Chapter 27 - Founding a Yoga School in Ranchi
"Why are you averse to organizational work?"
Master's question startled me a bit. It is true that my private conviction at the time was that
organizations were "hornets' nests."
"It is a thankless task, sir," I answered. "No matter what the leader does or does not, he is
"Do you want the whole divine channa (milk curd) for yourself alone?" My guru's retort was
accompanied by a stern glance. "Could you or anyone else achieve God-contact through yoga if a line of
generous-hearted masters had not been willing to convey their knowledge to others?" He added, "God is the
Honey, organizations are the hives; both are necessary. Any form is useless, of course, without the
spirit, but why should you not start busy hives full of the spiritual nectar?"
His counsel moved me deeply. Although I made no outward reply, an adamant resolution arose in my breast: I
would share with my fellows, so far as lay in my power, the unshackling truths I had learned at my guru's
feet. "Lord," I prayed, "may Thy Love shine forever on the sanctuary of my devotion, and may I be able to
awaken that Love in other hearts."
On a previous occasion, before I had joined the monastic order, Sri Yukteswar had made a most unexpected
"How you will miss the companionship of a wife in your old age!" he had said. "Do you not agree that the
family man, engaged in useful work to maintain his wife and children, thus plays a rewarding role in God's
"Sir," I had protested in alarm, "you know that my desire in this life is to espouse only the Cosmic
Master had laughed so merrily that I understood his observation was made merely as a test of my faith.
"Remember," he had said slowly, "that he who discards his worldly duties can justify himself only by
assuming some kind of responsibility toward a much larger family."
The ideal of an all-sided education for youth had always been close to my heart. I saw clearly the arid
results of ordinary instruction, aimed only at the development of body and intellect. Moral and spiritual
values, without whose appreciation no man can approach happiness, were yet lacking in the formal curriculum.
I determined to found a school where young boys could develop to the full stature of manhood. My first step
in that direction was made with seven children at Dihika, a small country site in Bengal.
A year later, in 1918, through the generosity of Sir Manindra Chandra Nundy, the Maharaja
of Kasimbazar, I was able to transfer my fast-growing group to Ranchi. This town in Bihar, about two hundred
miles from Calcutta, is blessed with one of the most healthful climates in India. The Kasimbazar Palace at
Ranchi was transformed into the headquarters for the new school, which I called Brahmacharya
Vidyalaya1 in accordance with the educational ideals of the rishis.
Their forest ashrams had been the ancient seats of learning, secular and divine, for the youth of India.
At Ranchi I organized an educational program for both grammar and high school grades. It included
agricultural, industrial, commercial, and academic subjects. The students were also taught yoga concentration
and meditation, and a unique system of physical development, "Yogoda," whose principles I had discovered in
Realizing that man's body is like an electric battery, I reasoned that it could be recharged with energy
through the direct agency of the human will. As no action, slight or large, is possible without
willing, man can avail himself of his prime mover, will, to renew his bodily tissues without
burdensome apparatus or mechanical exercises. I therefore taught the Ranchi students my simple "Yogoda"
techniques by which the life force, centred in man's medulla oblongata, can be consciously and instantly
recharged from the unlimited supply of cosmic energy.
The boys responded wonderfully to this training, developing extraordinary ability to shift
the life energy from one part of the body to another part, and to sit in perfect poise in difficult body
postures.2 They performed feats of strength and endurance which many
powerful adults could not equal. My youngest brother, Bishnu Charan Ghosh, joined the Ranchi school; he later
became a leading physical culturist in Bengal. He and one of his students traveled to Europe and America,
giving exhibitions of strength and skill which amazed the university savants, including those at Columbia
University in New York.
At the end of the first year at Ranchi, applications for admission reached two thousand. But the school,
which at that time was solely residential, could accommodate only about one hundred. Instruction for day
students was soon added.
In the Vidyalaya I had to play father-mother to the little children, and to cope
with many organizational difficulties. I often remembered Christ's words: "Verily I say unto you, There is no
man that hath left house, or brethren or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for
my sake, and the gospel's, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses and brethren, and
sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life."
Sri Yukteswar had interpreted these words: "The devotee who forgoes the
life-experiences of marriage and family, and exchanges the problems of a small household and limited
activities for the larger responsibilities of service to society in general, is undertaking a task which is
often accompanied by persecution from a misunderstanding world, but also by a divine inner contentment."
