Strange Days

December arrived the other day, after the warmest November on record in these parts. I mean they claimed the average temperature over the month was the hottest it’s ever been, as far as records go. (The records only extend back to the 1800s though!)

It felt slightly warmer than usual to me, too. Winter had been so dry there had been weeks, literally piled on end, when it felt like Spring and not a drop of rain fell. There were no clouds either. Just endless blue skies. But, according to the Weather bureau, the average temperature didn’t create any sort of new record. It was just another effect of the overall changing weather patterns.

At the same time, nights didn’t get much warmer! Usually it would become chilly by around 10 pm and stay like that until 5 am when the temp would suddenly drop 3 or 4 degrees C (usually that is). Even today, for instance, a week into Summer, the day was quite warm, around 27 C, but right now at 11 pm, I’ve had to put on an extra shirt to keep from shivering.

They predict that this Summer will be very dry and warmer than average. But they also say that the overall weather patterns are changing and from now on things will remain hotter and that will get more pronounced as the years go by. They expect a 2 degree rise within 50 years, resulting in lakes drying up, seas shifting, crops failing, etc. Just one disaster after another.

I know I won’t be around to see any of it, however.

I’ve reached a place where I find it harder and harder to believe almost everything I’ve ever been taught was true or real. Most particularly, that “life” has some meaning. Lately, I’ve seen it as having no meaning at all… apart from what you attach to it. ART, is a way to give it some type of meaning, but there isn’t enough of it around to satisfy me. So, life has no intrinsic meaning, or for that matter, value. We’re not simply a randomly collected bunch of molecules spinning in a universe so vast it’s beyond our comprehension. We’re something even worse. We evolved through a process of trial and error, experiencing pleasure and pain and getting our cues from that. We’ve been around for a very very long time, not merely hundreds of thousands of years, but into the millions and only in the last few millennia have we actually done anything more than what most animals do. We actually have gained scientific knowledge of the world and of our own bodies, and as a result we’re been able to extend our life spans a lot.

But that can’t substitute for actual “meaning.”

As for the Religionists, I can’t see that they have any foot in the door so to speak, or that they hold a corner on truth. Buddhism is perhaps closest to a scientific outlook, but try telling that to a practicing Buddhist! Nope, religionists tend to all be irrational at some poit or other, even the Buddhists. Eventually almost all religions tell to accept some tenant of their creed on faith, and if you straight out reject that approach, you find yourself unable to see meaning in life itself. The religions also tend to dissolve into a morass of myth and fable, folk legend. As history, they show what humankind had to do to survive and even conquer. But when stacked up against Science, they fall over.

I have every right to be pessimistic, too!

Living In The Material World

It’s been quite a ride since Winter ended…..and now it’s a couple months later with the New Year about to come. Christmas was uneventful; just a procession of passing images with nothing in particular to grab onto, not even the presents.

I didn’t even take a drink!

But the strange weather didn’t let up at all.

I believe in Climate Change, being something that’s going to be no-good for everyone, eventually, when it takes hold. And to date, it’s manifested as unusually dry Winter, or unusually wet/cool Summer; hardly any storms to speak of, and clouds seem to be what’s missing the most. I really miss seeing cloud formations hovering low in the sky, like they used to do quite a lot back in the early 70s.

I’m going to have a few beers tonight, seeing as how it’s New Year Eve. I don’t think I’ll get plastered or anything even vaguely resembling such a condition. I’m not used to alcohol any more, whereas in the 90s I was a veritable raging alcoholic and loved to drink. I was also quite convinced as to the truth concerning the teachings of Maharishi and believed in the practice of the meditation his organization disseminated. Now, I’m so far from convinced you might as well call me a skeptic or even a non-believer.

I sort of gave up drink at around the same time I started to question whether or not there was anything of value in the teachings of the Maharishi. I went at it hammer and claw, and literally chopped down the tree of belief from the roots up. I started by examining, in a more or less objective fashion, the people I knew who did it, and they scored quite badly. Very few were what you’d call normal, while most had some major personality disorder.

I didn’t do very much as a result of my re-evaluation though. I simply gave up drink, with the proviso that I’d be amenable to smoking grass were I lucky enough to ever get any. I also stopped being impressed by famous cultural entities. That was easier said than done because for many many years, I’d been a follower rather than a leader or teacher, and I tended to take my cues from the so-called cultural heroes everyone has got to know through the media. In particular, I had a re-think about Bob Dylan and George Harrison. It might seem rather distant, but Dylan had had quite an effect on my life ever since I went to see him in a concert in this home town of mine, back in 1978. It was just before his religious conversion took place, and it kind of swept me along when it happened. I bought all the albums and listened to them thoroughly, usually with the aid of several bottles of beer! But with my re-think, I started out getting rid of a belief in Dylan simply because of his vast media persona. Then along came the Web and I was able to get a hold of every album he ever released and for free; and when it comes to you like that, the listening experience is slightly different to usual. You can be more objective and actually start to pigeon hole things according to your actual likes and dislikes. I liked music, itself. Dylan’s stuff was less than innovative overall. And I found myself disliking a lot of it just because it sounded boring.

Getting music for free kind of defeats the purpose of what the whole scene was about during these last 30 or 40 years; when the whole point seemed to be to sell lots of records and make lots of money. Paul McCartney is a very good example of it. I’ve been able to get a whole lot of his recent stuff and have noticed that it’s all inconsistent; there’s not one particular style of music he does. He indulges in everything from trad-jazz through to hi brow orchestral stuff and it’s all rather bland and unimaginative. It’s not the sort of music I’d go out to buy, at any price!

Movies are slightly different.

50 years ago –1963—you’d be lucky to see a movie which was all in focus! 70 years ago almost every film was shot out of focus simply because of the limitations of the equipment used. But since the late 60s there’s been a virtual revolution in movie making that has enabled them to produce in-focus stuff along with animations that are so life-like you find it easy to believe. The Lord of the Rings business exemplifies this. The films have taken in huge sums of money, over a billion dollars! and 5 movies down the track, the latest release is a Hobbit movie and the business it’s done since Boxing day has been staggering. Just why anyone would go to the lengths they have to create these movies is anyone’s guess. It cost them over 500 million dollars to produce 3 movies, and although they did more than a billion in business, nothing in the world has changed! For that amount of cold, hard cash, you could have solved a major part of world poverty and hunger overnight. Maharishi has said that he could solve world poverty and hunger for less than 3 billion dollars, making his scheme much cheaper than most. But with the movies of The Lord of the Rings, no actual social issues have been confronted or solved and so it seems rather futile that they went to the extremes they did in making these films.

I’ve read Tolkien’s books, and although they were fascinating you couldn’t say they didn’t arise from somewhere. The author was, after all, a devoted Catholic who believed in the Bible. So, his stories can appear as if they were based upon New Testament prophecy. Because as stories, they are rather run of the mill anyway.

To posit the world as being black and white, with absolute good and evil, is to deny reality. But that’s one reason for the popularity of the stories; they bring you to a world that is completely unlike the real world, where everything appears relative. But I don’t hold much hope for the future anymore, because all our values appear to be based upon trial and error experimentation, to see what works and what doesn’t. Whereas in the long run, there is nothing to hold you to any specific path or creed. Society is what goes on after the individual’s demise, and it isn’t a construct but rather is an effect, and mostly arose out of trial and error experimentation.

sound is god

According to George Harrison’s good friend Ravi Shankar, “sound’ is God and music can bring you to God or take you to hell – depending on which type/format it is.

I’m not sure that’s 100% right, though.

One of the most ancient Indian [Hindu] revelations is called the Sound Incarnation of God – The Sri Mad Bhagavatam. Thus, in this case God is sound. But generally speaking, God might not be thought of as sound at all.

