Chapter 21 - We Visit Kashmir
"You are strong enough now to travel. I will accompany you to Kashmir," Sri Yukteswar informed me two days
after my miraculous recovery from Asiatic cholera.
That evening our party of six entrained for the north. Our first leisurely stop was at Simla, a queenly
city resting on the throne of Himalayan hills. We strolled over the steep streets, admiring the magnificent
"English strawberries for sale," cried an old woman, squatting in a picturesque open market place.
Master was curious about the strange little red fruits. He bought a basketful and offered it to Kanai and
myself, who were near-by. I tasted one berry but spat it hastily on the ground.
"Sir, what a sour fruit! I could never like strawberries!"
My guru laughed. "Oh, you will like themin America. At a dinner there, your hostess will serve them with
sugar and cream. After she has mashed the berries with a fork, you will taste them and say: 'What delicious
strawberries!' Then you will remember this day in Simla."
Sri Yukteswar's forecast vanished from my mind, but reappeared there many years later, shortly after my
arrival in America. I was a dinner guest at the home of Mrs. Alice T. Hasey (Sister Yogmata) in West
Somerville, Massachusetts. When a dessert of strawberries was put on the table, my hostess picked up her fork
and mashed my berries, adding cream and sugar. "The fruit is rather tart; I think you will like it fixed this
way," she remarked.
I took a mouthful. "What delicious strawberries!" I exclaimed. At once my guru's prediction in Simla
emerged from the fathomless cave of memory. It was staggering to realize that long ago Sri Yukteswar's
God-tuned mind had sensitively detected the program of karmic events wandering in the ether of futurity.
Our party soon left Simla and entrained for Rawalpindi. There we hired a large landau, drawn by two
horses, in which we started a seven-day trip to Srinagar, capital city of Kashmir. The second day of our
northbound journey brought into view the true Himalayan vastness. As the iron wheels of our carriage creaked
along the hot, stony roads, we were enraptured with changing vistas of mountainous grandeur.
"Sir," Auddy said to Master, "I am greatly enjoying these glorious scenes in your holy company."
I felt a throb of pleasure at Auddy's appreciation, for I was acting as host on this trip. Sri Yukteswar
caught my thought; he turned to me and whispered:
"Don't flatter yourself; Auddy is not nearly as entranced with the scenery as he is with the prospect of
leaving us long enough to have a cigaret."
I was shocked. "Sir," I said in an undertone, "please do not break our harmony by these unpleasant words.
I can hardly believe that Auddy is hankering for a smoke."1 I looked
apprehensively at my usually irrepressible guru.
"Very well; I won't say anything to Auddy." Master chuckled. "But you will soon see, when the landau
halts, that Auddy is quick to seize his opportunity."
The carriage arrived at a small caravanserai. As our horses were led to be watered, Auddy inquired, "Sir,
do you mind if I ride awhile with the driver? I would like to get a little outside air."
Sri Yukteswar gave permission, but remarked to me, "He wants fresh smoke and not fresh air."
The landau resumed its noisy progress over the dusty roads. Master's eyes were twinkling; he instructed
me, "Crane up your neck through the carriage door and see what Auddy is doing with the air."
I obeyed, and was astounded to observe Auddy in the act of exhaling rings of cigaret smoke. My glance
toward Sri Yukteswar was apologetic.
"You are right, as always, sir. Auddy is enjoying a puff along with a panorama." I surmised that my friend
had received a gift from the cab driver; I knew Auddy had not carried any cigarets from Calcutta.
We continued on the labyrinthine way, adorned by views of rivers, valleys, precipitous crags, and
multitudinous mountain tiers. Every night we stopped at rustic inns, and prepared our own food. Sri Yukteswar
took special care of my diet, insisting that I have lime juice at all meals. I was still weak, but daily
improving, though the rattling carriage was strictly designed for discomfort.
