hygienic dark retreat

profound rest for the self‑healing psyche

a book by andrew durham

formerly darkroomretreat.com



This is the text of a rare book about a 185 year-old yogi, Shriman Tapasviji Maharaj. He attained his great age by doing three long Ayurvedic retreats at ages 100, 150 (in the dark), and 165. They are called Kaya Kalpa treatments in the book. (Click age numbers to skip to corresponding chapters.) The first and last retreats seem to have taken place with light.

I am not a spiritual person anymore. I am a realist, a hygienist, a scientist. I do not endorse the philosophy or method described in the text (nor in the commentaries before and after). I just regard it as useful data to consider. I think it can be extracted, rationally recontextualized by hygiene, and used to even greater benefit than the author enjoyed. I have started recontextualizing it in my book, but much remains unknown to me.

The biography is full of standard yogi adventures: heroic practices and resulting visions, astral travels, spontaneous healings of the devout, meetings with reincarnated deceased relatives, miraculous saints, and immortals, scrapes with authorities, reproval of knaves, defeat of black magicians, etc. It is fun or uplifting or annoying or it makes your head spin, depending on your perspective. It is like Yogananda’s autobiography, but at a faster pace.

Some years ago, I read an excerpt of this book from the website of Rhio, a raw foodist. It struck me somehow. It gave me a measure of hope at the beginning of my physical decline in middle age. I republished it here after looking into the subject, Tapasviji. Here is what I found.

I found websites with stories of and testimonies about Tapasviji by his many disciples. They seemed as sincere and authentic as any I had read about Gurdjieff or other significant teachers.

Tapasviji was regarded as an elder by Shivabalayogi (whose intense darshan I happened to have had in Seattle in 1990). Shivabalayogi was, in turn, well regarded by Anandamayi Ma. She is universally recognized as one of India’s greatest saints of the 20th century. Her name is the highest recommendation one can get in the spiritual arena. The connection is enough to regard Tapasviji as bona fide.

The book indicates that he left a big long trail of official records, evidence, and witnesses (some famous) behind. Some of it, at least, could be dug up and verified.

Tapasviji authorized T S Anantha Murty to write the book. Murty’s attitude is the same as other disciples I have known personally who have written such books about their masters. Such people would sooner die than to report other than exactly what they saw or were told.

The publisher, Da Free John was a serious teacher who wrote and published exceedingly serious stuff. (He was also a strange man not without faults). Georg Feuerstein, who wrote the foreword, is a world-renowned scholar of the East. They are familiar with fake and fourth-rate teachers, whose name is legion. They would not have touched this if it weren’t serious material.

The above report is what initial verification looks like in the spiritual arena. Only first-hand knowledge is the final proof of things there, as it is in the serious quarter of any arena. Everyone must get it for himself. The words of saints and scripture are to be taken as preliminary proofs or strong indications.

All this is enough for me to regard the book seriously. I was born in the spiritual arena. I spent time with saints as a boy and man. I have a good nose for what is fake and what is real in that world.

Chapter 27, about Tapasviji’s 1-year dark retreat, is especially worth reading, considering, and testing personally. For now, that is part of my plan. This business of getting decrepit with age is for the birds.


After reading Rhio’s excerpt, I occasionally found a copy of this book for sale online for $200. It was out of my price range. Finally, one turned up for $40, so I bought it with someone else, who now has the hard copy.

Unable to make my scanner work, I photographed it. Then I used Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to extract the text into separate files. I concatenated (joined) them into a single file, below. I added links for the chapters and corrected some of the footnote numbers. I have corrected some OCR errors. Many remain.

If you would like the zip file (306 MB) of the photographs and individual OCR text files, send me $10 and a message. It would be good if someone turned them into a single PDF with searchable text, and maybe removed the yellow tinge of the photos, then unleashed it on the interwebs.

I’ve included some photos of the book.

