Lahiri Mahashoy: a revelation of the Beyond

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I am dedicating this humble book to Sri Shibendu Lahiri, the great grandson of Lahiri Mahashoy, on the occasion of his blessingful visit to our Aspiration-Ground, Queens, New York, 19 August 2005.

Part I — Stories

Shyama Charan's first meeting with Babaji

One evening, in the thirty-third year of his life, Shyama Charan Lahiri was roaming in the Himalayas when he heard a voice saying, "Shyama Charan, Shyama Charan." He was surprised to see a young sadhu calling him from a distance. The sadhu approached him and said, "Can you not recognise me, my child, my son?" Then he uttered the names of Shyama Charan's father and grandfather. Even then Shyama Charan could not recognise him.

The sadhu showed Shyama Charan abundant affection and led him into a cave. There he showed him a trident, a sacred water pot, a tiger skin and some beads. The sadhu said, "Can you not recognise these? They are all yours." But Shyama Charan could not recognise them.

The sadhu then placed his hand on Shyama Charan's spine. Immediately Shyama Charan came to realise that those were, indeed, his belongings.

The sadhu said to him, "My name is Babaji, my son. You were my dear disciple in your previous incarnation. You left the body at a very high stage of spiritual development. I have waited many years for you to return to me. I want you to complete your spiritual life in this incarnation. That is why I occultly arranged for you to be transferred here for a few days."

Shyama Charan bowed to his Master and cried and cried. He said that he would not go back to his wife and family, but Babaji said, "No, you have to return to them. God wants you to lead a family life and, at the same time, to remain in your highest consciousness and guide householders in leading a better, higher and purer life. I shall initiate you in a few days' time. As long as you remain near the Himalayas, come and see me every day."

Shyama Charan was overjoyed that his Master was going to initiate him. With a heart full of gratitude and delight, he left.

This most significant meeting took place in 1861 on Dronagiri Mountain.

Spiritual commentary

To say that each soul is blessed with only one incarnation is to commit an Himalayan blunder. Each soul goes through many, many incarnations before it embodies, reveals and manifests the ultimate Truth. We start from one point and eventually there comes a time when we reach the Goal. Each incarnation helps the soul go forward towards the Destined Goal. If we start something in this incarnation and do not complete it, then in the next incarnation we shall have to complete it, for unless we do, we shall have no abiding satisfaction.

Each incarnation means covering a few more steps while walking along Eternity's Road. If we keep walking, marching and running forward, each incarnation shall undoubtedly become a movement towards a more illumining and more fulfilling reality.

Shyama Charan receives initiation

A few days later, Shyama Charan returned to the Master. Babaji said, "The time has come for me to initiate you but, before I do, you have to drink this liquid."

Shyama Charan drank a very large quantity of an oily liquid from an earthen jar. It caused him to vomit and empty himself many times.

Then Babaji said, "Now you are purified, my son. I am giving you puri, halwa and other sweetmeats. Eat them to your heart's content."

Shyama Charan ate them voraciously. Then the Master initiated him compassionately, unreservedly and unconditionally.

Spiritual commentary

When the Master initiates a disciple, the Master accepts everything that the disciple has and is, and he offers to the disciple everything that he himself has and is. The supreme initiation is when the Master says to the disciple, "Take what I have," and the disciple says to the Master, "Take me as I am."

Curiosity is not spirituality

After initiating Shyama Charan, Master Babaji, the Lion Yogi, said to his disciple, "Initiation is of paramount importance; therefore, I have initiated you. But now, in three days' time, I want you to leave for your home. You have to go back to work. Your family needs you badly."

Shyama Charan cried and cried. He did not want to go. His Master consoled him and said, "No, you have to do something most special for God while staying with your family and leading the life of a householder. You have to teach family people how to pray and meditate. Otherwise, people who are married will never believe in God, and they will give up spirituality. They will not even accept spiritual life. So you must go back. But, I assure you, whenever you are in need of me, just invoke me and I shall come to see you and bless you."