Ravi Shankar is a musician and the fact he’s from the East doesn’t stop him from seeing himself in terms of ego and ultimate truth/realization. But there is a belief that ‘”sound” is very important when it comes to God, which is why the most successful of the Eastern teachers who have travelled to the West devote a great deal of their time to talking, face to face, or to vast crowds, it makes no difference – it’s the fact of using words to make people curious and then take them that one step further, where they are ready to give material things.

Curiosity is a strange thing. Sometimes it’s hard to know the difference between it, and a genuine interest. Fads are based upon it. Cults begin with it. And most religious conversions start with it. It’s also how the modern pop music scene evolved – very young females became very curious about all the groups making the noise [music] – and before too long became seen as fans. Movie actors used to have fans, but musicians hardly ever did until the early 50s when people didn’t know what to do with all their time and literacy. Today, curiosity has enabled a bunch of male teenagers who were competing in a TV talent show 3 years ago, to become not only over-night sensations, but close to billionaires as well. (One Direction)

This same process took place when Paramahansa Yogananda started lecturing in the USA back in the 20s; he not only talked, but sang! He could hold an audience spell-bound with his famous chant, Oh God Beautiful, and in New York at Carnegie Hall they joined in and sang it for over 2 hours non-stop. That’s how he became famous, and ended up in The White House meeting US President Coolidge.

In 1938 he even released a 78 rpm album called Cosmic Chants which was very popular and is still listened to today. Here’s a sample of one track from the album, called “God, Christ, Gurus”.

Likewise, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi didn’t simply come to the West to teach people how to meditate – it had been done many times before. He came to lecture as well, and used any opportunity he got, to pronounce his belief system. He talked at Universities, town halls, hotels, on TV and film, and more recently (2000 – 2003) via the Internet. Journalists in particular were curious about his so called message and followed him everywhere. He held Live Press Conferences on the Internet during 2002 and made quite an impact.

What he spoke about seemed quite relevant and the use of the new technology impressed lots of people. I was quite curious about those events and saw a few of them live on a very slow dial-up connection. His technology was good enough to allow you to choose what format your system was capable of streaming. I wound up with a picture the size of a postage stamp and with quite clear audio. Still, those files were over 350 Mbs. I managed to save one or two and you can listen to them here if you click the colored text.

dev (2)
yogic fliersHere you see Maharishi’s teacher Guru Dev. Next is the Yogic Fliers who he says bring peace to any environment. Finally there’s Dr. Byron Rigby, a Psychiatrist who was the Minister of Health and Immortality, until the World Government of the Age of Enlightenment ceased to function. He then “retired” to Melbourne, Australia where he now works at his own private practice of Psychiatry!Image
rigby

It was all about listening to another human being. Not about understanding what was said, but just simply being passive for however long it took.

Yet, you always find there are detractors who’s curiosity fails to take them to the “next” level while some people don’t even have any curiosity about such subjects at all.

These talkers, therefore, spend a lot of time answering their critics and detractors trying to convince their followers about their sincerity and closeness to Truth. If anything, that’s the one thing about Eastern “teachers” I just can’t stand! The way they feel they have to defend themselves and therefore justify their existence.

There’s a good example of that type of thing in a “talk” recorded of Yogananda celebrating his birthday. The people assembled are there because they are devoted followers and have great belief in him. Some have totally dedicated their lives to him. Some have known him for 20 years. Yet, he still feels it necessary to defend himself from detractors and critics. In that way, he talks about himself a lot! Click the colored text to listen to a “rare” wire recording of Yogananda’s birthday party celebrated at a swank hotel in Los Angeles back in the 40s.

lst smilegandhi

Paramahansa Yogananda an hour before he passed away in I think 1953; Yogananda with Mahatma Gandhi, who he initiated into the “science” of Kriya Yoga; Sri Yukteswar, Yogananda’s guru. And finally, the cover of his autobiography, now published in over 16 languages

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Astrologer

Bhagawan SoahamI was in London in 1977 for a short stay; I saw advertisements in the London underground for Bhagawan Soaham “ASTROLOGER” and wrote down the contact address thinking I’d go and see him later.

A couple days after, I made my way via a train to Wandsworth, to his “headquarters” which was little more than a small shop front. I went in and waited until he would see me, and then asked 3 questions. His answers showed he was telepathic, but weren’t very relevant to me. I returned to Adelaide a week later and forgot about Bhagawan Soaham for more than a year until one day when I found a pamphlet I’d picked up in his office that was published in 1970, a 10,000 print run. A picture of him was on the cover, looking stern and not very handsome! However, I wasn’t put off and wrote a letter. What I got in return some months later was a price list for Amulets, Charms, and “months” of prayers. The cheapest option was 1 month of prayers for 1 pound, or a general purpose charm for 9 pounds.

I tried the charm and sent my cheque off. One month passed and then the postman came to my door asking me to sign for a registered letter. I saw it was from Soaham and agreed to his request. Inside the envelope was a small, silver amulet about the size of a cigarette filter. It didn’t seem very ‘magical’ so I put it somewhere safe and forgot about it!

Upon reading the pamphlet, I got the impression that people were impressed by the amount of money he had earned through astrology and ‘prayers’ and although it wasn’t a huge sum, it suggested that quite a few had employed his services. But my interest, if any, was in his World Peace quest. I’d seen several Indians going after the same goal, and most had large followings that generated large revenues. There was the Maharishi, who’d been made famous by The Beatles, and his plans that involved a billion dollar trust fund set up to help alleviate world poverty; he didn’t yet actually have the $1,000,000,000 but his plans were quite advanced and detailed and he had many followers who had pledged their lives for the World Plan’s success. His methodology involved “Vedic Flyers” who were usually westerners trained to ‘levitate’ an inch or so in short hopping movements; and the teaching of the supposedly God inspired Rig Veda. Other points of the ‘plan’ included the formation of a World Government of the “Age of Enlightenment” which was situated at a small university campus on a mountain in Switzerland. [Maharishi Vedic Universities]

Another Indian with the same type of goal was known as Maharaji, or Prem Rawat – a young Indian Catholic school boy who travelled the world giving speeches about something called “knowledge.” [Words of Peace website]  As it turned out, “knowledge” was only 4 specific Raj Yoga techniques you could learn almost anywhere, but with Prem Rawat you had to undergo a 6 to 9 month “preparation” course, so called, to get it. This involved watching films of talks given by him in the various places he’d been to; and there was a cost to it as well. Back in the 70s people would sell or give away all their possessions to “prepare” for knowledge, and they’d also attend international gatherings in places like Texas where Maharaji was described as the second coming! Usually, people got very interested in “knowledge” very quickly and more often than not, would move into shared houses with others who had the same ambitions to get knowledge. They called these shared houses, ashrams and you were supposed to live there for more than a year until you got “knowledge.” I’ve known quite “intelligent” people with high university degrees moving into an ashram and changing their diet away from meat and carrying on as if nothing had really changed. One in particular was a Child Physiatrist named Sarah, who’s father had been an English Professor at Adelaide Uni. He was dead set against it all and gave special open lectures on the subject in which he denounced the whole thing as a cult and one to be avoided. Sarah, didn’t care and went on to get “knowledge” and still had her practice from where she would put very young children onto heavy mind altering drugs. She didn’t seem to see that as a conflict. And she was ‘happy’ to invest more than 15 years of her life in the whole scene.

Eventually, though, both these ‘movements’ lost so much credibility and financial backing that they were forced to re-organise and just about re-name themselves. It seems almost ludicrous to think that Maharaji’s followers like to advertise the fact that he gave a talk to some UN sponsored group in some South East Asian country. They see this as confirmation of his legitimacy. But all it shows, is that if you are persistent enough, you get noticed by people in positions of power and influence. They don’t help financially, or take up the practice themselves, but they provide a platform for the ideas and plans to be disseminated from.