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Maharaj book front cover Maharaj book back cover


Maharaj photo at 168

Photo of Shriman Tapasviji Maharaj in 1938 at the age of 168 years




The Dawn Horse Press
San Rafael, California

© T. S. Anantha Murthy 1972

Revised American Edition

© The Dawn Horse Press 1986. All rights reserved

No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

International Standard Book Number: 0-913922-17-X Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 84-71107 Printed in the United States of America

93 92 9190 89 888786 54321

The Dawn Horse Press 750 Adrian Way San Rafael, CA 94903

The Laughing Man Series

Our era is marked by the urgent need for, but also the possibility of, conscious cooperation between all traditions and individuals. As the contemporary Adept Da Free John has observed: “It is no longer appropriate or even possible for individuals, cultures, or nations to justify absolute independence from other individuals, cultures, or nations—and it is no longer appropriate or possible to grant absolute or ultimately superior status to any historical Revelation, belief system, or conception of how things work. The entire Great Tradition must be accepted as our common inheritance. We need not (as a method for achieving Realization or Enlightenment) base our lives on the affirmation of belief in the Great Tradition (in part or as a whole) as Revelation, but we must overcome the provincialism of our minds (and, ultimately, the provincialism that is mind itself)” (Nirvanasara [The Dawn Horse Press, 1982], p- 198).

What Master Da Free John calls “the Great Tradition” is the totality of traditions reflecting all aspects of the great school of human life. It represents our common human heritage and therefore it is of immediate significance to everyone.

The Dawn Horse Press is dedicated to the publication, in The Laughing Man Series, of works of authentic philosophical, religious, and spiritual genius from the Great Tradition in order to foster the spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation between people and, beyond that, to help establish a genuine spiritual culture of respect, service, love, self- transcendence, and ultimate God-Realization.

This volume is part of The Laughing Man Series, published by The Dawn Horse Press in cooperation with the Editorial Department of The Johannine Daist Communion. The Johannine Daist Communion is the fellowship of practitioners of the Way taught by Master Da Free John.


Foreword Penance and Enlightenment by Georg Feuerstein

Introduction Kaya-Kalpa and the “Lost” Fountain of Youth by Scott V. Anderson, M.D.

Preface by T S Anantha Murty, author

Chapter 1 The Early Life of Shriman Tapasviji

Chapter 2 Krishna Singh’s Interview with the Mogul Emperor and Its Consequences

Chapter 3 Krishna Singh’s Renunciation and Triumph over the First Obstruction

Chapter 4 The Saint Settles in Hardwar and Begins His Sadhana

Chapter 5 The Saint Performs Austerities for Six Years and Departs Suddenly for Gangotri

Chapter 6 A Sadhu from the Punjab Earns the Grace of the Saint

Chapter 7 The Five-Thousand-Year-Old Mahatma

Chapter 8 Visit to Katmandu, Nepal

Chapter 9 The Saint’s Adventures on the Way to Parashuramkund

Chapter 10 The Saint Undergoes Kaya-Kalpa Treatment and Becomes Young Again

Chapter 11 Along the Banks of the Irawaddy River

Chapter 12 The Saint Meets a Sadhu Who Can Transform Himself into a Tiger

Chapter 13 The Saint Begins His Return Journey to India after Seven Years of Tapas in a Cave

Chapter 14 The British Police Arrest Shri Vishnudas and Lord Krishna Liberates Him from Jail

Chapter 15 Shri Vishnudas Obtains the Darshan of Lord Yama

Chapter 16 The Saint Performs Rigorous Tapas and Obtains the Darshan of Lord Krishna

Chapter 17 The Saint Meets Ramakrishna and Obtains the Darshan of Shiva

Chapter 18 The Saint Meets a Cobra Called Motiram and Gives Spiritual Instruction to a Female Monk

Chapter 19 The Saint Gives Some Proud Sadhus a Lesson

Chapter 20 The Saint Instructs Two Aghori Sadhus

Chapter 21 The Saint Heals a Dying Child and Receives the Darshan of Guru Nanak

Chapter 22 The Saint Terminates His Twenty-Four-Year Tapas and Enjoys the Darshan of Lord Krishna and Ashvatthaman

Chapter 23 The Saint Obtains the Darshan of Shri Radha Devi

Chapter 24 A Haughty Young Sadhu Disturbs the Peace of the Hermitage

Chapter 25 The Saint Undertakes Pancagni and Jaladhara Tapas and Converts Water into Ghee

Chapter 26 Shri Krishna Gives Darshan Again

Chapter 27 The Saint Undergoes a Second Kaya-Kalpa Treatment at the Age of 15](#chapter-15)0

Chapter 28 The Saint Visits Ashvatthaman and Other Great Sages at Alakapuri

Chapter 29 The Goddess Lakshmi Appears before the Saint and Confers Three Boons

Chapter 30 The Saint Visits Mathura, Where He Obtains the Darshan of Shri Krishna and the Gopis

