Chapter 35 - The Christlike Life of Lahiri Mahasaya
From a reverent study of the Bible from an Oriental viewpoint,2 and from intuitional perception, I am
convinced that John the Baptist was, in past lives, the guru of Christ. There are numerous passages in the
Bible which infer that John and Jesus in their last incarnations were, respectively, Elijah and his disciple
Elisha. (These are the spellings in the Old Testament. The Greek translators spelled the names as Elias and
Eliseus; they reappear in the New Testament in these changed forms.)
The very end of the Old Testament is a prediction of the reincarnation of Elijah and
Elisha: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the
Lord."3 Thus John (Elijah), sent "before
the coming . . . of the Lord," was born slightly earlier to serve as a herald for Christ. An angel appeared
to Zacharias the father to testify that his coming son John would be no other than Elijah (Elias).
"But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall
bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. . . . And many of the children of
Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him4 in the spirit and power of Elias, to
turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready
a people prepared for the Lord."5
Jesus twice unequivocally identified Elijah (Elias) as John: "Elias is come already, and they knew him
not. . . . Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist." 6 Again, Christ says: "For all the prophets and
the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come."7
When John denied that he was Elias (Elijah), 8 he meant that in the humble garb of John he
came no longer in the outward elevation of Elijah the great guru. In his former incarnation he had given the "mantle" of his glory and his spiritual wealth to his disciple Elisha. "And Elisha said,
I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing:
nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee. . . . And he took the
mantle of Elijah that fell from him."9
The roles became reversed, because Elijah-John was no longer needed to be the ostensible guru of
Elisha-Jesus, now perfected in divine realization.
When Christ was transfigured on the mountain10 it was his guru Elias, with Moses, whom he
saw. Again, in his hour of extremity on the cross, Jesus cried out the divine name: "Eli, Eli, lama
sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there,
when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. . . . Let us see whether Elias will come to save
The eternal bond of guru and disciple that existed between John and Jesus was present also for Babaji and
Lahiri Mahasaya. With tender solicitude the deathless guru swam the Lethean waters that swirled between the
last two lives of his chela, and guided the successive steps taken by the child and then by the man Lahiri
Mahasaya. It was not until the disciple had reached his thirty-third year that Babaji deemed the time to be
ripe to openly reestablish the never-severed link.
Then, after their brief meeting near Ranikhet, the
selfless master banished his dearly-beloved disciple from the little mountain group, releasing him for an
outward world mission. "My son, I shall come whenever you need me." What mortal lover can bestow that
Unknown to society in general, a great spiritual renaissance began to flow from a remote corner of
Benares. Just as the fragrance of flowers cannot be suppressed, so Lahiri Mahasaya, quietly living as an
ideal householder, could not hide his innate glory. Slowly, from every part of India, the devotee-bees sought
the divine nectar of the liberated master.
The English office superintendent was one of the first to notice a strange transcendental change in his
employee, whom he endearingly called "Ecstatic Babu."
"Sir, you seem sad. What is the trouble?" Lahiri Mahasaya made this sympathetic inquiry one morning to his
"My wife in England is critically ill. I am torn by anxiety."
"I shall get you some word about her." Lahiri Mahasaya left the room and sat for a short time in a
secluded spot. On his return he smiled consolingly.
"Your wife is improving; she is now writing you a letter." The omniscient yogi quoted some parts of the
"Ecstatic Babu, I already know that you are no ordinary man. Yet I am unable to believe that, at will, you
can banish time and space!"
The promised letter finally arrived. The astounded superintendent found that it contained not only the
good news of his wife's recovery, but also the same phrases which, weeks earlier, Lahiri Mahasaya had
The wife came to India some months later. She visited the office, where Lahiri Mahasaya was quietly
sitting at his desk. The woman approached him reverently.
"Sir," she said, "it was your form, haloed in glorious light, that I beheld months ago by my sickbed in
London. At that moment I was completely healed! Soon after, I was able to undertake the long ocean voyage to
Day after day, one or two devotees besought the sublime guru for Kriya initiation. In addition to
these spiritual duties, and to those of his business and family life, the great master took an enthusiastic
interest in education. He organized many study groups, and played an active part in the growth of a large
high school in the Bengalitola section of Benares. His regular discourses on the scriptures came to be called
his " Gita Assembly," eagerly attended by many truth-seekers.
By these manifold activities, Lahiri Mahasaya sought to answer the common challenge: "After performing
one's business and social duties, where is the time for devotional meditation?" The harmoniously balanced
life of the great householder-guru became the silent inspiration of thousands of questioning hearts. Earning
only a modest salary, thrifty, unostentatious, accessible to all, the master carried on naturally and happily
in the path of worldly life.
