Yoga Book Reviews
July 12-29, 2023
Autobiography of a Yogi
Author: Paramahansa Yogananda (Jan 5, 1893 - Mar 7, 1952)
Genre: Yoga, Eastern Religion, Spirituality, Philosophy, Biography
Pages: 596 pages
Publisher: Self-Realization Fellowship
Publication date: January 1, 1946
Rating: (5 out of 5 stars)
Then and Now
Steve Jobs said that this is the one book he would recommend if he can only recommend one book. Another Transcendental Meditation teacher once remarked that for anyone who pursues the spiritual path, he should start with this book. I read this book in high school and I didn't really appreciate it at that time. Perhaps now is the time.
Summarizing Every Chapter
To ensure that I understood what I read, I summarized every chapter in my own words.
The author used hyper-literacy using proper but uncommon English words. These are either technical words or regular English words in the book whose meaning is not precise to me - thus looking it up and entering it here. This is also how I expand my vocabulary.
- anachronistic - belonging to an earlier period
- beguiling - charming in a deceptive way
- obstinate - being stubborn and not changing one's opinion or course of action
- veracious - from veritas, the truth or being truthful
- taciturn - reserved, few words eg. a taciturn man who communicates with facial expression
- pedantic - refers to an annoying person who finds small insignificant errors or use his expertise over something non-essential
- erudition - quality of great knowledge and learning
- lugubrious - looking or sounding sad and dismal
- alacrity - a cheerful willingness
- diffident - modest or shy due to lack of confidence
- sardonic - mocking, cynical
- genuflections - the act of bending the knee to show reverence or respect
- refulgent - shining brightly, radiant
- onerous - a task or duty so difficult that it is oppressive
- incredulous - unable to believe
- pithy - expressing an idea cleverly in a few words (pith of a fruit...the very essence of the fruit)
- pernicious - having a long-term harmful effect (e.g. air pollution)
- laconic - expresssion using a few words
- PY - Paramahansa Yogananda
- LM - Lahiri Mahasaya
- YG - Yukteshwar Giri
- MB - Mahavatar Babaji
- SK - Swami Kebalananda
01: My Parents and Early Life
The book didn't start at Paramahansa Yogananda's (PY) birth but from a previous life in the Himalayas. As a yogi, he can remember his past life even when he was an infant. He was born in Gorakhpur (hometown of renowned Nath yogi, Goraknath). He was one of 8 children. His father was a highly principled man and his mother was kind-hearted to those in need. Both were disciples of Lahiri Mahasaya. PY's birth until he grew up was looked over by Mahasaya. Mahasaya was PY's benefactor who healed and saved his life. One auspicious event, as PY was seated on his bed, he had a vision of Himalayan Saddhus. He once wished to have a boil on his arm - and it so happened. He realized that words with deep concentration of the mind is very powerful and have a manifesting effect. In another episode, he wished to acquire the 2 kites being flown by the neighbors. The kites were cut loose and both landed onto him. Through the deities, he is able to manifest things.
02: My Mother’s Death And The Mystic Amulet
PY's mother passed on with a message and a silver amulet for him. His mother knew right from the beginning that PY will be an influencial yogi through the blessings of Lahiri. PY's sojourn into the Himalayas would be inevitable.
03: The Saint With Two Bodies
PY went to Benares with instruction from his father to see Swami Pranabananda. The swami, while being with PY, also appeared to another person 30 mins away, at the same time. The swami explained that to yogis, the oneness of the external world is evident - thus he can be in 2 places at the same time.
The swami also underscored the importance of having a guru. He relayed that Lahiri intervened on his behalf twice - once in initiating him into Samadhi, and the other one in allowing him to get an early pension.
04: My Interrupted Flight Toward The Himalayas
With 2 other friends, PY stowed away to the Himalayas to find the master whose face he sees in his visions. But upon reaching Hardwar, the trip was foiled by the police on behest of his older brother.
The police narrated a recent event - that they mistook a sadhu for a criminal and axed his arm off. The sadhu put the arm back with no marks or scars.
Back in Calcutta, the home of PY's family, to satiate PY's hunger for spiritualism and to make him stay in the house until after high school, the father sent Swami Kebalananda (SK) to tutor PY in Sanskrit. Unbeknownst to the father, SK was an exalted disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya (LM). SK added fuel to the fire in PY to head to the Himalayas.
SK relayed to PY some of LM's miracles - making a blind man see, investigating (into the other realms) before dispensing an answer. To every problem, LM would always prescribe Kriya yoga.
05: A 'Perfume Saint' Displays His Wonders
PY met Gandha Baba, the Perfume Saint who could produce objects and the fragrance of any flower as if by magic. PY deduced that the Baba was manipulating the vibratory variation of matter to alter its properties. His power however, had no spiritual significance and thus nothing more than entertainment.
He also met wise sages. Some eloquent concepts (with my take on it):
"We cannot know reality as it really is unless we go beyond our own pretensions, most of which we're not even aware of. Most of this overthinking and pontification are world-delusions. Best to just do what you need to do in the here and now. If you need to brush your teeth, then don't think about ascension...just brush your teeth."
"Humanity is inter-connected with one another thru its universal selfish motives - this serves as its common denominator to communicate. Selfishness is a given and thus should be expected and factored in."
Despite meeting such men of power and influence, PY was not impressed and continued to long for his guru, whom he has never met yet.
06: The Tiger Swami
PY and a friend visited a reknowned Swami who used to battle with wild tigers with his bare hands. The Swami narrated that it's not all muscle but equally a strong mind - an unwavering resolve that he can indeed vanquish a tiger. Having this innate desire to fight a tiger even as a child, he trained his body and mind to be strong and powerful. Indeed, he fought tigers and became a celebrity. Intoxicated pride and ambition clouded his judgement that he even subdued the tigers with ridicule and boast. He received a warning from a saint that unless he stops, a tiger will nearly kill him at the end. He took no heed. But it happened when he was placed in an arena with a wild and savage tiger, in front of the viewing public. He won but he almost died.
Upon recuperation, his thinking shifted and realized that the guru was right. Soon after, the guru showed up and taught the Tiger Swami how to battle with tigers that lie within men's hearts. They went to the Himalayas where the Tiger Swami was taught yoga.
07: The Levitating Saint
PY knew of Bhaduri Mahasaya, a saint who could levitate and cause a thundering storm just by performing Bhastrika pranayama. He is known too for his wit and humor in his lectures. This saint hasn't left his house in 20 years and known to the beggars for his kindness. He held regular sits with his disciples where he gives Dhamma talks. He receives guests on appointment but this is done to protect the guests who could be powerful people who cannot endure candor pointing to their delusions.
08: India’s Great Scientist, J.C. Bose
J.C. Bose was a physicist and botanist who was knighted for his inventions. His wireless inventions predates Marconi (although Marconi got the recognition) and his crescograph had magnification far exceeding the then-microscope of the time. The graphs generated by his crescograph revealed that plants have a sensitive nervous system - they are capable of love, pain and fear. They react like humans to stimuli, in ways that could be seen through increased magnification. He further discovered that even metals respond to stimuli. He saw the connectivity of everything, that even inorganic matter has life.
09: The Blissful Devotee And His Cosmic Romance
PY was assured by the Divine Mother that he is loved - this happened through the intervention of Bhaduri Mahasaya, whom PY has been spending time with. PY saw Mahasaya's devotion to his guru, Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa. After a disappointing movie, Mahasaha treated PY to a different kind of movie. He tapped PY on the chest and suddenly, PY was in suspended animation as he saw 360° from where he was standing. He saw everything but everything turned silent. The noisy street of Calcutta was without sound. Friends could not see him. Another tap on his chest and he returned to the default world. Mahasaya performed many such super feats. Mahasaya told PY that PY will soon meet his guru. Despite the congenial relationship, Mahasaya would not be PY's guru.
10: I Meet My Master, Sri Yukteswar
PY would often cut classes and find himself in the cemetary where he experiences solace. He was aided by a friend in passing his High school exam. Now, he was ready to make the journey to the Himalayas. But first, he stayed in an Ashram in Varanasi (then called Benares) under Swami Dyananda. To comply, he was told to not accept any more of his father's money (it's not needed in the ashram) and to stop complaining about being hungry. He learned that even if he is hungry and there is no food, the divine will provide the nourishment. This concept gave him solace in the many years ahead when there was no food.