Chapter 31 The Saint Meets Krishnadas, Who in His Former Birth Was the Saint’s Son

Chapter 32 The Saint Undergoes Kaya-Kalpa Treatment for the Third Time, and Lord Dattatreya Gives Him Darshan

Chapter 33 The Saint Gives the Kaya-Kalpa Treatment to Two Famous Men

Chapter 34 The Second Boon of the Goddess Is Fulfilled

Chapter 35 Rana Lakshman Singh’s Eye Trouble Is Cured

Chapter 36 The Saint’s “Son” Krishnadas Dies Suddenly

Chapter 37 The Saint Explains Why the Wise May Be Overcome with Grief

Chapter 38 The Saint Arrives in South India

Chapter 39 Shriman Tapasviji Works a Miracle on the Way to Rameswaram

Chapter 40 The Saint Cures a Sick Man by His Mere Touch

Chapter 41 The Saint Confers His Grace on a Wandering Sadhu and Gives Kalpa Medicine to Sambamurthy and Siddalingiah

Chapter 42 A Wicked Sadhu Files a False Suit against the Saint

Chapter 43 The Saint’s Devotees Build an Ashram for Him at Kakinada in 19](#chapter-19)51](#chapter-51) and the Saint Visits Shri Shivabalayogi at Adivarapupeta

Chapter 44 Shriman Tapasviji Gives His Darshan to the Rajapramukh of Mysore

Chapter 45 The Saint Falls Ill at Jhansi

Chapter 46 The Saint’s Disciples Feel That His Long Life Is Coming to an End

Chapter 47 Shri Tapasviji Casts Off His Body

Chapter 48 Shriman Tapasviji’s Philosophy

Appendix: The Soma of Inherent Happiness by Daniel Bouwmeester, M.D.

The Seven Stages of Life

Also From The Dawn Horse Press

Maharaj book Shivabalayogi

Shri Shivabalayogi Maharaj (photo)


This biography of Shriman Tapasviji is most respectfully dedicated to His Holiness Shri Shivabalayogi Maharaj of Adivarapupeta. It is wholly through His Holiness’ blessings that I have been able to get this book printed and published. Iam deeply beholden to His Holiness for his gracious permission to dedicate this biography to him. I pray that he may be pleased to consider this dedication as a humble token of my profound veneration.

T. S. Anantha Murthy


Penance and Enlightenment

by Georg Feuerstein

Shriman Tapasviji Maharaj was born a prince and destined to die a king—a king of yogis. In fact, the honorific Hindi title “Maharaj” means “great ruler,” but the original Sanskrit root “raj” has the still more profound meaning of “being resplendent.” The resplendence attributed to the Saint, as Shriman Tapasviji is called by the present biographer, was the hard-earned fruit of his lifelong spiritual discipline. He was a tapasvi, a practitioner of tapas or penance. The old Sanskrit word “tapas” means literally “heat” or “fire,” and it signifies the fire of spiritual practice, the ordeal of self-transformation.

The archetype of all tapasvis is the Primordial Person Itself. According to the psycho-cosmology of ancient Hinduism, the Divine Being created the universe out of Itself through a process of intense self-mortification: The worlds emerged from the sweat of the Great Man, the Mahapurusha. Thus, the tapas or tapasya of the spiritual practitioner is a duplication, on the individual level, of that original tapas of the Cosmic Creator. It is symbolically understood as a means of dissolving the universe—at least the personal universe of the tapasvi. That is to say, through tapas a person is able to master and pass beyond the manifest world and return, in consciousness, to the Source of all creation.

In the Yoga-Bhashya, the oldest extant commentary on the Yoga- Sutra of Patanjali, the technical method of tapas is explained as consisting in “bearing the pairs of opposites like hunger and thirst, heat and cold,” and so on. But more than that, tapas is the self-generated frustration of one’s natural tendencies, the kindling and harnessing of the creative power, the Life-Force, that is resident in the body-mind. Thus, tapas is the mastery of the inner fire. It is the practice of self-heating or systematic


“stewing in one’s own juices,” by which the practitioner sacrifices or surrenders his ordinary body-bound egoic consciousness.

