphere of the place, of the benign radiations which steadily percolated to his brain.By careful observation and frequent analysis he became completely certain that a reciprocal inter-influence arises:“Something that was most subtle but quite unmistakable.” And it dawned on him with increasing force that in that quietand obscure corner of South India, he had been led to one of the extremely few of India’s “spiritual supermen.” He wrote,“He makes no claims to occult powers and hierophantic knowledge, and strongly resists every attempt to canonize him.” Itseemed to Paul Brunton that the presence of men like the ‘Maharishee’ ensured the continuity down history of a divinemessage.Later Paul Brunton described something of his experiences of Self inquiry while sitting before the ‘Maharishee’.He would enter the hall and in a few seconds compose himself and bring all his wandering thoughts to a strong centre, forthe mental questionings which had marked most of his earlier meditations had begun to cease. He wrote, “Following hisfrequently repeated instructions I endeavour to pierce into that which is formless.” - His real being and inner nature, his“soul”. To his surprise the effort meets with almost instantaneous success, leaving him with nothing more than a stronglyfelt sense of the master’s intimate presence. He would then apply the attention of consciousness to its own centre, strivingto become aware of its place of origin, and of this he wrote: “Tonight I flash swiftly to this point... In that concentration of stillness, the mind withdraws into itself, one’s familiar world begins to fade off into shadowy vagueness.” He becameenvironed for a while by sheer nothingness - a kind of mental blank wall and then: “Some new and powerful force comesinto dynamic action within my inner world and bears me inward with resistless speed. The first great battle is over, almostwithout a stroke, and a pleasurable, happy, easeful feeling succeeds its high tension.”In the next stage Brunton would become aware that he stands apart from the intellect, conscious though that it isthinking, but warned by an intuitive voice that it, the intellect, is merely an instrument. He watched these thoughts with aweird detachment and realized that the power to think, which had hitherto been a matter for pride, had now become a thingfrom which to escape, and he would perceive, “with startling clarity” - that he had been its unconscious captive for all of his life. He would realize intuitively that he was about to penetrate onto the mysteries which hide the innermost recesses of man’s soul: “But how to divorce one’s self from the age-old tyranny of thoughts?” He remembered that the ‘Maharishee’had never suggested that one should attempt to force the stoppage of thinking. “Trace thought to its place of origin - watchfor the real Self to reveal itself” is what he taught. So with the feeling that he had “found the birthplace of thinking”, hewould surrender himself to complete passivity, “yet still keeping as intently watchful as a snake of its prey.” The waves of thought begin to diminish and time seemed to reel as his rapidly growing intuition began to reach out into the unknown.And finally it would happen: “Thought is extinguished like a snuffed candle. The intellect withdraws into its real ground,that is, consciousness working unhindered by thoughts.”After these sessions he perceived that the mind takes its rise in a transcendental source while brain passes into astate of complete suspension, as it does in deep sleep, yet there is not the slightest loss of awareness. His sense of awareness had been drawn out of the narrow confines of the separate personality; it has turned into something sublimelyall-embracing. Of this he wrote: “Self still exists, but it is a changed, radiant, Self... Some deeper, diviner being rises intoconsciousness and becomes me... I am in the midst of an ocean of blazing light - the primeval stuff out of which worlds arecreated... It stretches away into untellable infinite space, incredibly alive... My arms embrace all creation with profoundsympathy, for I understand in the deepest possible way that to know all is not merely to pardon all, but to love all. Myheart is remoulded in rapture.”As Brunton left the hall that night with his iron lantern softly glowing and followed the path on the lonely walk tohis forest hut, countless fireflies moved amongst the flowers and plants and trees in the compound. He had to, as one doestoday, be careful not to tread on scorpions or snakes in the dark. His recent meditation had seized him so profoundly thathe was unable and unwilling to stop it, so he paid little heed to the narrow path of lighted ground on which he walked. Andso he retired to his modest hut, closed the tightly fitting heavy door, and draw the shutters over glazeless windows to keepout unwelcome animal intruders. His last glimpse was of a thicket of palm trees which stood on one side of his clearing inthe bush - “the silver moonlight coming in streams over their interlaced feathery tops.”(According to Paul Brunton’s detailed personal notebooks - see
The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, Vol. Two, The Quest 
, hedid eventually many years later and after he had returned to the USA, reach a measure of enlightenment. He becamewidely recognized for his many books on esoteric matters, and has always recognised his debt to the ‘Maharishee’ who’sname crops up regularly in his notes.)Paul Brunton’s observations during the period of his residence in Tiruvannamalai gives a penetrating view of theexperiences of other visitors to the ashram. Each day it brought fresh indications of the greatness of the ‘Maharishee’. Hewrote: “Among the strangely diversified company of human beings who pass through the hermitage, a pariah stumbles intothe hall in some great agony of soul and pours out his tribulation at the Maharishee’s feet. The sage does not reply; insteadhe gazes quietly at the suffering man, whose cries gradually diminish until he leaves the hall two hours later a more sereneand stronger person.” For others it was clear that the mere presence of the sage provided them with spiritual and emotionalassurance. Those in doubt would gain renewed faith in their creeds and beliefs: “For the ‘Maharishee’ treats all creedsalike, regards them all as significant and sincere expressions of a great experience - and honours Jesus no less thanKrishna.” Brunton describes a peasant family who had traveled over one hundred miles to pay silent homage to the sage.
 
36They had heard that there is a God in human form living at the foot of the hill. They stay for a few hours, hardly speaking,and gaze in reverence and awe at the ‘Maharishee’. Yet another man in the hall is bespectacled, silken-clad andprosperous-looking. He is a judge who has taken advantage of a law vacation to pay a visit to the ‘Maharishee’. Bruntonwrites: “This cultured, refined and highly educated gentleman squats democratically among a group of Tamils who arepoor, naked to the waist and smeared with oil, so that their bodies glisten like polished ebony. It is clear that that whichbrings them together also destroys the distinctions of caste and produces unity - the deep recognition that the true wisdomis worth the sacrifice of superficial differences.”
 Animals
Ramana’s regard for animals was no different to that for humans. Dogs, cows, cats, monkeys and peacocksabounded in the ashram, as they do in fact today. None of the animals were treated as anything less than human and neverreferred to as ‘it’ - they were usually called “the boys”. He would say, “We do not know what soul may be tenanting thesebodies... and for what portion of their unfinished karma they seek out our company.” One of these animals was Lakshmithe cow. Lakshmi was believed to be the incarnation of an elderly lady who used to take delight in feeding Ramana whenhe lived on the hill. Lakshmi would take every opportunity to meet Ramana and she seemed to understand what wasspoken to her. When she passed away she was given an honourable burial near the hall, and her samadhi shrine is there forall to see today. This is Ramana’s description of one dog called Karuppan. He said:
“He was a person of high principles. When we were at the cave, some dark object used to pass but always keep hisdistance. We would see his head peeping over a bush sometimes. His vairagya, non-attachment, seemed very strong... Werespected this and used to leave food for him... One day as we were going past, Karuppan suddenly jumped across the pathand romped around me wagging his tail in glee... From that time onwards he lived with us at the ashram as one of theinmates.”
Ramana’s attitude was the same towards dangerous animals and snakes were often fellow inhabitants of the caves.He would say, “We have come to their residence... We have no right to disturb or trouble them. They do not harm us if wetake the correct attitude towards them.”One of his almost last concerns when he was on his death bed was for animals. A peacock flew on to the roof andhe said, “Remember to feed the peacocks.”
The sacred mountain
The hill of Arunachala, the ‘Hill of Enlightenment’, has been venerated since time immemorial as one of the mostsacred spots in India. It was called the Tejo Lingham and is reputed to be the abode of a legendary Siddha called ArunagiriYogi. It is much older than Mount Kailas, being a granitic monolith dating from the first formation of the earth’s crust. Inan ancient scripture, the
Scanda Purana
, Lord Shiva speaks of Arunachala as the most sacred of all the holy places, theHeart of the world: The translation is as follows:
“Though in fact fiery, the hill is dull in appearance because of his loving solicitude for the spiritual uplift of the world. Here. I always abide as the Perfect Being. Meditate on the fact that in the Heart of the Hill surges the spiritual glory withinwhich the whole world is contained.”
Ramana’s own hymn to the hill is as follows (From
Sri Arunachala Ashtakam
and
Pancharatnam
):
“You are Yourself the One Being ever aware as the self-luminous Heart! In You there is a mysterious Power (Shakti) whichwithout You is nothing. From it proceeds the phantom of the mind emitting its latent subtle dark mists, which, illuminated by Your Light of consciousness reflected on them, appear within as thoughts whirling in the vortices of parabdha, later developing into the psychic worlds and these are projected without as the material world transformed into concrete objectswhich are magnified by the outgoing senses and move about like pictures in a cinema show. Visible or invisible, oh Hill of Grace, without You they are nothing!”
(And)
“O Arunachala, in You the picture of the Universe is formed, and has itsstay, and is dissolved; in this enigma lays the miracle of Truth. You are the Inner Self, Who dances in the Hearts as ‘I’. Heart is Your name. O Lord!”
At first sight the hill looks fairly nondescript but on closer inspection it is discovered that it has its own energyand contains many beautiful spots and patches of forest. At the time of Ramana the hill was much more densely forestedand because of concern over its further deforestation there is currently a program to plant many forest trees in places wherethe hill has become denuded. There are also many caves where Yogis live and where visitors can go to meditate. It is saidthat every part of the hill was familiar to Ramana. At the highest point of the hill there is cauldron that is lit on the last dayof the festival of Karthikai Deepham on full-moon night - as the culminating act of the festival. On this occasion a hundredthousand people visit the hill to pay homage while ghee and camphor are burned for several days producing a flame thatcan be seen for miles around. One of the acts of homage to the hill is its circumambulation and many people walk thiseight mile course almost daily.
 Last days
The illness and death from cancer of Sri Ramana Maharshi was just another demonstration of his extraordinarydetachment from worldly matters. In late 1948 a small growth appeared on his left elbow which the doctor removed. Butwithin two months it had appeared again and this time was removed by an eminent surgeon from Madras, who identified itas a sarcoma and also treated the area with radium. Sarcoma in an excruciatingly painful form of cancer and usually fatal.
 
37Before the wound had healed a fresh growth was observed and the doctors advocated amputation of the arm. Ramanasimply smiled and replied, “There is no need for alarm. The body itself is a disease. Let it have its natural end, whymutilate it? Simple dressing of the affected part is enough.”Herbal treatment was tried and in August 1949, some eight months after the first appearance of the tumor, a thirdoperation was tried followed by radium treatment. At first the treatment appeared successful but some three months laterthe tumor reappeared and a fourth operation was carried out. At that time it was said that if the tumor reappeared theprognosis would be very bad. Then another tumor appeared in the left armpit and grew rapidly so that the whole armbecame one huge swelling that oozed blood; and the poison of the disease spread to the whole body. When it was realizedthat human treatment was to be of no avail devotees prayed to Ramana to set his own health to right, but he simply said,“Everything will come right in due course.” (And then) “Who is there to will this?”Throughout the long course of the illness Ramana remained quite unconcerned and the doctors who attended himwere amazed at his tranquil appearance and gracious smile and almost complete indifference to the pain. At the beginningof the disease he had quoted and translated a verse from the
Srimad Bhagavatam
, as follows:
“Let the body, the result of fructifying karma, rest or move about, live or die. The sage who has realized the Self is not aware of it, just as one in a drunken stupor is not aware of his clothing.”
Until the very end Sri Ramana continued with his duties and even when he was unable to leave his room, up to thelast evening, he continued giving darshan. That evening there was a vast gathering of devotees and all had his darshan. Heasked his attendants to raise him to a sitting position and as a group of devotees began chanting the hymn he had composedto Arunachala his eyes opened a little and tears rolled down from their outer edges. His last breaths were smooth andgentle and then, without shock, they simply stopped. It is said that those present at that time witnessed a “flash of light”that came from the body and traveled to the top of mount Arunachala. It is also said that an extraordinary peaceoverwhelmed every one present, both in the room and outside.
The present-day scene
As a result of Ramana Maharshi’s presence in Tiruvannamalai for more than fifty years, the place, already a holylocation since ancient times, has become a centre of pilgrimage for thousands and a place where whole communities of seekers have settled to pursue their sadhana. The Ramanashram and the temple and hill of Arunachala are the focus pointsof this devotion. Many visitors first spend a short time staying at the ashram itself, and then, if their stay is to be longer,find accommodation in the near vicinity.
 Practicalities
Tiruvannamalai can be reached by bus from the major centres of Madras (Chennai), Bangalore, and Pondicherry.Accommodation at the Ramanashram, which is located at the edge of Arunachala hill around three kilometers from thecentre of the town, is usually granted (generally for one week) to those who apply a few weeks in advance. Contact detailsare as follow:Shri Ramanashram, PO Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu 606603, India.Tel. (international) + 91 4175 23292/27200, (local) 04175 23292/27200E.mail: alagamma@vsnl.comThe Ramanashram is a very sacred place with the samadhi shrines of Sri Ramana and the Mother. Guests maymeditate in Ramana’s original meditation hall and attend the various ceremonies and pujas that are conducted throughoutthe day. The ashram provides comfortable accommodation and meals on a donation basis. There is a book shop and a goodlibrary of spiritual books and magazines. The path up the mountain starts from the back gate of the ashram.For longer term visitors there are many other places to stay adjacent to the Ramanashram including other ashrams,rooms, apartments and houses, which can be rented at reasonable rates. In some instances the Ramanashram will extendthe period of accommodation for several weeks.A present day teacher who holds satsang is the grand nephew of Ramana, V. Ganesan. His home is approximatelytwo km. from the Ramanashram. An elderly recluse (year 2000), Lakshmana Swami, who lives near the Ramanashram andis said to have been enlightened by Ramana, gives occasional silent teaching. Yet another teacher who is sometimes inTiruvannamalai is Nanna Garu, who has an ashram near the Ramanashram.A Swiss spiritual teacher called Werner also lives nearby and may conduct satsang.The Yogi Ramsuratkumar Ashram, close to Ramanashram, was built for the late Yogi Ramsuratkumar, known asthe beggar sadhu because of his dress of rags and his wild bushy hair. He was considered to be an enlightened soul. Thisashram is still open to visitors.Just 35 km from Tiruvannamalai on the Tirukoilur road, is the Tapovanam ashram of Sadguru Gnanananda whodied at a great age (some say 160 years) in 1973. Shortly after the death of Ramana he began teaching Self inquiry. Hisdevotees feel that this was to fill the gap left by Ramana.Circumambulating mount Arunachala (13 km.) in a clockwise direction is a popular way of paying homage. Amap of the route showing the various sacred stopping places is available from the Ramanashram bookstore. At the foot of the mountain to the north, in the town of Tiruvannamalai, lies an ancient temple of Shiva, which is one of the largest andmost spectacular temples in India. The oldest parts of the temple date from the 9
th
century. This was the temple in whichRamana first meditated, before moving to the mountain itself.
 
38 
 
Chapter 5
 JIDDU KRISHNAMURTI - A RELUCTANT MASTER
Suddenly it is there, a presence, waiting patiently, with great tenderness, yet never the same. There is a sense of watching from infinite depth. Time as a measure and time as thought had stopped. It is an energy without border and it does not leave a memory behind it.
Although Krishnamurti was undoubtedly one of the greatest spiritual teachers of the twentieth century, he was,throughout most of his life, strongly opposed to the guru movement and the cults of the times, and also to all types of formal religion. A possible reason for this may be traced back to his early experience of being ‘discovered’ by theTheosophical Society and trained to be the vehicle of the ‘World Teacher’ - a kind of latter-day Messiah, who, incollaboration with the Esoteric Branch of the Theosophical Society, would spawn a hierarchy of greater beings and bringorder to the world. After he had matured and after certain spiritual experiences described further on had occurred, he cameto regard religions as the products of the egoic mind, invented out of insecurity and a desire of the egoic mind toperpetuate itself. The essence of his teachings were and still are, that the ego and the attributes of mind which thrived onmemory and habits, must be stripped away so that the true essence of love can manifest itself. He maintained that thisneeded great energy which most of us were unwilling to expend, because our energy was always being wasted on themaintenance of the status quo of the egoic self.Although Krishnamurti was cast as an intellectual, a jnani, those who knew him would say that he had hugephysical beauty, sensitivity and caring. He could transmit a state of deep meditation - thoughtless awareness - by merelook, or by his presence.Much of the information in this account was sourced in the three books on Krishnamurti by his principalbiographer, Mary Lutyens - see Bibliography. Comments received from The Krishnamurti Foundation Trust of the UK arealso acknowledged, as is the information provided by Mr. Antonio Eduardo D’Agnino.
 His early history
Jiddu Krishnamurti was born on May the 11
th
1895 in Tamil Nadu, India, in the small hill town of Mandanapallelocated between Madras and Bangalore. He was the eighth child of an orthodox Brahmin family and his birth wasconsidered to be auspicious by his mother because the Lord Krishna was also an eighth child, and because of apremonition she had that he was to be in some way remarkable.From an early age he was a dreamy child, poor at school work, but nevertheless extremely observant. Hisbiographer, Mary Lutyens, in her wonderfully illuminating book 
Krishnamurti
:
 His Life and Death,
writes: “He wouldstand for long stretches of time, watching trees and clouds, or squat to gaze at flowers and insects.” He also had a generousnature, a characteristic which he retained throughout his life. As a child he demonstrated clairvoyance; when his oldersister, and later his mother, had died, he would often have visions of them.In 1909 his father, who had been retired from government service, obtained a post as assistant secretary with theTheosophical Society and moved the family to Adyar in Madras (Chennai), where the headquarters of Society had beenlocated since 1882. This was to lead to the discovery and identification of the young Krishnamurti as a potential vehicle of the ‘World Teacher’ of the Theosophical movement of that period - a celestial being who needed a very pure and egolessvehicle in order to take on physical form.The leaders of the Society at that time were the elected president, Mrs. Anne Besant, and her colleague CharlesLeadbeater, who had also arrived in Adyar in 1909. Leadbeater was a former Church of England clergyman who became adisciple of the clairvoyant Madam Blavatski, the founder of the Theosophical Society. The Theosophists at that time, andin particular the members of an Esoteric Section of the Society, supported a strange concoction of beliefs taken fromseveral religions that had been formulated by Madam Blavatski. They believed that a ‘Master Maitreya’, who was one of the ‘Bodhisattvas’ who had earlier taken over the body of Christ, would some time soon, take over another ‘humanvehicle’ that needed to be especially prepared for him. The Master Maitreya and a hierarchy of spiritual beings referred toas the ‘Great White Brotherhood’, were supposed to live in a ravine in the Himalayas of Tibet. They communicatedinstructions to the leaders of the Esoteric Section, those of whom were clairvoyant, and they could also visit them throughthe medium of astral travel. Leadbeater would escort candidates for discipleship to visit the Masters, and then announce tothem on the following mornings whether they had been successful or not. He and Mrs. Besant were both very ‘highlyevolved’ individuals within the hierarchy, and had already taken advanced levels of initiation with the Masters at the timethe young Krishnamurti came to Adyar. Apart from the Masters there were, in the beliefs of the adepts, other celestialbeings who were of a yet higher order than the Masters, one of whom was the Buddha.
 
39Shortly after his arrival in Adyar in 1909, Leadbeater discovered Krishnamurti (then known as Krishna) on thebeach near the Theosophical Society headquarters. He proclaimed that Krishna had the most wonderful aura he had everseen, “Without a particle of selfishness in it.” Later, in January 1910, Krishna was taken by Leadbeater and Mrs. Besant(by astral travel), to an occult ceremony held before the Masters in the house of the Lord Maitreya in the Himalayas. Afteranswering correctly the questions put to him, he was formally accepted into the ‘Great White Brotherhood’. Mary Lutyens,supported by how he looked in a photograph, asserted that the initiation had wrought a noticeable improvement in hisappearance, and when he returned from his sojourn with the Masters, everyone prostrated themselves before him. InJanuary 1911 an organization called The Order of the Star in the East was started with Krishna as its head. The Order hadthe aim of preparing the way for the coming of the ‘World Teacher’ who would occupy Krishna’s body. Later that year thefirst manifestation of the power of Krishnamurti occurred when he was giving out certificates to new members of theOrde
, when, according to most of those present, the hall was filled with a tremendous power - which was apparentlyflowing from the young Krishna.In 1912 Mrs. Besant took Krishna and his younger brother Nitya to England (for the second time) where theystayed until 1920 - by which time Krishna would have been 25 years of age. The years were mainly taken up with theireducation and during this period Krishna remained completely unspoiled by all the attention and adulation he had beenreceiving since being discovered. In 1920 he was sent to France - to learn French. In 1921 it was discovered that Nitya hadtuberculosis (from which he would later die), but after a period of treatment he was pronounced cured and both young menreturned to India, Krishna to play his part as the head of the Order of the Star
.
He was at that time twenty-six years old andin December 1921 he gave four talks at a Theosophical Convention on Theosophy and Internationalism. This was clearlybefore the onset of his ability to talk without preparation and it was obvious that public speaking was, at that time, verydifficult for him.In 1922 Nitya’s illness returned and the two young men went to California where they stayed in the Ojai Valley,south of San Francisco, 1500 feet above sea level and with an ideal climate for Nitya, who soon began to feel better. It washere in 1922 that Krishna underwent the first of the spiritual experiences which were to change his life. This was referredto by the Theosophists as ‘the process’ and was believed to be a purification so that the Master could take over the body. Awitness account of the experience, which indicates its deep spiritual dimension, is described further on. The experiencetook the a form that could be described as an intense
 
tapasya - a burning purification and the intensification of his psychewhich charged the body with great energy. It also marked the beginning of the end for the old ideas of the Theosophistsand those of the Order of the Star of the East. He wrote to a devotee (Lady Emily, mother of his biographer MaryLutyens), as follows : “I have changed and with that change I am going to change the lives of my friends.. My whole innernature is alive with energy and thought.” After the experience he began to write poetry and he also took on a new aspect of authority among the members of the Order.From the beginning of 1923 Krishna began to take the duties of running the organization seriously and alsovisited England and Europe where, in August and September the ‘process’ started again and was very intense. Then in1924 Nitya became ill again and the brothers returned to California where Krishna cared for and nursed his brother. But in1925, because Nitya was a little better, he embarked on a visit to India to attend the Jubilee Convention of theTheosophical Society, leaving Nitya behind in California. While he was on the trip out, Nitya died.
The breaking of the ‘Order’
The news of Nitya’s death affected Krishna deeply and it is thought that this experience was central in breakinghis implicit faith in Theosophy and in the ‘Masters’. He wrote the following piece on Nitya which was published in themagazine of the Order,
The Herald of the Star 
, and in this he assumed the name Krishnamurti :
“On the physical plane we could be separated and now we are inseparable... For my brother and I are one. AsKrishnamurti I now have greater zeal, greater faith, greater sympathy and greater love, for there is also in me the body,the Being of Nityananda... I know how to weep but still that is human. I know now more certainly than ever before, that there is real beauty in life, real happiness that cannot be shattered by any physical happening, a great strength that cannot be weakened by passing events, and a great love that is permanent, imperishable and unconquerable.”
He broke his association with the then leaders of the Order, except perhaps Mrs. Besant, with whom he retained apersonal connection. Then, at a Star Congress meeting in December 1925, he spoke for the first time as a World Teacherin his own right, using the first person, and not as a body taken over by any ‘Master’. During this talk his voice changednoticeably as he said:
“He comes only to those who want who desire, who long.
(Then)
 