While doing errands in the market, he finally saw his guru...the same face he saw in his visions - Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri (YG). He received instructions to return to Calcutta to his family and return to Yukteswar in 1 month in his ashram in Serampore.
11: Two Penniless Boys In Brindaban
PY and his friend, Jitendra, stayed in Agra at Ananta's (PY's older brother who never approved of his spiritual sojourn) new home. Ananta and PY made a wager that PY and Jitendra would go to Brindaban with no money and rely solely on the charity of God without begging.
On the train to Brindaban, they met 2 gentlemen who invited them as replacements to royal guests who could not make it. At an ashram, they were lavished meals fit for princes.
AFter, they met Pratap who insisted PY was his long-sought guru. PY initiated him into Kriya Yoga. Pratap purchased food and 2 tickets for Agra for the 2.
PY and Jitendra reached Agra before 12 midnight and thereby winning the wager. Ananta was astonished, and true to promise, took his younger brother to be his guru. Ananta was initiated into Kriya Yoga. "Guru PY", in one day, initiated 2 people who were now his disciples.
They visited the Taj Majal and set forth to Serampore. En route, Jitendra changed his mind and bailed in Calcutta to be reunited with his family. Finally, PY was at the gates of his guru, where he will stay in the next 10 years.
12: Years In My Master’s Hermitage
PY vowed obedience to his guru, Sri Yukteswar. His first mandate was for PY to go back to Calcutta to finish college. PY was destined to go to America and he will be in better standing if he has a university degree. While in Calcutta, PY would be welcome to come anytime to the hermitage which used to be an ancestral mansion to YG's family.
PY asked one condition, and that Yukteswar reveal God to PY. It was not a light task, as Yukteswar would now have to summon God for PY. But YG acquiesced.
Early lessons from YG was to look fear in the face and fear will go away. 2nd lesson was to get something ugly so you don't get attached to it. I disagree. I'd rather have the best knowing fully well it's only temporary and will soon go away. It's the awareness to impermanence that counts, and not the aversion. 3rd lesson was to teach someone who is still young as they are easier to mold.
PY slept in the ashram the first night. The following day before his departure, he was initiated into Kriya Yoga. He experienced ecstatic bliss in the process.
He was reuntied with his family back in Calcutta where he continued his studies. But for the most part, he was at the ashram and seldom at the school campus. Life at the ashram was predictable - morning walk along the Ganga, bathe, vegetarian lunch, visitors in the afternoon, 8pm dinner and discourses in the quiet evenings. This can extend into a night-long philosophical discussions.
YG treats everyone the same way, rich or poor. Anyone still around at 8 is invited for dinner. He was generous as he was economical.
It's interesting to note that YG condones the killing of a mosquito. Even though Patanjali advocates Yama, the Veda also counters that the loss of a human life is a serious transgression of the karmic law. Since mosquitos are liable to carry dengue, then swatting it is justified to prevent contracting the sickness and possibly die from it.
Once, YG welcomed a cobra to slither through his legs before disappearing. YG healed people including PY who became alarmingly thin.
Lesson from LM: thought is a force like gravity or electricity. If you think you will get sick, then this thought will actually make you sick even if there is no reason for you to get sick. Even if you are already sick, think that this sickness cannot exist, and it will go away. (Careful what you think of!!!
YG saw in PY's thoughts (this 'invasion' of thought was with permission), 3 architectural plans. He said they will come true - and they all did at some point. YG's 'prophecies' never failed. He would not perform miracles and only hint at his intention, but his will did everything to make the miracle happen - he keeps a low profile of what he is capable of. He will not 'twist an arm' by using his supernatural power. While YG's head is into the divine, he was always grounded and practical. He doesn't order his disciples around as they already volunteer to do routine tasks. If one forgets to wash his clothes, YG does it himself. Every moment spent with him, knowledge is transmitted, verbally or otherwise. He spoke fluent English, French, Hindi and Bengali. He espouses the merits of both East and West and find a symbiosis to their fusion. He was a tough disciplinarian - even the slightest shortcoming was noticed. Disciples come and go, often not able to endure the harsh training...for their ego.
He takes good care of his body, appreciating that the divine transmits at the physical levels too, thus the body must be clean, optimized and healthy. He often says to give the body its due (healthy food, enough sleep, ample water, etc) but not no more (cosmetic enhances, vanity touches, etc.).
YG is independently financing his ashram and asks no one for money. Thus, he can speak his mind to anyone and everyone - especially those who think too highly of themselves. PY feels that if not for YG's irreverence to the pontifical ones, he could have been a rock-star guru, or an emperor or a famous household word.
13: The Sleepless Saint
When PY asked to leave for the Himalayas after only 6 months in the ashram, he was told by YG that going to an inert mountain cannot produce Godhead, but being with a realized man can (being with YG). PY took no heed and went on with his journey. First, he went to Ranbajpur in search of a swami, Ram Gopal Babu, known as the sleepless saint and a devotee of Lahiri Mahasaya. When they met, the swami chasticed PY for not bowing before the sacred stone in Tarakeswar - that he was too proud and thus punished to be lost. The swami advised PY to go back to his guru and that the mountain cannot help him. He asked the swami for Samadhi which was denied - it wasn't for the swami to dispense of, but YG. Moreover, PY's body wasn't strong enough for such high voltage of energy. In not sleeping, the swami said everything, not just the muscles, are in a state of complete animated suspension - it's much better than sleep. After being healed of his back problem, PY left but made a short visit to the sacred stone and prostrated himself.
14: An Experience In Cosmic Consciousness
There was no rebuke from YG upon YP's return to the ashram. With a tap on his chest, YP experienced Samadhi. PY experienced the universal connection - he saw in all directions, even through solid objects. He felt everything...roots of plants, cause and effect, expansion into infinity. Amrita flowed and the sound of OM reverberated. He was experiencing the 'liberating shock of omnipresence'. And suddenly, all that ecstacy vanished and he was back in his body in this default world. This time, he felt that the body was a prison that confined him from infinite expansion. YG warned PY not to get attached with ecstacy - that there is more work to be done - the lesson was that enlightenment and housework go hand in hand (wash dishes before enlightenment, then enlightenment, then go back washing dishes).
After the Samadhi experience, PY realized that this experience of Cosmic Consciousness is only for those who are already prepared...in a strong mind and in deep practice. Intellectual openness is not enough.
YG taught PY how to generate Samadhi at will and to transmit it to someone else, if that someone is already ready.
When PY asked YG again when he can see God, YG stated that in Samadhi, he already saw God. That God is not the bearded entity.
15: The Cauliflower Robbery
YP gifted 6 cauliflowers to YG. One was stolen on the mental instrucion of YG. YP concluded that man is a transmiter like a radio station, and also a receiver like a radio. If a guru transmits a message to another, the message will come to him as a 'hunch' or a compelling desire, depending on the guru's power. As the guru transmits, the other receives. Thought patterns can be transmitted to another person this way. If both parties are adepts, the transmission and reception will be mental telepathy or a non-verbal communication.
16: Outwitting The Stars
(Jul 15, 2023)
Pure metals have a unique way of neutralizing the negative pull of the celestial bodies, in the same way that grounding redirects electrical surges back to the earth. Man and the universe have this co-dependent interplay with each other. The more realized a man is, the less the celestial bodies can influence him.
YG advised PY to wear an astrological armlet no matter if he believes in astrology or not. YG advised PY that the planets will put him in a negative play which will give him liver problems for 6 months. However, if PY wears an arm bangle made with silver and lead, the malady will only last 24 days.
Birth (conception?) happens on the day when the celestial bodies are in harmony with the person's karma. The past cannot be undone, but the future remains not a certainty but a probability. It is in man's power to change his destiny.
Man has a karmic path that needs to be traveled - and it takes as long as it takes. But the wise rishis found a way to 'short cut' this path. This could be through meditation, physical amulets, prayer, unshakable resolve, and consultation with saints.
There are 4 ages (Yuga) that go in cycle - Satya, Treta, Dwapara and Kali yuga.