One day my father arrived in Ranchi to bestow a paternal blessing, long withheld because I had hurt him by
refusing his offer of a position with the Bengal-Nagpur Railway.
"Son," he said, "I am now reconciled to your choice in life. It gives me joy to see you amidst these
happy, eager youngsters; you belong here rather than with the lifeless figures of railroad timetables." He
waved toward a group of a dozen little ones who were tagging at my heels. "I had only eight children," he
observed with twinkling eyes, "but I can feel for you!"
With a large fruit orchard and twenty-five fertile acres at our disposal, the students, teachers, and
myself enjoyed many happy hours of outdoor labor in these ideal surroundings. We had many pets, including a
young deer who was fairly idolized by the children. I too loved the fawn so much that I allowed it to sleep
in my room. At the light of dawn, the little creature would toddle over to my bed for a morning caress.
One day I fed the pet earlier than usual, as I had to attend to some business in the town of Ranchi.
Although I cautioned the boys not to feed the fawn until my return, one of them was disobedient, and gave the
baby deer a large quantity of milk. When I came back in the evening, sad news greeted me: "The little fawn is
nearly dead, through over feeding."
In tears, I placed the apparently lifeless pet on my lap. I prayed piteously to God to spare its life.
Hours later, the small creature opened its eyes, stood up, and walked feebly. The whole school shouted for
But a deep lesson came to me that night, one I can never forget. I stayed up with the fawn until two
o'clock, when I fell asleep. The deer appeared in a dream, and spoke to me:
"You are holding me back. Please let me go; let me go!"
"All right," I answered in the dream.
I awoke immediately, and cried out, "Boys, the deer is dying!" The children rushed to my side.
I ran to the corner of the room where I had placed the pet. It made a last effort to rise, stumbled toward
me, then dropped at my feet, dead.
According to the mass karma which guides and regulates the destinies of animals, the deer's life was over,
and it was ready to progress to a higher form. But by my deep attachment, which I later realized was selfish,
and by my fervent prayers, I had been able to hold it in the limitations of the animal form from which the
soul was struggling for release. The soul of the deer made its plea in a dream because, without my loving
permission, it either would not or could not go. As soon as I agreed, it departed.
All sorrow left me; I realized anew that God wants His children to love everything as a part of Him, and
not to feel delusively that death ends all. The ignorant man sees only the unsurmountable wall of death,
hiding, seemingly forever, his cherished friends. But the man of unattachment, he who loves others as
expressions of the Lord, understands that at death the dear ones have only returned for a breathing-space of
joy in Him.
The Ranchi school grew from small and simple beginnings to an institution now well-known
in India. Many departments of the school are supported by voluntary contributions from those who rejoice in
perpetuating the educational ideals of the rishis. Under the general name of Yogoda Sat-Sanga,4 flourishing branch schools have been established at Midnapore, Lakshmanpur, and
The Ranchi headquarters maintains a Medical Department where medicines and the services of doctors are
supplied freely to the poor of the locality. The number treated has averaged more than 18,000 persons a year.
The Vidyalaya has made its mark, too, in Indian competitive sports, and in the scholastic field, where
many Ranchi alumni have distinguished themselves in later university life.
The school, now in its twenty-eighth year and the center of many activities,5 has been honored by visits of eminent men from the East and the West. One of
the earliest great figures to inspect the Vidyalaya in its first year was Swami Pranabananda, the
Benares "saint with two bodies." As the great master viewed the picturesque outdoor classes, held under the
trees, and saw in the evening that young boys were sitting motionless for hours in yoga meditation, he was
"Joy comes to my heart," he said, "to see that Lahiri Mahasaya's ideals for the proper training of youth
are being carried on in this institution. My guru's blessings be on it."
A young lad sitting by my side ventured to ask the great yogi a question.
"Sir," he said, "shall I be a monk? Is my life only for God?"
Though Swami Pranabananda smiled gently, his eyes were piercing the future.
"Child," he replied, "when you grow up, there is a beautiful bride waiting for you." The boy did
eventually marry, after having planned for years to enter the Swami Order.
Sometime after Swami Pranabananda had visited Ranchi, I accompanied my father to the Calcutta house where
the yogi was temporarily staying. Pranabananda's prediction, made to me so many years before, came rushing to
my mind: "I shall see you, with your father, later on."