Soaham was slightly different in that his followers didn’t number in the 10s of thousands, and his ‘income’ was relatively small. He didn’t do much advertising or brainwashing, such as Maharishi and Prem Rawat did, but what he did do was extremely effective. After all, I did see one of his large posters in the British Underground!

I’m adding 2 excerpts from the pamphlet to show how people like to build things up in their own minds when they have a focus.


FORWORD
By PRAFUL R. C. PATEL

[Mr. Praful R. C. Patel is a businessman from East Africa settled in London. He takes active’ part in social uplift, education and welfare of Immigrants in Britain. During the Kenya Asian crisis of February 1968, as President of NAVA KALA INDIA SOCIO_CULTURAL CENTRE and due to his membership of many immigrant bodies, he became spokesman for the East African Asians in London. He formed an all_party parliamentary body representing members of both the Houses of Parliament, THE COMMITTEE ON UNITED KINGDOM CITIZENSHIP, who’s Honorary Secretary he has been since its formation. The Committee campaigns to restore full rights to U.K. passport holders and resolve the whole question of immigration on a Commonwealth scale.]

I am very happy to introduce this book about a well-known Indian Astrologer, who has settled in Great Britain. Astrology has a special importance for Indian people and even today traditional families consult an astrologer in the selection of suitable partners in marriage, and in arranging all. important dates and enterprises. Jyotish Shastra, the science of Astrology, is a very ancient one, and there are marvellous legends of lost astrological masterpieces in which the particulars of every living person, past, present or future, are said to be inscribed.
Astrology came from the East many centuries ago, and western interest in the subject has never ceased, although many modern materialists regard it as mere superstition. It should be said that very famous western scholars have supported the basic tenets of astrology, and one need only cite the late Dr. Richard Garnett, Keeper of Printed Books at the British Museum, London, who was a firm believer in astrology. Nowadays most of the leading national newspapers in Britain include a section of astrological notes, and these are often the first items to which many readers turn, sometimes seriously, sometimes half in jest.
I cannot claim to be an authority on astrology or on the skill of various exponents of this science. I am a practical man, and all my time is taken up by the everyday problems of Indian people in Britain and by the struggle for racial harmony and justice: it is possible that astrology might not be a positive stimulus to my hopes and fears.
But I do know something about the originator of this book Shree Bhagawan Soaham, and, I should like to mention some facts which reveal something of the man himself.
Nine years ago, when NAVA KALA INDIA SOCIO-CULTURAL CENTRE was established, Shree Soaham made a large donation to our funds, which helped us in our task of promoting artistic and cultural exchange between East and West. Since then he has continued to make generous contributions to our work.
Last year, during the Kenyan Asian crisis, Shree Soaham provided open home and hospitality to Asians who were obliged to leave Africa in the famous exodus caused by reckless politicians and broken promises. Shree Soaham proved himself a true friend to those in need, providing food, accommodation, and helping Asians to find employment. He has large heart, and is a true philanthropist.
In the ten years I have known him, his generosity and kindness have attracted me, and I know he is an individual who has a lot to offer to mankind. Westerners, who are accustomed to stereotyped personalities, will find that Shree Soaham typified the unusual individualism of India, where people are unique characters who defy facile classification. They follow the bent of their mind in their own way, and usually have a sense of humour which mocks at pomposity. Shree Soaham is also typical of the faith and sincerity of Indian religion which has survived even in the age of industrialisation and five-year plans. His campaign for World Peace is, unconventional, but his spiritual disciplines and austerities are very real, in contrast to the pious platitudes, of so many present-day politicians.
I respect his intentions, and wish him every success. I hope this little book will show that sincerity, will power, faith and self-sacrifice are still essential virtues in modern life.

LONDON, JUNE 1969.

 

 

FOUR MAXIMS
OF
BHAGAWAN SOAHAM

(JNANA) KNOWLEDGE
(KARMA) ACTION
(TAPA) PENANCE
(PREM) LOVE


BHAGAWAN SOAHAM _ LOVE INCARNATE
By Prof. MADHUKAR R. RANDERIA, M.A.

[Prof. Madhukar R. Randeria, M. A., Development Officer, DENA BANK, Bombay (India) was formerly Professor of Gujarati Language and Literature, Head of the Department in a leading local college. Later, he was Resident Director of Shri Brihad Bharatiya Samaj, an institution for overseas Indians. He is a man of learning and erudition and is an author of a score of books on various subjects. As a writer he wields a facile pen. He is a talented playwright and an artist of the first rank and is a Member of the Music, Dance & Drama Akademi of the Gujarat State. He is associated with many prominent Social, Literary, Educational, and Cultural institutions.]

