Chapter 40 - I Return to India
Gratefully I was inhaling the blessed air of India. Our boat Rajputana docked on August 22, 1935 in
the huge harbor of Bombay. Even this, my first day off the ship, was a foretaste of the year aheadtwelve
months of ceaseless activity. Friends had gathered at the dock with garlands and greetings; soon, at our
suite in the Taj Mahal Hotel, there was a stream of reporters and photographers.
Bombay was a city new to me; I found it energetically modern, with many innovations from the West. Palms
line the spacious boulevards; magnificent state structures vie for interest with ancient
temples. Very little time was given to sight-seeing, however; I was impatient, eager to see my beloved guru
and other dear ones. Consigning the Ford to a baggage car, our party was soon speeding eastward by train
Our arrival at Howrah Station found such an immense crowd assembled to greet us that for awhile we were
unable to dismount from the train. The young Maharaja of Kasimbazar and my brother Bishnu headed the
reception committee; I was unprepared for the warmth and magnitude of our welcome.
Preceded by a line of automobiles and motorcycles, and amidst the joyous sound of drums and conch shells,
Miss Bletch, Mr. Wright, and myself, flower-garlanded from head to foot, drove slowly to my father's
My aged parent embraced me as one returning from the dead; long we gazed on each other, speechless with
joy. Brothers and sisters, uncles, aunts, and cousins, students and friends of years long past were grouped
around me, not a dry eye among us. Passed now into the archives of memory, the scene of loving reunion
vividly endures, unforgettable in my heart.
As for my meeting with Sri Yukteswar, words fail me; let the following description from my secretary
"Today, filled with the highest anticipations, I drove Yoganandaji from Calcutta to Serampore," Mr. Wright
recorded in his travel diary. "We passed by quaint shops, one of them the favorite eating haunt of
Yoganandaji during his college days, and finally entered a narrow, walled lane. A sudden left turn, and there
before us towered the simple but inspiring two-story ashram, its Spanish-style balcony jutting from the upper
floor. The pervasive impression was that of peaceful solitude.
"In grave humility I walked behind Yoganandaji into the courtyard within the hermitage walls. Hearts
beating fast, we proceeded up some old cement steps, trod, no doubt, by myriads of truth-seekers. The tension
grew keener and keener as on we strode. Before us, near the head of the stairs, quietly appeared the Great
One, Swami Sri Yukteswarji, standing in the noble pose of a sage.
"My heart heaved and swelled as I felt myself blessed by the privilege of being in his sublime presence.
Tears blurred my eager sight when Yoganandaji dropped to his knees, and with bowed head offered his soul's
gratitude and greeting, touching with his hand his guru's feet and then, in humble obeisance, his own head.
He rose then and was embraced on both sides of the bosom by Sri Yukteswarji.
"No words passed at the beginning, but the most intense feeling was expressed in the mute phrases of the
soul. How their eyes sparkled and were fired with the warmth of renewed soul-union! A tender vibration surged
through the quiet patio, and even the sun eluded the clouds to add a sudden blaze of glory.
"On bended knee before the master I gave my own unexpressed love and thanks, touching his feet, calloused
by time and service, and receiving his blessing. I stood then and faced two beautiful deep eyes smouldering
with introspection, yet radiant with joy. We entered his sitting room, whose whole side opened to the outer
balcony first seen from the street. The master braced himself against a worn davenport, sitting on a covered
mattress on the cement floor. Yoganandaji and I sat near the guru's feet, with orange-colored pillows to lean
against and ease our positions on the straw mat.
"I tried and tried to penetrate the Bengali conversation between the two Swamijis for English, I
discovered, is null and void when they are together, although Swamiji Maharaj, as the great guru is called by
others, can and often does speak it. But I perceived the saintliness of the Great One through his
heart-warming smile and twinkling eyes. One quality easily discernible in his merry, serious conversation is
a decided positiveness in statementthe mark of a wise man, who knows he knows, because he knows God. His
great wisdom, strength of purpose, and determination are apparent in every way.
"Studying him reverently from time to time, I noted that he is of large, athletic stature, hardened by the
trials and sacrifices of renunciation. His poise is majestic. A decidedly sloping forehead, as if seeking the
heavens, dominates his divine countenance. He has a rather large and homely nose, with which he amuses
himself in idle moments, flipping and wiggling it with his fingers, like a child. His powerful dark eyes are
haloed by an ethereal blue ring. His hair, parted in the middle, begins as silver and changes to streaks of
silvery-gold and silvery-black, ending in ringlets at his shoulders. His beard and moustache are scant or
thinned out, yet seem to enhance his features and, like his character, are deep and light at the same
"He has a jovial and rollicking laugh which comes from deep in his chest, causing him to shake and quiver
throughout his bodyvery cheerful and sincere. His face and stature are striking in their power, as are his
muscular fingers. He moves with a dignified tread and erect posture.
