Chapter 7 - The Levitating Saint
"I saw a yogi remain in the air, several feet above the ground, last night at a group meeting." My
friend, Upendra Mohun Chowdhury, spoke impressively.
I gave him an enthusiastic smile. "Perhaps I can guess his name. Was it Bhaduri Mahasaya, of Upper
Upendra nodded, a little crestfallen not to be a news-bearer. My inquisitiveness about saints was
well-known among my friends; they delighted in setting me on a fresh track.
"I have seen him in remarkable feats. He has expertly mastered the various pranayamas 1 of the ancient eightfold yoga outlined by Patanjali.2 Once Bhaduri Mahasaya performed the Bhastrika Pranayama before me
with such amazing force that it seemed an actual storm had arisen in the room! Then he extinguished the
thundering breath and remained motionless in a high state of superconsciousness.3 The aura of peace after the storm was vivid beyond forgetting."
"I heard that the saint never leaves his home." Upendra's tone was a trifle incredulous.
"Indeed it is true! He has lived indoors for the past twenty years. He slightly relaxes his
self-imposed rule at the times of our holy festivals, when he goes as far as his front sidewalk! The
beggars gather there, because Saint Bhaduri is known for his tender heart."
"A yogi's body loses its grossness after use of certain pranayamas. Then it will levitate or hop
about like a leaping frog. Even saints who do not practice a formal yoga 4 have been known to levitate during a state of intense devotion to God."
"I would like to know more of this sage. Do you attend his evening meetings?" Upendra's eyes were
sparkling with curiosity.
"Yes, I go often. I am vastly entertained by the wit in his wisdom. Occasionally my prolonged laughter
mars the solemnity of his gatherings. The saint is not displeased, but his disciples look daggers!"
On my way home from school that afternoon, I passed Bhaduri Mahasaya's cloister and decided on a visit.
The yogi was inaccessible to the general public. A lone disciple, occupying the ground floor, guarded
his master's privacy. The student was something of a martinet; he now inquired formally if I had an
"engagement." His guru put in an appearance just in time to save me from summary ejection.
"Let Mukunda come when he will." The sage's eyes twinkled. "My rule of seclusion is not for my own
comfort, but for that of others. Worldly people do not like the candor which shatters their delusions.
Saints are not only rare but disconcerting. Even in scripture, they are often found embarrassing!"
I followed Bhaduri Mahasaya to his austere quarters on the top floor, from which he seldom stirred.
Masters often ignore the panorama of the world's ado, out of focus till centered in the ages. The contemporaries of a sage are not alone those of the narrow present.
"Maharishi,5 you are the first yogi I have known who always stays
"God plants his saints sometimes in unexpected soil, lest we think we may reduce Him to a rule!"
The sage locked his vibrant body in the lotus posture. In his seventies, he displayed no unpleasing
signs of age or sedentary life. Stalwart and straight, he was ideal in every respect. His face was that
of a rishi, as described in the ancient texts. Noble-headed, abundantly bearded, he always sat
firmly upright, his quiet eyes fixed on Omnipresence.
"You go often into the silence, but have you developed anubhava?"6 He was reminding me to love God more than meditation. "Do not mistake the
technique for the Goal."
He offered me some mangoes. With that good-humored wit that I found so delightful in his grave nature,
he remarked, "People in general are more fond of Jala Yoga (union with food) than of Dhyana
Yoga (union with God)."
His yogic pun affected me uproariously.
"What a laugh you have!" An affectionate gleam came into his gaze. His own face was always serious, yet
touched with an ecstatic smile. His large, lotus eyes held a hidden divine laughter.
"Those letters come from far-off America." The sage indicated several thick envelopes on a table. "I
correspond with a few societies there whose members are interested in yoga. They are discovering India
anew, with a better sense of direction than Columbus! I am glad to help them. The knowledge of yoga is
free to all who will receive, like the ungarnishable daylight.