YG explained that the apple in the Adam and Eve story is not literally the apple but indulging in sex - everything else was fair game in paradise but not sex (this doesn't make sense to me. If sex was not permitted, why create Eve in the first place?). Adam was reason and Eve was feeling - together, they shape the further history of humanity. Man was not evolved from beasts but a divine creation - man is special (I find this very dangerous. I've met someone of a different faith who claimed that the earth was solely for the use of man....because man is special. The ramification is that animals are just for human consumption. The mountains and the forests produce wood for man's shelter, so deforestation is ok. I'm not sure if YG was simply explaining Genesis or if he actually bought this eye-rolling narrative. I find the DNA-splicing of primates to become human, by extra-terrestrials, more plausible than this 'God intervention' thing.)
17: Sasi And The Three Sapphires
(Jul 16, 2023) Dr. Narayan Chunder Roy, a veterinary surgeon and a confirmed agnostic, agreed to see YG (with tongue in cheek). Nothing remarkable transpired, but YG knew the doctor was dying. He extended the life by 6 months on the plea of PY. The obstinate doctor refused YG's advice of not eating meat, and after 6 months, the doctor was dead.
Sasi, a friend of YP who had become a fond devotee of YG, would suffer TB but refused to heed YG's advice. In the dead, he was dying and prostrated himself with the guru asking for his life back...which he did. But despite that intervention, Sasi didn't visit YG.
PY finished the first 2 years of college in Calcutta. YG intervened to have PY finish his A.B. in Serampore where the ashram is located. This brings PY closer to YG.
18: A Mohammedan Wonder-Worker
(Jul 16, 2023) Afzal Khan, a Muslim yogi, once performed miracles to YG. As a genesis, Afzal gave water to a thirsty yogi, who gave him command of an invisible realm - on condition it should not be used for selfish reasons. Afzal performed the prescribed yoga for 20 years and his fame as a miracle worker grew. He was always accompanied by an invisible dis-embodied spirit named Hazrat who manifests the bidding of Afzal. But Azfal was a pathological thief, a character from his past life. He started using his powers by stealing - anything he touches soon disappears. There was nothing saintly about Afzal. He was an ordinary man given access to an astral realm where manifestation happens - mortals usually access this place when they die. He had a 'helper' Hazrat who did his bidding. The Hindu yogi appeared again, in disguise. When Afzal tried to rob him, his power was taken away from him. He repented. Hazrat would only then help him if he needed clothing and food.
19: My Master, In Calcutta, Appears In Serampore
(Jul 16, 2023) YG appeared before PY in Sempore (when he was still in Calcutta) to say that YG was commanded by a higher-up to let PY see this apparition - that it is rare to humans. YG also instructed PY to meet him at the train station. Then he disappeared into thin air. True enough, YG arrived at the train station as stated.
The same message was transmitted to PY's friend, but he didn't get it - his mind has too much clutter to discern divine message from cobwebs.
20: We Do Not Visit Kashmir
(Jul 16, 2023) PY planned on a trip to Kashmir with YG and some friends but YG would not go, and all the replacements were a no-go. YG discouraged PY from going. That evening, PY got ill. YG told him that's the reason why he should not make the trip - that he would have fallen ill while in transit. Again, YG seem to see the future and make plans accordingly, but in subtle ways - not upfront.
21: We Visit Kashmir
(Jul 16, 2023)
YG finally agreed to go to the Himalayas with PY and friends. In Simla, they ate strawberries - PY didn't like them. YG stated that in the far future, when PY is already in America, he will be served strawberries and he would like it. Sure enough, it happened many years later (with this kind of pre-destination, where does free will come into play? It's not only PY's free will but everyone else's who essentially conspired to make the prophecy happen.).
Finally, they reached Srinagar in Kashmir (Kashmir is in Pakistan now where border dispute with India destroys the citizens of Kashmir and their lives. But then, it was still India and Kashmir was a beautiful place.). They enjoyed the vista the Himalayan mountain range offered, the food, the pristine lakes, and the differentness of everything. PY found the Hindus of Kashmir to look almost like European caucasians - beautiful, blonde and blue eyes
PY returned to Serampore while YG stayed in Kashmir. YG hinted that he might die in Kashmir. PY begged this not to happen. Thus, YG recovered after falling ill in Kashmir.
A master can carry the burden of bad karma of some students. And this can weight heavy on the master, sometimes costing them their lives (I keep encountering this concept - that bad karma can be paid for by someone else. I would still like to think that karma is an intimately personal debt the debtor has to pay for himself...that it's an immutable debt that must be paid by the debtor and no one else. That it's a debt you cannot escape...not even by dying will you escape such debt). The Master's body can wither, but the mind remains unwavering and strong. A Master who finally makes it as a 'Made Man' (in Mafia terms, this means you made the grade and promoted), no longer cares about his body and can use it to alleviate the sufferings of others by assuming them (through spiritual means, intellectual counsel, sheer will power or transfer of disease). A Master can heal without incurring the disease. But at times, he may voluntarily assume the physical disease. Christ, given his powers, could have averted the crucificion, but chose not to, to purify the sins of his disciples. Only self-realized Masters can do this. The acid test of a true master is not through memorization of the scriptures or withstanding pain for others, but in being able to do Kevala kumbhaka at will - this means he has transcended the duality or delusion of reality (I guess you'll never experience Kevala Kumbhaka unless you experience Samadhi).
22: The Heart Of A Stone Image
(Jul 16, 2023) PY's sister, Roma, asked him to talk to her husband about his materialistic ways. The 3 of them went to a temple where PY pleaded to the Mother Goddess to reform the husband - she agreed. From that day on, the husband was transformed into a devotee. They both died not far apart from each other.
23: I Receive My University Degree
(Jul 16, 2023) Against all odds, PY pass all the exams and garnered a university degree- A.B. This happened only because of Divine intervention - he was given Romel as a tutor, the passing score was lowered, and Romel seemed to have a clairvoyant vision into all the questions.
24: I Become A Monk Of The Swami Order
(Jul 16, 2023)
Upon graduation, PY was offered a lucrative job at the railway company. He refused so that he can be ordained as a swami by his guru. The specter of marrying and becoming a householder was not even a consideration for PY. With that, Mukunda Lal Ghosh, became Yogananda of the Giri branch of the Swami Order.
All swamis come from one lineage - Shankaracharya. It is a long line of continuous tradition. Only a swami can initiate a person into a swami. No man otherwise can use that title. There are 10 branches or orders in the Swami Order. As a swami, one is expected to renunciate all personal ties, ambitions and be in the service of humanity. He is always in union with the Spirit.
YG is both a swami and a yogi. Not all swamis are yogis. A yogi submits himself to the rigorous training of uniting body, mind and spirit through asana, paranayama and meditation.
Yoga falls in one of the 6 systems of Hindu philosophy. Man's libertion must include the realization that there is no duality. Patanjali's Yoga Sutras is one such yoga discipline having 8 limbs or ladder rungs towards self realization. Compared to a swami, a yogi is more comprehensive and accessible - anyone can practice yoga. Even Westerners could be yogis without them knowing it - it's how they practice their concentration of mind and reach oneness with the Divine. But Westerners who criticize yoga were never its practitioners - something akin to trashing a movie when they haven't seen the movie but the trailer.
25: Brother Ananta And Sister Nalini
(Jul 16, 2023) PY had a premonition of his brother, Ananta's death, before it happened. Nalini was once very thin and nothing seemed to work. She asked PY to initiate her into Kriya Yoga in the hope she will gain weight. Through the pronouncement of PY, she did. She got sick again and got close to dying. YG's intervention with his blessings and amulet saved her. MOreover, he pronounced that she'll bear 2 daughters - something the doctors said was impossible. But it did happen.
26: The Science Of Kriya Yoga
(Jul 16, 2023)
Kriya Yoga means union with the Divine through action or rite. The blood is purified and recharged with extra oxygen (sounds like Pranayama to me). This stimulates the brain and the spine. Ultimately, the cells are rejuvenated (vitality, youth, resistance to disease) until it is tranmuted into pure energy. This allows the yogi to dematerialize at will.
Through the breath, prana is controlled. When prana is controlled, the mind is controlled. Thus, breathing gains control of the mind.