I admit it as bad luck that I have not seen and not met the great celebrity that goes under the name of Bhagawan Soaham. It was my friend Yahyabhai Lokhandwala who gave me interesting and edifying reading material about this great soul, and I must express my thankfulness to him for that privilege given to me. The material has opened a vista of the potentiality of human resolution which is not merely an idle reverie. The resolution seems to gain strength from the concept of universal love and welfare of the people of the world. I adore and admire Bhagawan Soaham for the confidence that he has in his mission and the conviction that he holds for anything that he undertakes. His ‘Penance for Peace’ programme, if anything, is a self-imposed challenge to SELF. Yes, lovers of humanity and peace alone can throw such challenges and pick them up also. ‘BHAGAWAN’ and ‘SOAHAM’ only means that.
It was on his 57th birthday, on April 2nd 1967 that Bhagawan Soaham, acknowledged as the leading Hindu astrologer palmist and prayer master in Britain, embarked on a spiritual campaign for world peace that has captured the imagination and admiration of millions throughout the world who have read about it.
Spread over 21 years, it is an individual campaign of increasingly rigorous self-denial, a mortifying of the flesh to attain true spirituality in order to unleash the full power of prayer.
Bhagawan Soaham’s WORLD PEACE SOAHAM TAPA YAGNA, or Sacrifice of Penance, began in 1967 on his solar birthday week with the maintenance of strict silence on every Friday and fasting every Friday during the year. In 1968 he maintained silence for two days every week i.e. every Thursday and Friday, and commenced his Solar birthday week with two days fasting followed by one day’s fasting every week for the rest of the year.
Every subsequent year he will increase his day of silence by one more day a week and he will begin his Solar birthday with as many days fasting as the number of days of silence in the week for that year followed by one day’s fasting every week for the rest of the year. On the 7th year he will maintain complete silence throughout the year, commencing fasting for 7 days at the beginning of the solar year on his birthday followed by one day’s fasting per week for the rest of the year. On the 21st year of the cycle i.e. in 1988 he will begin the solar year on his birthday with 21 days of fasting followed by one day’s fasting in a week for the rest of the year.
It will be a silence not of passivity but of active and pregnant concern for humanity.
“The vibration from my spiritual concentration will go all over the world”, says Bhagawan Soaham. “It will not be an abstract praying into a void. I will have on my wall a map of the world and photographs of the world’s leaders. My spiritual energies, will be focussed on the actual minds of people and on existing states of war.
“But I shall not be alone. I am asking my numerous followers and supporters throughout the world to join me in penance and prayers for world peace, and around me in the Ashram or hermitage I intend to establish in my native India, I will have dedicated followers joining in mass as well as individual prayer. As my influence spreads, the vibrations will expand until they encircle the .globe.”
It is an ambition that might seem over weaning had it come from the lips of an egotistical man. But Bhagawan Soaham is the opposite of that. Despite the veneration in which he is held by his close followers, despite the tens of thousands of testimonials to his supernatural powers that he has received from grateful clients in many parts of the world, he remains essentially a modest man. He may have his head in the clouds, but his feet are very firmly on the ground.
“I see myself as quite an ordinary person, but with God-given powers and a mission to perform,” he says. “My purpose for the remainder of my life and I hope to live to be 150, is to purify my own Self and to attain greater and greater spirituality. When I started my Sacrifice of Penance I gave up smoking (I had been a chain-smoker), alcohol and meat. In 1968 I renounced any preparation of wheat, rice, millet, maize or Juwar till the period that India became self-sufficient in food. For me this is not just a campaign for world peace and prosperity. It is a new life, a personal rebirth.”
Once questioned by a close friend of his about the meaning of the word ‘SOAHAM’, he said, ‘It only means ‘LOVE’. If I possess the same intensity of love for all those who dwell upon this earth, which I have for my SELF (and the Geeta calls it _ Atma aupamya), I am SOAHAM indeed. In wider sense, one who transcends his Ego (the I) becomes SOAHAM (I am HE).’
Explaining the word BHAGAWAN, he said, Bhagawan need not necessarily be translated or, understood as GOD. Bhagawan is an epithet applied to, revolutionaries, statesmen, super intellectuals, king makers, reformists, and to men who possess powers of a superman, who are supreme, who abandon worldly objects in daily life but aren’t mendicants attired in saffron_coloured robes, who possess knowledge. and inspiring power with a difference, who spend their energies for the welfare of people at large, and who trot on the globe as saviours of the poor and the down trodden. Indian epics and history abound in names of characters to whom this word is applied as interpreted by me’.
This is the creed of SOAHAM. It correlates to none. Under the banner of this creed, he has nothing to preach. In his words, ‘my own conduct should serve as the best precept and example of what I wish to convey to people’.
And asked why he does not put his thoughts into a book form for the benefit of the posterity, his simple answer was, “Has any God ever written a book himself?”
No, he has not. And therefore this writer ventures here to portray a profile of this remarkable character of the present day.
To appreciate the ordinary aspects of a man whom so many now regard as remarkable, it is necessary to go back to April 2nd, 1910, when he was born at Nadiad in Gujarat. His Hindu name was Bhailalbhai Muljibhai Patel, and he was the only son of a wealthy landowner, with many properties on his estate. Bhailal’s father Muljibhai was a clever and calculating man of the world. With hard work, business acumen and good luck he had amassed wealth, which however had created a highbrow complex in him and made him a man of temper, and niggardly on money matters. Young Bhailalbhai on many occasions had tough conflicts and faced resultant tensions when dealing with his father, but with his own cool headedness even after provocation, keen sense of humour, persuasive power, and practical approach to the solution of problems, could pacify his anger, and always have an edge over him. His days of juvenility abound in such episodes.
Groomed in the days of childhood in the heroism of the stories of the great Indian epics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, he later developed interest in games and sports and turned out to be a good athlete and a swimmer; while under contemporary unorthodox social atmosphere, he was building himself up as a reformer.
At the age of five he started at the Municipal School and proved himself an apt pupil. The first turning point in his life came between the ages of ten and eleven. Two experiences exerted powerful, and slightly conflicting influences on his young mind: one spiritual, the other political.
At 10 his mother died and he came under the care of his elder sister,. She was a deeply religious girl, widely read in Hindu scriptures. He had been used to regular attendance at the temple with his parents. But under his sister’s more fervent example he became aware of the deeper aspects of the spiritual life. He felt the stirrings of an innate hunger for spirituality within himself. The belief grew in him that he was destined for higher things.
The second influence was concentrated in the magnetic personality and genius of Mahatma Gandhiji, that great moulder of India’s destiny, a visionary as much as a politician. It was an influence that lasted with him down the years, as testified by the garlanded portrait of him that still holds a place of honour on his wall.
In 1921, when Bhailalbhai (as he was then called) was eleven, Gandhiji launched the fateful movement that was eventually to lead to independence for India. The immediate impact on Bhailalbhai was the boycotting of the Government school and his shift to a National School. And, although too young at the time to recognise the full implications of Gandhiji’s momentous appearance on the stage of history, Bhailalbhai felt another stirring in his mind, a patriotic fervour, a hunger for freedom, which was later to lead him to prison in the steps of his great leader.
But, although these two influences, spiritual and political, were powerfully at work in his subconscious mind at the time, Bhagawan Soaham frankly admits today that they were not primarily responsible for the lack of attention he paid to his studies and his disappointing academic record. Though highly intelligent and possessing a keenly enquiring mind, there was an extrovert side to his nature which found an outlet in games. He had a particular passion for cricket, excelling as a batsman and a fielder. In fact he paid more attention to a scoreboard than to a blackboard. At the end of his school career in 1928 (he gone to a private school after two years at the National School) he failed in his final examination.
But just before that had come another turning point in his life, an incident that he regarded as a miracle the beginning of a rebirth. It happened one a day when he had gone to the bazaar after lunch. He was passing by a shop when the owner called out to him. He said he had to go to the wholesalers for an hour or two and asked if he could very kindly look after the shop for him in his absence.
Bhailalbhai obligingly agreed and settled down in the chair behind the counter. Bored after a while, he found a book in a drawer of the counter and took it out. It was a lecture by Swami Rama Tirth, a celebrated professor of philosophy at Lahore, one of a number of lectures he had given during tours in America, England, and Japan.
Bhailalbhai began to read idly but soon became engrossed. There was a time when he would have found it a dry dissertation on religious subjects. But now his eyes were opened. What he was reading about were the fundamentals of human existence. Who am I? Where am I going9 What is the meaning of life?