With a heavy heart, Shyama Charan left for home. On the way, he stayed for two or three days at the home of some of his Bengali friends in Moradabad. His friends started criticising all spiritual Masters. They asked him, "Do you believe in occult power or spiritual power? We do not believe in it. There was a time when Indian sadhus did have occult power, but now those days have gone. People who claim that they have occult power are all fakes. It is all lies."

Then Shyama Charan had to argue with his friends. He said, "What do you mean? There are spiritual Masters who can come here and who can materialise. I have just been initiated by a great spiritual Master. I know how much occult power he has."

All his friends disagreed. They said, "Absurd! It cannot be!" So Shyama Charan said, "If you do not believe me, I can prove it. Just leave this room. Allow me to meditate for a few minutes and I promise you that my Master will come here."

His friends were all laughing at him because he claimed that he was going to bring his spiritual Master who was then far away in the Himalayas. They had no faith in this Master's occult power, but they were all curious, so they left the room. When they had left the room, Shyama Charan invoked Babaji most soulfully.

In fifteen minutes' time, Babaji came into the room in his subtle body. Then he assumed his physical form. Shyama Charan was overjoyed to see his Master inside the room, but Babaji was furious. He scolded and insulted Shyama Charan mercilessly. He said, "This is what you have done? You have brought me all the way for this? Look at your audacity! Have I come from such a great distance only to please your curiosity and to challenge your atheist friends? I warn you, I will never, never do this kind of thing again. I told you that whenever you invoke me, I shall come, but I am revoking my promise to you. Now I wish to say that whenever I want to see you, only then shall I come to you, wherever you are."

Babaji was prepared to leave immediately. But Shyama Charan cried and cried for forgiveness. Then Babaji continued, "I have forgiven you, but never invoke me any more to display my occult power or to display your devotion. Only when I feel the need shall I come to see you. In the inner world, you can invoke me, you can feel my presence, but I do not want to show my physical presence in this way any more."

Shyama Charan bowed down to Babaji and said, "O Master, now that you have come, out of your infinite compassion, please, please, give me a boon."

"What boon do you desire?" asked Babaji.

"My friends are in the adjacent room," said Shyama Charan.

"I want them to come and see you so that they will believe in your occult power."

The Master laughed at him, saying, "Yes, and also in your invocation-power. I shall listen to your request this time. Go and tell them to come."

Shyama Charan opened the door and his friends came in. They were so stunned to see a strange sadhu seated before them on the floor in a lotus position. He had long hair and a long beard and he was absolutely full of luminosity. Babaji smiled at each person and they bowed down to him.

Babaji said to them, "Now I want to give you more proof. Give me something to eat." Shyama Charan brought a chapati for his Master and Babaji ate it in front of everyone. Then Babaji asked those friends to leave the room.

When they had departed, Babaji said to Shyama Charan, "Once again I am telling you, this is the last time that I shall come to you when you invoke me. I shall not listen to you any more. Nobody is going to accept spiritual life from my presence. Only out of sheer curiosity those friends of yours came."

Then Babaji asked Shyama Charan also to leave the room for a few minutes. When he returned, Babaji had disappeared.

Spiritual commentary

The display of occult power or spiritual power in order to create aspiration is an indication of lack of wisdom. Miracle-power does not and cannot change humanity's face. Humanity's face can be transformed only by inner awakening, inner cry, inner dedication and inner surrender to God.

Curiosity is not spirituality. An inner cry is the only true spirituality which God appreciates lovingly, compassionately and unreservedly — for God's universal Oneness, universal Love, universal Light and universal Delight can be made manifest only in our heart's inner cry.

The conqueror of space and time

Shyama Charan returned to Benaras and lived an exemplary householder life, as Babaji had commanded him. At the same time, he became extremely advanced in the practice of Kriya Yoga. He became known from this time on as Lahiri Mahashoy, meaning 'great Teacher', and sometimes as '/Yogiraj" — 'King of the Yogis'. He continued to work as a clerk for the Bengali Military Engineering Service and went to the office faithfully every day. It happened that for a few days his boss, who was an Englishman, was very sad and disturbed. One day Lahiri Mahashoy asked his boss the reason for his sadness. The boss said that his wife was extremely ill in a hospital in England, and that he had not heard any recent news from her or from the family.