I
come for those who want sympathy, who are longing tobe released, who are longing to find happiness in all things. I come to reform and not to tear down, I come not to destroybut to build.”
The following years were characterized by a progressive change in his thinking that lead to his closure of theOrder in 1929 in Switzerland. He also then came to be known generally as Krishnamurti, rather than Krishna.
 A “guru” for intellectuals
Notwithstanding Krishnamurti’s views and wishes with regard to his guru status, his own words sealed his role asa
de facto
guru for several generations of followers; among whom there were a very high proportion of intellectuals. Fromaround 1926 onwards he had been distancing himself from the Theosophists’ concept of a ‘World Teacher’ who would
 
40guide them step by step on their spiritual journey; but at no time did he indicate that he would abandon seekers of the truth.In his summer talks of 1926 and 1927 at Ommen in the Netherlands, he made this statement:
“I would ask you to come and look through my window, which will show you my heaven... Then you will see that what matters is not what you will do, what you read, what any person says you are or are not, but that you should have theintense desire to enter into that abode where dwells the Truth. No one can give you liberation, you have to find it fromwithin, but because I have found it I would show you the way... He who has attained liberation has become the teacher -like myself. It lies in the power of each one to enter the flame, to become the flame... Because I am here, if you hold me in your heart, I will give you strength to attain.”
And in 1929, at the time of the termination of his role as the ‘World Teacher’ as envisaged by the Theosophical Society,he made the following statement:
“You can form other organizations and expect someone else
(another vessel for the World Teacher
). With that I am not concerned, nor with creating new cages and decorations for those cages. My only concern is to set men absolutely,unconditionally free.”
It will be clear that these are not the words of someone who is wiping his hands of his followers as a teacher - a‘guru’ for want of a better word - for guru is simply the
Sanskrit 
word for teacher, but rather those of one who is changingthe rules. The pursuit of the truth was no longer to be carried out according to the beliefs and prognostications of theleaders of the Esoteric branch of the Theosophical Society, with Krishnamurti as its ‘vessel’, but rather by personal effort -and in this regard he would show the way.
What was Krishnamurti?
Krishnamurti’s principal biographer (Mary Lutyens) and many other close associates, were greatly concernedabout finding out exactly what Krishnamurti was, and in particular whether he was indeed a ‘vessel’ for a higher being -the Lord Maitreya or other, which would have been an affirmation of duality; or was he a great being in his own right - asthe Self so-to-speak. To them, the easiest explanation was the former, for this would explain how the rather vacant boywho by his own frequent statements was “completely free of thought” and had a “vacant mind”, could astound theintellectuals of the day and of the present time with the wisdom of his words. The main contact with his followers anddevotees was through his talks and his books (most of which are transcriptions of the talks). These talks were completelyunrehearsed and delivered in the third person by “the speaker”. In an interview with Mary Lutyens he commented asfollows:
“There is a sense of vacuity and then something comes. But if I sat down to it I might not be able to. Schropenhauer, Lenin, Bertrand Russell etc. had all read tremendously. Here is the phenomenon of this chap who isn’t trained, who has nodiscipline. How did he get all this? What is it? If it were only K [himself] - he is uneducated, gentle - so where does it come from? The person hasn’t thought out the teaching.”... “It is like - what is the biblical term? - Revelation. It happens all thetime when I’m talking.”
He invited Mary Lutyens and another close associate to try to find out what he really was. But much of theconfusion in the minds of the reviewers and commentators on Krishnamurti (who were mostly Westerners) seems to comefrom a lack of understanding, or unacceptance, of the basic tenets of Vedanta and Eastern philosophy in general. In theEast there would be no confusion; for the Self (the higher Self) dwells in all men, and is singular (not with duality) - and isthe same as God. It embraces the ‘Masters’ and everything else, and since there is only one Self who is shared by all - ittherefore matters not one jot whether it is the Lord Maitreya or anyone else - there is
only one
and it is equally withinKrishnamurti as it is from without. Even in Christian philosophy, duality, the perception of the ego, is nothing more thanthe separation - when man ate of the fruit of the knowledge of ‘good’ and ‘evil’. If this is confusing, it is only because thecommon mind is unable to perceive a meaning for reality - the singularity of God, the Trinity, and so on. Krishnamurti’sown words on the matter were: “There is a factor we are missing. We have come to a point where our brains, ourinstruments of investigation... have no meaning.” Furthermore, confusion arising from his use of the third person during histalks is also of no consequence for this is a common feature among enlightened beings; in them the ego is so subdued oreliminated that they need not refer to it as ‘I’ at all. So as long as we are not insistent on understanding the un-understandable, then there is no reason to be concerned about whether Krishnamurti was or was not someone else; for hewas nothing more than the Self and as such was nothing less than everything. One may speculate, was his invitation to findout what he really was - an invitation to ‘Self inquiry’?From early life Krishnamurti seemed to have a vacant mind and as mentioned before, was almost completely freeof ego. He emphasized this at a briefing with Mary Lutyens in 1975. He said:
“What is important in this is the vacant mind... How is it that the vacant mind was not filled with Theosophy? Right through life it has been guarded, protected. The vacancy has never gone away. At the dentist for four hours not a singlethought came into my head... Only when talking and writing does ‘this’ come into play... Is the vacancy a lack of selfishness - the (ego) - my house, attachment? “
He maintained that the meditative state, that connection with a higher reality - the Truth, only manifests whenthere is this vacuity and it is something positive that can be felt. He said: “Can you feel it in the room? It is stronger andstronger. My head is starting... I will tell you something that happens; I said yesterday, ‘Thinking about something isdifferent from thinking.’ I said, ‘I don’t quite understand it, let me look at it,’ and when I did, I saw something clearly”.At the same time Krishnamurti could use the ordinary mind as occasion demanded and when this happened the
 
41‘vacant mind’ ceased to be empty: “When it is necessary to use thought, to communicate. Otherwise it is empty. During aseminar, when I am talking it comes out.”
The process:
Although this may not be agreed to by all Krishnamurti purists, some aspects of ‘the process’ weretypical of Kundalini experiences - see below, and they also had attributes of tapasya - the ‘way of the cross’ or ‘the dark night of the soul’ so-to-speak. The ‘process’ was described by a witness as follows: “Suddenly the whole house seemedfull of a terrific force and Krishna was as if possessed and was conscious of intolerable dirt in the house. He cried aloudthat he wanted to go to the woods in India. Later he began to chant a mantra from Adyar ... then silence.”According to his brother Nitya’s account, who witnessed the ‘process’, “The place seemed to be filled with aGreat Presence and a great longing came upon me to go on my knees and adore, for I knew that the Great Lord of all ourhearts had come himself, and though we saw him not, yet all felt the splendour of His presence.”After the first event Krishna wrote: “I was supremely happy, for I had seen. Nothing could ever be the same... Thefountain of Truth has revealed to me and the darkness dispersed. Love in all its glory has intoxicated my heart; my heartnow can never be closed.”Later he described accurately a classical Kundalini ‘symptom’ (see
 Devatma Shakti
), as follows: “My spine andneck have been going very strong and the day before yesterday, I had an extraordinary evening. Whatever it is, the sourceor whatever one calls the bally thing, came up my spine, up to the nape of my neck, then it separated into two, one going tothe right and one to the left of my head till they met between the two eyes, just above my nose. And I saw the Lord andMaster. It was a tremendous night.”A consciousness of the undifferentiated nature of a universe “without duality” is one of the characteristic signs of enlightenment. During the period of the ‘process’ he had a clear and unequivocal experiences of universality. This is whathe said on one occasion:
“There was a man mending the road; that man was myself; the pickaxe he held was myself; the very stone which he wasbreaking up was part of me; the tender blade of grass was my very being, and the tree beside the man was myself. I alsocould feel and think like the road mender and I could feel the wind passing through the trees, and the little ant on the bladeof grass I could feel. The birds, the dust, and the very noise were a part of me. Just then there was a car passing by at somedistance; I was the driver, the engine, and the tyres; as the car went further away from me, I was going further away frommyself. I was in everything; or rather everything was in me, the inanimate and animate, the mountain, the worm and allbreathing things. All day long I remained in this happy condition.”
The notion of guru:
The question may be asked - did Krishnamurti have a guru? This may best be answered byhis own words on the occasion of the Theosophist’s summer camp of 1929, which was the precursor of his closing of TheOrder of The Star of the East; he said:
“When I was a small boy I used to see Krishna, with his flute, as he was pictured by the Hindus, because my mother was adevotee of Krishna... When I grew older and met with Bishop Leadbeater and the Theosophical Society, I began to see the Master K.H.
(The
 
Master Kuthumi
 ,
one of the Great White Brotherhood)
- again in the form that was put before me, thereality from
 
their point 
 
of view - and hence the Master K.H. was to me the end. Later on, as I grew, I began to see the Lord  Maitreya. That was two years ago and I saw him constantly in the form put before me... Now lately, it has been the Buddhawhom I have been seeing and it has been my delight and my glory to be with Him. Now I have been asked what I mean bythe “Beloved”. I will give a meaning, an estimation, which you will interpret as you please.To me it is all - it is Shri Krishna, it is the Master K. H., it is the Lord Maitreya, it is the Buddha, and yet it isbeyond all these forms. What does it matter what name you give? ... What you are troubling about is whether there is sucha person as the World Teacher who has manifested himself in the body of a certain other person, Krishnamurti; but in theworld nobody will trouble about this question. It is an unfortunate thing that I have to explain, but I must. I wanted to be asvague as possible, and I have made it so. My Beloved is the open skies, the flower, every human being... Till I was able tosay with certainty, without undue excitement, or exaggeration in order to convince others, that I was one with my Beloved I never spoke. I talked of vague generalities which everyone wanted. I never said : I am the World Teacher; but now that I  feel I am one with my Beloved, I say it, not in order to impress my authority on you, not to convince you of my greatness,nor the greatness of the World Teacher, nor even of the beauty of life, but merely to awaken the desire in your hearts and in your minds to seek out the Truth. If I say, and I will say, that I am one with the Beloved, it is because I feel and know it. I have found what I longed for; I have become united, so that henceforth there will be no separation, because my thoughts,my desires, my longings - those of the individual self, have been destroyed... I am as the flower that gives scent to themorning air. It does not concern itself with who is passing by... Until now you have relied on the two Protectors of theOrder for authority, on someone else to tell you the Truth, whereas the Truth lies within you... It is no good asking me whois the Beloved. Of what use is explanation? For you will not understand until you are able to see him in every animal, everyblade of grass, in every person that is suffering, in every individual.”
(Sourc
e:
Lutyens
loc. cit.
)
 
Krishnamurti always had the feeling that his life had been planned and that something looked after him -something that existed and had to be respected but not interfered with. And there seems little doubt that, notwithstandinghis antipathy to the concept of a guru or master, that he was, in the classical sense, just such a one - an enlightened master,a satguru. As indicated before, it is quite likely that in his briefings with Mary Lutyens and other close associates, he wasinviting them to find out, to
realize
- for themselves. From his meditation experiences he gave some remarkabledescriptions, which could aid the cognisance of the un-enlightened mind to the elusive enlightened state. Some are asfollow.
 
42 
 Meditations
Krishnamurti did not give instructions in meditation but he did give pointers in regard to his own meditations. Hewould always meditate without any expectation of what should happen - so that memory of previous experiences would notget in the way. Towards the end of his life, from the late 1970’s, his meditations reached what can only be described astheir highest peak. This is an example, spoken in the third person:
“For a long time he had been awakened in the middle of the night with that peculiar meditation which had been pursuinghim for many years. This had been a normal thing in his life. It is not a conscious, deliberate pursuit of meditation or anunconscious desire to achieve something. It is very clearly uninvited and unsought.
(He had been adroitly conscious of preventing thought making a memory of these meditations.)
So each meditation has a quality of something new and fresh init. There is a sense of accumulating drive. Sometimes it is so intense that there is pain in the head, sometimes a sense of vast emptiness with fathomless energy. Sometimes he wakes with laughter and measureless joy. These peculiar meditations,which naturally were unpremeditated, grew in intensity... One night in the strange stillness of that part of the world 
(theRishi Valley in India)
 , with the silence undisturbed by the hoot of owls, he woke up to find something totally different and new. The movement had reached the source of all energy... This must in no way be confused with, or even thought of, asGod or the highest principle, the Brahman, which are the projections of the human mind out of fear and longing, theunyielding desire for total security. It is none of these things. Desire cannot possibly reach it, words cannot fathom it, nor can the string of thought wind itself around it. One may ask with what assurance do you (Krishnamurti) state that it is thesource of all energy? One can only reply with complete humility, that it is so... Every night he would wake up with thissense of the absolute. It is not a state, a thing that is static, fixed, immovable. The whole universe is in it, measureless toman... and there was the perception that there is nothing beyond this. This is the ultimate, the beginning and the ending and the absolute. There is only a sense of incredible vastness and immense beauty.”
And in his
 Notebook 
p. 121, which he began late in life, speaking about Meditation and Love, he wrote :
“Meditation ... was freedom and it was like entering into an unknown world of beauty and quietness; it was a world without image, symbol or word, without waves of memory. Love was in the death of every minute and each death was thereturning of love. It was not attachment, it had no roots; it flowered without pause and it was a flame which burnt away theborders, the carefully built fences of consciousness
(ego consciousness).
Meditation was joy and with it came benediction.”
Teachings
As indicated before, Krishnamurti taught that we must find the Truth primarily by our own efforts; but in thisregard, “because I have found it” he would show the way. And in all his subsequent long and active life, this is what hedid - virtually right to the last moment. He maintained that he had found the Truth through his own efforts and that otherscould, if they were serious enough, do the same. In a letter written in 1930 to a devotee who was devastated at hisresignation from the old order (above) he said:
“The ecstasy that I feel is the outcome of this world. I wanted to understand, I wanted to conquer sorrow, this pain of detachment and attachment, death, continuity of life, everything that man goes through every day. I wanted to understand and concur it.
I have
. So, my ecstasy is real and infinite, not an escape. I know the way out of this incessant misery and I want to help people out of the bog of their sorrow...”
In all his talks and books he prescribes the same formula; that man must examine his own consciousness and stripaway everything that is not the Truth. In essence it was ‘Self inquiry’. He maintained that the Truth is a “pathless land”that cannot be arrived at through any organization, creed, dogma, priest or ritual. Nor can it be achieved throughphilosophical logic or psychology. It can only be found through the “mirror of relationship”, through observation andunderstanding of the contents of the mind. He said: “When man becomes aware of the movement of his own consciousnesshe will see the division between the thinker and the thought, the observer and the observed, the experiencer and theexperience.” And he will then discover that the division is an illusion. There is only pure observation which is insight,without any shadow of the past: “This timeless insight brings about a deep radical change in the mind.”A central part of the procedure of self examination is to witness the mind and its parade of thoughts and, inessence, though not enunciated in quite the way of Ramana Maharshi, his dialogues with those who attended his talks wereto guide them into self examination through contemplation of thoughts and concepts. The mind, he explained, thrived onmemory and habit and produced nothing new. Its incessant flow of thoughts, being derived from the store of memories,cannot break through to anything new; they are always the past parading itself as the present. Of this he said:
“Thought is born of experiences, of knowledge, which is inseparable from time, so man is always a slave of the past.”
Bycontrast:
“Freedom is pure observation without direction, without fear of punishment or reward. Freedom is without motive... is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence.”
(And)
”Thought is always trying to find a placewhere it can abide, abide in the sense of hold. But what thought creates, being fragmentary, is total insecurity. Thereforethere is complete security in being absolutely nothing - which means not a thing created by thought. To be absolutelynothing means a total contradiction of everything you have learnt... You know what it means to be nothing? No ambition -which does not mean that you vegetate - no aggression, no resistance, no barriers built by hurt? The security that thought has created is no security. That is an absolute truth.”...
(And)
... “We fill our hearts with the things of the mind and therefore keep our hearts ever empty and expectant. It is the mind that clings, that is envious, that holds and destroys.”
Krishnamurti maintained that the ego, through its attachment to thoughts of the mind, wants to experience a
 
43continuation of pleasurable experiences
ad infinatum
; and it is this, the continuation of experience, that binds us. But thisfact must be seen through introspection - not through belief or intellectualisation. It must be seen by direct examination;and then when it is understood, the unraveling of the mind and the ego and the surrender of it all can take place. Theremust be total negation and a stripping away of all that is not love. Only then can the Truth be seen. He said:
“Total negation is the essence of the positive. When there is negation of all those things which are not love - desire, pleasure etc. - then Love is, with its compassion and intelligence... Truth, happiness lies only through elimination, thenthere is a timeless understanding. This is not negative. Most people are afraid to be nothing. They call it being positivewhen they are making an effort, and call that effort virtue. But true virtue is effortless. When you are nothing you are allthings, not 
by
aggrandizement, not by laying emphasis on ‘I’ and ‘me’ - on the personality, but on the continual dispassionof that form of consciousness which creates power, greed, envy, possessive care, vanity, fear and passion.”
 It is about discovering love through negation:
You can only find out what love is, by knowing what it is not. Not knowing intellectually, but actually in life putting asidewhat it is not - jealousy, ambition, greed, all the division that goes on in life, the me and the you, we and they, the black and the white.. And this needs energy, and energy comes only when you observe actually what is and don’t run away fromit... Just observe actually what is, then you have an abundance of energy and then you can find out what love is. Love is not  pleasure - really find that out, inwardly, for yourself. Do you know what that means? It means that there is no fear, noattachment, no dependency, but a relationship in which there is no division.”
2
 
Although Krishnamurti reiterated these principles in many talks throughout his life he became particularly lucid inhis later years when his meditations were reaching what he described as “a sense of incredible vastness and beauty.” Hehad started several schools for young people and held strong views on the need of man to change - to evolve from a lifebased on the egoic mind and to promote “the awakening of intelligence” - which was consciousness of the higher Self. Hewas very adamant about the difference between learning and the accumulation of knowledge: “To know is not to know,and the understanding of this fact, that knowledge can never solve our human problems, is intelligence.” In education hebelieved there should be no psychological wounding - when you have a first and a second, you wound both of them.
An end to sorrow is love:
Krishnamurti maintained that the eroding of the ego also means the embracing of sorrow: “We are seeing the fact, ‘what
is
’, which is suffering... I suffer and the mind is doing everything it can to run awayfrom it... So, don’t escape from sorrow, which does not mean that you become morbid. Live with it... What takes place?Watch. The mind is very clear, sharp. It is faced with the fact. The very suffering transformed into passion is enormous.From that arises a mind that can never be hurt. Full stop. That is the secret.” In a talk given in Washington in 1985, lessthan a year before his death, he spoke again with great feeling, about love and sorrow:
“When there is unacceptance there is no love. When you are suffering, concerned with your own suffering, how can therebe love? What is sorrow? Is sorrow self pity? Please investigate. We are not saying it is or is not... Is sorrow brought about by loneliness - feeling desperately alone, isolated? Can we look at sorrow as it actually is in us, and remain with it,hold it, never escape from it? Sorrow is not different from the one who suffers. The person who suffers wants to run awayescape, do all kind of things. But to look at it you look as a child, a beautiful child, to hold it, never escape from it - then you will see for yourself, if you really look deeply, that there is an end to sorrow. And when there is an end to sorrow thereis passion; not lust, not sensory stimulation, but passion.”
Teaching by dialogue:
Much of Krishnamurti’s teaching took the form of dialogues between himself (theSpeaker) and the audience, in which he would guide the audience into the heart of the message. For example in a dialogueat his annual summer camp of 1971 entitled
“Thought and the Immeasurable”
the following exchange took place:Questioner: “I remember when I came to Switzerland as a small child and I saw a mountain for the first time, it waswithout any remembrance. It was very beautiful”.Krishnamurti: “Yes, Sir, when you see it for the first time you don’t say. ‘It is a mountain’. Then somebody tells you that isa mountain and the next time you recognize it as such. Now, when you observe, there is the whole process of recognition.You do not confuse the mountain with a house or an elephant, it is a mountain. Then the difficult problem arises: toobserve it non verbally. ‘That is a mountain’, ‘I like it or I don’t like it’, ‘I wish I could live up there’, and so on. It is fairlyeasy just to observe it, because the mountains do not affect your life. But your husband, your wife, your neighbour, yourson or daughter, they affect you; therefore you cannot observe them without evaluation, without an image. This is wherethe problem arises - can you look at the mountain and at your wife or your husband, without a single image, then you arelooking at them for the first time, aren’t you? Then you are looking at the earth, the stars, the mountains, or the politician,for the first time. That means your eyes are clear, not dimmed with the burden of past memories. That is all. Go into it,work at it. You will find out the enormous beauty that is in this.”Questioner: “If you look at a factory that way, without being aware of what it does to the environment, you cannot act.”Krishnamurti: “On the contrary, you see that it is polluting the air, belching forth smoke, so you want to do something.Don’t confuse it, keep it simple. Do it and you will see what action comes out of it.”There is a volume of these dialogues entitled
The Awakening of Intelligence
-
see Bibliography. In this it ispossible to discern the difference between ‘mind’ - the comments of most of the participators (pundits and professors), andthe no-mind of Krishnamurti.
2
Krishnamurti, J. 1990
The Awakening of Intelligence
. Gollantcz Ltd. London.
 