When the shopkeeper came back, he noticed with approval that he had the book open in front of him. Bhailalbhai showed the excitement he felt and pointed to a word he had not understood. “Brahma”, he asked, “What does that mean?” The shopkeeper said that it would take time to understand its meaning. Not just time but many births”. Bhaila1bhai asked how he could learn to understand. The shopkeeper explained that it would take a long and hard discipline to attain understanding. He invited him to come and see him again.
The upshot was that Bhailalbhai was introduced to the Guru or Holy Man who was to change the course of his life His Holiness Mahant Shree Jankidasji of Shree Santram Temple at Nadiad. He was to spend a good part of the next twelve years, directly or indirectly, under the spiritual influence of this great philosopher and mystic. It was he who gave Bhailalbhai his spiritual name of Soaham, which means “I am He”.
But these twelve years were by no means all spent on a spiritual plane. They were interwoven with activities and developments in three different fields personal, academic and political.
In 1927 the marriage that had been arranged for him, took place according to Hindu custom. A marriage that was blessed by a son and a daughter, who today are not least among those who venerate his Sacrifice of Penance. His wife Radhabahen’s parents were themselves followers of his Guru.
On the academic side he wiped out the traces of the memory of his failures at school examinations by passing the matriculation at the age of 27_a novel experience in which he found himself being taught by some of his former school friends. Later he took private tuition for a year at a Law College. He had an ambition at the time to become a barrister, but this did not materialise.
On the political front, his veneration for Gandhiji and his fervour for the emancipating ideal for which he stood, brought him into active participation in the Nonviolence Movement aimed at casting off the yoke of British Imperialism. In 1932 he had his first taste of prison life when he was sentenced to six months for picketing. For the average political agitator prison was an irksome, soul deadening experience, but like the saintly Gandhiji himself, Bhagawan Soaham found it the reverse.
To him a prison cell proved the ideal retreat in which to follow his calling, to read books on religions, philosophy, and astrology, to practise the Yoga exercises that are an essential part of the mastery of Self and the strengthening of the powers of concentration, and to meditate on the deeper meanings of existence.
Two other lengthy spells in prison followed. In 1940 he had joined the Indian National Congress’s Freedom of Speech movement and was gaoled for nine months for speaking for that cause. Again, after a short period, he was detained for six months for the same cause. Today he has a warm, but somewhat amusing recollection of the puzzled Irish Superintendent who was in charge of the prison. Bhagawan Soaham kept a strict vow of silence throughout his term of imprisonment, and others also followed his path of silence. But every day the Superintendent would visit him to ask: “Is there anything you want?” And every day Bhagawan Soaham would write on his pad “No”. All that he desired was access to books, and .that was freely granted. During those months he read over sixty books that confirmed his faith and enlarged his vision.
In 1942, as an active member of the Quit India Movement, he was back in gaol for ten months. By this time he had a complete grasp of astrology and palmistry. Apart from what he had learned from his own Guru, he had, in 1936, taken an intensive four month course in astrology under Shree Gaurishanker Krishnaram Vyas, India’s leading astrologer at the time. And in prison (not this time a silent One) he did much to relieve the tedium of his fellow prisoners by conducting classes in astrology and palmistry.
It was in 1942, while still in this gaol, that Bhagawan Soaham was faced with one of the most testing decisions of his life. At the time when the Quit India Campaign started his father had a stroke which led to partial paralysis. They had discussed together what was the right thing for Bhagawan Soaham to do. And they had agreed that, as his father was wealthy enough to have all the medical attention that could be required, it was clearly his duty to take an active role as an agitator.
But when news reached him in prison that his father had had a second, serious stroke, he was faced with a harrowing dilemma. A friend had written to him and the Government authorities applying for, “mercy bail” for him and every one urged him to avail himself of it. But Bhagawan Soaham saw the choice as being between service to his father and service to his country. For he knew that to leave prison, for however urgent a reason, could be construed as a humble acceptance of “mercy” being handed out by a Government he was vowed to oppose in every way.
It was his faith that sustained him when he firmly refused to accept the “mercy bail”. He thought of all that his Guru had taught him and of the holy name he had bestowed upon him. “Tell my father that I pray for him and will soon see him”, he said.
When he was released from prison at the end of his term, his father was still alive. He lived for another month, under his son’s devoted care. Bhagawan Soaham’s prayers had been answered, as he knew they would be.
After returning from prison, he was twice elected member of the Nadiad Borough Municipality on Congress ticket.
But it was less on the tumultuous stage of political agitation that Bhagawan Soaham’s destiny was being shaped during this period as in the quiet depths of his own soul. This burning desire was to see farther, to see more clearly. He had the mystic’s urge to probe into the innermost recesses of his own being and from there to see beyond Self, to identify himself with the Infinite.
This innate leaning towards the holy life had been manifest at the age of 16, when he went on a pilgrimage to the Gir Forest in Gujarat in search of the holy hermits who lived solitary lives of prayer and contemplation, far from the distractions of civilisation.
The adolescent Bhailalbhai was in search of hermits in whom he could find an example of ascetic holiness. And he was disappointed. None of the hermits whom he met impressed him with any saintliness or shed a light on his spiritual path. As they sat outside their huts or caves to receive the offerings from pilgrims he found about them more of self-satisfaction than spirituality.
At the age of 21 he went to the Forest of Surpan on the bank of the holy river Narmada in search of yogis, where he met one who, satisfied him to some extent.
Bhagawan Soaham was 22 when he himself went into retreat at Hardwar near the source of the sacred Ganges in the Himalayas. He was to spend over two years there in a life of seclusion devoted to studies, prayer, meditation and the practice of yoga. It was almost certainly in his soul searching, contemplative period that the seeds were sown which now bear fruit in his Sacrifice of Penance.
To Western minds there is an inherent difficulty in grasping the significance, the motivating force and the aims of Eastern mysticism, whose roots go so far back into the mists of time. Nowhere is this more evident than in the practice of Yoga. To the average Westerner this is merely identified with physical fitness, involving difficult convolutions of the body, an exercise in concentration and willpower that can even lead to ‘miraculous’ feats. But Yoga practised solely for egoistic reasons is a comparatively worthless pursuit. Its true purpose is immeasurably more enriching.
“The practice of Yoga” said Bhagawan Soaham, “brings us face to face with the extraordinary complexity of our Being, the rich endless confusion of our Nature. Yoga plunges into all the multiple profundities of the soul. We find ourselves surrounded by a whole complex world which we have to know and to conquer. Our purpose in Yoga is to exile the Ego and to enthrone God in its place as the ruling inhabitant of our Nature,
“By Yoga we can rise out of falsehood into truth, out~ of weakness into force, out of pain into bliss, out of bondage into freedom, out of death into immortality, out of darkness into light, out of confusion into purity, out of imperfection into perfection, out of self division into unity”.
The life and spiritual achievements of Indian Yogis have been without doubt one of the most potent of all influences and inspirations to Bhagawan Soaham. And it was at Hardwar, in the seclusion of his private room, that he first became attuned to the Power of Silence which that great mystic recognised as being so much greater than the power of speech. In the 15 years of total silence that he has now prepared for himself, he will be entering fully into that blessed state indicated in some of the famous sayings of the Indian Yogis.
“The silence does not reject the world: it sustains it.”
“It is in the inner silence of the mind that true consciousness can be built.”
“When the mind is still, Truth gets her chance to be heard in the purity of silence.”
“It is in thought that comes in a quiet or silent mind that there is power.”
“All speech and action come prepared out of the eternal silence. Silence prepares, speech manifests. Silence acts, speech gives the impulse to action. Silence compels, speech persuades.”
“To be capable of silence, stillness, illumined passivity, is to be fit for immortality.”
But it was a long road that Bhagawan Soaham, had to tread from that oasis of spiritual tranquillity among the snow peaks of the Himalayas to the fruition of his dream that is now within sight. Like anyone else he had to earn a livelihood and after his father’s death he knuckled down to the administration of his estate. Soon his energies drove him to venture into the field of business.
In April 1944 he launched a financing and commission business with a partner. At the end of the first year it was a flourishing concern, but then disaster soon struck it.
Soaham had to close the business and had to sell all the property his father had bequeathed him in order to pay back every one who had deposited money in the firm. He was suddenly a poor man.