"What rishis perceived as essential for human salvation need not be diluted for the West. Alike
in soul though diverse in outer experience, neither West nor East will flourish if some form of
disciplinary yoga be not practiced."
The saint held me with his tranquil eyes. I did not realize that his speech was a veiled prophetic
guidance. It is only now, as I write these words, that I understand the full meaning in the casual
intimations he often gave me that someday I would carry India's teachings to America.
"Maharishi, I wish you would write a book on yoga for the benefit of the world."
"I am training disciples. They and their students will be living volumes, proof against the natural
disintegrations of time and the unnatural interpretations of the critics." Bhaduri's wit put me into
another gale of laughter.
I remained alone with the yogi until his disciples arrived in the evening. Bhaduri Mahasaya entered one
of his inimitable discourses. Like a peaceful flood, he swept away the mental debris of his listeners,
floating them Godward. His striking parables were expressed in a flawless Bengali.
This evening Bhaduri expounded various philosophical points connected with the life of Mirabai, a
medieval Rajputani princess who abandoned her court life to seek the company of sadhus. One
great-sannyasi refused to receive her because she was a woman; her reply brought him humbly to her
"Tell the master," she had said, "that I did not know there was any Male in the universe save God; are
we all not females before Him?" (A scriptural conception of the Lord as the only Positive Creative
Principle, His creation being naught but a passive maya.)
Mirabai composed many ecstatic songs which are still treasured in India; I translate one of them here:
"If by bathing daily God could be realized
Sooner would I be a whale in the deep;
If by eating roots and fruits He could be known
Gladly would I choose the form of a goat;
If the counting of rosaries uncovered Him
I would say my prayers on mammoth beads;
If bowing before stone images unveiled Him
A flinty mountain I would humbly worship;
If by drinking milk the Lord could be imbibed
Many calves and children would know Him;
If abandoning one's wife would summon God
Would not thousands be eunuchs?
Mirabai knows that to find the Divine One
The only indispensable is Love."
Several students put rupees in Bhaduri's slippers which lay by his side as he sat in yoga posture. This
respectful offering, customary in India, indicates that the disciple places his material goods at the
guru's feet. Grateful friends are only the Lord in disguise, looking after His own.
"Master, you are wonderful!" A student, taking his leave, gazed ardently at the patriarchal sage. "You
have renounced riches and comforts to seek God and teach us wisdom!" It was well-known that Bhaduri
Mahasaya had forsaken great family wealth in his early childhood, when single-mindedly he entered the
"You are reversing the case!" The saint's face held a mild rebuke. "I have left a few paltry rupees, a
few petty pleasures, for a cosmic empire of endless bliss. How then have I denied myself anything? I
know the joy of sharing the treasure. Is that a sacrifice? The shortsighted worldly folk are verily the
real renunciates! They relinquish an unparalleled divine possession for a poor handful of earthly
I chuckled over this paradoxical view of renunciationone which puts the cap of Croesus on any saintly
beggar, whilst transforming all proud millionaires into unconscious martyrs.
"The divine order arranges our future more wisely than any insurance company." The master's concluding
words were the realized creed of his faith. "The world is full of uneasy believers in an outward
security. Their bitter thoughts are like scars on their foreheads. The One who gave us air and milk
from our first breath knows how to provide day by day for His devotees."
I continued my after-school pilgrimages to the saint's door. With silent zeal he aided
me to attain anubhava. One day he moved to Ram Mohan Roy Road, away from the neighborhood of my
Gurpar Road home. His loving disciples had built him a new hermitage, known as "Nagendra Math."7
Although it throws me ahead of my story by a number of years, I will recount here the last words given
to me by Bhaduri Mahasaya. Shortly before I embarked for the West, I sought him out and humbly knelt
for his farewell blessing:
"Son, go to America. Take the dignity of hoary India for your shield. Victory is written on your brow;
the noble distant people will well receive you."
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