44
The effectiveness of his teaching
Although Krishnamurti taught for more than fifty years and has inspired, and continues to inspire, generations of ‘thinkers’, the extent to which others managed to achieve the same level of enlightenment that he had achieved is notknown. From the accounts of his biographer (Mary Lutyens) who had known him from a young age, it appears that if therewere such they were either very secretive or very few in number. But other sources of information indicate that there wereprobably more and perhaps many. One of these is Vimala Thakar, an Indian woman spiritual teacher who currently (2001)lives in retirement at Mount Abu, a hill station in Rajasthan. Her book,
On an Eternal Voyage
written in 1966, contains amoving account of her association with Krishnamurti, with whom she experienced a dramatic change in consciousness (see
What is Enlightenment 
Fall/Winter 1996). She wrote, “Something within has been let loose. It can’t stand any frontiers..The invasion of a new awareness, irresistible and uncontrollable.. has swept away everything.” In a letter to some friendsand colleagues she wrote : “No words could describe the intensity and depth of experience through which I am passing.Everything has changed. I am born anew. This is (not) wishful thinking. It is an astounding phenomenon.. Everything thathas been transmitted to our mind through centuries will have to be discarded.. I have dealt with it. It has dropped away.”She began, in her own quiet way, to speak with friends who were interested in her life and her experience butwhen she met Krishnamurti again he said, without preamble, “Why don’t you explode? Why don’t you put bombs underall these old people who follow the wrong line?.. Go out and set them on fire.”At that time, 1961, Krishnamurti intimated that there were no others who had seen the light in the way she had,but it is also possible that other associates may have realized a high state of spiritual awareness in later years. One of thesecould well have been Aldous Huxley, who was very close to Krishnamurti in the years before his (Aldous Huxley’s) deathin 1964. Christopher Isherwood, in his book 
 My Guru and His Disciple
, gives an account of Huxley’s death : “Aldous wasin obvious discomfort, but there was nothing poignant or desperate in his manner, and he clearly didn’t want to talk aboutdeath.. Each time I did so, Aldous commented acutely, or remembered an appropriate quotation. I came away with thepicture of a great noble vessel sinking quietly into the deep; many of its delicate and marvelous mechanisms still in perfectorder, all its lights shining.”There are many instances of the audience at Krishnamurti’s talks being moved by the teaching. That is whatbrought them back again and again. Throughout the world there are Krishnamurti addicts and a good example is a monk and spiritual teacher in Thailand called Ajahn Santatito who plastered the trees in his forest monastery with Krishnamurtiquotations. Santatito’s principle teaching to cope with the vicissitudes of the worldly life was: “Keep your life simple.”And the “saintly scientist”, Amit Goswami, (see Appendix II), who now writes books on enlightenment, had a spiritualbreakthrough in the understanding of cosmic phenomena after attending a talk by Krishnamurti.But in the end it seems that the effort needed to make the transformation was, in most instances, lacking. A manwho had been going to Krishnamurti’s talks for many years wondered why he had not changed
.
Krishnamurti replied:
 
“Isit that you are not serious? Is it that you don’t care? Is it that you have so many problems that you are caught up in them;no time, no leisure to stop, so that you never look at that flower?”The energy needed to make the quantum leap and abandon the clinging to established habits, seem to be the mainstumbling block. Krishnamurti frequently said the energy required is considerable. And, in most of us, this is dissipated inworldly life - in the ego’s desperate drive to ‘save’ its creations. At a talk given in Switzerland at one of his annual summercamps he had this to say:
“One needs a great deal of energy, vitality, interest to bring about a radical change in oneself. If we are interested inoutward phenomena, we have to see what we can do with the rest of the world in the process of changing ourselves; and also we must see not only how to conserve energy, but how to increase it. We dissipate energy endlessly, by useless talk, byhaving innumerable opinions about everything, by living in the world of concepts, formulas, and by everlasting conflict within and between ourselves... It needs energy not only for a superficial external change, but also to bring about a deep,inward transformation or revolution. One must have an extraordinary sense of energy which has no cause, which has nomotive, which has the capacity to be utterly quiet, and this very quietness has its own explosive quality... One sees howhuman beings waste their energy, in quarrels, in jealousies, in a tremendous sense of anxiety, in the everlasting pursuit of  pleasure and in the demand for it.”
It is not the enjoyment of pleasure itself, which includes both physical and psychological pleasure, but man’sattachment to it and his wish for it to be endlessly repeated and embellished, that is the problem; the pursuit of pleasure -one of the rights enshrined in the American Constitution (as it is generally understood), reduces the mind to seeking theacquisition of things and makes it dull and indifferent. We should be able to enjoy pleasure as it appears and leave it atthat. He said, “Pleasure is such an enticing thing! I look at a tree: it is a great delight. To see a dark cloud full of rain and arainbow, and this seems a tremendous thing. That is pleasure, that is a delight, that is a tremendous enjoyment. Why can’t Ileave it there? You understand? Why do I have to say, ‘I must store it up’? Then when I see the next day the dark cloudfull of rain and the leaves dancing in the wind, the memory of yesterday spoils the sight of it. I have become dull. Thoughthas spoiled it.”It seems that the main legacy that Krishnamurti has left to the world lies in his books which remain as aninspiration and, perhaps, in their way, contribute greatly to the spiritual journeys of many seekers. He ordained nofollowers and said that no one was to represent him after his death. The schools that he founded should continue but, heexplained, would not be the same as when he
 
was alive. These are some of the views he has expressed on different matters.
 
45
 His views on psychic powers
Although Krishnamurti’s life itself was a miracle, since it is certainly miraculous to produce such enlightened andprofound material in talk after talk without the slightest preparation, the meaning here is the performing of demonstrativemiracles. Of these he did not approve. In a letter to a devotee (Lady Emily, the mother of Mary Lutyens) he wrote:
“Which would you rather have: a Teacher who will show the way to keep permanently whole or one who will momentarilyheal your wounds? Miracles are fascinating child’s play... Many friends of mine are spiritual healers. But although theymay heal the body, unless they make the mind and heart also whole, the disease will return. I am concerned with thehealing of the heart and the mind, not with the body. I hold that no great Teacher would perform a miracle, because that would be a betrayal of the Truth.”
Notwithstanding this statement, it was known that Krishnamurti was himself, a powerful healer and cured VimalaThakar (above) of almost total deafness, considered un-treatable by the medical profession.
 His views on sex
Krishnamurti was apparently celibate throughout his entire long life. But he was, according to his biographer,completely normal physically and was extremely attractive to almost everyone with a charming and playful personality.Young women, and not so young women, fell in love with him in droves, but it seems that at no time were his relationshipswith them anything but platonic. His early life, from the age of around fourteen, and after he had been adopted by theTheosophical Society, was carefully observed; because of the belief that the “Masters”, the architects of the “new order”,wanted the main human guides of the project to be celibate.In later life, after he had broken away from the Theosophists, he had many occasions to refer to sex in his talks.The following statement probably sums up his views on the matter.
“It (
sex)
has become a problem because there is no love. When we really love there is no problem, there is an adjustment,an understanding. But when we have lost the sense of true affection, that profound love in which there is no sense of  possessiveness, there arises the problem of sex. It is when we have completely yielded ourselves to the mere sensation, that there are many problems concerning sex. As the majority of people have lost the joy of creative thinking, naturally theyturn to the sensation of sex which becomes a problem, eating their minds and hearts away.”
 His views on ‘God’
Krishnamurti frequently referred to his disbelief in religions and ‘god’, and, from what we know about him andhis state of development, it is plain that he is referring to the ‘ordinary’ egoic and unenlightened view of ‘god’, and to thepractices of the religions. In a talk given in 1982, when he was eighty six he said the following:
“We have invented God. Thought has invented God - that is we, out of misery, despair, loneliness, anxiety, have invented that thing called God. This ‘God’ has not made us in his image - I wish he had. Personally I have no belief in anything. Thespeaker 
(Krishnamurti)
faces only what is, what are facts, the realization of the nature of every fact, every thought, all thereactions - he is totally aware of all that. If you are free from fear, from sorrow, there is no need for a God.”
He also extended the same views to what he saw of the Eastern religions, and to the guru cult movements ingeneral. He had a low opinion of the hippie movement and considered it to be “not too serious.” He maintained that theyoung of today (those in the hippie and social reform cults of that period) will become the dull middle class of tomorrow - and tha
t
is exactly what has happened.
 
 His views on death
Krishnamurti maintained that physical death is of little importance, but that it is assigned paramount importanceby most men, who suffer terribly at the time of dying - something that is not necessary. The horror with which men regarddeath is related to our attachments and storehouse of memory, which is also the barrier to spiritual enlightenment. In 1981in Amsterdam he said:
“Death means the ending of the known… and I am frightened to let all that go, which means death. Death means theending of attachments, which is dying while living; not separated by fifty years or so, waiting for some disease to finish youoff. It is living with all your vitality, energy, intellectual capacity and with great feeling, and at the same time, for certainconclusions, certain idiosyncrasies, experiences, attachments, hurts, to end, to die. That is, while living, also live withdeath. Then death is not something far away, death is not something which is the end of life, brought about by someaccident, disease or old age, but rather the ending of all the things of memory - that is death, a death not separate fromliving.”
 In 1983, at the age of eighty seven he wrote in his Journal the following:
“Why do human beings die so miserably, so unhappily, with a disease, old age, senility, the body shrunk, ugly? .. What iswrong with us? … As you teach children mathematics (etc.)... they should also be taught the great dignity of death... assomething of daily life - the daily life of looking at the blue sky and the grasshopper on the leaf. It is a part of learning, as you grow teeth and have all the discomforts of childish illnesses. Children have extraordinary curiosity. If you see thenature of death, you don’t explain that everything dies, dust to dust and so on, but without any fear you explain it to themgently and make them feel that living and dying are one... There is no resurrection - that is superstition…To grasp the whole movement of life requires intelligence, not the intelligence of thought, or books, or knowledge, but theintelligence of love and compassion with its sensitivity... As one looked at a dead leaf with all its beauty and colour, maybe
 
46
one would very deeply comprehend, be aware of, what ones own death must be, not at the very end but at the beginning. Death isn’t some horrific thing, something to be avoided, postponed, but rather something to be with day in and day out. And out of that comes an extraordinary sense of immensity
.”
 His last talk
In his is last talk he was very frail and spoke so quietly that the audience had to strain to hear it. He said:
“Creation is something that is most holy. That’s the most sacred thing in life and if you have made a mess of your life -change it. Change it today, not tomorrow. If you are uncertain find out why and be certain. If your thinking is not straight,think straight, logically. Unless all that is prepared, all that is settled, you can’t enter into this world of creation.”
His last words were almost inaudible. They were: “It ends.” He died shortly after this in his sleep, just aftermidnight on the 17th of February, 1986 - at the age of ninety one.
 Practicalities
Although Krishnamurti said that there were to be no successors to him, the records of his life and teachings havenevertheless been a basis for spiritual pursuit for many since his death. The Krishnamurti Foundations offer theopportunity to study and contemplate the teachings (unguided) at their Centres. All have comprehensive libraries and audioand video recordings.The Krishnamurti Foundation of India is located at the Vasanta Vihar Study Centre, 64 Greenways Road,Chennai 600 028, Tamil Nadu, India. Tel. (Internat.) + 91 44 4937803 or 4937596 (local) 044 4937803 or 4937596 Fax.(Internat.) + 91 44 4991360 (local) 044 4991360 Web: www. jkrishnamurti.org / kfipageThe Indian branch has a comfortable guest house and a good library for those interested in studying Krishnamurti’steachings.The Krishnamurti Foundation Trust of the UK is located in the quiet countryside of Hampshire, England.Krishnamurti Centre, Brockwood Park, Bramdean, Hants S024 0LQ, England. Tel. (Internat.) + 44 1962 771748 (local)01962 771748. Fax. (Internat.) +441962 771755 (local) 01962 771755. Web: www.klomdation.org
 
The Krishnamurti Foundation of American is located at the beautiful Ojai Valley, California. Contact details areas follow: PO Box 1560, Ojai, CA 93024. Tel. (805) 646 2726 Fax. (805) 646 6674Web:www.kta.org
 
 
Chapter 6 
 
 PARAMAHANSA YOGANANDA
 A sad saint is a bad saint. Spirituality is something that can be expressed joyfully. - From S.R. Magazine 2003.
 Background 
Paramhansa Yogananda is well known in the West through his book 
Autobiography of a Yogi
first published in1947. He is considered by some authorities to be one of the very few fully realized masters to come to the West, andamong devotees he is considered to have been a
 premavatar 
- a divine incarnation of love. From the earliest days he wasenraptured with the idea of God. He was born in 1893 in West Bengal and died in California in 1952. In 1920, at therequest of his guru, he went to the USA to impart the teachings of Kriya Yoga; a type of yoga that is said to haveoriginated with the legendary guru Babaji - see below. Apart from a brief return to India for approximately one year in1935 - which coincided with the passing away of his guru Sri Yukteswar, he spent most of his adult life in the West. Hepersonally initiated hundreds of thousands of people into Kriya yoga and in 1935 founded the International Society of Self Realization Fellowship - SRF, of the Yoga Satanga Society (YSS) of India. The SRF has its headquarters at Mt.Washington in Los Angeles. Later, in 1938, the Yogoda Math (Monastery and Ashram) was built at Dakshineswar,Calcutta, on the banks of the Ganges river - see Practicalities below.
 His lineage
 
Paramhansa Yogananda was a disciple of Sri Yukteswar, who was in turn the disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya - whois said to have attained enlightenment through the legendary guru, Babaji, a semi-mythical figure of great age who isbelieved to live in a secret location in the Himalayas and to travel astrally from time to time, to other parts of India. To theWestern mind it may seem improbable that gurus who are hundreds of years old really do exist but there is some reliabledocumented evidence to support their existence. The instance of a demonstrably very old guru was mentioned in the
 
47Preface of this book. Furthermore, it is well known that highly advanced yogis can stop their heartbeat, lower their bodytemperature and refrain from visible breathing for periods of, at least, several hours and sometimes much longer. If theseare documented facts then it is not inconceivable that advanced yogis, who spend much of their time in deep meditationand in the practice of altering physiological states, could slow down the aging process.Babaji is believed to be a Mahavatar (Great Avatar), who has lived for many centuries in the Himalayas. It seemsthat Babaji has refused to reveal to his disciples, information about his date and place of birth. However, Lahiri Mahasayahas said that when anyone utters his name with reverence, that person attracts instant spiritual blessing. He moves about byastral travel in the subtle body and can thus appear anywhere almost instantaneously. An Australian woman described whatshe believed to be an encounter with Babaji in some Shiva caves near Rishikesh in Northern India. She had made her waywith great difficulty into the caves and there she found sadhus dressed in spotless white. She wondered how this waspossible because she had to crawl on all fours to gain access. Presently, when she was looking at the formations of therocks - which are supposed to resemble the locks of Shiva, she felt a sudden stillness and noticed that the sadhus had allprostrated themselves on the ground. She followed suit but not before she saw what she was later told was Babaji, passquickly across the cave and disappear on the far side.Babaji is said to have guided and instructed both preceding gurus of Yogananda, Lahiri Mahasaya and SriYukteswar, in the science of Kriya Yoga. Kriya Yoga is more than simply a yogic meditation technique and thereforeBabaji insisted that any who seeks initiation should undergo a period of spiritual training before they could be instructed.Although it does not require celibacy and renunciation in the initiates, the acceptance of certain spiritual disciplines isnecessary. To this day the SRF / YSS follow the same injunctions.Lahiri Mahasaya is alleged to have met Babaji briefly near Ranikhet in 1861 and became immediatelyenlightened. He was instructed in Kriya Yoga and given permission to teach it to others. As he was already married hebecame a householder saint and, for much of his adult life was a junior government officer in British India. His superiorofficer and supervisor of the office where he worked, was one of the first to notice the change in him and to experience hisacquisition of supernatural powers. It happened like this: The supervisor’s wife at that time was seriously ill in Englandand he had had no news about her. Lahiri offered to get some information and went to sit for a short time in a secludedspot. Shortly he returned and said that the wife was much better and was at that moment writing a letter - some parts of which he quoted. The superintendent was somewhat relieved but also still doubtful. That is, until the letter arrived, whichnot only contained news of her recovery but also used the same phrases that Lahiri had quoted. Lahiri Mahasaya, in duecourse, initiated his disciple Sri Yukteswar, who became Yogananda’s master.Sri Yogananda claims to have had prenatal memories of his guru, Sri Yukteswar, when he was a young student of around seventeen years of age. His vision was of a Christ-like man in the ochre robes of a swami. Yogananda writes: “Isensed that my guru knew God and would lead me to him. The obscuration of this life disappeared in a fragile dawn of prenatal memories.” Later he met him in the physical form in his present lifetime, upon which Sri Yukteswar said, “Howmany years have I waited for you.”Sri Yukteswar had met Babaji on a number of occasions in a previous life. The first time was at a Kumbha Mela,a religious fair, in the 1880’s, and then later when he when he was thirty-nine years old. On the first occasion he was notyet a swami but had received Kriya initiation (see below) from Lahiri Mahasaya. He described Babaji as a bright unusualfigure with sparkling dark eyes. He said he was instantly engulfed in a wave of spiritual blessing. Babaji had the power tostill Yukteswar’s wandering thoughts and surmise his essential nature and his interest in the West. Babaji said, “I see youare interested in the West, as well as in the East. East and West must establish a middle path of activity and spiritualitycombined. Some years hence I shall send you a disciple whom you can train for yoga dissemination in the West.” Thisdisciple was Yogananda.After Yogananda’s death in 1952, he was succeeded, until 1955, by Rajarsi Janakananda (formerly James J.Lynn, a self-made business magnate with spiritual inclinations) as head of the SRF, and then by the Reverend Mother DayaMata. Of Rajarsi Yogananda said, “Some people say that the Western man cannot meditate. That is not true. Since Mr.Lynn first received Kriya Yoga, I have never seen him when he is not communicating with God.” Mr. Lynn described theeffects of his first meeting with Yogananda thus: “I became aware that I was sitting very still... I had found entrance into aspiritual realm previously unknown to me.”Daya Mata succeeded Rajarsi in 1955. She had met Yogananda in 1931 as a young girl of seventeen. She wastaken by his love of God and entered the Mount Washington Mother Centre to be trained by Yogananda. Over the yearsshe was given special organizational responsibilities and placed above other disciples as an example to follow in themonastic life he envisaged for followers of the teachings. Daya Mata wrote: “Paramhansa Yogananda taught us the way,not only by his words and divine example, but by giving to us the scientific SRF methods of meditation. It is not possibleto satisfy the soul’s thirst merely by reading about the truth. One must drink the direct experience of God.”
 An experience of Cosmic Consciousness
Probably the nearest Yogananda comes to describing an experience of enlightenment was an occurrence at theashram of his master Sri Yukteswar. He had returned from a visit to the Himalayas and describes the meeting with hismaster. He said that a blissful wave engulfed him and he became conscious that the Lord, in the form of his master was“expanding the limited ardour of my heart to the vast reaches of cosmic love.” A few days later Sri Yukteswar tapped himgently above the heart, upon which his body became rooted, the breath was drawn out : “as if by some huge magnet,” and
 
48soul and mind seemed like a fluid of light coming from every pore. Although his flesh then appeared dead, he had anintense awareness and his sense of identity was no longer confined but embraced the circumambient atoms. Heexperienced, with omnivision, people in distant streets, a white cow approaching the ashram gate, the roots of trees in thesoil and the movement of their sap. All objects trembled and vibrated, sometimes violently, and then melted into aluminescent sea. An oceanic joy broke upon him as he realized that the Spirit of God is exhaustless bliss, and his body iscountless tissues of light. He felt that a swelling glory within him enveloped the whole universe and the entire cosmos,gently luminous, glimmered within his being. Again and again creative beams condensed into constellations and then: “byrhythmic reversion, sextillion worlds passed into diaphanous lustre.” He knew that all this came from “a point of intuitiveperception in his heart.” And as the “nectar of immortality” pulsed through him he heard the primal sound Aum, “the voiceof God.” For the full description see
 Autobiography of a Yogi
, Chapter 14.
 Kriya Yoga; Yogananda’s principle teaching
The essential teaching of the Self Realization Fellowship is Kriya Yoga, which is considered to be a science by itsadepts. It became quite widely known in India through the activities of Lahiri Mahasaya and Sri Yukteswar. Itsintroduction and propagation in the west was due to Yogananda, and subsequently by his successors at the SRF.Yogananda wrote of it as follows:
“ Kriya Yoga is a psycho-physiological method by which the blood is decarbonated and re-charged with oxygen. Theatoms of the extra oxygen are transmuted into life current to rejuvenate the brain and spinal centers. By stopping theaccumulation of venous blood, the yogi is able to lessen or prevent the decay of tissues. The advanced yogi transmutes hiscells into energy. Elijah, Jesus, Kabir (said to be the originator of Radha Soami Satsang Beas - another organization withsecret teachings), and other prophets were past masters of the use of Kriya or similar techniques - by which they caused their bodies to materialize or dematerialise at will.”
 Because of certain ancient yogic injunctions Kriya Yoga is not given to the general public. It has, in the USA andEurope, to be taught by authorized adepts of the SRF / YSS organization. Seekers must agree not to impart the techniquesto any others.(Generally it is inadvisable to dabble in any form of yoga, and particularly the various forms of prana yoga, without theguidance of a competent adept. It appears that there are many partly qualified and unqualified ‘teachers’ who can doserious and sometimes permanent harm to the unwary.)The techniques of Kriya Yoga, which were known since ancient times and are mentioned in the Bhagavad-Gita ashaving been imparted to Arjuna by Krishna, were lost through the Dark Ages. In the Gita one stanza reads as follows:“Offering the inhaling breath to the exhaling breath and offering the exhaling breath to the Inhaling breath, the yogineutralizes both breaths. Thus he releases prana from the heart and brings the life force under control. Yogananda furthercommented:
“The interpretation is: ‘The yogi arrests decay of the body by securing an additional supply of prana (life force) throughquieting the action of the lungs and heart; he also arrests mutations of growth in the body by control of the apana(eliminating current). Thus, neutralizing decay and growth, the yogi learns life-force control’.” [Bhagavad Gita V: 27-28].
 Another stanza of the Bhagavad-Gita states: “The
muni
(meditation expert) becomes eternally free who, seekingthe Supreme Goal, is able to withdraw from external phenomena by fixing the gaze within the mid-spot of the eyebrowsand by neutralizing the even currents of prana and apana [that flow] within the nostrils and lungs, to control the sensorymind and intellect and to banish desire, fear and anger.” [Bhagavad-Gita IV: 29].The adept in Kriya Yoga is said to mentally direct his life energy around the
chakras
(spinal centers of the subtlebody); and it is believed that one half minute of 
Kriya
is equal to one year of natural unfoldment of the kundalini.Yogananda explains further:
“One thousand kriyas practiced in 8.5 hours gives the yogi, in one day, the equivalent of one thousand years of (spiritual)evolution... In three years, a Kriya Yogi can accomplish by intelligent self effort the same result that Nature brings to passin a million years... A yogi who dies before achieving full realization carries with him the good karma of his past Kriyaeffort.”
Yogananda points out that Kriya Yoga has nothing in common with the unscientific breathing exercises taught by“misguided zealots”. He says that Kriya practice is accompanied by feelings of peace and by soothing sensations of theregenerative effect in the spine:
“The Kriya Yogi uses his technique to saturate and feed all his physical cells withundecayable light and thus keeps them in a spiritually magnetized condition. Many illustrations could be given of themathematical relationship between man’s respiratory rate and the variations in his states of consciousness. A personwhose attention is wholly engrossed, as in following some closely-knit intellectual argument, or in attempting some delicateor difficult physical feat, automatically breathes very slowly. Fixity of attention depends on slow breathing; quick or uneven breaths are inevitable accompaniment of harmful emotional states : fear, lust, anger.”
(According to accomplished yogis such as Swami Anubhavananda, formerly of the Chinmaya Foundation, veryslow breathing softens and dissolves the prana, which is the ‘glue’ holding together the gross physical and the mentalsheaths of the soul.)According to Yogananda, ‘introspection’ or what he calls ‘sitting in silence’, is ineffective in trying to force the‘mind’ and senses apart. He said, “The contemplative mind, attempting to return to divinity, is constantly dragged back towards the senses by the life currents. Kriya, controlling the mind directly through the life force, is the easiest, most
 
