India and her miracle-feast: come and enjoy yourself, part 9 — Traditional Indian stories about Balananda
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
Balananda's initiationThe day of his initiation, Balananda said to his Master, “Today you are going to initiate me. On the one hand, I am so happy and delighted that out of your infinite kindness you are going to initiate me. On the other hand, I feel extremely sorry that I don’t have anything to offer you in return. I am so poor.”
The Master, Brahmananda, said to his dearest disciple, “My son, you should not think of that. I do not need any material wealth or earthly possessions. I need only one thing from you and that is your God-realisation. One day you will definitely realise God, and your God-realisation itself will be my best reward. I am initiating you with my heart’s infinite love and concern. I shall guide you at every moment in your spiritual journey.
“God-realisation for you is destined in this incarnation and today’s initiation is going to expedite your journey. I am extremely glad to have found in you a true disciple, a perfect disciple. Today I want to tell you not to worry about anything. You do not have to give anything to me now. Your God-realisation at God’s choice Hour in this incarnation will be the supreme reward which I shall receive from you.”
The king's surrenderOne day a great king sent his representative to Balananda to invite him to come to the king’s palace. Balananda said to the king’s representative, “Well, you are coming from one king to another. You must know that I am also a king — in the inner world. Since one king is inviting another king, I feel that I must go. But first I wish to tell you a story.”
Balananda asked his disciples who were nearby to come and sit in front of him, as he was going to tell a significant story:
The Master said, Who? Who?
The king himself! the guards replied.
The Master said, Don’t bother me. I am also a king.
The guards threatened him, We will strike you!
He said, How dare you touch me! Just try! Then the guards looked at his eyes and saw that they were emitting fire. They got frightened and ran to narrate the story to their king.
After he heard the story, the king went up to the Master and said in a mocking manner, O saint, I understand that you are another king. Please tell me how many soldiers you have.
The spiritual man said, I don’t have any soldiers" — not even one.
How can you be a king without any soldiers? the king asked.
The saint replied, I have no enemy to fight against. Why do I need any soldiers?
Then the king asked, Tell me, please, where is your house? Where do you live?
He answered, The whole world is my house. Why do I need a particular house? All the houses in God’s creation belong to me, for God is my Father, my only Father. The father’s house the son can legitimately claim. So all the houses of this world are mine. I don’t need any special house to live in.
The king now realised that this man was not an ordinary human being. He fell down at the feet of the spiritual Master and begged him for forgiveness. The Master immediately granted him forgiveness and, with a smiling face, moved away from where he had been seated in the middle of the road so that the king’s procession could freely move on to its destination.
After Balananda had initiated him, the king said, “Please tell me how I can rule my kingdom. I am always assailed by fear, doubt, anxiety and worry.”
Balananda said, “It is very easy. From now on, let all your possessions remain with you, but feel that they are not yours. They belong to God. God is the sole owner of all the things that you claim to be yours; you are only His manager. He has asked you to manage these things on His behalf, but He is the real owner. You are the false owner. Since the real owner always takes care of His own property, the false owner must surrender to His Will. Pray to God to make you an unconditional instrument of His. In that way you will never be assailed by fear, worry, anxiety and doubt; you will be only a dear instrument of His.”
Four most important things in lifeOne day Balananda said to his disciples, “I know all of you want to become my good disciples, but it is quite a difficult task. Each of you needs to develop four most important things in your life. You need to develop the capacity to tolerate the world and to tolerate your own life. You need to develop the capacity to sacrifice everything that you have and everything that you are. You need to cultivate the capacity to remain silent even when you are mistreated mercilessly, without rhyme or reason, by a hostile world. You need to develop the capacity to remain calm, quiet and tranquil without being completely shattered when you lose in the battlefield of life or extolling yourself to the skies when you succeed in the battlefield of life.”
The disciples said to him, “Master, is it at all possible to do all this in one incarnation?”
Balananda said, “Why not? Why not? I, too, was once upon a time a disciple in this incarnation. In this incarnation I realised God. You also can realise God, provided you always do the right thing at the right time, with the help of the right Master.”
The mother's visionA high-ranking railway officer who was head of a railway line was once in serious trouble. It happened that a particular tram on his line met with a severe accident and hundreds of people were killed. He was accused of being responsible for the accident and he was about to lose his job. He had a big family so he was very sad and disturbed.
His mother started praying to God to forgive her son. One night she had a vision in which she saw a most beautiful sannyasi who said to her, “Mother, don’t worry. I shall save your son.” The next morning she was extremely excited. She told her son all about her dream and he was very pleased to hear it.
The following day Balananda came to the mother’s house quite unexpectedly. As soon as she saw him she was astonished, for the man she had seen in her dream looked exactly like Balananda. Balananda said to her, “Do not worry. I am the same person you saw in your dream. Now, I know that your son is a good hunter, so please give me a tiger skin.”
Her son, the great officer, happened to be there. He was very moved to see Balananda and he offered him not one, but three tiger skins. He said, “Please make your choice. If you want all three, I will be happy to offer them all to you.”
Balananda said, “I am sorry. I don’t like any of these three.”
The officer replied, “Then I will go out and buy some to offer to you.”
Balananda said, “No, I have changed my mind. I don’t need one now. God has asked me to come to you and save you. In a few days time they will withdraw the case against you. They will prove that the accident was not due to your negligence at all, but to some other reason. You do not have to worry. You will be acquitted; nothing will happen to you.”