The lineage begins with the revival of the lost practice from the Dark Ages by Mahavatar Babaji, passed on to Lahiri Mahasaya, then to Sri Yukteswar Giri and now to PY. Even Patanjali cited self-realization through Kriya Yoga in terms of the OM Mantra and Pranayama.
Human evolution is quickened through the breath. Energy (prana) becomes steady as it goes through the energy hubs along the spine (chakra). What will take nature a million years in human evolution, Kriya yoga accomplishes in 3 years (3 years to enlightenment when done right). When a yogi who dies before becoming self-realized, earns parami (merits) that gets passed on to the next life (I find this evident in me. When yoga was initially introduced to me, I took off with it and made it my own without any struggle - like a child who rode a bicycle the first time with no training wheels. I've always attributed that to merits from a previous life - maybe I was a yogi then).
A normal body cannot withstand the powerful surge of awakened sleeping energy (Kundalini Shakti). Thus he must fortify his body/mind/spirit through yoga to gain incremental fortification in preparation for that surge (I believe I already experienced that 'surge'. Yes, it was indeed so powerful, I had to call it the Superman Effect).
When man is unaware of body and breath during sleep, then sleep provides a rejuvenating benefit. By letting go, the cosmic processes take place (where dream reality does not conform to physics), thus a sleeping man becomes a yogi, free from the 'box'.
Kriya yoga provides a much deeper benefit of sleep through Yoga nidra - the body falls asleep but the mind remains awake. A Kriya yogi can turn his 5 sensory perceptions on or off (Pratyahara).
A devotee who practices Kriya Yoga can avoid the slow, gradual process of learning from his mistakes. To the devotee, who is wise and has a strong sense of purpose, this process is too slow. They can instead use Kriya Yoga to connect with their soul and receive guidance from it. This allows them to bypass the slow process of learning from their actions that are motivated by self-interest and instead, live a life that is more aligned with their soul's purpose.
The yogi who practices Kriya Yoga can free himself from the limitations of the physical body and mind. This is because Kriya Yoga is a method of spiritual inquiry that allows the yogi to connect with his soul. When the yogi is connected with their soul, they are no longer bound by the laws of nature or the limitations of their physical body.
Detachment from physical desires in the practice of Kriya Yoga is essential.
27: Founding A Yoga School At Ranchi
(Jul 17, 2023)
*** some passages were copied-and-pasted into AI for an easier read, then I summarized the translation.
PY founded the Brahmacharya Vidyalaya, a school for boys in Ranchi, India. Despite his reluctance for organizational work, he was persuaded by YG to spread his knowledge. He started out with 7 students which grew to 100. There were many challenges but eventually, the school became a successful institution.
Brahmacharya Vidyalaya was founded on the principles that education should not only be about academic achievement, but also about developing moral and spiritual values.
28: Kashi, Reborn And Rediscovered
(Jul 17, 2023) PY answered a devotee's question by saying he will soon die. The student, Kashi, requested that PY look for him in the next life and take him back to the spiritual path. Reluctantly, PY acquiesced. Not too long later, Kashi died. PY, true to his promise, used all his yogic powers to find the astral whereabouts of Kashi. Using his 3rd Eye, with raised arms, he turned around, 360 degrees like a radar in search of Kashi's soul. It took 6 months of daily search until PY received a transmission from Kashi. He found the expectant mother and kept touch until Kashi was reborn. He instructed Kashi, as an adult, to go to a Himalayan yogi who will be his guru.
29: Rabindranath Tagore And I Compare Schools
(Jul 17, 2023)
PY recounts his meeting with the renowned Bengali poet and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore. The two men discuss their respective educational philosophies, with Tagore emphasizing the importance of creativity and self-expression, and Yogananda stressing the value of discipline and spiritual development.
Yogananda describes his own school, the Brahmacharya Vidyalaya, which he founded in Ranchi, India. The school's curriculum includes academic subjects, as well as yoga, meditation, and other spiritual practices. Yogananda believes that these holistic educational methods help students develop their full potential, both intellectually and spiritually.
Tagore is impressed by Yogananda's school, and the two men agree that there is room for both their approaches in education. Tagore says, "The schools of the East and West must unite," and Yogananda adds, "The future belongs to synthesis."
The chapter concludes with a discussion of the similarities between the rishis of ancient India and the great scientists of the modern world. Yogananda says, "The rishis were scientists of the Infinite; the modern scientists are scientists of the finite." He believes that both groups are working to understand the nature of reality, and that their work is complementary.
This chapter provides a fascinating glimpse into the educational philosophies of PY and Rabindranath Tagore. The chapter also highlights the similarities between the ancient rishis and the modern scientists, and it suggests that both groups are working towards a common goal: to understand the nature of reality.
30: The Law Of Miracles
(Jul 17, 2023)
Three hermits had an overly simple prayer, "We are 3, you are 3. Have mercy on us". As simple as their prayer was, they performed miracles. How do miracles come about?
The law of physics is founded on polarity - negative/positive, push/pull, etc. The Cosmic law is one of inter-connectedness or singularity. Consciousness is closely associated with the material world. The material world is nothing more than a physical manifestation of consciousness. Any man can tap into this singularity through practice - right thought, right action and right feeling.
By shifting our consciousness and having a deeper understanding of reality, one can tap into this hidden realm of miracles. Miracles have their own laws too - a higher natural law not commonly known to the lay man. One just needs to be compliant to these laws, the results are predictable because again, miracles comply to their own laws.
PY encourages man to transcend his limiting beliefs and accept miracles as a fact of life - accessible to everyone through practice.
31: Srimati Kashi Moni: An Interview With LM's Consort
(Jul 19, 2023)
PY was in Benares and went to see Lahiri Mahasaya's (LM) beloved consort, Srimati Kashi Moni to ask her details of her life she'd like to share. All the while she was with LM, she didn't know he was enlightened. When she realized, she asked to be her disciple. She was intitiated into Kriya Yoga and experienced what might be called Samadhi. From that time on, they never had sex and she noticed he never slept - always in the company of his disciples. Once, she asked LM for more family support. She was rebuked but support was given through a disciple.
LM performed many miracles for his followers:
32: Rama Is Raised From The Dead
(Jul 19, 2023) YG told PY how LM once resurrected Rama, a friend of YG, from the dead. With 7 drops of an oil lamp, the dead Rama was revived and came back to life. LM exclaimed that he didn't want to interfere with the doctors so he allowed the doctors to do their thing until Rama died. When the doctors were done, that's when LM resurrected Rama. The Supreme Soul can heal, doctor or no doctor.
33: Babaji, The Yogi-Christ Of Modern India
(Jul 19, 2023) Mahavatar Babaji (MB), the guru of LM, has been living in the Himalayas for hundreds, if not thousands of years. He is considered "descended Divinity walking amongst us as man". MB is beyond human comprehension.
3 Levels of Spiritual Attainment
Christ and Krishna were here to accomplish a task and they were gone. Babaji on the other, had to look after the slow evolution of man, thus his presence over the centuries. He is still obscure with no historical veracity because he needs no publicity.
Swami Kebalananda narrated tales of Babaji. He spent time with Babaji up in the Himalayas where he keeps a small group of immortal disciples, 2 of them were advanced Americans. Once, on a campfire, he put a burn on a disciple's shoulder and it burned him. With that, the disciple's fate of buring in the fire for his karmic sins has been spared. On another incident, a mountaineer showed up in Babaji's camp and asked to be initiated or he will jump to his death. Babaji said no and the man jumped to his death. The disciples were asked to bring the body back to him where Babaji resurrected the man and initiated him, having passed the test. He then became part of this exclusive circle. Soon after, they all disappeared.
Babaji performs miracles not for his glory but for man to aspire for the divine - that man's mortality can be transcended.
Ram Gopal narrated a privileged Babaji incident. On a campfire at midnight, he was asked by Babaji to go by a river bank and wait. He did so. A large slab of stone lifted up and out came Mataji, Babaji's sister. She said Babaji and LM would arrive shortly as they need to discuss something important. Soon after, Babaji and LM emanated from thin air. Mataji implored upon Babaji never to relinquish his human form. Babaji affirmed. Thus Babaji will continue to remain with humankind for as long as it takes.
There seems to be a hidden divine plan for earth.
