India and her miracle-feast: come and enjoy yourself, part 4 — Traditional Indian stories about Bhaskarananda
Introduction by the AuthorI have decided to narrate a few traditional stories which are well-known in India. These stories are not my own creations; they are about spiritual Masters who used to show their occult power as easily and as often as we drink water. I am one of those who do not appreciate miracles, for quite often miracles only feed curiosity, and there is a yawning gulf between curiosity and aspiration. Again, there are some Masters who think that it is advisable for an individual to start his spiritual journey, even if he has to start with curiosity. Eventually the same person will enter into the world of true aspiration.
Sometimes occultists want to prove that modern science does not have the last word with regard to God’s creation. They want to show that the infinite wealth of the inner world can easily silence all the achievements of mankind in the outer world. To be sure, what we call a miracle is nothing but a common occurrence in the world beyond our senses. Inwardly we can learn from these great Masters, from their fascinating miracles, from their soul-stirring lives. That is why I am interested in telling these stories.
— Sri Chinmoy
The transfer from attachment-life to detachment-LifeWhen Bhaskarananda was 18 years old, his parents forced him to marry. The following year, when his wife was blessed with a child, all his relatives were swimming in the sea of delight. But the father of the child was an exception; he was swimming in the sea of suffering. He said to himself, “This is the beginning of my attachment-life,” and on that very day he left home for good. Only after he became a great spiritual Master with abundant occult powers did he return home, but by then his child was with God.
Commentary: Often we start with attachment-life and then enter into detachment-life. Attachment-life tells us that we can have everything in the course of time. Detachment-life tells us that we are eternally everything. Attachment-life tells us that hunger is one thing, feast is something else, and that they have to be brought together. Detachment-life tells us that hunger is the birth of satisfaction and feast is the transcendence of satisfaction.
Master, I wish to possess your will; you possess my ringA certain king was a devotee of Bhaskarananda and he used to visit his Master quite often. One day Bhaskarananda took him to a pond and casually asked the king to give him his diamond ring. Bhaskarananda looked at it and appreciated it deeply. Then he threw it into the pond.
The king was not disturbed at all. He thought, “Perhaps I was too attached to it; therefore, the Master has thrown it into the water. Or perhaps the Master is just playing a game and will bring it back to me. He has that kind of spiritual power, I am sure. Anyway, whatever his reason, it is for my good that he has done it.”
Bhaskarananda and the king had a long conversation about spirituality, and the Master told many spiritual secrets to the king. Then the Master said, “Don’t you want to have your ring back?”
The king said, “It is all up to you. If you want to, you can give it back. Otherwise, you can let the ring remain on the bottom of the pond.”
Bhaskarananda said, “All right, I want to give it back to you. Now, just touch the water with your hand.”
The Master had thrown the ring from the spot where they were standing, but the king decided to go to the other side of the pond in order to see if the ring would come back to that side. As he touched the water with his hand, sixteen rings of the same type appeared. The king could not tell which one was his.
“Since you are not attached to your ring,” said Bhaskarananda, “I am giving it back.” Then the Master threw fifteen of the rings back into the pond and gave the king the one that was his.
Commentary: Possession is not happiness. Surrendered oneness with the Master is the only true happiness. With our human will we possess, create and build the world of our imaginary liking. With our divine will we develop the capacity to have a free access to God’s ever-transcending Vision and ever-manifesting Reality. The Master is at once the embodiment of God’s Vision-Height and God’s Reality-Depth.
Body's strength assails, soul's strength sailsOnce an English military officer who was very devoted to Bhaskarananda was boasting about his latest military achievement. The Master said, “That’s fine. I admire your bravery. Now, just give me that pencil that is right in front of you. I have to write something.”
The officer bent down to pick up the pencil for the Master, but he could not lift it. Again the Master said, “Please give it to me. I cannot reach it.”
The officer tried and tried, but he did not have the strength to lift up the pencil. With utmost affection the Master told him, “Look, it is God’s strength and capacity that works in and through you on the battlefield. That is why you are victorious. Without God’s strength, you don’t have the capacity even to lift up a pencil. So don’t boast, my child. It is all God’s Will.”
Commentary: Military strength is of the vital world, but it applies quite often to the physical world. Spiritual power is of the soul’s world, but it can be applied in the physical world as well, to dominate the physical in us. Spiritual power is applied in the body, vital, mind and heart for glowing illumination and fulfilling perfection. Physical strength, vital strength and mental strength sing the song of subjugation. But psychic strength, founded on the soul’s power, always sings the song of universal oneness-satisfaction.
Humility's core owns divinity's loreOnce Bhaskarananda was supposed to give a talk. A special stage had been built for the speaker, and it was decorated extremely beautifully. There were hundreds of people attending the meeting. Before the Master began his talk he said, “Where is Lakshman Mala? I want Lakshman Mala to be here.”
