Chapter 16 - Outwitting the Stars
"Mukunda, why don't you get an astrological armlet?"
"Should I, Master? I don't believe in astrology."
"It is never a question of belief; the only scientific attitude one can take on any
subject is whether it is true. The law of gravitation worked as efficiently before Newton as after
him. The cosmos would be fairly chaotic if its laws could not operate without the sanction of human
"Charlatans have brought the stellar science to its present state of disrepute. Astrology is too vast,
both mathematically1 and philosophically, to be rightly grasped except by
men of profound understanding. If ignoramuses misread the heavens, and see there a scrawl instead of a
script, that is to be expected in this imperfect world. One should not dismiss the wisdom with the
"All parts of creation are linked together and interchange their influences. The balanced rhythm of the
universe is rooted in reciprocity," my guru continued. "Man, in his human aspect, has to combat two sets of
forcesfirst, the tumults within his being, caused by the admixture of earth, water, fire, air, and ethereal
elements; second, the outer disintegrating powers of nature. So long as man struggles with his mortality, he
is affected by the myriad mutations of heaven and earth.
"Astrology is the study of man's response to planetary stimuli. The stars have no conscious benevolence or
animosity; they merely send forth positive and negative radiations. Of themselves, these do not help or harm
humanity, but offer a lawful channel for the outward operation of cause-effect equilibriums which each man
has set into motion in the past.
"A child is born on that day and at that hour when the celestial rays are in mathematical harmony with his
individual karma. His horoscope is a challenging portrait, revealing his unalterable past and its probable
future results. But the natal chart can be rightly interpreted only by men of intuitive wisdom: these are
"The message boldly blazoned across the heavens at the moment of birth is not meant to emphasize fatethe
result of past good and evilbut to arouse man's will to escape from his universal thralldom. What he has
done, he can undo. None other than himself was the instigator of the causes of whatever effects are now
prevalent in his life. He can overcome any limitation, because he created it by his own actions in the first
place, and because he has spiritual resources which are not subject to planetary pressure.
"Superstitious awe of astrology makes one an automaton, slavishly dependent on mechanical guidance. The
wise man defeats his planetswhich is to say, his pastby transferring his allegiance from the creation to the
Creator. The more he realizes his unity with Spirit, the less he can be dominated by matter. The soul is
ever-free; it is deathless because birthless. It cannot be regimented by stars.
"Man is a soul, and has a body. When he properly places his sense of identity, he leaves
behind all compulsive patterns. So long as he remains confused in his ordinary state of spiritual amnesia, he
will know the subtle fetters of environmental law.
"God is harmony; the devotee who attunes himself will never perform any action amiss. His activities will
be correctly and naturally timed to accord with astrological law. After deep prayer and meditation he is in
touch with his divine consciousness; there is no greater power than that inward protection."
"Then, dear Master, why do you want me to wear an astrological bangle?" I ventured this question after a
long silence, during which I had tried to assimilate Sri Yukteswar's noble exposition.
"It is only when a traveler has reached his goal that he is justified in discarding his maps. During the
journey, he takes advantage of any convenient short cut. The ancient rishis discovered many ways to curtail
the period of man's exile in delusion. There are certain mechanical features in the law of karma which can be
skillfully adjusted by the fingers of wisdom.
"All human ills arise from some transgression of universal law. The scriptures point out that man must
satisfy the laws of nature, while not discrediting the divine omnipotence. He should say: 'Lord, I trust in
Thee, and know Thou canst help me, but I too will do my best to undo any wrong I have done.' By a number of
meansby prayer, by will power, by yoga meditation, by consultation with saints, by use of astrological
banglesthe adverse effects of past wrongs can be minimized or nullified.
"Just as a house can be fitted with a copper rod to absorb the shock of lightning, so the bodily temple
can be benefited by various protective measures. Ages ago our yogis discovered that pure metals emit an
astral light which is powerfully counteractive to negative pulls of the planets. Subtle electrical and
magnetic radiations are constantly circulating in the universe; when a man's body is being aided, he does not
know it; when it is being disintegrated, he is still in ignorance. Can he do anything about it?
"This problem received attention from our rishis; they found helpful not only a combination of metals, but
also of plants andmost effective of allfaultless jewels of not less than two carats. The preventive uses of
astrology have seldom been seriously studied outside of India. One little-known fact is that the proper
jewels, metals, or plant preparations are valueless unless the required weight is secured, and unless these
remedial agents are worn next to the skin."
"Sir, of course I shall take your advice and get a bangle. I am intrigued at the thought of outwitting a
"For general purposes I counsel the use of an armlet made of gold, silver, and copper. But for a specific
purpose I want you to get one of silver and lead." Sri Yukteswar added careful directions.
"Guruji, what 'specific purpose' do you mean?"
"The stars are about to take an unfriendly interest in you, Mukunda. Fear not; you shall be protected. In
about a month your liver will cause you much trouble. The illness is scheduled to last for six months, but
your use of an astrological armlet will shorten the period to twenty-four days."