As Father entered the swami's room, the great yogi rose from his seat and embraced my parent with loving
"Bhagabati," he said, "what are you doing about yourself? Don't you see your son racing to
the Infinite?" I blushed to hear his praise before my father. The swami went on, "You recall how often our
blessed guru used to say: 'Banat, banat, ban jai.'6 So keep up
Kriya Yoga ceaselessly, and reach the divine portals quickly."
The body of Pranabananda, which had appeared so well and strong during my amazing first visit to him in
Benares, now showed definite aging, though his posture was still admirably erect.
"Swamiji," I inquired, looking straight into his eyes, "please tell me the truth: Aren't you feeling the
advance of age? As the body is weakening, are your perceptions of God suffering any diminution?"
He smiled angelically. "The Beloved is more than ever with me now." His complete conviction overwhelmed my
mind and soul. He went on, "I am still enjoying the two pensionsone from Bhagabati here, and one from above."
Pointing his finger heavenward, the saint fell into an ecstasy, his face lit with a divine glowan ample
answer to my question.
Noticing that Pranabananda's room contained many plants and packages of seed, I asked their purpose.
"I have left Benares permanently," he said, "and am now on my way to the Himalayas. There I shall open an
ashram for my disciples. These seeds will produce spinach and a few other vegetables. My dear ones will live
simply, spending their time in blissful God-union. Nothing else is necessary."
Father asked his brother disciple when he would return to Calcutta.
"Never again," the saint replied. "This year is the one in which Lahiri Mahasaya told me I would leave my
beloved Benares forever and go to the Himalayas, there to throw off my mortal frame."
My eyes filled with tears at his words, but the swami smiled tranquilly. He reminded me of a little
heavenly child, sitting securely on the lap of the Divine Mother. The burden of the years has no ill effect
on a great yogi's full possession of supreme spiritual powers. He is able to renew his body at will; yet
sometimes he does not care to retard the aging process, but allows his karma to work itself out on the
physical plane, using his old body as a time-saving device to exclude the necessity of working out karma in a
Months later I met an old friend, Sanandan, who was one of Pranabananda's close disciples.
"My adorable guru is gone," he told me, amidst sobs. "He established a hermitage near Rishikesh, and gave
us loving training. When we were pretty well settled, and making rapid spiritual progress in his company, he
proposed one day to feed a huge crowd from Rishikesh. I inquired why he wanted such a large number.
"'This is my last festival ceremony,' he said. I did not understand the full implications of his
"Pranabanandaji helped with the cooking of great amounts of food. We fed about 2000 guests. After the
feast, he sat on a high platform and gave an inspired sermon on the Infinite. At the end, before the gaze of
thousands, he turned to me, as I sat beside him on the dais, and spoke with unusual
"'Sanandan, be prepared; I am going to kick the frame.7 '
"After a stunned silence, I cried loudly, 'Master, don't do it! Please, please, don't do it!' The crowd
was tongue-tied, watching us curiously. My guru smiled at me, but his solemn gaze was already fixed on
"'Be not selfish,' he said, 'nor grieve for me. I have been long cheerfully serving you all; now rejoice
and wish me Godspeed. I go to meet my Cosmic Beloved.' In a whisper, Pranabanandaji added, 'I shall be reborn
shortly. After enjoying a short period of the Infinite Bliss, I shall return to earth and join
Babaji.8 You shall soon know when and where my soul has been encased in a
"He cried again, 'Sanandan, here I kick the frame by the second Kriya Yoga.'9
"He looked at the sea of faces before us, and gave a blessing. Directing his gaze inwardly to the
spiritual eye, he became immobile. While the bewildered crowd thought he was meditating in an ecstatic state,
he had already left the tabernacle of flesh and plunged his soul into the cosmic vastness. The disciples
touched his body, seated in the lotus posture, but it was no longer the warm flesh. Only a stiffened frame
remained; the tenant had fled to the immortal shore."
"That's a sacred trust I cannot divulge to anyone," Sanandan replied. "Perhaps you may find out some other
Years later I discovered from Swami Keshabananda 10 that
Pranabananda, a few years after his birth in a new body, had gone to Badrinarayan in the Himalayas, and there
joined the group of saints around the great Babaji.
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