Most of the people did not know who Lakshman Mala was, but somebody said he was a fisherman. Such respected and learned people were there! Who would think that the Master would ask to see a fisherman? But everybody began looking for him. Everybody started calling, “Lakshman! Lakshman!”
Lakshman had been almost afraid to come to this big gathering because so many educated people were there, so he was sitting at the back. When they found him, they escorted him to the Master, who showed him much affection and love. Then Bhaskarananda said, “During my talk, he has to be with me.”
So Lakshman stood beside Bhaskarananda with folded hands, swimming in the sea of devotion and surrender. During the talk the Master highly appreciated Lakshman. He said, “You people are learned, cultured, great. But true greatness lies in pure devotion.”
When the meeting was over, Lakshman followed the Master home, and from then on he stayed at the Master’s house.
Commentary: The intellectual mind does not know and cannot know what God’s Compassion-Reality is. It is only the devoted heart of the seeker that knows perfectly well what God’s Compassion is. It also goes one step farther. The seeker grows into the very image of his Master by virtue of his heart’s devoted oneness with his beloved. The mind always experiences sad defeat when it tries to fathom the mysteries of the inner world, but the heart never fails in discovering the wealth of the inner world. For the heart, there is no such thing as the inner world and the outer world. The heart has only one world: God the world. To the soulful heart the world itself is God.
Accident-train stopped, experience-train continuedA certain king who was Bhaskarananda’s disciple went to stay with him and spend a few days sitting at his feet. On the fourth day of his visit the king received an express telegram from his palace. A serious catastrophe had taken place and it demanded his immediate attention. His physical presence was also needed.
The king wanted to leave immediately, but Bhaskarananda said, “No, you can’t go. No matter how serious the thing is, you can’t go today.” The king did not want to disobey the Master, but he was very sad. Finally the Master said, “All right, you can go today. But don’t go on the afternoon train at two o’clock. I want you to take the evening train.”
When the king arrived at the station that evening, he was shocked to hear that the previous train had met with an accident. Many people had been thrown out of it and killed. When he heard this, the king was overwhelmed with gratitude to the Master. Instead of returning home as he had planned, he went back to the Master’s house and touched his feet with gratitude.
Commentary: The Master sees the future continuously glowing and spreading itself in the immediacy of the eternal Now. The future is at the command of his vision-eye. The Master saved his disciple’s life by asking him not to take a particular train. He could easily have told the station authorities to pay special attention to the train’s journey. But he did not warn them, not because he was indifferent or unkind to the ill-fated passengers and the train, but because he got the command from within, from the Supreme Reality, that he could save only his disciple’s life. God wanted him to remain silent about the serious accident that the train was destined to have.
A Master does not want to change the cosmic Law unless it is expressly decreed by God Himself, for it is God who has created the cosmic Law. In a case like this, it is not the Master’s indifference to the rest of the world and his preference to his own little world that we are seeing. The Master is just executing God’s Will in His world of multiple realities. Creation-preservation and destruction-transformation are all of God and for God. In them and through them He binds Himself and enjoys the destruction-death or transformation-life of the finite and the satisfaction-perfection of Infinity’s Immortality.
God knocks only at humility's heart-doorOnce a devoted disciple of Bijoykrishna came up to Bhaskarananda at a gathering and asked him a few questions. The Master had answered everybody else’s questions, but he would not answer Bijoykrishna’s disciple. Instead he insulted the disciple and told him to go away.
Everybody was shocked at the Master’s behaviour, and the disciple went home very sad. But that night he had a dream and, in the dream, Swami Bhaskarananda answered his question with utmost affection.
The next day the seeker told Bhaskarananda’s disciples why the Master had not answered his question in front of others. Others had asked their questions with utmost sincerity and humility, but he had had tremendous pride when he had asked his question. That is why Swami Bhaskarananda had insulted him instead of answering his question. But at night Bhaskarananda had forgiven him and had answered the question in his dream. The seeker was very pleased with the answer and extremely grateful that Bhaskarananda had punished him for his undivine pride.
Commentary: Pride separates, humility unites. Pride is the vision of a blind man. Humility is the vision of a God-man. It is not beneath the dignity of the Master to deal with the pride-existence of the seeker, for the Master knows that the seeker will not and cannot receive anything from him if pride is what he has and what he is. Humility is receptivity in the purest sense of the term. Humility welcomes both God the Creator and God the creation in its ever-expanding life and ever-soaring heart.
God wills, time executesA highly respected man had been suffering from a kidney problem for a long time, and the doctors were not able to cure him. He was a disciple of Bhaskarananda, so he went to his Master and cried and cried to him for help.
The Master concentrated on his disciple and then said, “Well, I don’t have to do anything for you, and the doctors do not have to do anything either. Just wait for thirty-nine days. After thirty-nine days your kidney problem will be totally cured.”