Lahiri Mahashoy said to him, "Let me enter into the adjacent office and meditate for some time. Then I will bring you some news."

The boss smiled at the young clerk and inwardly appreciated his good will, but he did not have real faith in him. He felt that to do this kind of thing, one had to be a great spiritual Master with tremendous occult power.

After fifteen minutes, Lahiri Mahashoy emerged from the room and said to his boss, "In two or three days' time, you will receive a letter from your wife. She is doing well. I assure you, you do not have to worry about her at all." He even told his boss what was inside the letter.

In three days, a letter did arrive from the Englishman's wife, and the contents of the letter were exactly as Lahiri Mahashoy had described them.

But the story does not end there. In a few months, the boss's wife sailed for India. Upon arriving in Benaras, she visited her husband's office. When she saw Lahiri Mahashoy, her eyes opened wide in surprise.

She said to her husband, "How can this man be here? I saw him near my deathbed in the hospital. He looked at me and smiled, and then I recovered." Her husband and all those who were working in the office were taken aback.

Lahiri Mahashoy continued to work as a clerk in that office for many, many years because he had to support his family. Only after a considerable length of time, when he had collected a few disciples, was he able to retire.

Spiritual commentary

A spiritual Master is he who has solved space problems, time problems and all other human problems. In his oneness-heart with God's Cosmic Will, the length and breadth of the world abides. He does not go anywhere; he is just there when necessity demands.

Medical power is quite often uncertain. But spiritual power is uncertain only when it is not aware of the omniscient capacity of the Source. When spirituality is fully aware of the capacity of the Source, and its surrender gradually gains the capacity of the Source, lo and behold, it is blessed by the Source and grows into the all-powerful Source itself.

Troilanga Swami's words prove to be true

A very great spiritual Master happened to be living in Benaras at the same time. His name was Troilanga Swami. Troilanga Swami was the possessor of tremendous occult power and spiritual power. According to Sri Ramakrishna, Troilanga Swami was the moving image of the Lord Shiva.

Troilanga Swami was usually to be found floating on the Ganges. He had renounced everything, including clothing, but the people of Benaras did not mind because they all knew him and had the deepest respect, love and veneration for him.

One day Troilanga Swami was with his disciples on the banks of the Ganges when a nicely-dressed, middle-aged Bengali gentleman wearing a new dhoti and perfumed with oil came up to him. To the disciples' wide surprise, Troilanga Swami stood up and embraced the gentleman. Then the gentleman walked away.

Everybody protested, "How can you embrace someone who is so sophisticated and unspiritual? There is no spirituality in him at all. Besides, he is only a householder."

Troilanga Swami said to them, "You fools, you do not recognise him. You would have to give up everything in life, renounce everything, in order to come to his spiritual state of consciousness. In your highest state of consciousness, you cannot equal him. For him to wear clean, new, ironed clothes or to use perfume is nothing. He has reached such a spiritual height that he will not be affected no matter what he wears or what he does. You cannot judge people by their outer appearance. He is really a great seeker, an extraordinary soul."

Troilanga Swami's words proved to be true. The gentleman's name was Lahiri Mahashoy and he was soon accepted as a great spiritual Master. Many people came to know of him after Troilanga Swami's highest tribute.

Spiritual commentary

If one knows how to sing the world-renunciation song well, then one can never be tempted by the world-possession-song, not to speak of the world-temptation-dance. His divine realisation is not affected in the inner world, his human performance is not affected in the outer world. He is like a boat that is in the water and, at the same time, is not affected by the water.

Medical science and spiritual mysteries

One disciple of Lahiri Mahashoy had just received his medical degree. This disciple's name was Chandra Mohan. Full of joy and pride, Chandra Mohan went to his Master and prostrated at his feet. Lahiri Mahashoy blessed him and asked him quite a few questions about medical science.

Then Lahiri Mahashoy said to his disciple, "Can you tell me if I am alive?" Immediately the Master lay down and stopped his heartbeat.

