Babaji Materializes the Palace
"My first meeting with Babaji took place in my thirty-third year." Lahiri Mahasaya had said. "In the autumn of 1861 I was stationed in Danapur as an accountant in the Military Engineering Department of the Government. One morning the office manager summoned me.
"Lahiri", he said, "a telegram has just come from our main office. You are to be transferred to Ranikhet, where an army post is now being established."
"With one servant, I set out on the 500-mile trip. Traveling by horse and buggy, we arrived in thirty days at the Himalayan site of Ranikhet.
"My office duties were not onerous; I was able to spend many hours roaming in the magnificent hills. A rumor reached me that great saints blessed the region with their presence; I felt a strong desire to see them. During a ramble one early afternoon, I was astounded to hear a distant voice calling my name. I continued my vigorous upward climb on Drongiri Mountain. A slight uneasiness beset me at the thought that I might not be able to retrace my steps before darkness descended over the jungle.
"I finally reached a small clearing whose sides were dotted with caves. On one of the rocky ledges stood a smiling young man, extending his hand in welcome. I noticed with astonishment that, except for his copper-colored hair, he bore a remarkable resemblance to myself.
'Lahiri, you have come! The saint addressed me affectionately in Hindi. 'Rest here in this cave. It was I who called you.'
"I entered a neat little grotto that contained several wooden blankets and a few water pots.
'Lahiri, do you remember that seat?' The yogi pointed to a folded blanket in one corner.
"'No sir', somewhat dazed at the strangeness of my adventure, I added, 'I must leave now, before nightfall. I have business in the morning at my office.'
The mysterious saint replied in English. 'The office was brought for you, and not you for the office.'
"I was dumbfounded that this forest ascetic should not only speak English but also paraphrase the words of Christ.
'I see my telegram took effect.' The yogi's remark was incomprehensible to me; I asked its meaning.
'I refer to the telegram that summoned you to these isolated parts. It was I who silently suggested to the mind of your superior officer that you be transferred to Ranikhet. When one feels his unity with mankind, all minds become transmitting stations through which he can work at will.' He added, 'Lahiri, surely this cave seems familiar to you?'
"As I maintained a bewildered silence, the saint approached and struck me gently on the forehead. At his magnetic touch, a wondrous current swept through my brain, releasing the sweet seed-memories of my previous life.
"'I remember!' My voice was half choked with joyous sobs. 'You are my guru Babaji, who has belonged to me always! Scenes of the pat arise vividly in my mind; here in this cave I spent many years of my last incarnation!' As ineffable recollections overwhelmed me, I tearfully embraced my master's feet.
"'For more than three decades I have waited for you to return to me.' Babaji's voice rang with celestial love.
"'You slipped away and disappeared into the tumultuous waves of the life beyond death. The magic want of your karma touched you, and you were gone! Though you lost sight of me, never did I lost sight of you! I pursued you over the luminescent astral sea where the glorious angels sail. Through gloom, storm, upheaval, and light I followed you, like a mother bird guarding her young. As you lived out your human term of womb life, and emerged a babe, my eye was ever on you. When you covered your tiny form in the lotus posture under the Ghurni sands in childhood, I was invisibly present. Patiently, month after month, year after year, I have watched over you, waiting for this perfect day. Now you are with me! Here is your cave, loved of yore; I have kept it ever clean and ready for you. Here is your hallowed asana-blanket, where daily you sat to fill your expanding heart with God. Here is your bowl, from which you often drank the nectar prepared by me. See how I have kept the brass cup brightly polished, that someday you might drink again from it. My own, do you now understand?'
"'My guru, what can I say?' I murmured brokenly. 'Where has one ever heard of such deathless love?' I gazed long and ecstatically at my eternal treasure, my guru in life and death.
"'Lahiri, you need purification. Drink the oil in this bowl and lie down by the river.' Babaji's practical wisdom, I reflected with a quick, reminiscent smile, was ever to the fore.
"I obeyed his directions. Though the icy Himalayan night was descending, a warm, comforting radiation began to pulsate within me. I marveled. Was the unknown oil endued with a cosmical heat?