Tapas, which is an older word for the ascetical practices that later on were incorporated into the tradition of yoga, is the “heat” of a conscious existence based on spiritual values and motivations. It is the key to an altogether different experience of the world—a different reality that is not merely concrete, material, defined by natural laws, but a complex psycho-physical process with its own distinct patterns. Thus, when Tapasviji Maharaj, then in his late fifties, removed his princely attire and girded himself with a renouncer’s loincloth, he stepped through Alice’s Mirror into a reality that could not have been more dramatically different from his life as the troubled ruler of a small Indian principality. True to his childhood aspiration to follow in the footsteps of Sage Vishvamitra, who was one of the most illustrious of the spiritual heroes of ancient India, Tapasviji Maharaj resolved on the first day of his renunciation to take heaven by storm. He was intent on earning the Vision of God through his indomitable will, endurance, and dedication to the spiritual process.

Over a period of more than 125 years, Shriman Tapasviji grew into a mighty ascetic who indeed came to resemble the great sages of India’s past. He measured penance not in days, weeks, or even months, but in long years. He knew the power of a sacred vow and respected it fully— something we moderns have forgotten, fickle as we are in our motiva- tions and commitments. His life was marked by extensive wandering, punctuated by prolonged periods of fierce tapas in complete solitude. As did the celebrated tapasvis of yore, he obliged, almost compelled, the Divine to reveal Itself to him in visions of Gods and Goddesses who, from his vantage point, were certainly as real, if not more so, than the worldly personalities of his friends, admirers, and disciples. He would fast, enter into an ecstatic state, wander, hold his arm aloft, or engage some other form of austerity for months, even years, at a time until he was graced with a vision of Guru Nanak, Ashvatthaman, Lord Parashurama, Shiva, or his favorite deity—Lord Krishna.

Apart from these visionary encounters with deities and sages of the past, who dropped in and out of his life, Tapasviji Maharaj also met on his extensive pilgrimages numerous living masters of tapas or yoga. He witnessed their magical powers and, at times, chastised them for misusing their psychic capacities or demonstrated his own superior force in order to teach them a lesson in humility. His life was packed with unusual


happenings, strange coincidences, and what can only be called miracles— all pointing to his familiarity with the psycho-physical dimension of existence.

All this is not really surprising when one considers the Saint’s spiritual stature. From the earliest times, a yogi or tapasvi was portrayed as a thaumaturgist, a possessor of magical abilities, which he would use mostly to benefit other beings but occasionally also to curse. Tapasviji Maharaj fitted that popular stereotype perfectly. While quietly pursuing his own life’s course, he would bless and attract to the Divine whoever happened to be in his company, recommending to everyone to remember God, but he was at the same time prepared to root out evil whenever he was prevailed upon for help.

His whole life appears to have been an ongoing quest—the search for the Vision of God, though chiefly in the form of the Divine in Its personalized aspect as a particular Deity. And yet, in the eyes of his biographer and presumably of most of his contemporaries, he was a living example of one who is Liberated in life, a jivanmukta, who is continuously Abiding in and as the Divine Being. Saints and sages are, by nature of their spiritual attainment, largely incomprehensible to the conventional mind. Tradition has it that only an Enlightened being can recognize another Enlightened being. The popular consciousness, in awe of the extraordinariness of a saint’s life, is liable to make all kinds of presumptions about the spiritual status of its heroes. Thus, a biographer may feel tempted to fill in, or overinterpret, where his grasp falters and his sensitivity fails him. Perhaps, only another saint could write hagiography that could claim to be authentic.

With the present biography it is difficult to decide where the demarcation is between fact and fiction (or projection). As for where the reader chooses to draw the boundary line between historical reality and interpretation, much depends on his own presuppositions. If, for instance, he does not share the magical world that the Saint seems to have inhabited, he will be prone to disbelieve in miracles and conversations with “real” deities that simultaneously satisfy the canons of iconography. Therefore, he is likely to read this biographical account at best as an allegory or as symbolic stories for one’s entertainment or edification. Even if the reader believes, in principle, in the possibility of miracles and supernatural dialogues, he may still have reservations about individual

cases. Shriman Tapasviji’s biographer himself—a retired judge—presents


his narrative of the Saint’s life as an objective account rather than a novelistic treatment. He seems to have had his own doubts, though, about some of the more incredible events that were communicated to him by the Saint. When he expressed his misgivings to Shriman

Tapasviji, he was unhesitatingly reassured about the utter veracity of the Saint’s life story. And Shriman Tapasviji’s testimony was sufficient for the biographer to suspend his doubts and treat the Saint’s communica- tions to him as factually true.