The young man who had just received his degree could not feel the Master's pulse or heartbeat. He was astonished. There were other disciples present and they also could not discern any signs of life in Lahiri Mahashoy. Lahiri Mahashoy was absolutely like a dead body.

This went on for ten or fifteen minutes. Then suddenly Lahiri Mahashoy opened his eyes and said, "You should always remember that far beyond medical science is spiritual science. The medical world will never be able to fathom the spiritual mysteries. But these spiritual mysteries are not mysteries as such. They are the real realities of normal people, and normal people are those who believe in God implicitly."

Spiritual commentary

Spirituality invents, medical science discovers. The invention of spirituality is in perfect harmony with God's omniscient Vision and omnipotent Reality. Spirituality is the foundation of the life-reality-building. This building has quite a few floors: science, art, philosophy, religion and so forth. If there is no foundation, there can be no edifice. It is the spirituality-foundation that supports all the floors and, at the same time, transcends the capacity of even the upper floors. It is consciously one with the root-reality of God's Existence-Consciousness-Bliss.

The role of justice-light

One of Lahiri Mahashoy's disciples was named Kali Kumar. This disciple worked in an office, but he would visit his Master almost every evening for spiritual guidance. Unfortunately, Kali Kumar's employer was vehemently opposed to the fact that Kali Kumar was devoted to a spiritual Master. The employer was a middle-aged man, and he wanted to be Kali Kumar's only boss, so he literally hated Lahiri Mahashoy. He even went so far as to call the Master a charlatan.

One evening, this employer followed Kali Kumar to Lahiri Mahashoy's house with the idea of insulting the Master. He wanted to complain that Kali Kumar was not as obedient to him as he was to the Master. He rushed inside the house but, before he could utter a word, Lahiri Mahashoy started speaking to the disciples.

Lahiri Mahashoy said, "Today I wish to show you a picture. Kindly extinguish the lamps." Kali Kumar darkened the room and everyone meditated in silence for a few minutes. Then Lahiri Mahashoy asked them, "Do you see anything?"

Both Kali Kumar and his employer saw a most beautiful young girl. Then Lahiri Mahashoy said to the employer, "Do you recognise her?" The man was so ashamed and embarrassed.

"Is it not your lover?" Lahiri Mahashoy continued. "Your wife and children are so devoted to you and so faithful to you. How is it that you have fallen desperately in love with this girl?"

Kali Kumar's employer cried and cried. "Please forgive me," he begged the Master. "I want to become your disciple. I want to be initiated by you."

Lahiri Mahashoy replied, "I cannot initiate you right now. You have to wait for six months. If you lead a pure life for six months and remain faithful to your wife, I shall initiate you."

Alas, the employer remained faithful to his wife for only three months; then he went back to his girlfriend. Four months later he passed away.

Spiritual commentary

If you try to harass a real spiritual Master, then ruthless embarrassment will dog you. The spiritual Master will easily forgive you, but it will be most difficult, almost impossible, for your own soul to forgive you.

Your soul knows that a true spiritual Master is not only your best friend, but your only friend. When you harass a spiritual Master, you attempt to break the eternal friendship that shines between your soul and the spiritual Master; therefore, your soul does not approve of it at all. At that time, your soul invokes the Cosmic Will or Justice-Light to play its role inside your unaspiring and unlit life.

When a God-realised person meets with death

Lahiri Mahashoy had two sons, Tinkori and Dukori, and three daughters. The middle daughter, Harikamini, was eighteen years old. She had been married at the age of sixteen to a very wealthy man. She was visiting her parents' house and she happened to develop cholera. Her case was very, very serious.

Lahiri Mahashoy's wife begged her husband to cure his daughter. So Lahiri Mahashoy gave his wife some mustard oil, chilli powder and a few other things. He told her that if she gave these to Harikamini, she would be cured.

Alas, the wife had no faith in her husband's 'medicine'. She said to herself, "If anything happens to my daughter after giving her this kind of silly thing, then her husband and his family will blame us. My son-in-law is so rich. What will he say when he hears that we gave her mustard oil?"