At the end of thirty-nine days, the man was totally cured.
Commentary: True, time cures everything, but we have to know that inside time is God’s Will. If God’s Will does not operate in and through time, then time is like a lifeless bud that has no soul, no eternal life.
You cannot touch my feet nowOnce a group of seekers was going up to Bhaskarananda one by one to bow to him and touch his feet. When it was the turn of a certain man, the Master said to him, “You cannot touch my feet now; you are not pure. Your father has died. Go home; there will be a telegram for you from your family.” The man left for home immediately, with a sorrowful heart, and when he arrived at his own home, the messenger was waiting with a telegram from his mother. The telegram read: “Come home immediately. Your father has passed away.”
Commentary: When someone dies, usually the soul of the person first looks around its own dead body, then flies to the dear ones who are not around the body. There are various reasons why souls do this. Sometimes the souls want to see whether they were really needed by the world, so they watch to see whether or not their dear ones are crying for them. Sometimes they try to console their near and dear ones by telling them that it is God’s cosmic Law that they are fulfilling: nobody can stay on earth forever. Every soul has to leave the body after it has played its role on earth.
It is good to know what is happening all around, but if you will create undue suffering, by telling people, then it is not advisable to do so. Perhaps the Master could have told the seeker, “Go home quickly. You are needed there.” But telling him about his father’s passing and not allowing him to touch his feet was not correct from the highest spiritual point of view. He should have been allowed to go home and read the telegram. If everything is done in its due course, then we do not create sorrow in others before it is actually necessary.
In Indian tradition when someone dies, members of the immediate family are supposed to become impure for some time. God alone knows how difficult it is for a spiritual Master of the highest order to appreciate this kind of theory. Who can understand why Indians think that the dear ones are impure? I pray to God to bless all these foolish theories, along with the practitioners of the theories. First of all, one has the pain of losing one’s dear ones. Then at the same time he has to undergo humiliation for that very loss. No matter what kind of justification people give with regard to impurity invading the physical body of the dear ones — saying that an evil spirit possesses the body of the deceased after the soul has left, and because of their connection with him, the near and dear ones also become impure — from the spiritual point of view there is no truth in this theory. There is no justification at all.
Don't think of anything else: just eat and be happyOnce three renunciates came to Bhaskarananda’s home. They meditated with him and asked him a few questions, and were very pleased with the answers. After a while Bhaskarananda asked them to stay and eat with him.
“Oh, no, we can’t,” said the renunciates. “You are poor and we will not be able to get the things we want.”
Bhaskarananda said, “Just let me hear what you want to eat.”
The renunciates mentioned four different kinds of Indian sweetmeats, and also asked for a few oranges. Then they resumed their conversation with Bhaskarananda.
In a few minutes’ time, to their wide surprise, three most beautiful young boys came up to the Master and placed at his feet a large plate of sweetmeats — the ones the renunciates had wanted — plus a basketful of oranges. The renunciates asked Bhaskarananda how this was possible.
The Master smiled and said, “Just eat and be happy. Is anything impossible in God’s creation?”
Commentary: Blessed are those who get spiritual food from the Master. Doubly blessed are those who get both spiritual food and material food from the Master. With the material food the Master energises their earthly reality-body so that the body can be of service to the spirit. With the spiritual food the Master keeps the immortality of the soul glowing, flowing, manifesting and fulfilling.
Marriage predestinedA couple who were disciples of Bhaskarananda once came to him with a serious problem. An astrologer, who also happened to be a disciple, had cast the horoscope of their only son, Ganesh. The astrologer told them that their son would die in an accident at the age of sixteen, and he advised the parents not to allow the son to marry. The father wanted to listen to the astrologer’s advice, but the mother wanted the son to get married, so they came to the Master to learn what they should do.
Bhaskarananda said, “Yes, your son should marry. It is predestined. You are right that it will be a deplorable experience for his wife to become a widow at a very tender age. But I clearly see that this girl has a special connection with him in the soul’s world, and both of them are destined to get married. Both he and she need this experience. Ganesh is now thirteen years old. It is true that he is supposed to die at the age of sixteen, but I shall delay his death for a couple of years. I will not allow him to die until I die.”
So Ganesh got married. A few years went by, and he passed his sixteenth birthday without incident. Then one day Bhaskarananda was attacked by the most fatal disease in India, cholera. On the same day, Ganesh fell from a horse and was knocked unconscious. Ganesh remained senseless for three days and Bhaskarananda suffered from cholera also for three days. Bhaskarananda passed away at noon on the third day, and at that very moment Ganesh also left the world.