I sought out a jeweler the next day, and was soon wearing the bangle. My health was excellent; Master's
prediction slipped from my mind. He left Serampore to visit Benares. Thirty days after our conversation, I
felt a sudden pain in the region of my liver. The following weeks were a nightmare of excruciating pain.
Reluctant to disturb my guru, I thought I would bravely endure my trial alone.
But twenty-three days of torture weakened my resolution; I entrained for Benares. There
Sri Yukteswar greeted me with unusual warmth, but gave me no opportunity to tell him my woes in private. Many
devotees visited Master that day, just for a darshan. 2 Ill and
neglected, I sat in a corner. It was not until after the evening meal that all guests had departed. My guru
summoned me to the octagonal balcony of the house.
"You must have come about your liver disorder." Sri Yukteswar's gaze was averted; he walked to and fro,
occasionally intercepting the moonlight. "Let me see; you have been ailing for twenty-four days, haven't
"Please do the stomach exercise I have taught you."
"If you knew the extent of my suffering, Master, you would not ask me to exercise." Nevertheless I made a
feeble attempt to obey him.
"You say you have pain; I say you have none. How can such contradictions exist?" My guru looked at me
I was dazed and then overcome with joyful relief. No longer could I feel the continuous torment that had
kept me nearly sleepless for weeks; at Sri Yukteswar's words the agony vanished as though it had never
I started to kneel at his feet in gratitude, but he quickly prevented me.
"Don't be childish. Get up and enjoy the beauty of the moon over the Ganges." But Master's eyes were
twinkling happily as I stood in silence beside him. I understood by his attitude that he wanted me to feel
that not he, but God, had been the Healer.
I wear even now the heavy silver and lead bangle, a memento of that daylong-past, ever-cherishedwhen I
found anew that I was living with a personage indeed superhuman. On later occasions, when I brought my
friends to Sri Yukteswar for healing, he invariably recommended jewels or the bangle, extolling their use as
an act of astrological wisdom.
I had been prejudiced against astrology from my childhood, partly because I observed that many people are
sequaciously attached to it, and partly because of a prediction made by our family astrologer: "You will
marry three times, being twice a widower." I brooded over the matter, feeling like a goat awaiting sacrifice
before the temple of triple matrimony.
"You may as well be resigned to your fate," my brother Ananta had remarked. "Your written horoscope has
correctly stated that you would fly from home toward the Himalayas during your early years, but would be
forcibly returned. The forecast of your marriages is also bound to be true."
A clear intuition came to me one night that the prophecy was wholly false. I set fire to the horoscope
scroll, placing the ashes in a paper bag on which I wrote: "Seeds of past karma cannot germinate if they are
roasted in the divine fires of wisdom." I put the bag in a conspicuous spot; Ananta immediately read my
It is a fact that on three occasions before I reached manhood, my family tried to arrange my betrothal.
Each time I refused to fall in with the plans,3 knowing that my love for
God was more overwhelming than any astrological persuasion from the past.
"The deeper the self-realization of a man, the more he influences the whole universe by his subtle
spiritual vibrations, and the less he himself is affected by the phenomenal flux." These words of Master's
often returned inspiringly to my mind.
Occasionally I told astrologers to select my worst periods, according to planetary indications, and I
would still accomplish whatever task I set myself. It is true that my success at such times has been
accompanied by extraordinary difficulties. But my conviction has always been justified: faith in the divine
protection, and the right use of man's God-given will, are forces formidable beyond any the "inverted bowl"
The starry inscription at one's birth, I came to understand, is not that man is a puppet of his past. Its
message is rather a prod to pride; the very heavens seek to arouse man's determination to be free from every
limitation. God created each man as a soul, dowered with individuality, hence essential to the universal
structure, whether in the temporary role of pillar or parasite. His freedom is final and
immediate, if he so wills; it depends not on outer but inner victories.
Sri Yukteswar discovered the mathematical application of a 24,000-year equinoctial cycle to our present
age.4 The cycle is divided into an Ascending Arc and a Descending Arc,
each of 12,000 years. Within each Arc fall four Yugas or Ages, called Kali, Dwapara, Treta, and
Satya, corresponding to the Greek ideas of Iron, Bronze, Silver, and Golden Ages.
My guru determined by various calculations that the last Kali Yuga or Iron Age, of the Ascending
Arc, started about A.D. 500. The Iron Age, 1200 years in duration, is a span of materialism; it ended about
A.D. 1700. That year ushered in Dwapara Yuga, a 2400-year period of electrical and atomic-energy
developments, the age of telegraph, radio, airplanes, and other space-annihilators.
The 3600-year period of Treta Yuga will start in A.D. 4100; its age will be marked by common
knowledge of telepathic communications and other time-annihilators. During the 4800 years
of Satya Yuga, final age in an ascending arc, the intelligence of a man will be completely developed;
he will work in harmony with the divine plan.