Though ensconced in the seat of the Supreme One, Lahiri Mahasaya showed reverence to all men, irrespective
of their differing merits. When his devotees saluted him, he bowed in turn to them. With a childlike
humility, the master often touched the feet of others, but seldom allowed them to pay him similar honor, even
though such obeisance toward the guru is an ancient Oriental custom.
A significant feature of Lahiri Mahasaya's life was his gift of Kriya initiation to those of every
faith. Not Hindus only, but Moslems and Christians were among his foremost disciples. Monists and dualists,
those of all faiths or of no established faith, were impartially received and instructed by the universal
guru. One of his highly advanced chelas was Abdul Gufoor Khan, a Mohammedan. It shows great courage on the
part of Lahiri Mahasaya that, although a high-caste Brahmin, he tried his utmost to dissolve the rigid caste
bigotry of his time. Those from every walk of life found shelter under the master's omnipresent wings. Like
all God-inspired prophets, Lahiri Mahasaya gave new hope to the outcastes and down-trodden of society.
"Always remember that you belong to no one, and no one belongs to you. Reflect that some
day you will suddenly have to leave everything in this worldso make the acquaintanceship of God now," the
great guru told his disciples. "Prepare yourself for the coming astral journey of death by daily riding in
the balloon of God-perception. Through delusion you are perceiving yourself as a bundle of flesh and bones,
which at best is a nest of troubles.12
Meditate unceasingly, that you may quickly behold yourself as the Infinite Essence, free from every form of
misery. Cease being a prisoner of the body; using the secret key of Kriya, learn to escape into
The great guru encouraged his various students to adhere to the good traditional
discipline of their own faith. Stressing the all-inclusive nature of Kriya as a practical technique of
liberation, Lahiri Mahasaya then gave his chelas liberty to express their lives in conformance with
environment and up bringing.
"A Moslem should perform his namaj13 worship four times daily," the master
pointed out. "Four times daily a Hindu should sit in meditation. A Christian should go down on his knees four
times daily, praying to God and then reading the Bible."
With wise discernment the guru guided his followers into the paths of Bhakti (devotion),
Karma (action), Jnana (wisdom), or Raja (royal or complete) Yogas, according to
each man's natural tendencies. The master, who was slow to give his permission to devotees wishing to enter
the formal path of monkhood, always cautioned them to first reflect well on the austerities of the monastic
The great guru taught his disciples to avoid theoretical discussion of the scriptures.
"He only is wise who devotes himself to realizing, not reading only, the ancient revelations," he said.
"Solve all your problems through meditation.14 Exchange unprofitable religious speculations
for actual God-contact. Clear your mind of dogmatic theological debris; let in the fresh, healing waters of
direct perception. Attune yourself to the active inner Guidance; the Divine Voice has the answer to every
dilemma of life. Though man's ingenuity for getting himself into trouble appears to be endless, the Infinite
Succor is no less resourceful."
The master's omnipresence was demonstrated one day before a group of disciples who were listening to his
exposition of the Bhagavad Gita. As he was explaining the meaning of Kutastha Chaitanya or the
Christ Consciousness in all vibratory creation, Lahiri Mahasaya suddenly gasped and cried out:
"I am drowning in the bodies of many souls off the coast of Japan!"
The next morning the chelas read a newspaper account of the death of many people whose ship had foundered
the preceding day near Japan.
The distant disciples of Lahiri Mahasaya were often made aware of his enfolding presence. "I am ever with
those who practice Kriya," he said consolingly to chelas who could not remain near him. "I will guide
you to the Cosmic Home through your enlarging perceptions."
Swami Satyananda was told by a devotee that, unable to go to Benares, the man had nevertheless received
precise Kriya initiation in a dream. Lahiri Mahasaya had appeared to instruct the chela in answer to
If a disciple neglected any of his worldly obligations, the master would gently correct and discipline
"Lahiri Mahasaya's words were mild and healing, even when he was forced to speak openly of a chela's
faults," Sri Yukteswar once told me. He added ruefully, "No disciple ever fled from our master's barbs." I
could not help laughing, but I truthfully assured Sri Yukteswar that, sharp or not, his every word was music
to my ears.
Lahiri Mahasaya carefully graded Kriya into four progressive initiations.15 He bestowed the three higher techniques only after the devotee had
manifested definite spiritual progress. One day a certain chela, convinced that his worth was not being duly
evaluated, gave voice to his discontent.