So the wife did not give her daughter Lahiri Mahashoy's medicine. She called in a real doctor, but to no avail. On the following day, Harikamini passed away. The mother and a few relatives were upstairs with the daughter's body and on the ground floor Lahiri Mahashoy was giving a discourse on the Bhagavad Gita. He had a few disciples by that time.

Lahiri Mahashoy was going on expounding the Gita and his students could hear Lahiri Mahashoy's wife and relatives crying and crying so pitifully upstairs. Finally, his students said to him, "Can we not stop, at least for today?"

Lahiri Mahashoy said, "No, we do not have to stop. Why should we stop? They are lamenting. They are doing their job. We are here praying and studying the Bhagavad Gita. We should do our job."

But his students continued to plead with him and finally Lahiri Mahashoy stopped his lesson.

Lahiri Mahashoy's brother-in-law noticed that Lahiri Mahashoy appeared to be very stone-hearted. His precious daughter had died at the tender age of eighteen, but the Master did not show any signs of grief. So this brother-in-law asked Lahiri Mahashoy, "What is the difference between a God-realised person and an ordinary person when they meet with death?"

Lahiri Mahashoy replied, "It is very simple. You know that when a ball strikes the ground, the ball comes back to you. It bounces and comes back. When somebody dies, because of his attachment to that person, an ordinary person's suffering increases and increases. Like a ball, it comes back to him again and again. But, for a God-realised person, death is not like that. A God-realised person does not have worldly attachments. You can say that for us, the ground is very, very soft — like water or clay or mud. So when we throw the ball, it gets stuck. You suffer for a very long time when somebody dies in your family. In my case, as soon as my daughter died, just for a fleeting moment I suffered and then it did not come back. It was not the way an ordinary person suffers for a very long time; it was only for a very short time. The ball entered the ground and it got stuck. So this is the difference between a spiritual person and an ordinary person."

Spiritual commentary

Without the sanction or tolerance of the Supreme, no human being can die. So if we have faith in the Supreme, if we have love and devotion for the Supreme, we will feel that the Supreme is infinitely more compassionate than any human being, infinitely more compassionate than we who want to keep our dear ones. Even if the dying person is our daughter, or our mother or father, we have to know that she is infinitely dearer to the Supreme than she is to us. The Supreme is our Father and our Mother. If one member of the family goes to the Father and Mother, the other members of the family will never feel sad.

High time to wake up

Lahiri Mahashoy's wife was named Kashimani. Once she woke up in the middle of the night and was so surprised to see that her husband was not at his usual meditation spot. He was seated in a lotus position high up in the air, quite a few metres above the ground.

Lahiri Mahashoy said to her, "Kashimani, it is high time for you to wake up from your sleep. This time when you wake up, remain in that condition forever. Do not go back to ignorance-sleep. Get up and look for wisdom-light within."

Then Lahiri Mahashoy initiated his wife as his disciple.

Spiritual commentary

Human life is unconscious sleep. Divine life is conscious awareness. Unconscious sleep makes us feel that there are millions of things which we cannot do on earth. Conscious awareness shows us clearly that there is nothing here on earth or there in Heaven which we cannot do. As a matter of fact, conscious awareness makes us feel unmistakably that everything has already been done. What we are doing now is only observing and appreciating it.

The gift of life

Sri Yukteshwar, who later became the Guru of Paramahansa Yogananda, was a very close disciple of Lahiri Mahashoy. One day his dearest friend Ram was attacked by cholera. Two doctors fought to save Ram's life, but it seemed that all their efforts were in vain. It was a matter of a few hours before Ram would die.

Yukteshwar ran to his Master, crying to him to save his friend's life. Lahiri Mahashoy said to Yukteshwar, "You have doctors. Why do you need me? The doctors will save him. They will be able to do the needful. I do not have to be involved."

Yukteshwar returned to his friend's house full of hope, but gradually Ram's condition became worse. When it was a matter of four or five minutes before he would die, Ram said to his dearest friend, "I will be dead in a few minutes. Please tell the Master that I have a last wish. My last wish is that he come and touch my dead body before it is cremated and thus bless me. This will be my last plea to him." Then Ram breathed his last.

