Chapter 48 - At Encinitas in California
"A surprise, sir! During your absence abroad we have had this Encinitas hermitage built; it is a
'welcome-home' gift!" Sister Gyanamata smilingly led me through a gate and up a tree-shaded walk.
I saw a building jutting out like a great white ocean liner toward the blue brine. First speechlessly,
then with "Oh's!" and "Ah's!", finally with man's insufficient vocabulary of joy and gratitude, I examined
the ashramsixteen unusually large rooms, each one charmingly appointed.
The stately central hall, with immense ceiling-high windows, looks out on a united altar of grass, ocean,
skya symphony in emerald, opal, sapphire. A mantle over the hall's huge fireplace holds the framed likeness
of Lahiri Mahasaya, smiling his blessing over this far Pacific heaven.
Directly below the hall, built into the very bluff, two solitary meditation caves confront the infinities
of sky and sea. Verandahs, sun-bathing nooks, acres of orchard, a eucalypti grove, flagstone paths leading
through roses and lilies to quiet arbors, a long flight of stairs ending on an isolated beach and the vast
waters! Was dream ever more concrete?
"May the good and heroic and bountiful souls of the saints come here," reads "A Prayer for a Dwelling,"
from the Zend-Avesta, fastened on one of the hermitage doors, "and may they go hand in hand with us,
giving the healing virtues of their blessed gifts as widespread as the earth, as far-flung as the rivers, as
high-reaching as the sun, for the furtherance of better men, for the increase of abundance and glory.
"May obedience conquer disobedience within this house; may peace triumph here over discord; free-hearted
giving over avarice, truthful speech over deceit, reverence over contempt. That our minds be delighted, and
our souls uplifted, let our bodies be glorified as well; and O Light Divine, may we see Thee, and may we,
approaching, come round about Thee, and attain unto Thine entire companionship!"
This Self-Realization Fellowship ashram had been made possible through the generosity of a few American
disciples, American businessmen of endless responsibilities who yet find time daily for their Kriya
Yoga. Not a word of the hermitage construction had been allowed to reach me during my stay in India and
Europe. Astonishment, delight!
During my earlier years in America I had combed the coast of California in quest of a
small site for a seaside ashram; whenever I had found a suitable location, some obstacle had invariably
arisen to thwart me. Gazing now over the broad acres of Encinitas,1 humbly I saw the effortless fulfillment of Sri
Yukteswar's long-ago prophecy: "a hermitage by the ocean."
A few months later, Easter of 1937, I conducted on the smooth lawns at Encinitas the first of many Sunrise
Services. Like the magi of old, several hundred students gazed in devotional awe at the daily miracle, the
early solar fire rite in the eastern sky. To the west lay the inexhaustible Pacific, booming its solemn
praise; in the distance, a tiny white sailing boat, and the lonely flight of a seagull. "Christ, thou art
risen!" Not alone with the vernal sun, but in the eternal dawn of Spirit!
Many happy months sped by; in the peace of perfect beauty I was able to complete at the hermitage a
long-projected work, Cosmic Chants. I set to English words and Western musical notation about forty
songs, some original, others my adaptations of ancient melodies. Included were the Shankara chant, "No Birth,
No Death"; two favorites of Sri Yukteswar's: "Wake, Yet Wake, O my Saint!" and "Desire, my Great Enemy"; the
hoary Sanskrit "Hymn to Brahma"; old Bengali songs, "What Lightning Flash!" and "They Have Heard Thy Name";
Tagore's "Who is in my Temple?"; and a number of my compositions: "I Will be Thine Always," "In the Land
Beyond my Dreams," "Come Out of the Silent Sky," "Listen to my Soul Call," "In the Temple of Silence," and
"Thou Art my Life."
For a preface to the songbook I recounted my first outstanding experience with the receptivity of
Westerners to the quaintly devotional airs of the East. The occasion had been a public lecture; the time,
April 18, 1926; the place, Carnegie Hall in New York.
"Mr. Hunsicker," I had confided to an American student, "I am planning to ask the audience to sing an
ancient Hindu chant, 'O God Beautiful!'"
I had laughingly disagreed. "Music is a universal language. Americans will not fail to feel the
soul-aspiration in this lofty chant."2
During the lecture Mr. Hunsicker had sat behind me on the platform, probably fearing for my safety. His
doubts were groundless; not only had there been an absence of unwelcome vegetables, but for one hour and
twenty-five minutes the strains of "O God Beautiful!" had sounded uninterruptedly from three thousand
throats. Blas no longer, dear New Yorkers; your hearts had soared out in a simple paean of rejoicing! Divine
healings had taken place that evening among the devotees chanting with love the Lord's blessed name.
The secluded life of a literary minstrel was not my role for long. Soon I was dividing every fortnight
between Los Angeles and Encinitas. Sunday services, classes, lectures before clubs and colleges, interviews
with students, ceaseless streams of correspondence, articles for East-West, direction of activities in
India and numerous small centers in American cities. Much time was given, also, to the arrangement of
Kriya and other Self-Realization Fellowship teachings into a series of studies for the distant yoga
seekers whose zeal recognized no limitation of space.
Joyous dedication of a Self-Realization Church of All Religions took place in 1938 at Washington, D.C. Set
amidst landscaped grounds, the stately church stands in a section of the city aptly called "Friendship
Heights." The Washington leader is Swami Premananda, educated at the Ranchi school and Calcutta University. I
had summoned him in 1928 to assume leadership of the Washington Self-Realization Fellowship center.
"Premananda," I told him during a visit to his new temple, "this Eastern headquarters is a memorial in
stone to your tireless devotion. Here in the nation's capital you have held aloft the light of Lahiri
Premananda accompanied me from Washington for a brief visit to the Self-Realization Fellowship center in
Boston. What joy to see again the Kriya Yoga band who had remained steadfast since 1920! The Boston
leader, Dr. M. W. Lewis, lodged my companion and myself in a modern, artistically decorated suite.
"Sir," Dr. Lewis said to me, smiling, "during your early years in America you stayed in this city in a
single room, without bath. I wanted you to know that Boston possesses some luxurious apartments!"
The shadows of approaching carnage were lengthening over the world; already the acute ear might hear the
frightful drums of war. During interviews with thousands in California, and through a world-wide
correspondence, I found that men and women were deeply searching their hearts; the tragic outer insecurity
had emphasized need for the Eternal Anchorage.
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