"Master," he said, "surely I am ready now for the second initiation."
At this moment the door opened to admit a humble disciple, Brinda Bhagat. He was a Benares postman.
"Brinda, sit by me here." The great guru smiled at him affectionately. "Tell me, are you ready for the
second technique of Kriya?"
The little postman folded his hands in supplication. "Gurudeva," he said in alarm, "no more initiations,
please! How can I assimilate any higher teachings? I have come today to ask your blessings, because the first
divine Kriya has filled me with such intoxication that I cannot deliver my letters!"
"Already Brinda swims in the sea of Spirit." At these words from Lahiri Mahasaya, his other disciple hung
"Master," he said, "I see I have been a poor workman, finding fault with my tools."
The postman, who was an uneducated man, later developed his insight through Kriya to such an extent
that scholars occasionally sought his interpretation on involved scriptural points. Innocent alike of sin and
syntax, little Brinda won renown in the domain of learned pundits.
Besides the numerous Benares disciples of Lahiri Mahasaya, hundreds came to him from distant parts of
India. He himself traveled to Bengal on several occasions, visiting at the homes of the fathers-in-law of his
two sons. Thus blessed by his presence, Bengal became honeycombed with small Kriya groups.
Particularly in the districts of Krishnagar and Bishnupur, many silent devotees to this day have kept the
invisible current of spiritual meditation flowing.
Among many saints who received Kriya from Lahiri Mahasaya may be mentioned the illustrious Swami
Vhaskarananda Saraswati of Benares, and the Deogarh ascetic of high stature, Balananda Brahmachari. For a
time Lahiri Mahasaya served as private tutor to the son of Maharaja Iswari Narayan Sinha Bahadur of Benares.
Recognizing the master's spiritual attainment, the maharaja, as well as his son, sought Kriya
initiation, as did the Maharaja Jotindra Mohan Thakur.
A number of Lahiri Mahasaya's disciples with influential worldly position were desirous
of expanding the Kriya circle by publicity. The guru refused his permission. One chela, the royal
physician to the Lord of Benares, started an organized effort to spread the master's name as "Kashi Baba"
(Exalted One of Benares). 16 Again the
guru forbade it.
"Let the fragrance of the Kriya flower be wafted naturally, without any display," he said. "Its
seeds will take root in the soil of spiritually fertile hearts."
Although the great master did not adopt the system of preaching through the modern medium of an
organization, or through the printing press, he knew that the power of his message would rise like a
resistless flood, inundating by its own force the banks of human minds. The changed and purified lives of
devotees were the simple guarantees of the deathless vitality of Kriya.
In 1886, twenty-five years after his Ranikhet initiation, Lahiri Mahasaya was retired on a
pension.17 With his availability in the
daytime, disciples sought him out in ever-increasing numbers. The great guru now sat in silence most of the
time, locked in the tranquil lotus posture. He seldom left his little parlor, even for a walk or to visit
other parts of the house. A quiet stream of chelas arrived, almost ceaselessly, for a darshan (holy
sight) of the guru.
To the awe of all beholders, Lahiri Mahasaya's habitual physiological state exhibited the superhuman
features of breathlessness, sleeplessness, cessation of pulse and heartbeat, calm eyes unblinking for hours,
and a profound aura of peace. No visitors departed without upliftment of spirit; all knew they had received the silent blessing of a true man of God.
The master now permitted his disciple, Panchanon Bhattacharya, to open an "Arya Mission Institution" in
Calcutta. Here the saintly disciple spread the message of Kriya Yoga, and prepared for public benefit
certain yogic herbal18 medicines.
In accordance with ancient custom, the master gave to people in general a neem19 oil for the cure of various diseases. When the guru requested a disciple
to distil the oil, he could easily accomplish the task. If anyone else tried, he would encounter strange
difficulties, finding that the medicinal oil had almost evaporated after going through the required
distilling processes. Evidently the master's blessing was a necessary ingredient.
Lahiri Mahasaya's handwriting and signature, in Bengali script, are shown above. The lines occur in a
letter to a chela; the great master interprets a Sanskrit verse as follows: "He who has attained a state of
calmness wherein his eyelids do not blink, has achieved Sambhabi Mudra."
(signed) "Sri Shyama Charan Deva Sharman"
The Arya Mission Institution undertook the publication of many of the guru's scriptural commentaries. Like
Jesus and other great prophets, Lahiri Mahasaya himself wrote no books, but his penetrating interpretations
were recorded and arranged by various disciples. Some of these voluntary amanuenses were more discerning than
others in correctly conveying the profound insight of the guru; yet, on the whole, their efforts were
successful. Through their zeal, the world possesses unparalleled commentaries by Lahiri Mahasaya on
twenty-six ancient scriptures.