34: Materializing A Palace In The Himalayas
(Jul 19, 2023)
Swami Kebalananda talked about the first meeting between Mahavatar Babaji MB and Lahiri Mahasaya LM. At 33 years old in 1861, while working as an accountant for the military government, LM was instructed to be stationed 500 km away into the Himalayas. After 30 days on horse and buggy, he reached it. On a hike, he came upon a young man on a cave who looked like him - he was Babaji. MB said that it was he who summoned LM to the Himalayas - when one is united with mankind, all minds become transmitters for messages. It was an example of telepathic messaging which could be received as a strong compulsion or a hunch.
MB lightly touched LM's forehead to make him remember that in his previous life, he was seated on one of the corners of the cave as a saddhu. LM remembered and prostrated himself before his guru's feet. MB relayed how he swept the astral plains looking for the soul of his disciple, and when found, been guiding him from womb until now. For purification, LM was asked to drink oil and lie down on the river. LM felt a radiance within after drinking the oil. Past incarnations were remembered. He was awakened by another person who guided him through the jungle where he saw a luminous palace of gold, bedecked by jewels and precious stones. There were spiritual people in the palace too. In the palace, he met Babaji who initiated him to Kriya Yoga.
After the ritual, the palace was gone. Babaji was holding the palace in his thoughts for its existence. When the palace served its purpose, Babaji released his thought on the palace and the palace dissolved out of existence in the same way a dream dissolves when the dreamer wakes up. However, while the palace existed, it was as real as reality...not just a dream. Even though it was not built by man...but by a powerful thought. Man has this capacity.
It was explained that the palace was a thought transformed into matter. Material things can be manifested through consciousness. Even the substance of a dream is held in existence by the thought of the dreamer. When the dreamer awakes, that thought is broken and the dream, as real as it felt, dissolves out of existence. Thus, even earth and all its life forms are a transmuted energy created by divine thought - that can dissolve in the same way a dream is dissolved.
On an earthen jar, LM's choice of food emanated. When he needed water, the food transformed into water.
Babaji put his hand on LM's head and LM went into Nirbikalpa samadhi (the highest state of Samadhi) for the next 7 days where he experienced the realm of all realities (man's reality is one of an infinite). All limitations were lifted and eternal expanse was experienced. On the 8th day, LM came out of Samadhi.
LM cannot join Babaji's merry band of disciples in the Himalayas. MB told LM that LM must live life together with the general population and be the perfect example of a yogi-householder. LM will serve as an inspiration to the countless householder/seekers who do not have the privilege to live in the Himalayas with the Masters.
Upon his return to his job, he summoned Babaji to impress upon his incredulous friends on the veracity of his Himalayan adventures. Babaji appeared but reprimanded LM not to call on Him on such trivial matters. Hence, Babaji will only appear when needed and not when just called upon.
Once when LM felt condescending about an ignorant sadhu, Babaji appeared washing the feet of a lowly sadhu, a pointed reminder to LM to remain humble and treat everyone equally - high and low people.
35: The Christlike Life Of Lahiri Mahasaya
(Jul 19, 2023)
According to PY, John the Baptist was Jesus' guru in a previous life. The bond of guru/disciple continues over several lifetimes, not unlike LM and MB.
Back in the default world, word has been spreading about the sainthood of LM. People from near and far arrive to see him and be initiated into Kriya yoga - not just Hindus but people of various faiths, from the obscure to the celebrity. His Kriya yoga was not a replacement for religion but to supplement it - Muslims continue to do their Muslim duties + Kriya. Same with Buddhists and Christians.
He discourages his disciples from theoretical discussion of the scriptures (the dogma), but instead, default into the actual practice - do the practice and don't lecture.
Meditate to solve all their problems - solutions are revealed through meditation. There is inner guidance in meditation.
Instead of jumping into monkhood, LM advises his disciples to first comply with the austerities of monkhood...and see if they have what it takes.
He would perform miracles every now and then while remaining humble and simple - a common man for all.
LM keeps cosmic contact with all practitioners of Kriya yoga so devotees who can't be with LM still feel his blessings.
There are 4 progressive levels of Kriya yoga. The student has to demonstrate spiritual progress to also access the higher forms of Kriya yoga.
LM disallowed the mass marketing of Kriya yoga. He wanted the practice to grow organically with practitioners being the best examples.
When LM retired from the job, he had more time to accept and see visitors to his home. He didn't sleep, breathe or blink his eyes (attaining Sambhabi Mudra). He could stop his pulse and also on an even keel.
LM did not write any book, but his lectures were documented and compiled by his disciples. To date, there exists commentaries on 26 ancient scriptures.
LM states that with devotion, our relationship with nature is symbiotic and not one of utility. We should live in harmony with nature and not use it for our consumption (e.g. deforestation to mine the wood).
The Law of Kriya yoga is inherently embedded to nature and life itself. Even if all the present knowledge of Kriya is lost, any true yogi who is devoted to God and lives in harmony with nature will inevitably rediscover the Laws of Kriya.
With the universal access to Kriya yoga, another way to unite with the divine is there.
36: Babaji’s Interest In The West
(Jul 20, 2023)
PY asked YG if he met Babaji. Yes, 3X. First one was in Kumbha Mela in January, 1894 at Allahabad. The event is a gathering of yogis, sadhus, saints and swamis once every 6 years along the Ganga River. YG was summoned by a saint (Babaji) and Babaji ordained him as a swami. Because of YG's enchantment with the West, he was told by Babaji that he will be instrumental in bridging the gap between East and West through a disciple (PY). MB also asked YG if he will write a book about the parallelism of Christianity and Hinduism, afterwhich, he will appear again to YG. YG was also tasked to tell LM that his time on earth is at hand. The whole time, YG was unaware it was Babaji - he thought it was just some saint.
Posterity. Babaji could have just telepathically messaged LM about his forthcoming end, but MB had to liase the message with YG for recorded posterity.
Ant and the sugar/sand. In that meeting, Babaji gave a moral lesson. Even though Kumbha Mela was wild and noisy with beggars and fake sadhus, one should not turn his back on the event because there remains true realized beings. Just as an ant will only pick sugar amongst sand, one should also focus his effort/attention to the realized beings. Sand and sugar are a given in life - deal with it wisely instead of turning your back on it.
The 2nd meeting was in a bathing ghat. Babaji together with his disciples appeared to YG, a fulfillment of a promise when the book was finished. The whole entourage disappeared abruptly.
The 3rd meeting was with LM. YG was advised to meditate more because his astral focus needed to be sharpened.
Shortly thereafter, LM passed on. His students had fond memories and stories of him, one of them, an advanced disciple, was Swami Keshabananda SK. A few days after LM died, he appeared before SK to say that LM will remain on earth with Babaji. LM also appeared after death to 2 more disciples.
37: I Go To America
(Jul 20, 2023)
As prophesized, America became a reality when PY received an invitation to serve as the delegate from India to the International Congress of Religious Liberals in America in Boston. He received blessings from YG and money from his Dad. PY was full of anxiety going to this far off land. It was at that point Babaji appeared before him to reassure PY - that his going to America was long in the making before his conception. This was the first time PY saw Babaji despite all the stories he heard about the deathless saint.
At the close of WWI, in August 1920, PY set sail for America on a 2-month voyage. He gave a lecture to some passengers which earned him invites to more lectures in America.
His lecture at the congress was well received. He even got praise for his English. He stayed 4 years in Boston giving lectures, teaching classes and writing poems. He toured, and eventually, founded his domain at the Mount Washington Estates in Los Angeles - the vision he once had in Kashmir.
Years passed as PY lectured in churches, classes, clubs, special interest groups, initiating 10s of thousands into Kriya Yoga.
38: Luther Burbank — A Saint Amidst The Roses
(Jul 20, 2023) PY met a horticulturist, Luther Burbank, who made an impression on him. He was told that plants need love too and that plants respond to love. They became friends and found common interest in child education, nature and the outdoors. Luther looks at humans as evolved plants, still requiring love, intelligent cross-breeding and selection, abundance of the great outdoors. They both agreed that schools should not just be for intellectual stimulation but fortification of body, spirit and feelings. It was a great loss for PY when Luther passed on.