A descending arc of 12,000 years, starting with a descending Golden Age of 4800 years, then begins5 for the world; man gradually sinks into ignorance. These cycles are the eternal
rounds of maya, the contrasts and relativities of the phenomenal universe.6 Man, one by one, escapes from creation's prison of duality as he awakens to
consciousness of his inseverable divine unity with the Creator.
Master enlarged my understanding not only of astrology but of the world's scriptures. Placing the holy
texts on the spotless table of his mind, he was able to dissect them with the scalpel of intuitive reasoning,
and to separate errors and interpolations of scholars from the truths as originally expressed by the
"Fix one's vision on the end of the nose." This inaccurate interpretation of a Bhagavad
Gita stanza,7 widely accepted by Eastern pundits and Western
translators, used to arouse Master's droll criticism.
"The path of a yogi is singular enough as it is," he remarked. "Why counsel him that he
must also make himself cross-eyed? The true meaning of nasikagram is 'origin of the nose, not 'end of
the nose.' The nose begins at the point between the two eyebrows, the seat of spiritual vision."8
Because of one Sankhya9 aphorism, "Iswar-ashidha,""A
Lord of Creation cannot be deduced" or "God is not proved,"10 many
scholars call the whole philosophy atheistical.
"The verse is not nihilistic," Sri Yukteswar explained. "It merely signifies that to the unenlightened
man, dependent on his senses for all final judgments, proof of God must remain unknown and therefore
non-existent. True Sankhya followers, with unshakable insight born of meditation, understand that the
Lord is both existent and knowable."
Master expounded the Christian Bible with a beautiful clarity. It was from my Hindu guru, unknown to the
roll call of Christian membership, that I learned to perceive the deathless essence of
the Bible, and to understand the truth in Christ's assertionsurely the most thrillingly intransigent ever
uttered: "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."11
The great masters of India mold their lives by the same godly ideals which animated Jesus; these men are
his proclaimed kin: "Whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and
sister, and mother."12 "If ye continue in my word," Christ pointed out,
"then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."13 Freemen all, lords of themselves, the Yogi-Christs of India are part of the
immortal fraternity: those who have attained a liberating knowledge of the One Father.
"The Adam and Eve story is incomprehensible to me!" I observed with considerable heat one day in my early
struggles with the allegory. "Why did God punish not only the guilty pair, but also the innocent unborn
Master was more amused by my vehemence than my ignorance. "Genesis is deeply symbolic, and cannot
be grasped by a literal interpretation," he explained. "Its 'tree of life' is the human body. The spinal cord
is like an upturned tree, with man's hair as its roots, and afferent and efferent nerves as branches. The
tree of the nervous system bears many enjoyable fruits, or sensations of sight, sound, smell, taste, and
touch. In these, man may rightfully indulge; but he was forbidden the experience of sex,
the 'apple' at the center of the bodily garden.14
"The 'serpent' represents the coiled-up spinal energy which stimulates the sex nerves. 'Adam' is reason,
and 'Eve' is feeling. When the emotion or Eve-consciousness in any human being is overpowered by the sex
impulse, his reason or Adam also succumbs.15
"God created the human species by materializing the bodies of man and woman through the force of His will;
He endowed the new species with the power to create children in a similar 'immaculate' or divine
manner.16 Because His manifestation in the individualized soul had
hitherto been limited to animals, instinct-bound and lacking the potentialities of full reason, God made the
first human bodies, symbolically called Adam and Eve. To these, for advantageous upward evolution, He
transferred the souls or divine essence of two animals. 17 In Adam or
man, reason predominated; in Eve or woman, feeling was ascendant. Thus was expressed the duality or polarity
which underlies the phenomenal worlds. Reason and feeling remain in a heaven of cooperative joy so long as
the human mind is not tricked by the serpentine energy of animal propensities.
"The human body was therefore not solely a result of evolution from beasts, but was produced by an act of
special creation by God. The animal forms were too crude to express full divinity; the human being was
uniquely given a tremendous mental capacitythe 'thousand-petaled lotus' of the brainas well as acutely
awakened occult centers in the spine.
"God, or the Divine Consciousness present within the first created pair, counseled them
to enjoy all human sensibilities, but not to put their concentration on touch sensations.18 These were banned in order to avoid the development of the sex organs, which
would enmesh humanity in the inferior animal method of propagation. The warning not to revive
subconsciously-present bestial memories was not heeded. Resuming the way of brute procreation, Adam and Eve
fell from the state of heavenly joy natural to the original perfect man.
"Knowledge of 'good and evil' refers to the cosmic dualistic compulsion. Falling under
the sway of maya through misuse of his feeling and reason, or Eveand Adamconsciousness, man
relinquishes his right to enter the heavenly garden of divine self-sufficiency. 19 The personal responsibility of every human being is to restore his 'parents'
or dual nature to a unified harmony or Eden."
As Sri Yukteswar ended his discourse, I glanced with new respect at the pages of Genesis.
"Dear Master,' I said, "for the first time I feel a proper filial obligation toward Adam and Eve!"
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