A partner gave him some land against the loss and he was beginning to find his feet again when the land was appropriated by the socialist authorities. It was then that his thoughts turned to astrology, Palmistry and shadow reading as a profession.
Bhagawan Soaham, before taking to astrology as profession, served as a Bank employee for about two years, and as a supervisor in the Navajeevan press and also as a clerk for a period of six months in Surat (Gujarat) at the time when the census was taken. It is interesting to note, that in 1936, he worked as a ‘Shoeshine boy’ in Poona, just to show it to his friends that he considered no profession or vocation as mean and lowly. For a decade that is from 1937 to 1947, he worked as an enthusiastic Congress party man.
On August 15th 1947 Bhagawan Soaham, opened a College of Astrology at Ahmedabad. The venture proved a highly successful one, and over the next seven years his reputation as an accurate foreteller of the future and a curer of diseases and distress by the Power of prayer rapidly increased.
In 1954, he reached another turning point in his life It had been his early ambition to travel, to gain know ledge of other races, other cultures, other faiths. At 27 he had even made tentative plans to go round the world on bicycle with three or four friends. Now the lure of the world beyond India became irresistible. He had many friends who had immigrated to East Africa and who had for long been urging him to join them. Finally he agree
At the start he had difficulties in obtaining the necessary residential permits and decided to move from Kenya to Zanzibar. With the help of a friend he got a three months temporary permit to go to Zanzibar. His entry there was made possible in a remarkable way. The Immigration Officer had proved difficult until he offered to read his fortune. He gave him long-term guidance on his career and marriage. He also foretold that he would be getting a substantial rise in his salary within the next few days. It was when this forecast came true that the amazed and delighted Immigration Officer ironed out all the difficulties of entry. A permanent permit was secured under the guidance of the Immigration Officer and with help from friends and relatives.
It would require much space to catalogue all the notable successes achieved by Bhagawan Soaham during those seven years in Zanzibar and Kenya. Suffice it to say that a solid reputation as an astrologer, palmist and faith healer of exceptional talent had preceded him when he arrived in England in 1961 with savings amounting to £2,000 and a mission to widen as far as possible his services to Humanity. His family came to England in 1964.
In England, Bhagawan Soaham has gone from strength to strength and his fame has now spread to many parts of the world, including America, the West Indies, Africa, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. On his files are the
names of some 38,000 people of all races, creeds, classes, and professions who have written to him for help and advice and few of whom have been disappointed.
Bhagawan Soaham is a seer and a humanist, but he is also a shrewd businessman, as befits a member of the Gujarati community which is noted throughout India for its acumen. That is not to say that he is in any way a devotee of Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth, and Prosperity. Money to him is a means of making more widely available his powers for good. While his reputation has been grounded on extensive advertising in carefully selected magazines and newspapers in many countries, it has been consolidated by the personal recommendations that have flowed from grateful clients. Of the extent and range of these the readers can judge for themselves from the appendix of testimonials under the caption ‘Expression of Gratitude’, at the end of this booklet.
The astrology as practised by Bhagawan Soaham bears no relation to the mumbo jumbo of the horoscopes one reads in newspapers and magazines. To foretell a client’s future he requires precise details of his or her birth, down to the exact hour and if possible minute. To him astrology is a science and he estimates the degree of, accuracy of his forecasts as at least 75%.
Palmistry he regards as a somewhat less exact science. It is in the power of prayer that he is the firmest believer. Only a small minority of his clients visits him personally. Much of the healing and helping he has achieved has been through prayers. More than 500 lucky charms and talismans alone, over which he has concentrated his spiritual powers, are sent by him every year to clients in every kind of need.
The majority of his clients are women and a recurring problem, especially in England, is that of an unhappy marriage or love affair. Bhagawan Soaham believes that the one sure recipe for a happy marriage is when the horoscopes of husband and wife have been carefully matched beforehand. But there are numerous testimonials to prove what he has been able to do for estranged couples by prayers recited over talismans or other objects, magnetically drawing the couple together and making them attracted to each other.
Bhagawan Soaham. has also had notable success in faith healing. A dramatic example was that of the woman who was brought to him writhing and screaming in hysteria in the grip of three men. As he concentrated the power of prayer on her, she grew quieter, the screaming stopped, and very soon she relaxed and was her old smiling self again. Among ailments and diseases he has completely cured by “absent prayers” are listed tuberculosis, sciatica, asthma, heart trouble and varicose veins.
Since he first came to London and.lodged in a, modest rented flat at 306 Finchley Road, Bhagawan Soaham’s material status has changed out of all recognition. By 1968 he had two clerical assistants working for him at his headquarters in Wandsworth, and an elegant family house, in Golders Green, an annual income estimated at £10,000, with endowment policies for the same amount and shares in mining companies and store groups.
But one does not have to be in his company for long to realise that amassing wealth is in no way a motivating force in his life. His generosity has become a byword, especially among immigrants from Asia and Africa. He spends some amount a month on the soup kitchen he established in a house near his headquarters and where a bed for the night as. well as food is always available to those in need. He has offered a loan free of interest to anyone desiring to buy property, although there have been occasions when loans have not been paid back.
Money to him is a means to humanitarian end, and his own way of life is Spartan and ascetic. He is up every day at 5 a.m. for a concentrated session of prayers, meditation and yoga. Much of his morning is spent in dealing with his voluminous mail, the afternoon in providing guidance and concentrating prayer on the needs of his clients. He eats sparingly and on fasting days drinks only water. He allows himself little leisure and has rarely been outside London.
To the tens of thousands of people scattered around the world to whom he has brought renewed hope and vitality, the personality of Bhagawan Soaham must be a matter of wonder. The immediate impression one receives as he sits at his desk in his study under the garlanded portrait of his beloved political Guru Gandhi is of an all-pervading warmth and friendliness. His voice is gentle and musical, his eyes smiling.
“He’s a short happy man with shoulder length greying hair, and is teetering on the margin of rotundity”, was how a journalist described him in “The Guardian”. “He’s like one of those benign little toys that you try to knock over which always equably bounces back.”
It may not be one’s preconceived idea of a seer and an ascetic, but it is one, which Bhagawan Soaham, who has a rich sense of humour, would not disagree. He has certainly had his knocks in life but equipoise and faith in the future are fundamental to his nature. Yet this is only the surface impression of an ‘ordinary man’ who is now entering the realms of the extraordinary.
Bhagawan Soaham’s vision of a world living in harmony and peace is an idealistic one, but the dramatic role he has set for himself has been worked out with practical deliberation. His Sacrifice of Penance constitutes. a careful progression towards total silence and more rigorous fasting. “It would be difficult to maintain years of silence without adequate preparation,” he says. “I shall be developing my powers, in the coming years and work up to it gradually.”
In the next few years he hopes to visit the United States, South America, West Africa, and Europe, absorbing the problems of humanity. He does not know at what stage he will return to India. But basic to his vision is the setting up of an Ashram, preferably near the sea or a river, or on a mountain. In the Ashram he would constitute the focal point, the ‘spiritual dynamo,’ of a dedicated community of close followers. They would not only participate in mass and private prayer for peace, but do useful work in the social field as an example of peaceful coexistence. His dream extends further to, the setting up of similar Ashrams in other parts of India.
In a materialistic world, floundering in the wake of the technological ‘advances’ of physical science, Bhagawan Soaham sees the pressing need to focus attention on the vast unexplored field of a far greater science, the science of the Spirit. He sees his Ashram not as a retreat from the world, but as a spiritual laboratory, a powerhouse of prayer, vibrating for the salvation of humanity.
“I can see more and more manifestly that man can never get out of the futile circle the race is treading until he has raised himself on a new foundation”, was once said by Bhagawan Soaham, after seeing the emergence of what he called the Supermind, enshrined in men of spiritual purity and power of whatever race or creed.
The ultimate vision is also that of Bhagawan Soaham. “If a collectivity or group could be formed of those who have reached the supramental perfection, then indeed some divine creation could take shape. A new earth could descend that would be a new heaven, a world of supramental light could be created here amidst the receding darkness of this terrestrial ignorance.”