49effective, and most scientific avenue of approach to the Infinite.”
 Meetings with great saints and deities
Yogananda, in
 Autobiography of a Yogi
, describes many encounters with miracle and wonder workers, as well ashis meetings with some of the great saints of the twentieth century, including the Divine Mother (the wife of Ramakrishna),Ramana Maharshi, Anandamayi Ma, and the Master Mahasaya (a disciple of Ramakrishna, see Chapter 1).In his youth, while still having trouble with his family over becoming a sanyasi (monk), he visited the temple of Ramakrishna and meditated before the idol of Kali. After several hours, and to the exasperation of his older brother whowanted his lunch, he came out into the stifling heat of the day feeling somewhat disappointed. He mentally remonstratedwith the Divine Mother and immediately felt a cool breeze and went into a state of altered consciousness. He writes :
“To my amazement, the temple became greatly magnified. Its large door slowly opened, revealing the stone figure of theGoddess Kali. Gradually the statue changed into a living form, smilingly nodding in greeting, thrilling me with joyindescribable. As if by a mystic syringe, the breath was withdrawn from my lungs; my body became very still, though not inert. An ecstatic enlargement of consciousness followed. I could see for several miles over the Ganges River to my left,and beyond the temple into the entire Dakshineswar precincts. The walls of all the buildings glimmered transparently;through them I observed people moving to and fro over distant acres... Spiritual sight penetrates into all matter; the divineeye is centre to everywhere, circumference nowhere... If escapism be a need of man, cramped in his narrow personality,can any escape compare with that of omnipresence?
 Meanwhile the older brother was fuming over his lack of lunch - could the ‘Divine Mother’ please provide this?He asked sarcastically. At that moment one of the priests appeared from the temple and said that usually they would notprovide lunch unless prior arrangements had been made - but in this case, because of the young Yogananda’s serenemeditation, they had made an exception and had put some aside.Later Yogananda visited the Master Mahasaya, a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, and himself a great saint of thetwentieth century. Paul Brunton regarded him as one of the very few truly enlightened individuals that he had met in India.Yogananda, describing the occasion of his visit, wrote: “Silently I entered the room in great awe. The angelic appearanceof Master Mahasaya fairly dazzled me. With silky beard and large lustrous eyes, he seemed an incarnation of purity.” -See Chapter 1.In the presence of the Master, Yogananda felt a strange and violent bitterness about his own mother’s death someyears before. Then the Master said, “Little sir, quiet yourself.” It seemed that he had, as Yogananda put it: “... control overthe floodgates of my soul... This time my tears welled from bliss, and not from pain past bearing.” He wrote of the MasterMahasaya:
“He spread his wisdom by spiritual contagion rather than impermeable precept. Consumed by an unsophisticated passion for the Divine Mother, the saint no more demanded the outward forms of respect than a child... From him I learned thesweetness of God in the aspect of the Mother - or divine Mercy. The childlike saint found little appeal to the father aspect -or divine justice. Stern, exacting, mathematical judgment was alien to his gentle nature. Shrinking from personal assertion,the saint usually ended his council with the tribute, ‘My Master told me so.’ So deep was his sense of identity with Sri Ramakrishna that Master Mahasaya no longer considered his thoughts to be his own.”
Yogananda had had an earlier experience of ‘omnipresence’ with the Master Mahasaya. They were walking in thenoisy streets of Calcutta when the Master gently tapped him on the chest. Of this he wrote:
“A transforming silence ensued... Pedestrians as well as the passing trolley cars, automobiles, bullock carts, and iron-wheeled hackney carriages were all in noiseless transit. As though possessing an omnipresent eye, I beheld the scenes that were behind me, and to each side, as easily as those in front... Like a glow of fire dimly seen beneath a thin coat of ashes, amellow luminescence permeated the panoramic view.”
Then, with another soft blow from the master
 , “The pandemoniumof the world burst again upon my unwilling ears.”
Sri Yogananda also met Anandamayi Ma (Chapter 7) much later during his visit to India in 1935 - after somefifteen years in the USA and Europe. It seems that Sri Ma instantaneously recognized his greatness; and one could regardthis as the best of all possible seals of approval and the strongest evidence of his exalted spiritual state. On a visit toCalcutta he set out with his traveling companion to find Sri Ma. He wrote:
“As the Ford 
(their mode of transport on the Indian tour)
neared the Bhowanipur section of Calcutta, my companion and I observed an unusual street scene. - Ananda Mayi Ma was standing in an open-topped automobile, blessing a throng of about one hundred disciples. She was evidently on the point of departure. Mr. Wright 
(Yogananda’s companion)
parked the Ford some distance away and accompanied me on foot towards the quiet assemblage. The woman saint glanced in our direction; she alit from the car and walked toward us. ‘Father you have come, I am meeting you for the first time in thislife! Please do not leave yet.’ She said. With these fervent words (in Bengali) she put her hand around my neck and her head on my shoulder... I had instantly seen that the saint was in a high state of samadhi. Oblivious to her outward garb asa woman, she knew herself as a changeless soul; from that plane she was joyously greeting another devotee of God. She led me by the hand to her automobile... We sat together in the rear seats of the car. The blissful mother soon entered theimmobile ecstatic state. Her beautiful eyes glanced heavenward and, half opened, became stilled, gazing into the near-far  Elysium”
 It appears that this encounter may have been the closest that could have opened the possibility of Sri Ma going tothe West. Yogananda invited her but this produced an immediate and highly alarmed reaction from her devotees. One of 
 
50them told him firmly, “Twenty or more of us always travel with the Blissful Mother. We could not live without her.Wherever she goes, we must go.”On the 1935 expedition, while on pilgrimage in South India with members of the SRF, Yogananda also made avisit to the holy hill of Arunachala near Tiruvannamalai, to meet Ramana Maharshi (Chapter 4). He wrote,
“At his ashram the sage welcomed us affectionately and pointed to a stack of East-West magazines. During the hours that we spent with him and his disciples, he was mostly silent, his gentle face radiating divine love and wisdom. To helpsuffering humanity regain its forgotten state of perfection, Sri Ramana teaches that one should constantly ask oneself:‘Who am I?’ - The great inquiry indeed. By stern rejection of all other thoughts the devotee soon finds himself going deeper and deeper into the true Self, and the sidetracking bewilderment of other thoughts cease to arise.”
 Interest in science and miracles
Yogananda understood by direct experience the reality of miracles. That is, events and happenings that are notpossible within the framework of material science and man’s perception of the material world. Long before modern writerssuch as Fritjof Capra, Gary Zukov and Amit Goswami - see Bibliography, began to draw attention to the inadequacy of Newtonian physics in describing the universe, Yogananda pointed out that science had, as yet, no answer to thesemysteries; although he foresaw that the age of atomic physics and quantum physics - the ‘new physics’ in contemporaryparlance, would bring changes in scientific thought. He wrote, “The word ‘impossible’ is becoming less prominent inman’s vocabulary.” It has now come to pass that science, to a degree at any rate - although it has yet to percolate down tothe level of biological and medical science has caught up and recognizes the role of Consciousness in manifestation - SeeAppendix II, Science and Religion.Yogananda pointed out that the Vedic scriptures describe the world as operating under the law of maya, theprinciple of relativity and duality, while God, the sole Reality, is Absolute Unity that “wears the false veil of maya” - thedualistic veil of maya, in manifesting the world. In scientific terms this is the material world described by the physics of Newton and the laws of chemistry and biology. In duality, to have a single force is impossible. Every action has an equaland opposite reaction; electricity and magnetism is based on positive and negative, and so on. He explained that no law of that form of science is free of inherent contrasting principles, and these are all the laws of maya. In the social sciencesopposites are represented by the judgment, good and bad, right and wrong. The ancient sages of Vedanta perceived all thisin extraordinary detail by direct intuition and did not distinguish between material science and social science. It was alldescribed minutely by the laws of maya. And the laws of maya can only operate in a universe of space and time. Nor didthe sages fail to cognise the Prime Mover of the mayic universe and to point out the role of man: “To rise above the dualityof creation and perceive the unity of the Creator was conceived as man’s highest goal.”Yogananda explained that when Einstein unified the mayic world of space and time to a single constant, the speedof light, it brought us to an understanding of the law of miracles. He said that a material body can only attain the speed of light whose mass is infinity and time has stopped. Therefore masters who are able to materialize and dematerialise theirbodies and other objects, and appear in different places at the same time, have fulfilled the condition of infinity. The mayicphysical laws are powerless to make a master exhibit the gravitational property of weight. He who knows himself as theomniscient absolute, is not subject to the laws of maya: “The imprisoning ‘rings-pass-not’ have yielded to the solvent
 I Am He
.”
 
On maya
In Chapter 30 of 
 Autobiography of a Yogi
, Yogananda expounds the Vedic explanation of maya and how thepower of illusion underlies the phenomenal worlds. In the world the mayic principle of duality operates not only in naturebut also in the moral aspect of man. Yogananda said that maya, because of its structural inheritance in the phenomenalworlds, is ever in flux with the Absolute Reality. He illustrated this aspect of maya through an experience that he hadfollowing seeing a newsreel of the European battlefields of World War I. He was very disturbed and prayed, “Why do youpermit such suffering?” Immediately he felt himself transferred to the actual battlefield with scenes of the dead and dying.Then a gentle voice said,“Look intently. You will see these scenes being enacted in France are nothing but the cosmic motion picture, as real andas unreal as the theatre newsreel you have just seen... Creation is light and shadow both, else no picture is possible...Without suffering man scarcely cares that he has forsaken his eternal home... The tragedy of death is unreal; those whoshudder at it are like an ignorant actor who dies of fright on the stage... My sons are the children of light; they will notsleep forever in delusion.”He became convinced by this experience that creation is nothing more than a vast motion picture - and it is not init, but beyond, that lays Reality. Nevertheless, Yogananda experienced many ups and downs in the illusion of maya,including one of his temples falling into the sea in America. He had no illusions about the problems of worldly existence.He said on one occasion that, in the world - though it is an insubstantial and temporary dream, if you are bitten by a dreamsnake you will get dream sick, and you will need dream vaccine or you will dream die.
Yogananda’s death
 
The way that the great beings of this world die, or in the
 parlance
of the East, enter mahasamadhi (the greatsamadhi), is of significance in understanding an important aspect of enlightenment and gaining an appreciation of the
 
51impermanence of the world.Yogananda said that in sending his thought vibrations to the thousands of Kriya Yogis, he would often think gratefully: “Lord, Thou hast given this monk a large family.” Towards the end of his life he began to divest himself of responsibilities and on a number of occasions said, “This body is living on borrowed time.”Paramhansa Yogananda died after concluding a speech at a banquet held in his honour in 1952. In a notefollowing his death it was stated that he demonstrated the power of Kriya Yoga in death as in life. For weeks after hisdeparture from this world his unchanged face shone: “with a divine lustre of incorruptibility.” No physical signs of decayappeared and no odour of decay emanated from the body at any time before his interment.
 
 Practicalities
The Dakshineswar ashram in Calcutta is a gracious place with quiet grounds on the banks of the Ganges. It isprimarily a facility for resident Swamis and other permanent residents.There is a guest house for visiting male members of the Self Realization Fellowship (SRF) but other seriousvisitors on a spiritual path may be permitted to stay for short periods with prior permission. Women are only admitted if accompanied by a father or husband.On Sundays there is a satsang with one of the resident monks between 10.30 a.m. and noon. Daily meditations areat 6.30 a.m. and 5.30 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Payment is by donation. Contact details are as follow:Yogoda Satsang Society of India, Yogoda Satsanga Math, 21. U. N. Mukherjee Road, Dakshineswar, Calcutta 700 076,West Bengal, India. Tel. (Internat.) +91 33 553 1931 (local) 033 553 1931. Fax. (Internat.) +91 33 553 2208 (local) 033553 2208.The Headquarters of the SRF in the USA are in Los Angeles. Contact details are as follow:Self-Realization Fellowship, 3880 San Rafael Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90065, USA. Tel. (213) 225
2471.
 
Chapter 7 
 ANANDAMAYI MA - THE BLISS-PERMEATED MOTHER
The young woman lifted the veil from her face and said: ‘Purna Brahma Narayana’ I am the all pervading reality.
Anandamayi Ma was born in East Bengal in 1896, in a location that is now part of Bangladesh. Over her longlifetime she came to be considered one of India’s most revered mystical saints of modern times. She had a luminous beautyand exercised a divine intoxication over those who came before her. It is said that waves of happiness ran across thecrowds that formed around her. Even today, some 20 years after her passing, her energy can still be felt at her samadhishrine and at the many ashrams and institutions that were established in her name in Northern and Central India. There arenumerous stories of her healings, miracles, and of the divine energy that was felt in her presence. During her lifetime shecame to be considered as an avatar, a divine incarnation and enlightened from birth. Her behaviour and often spontaneousand unpredictable actions were stated by her to be the result of divine promptings (kheyalas), and were not in any wayrelated to desires of her own. For example, at a spiritual gathering she suddenly left and took off to another town milesaway by boarding a mail train that made an unscheduled stop, and then strode purposefully to a certain hotel. Here, itappears, there was a disciple stranded penniless, who had been praying to Ma in distress. The rest of the night was spent ininnocently teasing the now laughing and overjoyed disciple.The information in this chapter was obtained through the kindness of people still living in Ma’s ashrams whoknew her when she was alive, and from books written by individuals who also knew her personally; in particular, those of Bhaiji, Swami Vijayananda, Prof. Lipski, Dr. Bithika Mukerji, and Prem Lata Srivastava - see Bibliography. Appreciationis also expressed to the Trustees of the Shree Ma Anandamayi International Centre and to Dr. S. K. Ghosh, for thehospitality given during the research carried out for this account.It is said that, notwithstanding Ma’s ruthless smashing of egos and her apparent indifference to worldly drama -see below, she was always pained by people in distress. Much of her life, since the mid 1920’s, was spent in virtuallycontinuous travel around India, giving darshan, conducting satsangs, guiding people’s spiritual journeys and performingvarious other religious duties, in a manner that would have exhausted a normal person. Yet no one had ever seen her dozeoff or yawn. And during the many arduous travels, those of her close associates who might momentarily doze off during aprogram, would awaken with a start and find Ma’s eyes on them.By her own statements, Ma was nothing less than divine. To Paramhansa Yogananda, in 1936 - see Chapter 6 andhis book 
 Autobiography of a Yogi
- she said, “Before I came on this earth Father, I was the same. As a little girl I was thesame... Ever afterwards, though the dance of creation proceeds around me, I shall be the same.” She followed no
 
52particular philosophy nor gave many messages for mankind save one repeated utterance:
“Talk of God alone is worthwhile; all else is pain and in vain.”
Ma’s education was very rudimentary but she could write in Bengali script. However, only one specimen of herwriting exists. It says:
“Oh you supreme Being, You are manifest in all forms - the Universe with all its creations - man, wife, husband, children,mother, are all in the One. Man’s mind is clouded by worldly ties. But there is no cause for despair. With purity,unflinching faith, and burning eagerness, go ahead and you will realize your true Self.”
At other times, when asked to write something, she would make a dot and say, “This contains everything.”So, in effect, accounts of her life, the historical events and the biological changes that took place in her bodythroughout her life, can only be regarded as things that happened to a detached onlooker, performing voluntarily a play inthe earthly theatre, on a stage limited by time and space. Her teachings were herself, her vehement adherence to andpromotion of celibacy and the practice of austerities for herself and her close associates, and the effect she had on others.Throughout her life, Ma showed almost complete indifference to pain and physical matters concerning the body.On one occasion a burning coal fell on her foot while she sat there and let it burn, until someone removed it.
 Early days
Ma’s birth name was Nirmala Sundari Devi. Though poor, the family were not peasants but strict and devoutVaisnava Brahmins (worshipers of Vishnu) with significant spiritual leanings. There were many pundit (religious scholar)ancestors and at least one sati (widows who throw themselves on the funeral pyres of their husbands). Her father wouldoften sing bhajans all night long, and her mother, who was to become enlightened herself late in life - see further on, woulddream of Gods and Goddesses both before and after the birth of Sri Ma; and at one point in her confinement a divine ray of light is said to have entered the mother. Does this sound like romantic imaginings? Maybe, but for anyone who knew SriMa, it has the ring of truth.At birth the baby, as in the case of Amma - Chapter 19, was completely silent. Later when this was commented onshe said, “Why should I cry, I was looking at the trees through the holes in the wall.” She was said to have an astoundingmemory from the earliest times and could later recount household events and happenings with exact accuracy.(It is considered by some scholars, that with Sri Ma, born in 1896 and Amma’s manifestation of Devi in the 1970’s, therehas been a continuous presence of The Divine Mother in the world throughout the 20
th
century. This could be an indicationof the end of the age of Kali Yuga which, according to Vedic prediction, was supposed to be in 2004 – though thedestructive effects of Kali Yuga could take along time to extinguish themselves).Sri Ma was a strange vacant child, very detached, “like the limitless sky”, but people and other children werestrongly attracted to her. She often became lost to the world and at the age of two she went into a trance of ecstasy fromhearing a kirtan recital. She showed no fear, as evidenced on several occasions during her childhood (once when cowsstampeded near her). Sometimes it seemed that she could almost levitate; for example when playing with other childrenshe would draw effortlessly with one foot, a perfect circle in the sand around her body. From an early age, she oftenreferred to herself in the third person as “this body”.She was married to Bolanath, a Saivaite Brahmin, and by 1913, when Bolanath had secured a suitable job, theyoung couple moved in together. However, it appears that the marriage was never consummated. Linda Johnsen in herbook 
Daughters of the Goddess
- see Bibliography, describes what may have been an early marital encounter. She writes :
“Laughing and joking, Bolanath Chakravati was bringing home a friend to show off his pretty wife. When they burst intothe door, however, Bolanath’s wife didn’t move but continued sitting silently on the floor with a shawl draped over her head. Annoyed that she didn’t leap up to greet them, Bolanath snapped, ‘Can’t you see you have a guest? Who do you think  you are?’ - Slowly the young woman lifted the shawl from her face. The energy emanating from her was so intense that, asthey recalled later, both men involuntarily leapt backward. ‘Purna Brahma Narayana,’ She replied, - I am the all pervading reality. One of the most extraordinary sages of modern times had just unveiled herself.”
Concerning why she rejected the legitimate enjoyment of marital relations she later said, “For this body there isno question of enjoyment or rejection. Whatever happens to it is necessary for all of you - perhaps this aspect is not sonecessary.” - see
 Life and Teachings of Sri Ma Anandamayi
.
Self initiation
In the Brahmin Hindu tradition, initiation (diksha) by a guru in which the guru imparts a mantra, is considered tobe of central importance. In her case she initiated herself in 1922; she was the guru, the sisya (disciple) and the mantraitself, and all of the complex process of ritualistic prayer and initiation took place automatically. One pious Brahmin whowitnessed the event was outraged and demanded proof that things had been done properly, upon which an overwhelmingstream of Slokas (Vedic aphorisms) and mystical syllables flowed from her so that he became dumbfounded and humblysaid no more. Some time later, and against all traditions, she initiated her own husband - who had by then become herdisciple and worthy, hard-working assistant.
 Bhava samadhi
As with Amma (Chapter 19) and Ramakrishna, Ma’s spiritual development was characterized by extreme formsof Bhava samadhi. She maintained that she had always been fully realized, but said that she would play the role of a sadaka- someone undergoing spiritual transformation. Although the beginnings of this phase occurred earlier, the main eventstook place over the years 1918 to 1924. Her sadhana grew steadily in intensity over this period and the spiritual
 
53occurrences - for in Sri Ma’s case they could not be termed transformations, took the form of divine experiences whichincluded visions of various deities, and the generation of the feeling of oneness; worshiper, worshipping, and object of worship merged. During this phase she was hardly conscious for much of the time and hardly touched food. A witness of some of these bhavas, Dr. Nilini Kanta, described one event:
“After sitting veiled her veil suddenly loosened and her face was visible in a brilliant lustre. Hymns and seed mantrasrecited in uncommon accents produced a wondrous resonance which affected the whole surroundings, and a sense of holiness prevailed. Those present felt an indescribable elevation of spirit and depth of silence - ‘a peace that passeth allunderstanding.’”
Night after night, after sitting like a statue, her limbs would start brisk motion and her body would performvarious asanas (yogic postures) and mudras (hand and finger movements and positions), in quick succession. Hercomplexion changed and sometimes her breath would become explosive pranayanas (forms of yogic breathing), and thenshe would faint. Sometimes her fingers would automatically draw mandalas (sacred drawings), and sacred mantras wouldcome out and the meanings would become known to her. Of all this she said, “When I pray, repeating God’s name - anindescribable joy descends.”These events were the stages of her voluntary sadhana leading to a state of complete fulfillment andenlightenment. Towards the end of 1922 she observed complete silence except when absolutely necessary. If she had tospeak she would make a circle on her hand upon which mantras would gush from her mouth, enabling her to speak. Afterspeaking she would wipe the circle, repeat more mantras, and resume complete silence.At one time she hardly ate for several months - see below. After this she would eat very little and it seemed thather hands would have difficulty in delivering food to her mouth. They would only rise so far and then she would have tobend her head to take the food. (This was to continue throughout her life).Because of this the family had to feed her like achild, but she still ate very little. But on one occasion, on being admonished for not eating properly, she ate enough forseven or eight people, and on another occasion, she ate around 60 poories (Indian pancakes) and drank twenty litters of milk - which produced no signs whatsoever of her being overstuffed and seemed to just disappear in her body. After thispeople ceased commenting on her eating habits.At first the bhavas were, for the most part, kept within the family circle, but by 1925, after her silent period wasover, they began to attract public attention. One of her actions, which caused a great stir, was instructing the priests of thelocal temple to permit entry to non Brahmins. Then, at a public Kali Puja of a type confined to Bengal, in honour of theDivine Mother in her terrifying aspect, Sri Ma assumed the role of the priest. Instead of addressing the idol Sri Maaddressed herself, putting flowers, sandalwood paste and so on, on herself (as did Ramakrishna - Ch. 1). And for all thistime, witnesses proclaimed, her face glowed with an intense and uncommon beauty, and there arose a feeling of greatsanctity and deep absorption among those present. In Bengal at that time, the sacrifice of a goat was carried out at Kalipujas, but in all celebrations in which Sri Ma participated, she allowed no animal sacrifice. She explained to the presidingpriests, that the true meaning of the sacrifice, lost on many pious Brahmins, was the sacrificing of one’s own lower(animal) instincts.Her ‘lilas’- divine plays, constantly assumed new characteristics which often overwhelmed the devotees present.She would be effortlessly drawn up from a sitting position and would seem to float and whirl like a weightless leaf in thewind, as if being driven by a hidden force. And than, seemingly of its own accord, her body would sit and assume the formof a statue with an effulgence of light about it; and she would sing the names of God in a voice of heavenly rapture. On oneoccasion, in the presence of others, she appeared to shrink to nothing while seated at an altar. At that time, in British India,many devotees who held important public appointments in government, had to tread the delicate path between devotion tothis strange and ‘occult’ woman, and credibility in their jobs.
 Miraculous happenings
Throughout the first half of her life Sri Ma followed the promptings of her kheyalas. In some instances sheseemed propelled into a healing, while in others she would ignore someone in distress. Generally, however, Ma did not setout to affect cures. In cases where people asked for help in healing she would say, “Pray to God. He will do what is bestfor the patient.” When people persisted she would look around and say to her companions, “What do you think? Will thepatient recover?” Generally the answer would be in the affirmative and she would ask them to repeat their affirmation threetimes. In such cases, it is said, recovery invariably occurred. But if, unaccountably, they would stammer or make weak rejoinders, then, it seems, the patient would not recover. At other times Ma would, for various reasons, take on the physicalsuffering of others.Once, when asked about the outcome of a legal trial she said that it would be successful - which it was, but thenshe took a live coal and placed it on the back of her hand. Later she explained this action by saying that if yogic powers areused deliberately, then the sadaka has to perform penance for it. She said, “This body sometimes has the attitude of asadaka.”But apart from the usual actions and personal experiences interpreted as miracles by numerous individuals, thereare others that seemed to show that Ma, in fact, knew everything that was going to happen and, in some cases directedevasive action. In an incident recorded in
 Life and Teachings of Sri Ma Anandamayi
, the family was on a river trip in anarea known for its river dacoits (pirates), and was being pursued by a faster boat full of such individuals. Ma wascompletely unconcerned but at one point told the boatman to turn suddenly into a side channel. The larger boat missed theturn and flashed past, while just a little way up the channel the family came to the safety of a village where they could
 
