Chapter 15 - The Cauliflower Robbery
"Master, a gift for you! These six huge cauliflowers were planted with my hands; I have watched over their
growth with the tender care of a mother nursing her child." I presented the basket of
vegetables with a ceremonial flourish.
"Thank you!" Sri Yukteswar's smile was warm with appreciation. "Please keep them in your room; I shall
need them tomorrow for a special dinner."
I had just arrived in Puri1 to spend my college summer vacation with
my guru at his seaside hermitage. Built by Master and his disciples, the cheerful little two-storied retreat
fronts on the Bay of Bengal.
I awoke early the following morning, refreshed by the salty sea breezes and the charm of my surroundings.
Sri Yukteswar's melodious voice was calling; I took a look at my cherished cauliflowers and stowed them
neatly under my bed.
"Come, let us go to the beach." Master led the way; several young disciples and myself followed in a
scattered group. Our guru surveyed us in mild criticism.
"When our Western brothers walk, they usually take pride in unison. Now, please march in two rows; keep
rhythmic step with one another." Sri Yukteswar watched as we obeyed; he began to sing: "Boys go to and fro,
in a pretty little row." I could not but admire the ease with which Master was able to match the brisk pace
of his young students.
"Halt!" My guru's eyes sought mine. "Did you remember to lock the back door of the hermitage?"
"I think so, sir."
Sri Yukteswar was silent for a few minutes, a half-suppressed smile on his lips. "No, you forgot," he said
finally. "Divine contemplation must not be made an excuse for material carelessness. You have neglected your
duty in safeguarding the ashram; you must be punished."
I thought he was obscurely joking when he added: "Your six cauliflowers will soon be only five."
We turned around at Master's orders and marched back until we were close to the hermitage.
"Rest awhile. Mukunda, look across the compound on our left; observe the road beyond. A certain man will
arrive there presently; he will be the means of your chastisement."
I concealed my vexation at these incomprehensible remarks. A peasant soon appeared on the road; he was
dancing grotesquely and flinging his arms about with meaningless gestures. Almost paralyzed with curiosity, I
glued my eyes on the hilarious spectacle. As the man reached a point in the road where he would vanish from
our view, Sri Yukteswar said, "Now, he will return."
The peasant at once changed his direction and made for the rear of the ashram. Crossing a sandy tract, he
entered the building by the back door. I had left it unlocked, even as my guru had said. The man emerged
shortly, holding one of my prized cauliflowers. He now strode along respectably, invested with the dignity of
The unfolding farce, in which my role appeared to be that of bewildered victim, was not so disconcerting
that I failed in indignant pursuit. I was halfway to the road when Master recalled me. He was shaking from
head to foot with laughter.
"That poor crazy man has been longing for a cauliflower," he explained between outbursts of mirth. "I
thought it would be a good idea if he got one of yours, so ill-guarded!"
I dashed to my room, where I found that the thief, evidently one with a vegetable fixation, had left
untouched my gold rings, watch, and money, all lying openly on the blanket. He had crawled instead under the
bed where, completely hidden from casual sight, one of my cauliflowers had aroused his singlehearted
I asked Sri Yukteswar that evening to explain the incident which had, I thought, a few baffling
My guru shook his head slowly. "You will understand it someday. Science will soon discover a few of these
When the wonders of radio burst some years later on an astounded world, I remembered Master's prediction.
Age-old concepts of time and space were annihilated; no peasant's home so narrow that London or Calcutta
could not enter! The dullest intelligence enlarged before indisputable proof of one aspect of man's
The "plot" of the cauliflower comedy can be best understood by a radio analogy. Sri
Yukteswar was a perfect human radio. Thoughts are no more than very gentle vibrations moving in the ether.
Just as a sensitized radio picks up a desired musical number out of thousands of other programs from every
direction, so my guru had been able to catch the thought of the half-witted man who hankered for a
cauliflower, out of the countless thoughts of broadcasting human wills in the world.2
Intuition3 is soul guidance, appearing naturally in man during those
instants when his mind is calm. Nearly everyone has had the experience of an inexplicably correct "hunch," or
has transferred his thoughts effectively to another person.
The human mind, free from the static of restlessness, can perform through its antenna of intuition all the
functions of complicated radio mechanismssending and receiving thoughts, and tuning out undesirable ones. As
the power of a radio depends on the amount of electrical current it can utilize, so the human radio is
energized according to the power of will possessed by each individual.
All thoughts vibrate eternally in the cosmos. By deep concentration, a master is able to detect the
thoughts of any mind, living or dead. Thoughts are universally and not individually rooted; a truth cannot be
created, but only perceived. The erroneous thoughts of man result from imperfections in his discernment. The
goal of yoga science is to calm the mind, that without distortion it may mirror the divine vision in the
Radio and television have brought the instantaneous sound and sight of remote persons to the firesides of
millions: the first faint scientific intimations that man is an all-pervading spirit. Not a body confined to
a point in space, but the vast soul, which the ego in most barbaric modes conspires in vain to cramp.