While the reader of this hagiography may not share the same conviction, this book has much to offer if it is rightly approached. Over and above recording the inner and outer events of a saint’s life, all hagiographies have really the primary purpose of inspiring others, of lifting the reader out of his ordinary state of consciousness and sensitizing him to yet-untapped possibilities. If read with an open heart, this biography of one who was in all respects a great spiritual luminary will inevitably draw the reader into a state of sympathetic resonance with the dimension or realm of reality that was so familiar to Tapasviji Maharaj but that is largely unknown territory to us who have imbibed the ideology of scientific materialism and who approach life with the basic mood of doubt. By any standards, the Saint’s life was extraordinary and demonstrative of Man’s capacity to reach beyond himself and in so doing act as a benign influence on his fellowmen.

Even though this biography is rich in vignettes that allow the reader to get a sense of Shriman Tapasviji’s personality, in the end the Saint remains an enigma. And that is surely gain and not loss. Still, one question, which was already touched on, deserves further consideration here. Was Shriman Tapasviji Maharaj Enlightened, and if so, in what sense? This question is bound to occupy the discerning reader who is looking for a practical benefit from his reading of this hagiography. Itisa question that has even troubled the biographer himself.

In India, where Westernization has not yet completely eroded traditional philosophy and religion, the existence of mystics and magicians is part and parcel of the worldview of hundreds of millions of people. In rural areas, wandering holy men are still very much a feature of daily life. The search for the Vision of God has not yet become suspect, as “nour culture. Religious mendicants, sadhus, are generally respected and even venerated. There is an element of fear in people’s response to holy men. For, in their experience, the person who is in touch with higher levels of reality also has greater power and is hence a potential source of


black magic. Understandably, therefore, people are especially enthusi- astic when they encounter a spiritual individual whose whole demeanor is nonthreatening and who seems to embody the highest virtues of a saintly life. And their enthusiasm tends to make them indiscriminate. Thus, they are prone to confuse genuine greatness with Enlightenment. Even where a great saint denies the Realization ascribed to him by his admirers and devotees, as was the case with Baba Faqir Chand, the popular misrepresentation is slow to change. !

The present biographer speaks of Shriman Tapasviji as a jivan- mukta—one who is Liberated while still alive, that is, a God-Realizer. But there was at least one episode in the Saint’s life that greatly troubled the biographer and led him to doubt his own presumption about Tapasviji Maharaj’s Realization. At one time, the Saint was seized by grief, when his favorite disciple was suddenly snatched from life by a severe attack of cholera. The Saint confessed to having been attached to that devotee who, he felt, had been the reincarnation of his son born to him during his worldly life. The Saint was so pained by that death that he sat in his room, staring blankly at the walls and refusing to eat for three whole days. It was only after he had a vision in which Lord Krishna instructed him in the same teaching that he had imparted to Arjuna on the battlefield and which is recorded in the Bhagavad-Gita, that Shriman Tapasviji shook off his despair.

The biographer had difficulty in reconciling the Saint’s despon- dency with his spiritual status as a sthita-prajna or “tone whose wisdom is settled.” Apparently, he put his dilemma to the Saint, arguing that the Bhagavad-Gita clearly states that the sthita-prajna does not feel grief. The Saint’s response, which is quoted in chapter 37, is interesting. While affirming the truth of Lord Krishna’s utterance in the Bhagavad-Gita, he at the same time qualified it. He pointed out that there is no perfection in this world and that even a sthita-prajna may on occasion fall prey to the sense of “I” and “mine.” He referred to the classical story of Lord Rama who, though an Incarnation of the Divine, was found weeping when his wife Sita had been abducted by Ravana. What is the difference, then, between an ordinary person and a sthita-prajna? The Saint answered this question by using the metaphor of a tree with a strong stem and numerous fine branches. Whereas the stem is scarcely shaken by astorm,

  1. See David Christopher Lane, “The Reluctant Guru: The Life and Teachings of Baba Faqir Chand,” The Laughing Man, vol. 3, no. 1 (1982), pp. 70-77.


the fine branches continue to quiver long after it has abated, and they shake even ina slight breeze. In other words, asthita-prajna interacts with the world ona firm basis of equanimity, and his peace of mind is ruffled only in the most challenging life situations, and then only for a brief moment.

