But I was inexplicably thrilled by his words. They brought a clear picture of myself roaming about India as a monk. Perhaps they awakened memories of a past life; in any case, I began to see with what natural ease I would wear the garb of that anciently-founded monastic order. Chatting one morning with Dwarka, I felt a love for God descending with avalanchic force. My companion was only partly attentive to the ensuing eloquence, but I was wholeheartedly listening to myself. I fled that afternoon toward Naini Tal in the Himalayan foothills.
Ananta gave determined chase; I was forced to return sadly to Bareilly. The only pilgrimage permitted me was the customary one at dawn to the sheoli tree. My heart wept for the lost Mothers, human and divine.
Father never remarried during his nearly forty remaining years. Assuming the difficult role of Father-Mother to his little flock, he grew noticeably more tender, more approachable. With calmness and insight, he solved the various family problems. After office hours he retired like a hermit to the cell of his room, practicing Kriya Yoga in a sweet serenity.
But Father shook his head.
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Ananta was present at her deathbed and had recorded her words. Although she had asked that the disclosure be made to me in one year, my brother delayed. He was soon to leave Bareilly for Calcutta, to marry the girl Mother had chosen for him. But in any case you are bristling with divine ardor. When I captured you recently on your way to the Himalayas, I came to a definite resolve. I must not further postpone the fulfillment of my solemn promise. I first knew your destined path when you were but a babe in my arms.
I carried you then to the home of my guru in Benares. Almost hidden behind a throng of disciples, I could barely see Lahiri Mahasaya as he sat in deep meditation. As my silent devotional demand grew in intensity, he opened his eyes and beckoned me to approach. The others made a way for me; I bowed at the sacred feet. My master seated you on his lap, placing his hand on your forehead by way of spiritually baptizing you. Shortly before your birth, he had told me you would follow his path.
Your little face was illuminated; your voice rang with iron resolve as you spoke of going to the Himalayas in quest of the Divine. The most singular event in my life brought further confirmation—an event which now impels my deathbed message. While our family was living in Lahore, one morning the servant came precipitantly into my room.
Bowing at his feet, I sensed that before me was a true man of God. Your next illness shall prove to be your last.
Pioneering Over Four Epochs
Finally he addressed me again:. I will not give it to you today; to demonstrate the truth in my words, the talisman shall materialize in your hands tomorrow as you meditate. On your deathbed, you must instruct your eldest son Ananta to keep the amulet for one year and then to hand it over to your second son.
Mukunda will understand the meaning of the talisman from the great ones. He should receive it about the time he is ready to renounce all worldly hopes and start his vital search for God. When he has retained the amulet for some years, and when it has served its purpose, it shall vanish. Even if kept in the most secret spot, it shall return whence it came.
Not taking the offering, he departed with a blessing. The next evening, as I sat with folded hands in meditation, a silver amulet materialized between my palms, even as the sadhu had promised. It made itself known by a cold, smooth touch. Do not grieve for me, as I shall have been ushered by my great guru into the arms of the Infinite.
Farewell, my child; the Cosmic Mother will protect you.
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A blaze of illumination came over me with possession of the amulet; many dormant memories awakened. The talisman, round and anciently quaint, was covered with Sanskrit characters. I understood that it came from teachers of past lives, who were invisibly guiding my steps. A further significance there was, indeed; but one does not reveal fully the heart of an amulet.
How the talisman finally vanished amidst deeply unhappy circumstances of my life; and how its loss was a herald of my gain of a guru, cannot be told in this chapter.
But the small boy, thwarted in his attempts to reach the Himalayas, daily traveled far on the wings of his amulet. The Indian custom, whereby parents choose the life-partner for their child, has resisted the blunt assaults of time. The percentage is high of happy Indian marriages. An anchorite; one who pursues a sadhana or path of spiritual discipline.
Though she died before the wedding, her natural maternal wish had been to witness the rites. A customary gesture of respect to sadhus. My keen love of travel was seldom hindered by Father. He permitted me, even as a mere boy, to visit many cities and pilgrimage spots. Usually one or more of my friends accompanied me; we would travel comfortably on first-class passes provided by Father.
His position as a railroad official was fully satisfactory to the nomads in the family. Father promised to give my request due consideration. The next day he summoned me and held out a round-trip pass from Bareilly to Benares, a number of rupee notes, and two letters.
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I Am…The Autobiography
But I believe you will be able to get this letter to him through our common friend, Swami Pranabananda. The swami, my brother disciple, has attained an exalted spiritual stature. You will benefit by his company; this second note will serve as your introduction. I set forth with the zest of my twelve years though time has never dimmed my delight in new scenes and strange faces.
The front door was open; I made my way to a long, hall-like room on the second floor. A rather stout man, wearing only a loincloth, was seated in lotus posture on a slightly raised platform. His head and unwrinkled face were clean-shaven; a beatific smile played about his lips. To dispel my thought that I had intruded, he greeted me as an old friend. I knelt and touched his feet.
He nodded. In astonishment, I handed him the note of introduction, which now seemed superfluous. He glanced at the letter, and made a few affectionate references to my parent. One is by the recommendation of your father, for whom I once worked in the railroad office.
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The other is by the recommendation of my Heavenly Father, for whom I have conscientiously finished my earthly duties in life. I found this remark very obscure. Does He drop money in your lap? He laughed. I never crave money now. My few material needs are amply provided for.
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Later you will understand the significance of a second pension. Abruptly terminating our conversation, the saint became gravely motionless. A sphinxlike air enveloped him. At first his eyes sparkled, as if observing something of interest, then grew dull. A trifle restlessly, I looked about me in the bare room, empty except for us two.