Sobbing helplessly, Yukteshwar went running to Lahiri Mahashoy in order to give him Ram's message. The Master's first question was, "How is Ram?"

"He is dead, Master," replied Yukteshwar. "Please go and see him yourself. This was his last prayer to you: that you would touch his dead body and bless him."

"Then why should I go?" said Lahiri Mahashoy. "He is not dead."

"He is dead," insisted Yukteshwar. "The doctors have pronounced it."

Lahiri Mahashoy took some castor oil from a lamp and said, "Go and put a little bit of this oil into his mouth."

His friend was dead, but this was the command of the Master, so what else could Yukteshwar do? He went and with great difficulty poured a small quantity of the oil that his Master had given him into Ram's mouth.

In a few minutes, Ram sat up and opened his eyes. He said that he had had a dream in which he saw Lahiri Mahashoy, in a most beautiful form. The Master was shining like the sun. The Master had said to him, "Ram, why are you sleeping? Get up and come to me."

So Ram stood up and put on his clothes, and then both the friends walked to Lahiri Mahashoy's house. The Master greeted them warmly and, with twinkling eyes, said to Yukteshwar, "Now I have taught you how to conquer death. From now on, if anybody dies, just take a small quantity of lamp oil and put it into that person's mouth. I have given you the medicine to conquer death!"

Everybody laughed and laughed, because they knew perfectly well that the oil was just an outer gesture, a token, a symbol, whereas the actual gift of life had come from Lahiri Mahashoy.

Spiritual commentary

It is only the omnipotent spirituality that can turn impossibility into facile possibility. But spirituality, out of its sheer magnanimity, tries to adopt outer earthly means so that it can convince the physical mind that the truth-principle can be accessible to the human in us. Otherwise, without the least possible hesitation, one can say that it is the spiritual force that in silence turns the impossible reality into clear and certain possibility. Not only that, but afterwards it turns possibility into practical and inevitable reality.

It was Lahiri Mahashoy's spiritual power that revived his disciple Ram. Otherwise, no matter what kind of oil one puts into a dead person's mouth, will that person revive? Lahiri Mahashoy could have chosen anything. Only to convince Yukteshwar's physical mind with a material substance did the Master tell the disciple to use oil.

That is why spiritual Masters say, "Do this, do that," when somebody is sick. Actually, it is their spiritual power which cures, but they know that some outer remedy will convince the physical mind of the patient so that the patient can believe that the Master has true concern for him.

The thirsty person and the well

A great aspirant named Kebalananda used to visit a spiritual Master named Bhaskarananda to study metaphysical subjects, but actually his real Guru was Lahiri Mahashoy. One day Bhaskarananda asked Kebalananda to speak to Lahiri Mahashoy on his behalf. He wanted to learn a few spiritual secrets from the Master.

But when Kebalananda mentioned the matter to his Guru, Lahiri Mahashoy said, "Why should I do this? Always if somebody is thirsty, that person goes to the well. Does the well go to the thirsty person?"

When Kebalananda took this message to Bhaskarananda, Bhaskarananda felt embarrassed and ashamed. He immediately went to Lahiri Mahashoy personally to learn the spiritual secrets.

Spiritual commentary

It is quite natural for a thirsty person to go to the well to quench his thirst, for usually there is and can be no other way. But again, we have to know who the thirsty person is. If the thirsty person is a helpless little child who lacks the outer capacity or strength to come to the Source, then the Source, out of its infinite Compassion, has to go to the child who is parched with thirst.

Quite often the role of the seeker is that of a little child and the role of the Master is that of the affectionate mother. The childlike seeker cries in one room of the house and the mother comes running to fulfil the child's needs.

But if the seeker is mature in every human way, then he should come to the Master, the Source — wherever he is — for the seeker will receive tremendous delight if he drinks Nectar-Bliss at the Source and also he will have the opportunity to appreciate his own personal efforts to arrive at the Source.