"Very strange, very wonderful, seemingly very improbable phenomena may yet appear which, when once
established, will not astonish us more than we are now astonished at all that science has taught us during
the last century," Charles Robert Richet, Nobel Prizeman in physiology, has declared. "It is assumed that the
phenomena which we now accept without surprise, do not excite our astonishment because they are understood.
But this is not the case. If they do not surprise us it is not because they are understood, it is because
they are familiar; for if that which is not understood ought to surprise us, we should be surprised at
everythingthe fall of a stone thrown into the air, the acorn which becomes an oak, mercury which expands when
it is heated, iron attracted by a magnet, phosphorus which burns when it is rubbed. . . . The science of
today is a light matter; the revolutions and evolutions which it will experience in a hundred thousand years
will far exceed the most daring anticipations. The truthsthose surprising, amazing, unforeseen truthswhich
our descendants will discover, are even now all around us, staring us in the eyes, so to speak, and yet we do
not see them. But it is not enough to say that we do not see them; we do not wish to see them; for as soon as
an unexpected and unfamiliar fact appears, we try to fit it into the framework of the commonplaces of
acquired knowledge, and we are indignant that anyone should dare to experiment further."
A humorous occurrence took place a few days after I had been so implausibly robbed of a cauliflower. A
certain kerosene lamp could not be found. Having so lately witnessed my guru's omniscient insight, I thought
he would demonstrate that it was child's play to locate the lamp.
Master perceived my expectation. With exaggerated gravity he questioned all ashram residents. A young
disciple confessed that he had used the lamp to go to the well in the back yard.
Sri Yukteswar gave the solemn counsel: "Seek the lamp near the well."
I rushed there; no lamp! Crestfallen, I returned to my guru. He was now laughing heartily, without
compunction for my disillusionment.
"Too bad I couldn't direct you to the vanished lamp; I am not a fortune teller!" With twinkling eyes, he
added, "I am not even a satisfactory Sherlock Holmes!"
I realized that Master would never display his powers when challenged, or for a triviality.
Delightful weeks sped by. Sri Yukteswar was planning a religious procession. He asked me to lead the
disciples over the town and beach of Puri. The festive day dawned as one of the hottest of the summer.
"Guruji, how can I take the barefooted students over the fiery sands?" I spoke despairingly.
I happily organized the procession; our group started from the ashram with a Sat-Sanga
banner.4 Designed by Sri Yukteswar, it bore the symbol of the
single5 eye, the telescopic gaze of intuition.
No sooner had we left the hermitage than the part of the sky which was overhead became filled with clouds
as though by magic. To the accompaniment of astonished ejaculations from all sides, a very light shower fell,
cooling the city streets and the burning seashore. The soothing drops descended during the two hours of the
parade. The exact instant at which our group returned to the ashram, the clouds and rain passed away
"You see how God feels for us," Master replied after I had expressed my gratitude. "The
Lord responds to all and works for all. Just as He sent rain at my plea, so He fulfills any sincere desire of
the devotee. Seldom do men realize how often God heeds their prayers. He is not partial to a few, but listens
to everyone who approaches Him trustingly. His children should ever have implicit faith in the
loving-kindness of their Omnipresent Father."6
Sri Yukteswar sponsored four yearly festivals, at the equinoxes and solstices, when his students gathered
from far and near. The winter solstice celebration was held in Serampore; the first one I attended left me
with a permanent blessing.
The festivities started in the morning with a barefoot procession along the streets. The voices of a
hundred students rang out with sweet religious songs; a few musicians played the flute and khol kartal
(drums and cymbals). Enthusiastic townspeople strewed the path with flowers, glad to be summoned from prosaic
tasks by our resounding praise of the Lord's blessed name. The long tour ended in the courtyard of the
hermitage. There we encircled our guru, while students on upper balconies showered us with marigold
Many guests went upstairs to receive a pudding of channa and oranges. I made my way to a group of
brother disciples who were serving today as cooks. Food for such large gatherings had to be cooked outdoors
in huge cauldrons. The improvised wood-burning brick stoves were smoky and tear-provoking, but we laughed
merrily at our work. Religious festivals in India are never considered troublesome; each one does his part,
supplying money, rice, vegetables, or his personal services.
Master was soon in our midst, supervising the details of the feast. Busy every moment, he kept pace with
the most energetic young student.
