The Generous Mother and the Practical Father
Mother held an open hand toward the needy. Father was also kindly disposed, but his respect for law and order extended to the budget. One fortnight Mother spent, in feeding the poor, more than Father’s monthly income.
“All I ask, please, is to keep your charities within a reasonable limit.” Even a gentle rebuke from her husband was grievous to Mother. She ordered a hackney carriage, not hinting to the children at any disagreement.
“Good-by; I am going away to my mother’s home.” Ancient ultimatum!
We broke into astounded lamentations. Out maternal uncle arrived opportunely; he whispered to Father some sage counsel, garnered no doubt from the ages. After Father had made a few conciliatory remarks, Mother happily dismissed the cab. Thus ended the only trouble I ever noticed between my parents. But I recall a characteristic discussion.
“Please give me ten rupees for a hapless woman who has just arrived at the house.” Mother’s smile had its own persuasion.
“Why ten rupees? One is enough.” Father added a justification: “When my father and grandparents died suddenly, I had my first taste of poverty. My only breakfast, before walking miles to school, was a small banana. Later, at the university, I was in such need that I applied to a wealthy judge for aid of one rupee per month. He declined, remarking that even a rupee is important.”
“How bitterly you recall the denial of that rupee!” Mother’s heart had an instant logic. ” Do you want this woman also to remember painfully your refusa; of ten rupees which she needs urgently?”
“You win!” With the immemorial gesture of vanquished husbands, he opened his wallet. “Here is a ten-rupee note. Give it to her with my good will.”
The Miraculous Intercession of Lahiri Mahasaya
Early in their married life, my parents became disciples of a great master, Lahiri Mahasaya of Benares. This contact strengthened Father’s naturally ascetical temperament. Mother made a remarkable admission to my eldest sister Roma: “Your father and myself live together as man and wife only once a year, for the purpose of having children.”
Father first met Lahiri Mahasaya through Abinash Babu, an employee in the Gorakhpur office of the Bengal-Nagpur Railway. Abinash instructed my young ears with engrossing tales of many Indian saints. He invariably concluded with a tribute to the superior glories of his own guru.
“Did you ever hear of the extraordinary circumstances under which your father became a disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya?”
It was a lazy summer afternoon, as Abinash and I sat together in the compound of my home, that he put this intriguing question. I shook my head with a smile of anticipation.
“Years ago, before you were born, I asked my superior officer- your father- to give me a week’s leave from my Gorakhpur duties in order to visit my guru in Benares. Your father ridiculed my plan.
“‘Are you going to become a religious fanatic?’ he inquired. ‘Concentrate on your office work if you want to forge ahead.’
“Sadly walking home along a woodland path that day, I met your father in a palanquin(a passenger conveyance or ‘palkhi’). He dismissed his servants and conveyance, and fell into step beside me. Seeking to console me, he poined out the advantages of striving for wordly success. But I heard him listlessly. My heart was repeating: ‘Lahiri Mahasaya! I cannot live without seeing you!’
“Our path took us to the edge of a tranquil field, where the rays of the late afternoon sun were still crowning the tall ripple of the wild grass. We paused in admiration. There in the field, only a few yards from us, the form of my great guru suddenly appeared!
“Bhagabati, you are too hard on your employee!’ His voice was resonant in our astounded ears. He vanished as mysteriously as he had come. On my knees I was exclaiming, ‘Lahiri Mahasaya! Lahiri Mahasaya!’ Your father was motionless with stupefaction for a few moments.
“Abinash, not only do I give you live, but I give myself leave to start for Benares tomorrow. I must know this great Lahiri Mahasaya, who is able to materialize himself at will in order to interceded for you! I will take my wife and ask this master to initiate us in his spiritual path. Will you guide us to him?’
“‘Of course.’ Joy filled me a the miraculous answer to my prayer, and the quick, favorable turn of events.
“The next evening your parents and I entrained for Benares. We took a horse cart the following day, and then had a walk through narrow lanes to my guru’s secluded home. Entering this little parlor, we bowed before the master, enlocked in his habitual lotus posture. He blinked his piercing eyes and leveled them on your father.
“‘Bhagabati, you are too hard on your employee!’ His words were the same as those he had used two days before in the Gorakhpur field. He added, ‘I am gladthat you have allowed Abinash to visit me, and that you and your wife have accompanied him.’
“To their joy, he initiated your parents in the spiritual practice of Kriya Yoga. Your father and I, as brother disciples, have been close friends since the memorable day of the vision. Lahiri Mahasaya took a definite interest in your own birth. Your life shall surely be linked with his own: the master’s blessing never fails.”
Young Mukunda is Healed by the Yogi Christ of India
I was blessed about the age of eight with a wonderful healing through the photograph of Lahiri Mahasaya. This experience gave intensification to my love. While at our family estate in Ichapur, Bengal, I was stricken with Asiatic cholera. My life was despaired of; the doctors could do nothing. At my bedside, Mother frantically motioned me to look at Lahiri Mahasaya’s picture on the wall above my head.
“Bow to him mentally!” She knew I was too feeble even to lift my hands in salutation. “If you really show your devotion and inwardly kneel before him, your life will be spared!”
I gazed at his photograph and saw there a blinding light, enveloping my body and the entire room. My nausea and other uncontrollable symptoms disappeared; I was well.At once I felt strong even to bend over and touch Mother’s fee in appreciation of her immeasurable faith i her guru. Mother pressed her head repeatedly against the little picture.
“O Omnipresent Master, I thank thee that thy light hath healed my son!”
I realized that she too had witnessed the luminous blaze through which I had instantly recovered from a usually fatal disease.
The Photophobic Master
It appears that the master(Lahiri Mahasaya) had an aversion to being photographed. Over his protest, a group picture was once taken of him and a cluster of devotees, including Kali Kumar Roy. It was an amazed photographer who discovered that the plate, which had clear images of all the disciples, revealed nothing more than a blank space in the center where he had reasonably expected to find the outlines of Lahiri Mahasaya. The phenomenon was widely discussed.
A certain student and expert photographer, Ganga Dhar Babu, boasted that the fugitive figure would not escape him. The next morning, as the guru in lotus posture on a wooden bench with a screen behind him, Ganga Dhar Babu arrived with his equipment. Taking every precaution for success, he greedily exposed twelve plates. On each one he soon found the imprint of the wooden benchand screen, but once again the master’s form was missing.
With tears and shattered pride, Ganga Dhar Babu sought out his guru. It was many hours before Lahiri Mahasaya broke his silence with a pregnant comment:
“I am Spirit. Can your camera reflect the omnipresent Invisible?”
“I see it cannot! But, Holy Sir, I lovingly desire a picture of the bodily temple where alone, to my narrow vision, that Spirit appears fully to dwell.”
“Come, then, tomorrow morning. I will pose for you.”
Again the photographer focused his camera. This time the sacred figure, not cloaked with mysterious imperceptibility, was sharp on the plate. The master never posed for another picture; at least, I have seen none.