54spend the night. Similarly, on the epic journey to Mount Kailas (see further on), there were also threats from bandits thatthe likely consequences of which seem to have been averted by Sri Ma.Her disciples also experienced the omniscience of Sri Ma in strange ways. One disciple, exhausted by thecontinuous travel in trains and the fact that he often could not even get a seat, devised a means of overcoming this problemby positioning himself with all his baggage near where he knew the door of a carriage was to stop. He waited expectantlybut as the train pulled up he found Sri Ma’s eyes on him. He knew she had read his mind when she sent him on a shorterrand, just long enough to allow the crowd to surge forward and take all the seats in the carriage. This was not a maliciouscruelty, but her ruthless attacking of the ego - for the ultimate enlightenment of the person. On another occasion when Mawas giving out oranges as prasad, the same disciple decided, as a sacrifice and because there seemed to be far too feworanges for everyone, that he would go without. He hung back in the wings so to speak. Somehow, and in the manner of the loves and fishes, the huge crowd all received oranges; and then Sri Ma asked where the evasive one was? He felt tooembarrassed to step forward but somehow the crowd parted from before him and exposed him to her eyes - then shecarefully picked up the last orange and held it out to him.In regard to the ‘miraculous’ events that occurred during her bhavas, the going without food, as indicated before,had a concern for many. On this she said :
“Once this body lived on three grains of rice a day for four or five months. Nobody can live for so long a time on such ameager diet. It looks like a miracle. But it has been so with this body... As a result of sadhana (spiritual practices) the bodybecomes so constituted that, though no food is taken physically it can imbibe from the surroundings whatever is necessary for its maintenance. In three ways the body can be maintained without food: one way has just been referred to... Secondly it can live on air alone, for I have just said that everything exists in all things, so that the properties of all things are in theair in some measure... Again, it may so happen that the body is not taking anything at all, yet it is being maintained unimpaired as in a state of samadhi.”
Sri Ma was also in touch, in an intimate way, with the kundalini and the chakras of the subtle body. Once she wasseen drawing diagrams on the floor with a piece of coal. She said:
“This afternoon I sat in an asana (yogic posture) and measured the distances from the centre of the head to the middle of the eyebrows, then to the neck and heart and down to the end of the spine. I have a kheyala that there are centers at thesespecific spots in the human body... From the lowest to the highest they range from the gross to the refined... Thesediagrams have drawn themselves as it were. The stream of vitality flows through them slowly or fast, determining theemotions and actions of the individual. The vital force lies somnolent at the base of the spine. By perseverance and faith,thought and action are purified. The vibrations engendered by the actions of inner and outer purity shake this sleeping power into motion. When the power moves upwards, penetrating level after level, the sadhaka feels freed of many ties.”
Once, when certain Muslim fakirs visited the place where she was staying, they found that a kirtan (chant) was inprogress. But Ma rose from the gathering and led the fakirs to a nearby mausoleum of an Arab holy man, Shah Sahab.Here, to everyone’s amazement, she performed the namaz ritual of the Muslim faith - in absolute detail and perfection. TheMuslims felt that, at that time, Sri Ma was a Muslim as devout as Shah Sahab himself.
 Her close associates
A medical doctor, Sasanka Mohan (who became a sanyassin and was referred to as Swamiji) and his unmarrieddaughter Didi, became devotees in the early days of her public phase - and Didi became virtually Ma’s life-long assistantand biographer, producing twenty-six volumes based on her notes in Bengali and Hindi. An Austrian woman who becamea sanyassin, Atmananda, edited most of Sri Ma’s English translations and was close to Sri Ma from 1945. (See RamAlexander’s book 
 Death Must Die
).Ma’s husband Bolanath became her tour manager, and another close associate, Bhaiji, whose association with SriMa might have started in a previous incarnation, also became, until his death, her constant companion. Later in life, aftershe became widowed, her mother, known as Didima (later Swami Muktananda Giri), also became her assistant and travelcompanion. And Since Sri Ma did not think of herself as a guru, she used to ask Didima to initiate devotees.Many others were attracted to her and became renunciates, some dropping out after some time, and others stayingthe course. One such was a French doctor who, on a spiritual search in the East, came across Sri Ma in the 1950’s. Hebecame a devotee and later took sanyas and became Swami Vijayananda. And since then, to the present time, he has neverreturned to his native France. He currently (2002), looks after the many foreign visitors that come to the samadhi shrine inKankhal.Most of Sri Ma’s early associates died before her. Bhaiji died after the Kailasha expedition in 1937 (see below)and Bolanath died of smallpox in 1938. Didima died in 1970, aged ninety-three and her chief assistant for so many years,Didi, died in 1980.
Travels and public life
The sadhana and Bhava phase of Ma’s life was ostensibly over by 1926. Then she began a long period of morethan fifty years, virtually until the end of her life, of travel and attending to public duties. Her travels were throughoutIndia, but principally in the central and northern regions, and on one occasion she mounted an expedition to MountKailasha in Tibet. However, and notwithstanding the fact that she has many foreign devotees, she never left the region of South Asia. Wherever her travels took her she attracted the saints and sages of India. Mahatmas flocked to her and wereprofoundly impressed by the ‘Divine Mother Incarnate.’ In a jungle area of northern India an ashram was established and
 
55later, on Sri Ma’s prompting, the buried ruins of an ancient temple were uncovered there and excavated. This locationbecame a favourite place of retreat for her.By 1928 her life was virtually filled up with spiritual duties and as her popularity grew, planning for hermovements became more and more elaborate. The following of spontaneous Kheyalas became virtually a thing of the past.Birthdays became elaborate events and a means of focusing attention on the divine. Her life came to be shaped around asuccession of religious festivals, kirtans and satsangs, as she roamed around India with her close followers.In 1932 she embarked on a period of uninterrupted travel, staying only a few days or weeks at any one place. Of this she said. “I find one vast garden spread over all the universe. All plants, human beings, higher mind-bodies, are aboutin this garden... Their presence and variety give me great delight.”Her followers included many powerful political figures including Mahatma Ghandi, Mr. Nehru and Indra Ghandi,and also foreign dignitaries and royal personages. And thousands of people would await her coming to experience theupliftment that her presence brought, or followed her, sometimes with great difficulty, to the most remote locations of hertravels. However, Sri Ma showed little or no interest in political events including the freedom struggle, the Punjabmassacre (when a British general ordered his troops to fire on civilians at the Sikh Golden Temple), Mr. Ghandi’sactivities, the war and the partitioning of India and Pakistan. Her views on political and historical events were that theysimply happened because they were bound to happen. Her one goal was the outpouring of divine council and facilitatingthe transforming power of her own presence - towards the realization of the divine Self in others.As the number of followers increased, ashrams sprang up all over northern and central India. A sanga (code of practice) was established in 1950 under a Council that had the pursuit of Self realization through sadhana as its primaryobjective. The organization of religious events and an annual Samyam Vrata (vow of restraint and self control for oneweek) were part of this. The Council was also responsible for the promotion of charitable activities including free medicalclinics and a modern hospital at the holy city of Varanasi, and two schools - one for boys at the location of the mainashram in Kankhal and one for girls at Varanasi. The number of ashrams dedicated to Sri Ma now stands at twenty-five.At very big gatherings many arrangements had to be made but nobody ever seemed to be in charge. Everyone justcooperated under a banner of love. By the 1970’s Ma was a public figure of great renown in India. The pattern of satsangs,audiences and functions changed from small intimate affairs and took on huge dimensions. Darshan was given collectively,by simply being present at a function. To pass before Ma long queues had to be formed. In her book 
The Life and Teachings,
Bithika Mukerji writes, “Crowds would follow even to remote destinations and generally all the mahatmasgraced her functions. The days of intimate gatherings, brilliant conversational sessions, interspersed with hilarious laughterconvulsing entire groups of people, seemed to be over.”At the age of 77 Sri Ma was quite run down but remained unperturbed and active. She said, “For this body thereis no concern whatever for inconvenience or discomfort. This body observes in minute detail what is taking place in everynerve and vein... For this body everything, without exception, is a play... Whatever be the kheyala at any particularmoment, according to that, things may happen.”
The Kailasha expedition:
This expedition in 1937 was nothing less than an epic journey through dangerousterritory full of dacoits, to the holy Mount Kailasha. The journey was completed with little or no fanfare in around thirtydays, although over the Indian sections large retinues of people sometimes followed. Most of the several hundredkilometres of rough hill country, from the starting point in Almora in northern India, was done on foot or horseback withSri Ma being carried in a sedan chair. Kailasha, at 22,000 feet is considered by devout Hindus to be the home of Shiva.The pilgrimage also involved circumambulating the mountain (around 100 km.) and then bathing in the icy waters of LakeGaurikunda at 18,400 feet. The journey was considered to be very difficult, particularly for people from the plains unusedto the high elevations and rugged terrain of the mountains.The party comprised Sri Ma, Bolanath, her assistant Didi, Swamiji (Didi’s father) and Bhaiji, who died at the endof the expedition, and three others. Other local devotees followed the group for certain sectors of the journey, and afterleaving Indian Territory various guides were engaged to show them the way. At one stage they were followed by armeddacoits who, it appeared, were carefully gauging their strength with a view to robbing them. It seems that Sri Ma’spresence somehow had the effect of dissuading them from robbery, which would have been an easy task.On the return journey and after bathing in Lake Gaurikunda and having a series of spiritual experiences overseenby Sri Ma, Bhaiji, who had been a devotee of Ma since early days, died. It is considered that he attained enlightenment justprior to his demise.
Teachings
Anandamayi Ma’s relationships to people fell into two classes. There was the general public to whom she gavedarshan and, in instances, healings, miracles, and so on; and there were the disciples, those destined for enlightenment,with whom she was both ruthlessly strict and lovingly attentive. Everything was designed to smash the last traces of egofrom the disciple’s psyches. And there were those who couldn’t make it, like a would-be disciple, Daniel Roumanoff, whoat first said, “With vision of her there is a flash of happiness, of a bliss that I know and recognize to be the most intimateand profound part of myself.” But when the “romance” was over and the ego needed to be disposed of, he changed hisopinion to the view that Sri Ma was a ‘sorceress’: “Who catches you in her net and then eats you up.” But those whounderstood would know the truth and say, “Yes! - She is Kali. She is destroying egos”. See
What is Enlightenment 
5 (2)1996.For another devotee, the young French medical doctor who became Swami Vijayananda, it was a meeting for life.
 
56On his first encounter, which he had approached brimming with serious questions, his mind went blank and he forgot whatto ask. He felt that she had read his thoughts and disposed of the questions. He concluded that she appeared to each personin the manner that was most suited to their state of development; mother, sister, goddess - she could playfully open nadis(psychic centers of the subtle body) appropriately for each devotee. On his first meeting with Sri Ma, he knew she hadinfused him with something that made him think, “What kind of love is this.” For Swami Vijayananda, all worldlyattachments lost their attraction on that meeting.Notwithstanding the view that Sri Ma seldom responded to intellectual spiritual questions, she, on occasions,expounded answers of great depth, meaning and profundity. From the 1940’s with the partitioning of India, devotees fromDhaka and elsewhere came to settle near the ashram at Varanasi, and a new era of satsangs began. One of these wasAmulya Kumar who kept a record in question and answer form of the proceedings and published these in many volumes as
Sri Ma Anandamayi Prasanga -
see Bibliography. In these satsangs Sri Ma spoke with great depth on matters relating toduality and the spiritual practices of mantra japa, tapasya and so on. On the question of volition in sadhana, she said: “Allspiritual practices begin with the mind that is in duality but, at the proper time, the pilgrim attains the state of no-mind -and that is when the Self is realized... Do not be thinking of sins; nobody should think of themselves as sinners. You are inreality the ‘sons of immortality’ but you do not know this at present. If one concentrates in living steadfastly in the light of God’s presence, then there will be no danger of erring. Faith is all that is required of you.”Sri Ma’s views on the existence of nothing but God were unshakable and based on absolute knowledge; and onmany occasions she made this point. Some examples are as follow: A renowned Mahatma, a saint in his own right, spoketo Ma of Maya and Brahman. Ma replied, “I know but One.” The Mahatma seemed put out but a little later he smilinglyagreed. On the death of her husband Bolanath from smallpox, Sri Ma nursed him and was with him when he said, “I amgoing - I am going.” She responded by saying, “Why do you think so? There are no comings and goings but just onetotality of being in which there is no scope for separation.” Bolanath seemed to agree and said quietly just before hebreathed his last, “Yes, so you have always said.”On another occasion during a visit to Tiruvannamalai in South India - after the death of Ramana Maharshi, thequestion on why we are so attracted to transient objects was raised. She replied: “It is God’s Lila... Even so, does not the
 Durga-Saptasati
say ‘In the guise of delusion it is You only’? It is He who is manifest in the form of these distractions. Itis to be remembered, however, that if one is attracted to worldly things, one is going towards losing oneself; if one isattracted to God then that leads to liberation. It is necessary to realize that there is nothing but One alone. If you stay withthe world, you are purchasing a return ticket!”Sri Ma consistently adhered to the philosophy of Advaita in which everything was under the divine control of God. One day during World War II a visitor asked, “Who will win this war? Is it going to have an adverse effect on India?Sri ma burst into ringing laughter and said, “Is there a war? How can there be a war without an ‘enemy’? Is there morethan One? The war you talk of is like the clapping of hands. So where is the question of defeat or victory?” Nevertheless, agreat Yagna (fire ceremony) was carried out for the three years of the Japanese war.For close devotees Sri Ma always recommended the sadhana of renunciation. She spoke often of what she calledsamyamavrata as a practice for householder devotees. For example on one occasion she said: “Once a week one shouldmake a strong resolve to live in the sphere of Truth only. On that day one should eat sparingly, watch one’s speech andaction carefully to avoid the least incorrect utterance or unworthy behaviour; emotions should be controlled. One shouldlook upon children as child manifestations of the Divine; one’s wife or husband as not only an object of love but reverenceas well. One should render services to all members of the family, including servants, in a spirit of humility. Even if thereshould be occasions for anger one should respond with calmness and not be jolted out of a tranquil frame of mind.” Thenshe laughed and said, “Maybe some naughty children will take advantage, but it will pass. Then, when you feel confident,you may increase the number of days for it to become a way of life rather than something for a special occasion.” In herbook 
 Life and Teachings of Sri Ma Anandamayi
, Dr. Mukerji explains that renunciation and celibacy is thematised asessential in the Advaita philosophy of Shankaracharya (though not in other schools of thought in India), and is at the veryheart of the identity of the Self and the Supreme Being. In the world the ‘I - consciousness’ becomes superimposed on thisUnity and needs to be cancelled so that the Supreme Self can shine through. To this philosophy Sri Ma added her own‘personality’ and way of living in the world - which was compassionate involvement, which somehow lent addedcredibility to the Advaita theme, through her power of bhakti or divine love.In the 1960’s an American professor, Dr. A Lipski, met Ma together with other visitors, when she was sixty-nineyears old - see
 Life and Teachings of Anandamayi Ma
. She welcomed them and he was struck by her “almost girlish”appearance and ready laughter. Then he discovered that this “almost illiterate” woman responded to the most eruditequestions from the visitors. He recounts that he felt as if he was being mentally stripped naked and having pointed outsome of his glaring, unflattering and painful shortcomings, such as his initial patronizing stance - but in such a loving andcompassionate way that he did not feel condemned. This is an example of Sri Ma’s generation of bhakti - said to be theeasiest path to liberation for the Western devotee. On another occasion a devotee said: “You have found peace but we areat the mercy of numerous distractions. Why don’t you distribute some of your peace to us?” Sri Ma replied, “If you livewith things un-peaceful, how can you hope for peace? People are affected by things in their vicinity. But to find peace youdo not need to stay in forest retreats. Live with something that is of the nature of peace. I say to you, keep God always inmind; God alone is peace. Accept me as a little girl and give me a place in your hearts. Little girls need to be loved andlooked after. So this is my request to you - make a place for me in your hearts.”
 
57In general it may be said that Sri Ma awakened and still awakens an intense desire for spiritual life in those whoapproach her. From his experience Swami Vijayananda writes:
“Love for Mother, although it is still illusion, purifies the mind and the heart, awakens and greatly increases yearning for the divine... What may take long years of struggle in the practice of yoga and self inquiry, is accomplished in a short period of time, effortlessly as it were, by pure and intense love for Mother.. This is the best sadhana. This love is then expanded  progressively to the all-pervading presence. The seers, saints and yogis who attained self realization have almost all followed a definite line of approach. After becoming spiritual preceptors they led their disciples along the path they havethemselves trodden... Most prescribe a definite method; self inquiry, japa, and so on - and only aspirants of a special typecan benefit from such practices. But the divine power that manifests from Sri Ma is characterized by an extraordinaryversatility... No path of sadhana is unknown.” Sri Ma said, “I can tell you that this body has not followed only one particular line of sadhana, but has covered all known lines... An ordinary individual may need to be born again and again,but in the case of this body everything was a matter of a few seconds.”
On hatha yoga, the favourite yoga of the West, Sri Ma expressed the view that it is not much use if emphasis is onphysical agility, but it is useful if done to attain stillness.
On the kundalini :
According to Swami Vijayananda, Sri Ma would, on occasions, awaken the Kundalini andgive yogic ‘krias’ to individuals, but only when the nadis had been suitably purified and ‘disciplined’. As indicated before,Sri Ma’s understanding of the nature of the subtle body was total. On one occasion when she was drawing representationsof the chakras, her disciple Bhaiji, commented on them and referred to Woodroof’s book on the Kundalini, showing herthe pictures from the book. Her reply was:
“I have not read about these centers in any book, nor have I ever heard anything about them from anyone. Thedescriptions I give are from my actual experience...” She added, “The colours of these vital centers that you find in the pictures are but their external tinge. The same substance of which our brain is made also forms these plexuses, but their shapes, structures and functions vary. Each one has its special characteristics and distinctive qualities, like the eye, or theear, or the navel, or even the lines on the palms of your hands. In them there is an ever-changing play of various coloursand sounds and their symbols called seed mantras, all being natural results of the movement of the life force and the flowof the vital fluid. During the earlier stages, when various mantras issued from these lips accompanied be transformationsof the breath, at times questions like ‘what are these?’ flashed across my mind. The reply came from within the inner structures of all these plexuses and became distinctly visible like the pictures you have put before me. When a personregularly prays, performs pujas and yogic practices, meditates and reflects on the higher truths of existence with sufficient concentration, the mind substance gets purified, thought becomes refined and the centers unfold themselves. Otherwise nohuman can find an escape from the storm of physical urges like lust, greed and anger.”
On particular meditative states that may occur, Sri Ma said that we should not try to induce them if they don’toccur naturally - experiences such as discursive thought, colours, sounds, visions, peace and bliss, and out-of-bodyexperiences. Such experiences are meaningful but could be dangerous if not adequately guided by an adept. In regard tointuition, often associated with divine intervention, she said that it could easily be confused with subtle ego and subtledesires. Instead we need humility and to consider if it is dharmic. Her teachings to devotees were mostly concerned withthe cultivation of discipline and elimination of the ego. For devotees, as indicated before, she initiated the idea of observing five yamas: non violence, truth, honesty, absence of avarice and chastity, for periods of one year; and, for someindividuals, the yamas would continue throughout their entire lives.
On the guru:
Sri Ma did not consider herself to be a guru. She maintained that one could engage in effectivesadhana (spiritual practice) without a physical guru. The “One” may manifest through people, objects, circumstances, eventhough we may not be aware of it, and these would be our “guru”. She maintained that the quest for a physical (outer) guruwill eventually lead to the discovery of the inner guru: “Go and sit under a tree. Saints may be compared to trees; theyalways point upwards, and they grant shade and shelter to all. They are free of likes and dislikes and whoever seeks refugein them wholeheartedly will find peace.” However, the mind and ego can easily delude us into thinking we havediscovered the inner guru. To succeed we have to be totally free of ego; anger, pride, greed and delusion. For this reason,if for no other, Sri Ma recommended a physical guru: “Just as water cleanses everything by its mere contact, even so thesight, touch, blessing, even the remembrance of a real satguru, little by little clears away all impure desires and longings...A true guru emphasizes: “Be a vehicle for God - it is false gurus, still with ego, who emphasize personality cultivation.”She said (with reference to herself), “From attachment to this body (herself), all other attachment will vanish. Whoever hasloved this body will never be able to erase it from his mind, however hard he may try.”As indicated before, Sri Ma’s teachings were simple and based on total surrender to God. But this was applied, inpractice, only to those close to her. She was, to them, a constant and ruthless mentor for surrender to God and forfollowing the life of renunciation. To others, the public, her teachings were the love that emanated from her, and it was thisthat kept people flocking to be near her.Our energies, she would often point out, usually dissipated in pursuing gross pleasures, should be focused toconquer the habits and cravings acquired over countless lives. We must cultivate a craving for God, repeat the divinename, listen to religious talks by mahatmas (enlightened beings), chant kirtans and bhajans, and study sacred writings. Thisshould be pursued until God becomes an ever-present reality in our lives; until worship and the worshiper are one. Foryoung people Ma advocated a celibate life before marriage, with spiritual control - to learn discipline.In regard to court cases and such altercations, she said: “We should consider who is cheating who, for anything
 
58that is lost is not our due anyway. For example would we sue someone if it was our own brother? (Also) ... let karmapunish the wrongdoer, or be generous and cause the culprit himself to change - we should consider carefully and transcendthe region of multifacedness.”On the role of women she believed that women do have a duty to the family but envisaged a revolutionarychange in woman’s status. Women should be at the helm of society while men ply the oars. Although she was notagainst technical progress she questioned whether it had done much other than enhance greed, envy, hatred and fear:“Has it
 
supplied peace and happiness?”
 