Commentary: Experience is of prime importance. Sometimes the experience of union, sometimes the experience of separation, sometimes the experience of re-union, sometimes the experience of eternal separation are necessary for the physical reality in us. To make progress and, while making progress, to realise that there is only one Reality Supreme — this is the experience that is constantly needed both here on earth and there in Heaven. And that Reality Supreme is God Himself.
With his yogic power, Bhaskarananda kept Ganesh on earth for a few years more than his due; otherwise, Ganesh would have passed away before. To give him and his dear ones experiences that would help them in future incarnations, the Master gave Ganesh an extended lease on life. True spiritual Masters can do this, but they do it only when it has been decreed by the Absolute Supreme.
The Master tested and stupidity exposedOnce a certain king was jealous of Bhaskarananda’s name and fame, although in his heart he secretly admired the Master. The king wanted to test Bhaskarananda to see if he had conquered his senses, his lower vital. So one night he sent three most beautiful women of ill repute to Bhaskarananda’s home to tempt him in various ways.
Bhaskarananda got furious and ordered them to leave his house immediately; otherwise, he threatened to punish them mercilessly. Two of the women left out of fear, but one of them was brave enough or foolish enough to stay. So Bhaskarananda used his occult power and brought a huge snake into the room. The snake encircled the woman and pinned her to the ground so that she was unable to escape. The woman was frightened almost to death.
Because the woman did not come back, her two friends thought that she had been successful with the Master. Her friends were happy and miserable both — happy because at least one of them had succeeded in lowering the Master’s consciousness, and miserable because they were jealous that she was the one who had been successful. After a few hours they went back to Bhaskarananda’s home, and then they saw the pitiful condition of their friend.
The two women went and reported the matter to the king, and the king became sad because he was the cause of that particular woman’s suffering. So the king went to Bhaskarananda’s house to see the pitiful plight of this woman. He begged the Master to forgive her, and admitted that he was the one who was behind all this.
Bhaskarananda forgave the king and the woman and said, “Don’t try to tempt spiritual people. This time I am allowing her to go with her life, but in the future, if she or anybody else comes to tempt me, I will just destroy that person immediately. Nobody should deliberately try to tempt spiritual people.” Then gradually the snake disappeared.
Commentary: Temptation is the order of the day; it attacks almost everyone. But real spiritual Masters are true exceptions. The human tendency is such, however, that it is difficult for a human being to see in others striking capacities that are not manifested in himself. He sees others according to his own capacities. But he forgets that there can be and there are people who far surpass him and who do not have the same weaknesses that he has.
When people try to tempt the true spiritual Masters, the Masters either ignore them or threaten them. If they ignore them, these undivine people may wait for another occasion to come and tempt the Master. But if the Master is strict with them and threatens them or frightens them, then the culprits will not dare to try to tempt the Master again.
My food, my oneness universalOnce a disciple of Bhaskarananda brought some fruits to his Master. The Master distributed the fruits to the disciples who were around him, and there was none left for himself. But Bhaskarananda did not feel at all sorry, because his joy came in feeding his spiritual children.
The next day the same disciple brought quite a few mangoes, but he kept aside two delicious ones for the Master. After the Master had distributed all the mangoes, the disciple gave him the two that he had saved. But Bhaskarananda scolded him, saying, “You can’t do that. Whatever you have brought, you have to give to me. Whatever I want, I will keep for myself. Don’t you know that I eat everything in and through my disciples? When you people eat, it is more than enough for me, for I enjoy eating and doing everything in and through you all.”
Commentary: Once we offer something to the Master, our claim on that thing must totally disappear. If we give something to the Master and want him to do something with it in accordance with our desire, then we are not making a real offering. We are only trying to bind him with our desire-gift. We should give to the Master not only devotedly and unreservedly, but also unconditionally. Then only will we have peace of mind, happiness in our heart and fulfilment in our life.
We must give for God’s sake. The God within us wants to give to the God within others. So one God gives, and another God receives. The giver and the receiver are expected to be equally happy in the act of giving and receiving unconditionally.
Three supreme valuables: God's Compassion, God's Light And God's DelightOnce a certain king came to Bhaskarananda and offered him a golden dish with quite a few diamond rings. Bhaskarananda refused to accept them, saying, “I do not value these things. I value only God’s Compassion, Light and Delight. What shall I do with things that I do not value?”
The Master Bijoykrishna happened to be there at the time with a few of his disciples. Bhaskarananda’s renunciation amazed Bijoykrishna and all of his disciples. Bijoykrishna immediately composed a song in utmost adoration of Bhaskarananda, and sang it most soulfully.
Commentary: Earthly wealth is necessary for those who value it, but when we ourselves are pinched with inner thirst or when we want to create inner thirst in others, we can never be happy with earthly things, no matter how valuable they are. With earthly possessions we satisfy the needs of the human in us. With Heavenly possessions such as God’s Compassion, God’s Light and God’s Delight, we satisfy the needs of the eternally real in us, the soul.