39: Therese Neumann, The Catholic Stigmatist
(Jul 20, 2023)
After 15 years in America, PY received a telepathic message from YG urging him to come back to India as he was about to pass on. Before departure, he incorporated this educational institution, Self-Realization Fellowship so that all profits and donations are received by it instead. His expenses were donated by disciples.
In 1935, he set sail for India accompanied by 2 associates, Mr. Wright and Ms. Bletch. En route, he stopped by Bavaria to meet a great Catholic mystic, Therese Neumann. She suffered an accident which left her blind and paralyzed. But through her prayers to St. Teresa, she completely recovered and lived a saintly life - no food or drink. She also manifested stigmata in several parts of her body, essentially going into trance and undergoing the agony of the crucifixion. She sleeps only 2 hours/day. She also assumes the disease of other people she wants to heal.
They finally met. She lives through air, sun and ether - God's light. Weekly, she goes into trance and witness the Passion of Christ where her stigmata opens up and bleeds. She loses 10 percent of her body weight but regain it back. She looks forward to this weekly ritual.
PY saw all that as a testament to the historical existence of Christ and the divine nature between Godhead and humans.
PY was witness to her trance. He tuned-in to her with his inner sight and saw what Therese was seeing and what she was going through - the crucifixion.
The rest of the trip took them across Europe, the Middle East and finally back to India.
40: I Return To India
(Jul 20, 2023)
Finally, PY arrived in India where crowds gathered to welcome their own who has successfully braved America. Warm receptions were staged along the route from Bombay to Calcutta. PY was finally reunited with his family - tears flowed like water.
It was muted joy when PY met his guru, YG. Gifts from far off land were offered.
In Ranchi, he was well received by the students and staff. Collection efforts were made to keep the school running. Ranchi is not just a Kriya yoga school. The students learn first aid, sports and games, and involve themselves in humanitarian aid. Branches outside Calcutta were already established.
41: An Idyl In South India
(Jul 24, 2023)
With Mr. Wright, PY went to Mysore as a guest of the state where he delivered a lecture to thousands. The audience was most engaged about the East-West fusion of benefits.
Just north of Mysore is the biggest state, Hyderabad. From Hindu rulers back in the day to its current Muslim rulers. The area has the majestic Kailasa Temple of Ellora and rock-sculptured caves of Ajanta.
Hyderabad is also the seat of Mecca Masjid Mosque, where ten thousand Mohammedans may assemble for prayer.
Mysore State is 3k FASL, has dense tropical forests inhabited by wild elephants, bison, bears, panthers, and tigers. It has 2 major cities - Bangalore and Mysore, The Chennakesava Temple at Belur is the highest expression of Mysore architecture, construction and imagery.
The Pillars of King Asoka, left wisdom for humankind. It is located in northern Mysore.
In his invasion of India, Alexander the Great was enamored by its saints, yogis and holy men, that he tasked his people to take one to him.
Dandamis, a yogi from Taxila scornfully refused the offer saying he doesn't want anything that is of Alexander's, that he is content with what he has. With his non-possession, he is free to go where he wants to go and do what he wants to do without feeling the need to guard whatever he owns. Alexander can cut off the yogi's head, but Alexander cannot take his soul - all he'll have is a worthless tattered body. This scorn impressed Alexander more.
Eventually, he took one with him, Swami Sphines, also called Kalanos by the Greeks.
Emperor Chandragupta met Alexander the Great. He gave his empire to his son and led an ascetic life from thereon.
Mysore has many admirable men with admirable traits. One such was the legislator Manu. He developed the caste system which made sense - however, corrupting the system in current times made it a horrible fate for those beneath. Manu also developed a guideline for a king - that he should be benevolent to his people, collect taxes that people don't even feel, pervade the life of his subjects, justice for all (don't just punish the poor), and burn your enemies. In Manu's time, a rich man who hoards and does not share his wealth to the have-nots, are given a low rank in society.
This saint was known for his superpowers during ancient times. He never spoke a word and was always naked. He was said to be buried in mud from a quick flood. When his body was unearthed a few days after, he briskly walked away. When his arm was severed, he simply put it back on and messaged the wrong-doer not to act on his desires/instinct but reflect and do things aligned to his higher purpose. He once tranported the village children to a festival 150 miles away - and brought them back magically as well.
Mysore is rich with its history, its land and great men.
42: Last Days With My Guru
(Jul 24, 2023)
PY pleaded to YG to express his love for him. Reluctantly, YG did so with a few tears. PY needed that as a validation - to confirm that YG's silence on the matter is not out of dissatisfaction, but simply being reserved and self-contained. YG bestowed the title of Paramhansa (the highest swan) to PY, elevating him from swami. With that, YG expressed that his earthly job has been fulfilled, implying that his death is soon. All of YG's earthly matters were assigned to PY.
YG faced death with a knee-jerk hesitation. Yes, even for a saint who was wholly prepared for the event, he was still human. Analogy? A caged bird will have an initial hesitation leaving his unlocked cage.
PY left for Kumbha Mela despite YG's dying days - the heaven's wish to spare PY of witnessing his master's passing.
PY revelled at the Kumbha in Allahabad - loinclothed saints, shaven-headed swamis and naked sadhus of all kinds, maharajas on elephants, camels, deity worship, rituals, fakes and illuminated sages, etc. It was a Woodstock for yogis.
Many colorful characters. Krishnananda, a swami with a vegetarian lion, and Kara Patri a swami of exceptional intelligence.
After Khumba, PY headed to Agra then to Brindaban to Swami Keshabananda, a disciple of LM to fulfill his promise to YG to write a biography of Lahiri Mahasaya. LM's disciples were apprehensive about someone writing a life story of their guru knowing that no amount of words can do justice...that his life is just best remembered in the hearts of his disciples.
Keshabananda spent most of his life in the Himalayas living from one cave to another, sometimes encountering wild tigers who ignore him. His disciples helped him build the Brindaban ashram. Keshabananda recalled how he got lost in the mountains and ended up in Mahavatar Babaji's cave.
En route to Puri to see YG, he saw an apparition about YG's death. YG was 81.
43: The Resurrection Of Sri Yukteswar
(Jul 27/28, 2023)
In Bombay, as PY was leaving India, he saw an apparition of Krishna. But he didn't know what the message was. A week later, YG appeared to PY in flesh and blood - although it's an etheric body recreated by YG. He resurrected on an astral planet...which was a universe unto itself - Hiranyaloka. God sent him there to be a savior to its inhabitants who are much more spiritually evolved. There are many astral planets with different astral inhabitants. They travel using light mass - faster than electricity. The astral universe is much bigger than the physical universe. It also has its own astral celestial bodies. The astral universe is much cleaner, more pure and far more beautiful than our own cosmos.
Hiranyaloka is an evolved and higher astral planet. There are regular astral planets where the recently departed stay - they are now astral beings. There are also astral fairies, mermaids, goblins, spirits, animals and plants. They reside in their own astral planets according to their karmic balance sheet. It's its own universe with its set of laws and rules.
War also rages in the lower astral planes between devas and asuras (gods and demons). Instead of firearms, they use mantra as weapons. Inhabitants change their surroundings by will alone. One can will a mango tree to produce a fruit. Birth is by conscious will - so no woman needs to give birth.
Man has 3 bodies - physical, astral and causal. The existence of a body encasing the soul means there is unfulfilled desires. When the soul is liberated from desires, it also sheds the body.
There are 2 kinds of beings in the astral plane - those who are there temporarily but must go back to earth (a reincarnation) to pay their karmic debts. The 2nd are the ones who no longer have any materrial desires or longing on earth and therefore permanent residents of the astral plane and working to refine themselves to be 'promoted' to the causal plane.
Astral beings have a 6th sense which substitutes for all their 5 sensory organs. They can use their ears to taste, see and smell - it's ok to mix-match the functionality of all their senses. Communication is done through astral telepathy. In the astral planes, they meet their friends, relatives, loved ones, not just from the previous life but from all incarnations. They recognize each other intuitively. Astral beings live from 500 to 1000 years. When they die, they either go back to earth or be promoted to the higher causal plane - depends on their karmic balance sheet. A man who is sleeping and dreaming is in his astral state where his thoughts create reality (delta brain wave with REM).
