The Christlike Life of Lahiri Mahasaya
(This acclaimed autobiography presents a fascinating portrait of one of the great spiritual figures of our time Paramahansa Yogananda. A perennial best seller, the book was first published in 1946 and has been in continuous publication since it first appeared. The book is translated into 18 languages. It is widely regarded as a modern spiritual classic.)
(Cont. from last week)
"A Moslem should perform his namaj worship four times daily," the master pointed out. "Four times daily a Hindu should sit in meditation. A Christian should go down on his knees four times daily, praying to God and then reading the Bible."
With wise discernment the guru guided his followers into the paths of Bhakti (devotion), Karma (action), Jnana (wisdom), or Raja (royal or complete) Yogas, according to each man's natural tendencies. The master, who was slow to give his permission to devotees wishing to enter the formal path of monkhood, always cautioned them to first reflect well on the austerities of the monastic life.
The great guru taught his disciples to avoid theoretical discussion of the scriptures. "He only is wise who devotes himself to realizing, not reading only, the ancient revelations," he said. "Solve all your problems through meditation. Exchange unprofitable religious speculations for actual God-contact. Clear your mind of dogmatic theological debris; let in the fresh, healing waters of direct perception. Attune yourself to the active inner Guidance; the Divine Voice has the answer to every dilemma of life. Though man's ingenuity for getting himself into trouble appears to be endless, the Infinite Succor is no less resourceful."
The master's omnipresence was demonstrated one day before a group of disciples who were listening to his exposition of the Bhagavad Gita. As he was explaining the meaning of Kutastha Chaitanya or the Christ Consciousness in all vibratory creation, Lahiri Mahasaya suddenly gasped and cried out:
"I am drowning in the bodies of many souls off the coast of Japan!"
The next morning the chelas read a newspaper account of the death of many people whose ship had foundered the preceding day near Japan.
The distant disciples of Lahiri Mahasaya were often made aware of his enfolding presence. "I am ever with those who practice Kriya," he said consolingly to chelas who could not remain near him. "I will guide you to the Cosmic Home through your enlarging perceptions."
Swami Satyananda was told by a devotee that, unable to go to Benares, the man had nevertheless received precise Kriya initiation in a dream. Lahiri Mahasaya had appeared to instruct the chela in answer to his prayers.
If a disciple neglected any of his worldly obligations, the master would gently correct and discipline him.
"Lahiri Mahasaya's words were mild and healing, even when he was forced to speak openly of a chela's faults," Sri Yukteswar once told me. He added ruefully, "No disciple ever fled from our master's barbs." I could not help laughing, but I truthfully assured Sri Yukteswar that, sharp or not, his every word was music to my ears.
Lahiri Mahasaya carefully graded Kriya into four progressive initiations. He bestowed the three higher techniques only after the devotee had manifested definite spiritual progress. One day a certain chela, convinced that his worth was not being duly evaluated, gave voice to his discontent.
"Master," he said, "surely I am ready now for the second initiation."
At this moment the door opened to admit a humble disciple, Brinda Bhagat. He was a Benares postman.
"Brinda, sit by me here." The great guru smiled at him affectionately. "Tell me, are you ready for the second technique of Kriya?"
The little postman folded his hands in supplication. "Gurudeva," he said in alarm, "no more initiations, please! How can I assimilate any higher teachings? I have come today to ask your blessings, because the first divine Kriya has filled me with such intoxication that I cannot deliver my letters!"
"Already Brinda swims in the sea of Spirit." At these words from Lahiri Mahasaya, his other disciple hung his head.
"Master," he said, "I see I have been a poor workman, finding fault with my tools."
The postman, who was an uneducated man, later developed his insight through Kriya to such an extent that scholars occasionally sought his interpretation on involved scriptural points. Innocent alike of sin and syntax, little Brinda won renown in the domain of learned pundits.
Besides the numerous Benares disciples of Lahiri Mahasaya, hundreds came to him from distant parts of India. He himself traveled to Bengal on several occasions, visiting at the homes of the fathers-in-law of his two sons. Thus blessed by his presence, Bengal became honeycombed with small Kriya groups. Particularly in the districts of Krishnagar and Bishnupur, many silent devotees to this day have kept the invisible current of spiritual meditation flowing.
To be continued.
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