"He was clad simply in the common dhoti and shirt, both once dyed a strong ocher color, but now a
"Glancing about, I observed that this rather dilapidated room suggested the owner's non-attachment to
material comforts. The weather-stained white walls of the long chamber were streaked with fading blue
plaster. At one end of the room hung a picture of Lahiri Mahasaya, garlanded in simple devotion. There was
also an old picture showing Yoganandaji as he had first arrived in Boston, standing with the other delegates
to the Congress of Religions.
"I noted a quaint concurrence of modernity and antiquation. A huge, cut-glass, candle-light chandelier was
covered with cobwebs through disuse, and on the wall was a bright, up-to-date calendar. The whole room
emanated a fragrance of peace and calmness. Beyond the balcony I could see coconut trees towering over the
hermitage in silent protection.
"It is interesting to observe that the master has merely to clap his hands together and,
before finishing, he is served or attended by some small disciple. Incidentally, I am much attracted to one
of thema thin lad, named Prafulla,2 with
long black hair to his shoulders, a most penetrating pair of sparkling black eyes, and a heavenly smile; his
eyes twinkle, as the corners of his mouth rise, like the stars and the crescent moon appearing at
"Swami Sri Yukteswarji's joy is obviously intense at the return of his 'product' (and he seems to be
somewhat inquisitive about the 'product's product'). However, predominance of the wisdom-aspect in the Great
One's nature hinders his outward expression of feeling.
"Yoganandaji presented him with some gifts, as is the custom when the disciple returns to his guru. We sat
down later to a simple but well-cooked meal. All the dishes were vegetable and rice combinations. Sri
Yukteswarji was pleased at my use of a number of Indian customs, 'finger-eating' for example.
"After several hours of flying Bengali phrases and the exchange of warm smiles and joyful
glances, we paid obeisance at his feet, bade adieu with a pronam,3 and departed for Calcutta with an everlasting
memory of a sacred meeting and greeting. Although I write chiefly of my external impressions of him, yet I
was always conscious of the true basis of the sainthis spiritual glory. I felt his power, and shall carry
that feeling as my divine blessing."
From America, Europe, and Palestine I had brought many presents for Sri Yukteswar. He received them
smilingly, but without remark. For my own use, I had bought in Germany a combination umbrella-cane. In India
I decided to give the cane to Master.
"This gift I appreciate indeed!" My guru's eyes were turned on me with affectionate understanding as he
made the unwonted comment. From all the presents, it was the cane that he singled out to display to
"Master, please permit me to get a new carpet for the sitting room." I had noticed that Sri Yukteswar's
tiger skin was placed over a torn rug.
"Do so if it pleases you." My guru's voice was not enthusiastic. "Behold, my tiger mat is nice and clean;
I am monarch in my own little kingdom. Beyond it is the vast world, interested only in externals."
As he uttered these words I felt the years roll back; once again I am a young disciple, purified in the
daily fires of chastisement!
As soon as I could tear myself away from Serampore and Calcutta, I set out, with Mr. Wright, for Ranchi.
What a welcome there, a veritable ovation! Tears stood in my eyes as I embraced the selfless teachers who had
kept the banner of the school flying during my fifteen years' absence. The bright faces and happy smiles of
the residential and day students were ample testimony to the worth of their many-sided school and yoga
Yet, alas! the Ranchi institution was in dire financial difficulties. Sir Manindra Chandra Nundy, the old
Maharaja whose Kasimbazar Palace had been converted into the central school building, and who had made many
princely donations was now dead. Many free, benevolent features of the school were now seriously endangered
for lack of sufficient public support.
I had not spent years in America without learning some of its practical wisdom, its undaunted spirit
before obstacles. For one week I remained in Ranchi, wrestling with critical problems. Then came interviews
in Calcutta with prominent leaders and educators, a long talk with the young Maharaja of Kasimbazar, a
financial appeal to my father, and lo! the shaky foundations of Ranchi began to be righted. Many donations
including one huge check arrived in the nick of time from my American students.
Within a few months after my arrival in India, I had the joy of seeing the Ranchi school legally
incorporated. My lifelong dream of a permanently endowed yoga educational center stood fulfilled. That vision
had guided me in the humble beginnings in 1917 with a group of seven boys.