Joyous anticipations filled our hearts as we neared central Kashmir, paradise land of lotus lakes,
floating gardens, gaily canopied houseboats, the many-bridged Jhelum River, and flower-strewn pastures, all
ringed round by the Himalayan majesty. Our approach to Srinagar was through an avenue of tall, welcoming
trees. We engaged rooms at a double-storied inn overlooking the noble hills. No running water was available;
we drew our supply from a near-by well. The summer weather was ideal, with warm days and slightly cold
We made a pilgrimage to the ancient Srinagar temple of Swami Shankara. As I gazed upon the mountain-peak
hermitage, standing bold against the sky, I fell into an ecstatic trance. A vision appeared of a hilltop
mansion in a distant land. The lofty Shankara ashram before me was transformed into the structure where,
years later, I established the Self-Realization Fellowship headquarters in America. When I first visited Los
Angeles, and saw the large building on the crest of Mount Washington, I recognized it at once from my
long-past visions in Kashmir and elsewhere.
A few days at Srinagar; then on to Gulmarg ("mountain paths of flowers"), elevated by six thousand feet.
There I had my first ride on a large horse. Rajendra mounted a small trotter, whose heart was fired with
ambition for speed. We ventured onto the very steep Khilanmarg; the path led through a dense forest,
abounding in tree-mushrooms, where the mist-shrouded trails were often precarious. But Rajendra's little
animal never permitted my oversized steed a moment's rest, even at the most perilous turns. On, on,
untiringly came Rajendra's horse, oblivious to all but the joy of competition.
Our strenuous race was rewarded by a breath-taking view. For the first time in this life, I gazed in all
directions at sublime snow-capped Himalayas, lying tier upon tier like silhouettes of huge polar bears. My
eyes feasted exultingly on endless reaches of icy mountains against sunny blue skies.
I rolled merrily with my young companions, all wearing overcoats, on the sparkling white slopes. On our
downward trip we saw afar a vast carpet of yellow flowers, wholly transfiguring the bleak hills.
Our next excursions were to the famous royal "pleasure gardens" of the Emperor Jehangir, at Shalimar and
Nishat Bagh. The ancient palace at Nishat Bagh is built directly over a natural waterfall. Rushing down from
the mountains, the torrent has been regulated through ingenious contrivances to flow over
colorful terraces and to gush into fountains amidst the dazzling flower-beds. The stream also enters several
of the palace rooms, ultimately dropping fairy like into the lake below. The immense gardens are riotous with
color roses of a dozen hues, snapdragons, lavender, pansies, poppies. An emerald enclosing outline is given
by symmetrical rows of chinars,2 cypresses, cherry trees; beyond
them tower the white austerities of the Himalayas.
Kashmir grapes are considered a rare delicacy in Calcutta. Rajendra, who had been promising himself a
veritable feast on reaching Kashmir, was disappointed to find there no large vineyards. Now and then I
chaffed him jocosely over his baseless anticipation.
"Oh, I have become so much gorged with grapes I can't walk!" I would say. "The invisible grapes are
brewing within me!" Later I heard that sweet grapes grow abundantly in Kabul, west of Kashmir. We consoled
ourselves with ice cream made of rabri, a heavily condensed milk, and flavored with whole pistachio
We took several trips in the shikaras or houseboats, shaded by red-embroidered canopies, coursing
along the intricate channels of Dal Lake, a network of canals like a watery spider web. Here the numerous
floating gardens, crudely improvised with logs and earth, strike one with amazement, so incongruous is the
first sight of vegetables and melons growing in the midst of vast waters. Occasionally one sees a peasant,
disdaining to be "rooted to the soil," towing his square plot of "land" to a new location in the
In this storied vale one finds an epitome of all the earth's beauties. The Lady of Kashmir is
mountain-crowned, lake-garlanded, and flower-shod. In later years, after I had toured many distant lands, I
understood why Kashmir is often called the world's most scenic spot. It possesses some of the charms of the
Swiss Alps, and of Loch Lomond in Scotland, and of the exquisite English lakes. An American traveler in
Kashmir finds much to remind him of the rugged grandeur of Alaska and of Pikes Peak near Denver.
As entries in a scenic beauty contest, I offer for first prize either the gorgeous view of Xochimilco in
Mexico, where mountains, skies, and poplars reflect themselves in myriad lanes of water amidst the playful
fish, or the jewel-like lakes of Kashmir, guarded like beautiful maidens by the stern surveillance of the
Himalayas. These two places stand out in my memory as the loveliest spots on earth.