 

 

SOAHAM DOCTORINES
* There is nothing like Piety or Sin.
* There is neither Heaven, nor Hell.
* There is no Rebirth.
* I am God incarnate (Soaham).
* Sects are only two: the male and the female.
* Food is Life itself.
* Death is the certain consequence of Life.

Self-Realization Fellowship

Paramahansa Yogananda is one of the most famous of the Yogis to have lived and worked in the West; he began this adventure in 1920 when he was invited to attend a conference of Religious Liberals in America, which he attended. He had enough financial resources to remain and began to work on his poetry and writings until he started doing lecture tours. These were very well attended by packed houses and through them he was able to teach many Westerners the science of Kriya Yoga.

Later he would purchase an estate in California and make it the headquarters of the Self-Realization Fellowship. From there he sent out the teachings of Kriya Yoga by the mails and published a magazine called East-West; it eventually changed name to Self-Realization.

He began to work on his autobiography and would write chapters out of order, for later use. He visited the White House where he was introduced to President Coolidge.

He completed his autobiography by 1948, but made major additions to it in 1952.

Many well known people have been influenced by his teachings, including George Harrison.

The mail order Yoga class extends for a 3 year period and is cost free apart from postage. There are no criteria involved to enrol. Anyone is welcome to do so if they feel drawn to the teachings. Lessons are provided in a number of languages apart from English and are mailed every two weeks. Numerous topics are covered but the central focus is on strengthening the will and contacting the Almighty via the Medulla Oblongata.

Here is an excerpt from Autobiography:

BABAJI, THE YOGI-CHRIST OF MODERN INDIA

The northern Himalayan crags near Badrinarayan are still blessed by the living presence of Babaji, guru of Lahiri Mahasaya. The secluded master has retained his physical form for centuries, perhaps for millenniums. The deathless Babaji is an AVATARA. This Sanskrit word means “descent”; its roots are AVA, “down,” and TRI, “to pass.”
In the Hindu scriptures, AVATARA signifies the descent of Divinity into flesh.

“Babaji’s spiritual state is beyond human comprehension,” Sri Yukteswar explained to me. “The dwarfed vision of men cannot pierce to his transcendental star. One attempts in vain even to picture the avatar’s attainment. It is inconceivable.”

The UPANISHADS have minutely classified every stage of spiritual advancement. A SIDDHA (“perfected being”) has progressed from the state of a JIVANMUKTA (“freed while living”) to that of a PARAMUKTA
(“supremely free”-full power over death); the latter has completely escaped from the mayic thraldom and its reincarnational round. The PARAMUKTA therefore seldom returns to a physical body; if he does, he is an avatar, a divinely appointed medium of supernal blessings on the world.

An avatar is unsubject to the universal economy; his pure body, visible as a light image, is free from any debt to nature. The casual gaze may see nothing extraordinary in an avatar’s form but it casts no shadow nor makes any footprint on the ground. These are outward symbolic proofs of an inward lack of darkness and material
bondage.  Such a God-man alone knows the Truth behind the relativities of life and death. Omar Khayyam, so grossly misunderstood, sang of this liberated man in his immortal scripture, the RUBAIYAT:

“Ah, Moon of my Delight who know’st no wane,

The Moon of Heav’n is rising once again;

How oft hereafter rising shall she look

Through this same Garden after me-in vain!”

The “Moon of Delight” is God, eternal Polaris, anachronous never.The “Moon of Heav’n” is the outward cosmos, fettered to the law of periodic recurrence. Its chains had been dissolved forever by the Persian seer through his self-realization. “How oft hereafter rising shall she look . . . after me-in vain!” What frustration of search by a frantic universe for an absolute omission!

Christ expressed his freedom in another way: “And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” {FN33-1}

Spacious with omnipresence, could Christ indeed be followed except in the overarching Spirit?

Krishna, Rama, Buddha, and Patanjali were among the ancient Indian avatars. A considerable poetic literature in Tamil has grown up around Agastya, a South Indian avatar. He worked many miracles during the centuries preceding and following the Christian era, and is credited with retaining his physical form even to this day.

Babaji’s mission in India has been to assist prophets in carrying out their special dispensations. He thus qualifies for the scriptural classification of MAHAVATAR (Great Avatar). He has stated that he gave yoga initiation to Shankara, ancient founder of the Swami Order, and to Kabir, famous medieval saint. His chief nineteenth-century disciple was, as we know, Lahiri Mahasaya, revivalist of the lost KRIYA art.

[Illustration: BABAJI, THE MAHAVATAR, Guru of Lahiri Mahasaya, I have helped an artist to draw a true likeness of the great Yogi-Christ of modern India.—see babaji.jpg]

The MAHAVATAR is in constant communion with Christ; together they send out vibrations of redemption, and have planned the spiritual technique of salvation for this age. The work of these two fully-illumined masters-one with the body, and one without it-is to inspire the nations to forsake suicidal wars, race hatreds,
religious sectarianism, and the boomerang-evils of materialism.
Babaji is well aware of the trend of modern times, especially of the influence and complexities of Western civilization, and realizes the necessity of spreading the self-liberations of yoga equally in the West and in the East. That there is no historical reference to Babaji need not surprise us.  The great guru has never openly appeared in any century; the misinterpreting glare of publicity has no place in his millennial plans. Like the Creator, the sole but silent Power, Babaji works in a humble obscurity.

Great prophets like Christ and Krishna come to earth for a specific and spectacular purpose; they depart as soon as it is accomplished. Other avatars, like Babaji, undertake work which is concerned more with the slow evolutionary progress of man during the centuries than with any one outstanding event of history. Such masters always veil themselves from the gross public gaze, and have the power to become invisible at will. For these reasons, and because they generally instruct their disciples to maintain silence about them, a number of towering spiritual figures remain world-unknown. I give in these pages on Babaji merely a hint of his life-only a few facts which he deems it fit and helpful to be publicly imparted.

No limiting facts about Babaji’s family or birthplace, dear to the annalist’s heart, have ever been discovered. His speech is generally in Hindi, but he converses easily in any language. He has adopted the simple name of Babaji (revered father); other titles of respect given him by Lahiri Mahasaya’s disciples are Mahamuni Babaji Maharaj
(supreme ecstatic saint), Maha Yogi (greatest of yogis), Trambak Baba and Shiva Baba (titles of avatars of Shiva). Does it matter that we know not the patronymic of an earth-released master?

“Whenever anyone utters with reverence the name of Babaji,” Lahiri Mahasaya said, “that devotee attracts an instant spiritual blessing.”

The deathless guru bears no marks of age on his body; he appears to be no more than a youth of twenty-five. Fair-skinned, of medium build and height, Babaji’s beautiful, strong body radiates a perceptible glow.  His eyes are dark, calm, and tender; his long, lustrous hair is copper-colored. A very strange fact is that Babaji bears an
extraordinarily exact resemblance to his disciple Lahiri Mahasaya. The similarity is so striking that, in his later years, Lahiri Mahasaya might have passed as the father of the youthful-looking Babaji.

Swami Kebalananda, my saintly Sanskrit tutor, spent some time with Babaji in the Himalayas.

The peerless master moves with his group from place to place in the mountains,” Kebalananda told me. “His small band contains two highly advanced American disciples. After Babaji has been in one locality for some time, he says: ‘DERA DANDA UTHAO.’ (‘Let us lift our camp and staff.’) He carries a symbolic DANDA(bamboo staff). His words are the signal for moving with his group instantaneously to another place. He does not always employ this method of astral travel; sometimes he goes on foot from peak to peak. “Babaji can be seen or recognized by others only when he so desires. He is known to have appeared in many slightly different forms to various devotees-sometimes without beard and moustache, and sometimes with them. As his un- decaying body requires no food, the master seldom eats. As a social courtesy to visiting disciples, he occasionally accepts fruits, or rice cooked in milk and clarified butter. “Two amazing incidents of Babaji’s life are known to me,” Kebalananda went on. “His disciples were sitting one night around a huge fire which was blazing for a sacred Vedic ceremony. The master suddenly seized a burning log and lightly struck the bare shoulder of a chela who was close to the fire. “‘Sir, how cruel!’ Lahiri Mahasaya, who was present, made this remonstrance. “‘Would you rather have seen him burned to ashes before your eyes, according to the decree of his past karma?’ “With these words Babaji placed his healing hand on the chela’s disfigured shoulder. ‘I have freed you tonight from painful death. The karmic law has been satisfied through your slight suffering by fire.’ “On another occasion Babaji’s sacred circle was disturbed by the arrival of a stranger. He had climbed with astonishing skill to the nearly inaccessible ledge near the camp of the master. “‘Sir, you must be the great Babaji.’ The man’s face was lit with inexpressible reverence. ‘For months I have pursued a ceaseless search for you among these forbidding crags. I implore you to accept me as a disciple.