In the decade since 1935, Ranchi has enlarged its scope far beyond the boys' school. Widespread
humanitarian activities are now carried on there in the Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasaya Mission.
The school, or Yogoda Sat-Sanga Brahmacharya Vidyalaya, conducts outdoor classes in grammar and high
school subjects. The residential students and day scholars also receive vocational training of some kind. The
boys themselves regulate most of their activities through autonomous committees. Very early in my career as
an educator I discovered that boys who impishly delight in outwitting a teacher will cheerfully accept
disciplinary rules that are set by their fellow students. Never a model pupil myself, I had a ready sympathy
for all boyish pranks and problems.
Sports and games are encouraged; the fields resound with hockey and football practice. Ranchi students
often win the cup at competitive events. The outdoor gymnasium is known far and wide. Muscle recharging
through will power is the Yogoda feature: mental direction of life energy to any part of the body. The
boys are also taught asanas (postures), sword and lathi (stick) play, and jujitsu. The Yogoda
Health Exhibitions at the Ranchi Vidyalaya have been attended by thousands.
Instruction in primary subjects is given in Hindi to the Kols, Santals, and Mundas,
aboriginal tribes of the province. Classes for girls only have been organized in near-by villages.
The unique feature at Ranchi is the initiation into Kriya Yoga. The boys daily practice their
spiritual exercises, engage in Gita chanting, and are taught by precept and example the virtues of
simplicity, self-sacrifice, honor, and truth. Evil is pointed out to them as being that which produces
misery; good as those actions which result in true happiness. Evil may be compared to poisoned honey,
tempting but laden with death.
Overcoming restlessness of body and mind by concentration techniques has achieved
astonishing results: it is no novelty at Ranchi to see an appealing little figure, aged nine or ten years,
sitting for an hour or more in unbroken poise, the unwinking gaze directed to the spiritual eye. Often the
picture of these Ranchi students has returned to my mind, as I observed collegians over the world who are
hardly able to sit still through one class period.4
Ranchi lies 2000 feet above sea level; the climate is mild and equable. The twenty-five acre site, by a
large bathing pond, includes one of the finest orchards in Indiafive hundred fruit treesmango, guava, litchi,
jackfruit, date. The boys grow their own vegetables, and spin at their charkas.
A guest house is hospitably open for Western visitors. The Ranchi library contains numerous magazines, and
about a thousand volumes in English and Bengali, donations from the West and the East. There is a collection
of the scriptures of the world. A well-classified museum displays archeological, geological, and
anthropological exhibits; trophies, to a great extent, of my wanderings over the Lord's varied earth.
The charitable hospital and dispensary of the Lahiri Mahasaya Mission, with many outdoor branches in
distant villages, have already ministered to 150,000 of India's poor. The Ranchi students are trained in
first aid, and have given praiseworthy service to their province at tragic times of flood or famine.
In the orchard stands a Shiva temple, with a statue of the blessed master, Lahiri Mahasaya. Daily prayers
and scripture classes are held in the garden under the mango bowers.
Branch high schools, with the residential and yoga features of Ranchi, have been opened and are now
flourishing. These are the Yogoda Sat-Sanga Vidyapith (School) for Boys, at Lakshmanpur in Bihar; and the
Yogoda Sat-Sanga High School and hermitage at Ejmalichak in Midnapore.
A stately Yogoda Math was dedicated in 1939 at Dakshineswar, directly on the Ganges. Only a few miles
north of Calcutta, the new hermitage affords a haven of peace for city dwellers. Suitable accommodations are
available for Western guests, and particularly for those seekers who are intensely dedicating their lives to
spiritual realization. The activities of the Yogoda Math include a fortnightly mailing of Self-Realization
Fellowship teachings to students in various parts of India.
It is needless to say that all these educational and humanitarian activities have required the
self-sacrificing service and devotion of many teachers and workers. I do not list their names here, because
they are so numerous; but in my heart each one has a lustrous niche. Inspired by the ideals of Lahiri
Mahasaya, these teachers have abandoned promising worldly goals to serve humbly, to give greatly.
Mr. Wright formed many fast friendships with Ranchi boys; clad in a simple dhoti, he lived for
awhile among them. At Ranchi, Calcutta, Serampore, everywhere he went, my secretary, who has a vivid gift of
description, hauled out his travel diary to record his adventures. One evening I asked him a question.
"Dick, what is your impression of India?"
"Peace," he said thoughtfully. "The racial aura is peace."
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