Sri Ma on social service and suffering
While Sri Ma clearly agreed that alleviating physical suffering, if carried out in a selfless spirit, contributes toone’s spiritual progress, she might say that each plays a definite role in the cosmic dance. She, herself, was moreconcerned with getting to the root of all suffering so that it may be eliminated once and for all. Not understanding ones trueSelf is the source of all suffering and excessive attention to physical suffering may actually prolong the disease of suffering. In fact, from the spiritual viewpoint, suffering can be seen as the means of ending suffering.Sri Ma urges people to accept their destiny because whatever happens is bound to happen. Adverse conditionslead us to liberation. Man is attracted to material pleasures because they are tangible but, in this world, the greateststimulant to spiritual endeavour is pain and suffering. She said,
“Remember, one is born to experience various joys and sorrows according to our vasanas (desires and tendencies). For the time being God comes to you in the disguise of suffering. He is purifying you in this manner... The suffering is for your own best, as a mother slaps her own child for its own good... Always bear this in mind; everything is in God’s hands, and  you are a tool to be used by him as he pleases. Try to grasp the significance of ‘all is his’, and you will immediately be freeof all burdens. What will be the result of your surrender to him? None will seem alien; all will be your very own. Your Self. ”
Sri Ma’s attitude to death was not the Western one in which death is an enemy. She said:
“To this world man is a visitor and it is not necessary to tarry unduly. As long as we cling to attachments and desires(vasanas) we have a return ticket to the world. So use correct will power to get rid of desires, attachments and aversions.Then ‘Grace’, which is also necessary, will come... By meditation on the immortal the fear of death recedes far away;remember this: In the measure that your contemplation on the One becomes uninterrupted, you will advance towards full,unbroken Realization. Just as a leech does not leave its place without looking for something else, so the soul at the time of leaving the body hooks onto some kind of new existence according to the state of mind of the dying person - man is acreature of habit and his mind will dwell on the habitual thoughts at the time of death.”
Sri Ma said that we should not indulge in excessive mourning for the departed as the soul of the deceased is keptearthbound by the thoughts of the mourner. When one man’s wife died she laughed, and when remonstrated against, shesimply said, “It’s one less barrier for him to cross.”Although she said we should not cling to life, she also condemned suicide - as an attempt to change karma -leading only to more karma; but there are exceptions, as in the case of ritual suicide as in sati, or for enlightened beingswho do not wish to prolong life; perhaps like Rama Tirtha - Chapter 2.These views are poles apart from the standard Western views, which are centered on the enhancement of physicalpleasure, the promotion of longevity, and the aggrandizement of the ego - the ‘personality’. But what seems to happenwhen too much emphasis is placed on increasing material status, is an increase in mental suffering. In the Western worldman seems to have forgotten how to be happy without an endless supply of material benefits. The result is that if you wantto see happy people and children joyfully playing with little or no aids, you must now go to the third world countries.
Sri Ma’s Mahasamadhi (her death)
The way in which great beings die is of particular interest to many seekers because it throws light on the mentalstate of such individuals. Some of Sri Ma’s views on death have already been mentioned. Towards the end of the 1970’sshe began a process of withdrawal from public life and eventually went into a phase of inapproachability. Devotees feltheavy and there were many serious faces. It was given out that Ma was not well, and indeed there were indications that theend was approaching. In 1980 her closest assistant, Didi, passed away after a period of intermittent illness.Bithika Mukerji wrote that in 1981 and 1982 Ma was “on course for final dissolution.” One of her last activitieswas to officiate at a special Yajna (fire ceremony) in which, contrary to all tradition, woman devotees took the leadingpart. It was held at a sacred site close to Ma’s present samadhi shrine, where, it is believed, a legendary rishi (Vedic seer)abandoned a Yajna many years ago over an altercation with the king - who had insulted the deity. Sri Ma was to put this torights. The Yajna went on for eleven days and nights. Bithika Mukerji writes, “Vedic mantras were chanted and flamesarose from eleven kundas (fire places) in tongues of yellow, orange, red, saffron, gold, white and grey colour.”After the Yajna, Ma still continued to officiate at religious functions among crowds of thousands, and sheattended her last birthday celebrations. In June 1982 she received the high Mahatma Jagadguru who had implored her tocure herself. To him she said, “Pitaji this (her condition) is not illness. It is a state of tension between the manifest and therecall to the unmanifest.” And later, in response to his further pleas that she should make herself well, she again explained,“This body has no illness Pitaji. It is being recalled to the unmanifest... As the Atma I shall ever abide with you.”Her last messages to her devotees were: “Strive to become an aspirant towards the fulfillment of the Grace of your Guru.” And later, “Wherever you are immerse yourselves totally in one-pointed sadhana.” Sri Ma stopped eating
 
59some three months before her death except for a little water at infrequent intervals. She had spent most of her last year in ahouse in Kankhal but had been moved to Dhera Dun where, on July 25, 1982, she spoke the reversed form of the ShivaMantra “Shivaya Namaha.” It is said in this form as an indication of the severance of all earthly ties. She died at eight p.m.on August 27. Sri Ma made no farewells and left no specific instructions. The place where Sri Ma spent most of her lastyear, in Kankhal, is now a museum and the incredible presence of Sri Ma can still be felt there.
 Practicalities
Most of Sri Ma’s devotees were strict Bengali Brahmins, as indeed many are today. Although she herself showedno caste sensitivity and would touch and associate with “untouchables”, Westerners and Muslims, she understood andrespected the sensitivity of the Brahmin devotees; even though, on a number of occasions, she was subjected to criticismfor breaking cast taboos. She maintained that people would change in time, but this was not to be forced on anyone. And,in fact, the situation
is
changing. The devotees at her main ashram in Kankhal near Haridwar in Northern India have built amagnificent guest house for the accommodation of foreign and non-Brahmin guests, and even in the main ashram, thebuilding of apartments for non-Brahmins is taking place.Sri Ma’s samadhi shrine is at the site of the main ashram and the International Centre and is visited by hundreds,and sometimes thousands, daily. The centre also has a comprehensive book store. Visitors proposing to stay for up to tendays should contact the Shree Ma Anandamayi International Centre, Daksh Mandir Road, PO Kankhal, District Haridwar249408, Uttar Pradesh, India. Tel. / Fax. (Internat.) +91 133 416345 (local) 0133 416345. Accommodation is incomfortable rooms. A moderate charge is made for meals and payment for accommodation is by donation. Visitors aremade very welcome and, for English-speaking and French visitors, satsangs may be held in the early evenings at Sri Ma’sshrine. Sometimes elderly devotees will talk about the old days.Opposite the International centre there is a small museum of memorabilia of Sri Ma, in a house that she occupiedfor the last four months of her life. Close by, also, are a number of ancient temples including a large Shiva temple whereSati, the wife of Shiva, in alleged to have thrown herself onto a Yajna fire to avenge an insult to her husband.Travel to Haridwar is best undertaken by train or bus from Delhi. It is probably better to use the train or publicbus services than to become a victim of the many private bus touts that hang around the railway stations, airport and touristspots in Delhi. Train bookings can be made at any of the International booking centers on the stations of all towns andcities with international airports. From Haridwar bus or railway station the Anandamayi Ma Centre is around 7 km. andreached by auto or pedal rickshaw or taxi.Visiting other Sri Ma ashrams, including the one in the Himalayas, is more difficult and would have to benegotiated at the main ashram in Kankhal.
 
Chapter 8
 NEEM KAROLI BABA
 Love all, feed all, serve all, and  don’t try to figure God out.
 Background 
 
Neem Karoli Baba, also called Maharajji by his devotees, is a modern saint who died in 1973. His origin, like thatof Bhagawan Nityananda, is shrouded in mystery but he is thought to have come originally from the Akbarpur region of Uttar Pradesh. He became known to the West following his discovery by counterculture guru, Ram Das (Richard Alpert) inthe 1960’s. Ram Das became his devotee and wrote about him in his book 
Be Here Now
. He also wrote and assembledinformation about him in
 Miracle of Love
- see Bibliography. There are many ashrams and temples founded in his namethroughout India and some in the West. There is also an ashram in Taos, New Mexico - see Practicalities.Little is known about his early life except that he may have been born to a well-to-do family. He is said to havetold one devotee that at the age of seven or eight he used to skip school and go to the jungle to practice tapasya (austerities,spiritual practice). He left home at an early age to wander about as a sadhu, wearing only a blanket most of the time, in thetradition of the Kamal Posh - ‘blanket wearers’ who preceded Sufism (see Chapter 11), and it appears that he may havebeen known by different names at different times and in different parts of India. He had a reputation for appearing in morethan one place at the same time. In the early days he took his food and water in a broken clay pot which he also used as ahat, and through this he was called Handi Walla Baba - the Baba with the broken pot. At another stage he spent timearound Aligarh and Manpuri where he performed tapasya by sitting up to his neck for long periods in a triangle-shapedreservoir. Here he came to be called Tikonia Walla Baba - Baba of the triangle-shaped tank. Later he began to pass histime in the town of Neem Karoli, from whence he derived his last name of Neem Karoli Baba. Here he lived in variousunderground caves and came out from time to time to sit in between hot fires - as a further type of tapasya. There is a story
 
60similar to the one about Bhagawan Nityananda (Chapter 3) of him being turned off a train at Neem Karoli station and thetrain, apparently in perfect working order, refusing to go until the desperate and repentant conductor allowed him back on.In the 1930’s he began to spend time in villages in the foothills of the Himalayas and the northern plains. Hewould sometimes play with children and would allow people to take him into their houses. It was then that hisextraordinary spiritual power and miracles of healing began to be known and he acquired followers who were interested inspiritual matters. He had a special affinity for the deities Hanuman and Rama and instigated the building of temples tothese deities at many places. He was also fond of the Sufi saint Kabir and often quoted his sayings. He would chant aPersian song that was attributed to Kabir:
 I am in the world but not concerned with the world, I go to the market place but I am not the purchaser.
Those who were close to him said that there would often be manifested a strange sweet perfume where he hadbeen or where he was expected to be coming. Early photographs showed him as long hared and aesthetic looking. But bythe time be became known to the West, he was already quite old and had become a cuddly teddy-bear of a man, with astubby beard and a moustache.His two best-known and most frequented ashrams are in Nanital and Vrindavan, both in Uttar Pradesh, but he hadthe habit of disappearing for extended periods of time and than suddenly reappearing again, or, as indicated before, of being in more than one place at the same time. An example, recorded in
 Miracle of Love
, is as follows:
Once a Nanital devotee met him in Kanpur, a town several hundred kilometres to the south. When the devotee was leaving, Maharajji gave him a message to deliver to the temple at Nanital. The message was to the effect that they should expect him back there within a fortnight. When the devotee arrived back at Nanital the following day, he went straight to thetemple even before going home. There was a crowd there and the devotee wondered why so many people would come to thetemple when Maharajji was away. But he overheard people say that Maharajji was inside one of the rooms. “I can’t believe it,” the devotee said, “I just saw him in Kanpur.” Others said “No, Baba has been here for fifteen days.” Themystified devotee then went to Maharajji’s room: “Babaji, what is this?” he asked, and Baba shouted at him, “Hap! Get out! Go away! - Don’t tell anyone anything. You are telling lies!”
 East and West
Maharajji was totally indifferent to cast, creed and social status, and to him everyone was the same. In his laterdays in the 1960’s and early 1970’s, when he began to be assailed by droves of Westerners, the counter culture use of hallucinogenic drugs was at its height. Ram Das, when he was still Richard Alpert, (he was named Ram Das by Maharajji),was a strong proponent of the use hallucinogens in the search for ‘higher’ experiences. At one point Maharajji demandedthat the “medicine” be brought to him. He then, to the amazement of the assembled hippies, swallowed 900 micrograms of LSD - an unbelievably high dose guaranteed to scramble the brains of anyone many times over. But there was no visibleeffect. His comment on this was:
“These medicines were used in Kulu Valley long ago. But Yogis have lost that knowledge... To take them with no effect  your mind must be firmly fixed on God.”
 Maharajji avoided general publicity but received devotees, including a large number of Westerners, wheneverthey could find him. His darshan (personal blessing) was, to say the least, sporadic. He would sometimes appearunexpectedly to a particular devotee and give personal darshan. Once he waited for the arrival of Ram Das to give darshanto him. To many, his darshan was received simply when he showed up somewhere and conducted ceremonies or feedingbhandaras (feasts for the poor). When he was in his various ashrams he would lay or sit on a bench wrapped in a plaidblanket and devotees would squat or stand around him. He was tubby and humorous and there was frequent gossip aroundhim. He would slap people on the head or back and sometimes he would hug people. Such actions would be taken as thegreatest of blessings by devotees.It was apparent that he knew peoples minds and understood their problems intuitively, and there are manyaccounts of problems being solved and diseases being cured simply be being in his presence. Many people becamedevotees and ‘disciples’ but his elusive nature precluded the formation of close master - disciple relationships. There arethousands of records of healing and other miraculous happenings attributed to him, but the most significant wereconcerned with the profound changes of ‘consciousness’ that people experienced in his presence, and feelings of love thatwere engendered - see
 Miracle of Love
.He strongly supported and promoted the celebration of religious festivals - because they helped devotees tobecome more like the deities worshipped. He was also well known for the feeding bhandaras that he often conducted inmany temples around India. It was said that food materials, such as sacks of rice, would mysteriously appear at theparticular temple preceding such an event, even when he was not there. He said that, for the hungry, “God appears asfood”.
Teachings
 
Maharajji’s principle teaching, often repeated, was:
 Love all, feed all, serve all.
Thus it could be said that he wasa great bhakti master with love and service the principal ingredients of his teachings. He said that love given always comesback multiplied. However, he did not give formal discourses, so that his teachings were disseminated through parable-like
 
61stories and comments, and through his silent presence. He seemed to have had the ability to know what was required andgave specific teachings to suit the circumstances, whatever they may have been. Each individual would then get theteaching appropriate to his spiritual and mental development. His main form of teaching, judging from the effects he hadon people, appeared through the silent transmission of grace - that stirred people at the deepest levels. Ram Das said,“Bliss and peace poured down on us.”Maharajji said that people should always have God in their minds and stressed the need for total surrender toGod. He said people should chant:
Oh Supreme, my life is a thread in your hands.
He advised people to live dharmically(righteously) and to always remember God. He said always speak the truth: “People may hate you but never worry. Christdied for the truth. If you live in the truth, God will always stand with you.” This was not just a matter of not telling lies butwas the “loving of the truth”: that is, the loving of ‘what is’ - which is God. He said, “This was why Jesus was put to death- people could not stand what he said, but it was the truth, and so he said it.To devotees he encouraged the visiting of temples and holy shrines. But, above all, he recommended the feedingpeople - as a spiritual practice, and he said that this could awaken the kundalini and purify people, without recourse toyogic practices. Some comments on specific matters are as follow.
Surrender:
He used to say, “I do nothing. God does everything. Change is the way of the world and if in KaliYuga (the present Dark Age), it has to go this way so let it go. Unless you are the Lord, you can’t stop it, so why berate it.Worship God in every form and don’t try to figure God out. Don’t think ‘I’ or ‘you’ have done this. All is God’s play inHis own way. It has to happen according to your karma. You reap as you sow. It has to happen so don’t resist it.”
On maya:
He said, “What is maya? Where is it? It is nothing at all. It’s illusion. Just keep God in your heart andworship God in every form without trying to figure it out.”
On stress:
He said that stress was worldly and is really nothing. “Counter it by getting rid of attachment. Don’tprovoke, stay cool in a hostile atmosphere”. And, since the mind has both positive and negative aspects, concentrate on thepositive: “Thought processes will change and you will feel more relaxed. Then you will be able to remove the rest of thestress problem.”
On renunciation:
Although he had performed severe tapasya as part of his sadhana, he later taught that suchextreme physical forms of tapasya were not necessary: “Renunciation is tapasya and is just getting rid of attachment”. It’snot leaving the family and living in a cave. It’s the breaking of the link between you and your desires. It’s giving up of satisfying your appetites and desires. Fasting is therefore a very good practice. Maharajji encouraged family life but saidthat every family member should become disciplined and follow the teachings of the elders and the scriptures. He said:
“Attachment is the strongest block to realization. If you desire a mango at the moment of death, you will be born an insect. If you want to see God, kill desires... When you have a desire for something, don’t act on it and it will go away. If you haveenough faith you can give up money and possessions. God will give you everything you need for your spiritualdevelopment. Money should be used to help others. A true saint never accepts money. Money brings anxiety.”
On the ego:
He said, “What is this with the ego? It’s a cheat, an impostor! One of these days you will leave theworld and become earth. Clear the mind of all worldly things. If you can’t control your mind, how can you realize God?
On Service:
Work is God. Work is worship. Whoever works for God serves. His work will be done by itself. Always give love, service, caring and sharing. Serve the poor and remember God 
”.
Religious differences:
There are none! You become one with Christ. The world does not need creeds andreligious divisions so worship God in all forms. Freely exchange ideas but don’t force or divide.
On love and relationships to others:
He said, “
 Never hurt another’s heart. Cleanse the mirror of your heart and  you will see God. Love all men as God, even if they hurt you or shame you. Be like Ghandi and Christ 
”.
On the Kundalini:
He said, “
Kundalini rests below the navel. It can be raised by the Guru’s Grace, by the gentle,simple touch of the Guru’s hand. The Kundalini can be awakened by feeding people. Sexual energy is the power to createGod. If you raise the energy above the lowest level then you can feel and meet Brahma
”.
The guru
He said always listen to the inner guru. God, the Self and Guru are the same. The guru is a guide to realization. Itis an inner journey and total surrender gets the guru’s grace. The guru’s grace is beyond thought and action. Mind andbody become purified so that you become sensitive to receiving spiritual perceptions: “How can you purify yourself without the guidance of a guru? So silence your thoughts and fix your attention on the inner master, which you cannot seebut you can feel. When the traveler is ready the guru will be found. You may not meet a physical guru in this life but theinner guru is always there”.
Some devotees’ experiences
Ram Das, in
 Miracle of Love
, reviewed the experiences of more than two thousand devotees and put them intovarious categories. These are some examples:A man traveling in India found his way to Maharajji. He had been thinking about his mother and how she died of a spleen condition. When they met Maharajji said, “You were thinking about your mother... Spleen, she died of spleen.”The man was amazed. He wondered, “Who is he? Who does he represent? Where’s the button he pushes to make the fileappear? Why have I come here?” None of it made any sense. He had classified experiences into those that were druginduced and other ‘ordinary’ experiences, but he felt that neither of these categories applied to the present situation. (This
 
62was at the height of socially accepted drug use in counterculture philosophy). His mind raced and raced. And then he felt atremendous wrenching pain in his chest and a tremendous wrenching feeling, and he started to cry. He cried and cried buthe was neither happy nor sad. He had not experienced this kind of crying before; it felt as if he had finished something - hehad come home.A woman related her experience on being drawn to Maharajji. She knew about the hardships of India and wasnervous about going there. Nevertheless she found herself at the airport in New York and was experiencing a degree of panic. What bothered her was that she was not sure that Maharajji would accept her as a devotee - as she had been led tobelieve that this was a distinct possibility. She said, “I hadn’t the temerity to chance rejection - I was going to visit theashrams of some South Indian saints and perhaps visit up north (to Maharajji’s ashram) - if there seemed to be any chanceof being received.” But coming off the plane in Bombay she found tickets to New Delhi had been left for her. No oneknew where they had come from. Again in Delhi there was a message that said: “Go to Vrindavan, Maharajji expectedsoon.” She didn’t know who sent it.Attempting to get to the indicated destination she ended up in a market late at night with shops beginning to close.Her panic grew with exhaustion and hunger and she began to envision herself huddling in a doorway among cows. Thensuddenly a Westerner approached and she discovered that where she was supposed to be going was just around the nextbend. At the temple an old gatekeeper, after scrutinizing her, let her in. At the far end of the front of the temple Maharajjiwas sitting. When she saw his great form, her heart jumped so that she staggered against the gate. The first sight of himremained piercingly clear in her memory. Maharajji was bouncing, smiling and clowning. She said that during that firstdarshan, she understood everything even though it was in Hindi. And she recognized the love that had poured into her, thathad irresistibly drawn her to India: this, she felt, was
The Source
.Another visitor was pretty indifferent about meeting the great sage. As she came up for darshan Maharajji startedbouncing up and down and speaking in Hindi. Then he hit the visitor with a rolled up paper. She had both a sense of greatconfusion and a feeling of the most incredible “oneness” that she had ever felt in her life. At that moment she felt all thesuffering, all the pain from the past several years, dissolve completely. And though the pain was to come back, the love shefelt at that moment made it all less important later.A man gave an account of how Maharajji dealt with those who had committed serious crimes. At a gathering of people with Maharajji, two men, one dressed as a lawyer and another in peasants dress, said they had a request. Maharajjisaid, “Go on.”The man in peasant dress said, “My friend is in great trouble.”Maharajji said to the other, “You are not a lawyer, are you?”He replied, “True, I am not.” And indicated that he had been involved in a murder, Maharajji asked:“Did you commit the murder?” He replied, “No.”Then, “Was not the murder arranged by you?” And he replied, “Yes.”Maharajji said, “The victim has four children. It is a heinous crime, Are you not sorry?” - “Yes.” was thereply.“Will you do it again in your life?” The man replied, “No.”Then Maharajji said, “You can go... you will be pardoned.”And he added, “Look after the children. Help them, and you will realize what you have done.”It appears that the judge had already written a decision to convict the man, but late at night some impulse made him get upand change the judgment to acquittal.Once in Haridwar (in Northern Uttar Pradesh), a man was bathing in the river and lost his footing. He was tossedabout and carried to a whirlpool like a log. His wife, after crying out Maharajji’s name, jumped into the water and savedhim - but lost her nose ring in the struggle. When they went to the place where Maharajji was staying, people there toldthem that Maharajji was in an impossible mood and was being very abusive. He would not let anyone near him. But thewife went up and gently tapped at the door and he sweetly asked her in and inquired after her nose ring - something veryimportant to a Hindu woman. When her husband arrived Maharajji said, “You were going down the river like a piece of wood being whirled around.” It was believed that his strange behaviour, the abusiveness, had been due to his psychicefforts in saving the man.A doctor met Maharajji in 1942. He was on the run for involvement with the independence movement and wasstaying in a small hostel for pilgrims where Maharajji was also staying. Maharajji came to him with food and then told himto run. The police would be there within an hour: He said, “Go to Tibet but follow another route, not the usual one”. Thedoctor took the advice but because he never believed in saints he left a colleague there to see what would happen. In anhour a district superintendent of police came with a search party looking for the doctor. Maharajji said to them “Whowould come at this hour?” - The police searched and then started towards Tibet but Maharajji called them back andwarned them not to go. He said that if they went there they would be killed in an avalanche. They decided not to pursue thematter.
 His death
Maharajji died in 1972 after experiencing diabetic convulsions and going into a coma. He was taken to hospitalwhere he was given injections and put under oxygen. Presently he roused and pulled the oxygen mask off and shouted“beka
” (useless), and asked for Ganges water. He then repeated “Jaya Jagadish Hare” - Hail the Lord of the Universe,several times at a decreasing pitch. His face became very peaceful and he died.
 