Sri Ananda Mohan Lahiri, a grandson of the master, has written an interesting booklet on
Kriya. "The text of the Bhagavad Gita is a part of the great epic, the Mahabharata,
which possesses several knot-points (vyas-kutas )," Sri Ananda wrote. "Keep those knot-points
unquestioned, and we find nothing but mythical stories of a peculiar and easily-misunderstood type. Keep
those knot-points unexplained, and we have lost a science which the East has preserved with superhuman
patience after a quest of thousands of years of experiment. 20 It was the commentaries of Lahiri Mahasaya
which brought to light, clear of allegories, the very science of religion that had been so cleverly put out
of sight in the riddle of scriptural letters and imagery. No longer a mere unintelligible jugglery of words,
the otherwise unmeaning formulas of Vedic worship have been proved by the master to be full of scientific
significance. . . .
"We know that man is usually helpless against the insurgent sway of evil passions, but these are rendered
powerless and man finds no motive in their indulgence when there dawns on him a consciousness of superior and
lasting bliss through Kriya. Here the give-up, the negation of the lower passions, synchronizes with a
take-up, the assertion of a beatitude. Without such a course, hundreds of moral maxims which run in mere
negatives are useless to us.
"Our eagerness for worldly activity kills in us the sense of spiritual awe. We cannot comprehend the Great
Life behind all names and forms, just because science brings home to us how we can use the powers of nature;
this familiarity has bred a contempt for her ultimate secrets. Our relation with nature is one of practical
business. We tease her, so to speak, to know how she can be used to serve our purposes; we make use of her
energies, whose Source yet remains unknown. In science our relation with nature is one that exists between a
man and his servant, or in a philosophical sense she is like a captive in the witness box. We cross-examine
her, challenge her, and minutely weigh her evidence in human scales which cannot measure her hidden values.
On the other hand, when the self is in communion with a higher power, nature automatically obeys, without
stress or strain, the will of man. This effortless command over nature is called 'miraculous' by the
"The life of Lahiri Mahasaya set an example which changed the erroneous notion that yoga
is a mysterious practice. Every man may find a way through Kriya to understand his proper relation
with nature, and to feel spiritual reverence for all phenomena, whether mystical or of everyday occurrence,
in spite of the matter-of-factness of physical science. 21 We must bear in mind that what was mystical
a thousand years ago is no longer so, and what is mysterious now may become lawfully intelligible a hundred
years hence. It is the Infinite, the Ocean of Power, that is at the back of all manifestations.
"The law of Kriya Yoga is eternal. It is true like mathematics; like the simple rules of addition
and subtraction, the law of Kriya can never be destroyed. Burn to ashes all the books on mathematics,
the logically-minded will always rediscover such truths; destroy all the sacred books on yoga, its
fundamental laws will come out whenever there appears a true yogi who comprises within himself pure devotion
and consequently pure knowledge."
Just as Babaji is among the greatest of avatars, a Mahavatar, and Sri Yukteswar a Jnanavatar
or Incarnation of Wisdom, so Lahiri Mahasaya may justly be called Yogavatar, or Incarnation of Yoga.
By the standards of both qualitative and quantitative good, he elevated the spiritual level of society. In
his power to raise his close disciples to Christlike stature and in his wide dissemination of truth among the
masses, Lahiri Mahasaya ranks among the saviors of mankind.
His uniqueness as a prophet lies in his practical stress on a definite method, Kriya, opening for
the first time the doors of yoga freedom to all men. Apart from the miracles of his own life, surely the
Yogavatar reached the zenith of all wonders in reducing the ancient complexities of yoga to an
effective simplicity not beyond the ordinary grasp.
In reference to miracles, Lahiri Mahasaya often said, "The operation of subtle laws which are unknown to
people in general should not be publicly discussed or published without due discrimination." If in these
pages I have appeared to flout his cautionary words, it is because he has given me an inward reassurance.
Also, in recording the lives of Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, and Sri Yukteswar, I have thought it advisable to
omit many true miraculous stories, which could hardly have been included without writing, also, an
explanatory volume of abstruse philosophy.
New hope for new men! "Divine union," the Yogavatar proclaimed, "is possible through self-effort,
and is not dependent on theological beliefs or on the arbitrary will of a Cosmic Dictator."
Through use of the Kriya key, persons who cannot bring themselves to believe in the divinity of any
man will behold at last the full divinity of their own selves.
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