“When the great guru made no response, the man pointed to the rocky chasm at his feet. “‘If you refuse me, I will jump from this mountain. Life has no further value if I cannot win your guidance to the Divine.’ “‘Jump then,’ Babaji said unemotionally. ‘I cannot accept you in your present state of development.’ “The man immediately hurled himself over the cliff. Babaji instructed the shocked disciples to fetch the stranger’s body. When they returned with the mangled form, the master placed his divine hand on the dead man. Lo! he opened his eyes and prostrated himself humbly before the omnipotent one. “‘You are now ready for discipleship.’ Babaji beamed lovingly on his resurrected chela. ‘You have courageously passed a difficult test. Death shall not touch you again; now you are one of our immortal flock.’ Then he spoke his usual words of departure, ‘DERA DANDA UTHAO’; the whole group vanished from the mountain.” An avatar lives in the omnipresent Spirit; for him there is no distance inverse to the square. Only one reason, therefore, can motivate Babaji in maintaining his physical form from century to century: the desire to furnish humanity with a concrete example of its own possibilities. Were man never vouchsafed a glimpse of Divinity in the flesh, he would remain oppressed by the heavy mayic delusion that he cannot transcend his mortality. Jesus knew from the beginning the sequence of his life; he passed through each event not for himself, not from any karmic compulsion, but solely for the upliftment of reflective human beings. His four reporter-disciples-Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John-recorded the ineffable drama for the benefit of later generations. For Babaji, also, there is no relativity of past, present, future; from the beginning he has known all phases of his life. Yet, accommodating himself to the limited understanding of men, he has played many acts of his divine life in the presence of one or more witnesses. Thus it came about that a disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya was present when Babaji deemed the time to be ripe for him to proclaim the possibility of bodily immortality. He uttered this promise before Ram Gopal Muzumdar, that it might finally become known for the inspiration of other seeking hearts. The great ones speak their words and participate in the seemingly natural course of events, solely for the good of man, even as Christ said: “Father . . . I knew that thou hearest me always: but BECAUSE OF THE PEOPLE WHICH STAND BY I SAID IT, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.” {FN33-2} During my visit at Ranbajpur with Ram Gopal, “the sleepless saint,” {FN33-3} he related the wondrous story of his first meeting with Babaji. “I sometimes left my isolated cave to sit at Lahiri Mahasaya’s feet in Benares,” Ram Gopal told me. “One midnight as I was silently meditating in a group of his disciples, the master made a surprising request. “‘Ram Gopal,’ he said, ‘go at once to the Dasasamedh bathing GHAT.’ “I soon reached the secluded spot. The night was bright with moonlight and the glittering stars. After I had sat in patient silence for awhile, my attention was drawn to a huge stone slab near my feet. It rose gradually, revealing an underground cave. As the stone remained balanced in some unknown manner, the draped form of a young and surpassingly lovely woman was levitated from the cave high into the air. Surrounded by a soft halo, she slowly descended in front of me and stood motionless, steeped in an inner state of ecstasy. She finally stirred, and spoke gently. “‘I am Mataji, {FN33-4} the sister of Babaji. I have asked him and also Lahiri Mahasaya to come to my cave tonight to discuss a matter of great importance.’ “A nebulous light was rapidly floating over the Ganges; the strange luminescence was reflected in the opaque waters. It approached nearer and nearer until, with a blinding flash, it appeared by the side of Mataji and condensed itself instantly into the human form of Lahiri Mahasaya. He bowed humbly at the feet of the woman saint. “Before I had recovered from my bewilderment, I was further wonderstruck to behold a circling mass of mystical light traveling in the sky. Descending swiftly, the flaming whirlpool neared our group and materialized itself into the body of a beautiful youth who, I understood at once, was Babaji. He looked like Lahiri Mahasaya, the only difference being that Babaji appeared much younger, and had long, bright hair.

“Lahiri Mahasaya, Mataji, and myself knelt at the guru’s feet. An ethereal sensation of beatific glory thrilled every fiber of my being as I touched his divine flesh. “‘Blessed sister,’ Babaji said, ‘I am intending to shed my form and plunge into the Infinite Current.’ “‘I have already glimpsed your plan, beloved master. I wanted to discuss it with you tonight. Why should you leave your body?’ The glorious woman looked at him beseechingly. “‘What is the difference if I wear a visible or invisible wave on the ocean of my Spirit?’ “Mataji replied with a quaint flash of wit. ‘Deathless guru, if it makes no difference, then please do not ever relinquish your form.’ {FN33-5} “‘Be it so,’ Babaji said solemnly. ‘I will never leave my physical body. It will always remain visible to at least a small number of people on this earth. The Lord has spoken His own wish through your lips.’ “As I listened in awe to the conversation between these exalted beings, the great guru turned to me with a benign gesture. “‘Fear not, Ram Gopal,’ he said, ‘you are blessed to be a witness at the scene of this immortal promise.’ “As the sweet melody of Babaji’s voice faded away, his form and that of Lahiri Mahasaya slowly levitated and moved backward over the Ganges. An aureole of dazzling light templed their bodies as they vanished into the night sky. Mataji’s form floated to the cave and descended; the stone slab closed of itself, as if working on an invisible leverage. “Infinitely inspired, I wended my way back to Lahiri Mahasaya’s place. As I bowed before him in the early dawn, my guru smiled at me understandingly. “‘I am happy for you, Ram Gopal,” he said. “The desire of meeting Babaji and Mataji, which you have often expressed to me, has found at last a sacred fulfilment.”

“My fellow disciples informed me that Lahiri Mahasaya had not moved from his dais since early the preceding evening. “‘He gave a wonderful discourse on immortality after you had left for the Dasasamedh GHAT,’ one of the chelas told me. For the first time I fully realized the truth in the scriptural verses which state that a man of self-realization can appear at different places in two or more bodies at the same time.” Lahiri Mahasaya later explained to me many metaphysical points concerning the hidden divine plan for this earth,” Ram Gopal concluded. “Babaji has been chosen by God to remain in his body for the duration of this particular world cycle. Ages shall come and go—still the deathless master, {FN33-6} beholding the drama of the centuries, shall be present on this stage terrestrial.”

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Creation: Vol. 1 SriMad Bhagavatam

The Vedas are India’s most ancient repository of wisdom. They date back more than 5,000 years and were traditionally passed from one generation to another by word of mouth. They were not written down. Part of the tradition was the teaching of the Vedas by oral means.

krsnaAbout 200 years after the Vedas were completed, it was thought that they were too inaccessible to the people at large, and so were distilled into “The Cream of the Vedas” the SriMad Bhagavatam. Again, this purana was an oral tradition. It was not for another 3,000 years that anything was written down, and then it was the Rig Veda, followed by the other 3 Vedas, until finally the SriMad Bhagavatam was put to writing.

It was never a popular text, however, particularly amongst the religious scholars. The Bhagavatam was thought to be merely a collection of stories and histories taken from the Vedas and as such was still very difficult for the common man to follow.

By the 20th century several different versions of the Vedas and of the SriMad Bhagavatam had made their way into print. These were treasured by scholars and found their way to the West, where they were met with great enthusiasm.

This volume is taken from the Bhakti Vedanta distribution of the SriMad Bhagavatam and Sri Chaitanya. It is in English and contains no Sanskrit transliterations. It is meant to be read as an introduction to the entire 33 volumes of the SriMad Bhagavatam.

Click this link to read on-line or download Vol 1 of SriMad Bhagavatam Vol 1: Creation