Yet I was awed also when I first beheld the wonders of Yellowstone National Park and of the Grand Canyon
of the Colorado, and of Alaska. Yellowstone Park is perhaps the only region where one can see innumerable
geysers shooting high into the air, performing year after year with clockwork regularity. Its opal and
sapphire pools and hot sulphurous springs, its bears and wild creatures, remind one that here Nature left a
specimen of her earliest creation. Motoring along the roads of Wyoming to the "Devil's Paint Pot" of hot
bubbling mud, with gurgling springs, vaporous fountains, and spouting geysers in all directions, I was
disposed to say that Yellowstone deserves a special prize for uniqueness.
The ancient majestic redwoods of Yosemite, stretching their huge columns far into the unfathomable sky,
are green natural cathedrals designed with skill divine. Though there are wonderful falls in the Orient, none
match the torrential beauty of Niagara near the Canadian border. The Mammoth Caves of Kentucky and the
Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, with colorful iciclelike formations, are stunning fairylands. Their long
needles of stalactite spires, hanging from cave ceilings and mirrored in underground waters, present a
glimpse of other worlds as fancied by man.
Most of the Hindus of Kashmir, world-famed for their beauty, are as white as Europeans and have similar
features and bone structure; many have blue eyes and blonde hair. Dressed in Western clothes, they look like
Americans. The cold Himalayas protect the Kashmiris from the sultry sun and preserve their light complexions.
As one travels to the southern and tropical latitudes of India, he finds progressively that the people become
darker and darker.
After spending happy weeks in Kashmir, I was forced to return to Bengal for the fall term of Serampore
College. Sri Yukteswar remained in Srinagar, with Kanai and Auddy. Before I departed, Master hinted that his
body would be subject to suffering in Kashmir.
"Sir, you look a picture of health," I protested.
"There is a chance that I may even leave this earth."
"Guruji!" I fell at his feet with an imploring gesture. "Please promise that you won't leave your body
now. I am utterly unprepared to carry on without you."
Sri Yukteswar was silent, but smiled at me so compassionately that I felt reassured. Reluctantly I left
"Master dangerously ill." This telegram from Auddy reached me shortly after my return to Serampore.
"Sir," I wired my guru frantically, "I asked for your promise not to leave me. Please keep your body;
otherwise, I also shall die."
"Be it as you wish." This was Sri Yukteswar's reply from Kashmir.
A letter from Auddy arrived in a few days, informing me that Master had recovered. On his return to
Serampore during the next fortnight, I was grieved to find my guru's body reduced to half its usual
Fortunately for his disciples, Sri Yukteswar burned many of their sins in the fire of his
severe fever in Kashmir. The metaphysical method of physical transfer of disease is known to highly advanced
yogis. A strong man can assist a weaker one by helping to carry his heavy load; a spiritual superman is able
to minimize his disciples' physical or mental burdens by sharing the karma of their past actions. Just as a
rich man loses some money when he pays off a large debt for his prodigal son, who is thus saved from dire
consequences of his own folly, so a master willingly sacrifices a portion of his bodily wealth to lighten the
misery of disciples. 3
By a secret method, the yogi unites his mind and astral vehicle with those of a suffering individual; the
disease is conveyed, wholly or in part, to the saint's body. Having harvested God on the physical field, a
master no longer cares what happens to that material form. Though he may allow it to register a certain
disease in order to relieve others, his mind is never affected; he considers himself fortunate in being able
to render such aid.
The devotee who has achieved final salvation in the Lord finds that his body has completely fulfilled its
purpose; he can then use it in any way he deems fit. His work in the world is to alleviate the sorrows of
mankind, whether through spiritual means or by intellectual counsel or through will power or by the physical
transfer of disease. Escaping to the superconsciousness whenever he so desires, a master can remain oblivious
of physical suffering; sometimes he chooses to bear bodily pain stoically, as an example to disciples. By
putting on the ailments of others, a yogi can satisfy, for them, the karmic law of cause and effect. This law
is mechanically or mathematically operative; its workings can be scientifically manipulated by men of divine
The spiritual law does not require a master to become ill whenever he heals another
person. Healings ordinarily take place through the saint's knowledge of various methods of instantaneous cure
in which no hurt to the spiritual healer is involved. On rare occasions, however, a master who wishes to
greatly quicken his disciples' evolution may then voluntarily work out on his own body a large measure of
their undesirable karma.