A sankirtan (group chanting), accompanied by the harmonium and hand-played Indian drums, was in
progress on the second floor. Sri Yukteswar listened appreciatively; his musical sense was acutely
"They are off key!" Master left the cooks and joined the artists. The melody was heard again, this time
In India, music as well as painting and the drama is considered a divine art. Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, the
Eternal Trinity were the first musicians. The Divine Dancer Shiva is scripturally represented as having worked
out the infinite modes of rhythm in His cosmic dance of universal creation, preservation, and dissolution,
while Brahma accentuated the time-beat with the clanging cymbals, and Vishnu sounded the holy mridanga
or drum. Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu, is always shown in Hindu art with a flute, on which he plays the
enrapturing song that recalls to their true home the human souls wandering in maya-delusion.
Saraswati, goddess of wisdom, is symbolized as performing on the vina, mother of all stringed
instruments. The Sama Veda of India contains the world's earliest writings on musical science.
The foundation stone of Hindu music is the ragas or fixed melodic scales. The six basic
ragas branch out into 126 derivative raginis (wives) and putras (sons). Each raga
has a minimum of five notes: a leading note (vadi or king), a secondary note (samavadi or prime
minister), helping notes (anuvadi, attendants), and a dissonant note (vivadi, the enemy).
Each one of the six basic ragas has a natural correspondence with a certain hour of the day, season
of the year, and a presiding deity who bestows a particular potency. Thus, (1) the Hindole Raga is
heard only at dawn in the spring, to evoke the mood of universal love; (2) Deepaka Raga is played
during the evening in summer, to arouse compassion; (3) Megha Raga is a melody for midday in the rainy
season, to summon courage; (4) Bhairava Raga is played in the mornings of August, September, October,
to achieve tranquillity; (5) Sri Raga is reserved for autumn twilights, to attain pure love; (6)
Malkounsa Raga is heard at midnights in winter, for valor.
The ancient rishis discovered these laws of sound alliance between nature and man. Because
nature is an objectification of Aum, the Primal Sound or Vibratory Word, man can obtain control over
all natural manifestations through the use of certain mantras or chants. 7 Historical documents tell of the remarkable powers possessed by Miyan Tan Sen,
sixteenth century court musician for Akbar the Great. Commanded by the Emperor to sing a night raga
while the sun was overhead, Tan Sen intoned a mantra which instantly caused the whole palace precincts
to become enveloped in darkness.
Indian music divides the octave into 22 srutis or demi-semitones. These microtonal intervals permit
fine shades of musical expression unattainable by the Western chromatic scale of 12 semitones. Each one of
the seven basic notes of the octave is associated in Hindu mythology with a color, and the natural cry of a
bird or beast Do with green, and the peacock; Re with red, and the skylark; Mi with
golden, and the goat; Fa with yellowish white, and the heron; Sol with black, and the
nightingale; La with yellow, and the horse; Si with a combination of all colors, and the
Three scalesmajor, harmonic minor, melodic minorare the only ones which Occidental music employs, but
Indian music outlines 72 thatas or scales. The musician has a creative scope for endless improvisation
around the fixed traditional melody or raga; he concentrates on the sentiment or definitive mood of
the structural theme and then embroiders it to the limits of his own originality. The Hindu musician does not
read set notes; he clothes anew at each playing the bare skeleton of the raga, often confining himself
to a single melodic sequence, stressing by repetition all its subtle microtonal and rhythmic variations.
Bach, among Western composers, had an understanding of the charm and power of repetitious sound slightly
differentiated in a hundred complex ways.
Ancient Sanskrit literature describes 120 talas or time-measures. The traditional founder of Hindu
music, Bharata, is said to have isolated 32 kinds of tala in the song of a lark. The origin of
tala or rhythm is rooted in human movementsthe double time of walking, and the triple time of
respiration in sleep, when inhalation is twice the length of exhalation. India has always recognized the
human voice as the most perfect instrument of sound. Hindu music therefore largely confines itself to the
voice range of three octaves. For the same reason, melody (relation of successive notes) is stressed, rather
than harmony (relation of simultaneous notes).
The deeper aim of the early rishi-musicians was to blend the singer with the Cosmic Song which can be
heard through awakening of man's occult spinal centers. Indian music is a subjective, spiritual, and
individualistic art, aiming not at symphonic brilliance but at personal harmony with the Oversoul. The
Sanskrit word for musician is bhagavathar, "he who sings the praises of God." The sankirtans or
musical gatherings are an effective form of yoga or spiritual discipline, necessitating deep concentration,
intense absorption in the seed thought and sound. Because man himself is an expression of the Creative Word,
sound has the most potent and immediate effect on him, offering a way to remembrance of his divine
The sankirtan issuing from Sri Yukteswar's second-story sitting room on the day of the festival was
inspiring to the cooks amidst the steaming pots. My brother disciples and I joyously sang the refrains,
beating time with our hands.