"Bitter winds whipped around me in the darkness, shrieking a fierce challenge. The chill wavelets of the Gogash River lapped now and then over my body, outstretched on the rocky bank. Tigers howled nearby, but my heart was free of fear, the radiant force newly generated within me conveyed an assurance of unassailable protection. Several hours passed swiftly; faded memories of another life wove themselves into the present brilliant pattern of reunion with my divine guru.
"My solitary musings were interrupted by the sound of approaching footsteps. In the darkness, a man's hand gently helped me to my feet, and gave me some dry clothing.
"'Come, brother,' my companion said. 'The master awaits. you.' He led the way through the forest. As we came to a turn in the path, the somber night was suddenly lit by a steady luminosity in the distance.
"'Can that be the sunrise?' I inquired. 'Surely the whole night has not passed?'
"'The hour is midnight.' My guide laughed softly. 'Yonder light is the glow of a golden palace, materialized here tonight by the peerless Babaji. In the dim past, you once expressed a desire to enjoy the beauties of a palace. Our master is now satisfying your wish, thus freeing you from the last bond of your karma.' He added, 'The magnificent palace will be the scene of your initiation tonight into Kriya Yoga. All your brothers here join in a paean of welcome, rejoicing at the end of your exile. Behold!'
"Before us stood a vast palace of dazzling gold. Ornamented with countless jewels, set amid landscaped gardens, reflected in tranquil pools - a spectacle of unparalleled grandeur! Towering archways were intricately inlaid with great diamonds, sapphires, and emeralds. Men of angelic countenance were stationed by gates redly resplendent with rubies.
"I followed my companion into a spacious reception hall. The odors of incense and roses wafted through the air; dim lamps shed a multicolored glow. Small groups of devotees, some fair, some dark-skinned, chanted softly or sat silently in the meditative posture, immersed in inner peace. A vibrant joy pervaded the atmosphere.
"'Feast your eyes; enjoy the artistic splendors of this palace; for it has been brought into being solely in your honor,' my guide remarked, smiling sympathetically as I exclaimed in wonder.
"'Brother', I said, 'the beauty of this structure surpasses the bounds of human imagination. Please explain to me the mystery of its origin.'
"'I will gladly enlighten you'. My companion's dark eyes sparkled with wisdom. 'There is nothing inexplicable about this materialization. The whole cosmos is a projected thought of the Creator. The heavy clod of the earth, floating in space, is a dream of God's. He made all things out of His mind, even as man in his dream consciousness reproduces and vivifies a creation with its creatures.
"'The Lord first formed the earth as an idea. He quickened it; atomic energy and then matter came into being. He coordinated earth atoms into a solid sphere. All its molecules are held together by the will of God. When He withdraws His will, all earth atoms will be transformed into energy. Atomic energy will return to its source: consciousness. The earth idea will disappear from objectivity.
"'The substance of a dream is held in materialization by the subconscious thought of the dreamer. When that cohesive thought is withdrawn in wakefulness, the dream and its elements dissolve. A man closes his eyes and erects a dream creation, which, on awakening, he effortlessly dematerializes. He follows the divine archetypal pattern. Similarly, when he awakens in cosmic consciousness, he effortlessly dematerializes the illusion of a cosmic-dream universe.
"'In tune with the infinite all-accomplishing Will, Babaji is able to command the elemental atoms to combine and manifest themselves in any form. This golden palace, instantaneously brought into being, is real - in the same sense that the earth is real. Babaji created this beautiful mansion out of his mind and holding its atoms together by the power of his will, even as God's thought created the earth and His will maintains it.' He added, 'When this structure has served its purpose, Babaji will dematerialize it.'
"As I remained silent in awe, my guide made a sweeping gesture. 'This shimmering palace, superbly embellished with jewels, has not been built by human effort; its gold and gems were not laboriously mined. It stands solidly, a monumental challenge to man. Whoever realized himself as a son of God, even as Babaji has done, can reach any goal by the infinite powers hidden within him. A common stone secretly contains stupendous atomic energies; even so, the lowliest mortal is a powerhouse of divinity."
Autobiography of a Yogi
by Paramahansa Yogananda
More than the story of the life of Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952), this autobiography offers an insider's view of many of the great teachers, saints and traditions of yoga.