Jesus signified himself as a ransom for the sins of many. With his divine powers,4 his body could never have been subjected to death by crucifixion if he had not
willingly cooperated with the subtle cosmic law of cause and effect. He thus took on himself the consequences
of others' karma, especially that of his disciples. In this manner they were highly purified and made fit to
receive the omnipresent consciousness which later descended on them.
Only a self-realized master can transfer his life force, or convey into his own body the diseases of
others. An ordinary man cannot employ this yogic method of cure, nor is it desirable that he should do so;
for an unsound physical instrument is a hindrance to God-meditation. The Hindu scriptures teach that the
first duty of man is to keep his body in good condition; otherwise his mind is unable to remain fixed in
A very strong mind, however, can transcend all physical difficulties and attain to God-realization. Many
saints have ignored illness and succeeded in their divine quest. St. Francis of Assisi, severely afflicted
with ailments, healed others and even raised the dead.
I knew an Indian saint, half of whose body was once festering with sores. His diabetic condition was so
acute that under ordinary conditions he could not sit still at one time for more than fifteen minutes. But
his spiritual aspiration was undeterrable. "Lord," he prayed, "wilt Thou come into my broken temple?" With
ceaseless command of will, the saint gradually became able to sit daily in the lotus posture for eighteen
continuous hours, engrossed in the ecstatic trance.
"And," he told me, "at the end of three years, I found the Infinite Light blazing within my shattered
form. Rejoicing in the joyful splendour, I forgot the body. Later I saw that it had become whole through the
A historical healing incident concerns King Baber (1483-1530), founder of the Mogul empire in India. His
son, Prince Humayun, was mortally ill. The father prayed with anguished determination that he receive the
sickness, and that his son be spared. After all physicians had given up hope, Humayun recovered. Baber
immediately fell sick and died of the same disease which had stricken his son. Humayun succeeded Baber as
Emperor of Hindustan.
Many people imagine that every spiritual master has, or should have, the health and strength of a Sandow.
The assumption is unfounded. A sickly body does not indicate that a guru is not in touch with divine powers,
any more than lifelong health necessarily indicates an inner illumination. The condition of the physical
body, in other words, cannot rightfully be made a test of a master. His distinguishing qualifications must be
sought in his own domain, the spiritual.
Numerous bewildered seekers in the West erroneously think that an eloquent speaker or
writer on metaphysics must be a master. The rishis, however, have pointed out that the acid test of a master
is a man's ability to enter at will the breathless state, and to maintain the unbroken samadhi of
nirbikalpa.5 Only by these achievements can a human being prove
that he has "mastered" maya or the dualistic Cosmic Delusion. He alone can say from the depths of
realization: "Ekam sat, ""Only One exists."
"The Vedas declare that the ignorant man who rests content with making the slightest distinction
between the individual soul and the Supreme Self is exposed to danger," Shankara the great monist has
written. "Where there is duality by virtue of ignorance, one sees all things as distinct from the Self. When
everything is seen as the Self, then there is not even an atom other than the Self. . . .
"As soon as the knowledge of the Reality has sprung up, there can be no fruits of past actions to be
experienced, owing to the unreality of the body, in the same way as there can be no dream after waking."
Only great gurus are able to assume the karma of disciples. Sri Yukteswar would not have suffered in
Kashmir unless he had received permission from the Spirit within him to help his disciples in that strange
way. Few saints were ever more sensitively equipped with wisdom to carry out divine commands than my
When I ventured a few words of sympathy over his emaciated figure, my guru said gaily:
"It has its good points; I am able now to get into some small ganjis (undershirts) that I haven't
worn in years!"
Listening to Master's jovial laugh, I remembered the words of St. Francis de Sales: "A saint that is sad
is a sad saint!"
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