The last body is the causal body. Causal beings will everything into existence, unlike man who simply imagines but cannot manifest his imaginings into physical reality. Some beings remain in causal form for thousands of years. But he still needs to shed the causal body to be liberated. Only when he is free from the 3 bodies does he become the Ever-Existent...almost like a God himself (perhaps this is what happens when yoga says Consciousness, the Universe and God become one). When a man is in a deep dreamless sleep (theta brain wave).
Those who already shed the 3 bodies and free from desires and longing are the liberated ones. They are free to come back to earth as physical prophets to help mankind evolve (eg Jesus). Others may choose to go back to the astral plane to help the astral beings to reach a 'causal' body (like YG). Still, others may choose the causal plane to help inhabitants become completely free.
YG assured PY that when he is in Nirbikalpa samadhi, he can call in YG and he will always appear.
44: With Mahatma Gandhi At Wardha
(Jul 28, 2023)
En route back to America in August 1935, PY, Miss Bletch and Mr. Wright arrived at Wardha, hermitage of Mahatma Gandhi, Mahatma meaning 'Great Soul'. As guests to the hermitage, PY's party was introduced to the 11 vows of the movement, as followed by Gandhi's followers - non stealing, non violence, celibacy, truth, etc. Gandhi can detach his mind from the senses - he once had an appendectomy without anaesthesia. One of Gandhi's noted disciples is Mirabai, daughter of an English admiral - she would do tasks only untouchables do, in order to dissolve her ego. When someone has idle time, they default to the charka or the spinning wheel, an iconic trademark synonymous now to Gandhi. It was Gandhi's effort to revitalize local cottage industries. PY and the Mahatma discussed America, Europe, India and global conditions. Gandhi was always busy with his followers and business at hand. His time was organized to the minute. There were a few cows in the premises - Gandhi's way to honor all falling below the human level.
3 Daily Rituals
There are 3 daily rituals observed in the hermitage - 1) offering of food to animals, 2) offering to the ancestors and 3) offering food to strangers and poor people.
Gandhi renounced his lucrative job in the service of his cause. YG once remarked that people who are already down and out cannot claim renunciation - because it's not by choice but by circumstance. A beggar cannot renounce wealth because he doesn't have any to begin with.
Kasturabai was Gandhi's wife who became his trusted disciple. She didn't complain about their lives as renunciates - Gandhi could no longer provide the comfort and convenience he once used to. After having kids, they remained celibate. She took on the task of being a wife to a political saint. She thanked him for treating her as an equal, and oddly, for taking God and country first before her. She was treasurer of the movement's public funds and accounted for every rupee.
Ahimsa, or non-violence is the cornerstone of Gandhi's peaceful movement for independence. He doesn't believe in war and asserts that matters can be negotiated by peaceful means. He would not even kill a cobra if it threatens his child - he will give the cobra loving vibes instead.
PY upon the request of Gandhi, taught Kriya Yoga to the devotees and Gandhi.
45: Ananda Moyi Ma: The Bengali "Joy-Permeated" Mother
(Jul 29, 2023) Before leaving India, PY's niece asked him to see the healing saint, Nirma Devi, aka Ananda Moyi Ma (Joy-Permeated Mother). Ananda Moyi Ma is almost always in a trance and neglects her body needs - her disciples hand-feed her. Her husband has become her disciple and he took a vow of silence. When Ananda Moyi Ma met with PY, she recognized him as her "father" from many lifetimes before. She was invited to Ranchi. She related to PY that throughout all her incarnations, she has always been "the same" - her essential being as the soul remains the same, no matter what happens to her, no matter the circumstance. She remained unattached to her lot - child, woman or wife, she was always the soul. Everything else was a morphing landscape.
46: Giri Bala: The Woman Yogi Who Never Eats
(Jul 29, 2023)
Leaving Ranchi, PY headed out to see Giri Bala, a saint who lives on air alone - she has not taken food or drink in the last 56 years. The trip by car to her place in Biur was arduous. Finally, Giri narrated that she once was a glutton for food and was humiliated and chastised by her mother in law. She prayed that a guru will teach her how to live on God's light instead of food. She was heard. She met a guru who initiated her to a kriya techinique using a mantra and a challenging pranayama where she can metabolise sunlight and air to substitute for food. From thereon, she hardly slept, meditating at night and doing household chores by day. She doesn't get sick and see her guru and other heavenly entities in her vision.
Asked why she would not teach the kriya technique, she said she was told not to. If man no longer needs food, he will no longer work and cannot live life the way he should. Karmic imperatives cannot take place. Struggle is part of existence to realize what man's purpose in this world is. Giri was given this gift as proof that man is essentially spirit.
47: I Return To The West
(Jul 29, 2023)
PY had to return to London in September, 1936 to fulfill a promise to lecture there. He did many lectures which were packed.
In October, they (w/ Mr. Wright and Ms. Bletch) set sail for America via the Liberty Statue. From New York, they took the Ford on a long drive to California. Christmas was a time of gift-giving the bounties from across the oceans - not just from India, but from Palestine, Belgium, Holland, Persia, Kashmir, etc.
Especially poignant was PY's gift to Mr. E. E. Dickinson, which was a silver cup. Many years back as he was drowning, Mr. Dickinson had a vision of Swami Vivekananda. Years later, he saw Vivekananda in the flesh. Mr. Dickinson was told that he will meet his guru in the future and his guru will gift him a silver cup (it wasn't explained in the book if the silver cup gift was spontaneous on the part of PY or if he had knowledge of its significance.).
48: Self-Realization Fellowship: At Encinitas In California
(Jul 29, 2023)
PY's staff gave him a surprise gift. While he was in India, they developed a 16-room hermitage in Encinitas. It was luxurious - a stately central hall, long flight of stairs, ceiling-high windows, ocean view, meditation caves, etc.
PY shuttled back and forth from LA to Encinitas doing lectures, meditation, Sunday services, classes, etc.
War was already brewing in 1941. War was an awakening for man. Air raid alarms were sounding and the world was bracing itself for the worst. In the midst of all this turmoil, the hallowed grounds of the hermitages remained a sea of tranquility - a spiritual refuge to calm the mind and spirit.
A few more Self-Realization churches were founded as the war raged - Boston, San Diego, Washington, D.C.
Finally, the war ended in August 15, 1945 and with it, the Atomic Age was ushered in.
Not a DIY Kriya Yoga Book
No, this is not a do-it-yourself book on Kriya Yoga. The book does not teach Kriya Yoga - you'll have to enroll in a Kriya yoga school or buy a Kriya Yoga manual. AS the book title says, this is an autobiography.
This book was hyper-literate, poetic, and sometimes difficult to understand - some sections are not a fast read. If it's too cryptic, I copy-paste the passages and ask A.I. to translate in common understandable English. A.I.'s response is actually multi-layered, going deeper into its interpretation beyond the literal words of the book.
E.g. "The devotee thus avoids the slow, evolutionary monitors of egoistic actions, good and bad, of common life, cumbrous and snail-like to the eagle hearts.".
AI Google Bard translates this to, "A devotee who practices Kriya Yoga can avoid the slow, gradual process of learning from his mistakes. To the devotee, who is wise and has a strong sense of purpose, this process is too slow. They can instead use Kriya Yoga to connect with their soul and receive guidance from it. This allows them to bypass the slow process of learning from their actions that are motivated by self-interest and instead, live a life that is more aligned with their soul's purpose.".
An Unfair Advantage
The author, apparently has been blessed by the divine right from the start, even from conception. His life was practically blueprinted already with predestination on his ultimate legacy for humanity. The synchronicities that happened along the way to guide him along the path was more like the Red Sea parting to show him the way. Not everyone is gifted by such divine help, but not everyone has also been given such huge task - spread Kriya Yoga to the western world.
My point being, be inspired, but don't expect to accomplish what he did by just reading a Kriya book.
Need for a Guru
As I was reading Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the book kept saying over and over that a guru is essential. My thinking was, since I'm reading a book and doing all the exercises written by the foremost authority in Hatha Yoga, Svatmarama Yogendra, then I couldn't be that far off. However, while reading the relationship of PY to YG, I realized just how essential a guru is...for indispensable guidelines that are not in the book (e.g., YG told YP to wear an arm amulet to deflect the negative effect of a celestial body. The malady happened but to a lesser degree as specifically described by YG. This kind of astrological information/advice is not in the books), and also for blessings that catapult the disciple into advanced level (e.g., YG induced Samadhi on PY. I don't think PY would have attained Samadhi in his lifetime even if he meditated 20 hours a day.).