Science surrenders to spirituality

Lahiri Mahashoy was strongly opposed to having his photograph taken. But since his intimate disciples were repeatedly requesting permission to take a photograph, he once agreed. The disciples called in a photographer and, like a child, the Master asked him questions. The photographer, whose name was Gangadhar Babu, was deeply honoured, so he taught the Master the ABC of photography.

But when it was time for the Master's picture to be taken, Gangadhar Babu could not see him in the viewfinder. He aimed the camera at the Master, but the Master was not visible. When he focused on others, he saw them perfectly, but when he focused on Lahiri Mahashoy, there was nothing visible at all.

Finally, the frustrated photographer stood before the Master with folded hands and said, "It is impossible. I cannot take your picture. I do not know what you are doing. Please permit me to take your photograph."

Lahiri Mahashoy smiled and said, "All right, I shall behave myself. Now you can take it."

This time when Gangadhar Babu looked through the viewfinder, the Master was clearly visible, so he took the picture.

Then Lahiri Mahashoy said to him, "Spirituality and spiritual power far surpass modern science. Just have faith in the Real, which is spirituality."

That particular picture is an immortal picture, the most authentic and the highest picture taken of Lahiri Mahashoy. When it was printed, he signed his name underneath it. His disciples now pray and meditate in front of that picture.

Spiritual commentary

Some spiritual Masters are not in favour of having their photograph taken. They feel that since the body-reality is so transient, why pay any attention to it?

There are other Masters who are of the opinion that a photograph does not represent a mere object, but can serve as an inspirational force and an elevating and illumining experience. These Masters feel the supreme necessity of seeing the highest Reality inside the body-reality first, and then transforming the body-reality into the soul's universal mission and transcendental vision. According to them, a photograph is not a mere piece of paper reflecting an outer face or appearance; it is an illumining revelation of what one inwardly is.

There are those who think that the achievements of the world and in the world are useless, and the world itself is useless, for it is unreal; therefore, they do not want to leave behind anything when they enter into the other world.

But those who think of the world as the field of God-manifestation will strive to leave behind a transformed life and the revelations of an immortal soul.

Both parties are equally correct in their respective approaches to reality, according to the depth and height of their own realisation.

Lahiri Mahashoy intercedes for his disciple

Paramahansa Yogananda's father, Bhagabati Charan Ghosh, held a very high position with the Bengal-Nagpur Railway. A disciple of Lahiri Mahashoy used to work under him. The name of this disciple was Abinash.

One day Abinash asked his boss if he could have one week's leave in order to visit his Guru in Benaras. Paramahansa Yogananda's father said, "No, No! Think of your family. Spirituality will not help your family."

That evening, Abinash was walking home in a very sad and depressed mood. Paramahansa Yogananda's father came by in a palanquin. He alighted from the palanquin and walked beside Abinash, trying to console him.

Suddenly, Lahiri Mahashoy appeared before them both in his subtle body. Lahiri Mahashoy said to Bhagabati Charan Ghosh, "Why are you stopping people from following the spiritual life? It is not good." Then the Master disappeared.

Bhagabati Charan Ghosh was dumbfounded. He immediately gave Abinash one week's leave and he said to his employee, "I would be very grateful if one day you could take me with you to see your Master."

Bhagabati Charan Ghosh and his wife became very devoted disciples of Lahiri Mahashoy. A few years later, their son Mukunda (who later became Paramahansa Yogananda) was born.

One day Abinash accompanied the family by train to Benaras to see the Master. When they entered the Master's house, Bhagabati Charan Ghosh very affectionately placed his little son in Lahiri Mahashoy's lap. Lahiri Mahashoy blessed Mukunda and said, "He is going to be a Yogi. He will serve both East and West."

The Master returns to his real home

On 26 September 1895 Lahiri Mahashoy was extremely ill. He was lying down in his house, surrounded by his intimate disciples. He was explaining to them some of his favourite verses from the Bhagavad Gita.

All on a sudden, the Master stood up and said, "What am I doing here? Why am I wasting time? It is high time for me to go back to my real Home."

