Autobiography of a Yogi
by Paramahansa Yogananda
Original 1946 Edition
My Master, in Calcutta, Appears in Serampore
"I am often beset by atheistic doubts. Yet a torturing surmise sometimes haunts me: may not untapped soul possibilities exist? Is man not missing his real destiny if he fails to explore them?"
These remarks of Dijen Babu, my roommate at the Panthi boardinghouse, were called forth by my invitation that he meet my guru.
"Sri Yukteswarji will initiate you into Kriya Yoga," I replied. "It calms the dualistic turmoil by a divine inner certainty."
That evening Dijen accompanied me to the hermitage. In Master's presence my friend received such spiritual peace that he was soon a constant visitor. The trivial preoccupations of daily life are not enough for man; wisdom too is a native hunger. In Sri Yukteswar's words Dijen found an incentive to those attempts—first painful, then effortlessly liberating—to locate a realer self within his bosom than the humiliating ego of a temporary birth, seldom ample enough for the Spirit.
As Dijen and I were both pursuing the A.B. course at Serampore College, we got into the habit of walking together to the ashram as soon as classes were over. We would often see Sri Yukteswar standing on his second-floor balcony, welcoming our approach with a smile.
One afternoon Kanai, a young hermitage resident, met Dijen and me at the door with disappointing news.
"Master is not here; he was summoned to Calcutta by an urgent note."
The following day I received a post card from my guru. "I shall leave Calcutta Wednesday morning," he had written. "You and Dijen meet the nine o'clock train at Serampore station."
About eight-thirty on Wednesday morning, a telepathic message from Sri Yukteswar flashed insistently to my mind: "I am delayed; don't meet the nine o'clock train."
I conveyed the latest instructions to Dijen, who was already dressed for departure.
"You and your intuition!" My friend's voice was edged in scorn. "I prefer to trust Master's written word."
I shrugged my shoulders and seated myself with quiet finality. Muttering angrily, Dijen made for the door and closed it noisily behind him.
As the room was rather dark, I moved nearer to the window overlooking the street. The scant sunlight suddenly increased to an intense brilliancy in which the iron-barred window completely vanished. Against this dazzling background appeared the clearly materialized figure of Sri Yukteswar!
Bewildered to the point of shock, I rose from my chair and knelt before him. With my customary gesture of respectful greeting at my guru's feet, I touched his shoes. These were a pair familiar to me, of orange-dyed canvas, soled with rope. His ocher swami cloth brushed against me; I distinctly felt not only the texture of his robe, but also the gritty surface of the shoes, and the pressure of his toes within them. Too much astounded to utter a word, I stood up and gazed at him questioningly.
"I was pleased that you got my telepathic message." Master's voice was calm, entirely normal. "I have now finished my business in Calcutta, and shall arrive in Serampore by the ten o'clock train."
As I still stared mutely, Sri Yukteswar went on, "This is not an apparition, but my flesh and blood form. I have been divinely commanded to give you this experience, rare to achieve on earth. Meet me at the station; you and Dijen will see me coming toward you, dressed as I am now. I shall be preceded by a fellow passenger—a little boy carrying a silver jug."
My guru placed both hands on my head, with a murmured blessing. As he concluded with the words, "Taba asi,"1 I heard a peculiar rumbling sound.2 His body began to melt gradually within the piercing light. First his feet and legs vanished, then his torso and head, like a scroll being rolled up. To the very last, I could feel his fingers resting lightly on my hair. The effulgence faded; nothing remained before me but the barred window and a pale stream of sunlight.
I remained in a half-stupor of confusion, questioning whether I had not been the victim of a hallucination. A crestfallen Dijen soon entered the room.
"Master was not on the nine o'clock train, nor even the nine-thirty." My friend made his announcement with a slightly apologetic air.
"Come then; I know he will arrive at ten o'clock." I took Dijen's hand and rushed him forcibly along with me, heedless of his protests. In about ten minutes we entered the station, where the train was already puffing to a halt.
"The whole train is filled with the light of Master's aura! He is there!" I exclaimed joyfully.
"You dream so?" Dijen laughed mockingly.
"Let us wait here." I told my friend details of the way in which our guru would approach us. As I finished my description, Sri Yukteswar came into view, wearing the same clothes I had seen a short time earlier. He walked slowly in the wake of a small lad bearing a silver jug.
For a moment a wave of cold fear passed through me, at the unprecedented strangeness of my experience. I felt the materialistic, twentieth-century world slipping from me; was I back in the ancient days when Jesus appeared before Peter on the sea?
As Sri Yukteswar, a modern Yogi-Christ, reached the spot where Dijen and I were speechlessly rooted, Master smiled at my friend and remarked:
"I sent you a message too, but you were unable to grasp it."
Dijen was silent, but glared at me suspiciously. After we had escorted our guru to his hermitage, my friend and I proceeded toward Serampore College. Dijen halted in the street, indignation streaming from his every pore.
"So! Master sent me a message! Yet you concealed it! I demand an explanation!"
"Can I help it if your mental mirror oscillates with such restlessness that you cannot register our guru's instructions?" I retorted.
The anger vanished from Dijen's face. "I see what you mean," he said ruefully. "But please explain how you could know about the child with the jug."
By the time I had finished the story of Master's phenomenal appearance at the boardinghouse that morning, my friend and I had reached Serampore College.
"The account I have just heard of our guru's powers," Dijen said, "makes me feel that any university in the world is only a kindergarten."
1 The Bengali "Good-by"; literally, it is a hopeful paradox: "Then I come."
2 The characteristic sound of dematerialization of bodily atoms.
Continue to the Preface
Preface | Introduction