Miracles dangled for Kriya Yoga?
I somehow feel that this book dangles miracles as a carrot for Kriya Yoga. Although there is a lot of talk about god, the allure of the book is in the miracles. Even though miracles are a distraction, they sell and they work. I don't think Christianity would be as big as it is now if Christ didn't perform any miracles. Or Sai Baba for that matter if he didn't manifest the 'dust'. And I admit, the allure of Siddhis adds to my motivation - which are miracles by themselves. This sounds like a rationalization, but through miracles, the potential of man is revealed. Miracles are not a monopoly of ascended yogis and saints. Miracles are also bound to its natural laws. And anyone who complies with those laws will invariably make miracles. Miracles are part of the universal reality we exist in - it's accessible.
My lingering thoughts about this book are:
--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
YOGA by Gigit | Learn English | Travel like a Nomad | Donation Bank
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Kriya Yoga Books (recommended by Chat GPT4 and Bard)
More on Lazi:
Lazi Local Info
Lazi >> Iligan City by boat
Lazi to Iligan City route by Kho Shipping was just opened up in early April 2023. Before, going to Iligan City meant going to Siquijor Port, 30 km away. This also meant that on the way back, you have to be in Siquijor before 2pm to catch the last jeep to Lazi. With this direct route, there is no 'last trip' to catch.
Lazi >> Cagayan de Oro by boat
Lazi to Cagayan de Oro route by Kho Shipping was just opened up in early September 2023. Before, going to Davao meant going to Iligan first, then bus to CDO and then bus to Davao City. Now, Iligan can be completely bypassed saving about 3 hours on the trip.
Lazi >> Dumaguete by boat
Lazi to Dumaguete route by Kho Shipping was just opened up in early September 2023. Before, going to Dumaguete meant going to Siquijor Port, 30 km away. This also meant that on the way back, you have to be in Siquijor before 2pm to catch the last jeep to Lazi. With this direct route, there is no 'last trip' to catch.
Lazi >> CDO >> Davao City by boat/bus
Lazi to Cagayan de Oro route by Kho Shipping was just opened up in early September 2023. Before, going to Davao meant going to Iligan first, then bus to CDO and then bus to Davao City. Now, Iligan can be completely bypassed saving about 3 hours on the trip.
Lazi >> Tagbilaran >> Cebu by boat
Lazi to Cebu entails a stopover at Tagbilaran - you only pay for one ticket (I've broken down the individual trips in case you're boarding from Tagbilaran). From the 5pm boat departure from Lazi, it would cost PHP 1000 (it's odd that it's cheaper to pay for the individual trips rather than paying for both...PHP 845 vs 1000) and take about 10 hours.
More on Siquijor Island:
Siquijor Island Local Info
Jeeps - there are only 2 routes for jeeps within Siquijor Island - and they are rare. Most people have their own motorcycle transport.
Food - these were suggested by a local to me
Siquijor Island Map
Siquijor - Dumaguete Boat Trips(as of Jan 2023)
Siquijor - Tagbilaran - Cebu City Boat Trips(as of Jan 2023)
En route to Cebu City, the ferries usually make a stop-over to Tagbilaran (Bohol) to pick-up more passengers or unload.
Siquijor - Plaridel Boat Trips(as of Jan 2023)
Siquijor - Cebu (Liloan) - Cebu City BUS Trip(as of Jan 2023)
There is only one bus plying this route - Sugbo Urban. Tourist class coach, a/c, comfortable, Sun-Fri (these dates keep changing). P420 for bus, P275 for ferry to Liloan. Larena Port around 5 am, makes a clockwise roundtrip around Siquijor Island - Larena, Enrique Villanueva, Maria, Lazi (stops at Lazi market for breakfast and leaves 6:50 am), San Juan, Siquijor (arrives 8am, P50 from Lazi to Siquijor Poblacion) and catches the 1pm ferry at Larena Port (Sundays at 3 pm) for Liloan, Cebu and resumes its land route. Arrives Cebu City (South Bus Terminal) 10 pm.
Sugbo Urban is the cheapest and most convenient way because it goes around the island (clockwise) along the circumferential road, passing through - Enrique Villanueva, Maria, Lazi, San Juan, Siquijor...and back to Larena where it takes the ferry at 1 pm. This saves you the hassle and high transport cost of a tricycle. Besides, it's a long trip from the other side of the island to be taking by tricycle.
Suggested Destinations After Siquijor Island
These are the nearest popular destinations from Siquijor by boat
- Sep Snapshots: Fisherman, Granny, Pedicure, Big Fish, Garbage September 1-30, 2023
- Together Forever Sep 11, 2023
- The Cigarette Talk Sep 1, 2023
- Siquijor Star Meditation Center Aug 31, 2023
- The Lost Dogs of Siquijor Aug 27, 2023
- Moving to a Bungalow! Aug 22, 2023
- Aug Chronicles: CDO produce August 31, 2023
- Aug Snapshots: Pan de Sal, Palpitate, Taho, Tuna, Pineapple August 1-31, 2023 [an error occurred while processing this directive]
- July Chronicles July 31, 2023
- July Snapshots July 1-31, 2023
- Learning Cebuano: July July 1-31, 2023
- June Chronicles June 31, 2023
- June Snapshots June 1-31, 2023
- Learning Cebuano: June June 1-31, 2023
- May Chronicles May 31, 2023
- May Snapshots May 1-31, 2023
- Learning Cebuano May 1-31, 2023
- In Search of a Cool Climate May 25, 2023
- The 64 km Bike Ride May 16, 2023
- Lazi Fiesta May 15, 2023
- The Boulevard Opening May 5, 2023
- April Snapshots April 1-30, 2023
- Learning Cebuano...Again! April 1-30, 2023
- Kris Visits Siquijor Mar 17 - Apr 15, 2023
- Exploring Siquijor with Marky Mar 25 - Apr 11, 2023
- Siquijor Healing Festival April 5-8, 2023
- The Talk at United Church of Christ April 2, 2023
- Mar Snapshots Mar 1-31, 2023
- Vigil for the Ghost Ship of Siquijor March 31, 2023
- Judging an Essay on Gender Equality Mar 29, 2023
- The Thief, the Shaman, the Elves and the Police Mar 20, 2023
- Finally Acquiring the Motorbike Mar 18, 2023
- Bitcoin Blunder Mar 15, 2023
- Maria's Unsung Beaches Mar 11, 2023
- Lagaan Falls Mar 9, 2023
- Tibhong Spring Water Source Mar 8, 2023
- Bolo-Bolo Natural Spring Mar 2, 2023
- Reasons to Get a Wife March 1, 2023
- Feb Snapshots Feb 28, 2023
- Camagung-Ong Natural Spring Feb 28, 2023
- Heeeere's Johnnie! Feb 26, 2023
- Manifesting a Motorbike from Thin Air? Feb 18, 2023
- The 'Bad Guy' of Siquijor Feb 15, 2023
- Amazement from Drivers License Renewal in Siquijor Feb 15, 2023
- Locong Falls Feb 9, 2023
- Inguinal Hernia? Goodbye ABS! Feb 4, 2023
- Jan Snapshots Dec 31, 2022
- In Search of Tubod Cold Spring Jan 27, 2023
- 1:4:2:3 Nadi Shodana Jan 26, 2023
- Lazi's Boulevard Jan 22, 2023
- Lazi: A Monthly Stay Jan 21, 2023
- 7 Days in Maria, Siquijor Jan 14-21, 2023
- Capilay Spring Jan 17, 2023
- Siquijor: In Search of Resonance Jan 9-14, 2023
- Riding Around Siquijor's 86km Coastal Road Apr 3, 2012
- Exploring the Cantabon Cave of Siquijor Feb 23, 2012
- Jovee and Missy's Excellent Adventure Nov 6-7, 2010
- Freediving in Siquijor's Marine Sancturaries Apr 23-24, 2010
- Island Tour of Siquijor Apr 22, 2010
- Kram's Siquijor Wedding Apr 21, 2010
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