Both the son and the mother fell at Balananda’s feet and said, “We are offering you our gratitude-hearts. Please accept us as your disciples.”
Balananda smilingly said, “I have already accepted you both as my true disciples.”
The Master-chloroformA few months later, after the railway officer and all the members of his family had become Balananda’s disciples, an unfortunate thing happened. The railway officer got a dangerous and poisonous carbuncle on his back. The doctor wanted him to undergo an operation and he readily agreed. On the day of his operation he prayed in silence to Balananda, who lived seven hundred miles away, and asked for his Master’s protection.
Before the operation, the doctor wanted to give him chloroform, but he said, “Oh, no! My Master is my chloroform.”
The doctor said, “Do not mix medical science with spirituality. You need chloroform. You will not be able to bear the pain. It will be excruciating.”
The railway officer said, “No harm. I will be able to bear it. I am taking full responsibility for my operation.” The doctor did not argue any further and he started to operate on the carbuncle. During the operation the patient kept his eyes wide open and the whole time he kept smiling at the window before him.
When it was over, the doctor asked him why he had been smiling and how it had even been possible for him to smile while he was undergoing such a painful operation. The railway officer said, “Why was I smiling? It was quite easy for me to smile because I was seeing my Master standing by the window. How was it possible? I saw my Master taking away all the pain from me. Therefore, I was smiling at him with my heart’s boundless gratitude.”
After a few hours the patient was taken back to his home. Early that evening he received a telegram from his Master which said, “My son, your Master-chloroform was quite effective, was it not? Love and blessings, your Master, Balananda.”
Needless to say, the Master had not been informed on the physical plane as to the actual day and hour of the operation.
The snake biteTwo new disciples, a father and son, were living together in Balananda’s ashram. One night the son was bitten by a poisonous snake. The father called in a doctor who said it was a hopeless case, and that it was just a matter of hours before his son would die.
Then the father said, “There is also another doctor. Let me go to him.” So he left the doctor and his son in one room and entered into his meditation room. He sat down in front of his shrine and prayed to his Master to save his son. In half an hour’s time he came back and said to the doctor, “I have received an inner assurance that my son will be saved by my Master.”
The incident took place at three o’clock in the morning, and the father did not dare to inform the Master outwardly at that hour. By seven o’clock the son was completely cured and he was very happy and cheerful.
The father said to his son, “When I was meditating on our Master, I saw four messengers of death, very ugly-looking, who came to take you, and I saw our Master chase them away with his trident. Therefore, I was quite confident that you would be saved, my son.” The father, the son and the doctor were all in a very cheerful frame of mind.
Just then, quite unexpectedly, the Master’s main attendant came in and said that the Master wanted to hear the snake story. They told the attendant what had happened, and then he said, “Now I have a story to tell you. Around two o’clock this morning I heard Master’s voice saying to someone, ‘Get out, get out of this place’. I rushed into his room, turned on the light and saw a snake with its hood spread, about to strike the Master. I was horrified. The Master again said, ‘Get out, get out’. After a few minutes the snake left. Even now the thought of that particular scene is frightening me.”
The father said to the attendant, “I knew, I knew. Master came to me in a vision. I saw him chasing away the messengers of death. Our Master is all compassion. I have only one prayer, and that prayer is to have a heart of constant gratitude.”
The Master's true disciplesOne day, some of Balananda’s dear disciples said to him, “Master, some of your disciples also go to other Masters. Do you approve of this?”
He said, “I do approve of it. They are acting like bees. Bees enjoy collecting honey from various flowers, so my disciples also can do it.”
The disciples said, “No, we will never do that. We don’t want to act like bees. We want to be all yours. What you have is infinitely more than we need.”
The Master said, “I knew it. I knew it. I knew that you people are not of that type, but there is one thing you can do. You can go to other spiritual Masters for metaphysical knowledge. You have all been initiated by me. I am your Master for God-realisation and others can be your Masters for philosophy and mental expansion.”
The disciples said, “We don’t need a mind, we don’t need mental expansion. What we need is a heart, a oneness-heart with you.”
The Master said to them, “Who else can be my true disciples, if not all of you?”
PitambarBalananda’s original name was Pitambar. Pitambar’s father died when he was six years old. After his father’s death, his family became very poor. During this period Pitambar was very restless and he paid no attention to his studies. His mother begged him to study and to give up his restlessness and mischievous pranks, but he did not listen to her.
One day her anger reached the highest height and she said to her son, “Oh, I see you are going to become a sadhu. Since in every way you are hopeless and useless, you are destined to become a sadhu.”
The word “sadhu” immediately transported the child’s mind and heart to a higher world. He said, “Mother, I am going to become a sadhu.” Then he entered into his room, collected all his clothes and set them on fire. He besmeared his whole body with ashes, put a sadhu’s mark on his forehead and, putting on a loincloth, started clapping. “Mother, Mother,” he said, “look at me. I have really become a sadhu.” His mother smiled and cried.
Later, at the age of nine, Pitambar left his mother and his earthly home. His mother tried in so many ways to see him. Her heart was all sorrow and grief, but the son would not see his mother under any circumstances. He was adamant. He thought that she would create attachment for him and that he would not be able to pursue his spiritual life if she came to him with all her emotional demands. So he refused to see her until he reached the age of fifty. At that time the son and the mother met for the first time since he had left home.
Indeed, his spiritual discipline and inner cry made Balananda a spiritual giant. At the age of ninety Balananda returned to his Heavenly home.