63A few days before his parting a close devotee felt a longing to see Maharajji. He went to see him and during thevisit Maharajji predicted his going by saying, “Ask anything you want - then I am going to go.” The devotee said that onthis statement, “everything that was in his mind evaporated.” He asked for nothing but only afterwards realized theprediction that was to come about.
 Practicalities
Kainchi Ashram:
In the Kainchi Ashram Neem Karoli Baba is still honoured. The ashram is overseen by anIndian woman called Siddhi Ma, who was a devotee of Maharajji for many years. She does not give any direct teachingsexcept to remember and honour Maharajji. Devotees say that they still feel his presence, “enveloping one like a plaidblanket.”The ashram, which is located in a picturesque, forested steep river valley amongst a number of temples, hasaccommodation for around 150 guests who must be devotees or intending devotees. Permission to stay must be obtained inadvance in writing, and guests must follow the daily ashram schedule of morning and evening chanting.The postal address is Sankata Mochana, Hanuman Mandir, PO Kainchi, via Bhowali, District Nanital, Uttar Pradesh26313, India. The ashram is reached by bus or taxi (30 km.) from Nanital. Simple vegetarian food is provided to guestsand payment for accommodation and food is by appropriate donation.It is said that his presence can be felt in all the temples that he frequented. One such is a Hanuman temple locatedbetween Haridwar and Rishikesh and marked by a large Hanuman statue visible from the road.In Germany, Durgamayi Ma claims to be a disciple and a successor to Neem Karoli Baba. She gives Darshan andconducts retreats. E.mail.info@SriDurgamayiMaAshram.de Information on other ashrams and temples associated with Neem Karoli Baba can be sourced on the website:www.neemkarolibaba.comIn the USA there is a Neem Karoli Baba Ashram, PO Box, W .Taos, NM 87571.Tel. + 505 751 4080 Fax. +505 737 0180 E.mail: board@nkbashram.org
 
Chapter 9
 
SWAMI SIVANANDA - A DIVINE LIFE
Your only duty is to realize God; and this includes other duties.
 Background 
 
Swami Sivananda was the founder of the Divine Life Society and became one of the best known spiritual teachersof the twentieth century. He was a supreme bhakta yogi with service to all as his main doctrine. His teachings are todayavailable in every corner of the world and many of his disciples, such as Swami Chinmayananda - see following Chapter,became famous spiritual teachers in their own rights. The activities of the Divine Life Society are further augmented bysplinter groups based on Swami Sivananda’s teachings. These include the Integral Yoga Society founded by a leadingdisciple, Swami Satchidananda, which has branches throughout Europe the America, and the Sivananda Yoga VedantaCenters founded by the late Swami Vishnudevananda - see Practicalities below. At the present time the Divine Life Societyhas around two hundred centers with some ten thousand active members.Although a was a believer of Advaita Vedanta, Sivananda’s teachings are firmly rooted in the world and are basedon service to humanity, understanding of the philosophy of Vedanta, and leading a dharmic life. The slogan over hissamadhi shrine reads:
“Be good, Do Good”.
He was born in Kerela in 1897 and is believed to be a descendant of the 16th century scholar-saint AppayaDiksitar. He was given the birth name was Kuppuswami and from an early age he became devoted to Shiva. Although aBrahmin, he was indifferent to caste and used to feed beggars and animals - sometimes to the consternation of his parents.At school he was bright and also good at sports. Doing regular physical exercise to keep the body healthy became one of his teachings. As a youth he liked to wander about, sometimes for days at a time, visiting temples. He opposed familywishes that he become a religious scholar, and chose to study medicine. He attended the Tanjore Medical College and wasan outstanding student. Here he again showed total disregard of all caste distinctions.After graduation he went to Malaya as the chief medical officer of the hospital of a large rubber plantation. Hisservice was excellent but being sensitive and compassionate in nature, he was appalled by the suffering and death that hehad to witness daily in his work. After ten years in Malaya he felt the call to return to India to pursue a spiritual life. Hegave up his job, abandoned his profession as a career, and became a renunciate wanderer in India.
 
64He devoted the next ten years to intense yogic practices and lived in caves, shacks and temples, and subsisted on adiet of rotis (Indian bread) and Ganges water - literally bread and water. In 1924, when he was 37 years old, he met asaintly man called Sadhu Vishwananda in Rishikesh, who initiated him into sanyas (monkhood) and named him SwamiSivananda. Then, in addition to continuing his extreme tapasya, he was able to withdraw his savings from Malaya andbegan caring for sadhus, who were mostly undernourished, with food and medicines. He saw that many of the holy menwho wandered about India suffered from tropical diseases and malnutrition. He started a charitable clinic in 1932 inRishikesh at Swarg Ashram, where he also lived. Although at this time he did not have disciples he would often give talksand print and distribute religious pamphlets.His concern with the clinic seems to have marked a turning point in his life for he began to gather a following of devotees. His attitude towards the more extreme forms of tapasya changed and he began to see that matted hair andemaciated bodies had nothing to do with the divine life. In 1934 he started to take disciples and moved from SwargAshram to set up his own ashram in a deserted cow shed on the banks of the Ganges. The ashram rapidly grew, acquiredother buildings and attracted many more disciples. Today the ashram houses several hundred resident monks, lay residentsand visitors. In addition many more day visitors attend meditation and chanting sessions, satsangs, and daily lecture andquestion and answer sessions given by resident swamis.After the Divine Life Society was formed, Swami Shivananda started on a life of tireless work, travel andlecturing throughout India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). His talks and the singing of God’s names were so irresistible that theyattracted large crowds. Even the hearts of the usually arrogant British would become softened and some would even comeup to the stage to dance and sing the sweet names of God with the Swami. This type of activity continued for almost 20years during which time he developed the practice of recording his thoughts almost daily. These notes have become thesource of many teachings. Over the same period the ashram of the Divine Life Society in Rishikesh grew into the largeestablishment that it is today.As a medical doctor he was very much concerned with health, and the promotion through hatha yoga as a part of health care. He founded many hospitals and clinics based on both auryvedic and western medicine. His special mild brandof hatha yoga is aimed at not only the promotion of health, but also the generation of a feeling of well-being and control of the mind. It is quite different to the often ego-fired contortions of the hatha yoga practitioners in the West.He forbade the discriminatory practices of caste and the religious privilege of the orthodox priests in all hisinstitutions. He also supported the movement towards equal rights for women in India.
Teachings
 
The Sivananda teachings are characterized by an emphasis on practical service and living a dharmic life. Theyrecognize the essential unity of all religions and, in the main ashram and centers, festivals of religions other than Hinduismare respected and also celebrated. Christmas Eve carols and bible reading, pujas and celebrations for the Buddha and GuruNanak (of Sikhism), are held at appropriate times. He explained that Sanatana Dharma, was not just the origin of Hinduism, but was the basis of all religious philosophies. The essence of Sivananda’s teaching was based on the BhagavadGita. But, above all, his emphasis was on love and service.Swami Sivananda was a prolific writer and is the author of around three hundred books. He realized that thepriestly classes, who used Sanskrit, were keeping ordinary folk in the dark, so he wrote in English and Hindi - to bringyogic teachings and the teachings of Vedanta to the masses. He promoted yoga for householders - by explaining how yogacan be incorporated into family life. These activities were probably his major achievement and resulted in promoting theunderstanding of Vedanta globally. The essence of his teachings is: leading a dharmic life based on moral behaviour, self discipline, generosity and devotion to God. They have been condensed into twenty ‘Instructions’ that are inscribed on apillar in the courtyard of the main Ashram in Rishikesh. They are as follow:1. Get up at 4 a.m. daily. Do japa and meditation.2. Sit in Padma or Siddha Asana (postures) for japa and meditation.3. Take satvic food (simple non-spicy vegetarian). Eat frugally.4. Do charity, one tenth of your income or one anna per rupee.5. Study daily one chapter of the Bhagavad Gita.6. Preserve
virya
[vital force]. Sleep separately.7. Give up smoking, narcotics, drink and rajasic (spicy food).8. Fast on holy days or take milk and fruit only.9. Observe mouna (silence) two hours daily and during meals.10. Speak the truth at any cost; speak little and sweetly.11. Reduce your wants. Lead a happy, contented life.12 Never hurt the feelings of others. Be kind to all.13. Think of the mistakes you have made (self analysis).14. Do not depend on servants. Have self reliance.15. Think of God when you wake up and go to bed.16. Have always a japa mala on your neck or in your pocket.17. Adhere to the motto: Simple living and high thinking.18. Serve sadhus, sanyasins, and the poor, sick and suffering.
 
6519. Have a separate meditation room under lock and key.20. Keep a spiritual diary and stick to your routine.In Sivananda teachings, women are treated as equals in all matters - (unlike the usual scene in India). Women arepermitted to learn and practice all aspects of yoga, and, if they wish, to take sanyas (the vows of monkhood). The German-born Swami Sivananda Radha was the first woman to take the vows of sanyas within the Sivananda organization. There arealso Indian woman disciples of Sivananda now teaching in India. Nevertheless, tradition still prevails to a some extent,even within the Divine Life Society - and out of respect for this tradition, it seems to have been necessary to restrict thelong term residence of women in the main ashram. Long term residency for women, at the present time, must be negotiatedon an individual basis in each case.At the present time (2000) the daily question and answer sessions are still held by the aging Swami Krishanandawho is known for his blunt humour, wit and a marked aversion to spiritual pretentiousness.
 His death
At the beginning of 1963, when he was seventy six, he began to give indications that his life was approaching itsend. But even while his health was failing he continued to record his daily thoughts. He had a paralytic stroke on the 23rdof June 1963 but continued occasionally to talk and could answer questions. He seemed fully aware and remained calmand even cheerful throughout the days before his death. When asked questions by an attending physician he would givemedically astute answers, sometimes correcting the doctor on some point. On the 24th of June he dictated the last of his‘daily thoughts’. It was: “When the individual merges in God happiness comes.” Then he said, “Enough,” and lapsed intosilence. On the 13th of July, though he had not taken anything for some days, he asked for a glass of Ganga water, and tendays later, on the 24th of July, late at night, he left this world.
 Practicalities
 
The Sivananda Ashram is the main ashram and headquarters of the Divine Life Society, a world wideorganization started by Swami Sivananda in 1932. It is a large and rambling ashram on the banks of the Ganges inRishikesh. After the death of Swami Sivananda in 1963, the Divine Life Society was headed by Swami Chidananda whowas the President, and Swami Krishananda, who is the main teaching Swami at the ashram.Serious students of Sivananda’s teachings, with prior permission of the management, are permitted to stay at theashram for periods of several months. They are expected to follow the ashram schedule of meditation, chanting and pujasand to attend the daily lecture and discussion sessions.Day visitors or visitors for shorter periods may stay nearby where there are many guest houses and hotels.Courses in Sivananda’s special brand of mild Hatha Yoga are also available. The contact details are as follow:Sivananda Ashram, Divine Life Society, PO Sivanandanagar, District Tehri-Garhwal 129 192, Uttar Pradesh, India. Tel.and Fax. (Internat.) + 91 1364 31190 (local) 01364 31190.The new website (1993) is www. swami-krishnananda.orgRishikesh is about 6 - 8 hours by bus from Delhi. There are direct busses but most busses and trains terminate atHaridwar which is some 30 km. from Rishikesh. From Haridwar there is a branch line train service and many busses, taxisand shared auto rickshaws ply between Rishikesh and Haridwar.There are many other Sivananda-type organizations in India. In Kerela, located amidst the lush foothills of theSahyadri Mountains, there is a Sivananda Yoga Vedanta ashram which was started by Swami Vishnudevananda, a seniordisciple of Sivananda. It is unrelated to the Divine Life Society. Since Swami Vishnudevananda’s death in 1993, thisashram has been run by an Italian man, Swami Mahadevananda. The ashram conducts two-week yoga retreats. Dailycharges for accommodation and food are around Rp 400 - 500 per day. The ashram also conducts yoga teacher trainingcourses. Contact details are as follow:Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwanthari Ashram, PO Neyardam, Trivandrum DT 695 576, Kerela, India. Tel. and fax.(Internat.) + 91 471 290493 (local) 0471 290493.There are Sivananda organizations in many other countries and details can be sourced on the Internet. Contactdetails in the USA are as follow: Divine Life society, 6606 Hardwood Lane, Keedysville, MD 21756, USA. Tel. + (301)432 4918.
 
Chapter 10
 
SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA(And other swamis)
True Hinduism is the Sanatana Dharma, the eternal Truth of the Upanishads.
 Background 
 
Swami Chinmayananda was born in 1916 and died recently in 1996 while on a visit to the USA. He was born to a
 
66wealthy family in Ernakulam (Cochin), Kerela, and given the birth name Balakrishnan Menon. He studied liberal arts and journalism and after a hectic youth, which included being imprisoned by the British for involvement in the independencestruggle, he became a reporter and columnist for the
 National Herald 
, a newspaper started by Nehru. While still a student,in 1936, he met Ramana Maharshi and had his darshan. Of this he said that he felt his “whole life had gone up in a wave.”Later, after becoming a successful journalist, he began to feel the hollowness of worldly life and in 1947 he visited SwamiSivananda in Rishikesh. He was greatly influenced by Swami Sivananda and by the life of the monks, but at the same timehe noticed that many of the sadhus seemed quite ignorant of the lofty ideals of Hinduism. This marked the beginning of hisnotion of teaching Vedanta; but first he had to learn about it himself - and for this he had to learn Sanskrit. In 1949 he took sanyas as a disciple of Swami Sivananda (Chapter 9) and, on his advice, went to study under Swami Tapovanam, who wasa great Sanskrit scholar, at Gangotri, in the Himalayas. Here again, he met many visiting sadhus and was shocked at theirinadequate understanding of the scriptures.Prior to acquiring his abiding interest in spiritual pursuits he had become a good writer with a commandingknowledge of English. In 1951 he resolved to take the knowledge of the Vedas directly to the people. He wanted theteachings to be accessible to ordinary people, not just to the priests; and to do this he would use English and Hindi. Hebecame an avid campaigner for teaching the essential essence of Vedanta, which he maintained was a far cry from theusual show and expostulations of the priests and pundits. He established a teaching procedure which he called a Yajna. Hesaid that, in the old days, Yajnas were fire sacrifices in honour of the Gods; his yajnas were to burn ignorance in the fire of knowledge. This is an example that illustrates his conviction of the need for reform in the teaching of the scriptures:
 In India Hinduism has come to mean nothing more than a bundle of sacred superstitions, or a certain way of dressing,cooking, eating, talking, and so on. Our gods have fallen to the mortal level of administration officers at whose altars the faithful Hindu might pray and get special permits for the things they desire - that is, if he pays the required fee to the priests. But Hinduism is not the external show that we have learned to parade about in our daily life... True Hinduism is theSanatana Dharma (eternal Truth) of the Upanishads.”
During his lifetime Swami Chinmayananda established eight major teaching centers in India, and more than 150smaller centers in other parts of the world. The regional headquarters for India is the Sidhbari Ashram near Dharmshala inthe Himalayas, and there are large teaching centers in Bombay, Chennai (Madras) and elsewhere. The mission offers three-year full time courses on Vedanta for prospective monks of the Shankaracharya Order, or simply for those who areinterested in Vedanta. Residence of the ashrams requires the acceptance of renunciation and celibacy. The courses aretailored for modern, principally well-educated, Indians and foreigners who want to get in touch with the traditional valuesand teachings of Hinduism.Swami Chinmayananda’s successor and current head of the Mission (2001) is Swami Tejomayananda, agedaround fifty, who speaks excellent English and was at one time head of the large Chinmaya mission in San Jose, California.He is highly educated and an articulate speaker and dedicated teacher, but also a humble and unpretentious man.And Swami Anubhavananda of the Bombay Mission is another example of the brilliant teachers who are attractedto the Chinmayananda Missions. He is well known for having his audience rolling in the isles with mirth. For example hegave an account of an address he made at a school function in which everyone was laughing away except one womanteacher in the front row. At the luncheon which followed, he asked her if she had suffered bereavement in the family. Sheanswered, “Swamiji, I was silently laughing at your jokes, but I have new dentures - if I actually laughed they would haveflown into Swamiji’s lap.”It seems as if many of the teaching swamis of the Chinmaya Mission have the ability to demonstrate that religionand God are the essential foundations for infinite joy and happiness; not man’s somber view of an avenging deity whocasts sinners into the eternal flames of hell. Together the Swamis of the Chinmaya Mission promote a disciplined andspiritual understanding of the classical scriptures and are fierce upholders of the tradition.
Teachings
The teachings are based on classical Vedanta and follow the methods advocated by the ninth century sageShankaracharya, who was responsible for reviving and popularizing the ancient teachings of Advaita Vedanta - that branchof Vedanta that rejects duality. To this day there are Shankaras in different parts of India who are spiritual successors tothe original Shankara. The succession of Shankaras is followed in much the same way as the succession of Popes and DalaiLamas. They are all highly evolved souls and interpreters of Vedanta. Paul Brunton in his book 
 A Search in Secret India
 wrote about his meeting with the sixty-sixth bearer of the title in Southern India, who was instrumental in leading him toRamana Maharshi... An example of their highly developed spiritual perception was given by Paul Brunton who, in 1936,told the Shankara about his seeking for someone who had “high attainments in yoga”, he replied thus:
“I know of only two masters in India who could give you what you wish. One of them lives in Benares, hidden away in alarge house, which is itself hidden among spacious grounds. Few people are permitted to obtain access to him; certainly no European has yet been able to intrude upon his seclusion... The other man lives in the interior, farther south... He is called the Maharishee
(Ramana Maharshi).
His abode is on Arunachala, the mountain of the holy beacon... I will provide youwith full instructions, so that you may discover him.”
 It is significant, perhaps, that at virtually the exact time that Paul Brunton asked this question, Balakrishnan Menon, whowas to become Swami Chinmayananda, was having the darshan of the great sage.In Advaita Vedanta there is no essential differences between the pure soul of man, the Atman, and God - theUltimate Reality (not the deities, which are also manifestations of duality). Realization of this Ultimate Reality, the
 
67Absolute, eliminates all forms of duality; and then there is no
us
and no
him
- as in the dogma of the Semitic religions. Thebasis of the teachings within the Chinmaya Mission, as with the Divine Life Society of Swami Sivananda, is the
 Bhagavad Gita
. Alluding to the efficacy of this great scripture in solving all matters, Swami Anubhavananda (above) explained thatwhen he was a novice, his mentor would advise reading the
Gita
to overcome any kind of problem. One student had badinsomnia and was advised to read the
Gita
to cure it. The next day, when the teacher inquired after the student’s progress,he replied, “It was very effective Swamiji, I read it for just ten minutes and I fell into a deep sleep.”In the teachings there is emphasis on the disciplined study and interpretation of the classical scriptures. It ismaintained that the Vedas were divinely inspired, and the Upanishads, the concluding parts of the Vedas, talk about Godrealization and not only talk about it, they methodically teach it. The message is conveyed through words and the clarity of enlightenment takes place as the teaching takes place. The method involves the reciting successively, of passages of thescriptures, followed by study and cognisance of the various commentaries and the comments of the teachers. Theimportance of having ‘spiritual experiences’ is not emphasized in these teaching methods. Anything that can beexperienced by the mind is, by definition, not Self realization, because there must be the experiencer and the experience,and because the small self, the egoic personality, has no means of directly understanding realization. Moreover, except inthe case of the great realized beings, an experience, such as nirvikalpa samadhi (ecstatic absorption in nondual reality), isof no use because then the subject cannot even relate to the world; as Swami Dayananda (a former associate of SwamiChinmayananda) said, “We have to be stoned for ever.” Even the great beings have to come down to earth. RamanaMaharshi remained in an exalted state for several years, Amma (Chapter 19) lay about among the coconut trees,Ramakrishna was always falling into divine bhavas (identification with deities) and had to be fed and looked after atvarious times in his life (but maintained that if he borrowed one sixteenth of his mind back from the Divine Mother it wasenough to talk and dance with his devotees), and even Krishnamurti, firmly opposed to esoteric experiences, sometimestalked about “going off” and asked people to hang on to him. But, in the end, and while they are on this earth, they all hadto ‘come down’ - at least to some degree, in order to be able to function and to guide others.It is said that in the Vedic teaching, the emphasis is on the cognisance of enlightenment. Enlightenment is justknowing what is. That is called
sahaja
, which means ‘natural’ - it means just seeing clearly. Ramana Maharshi talked of sahaja samadhi as when “awareness” is firm, even when objects are sensed. The mind rests in the Self rather than inoutward objects. The Sage Acharya recommended it in preference to nirvikalpa samadhi in
Viveka Choodamani
. “If peopleinsist on having a particular experience,” Swami Dayananda says, “That simply means they have not understood theteachings… And if your interpretation of that experience is that there is an object other than yourself, then it is yourinterpretation itself that is duality. Therefore it is a problem of cognition, and that problem of cognition is to be solved.”In an interview with Andrew Cohen (see
What is Enlightenment 
- Issue No. 14, 1998) Swami Dayananda, said,“In all experiences what is invariably present is consciousness, and no object is independent of that. Consciousness is notdependent on, and has none of the attributes of any particular object. Consciousness is consciousness, and while it iseverything, it transcends everything. That is why I say: this is Advaita, this is nondual, this is Brahman, and this is limitlesstime wise, space wise it is limitless. And therefore it is Brahman, and therefore you are everything already. This is theteaching, and what it means is that I need not wait for any particular experience because every experience is Brahman,every experience is limitless.”So the best teaching of Advaita Vedanta, other than the silent teaching that emanates from a master, takes theform of intense and intuitive analysis of the scriptures, and contemplation on their meaning. And many insights areobtained on the nature of matters such as service, the sheaths of maya, the nature of the Self and so on. SwamiAnubhavananda said:
“The Self is always present and can be perceived as that which
IS
whether thought is present or absent , when doer isthere or not, when observer is there or not, when the knower knows or not. When both knower and doer are quiet, what isleft is the Self.”
The Chinmaya Mission Pledge is as follows:
We stand as one family bound to each other with love and respect.We serve as an army courageous and disciplined ever ready to fight against all low tendencies and false values within andwithout us.We live honestly the noble life of love and service, producing more than we consume and giving more than we take.We seek the Lord’s grace to keep us on the path of virtue, courage and wisdom.May Thy grace and blessings flow through us and the world around us.We believe that the service of our country is the service of the Lord of Lords, and devotion to the people is devotion to theSupreme Self.We know our responsibilities give us the ability and courage to fulfill them.
 Practicalities
Chinmaya Missions:
 There are Chinmaya Missions in many locations in India and abroad. Contact addresses in the USA are as follow:Chinmaya Mission West, PO Box 129, Piercy, CA 95587, USA. Tel. 707 247-3488.Chinmaya Mission West, Tri-State Centre, 560 Bridge Town Pike, Langhorne, PA 19053, USA. Tel. + (215) 3960390Fax. + (215) 3967910. E. mail: swami-siddhananda@juno.com
 
68The Chinmaya Mission of the Chinmaya Tapovan Trust has a beautiful ashram in the Himalayas to conduct three-year courses in classical Advaita Vedanta for students hoping to become monks. Residential retreats in both Hindi andEnglish are also conducted. Accommodation and meals are provided for an appropriate donation or fee. The ashram has avery good library. Prospective visitors should check beforehand for dates and the medium of instruction of up-comingretreats. The address is as follows: Chinmaya Mission, Chinmaya Tapovan Trust, Sandeepany Himalayas, Sidhbari176057, Himal Pradesh, India. Tel. (Internat.) + 91 1892 22121/24951 (local) 01892 22121/24951. Fax. (Internat.) + 911892 24956 (local) 01892 24956.The ashram is reached
via
Dharmshala (The location of the home of the Dalai Lama - see Chapter 13).There are many other Chinmaya centers and ashrams that teach classical Advaita Vedanta. Some of these haveresidential facilities for students and visitors. The Bombay mission conducts classes in English. The contact details are:Central Chinmaya Mission Trust, Sandeepany Sadhanalaya, Saki Vihar Road, Mumbai 4000 072, India. Tel. (Internat.) +91 22 8572367 / 8575806. (local) 022 8572367 / 8575806. Fax. (Internat.) + 91 22 8573065 (local) 022 857396 E.mail:chinmaya@bom2.vsnl.net.in
Swami Dayananda Sarasvati
 Swami Dayananda also has schools of Advaita Vedanta. Useful websites are: www.vedicculturalcentre.comwww.arshavidhyapitam.org & yogirama.com Other information can be sourced on the Internet. An ashram address is:Sri Gangadhareswara Trust, Purani Jhadi, P.O. Box 30, Rishikesh, A.P. India.
 