By sunset we had served our hundreds of visitors with khichuri (rice and lentils), vegetable curry,
and rice pudding. We laid cotton blankets over the courtyard; soon the assemblage was squatting under the
starry vault, quietly attentive to the wisdom pouring from Sri Yukteswar's lips. His public speeches
emphasized the value of Kriya Yoga, and a life of self-respect, calmness, determination, simple diet,
and regular exercise.
A group of very young disciples then chanted a few sacred hymns; the meeting concluded with
sankirtan. From ten o'clock until midnight, the ashram residents washed pots and pans, and cleared the
courtyard. My guru called me to his side.
"I am pleased over your cheerful labors today and during the past week of preparations. I want you with
me; you may sleep in my bed tonight."
This was a privilege I had never thought would fall to my lot. We sat awhile in a state of intense divine
tranquillity. Hardly ten minutes after we had gotten into bed, Master rose and began to dress.
"What is the matter, sir?" I felt a tinge of unreality in the unexpected joy of sleeping beside my
"I think that a few students who missed their proper train connections will be here soon. Let us have some
"Guruji, no one would come at one o'clock in the morning!"
"Stay in bed; you have been working very hard. But I am going to cook."
At Sri Yukteswar's resolute tone, I jumped up and followed him to the small daily-used kitchen adjacent to
the second-floor inner balcony. Rice and dhal were soon boiling.
My guru smiled affectionately. "Tonight you have conquered fatigue and fear of hard work; you shall never
be bothered by them in the future."
As he uttered these words of lifelong blessing, footsteps sounded in the courtyard. I ran downstairs and
admitted a group of students.
"Dear brother, how reluctant we are to disturb Master at this hour!" One man addressed me apologetically.
"We made a mistake about train schedules, but felt we could not return home without a glimpse of our
"He has been expecting you and is even now preparing your food."
Sri Yukteswar's welcoming voice rang out; I led the astonished visitors to the kitchen. Master turned to
me with twinkling eyes.
"Now that you have finished comparing notes, no doubt you are satisfied that our guests really did miss
I followed him to his bedroom a half hour later, realizing fully that I was about to sleep beside a
Chapter1 - My Parents and Early Life
Chapter2 - My Mother's Death and the Mystic Amulet
Chapter3 - The Saint With Two Bodies
Chapter4 - My Interrupted Flight Toward the Himalayas
Chapter5 - A "Perfume Saint" Displays His Wonders
Chapter6 - The Tiger Swami
Chapter7 - The Levitating Saint
Chapter8 - India's Great Scientist, J.C. Bose
Chapter9 - The Blissful Devotee and His Cosmic Romance
Chapter10 - I Meet My Master, Sri Yukteswar
Chapter11 - Two Penniless Boys in Brindaban
Chapter12 - Years in My Master's Hermitage
Chapter13 - The Sleepless Saint
Chapter14 - An Experience in Cosmic Consciousness
Chapter15 - The Cauliflower Robbery
Chapter16 - Outwitting the Stars
Chapter17 - Sasi and the Three Sapphires
Chapter18 - A Mohammedan Wonder-Worker
Chapter19 - My Master, in Calcutta, Appears in Serampore
Chapter20 - We Do Not Visit Kashmir
Chapter21 - We Visit Kashmir
Chapter22 - The Heart of a Stone Image
Chapter23 - I Receive My University Degree
Chapter24 - I Become a Monk of the Swami Order
Chapter25 - Brother Ananta and Sister Nalini
Chapter26 - The Science of Kriya Yoga
Chapter27 - Founding a Yoga School in Ranchi
Chapter28 - Kashi, Reborn and Rediscovered
Chapter29 - Rabindranath Tagore and I Compare Schools
Chapter30 - The Law of Miracles
Chapter31 - An Interview with the Sacred Mother
Chapter32 - Rama is Raised From the Dead
Chapter33 - Babaji, the Yogi-Christ of Modern India
Chapter34 - Materializing a Palace in the Himalaya
Chapter35 - The Christlike Life of Lahiri Mahasaya
Chapter36 - Babaji's Interest in the West
Chapter37 - I Go to America
Chapter38 - Luther Burbank -- A Saint Amidst the Roses
Chapter39 - Therese Neumann, the Catholic Stigmatist
Chapter40 - I Return to India
Chapter41 - An Idyll in South India
Chapter42 - Last Days With My Guru
Chapter43 - The Resurrection of Sri Yukteswar
Chapter44 - With Mahatma Gandhi in Wardha
Chapter45 - The Bengali "Joy-Permeated" Mother
Chapter46 - The Woman Yogi Who Never Eats
Chapter47 - I Return to the West
Chapter48 - At Encinitas in California
Chapter49 - The Years - 1940 - 1951