So saying, he entered into a state of deep meditation and left his physical body. A few hours later, on the same day, three of his intimate disciples at different places saw Lahiri Mahashoy's luminous spiritual body consoling them. They did not know of his passing; they knew only that he was extremely sick. But when they went to their Master's ashram, they found that he had passed behind the curtain of Eternity. His physical body was dead, but he had travelled to visit them in his spiritual body.

Spiritual commentary

When the soul-bird comes out of the body-cage, it can easily be visible to those who want to see it. At that time, the limitations of the body disappear and the infinite expansion of the soul appears.

When a sincere seeker enters into the ignorance-life, he says to himself, "What am I doing here?" When the same seeker enters into the aspiration-world, he says to himself, "Why do I not remain here all the time?"

Our earthly home embodies the desire-life. Our Heavenly Home embodies the illumination-life.

Part II — Song

16. Lahiri Mahashoy1

Jogi Sămrāt Lāhiri lăhări Măhāshoy
Tomār hridăy sārā duniyār āshroy
Tumije tomār dibyă drishti kărunā brishti
Tumije tomār bishwă pitār bishesh srishti
Urdhă jăgăte mānăbe tulite kriyājog tăbă ăbishkār
Srăshtār tumi jyotir dulāl dyuloker serā purăshkār

Part III — Five immortal utterances by Sri Shibendu Lahiri

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16. Words and music by Sri Chinmoy, 26 July 2005.


"Sat Guru emerges in answer to tears."

17. Words by Sri Shibendu Lahiri, 7 May 1998; music by Sri Chinmoy, 13 August 2005.


"Thought is death and no-thought is dance."

18 Words by Sri Shibendu Lahiri, 7 May 1998; music by Sri Chinmoy, 13 August 2005.


"Thought is depression, no-thought is delight."

19. Words by Sri Shibendu Lahiri, 7 May 1998; music by Sri Chinmoy, 13 August 2005.


"Thought is dream and no-thought is the drum of Shiva."

20. Words by Sri Shibendu Lahiri, 7 May 1998; music by Sri Chinmoy, 13 August 2005.


"Life is not a problem to be solved, but a wonder to be lived through."

21. Words by Sri Shibendu Lahiri, 28 May 1999; music by Sri Chinmoy, 13 August 2005.

Part IV — Biographical notes

Shyama Charan Lahiri was born on September 30th, 1828, in the village of Ghurni, on the banks of the Jalangi River, near Krishnanagar, in Bengal. After his mother passed away in 1833, his father, Gaur Mohan Lahiri, took Shyama Charan with him to live in Benaras [Varanasi].

In 1846, Shyama Charan was married to Srimati Kashimani. Two sons, Tinkori and Dukori, and three daughters, Harimoti, Harikamini and Harimohini, blessed the union.

In 1851 Shyama Charan took the post of clerk in the Military Engineering Department of the British Government. He received many promotions during his time of service and was transferred at different times to its offices in Gazipur, Mirzapur, Naini Tal, Danapur and Benaras.

It was in his thirty-third year that Shyama Charan met his Guru, Babaji, near Ranikhet in the Himalayas and was initiated by him into Kriya Yoga.

Dronagiri Mountain of Dronagiri Valley in the Himalayas — the place where Lahiri Mahashoy was reunited with Babaji — has an elevation of 8,000 feet. It was in this valley and its surrounding mountains that the great Dronacharya often meditated, hence it was named after him. It is also called Dunagiri Hill.

In the beginning of his married life, Lahiri Mahashoy worked hard to support his family. After he retired in 1886, he remained at his house in Benaras. There he interpreted 26 of the sacred scriptures. Day and night he used to received a stream of visits from his disciples and those who wanted to be initiated into Kriya Yoga.

Lahiri Mahashoy left the body on September 26th, 1895.

Editor's note

Cover photo: Lahiri Mahashoy's photograph. His signature is shown above.

Photo credits:, Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi (1988 edition), Swami Satyeswaranda Giri, Lahiri Mahasay: The Polestar of Kriya (1991 edition), Unmesh

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