Chapter 11
 BAHI SAHIB - THE SUFI WAY 
 If I knew how painful love is, I would have stood at the entrance of the lane of love, I would have proclaimed with the beat of the drum: Keep away, keep away.
General background 
 
Sufism is a mystical form of Islam and is today of considerable interest to non-Muslims in the West andelsewhere. There is also an interest in Sufism among born Muslims, tired of the materialism of the modern world andperhaps tired of the dogma of the established branches of Islam. They may see Sufism as a basis for strengthening, and insome instances rebuilding, their faith in Islam. The practice of Sufism is said to be the seeking of the experience of Truththrough love, devotion and surrender to God. Surrender of the mind and ego enables the divine attributes the soul to cometo the fore. In Sufism it is believed that the help of an enlightened teacher is necessary for this to happen.According to some authorities Sufism preceded Islam. Long before Islam there was a sect called the Kamal Posh(blanket wearers), who wandered about and went to see all the prophets and sages of those times, but none could satisfythem - that is, until they met the Prophet Mohammed. One day, so the story goes, Mohammed predicted that many KamalPosh would be coming, and so they did. It seems that Mohammed said nothing and just looked at them, and through this asilent teaching was transmitted so that they became completely satisfied. He had created love in their hearts, and with thisunderstanding they became Sufis, for love is the essence of Sufism. In true Sufism, to this day, the same understanding isinfused from master to disciple.There are many different Sufi groups and each alleges a spiritual chain of authority extending back to the Prophet.But having said this, it is necessary to point out that, according to many careful observers, very few of the Sufi groups aregenuine - see
Sufi
 
Thought and Action
. The popularity of Sufism has led to a proliferation of false schools in which there isno genuine master. For example, Rosalie Marsham, in the above book, writes: “One group, which has branches all over theEast, has done a great deal to give Sufis a bad name, because the following almost invariable signs are found among itsleaders: fondness for liquor; sexual excesses and handing out ultimatums to their followers. Prospective followers aregiven the impression that a mystery is, at first, kept from them. But later, given suitable submissive behaviour, the leaderswill impart it to them as a reward.”This chapter describes a master of a Sufi tradition from India called the ‘Golden Sufis’ or the ‘Silent Sufis’. Theinformation here is largely sourced from the diary and spiritual autobiography of a Western woman (Mrs. Tweedie) whowas a disciple of a master of this tradition, known simply as Bahi Sahib (literally elder brother). Mrs. Tweedie’sassociation with him took place in the 1950’s and 1960’s and, on his instruction, she kept a diary of her experiences. Thediary subsequently became a remarkable and popular book called
Chasm of Fire
- see the Bibliography. The informationpresented here, though derived from this book, concentrates on ascertaining the state of the master, rather than the state of the disciple. It emphasizes the great mystical similarity that is seen in all enlightened individuals, irrespective of theirreligious background. Bahi Sahib explained that, although Sufism is normally thought to be a form of Islamic mysticism,
 
69there are also Hindu, as well as Christian Sufis. He was a Muslim but his master (his guru) had been a Hindu.
 Bahi Sahib
Bhai Sahib was born in the late part of the nineteenth century and died in the mid nineteen sixties. His teacher wasthe revered Guru Maharaj of Kanpur, and his own father and his uncle were also students of Guru Maharaj. Bahi Sahib’shome was in the district of Aryanagar in central Uttar Pradesh, not too far from Kanpur. Today Kanpur is an industrial cityand a centre of the cotton weaving and dyeing industry. It is on the Ganges river and there are disused or derelict burningghats there. Nearby, in Bithur, there are ghats that are still in use, and the principle shrine, one of the few in Indiadedicated to Brahma, is at the site of these ghats.Bahi Sahib was described by Mrs. Tweedie as bearded and handsome, with a kindly face and “strange eyes likedark pools of stillness, with a sort of liquid light in them.” His smile was infectious and he had a deep baritone voice. Heseemed to pray almost continuously; bead after bead of his mala sliding through his fingers, rocking gently in samadhi.Mrs. Tweedie thought he looked Tibetan - a reference perhaps to Theosophy and the ‘Great White Brotherhood’, for Mrs.Tweedie was at that time a Theosophist and believed in certain masters who lived in the Himalayas and had a great deal todo with the spiritual development of mankind (see Chapter 5). Bahi Sahib had become a teacher of the Sufi order of the‘Golden Path’ at the age of twenty seven. But in the tradition of the lineage, he did not become a ‘master’ until the death of his Guru. He was given permission to teach before this, but considered himself to be “nothing” until the death of hismaster. He said, “Until the last moment of his death, he kept testing me.. Then I caught the thread. The power of transference was given.. I could give to anybody.”When Mrs. Tweedie first came to Bhai Sahib she said that she wanted to find God; but not the Christian idea of an anthropomorphic deity. “I want the Rootless Root, the Causeless Cause of the Upanishads,” she said. Bhai Sahib raisedhis eyebrows and asked “Nothing less than that?” Mrs. Tweedie continued by explaining that she was both a vegetarianand a Theosophist, and as such believed that a guru was unnecessary and that one becomes enlightened by one’s ownefforts. She asserted: “We must try to reach our Higher Self by our own efforts”. His replied thus:
‘Not even in a hundred years! It cannot be done without a teacher... How can you vacate, clear out your mind, if you areconstantly working through the mind. How can the mind empty itself? You must be able to leave it, to forget everything,and this one cannot do alone. For the mind cannot transcend itself.”
At that time Bahi Sahib had many disciples, including some who did not live nearby or were even overseas. Healso had a number of Western disciples. Although he was the head of a large household and performed all the duties of aSufi master, he was often in a state of deep meditation. He walked very fast with long strides, so that it was sometimesdifficult to keep up with him, but he often appeared to be completely unaware of his surroundings, even while walking.Thus he needed others with him to be “on the outside” - to protect him from the traffic. Mrs. Tweedie explained that onoccasions there was a wonderful fragrance in the air, as sometimes occurs around great beings. Once he told her to try tofind its source - but she couldn’t. He frequently sang poignant songs in Persian or Urdu, which Mrs. Tweedie said,“Disturbs something very deep.”
 I am here and I am there and I show myself in different shapes, And you may wonder what or who am I, and you will not understand, But in time the answer is given, I am here and I am there and it is all the same, Everywhere all the time, am I alone.
He lived a simple life and took care of his family. He had six children, and a brother with his family also lived inthe house. The house was a long white bungalow with a large door and wooden shutters. A wide wooden gateway led fromthe street to a dry garden with shrubs and a few trees that formed the compound of the house. It was full of the comingsand goings of the many devotees and all kinds of activities took place there. Mrs. Tweedie wondered why the master’spremises were so full of the most “objectionable people” - those who were without work, the lay-abouts and rejected of society, the awkward, the too loud, the too weak in mind and the too sick. She wrote in her diary, “So many people inhabithis courtyard, and in thatched huts too, and even the garden.” Bahi Sahib explained that it is the Sufi way; to such he mustgive refuge and hospitality.
The Sufi master
Bhai Sahib explained about the attributes of a Sufi master, which also gives pointers to the expected behaviour of devotees and disciples: “A Sufi master must be completely without desires and such a master can actually be identified byhis absence of desires. The disciple will still have desires, but not the master - he has none. The same is with a saint.”He explained that every master has only a few “seed ideas” which represent the fundamental note or chord of histeaching - only those ideas which he has absorbed and which led him to realization are of significance. He cannot givemore. He will constantly manipulate those ideas for it is they which took him to the Truth, through his personal effort, andthey which represent a living truth to him. Consequently, no teacher ever conveys the whole amount of the teaching, onlywhat he, himself, has assimilated.The master will not do anything to damage the disciple’s reputation, give a bad example, or take advantage of a
 
70situation. Sometimes it may seem to be the case that the guru is taking advantage of the disciple, but this will always beonly to curb the disciple’s ego. It is the task of the master to help the disciple grow: “How is it done? - One has to mergeinto the teacher. Only then the little self, the ego, will go. It represents a voluntary death in the master’s essence. In Sufismit is called
 fana
. A complete surrender to the teacher is the first step leading to the complete surrender to the will of God.Only little by little can we get used to this idea. It must be absorbed and become part of the blood. The teacher must beintegrated as a wholeness into the mind - and this is the goal of spiritual training.” But, he would add, no teaching can betransmitted until the disciple has reached the stage of comprehension. “One cannot teach a small child the principles of higher mathematics. We have to grow up to the Truth; only then is it communicable.”We must live within the very turmoil of life but not be influenced by it. We must get rid of likes and dislikes. Wemust return to the very core of our primal being in order to become whole. This will naturally produce conflicts for wehave to accept ourselves as we are and not as we
think 
we are. If we suffer from fear or some sadness, it means there is stillsome attachment to get rid of.Bahi Sahib explained that a true master, if his sexual vitality is well transmuted, can have thousands of disciples;it matters not how many. The vital energy in human beings is the most precious thing. It makes a saint fly - it takes himdirectly to God. The vital energy must be transmuted, so that it will function from the navel upwards and not below. Onlythen are high states possible. To expand, to flow out without any destination, this is the path. On the questions of sexualtransmutation and merging with the teacher, there is no paradox with ascetics who practice celibacy; but in Sufis, whotraditionally are householders, much discipline is required. Bhai Sahib expanded on the meaning of mergence with theteacher, when two souls become one, as follows :
“When I was young with my first wife, I rarely had intercourse with her. Every night I merged with my revered Guru Maharaj. There can be no greater bliss imaginable than two souls merging into one with love. Sometimes my body is alsomerged. How is it done? The body partakes of it, is included in it, by reflection so to speak. And no bliss in the world isgreater than this: when you are one with your teacher.”
Later he said to Mrs. Tweedie:
“… the surrender of the body canbe achieved much deeper, more intimately and more completely than in sexual union. In sexual union there will always betwo. How can there be oneness? But it is done and it can be done... The Atman, or the soul, pervades the body; it is present in every cell, in every atom of the body. So you see, spirit merges into spirit, there are not two bodies as on the physicallevel - but one. That’s why it is complete. Physically, naturally there will always be two in union; but not so in spirit. Thereis nothing to understand really - so simple.”
 The master may also have many yogic powers that are usually concealed but nevertheless often make themselvesapparent. One of these is clairvoyance, the ability to see events to come. An example is described by Mrs. Tweedie. Shewas sitting with him while he was in samadhi meditation - and she: “mindless but full of great peace.” Then suddenly hesat up and said, “Yes” and instructed her to open the door. The Collector Sahib - the local Government representative -was coming. She went out but nobody was there and she came inside again; but at that moment a car pulled up and theCollector Sahib got out and made his way to the house.Another power was exorcism. On one occasion a man brought a demented boy to the compound. The events weredescribed in detail by Mrs. Tweedie: The young man had the appearance of a simpleton and suddenly uttered a loud cryand began to howl like an animal. The expression on his face was terrible and he cried, “Don’t touch me, don’t touch me, Iwill destroy you!” Bhai Sahib looked steadily at the unfortunate boy and then with a pointed finger, very slowly describeda circle around the body, and said, “Go away.” From the boy came the cry, “I am going, leave me, leave me.” Then,making a stabbing movement with the finger, Bahi Sahib said again “Go!” All of a sudden there was silence and thetormented body became motionless. He slowly sat up and his simple face now wore a perfectly human expression. BhaiSahib said, “If he comes back, I will burn him.” Later he explained that the possessing spirit was a type of “powerfulelemental”. They want an experience on the physical level and they attach themselves to a human being - usually a simpleperson. He explained that we all have good and evil spirits in us: it is the good and evil in us, and the mind also - and whowins is the master. Of such spirits he said that to burn them is not so lightly done; they also have the right to live. They area parallel evolution to man, they are “shaitans” - demons, and have no notion of how to behave. If a powerful saintremoves them they are afraid to come back.But yogic powers may also be rejected by a master. At one stage he said that his Guru Maharaj offered to givehim a mantra to cure the bites of venomous snakes (see example in Chapter 4), but he refused to accept it. He explainedthat this is quite a low
siddhi
that can be obtained by many fakirs; if he had possessed it there would have been acontinuous flow of patients to his compound. He would not have had time for teaching.Bhai Sahib never forgot his guru, the revered Maharajji: “He is always with me,” he would say - “And a tenderfar-away look would come into his eyes.”
 Methods of teaching
Bhai Sahib explained that all the Sufi systems demand the surrender of the disciple to the teacher but the methodsof the Nakshmandia Dynasty, to which the Golden Sufis belong, and the Chishtia Dynasty, the principle Sufi sect in India,differ considerably. In the latter many things are done through the physical body, “So the body becomes very magnetic.The Chishtias use music, ceremonies and breathing techniques without which they are useless”.With the Golden Sufis, everything is done in silence, and only in this system is love created. But, he said, “Oursystem has never been widespread; it is for the few… It is from heart to heart. The method is not popular with the majority
 
71of people - who want the contortions of hatha yoga and the discipline and mind control meditation… They are not happyotherwise; they think nothing is being done. But if you say, ‘Sit in such and such a posture, meditate in this way or that’,you put a man in prison.” Bahi Sahib explained that very few of us are prepared to surrender to the truth so that thedisciple can find God in his own way. He maintained that there are now only very few people in the world who can teachthe Nakshmandia method. In this method there is not much explanation given because there is nothing much that thedisciple could even understand - but people want explanations so the method is not popular. (According to Bahi Sahib, andalso other great spiritual teachers, as indicated before, the practice of hatha yoga and kundalini or laya yoga may beharmful; principally because there are many poorly-trained ‘gurus’ using these methods, and having once awakened thekundalini, they may not know how to control it).
The two paths:
Teaching in the Golden Sufis is mainly by the transmission of spiritual energy and there areessentially two paths that may be followed: the path of contemplative meditation, and a faster way, the path of 
tyaga
orcomplete renunciation, which has been called the ‘path of fire’. The aim is to achieve enlightenment in this life. In the pathof fire the master activates the heart chakra, and although more rapid, it can be deeply disturbing as purification takesplace. This was the path chosen by Mrs. Tweedie. What is required of the disciple is absolute surrender to the master - andthe development of love for the master which takes place. But, in reality, even this, the development of love, is achieved bythe master’s power. Progress does not depend much on what the disciple believes. Bahi Sahib said that it is of noimportance if one believes in karma, evolution or whatever; humanity is taken along in progression and it makes nodifference if we believe in certain things or not. But first, from the disciple, faith is necessary - absolute faith in the master:“Feel deeply you are in the presence of God, and wait for his Grace - full of alertness and surrender.”For the disciple the establishment of union with the Master is essential. Bahi Sahib explained that in Sufism achain of processes exists back to the Prophet. The master will ascertain if the union is complete and will then pass thedisciple to
his
master (who may not be in the physical body at the time); and at the last stage the pupil is passed on back tothe Prophet, not as Mohammed, the man, but as God - the supreme essence. In this most of the work is done by the masterwho uses his powers to purify the disciple. And in the Golden Sufi method, much is done in dreams.At the beginning the disciple cannot communicate with the master’s master, but later he will learn how tocommunicate directly. Sufi masters recognize a number of stages (manazil) on the path to perfection that are linked to theacquisition of particular subtle virtues and powers, and all these stages must be traversed before final realization isachieved.Bahi Sahib told a story of how his master sent him out to yogis and sadhus all around the area to ask, “Can youget enlightenment for absolutely nothing.” They all said, “No - go away.” But in the Golden Sufi method it is absolutelytrue; the disciple actually doesn’t have to do a thing. He can just sit around and let it happen. He said, “Just come here andsit - if one has a real master… The spiritual guide does not make conditions; he is like a loving mother. Shishyas(disciples) can and do leave the guru, but the guru will never leave the shishyas... And where can the shishya run to? Theguru and shishya relationship is for ever.”He explained that meditation involves complete abstraction of the senses, a yogic state. It is definitely not a trancestate induced by a medium, nor is it hypnosis. In meditation the flow of prana is reversed. The energy of prana is absorbedin the heart instead of being extroverted. For the first few times the teacher has to do it for the shishya but later he does ithimself. However, it is necessary to be serious. Some disciples practice meditation for forty years but are still full of mind.One of the two paths, meditation or the path of complete renunciation, the path of fire, is decided between themaster and the disciple - with the master making the final decision.
The chakras:
In the path of fire (tyaga), the burning away of all dross occurs. And it is again of no importancewhether the disciple believes in it or not - as long as he has faith in the master. But, Bahi Sahib explained, “It is for thefew. It requires complete surrender and not many want to sacrifice everything for the sake of the Truth. Love and devotionto the master are essential ingredients but in the beginning only willingness is required - the master will cause love to grow.It is done with one chakra, the heart chakra, which opens the others. The disciple cannot love like this himself for it is not aquestion of human love but something entirely different.”He explained that some force is used: “Something has to be forced, and then it will go on, not only for the presentbut for years onwards - while the physical body lasts.” In all the great schools it is basically the same, “We awaken theking of chakras, the heart chakra, and leave it to the king to awaken the others.”Bahi Sahib continued: “It is not done through sex impulse but transmuted sexual energy is part of it.” Thekundalini is usually dormant at the base of spine and the Sufi system will awaken it gently: “It will not give much trouble -not much. But with hatha yoga and prana yoga it can give much trouble.” (In Mrs. Tweedie’s book Bahi Sahib makes anumber of references to a recurring problem one devotee had as a result of practicing hatha yoga). He explained that themaster has to know how to take the energy up and down through all the chakras. With Sufi methods it is noticed by thedisciple only when it reaches the heart chakra: “It means peace, bliss, states of expanded consciousness. You think yourkundalini is asleep, but it can wake up at any moment.”In explaining about the chakras Bahi Sahib said that the whole of life would not be long enough to open them all.He had even discovered new chakras not mentioned in the scriptures, and because of this discovery he had changed thesystem of meditation used. But unlike Sufis, Sanyasins (Hindu renunciates) work mainly through the brow chakras: “Andthere’s not much love in that. The Sufi system uses the heart - such force, such power flows through it that one forgetseverything and no effort is needed.”
 
72 
The suffering of love:
In contrast to meditation, the method of 
tyaga
requires great stamina and endurance. Mrs.Tweedie, imbued in the beliefs of Theosophy - that everything can and should be done through the mind, was concernedabout losing “awareness” - and also by the need for “complete annihilation in the master”. Bhai Sahib explained that thelower consciousness, ego consciousness, is the type of awareness that she was thinking of, and that type of “personal”consciousness must go. In order to become conscious on all levels of being she would have to go through a period of unconsciousness: “How will we transcend the physical plane otherwise?”Complete abstraction of the senses and elimination of the thinking process is necessary and that represents atemporary loss of consciousness. Force is necessary in such a case and it may cause doubt and disturbances of many kinds.But, he explained, the suffering only really begins when the disciple begins to love the master and fears separation: “Thegreatest worry will be when one begins to love the spiritual guide. At the beginning there are no real worries; the teacherwants the disciple to remain but as soon as the disciple loves him, as soon as there are no doubts, the troubles commencefor the disciple. He will feel like crying: “Why does the master not notice me, does not speak to me? Is he angry? … Andso on.” Bhai Sahib used to sing these plaintive lines about the power of love:It is not a thoroughfare, there is only one way in;Once entered, I am helpless, I stay here;But you who are outside, look out!Think before entering how painful it is,Full of sorrow, to walk the lane of love!Mrs. Tweedie wondered, “How could he say, as he had again and again, that this is an effortless path?” But he alsorepeatedly said that surrender must be complete, she must be lost in the master: “If you smell the fragrance of a rose, sayhow sweetly art thou my Lord! If you taste a sweet thing, say how sweet art thou my Lord! … Thank! Thank! - go andthank him always, for everything; for good things, for difficulties, for everything. That is how you will progress! ”
Some explanations and sayings of Bhai Sahib
 
During her time with Bhai Sahib Mrs. Tweedie made detailed notes on his sayings and his explanations onvarious spiritual matters. Some of these are summarized here:
Creation and illusion :
The world is as you create it; if you say there is a ghost in that tree, then there will be onefor you. This is all manas (mind). But what
is
mind? Nothing. Mind is maya, illusion. In Sufi philosophy there are threemental activities or agents; mind, memory - acting through the mind, and unconsciousness (subconscious), where all thememories of the heart are kept - emotions and so on.
On samadhi (deep meditation) :
The memory does not work because mind has been suspended, and thoughmemory does not belong to the mind, strictly speaking, for it is a different centre, it still has to work through
 
the mind, andit too is suspended.
The primary locas (worlds) :
There is the
mirt 
loca on the physical plane, the
kama
loca of desire which is of thephysical body, and the
swarga
loca - heaven, the world where good deeds done in the physical body reap their rewards.These are the three locas from which one comes back into reincarnation and experiences the effects of karma. In the
mirt 
 loca, if we have a master, we can get rid of all desires, for the love of the master is also a loca, a
vasana
, which will leadyou beyond the locas of change.There are also four other locas in which there is neither birth nor death. According to desire or necessity one goesfrom one to another in a glorious body of light. So let us say that there are a total of seven locas.
The sheaths of the subtle body :
They are
annamayakosha
- the sheath of the physical body ;
 pranamayakosha
-the sheath of etheric energy ;
manamayakosha
- the sheath of the intellect ; the
gnamayakosha
- knowledge; and
anandamayakosha
- the sheath of the soul, bliss. All sheaths have to be removed before final enlightenment is reached.
On different levels of enlightenment:
Bahi Sahib said that realizing Atman is one thing. Realizing Brahman issomething else. So there are levels of enlightenment - and there is also
beyond 
enlightenment.
Spiritual differences between men and women :
Women do not reach the highest state in the same way as men.Men have a substance in the body that women do not have. It makes men absorb the very essence of the master. But menhave to control prakriti (primal matter) in themselves, and for this they are given certain practices (holding breath orinward breathing,
ghat pranayam
, and singing certain sentences in a certain way - to take the sexual power to the crownchakra. Women, because they are nearer to prakriti, are fertilized by that divine energy which they retain in the chakrasand, because of this, very few practices are needed. Women are taken up through the path of love, for love is a femininemystery. Viriya shakti is the creative energy of God. On the lowest plane it appears as seminal fluid in men, in women it ispreserved in the chakras. Bahi Sahib explained that he sometimes gave certain practices only to men (to the chagrin of Mrs. Tweedie), but for women it is only necessary to get rid of a greater attachment to maya; material things like children,possessions, security.Bodies, in general, are different - they need different kinds of nourishment; some need laughter, some needsolitude.
On depression:
“It is
snakalpa-vikalpa
, projections, distractions of the mind, restlessness of thought. The mind isbad and nothing has ever been solved by the mind… Depression is always the mind… It will come again and again, until