Shriman Tapasviji’s daring reinterpretation of Lord Krishna’s definition of a sthita-prajna conflicts with the traditional understanding of this State as taught in all the nondualist schools of Hinduism. Many of the scriptures, in which this great ideal is discussed, emphasize the fact that the sthita-prajna is never subject to the delusion of “-am-ness” (asmita). He simply does not identify with any of the processes of the body-mind. He lives as and out of the All-Identity of the Transcendental Being-Consciousness. This is reaffirmed by the contemporary Adept Da Free John who, from a God-Realizer’s vantage point, writes about the Enlightened Condition as follows:

There is no Enlightenment, no evolutionary entrance into the truly Spiritual Condition of human existence, without ego-death, or transcendence of the mind. There must be the literal death of the separate and separative consciousness. In this moment, you are holding on to your sense of separate consciousness as if it were something tangible and material. You possess yourself through a great contraction of body and psyche. By virtue of this gesture, you have become rigid, mediocre, deluded, relatively loveless, self-possessed, and isolated. To be without an inner consciousness is, for you, unthinkable. To be incapable of feeling yourself as a separate consciousness is, for you, a terrifying prospect. Nevertheless, that is precisely the realization with which you must become completely comfortable.

Thus, there is no possibility of identifying with the body-mind and its conditions in the Enlightened State. The Enlightened or Liberated being (who must no longer be conceived as a limited “tindividual”) has, apparently, all kinds of experiences, thoughts, and emotions—because they are part of bodily existence. But these simply arise in the All-Identity that the Enlightened being is. “He” eclipses all bodily-mental states. Thus, while anger, fear, and sorrow may arise in such a one, they are always instantly recognized and transcended, and the Liberated being can

  1. Da Free John, Scientific Proof of the Existence of God Will Soon Be Announced by the White House! (The Dawn Horse Press, 1980), p. 171.


never get caught up in them. If there is no egoic reference-point in the Enlightened master, why should such emotions occur at all? They are simply an integral feature of his bodily existence and his interplay with the world, notably those who relate to him as a teacher. Thus, as in the case of the Tibetan Adept Marpa, a God-Realized being may, for the sake of Transmitting the Ultimate Condition to others, permit the arising of seemingly negative emotions like anger in order to open up a disciple to his Transmission.

Master Da Free John refers to the same nonegoic mode of functioning when he explains, “What I do is not the way I am, but the Way I Teach. What I speak is not a reflection of me, but of you.”3 He also makes this confession:

Da Free John is like a movie on a screen. You don’t suggest to yourself when you see a movie on the screen that there is consciousness in the screen. The play itself is the argument. And Da Free John is not anything other than the play that he appears to be. There is no implication of an individual in him.4

Master Da Free John’s testimony matches the classical descriptions of the sthita-prajna state perfectly. And, evidently, no redefinition of the concept of sthita-prajna is needed to accommodate the fact that the Liberated being also thinks, feels, and acts. Now, if Shriman Tapasviji’s words have been accurately reported, the Saint’s admission of having become temporarily deluded by the sense of “I” would seem to speak against the presumption that he was Enlightened or Liberated while yet alive. In the Enlightened Disposition, no relapse into the egoic state is possible, because the ego is being continually transcended.

What, then, could it possibly mean when the Saint apparently underscored the claim of his devotees that he was a sthita-prajna? Did he deliberately deceive others? Of course not. He had obviously attained to a high-level spiritual consciousness. Or else, he could not possibly have performed a fraction of the austerities that made him famous, never mind determining the time of his death and exiting from the body con- sciously—a yogic feat of considerable spiritual advancement. Also, early in his spiritual practice, he realized that even the traditionally much- prized state of supraconscious absorption into the Divine, technically

  1. Da Free John, The Enlightenment of the Whole Body (The Dawn Horse Press, 1978), p. 53.
  2. Da Free John, The Laughing Man, vol. 3, no. 3 (1982), p. 97.


known as nirvikalpa-samadhi, fell short of the ideal of Liberation. For, the moment he would emerge from that extraordinary ecstatic condition, he would again confront the same world of multiplicity, in which the subject was separated from its objects. But, unless we assume that the present biography is biased toward psychisms (such as visionary experiences of deities like Lord Krishna and Lord Parashurama), the Saint’s life had the quality not of a God-Realizer but of a remarkable spiritual hero questing for the Vision of God, the Ultimate Realization.

That the Saint accepted the traditional label of “sthita-prajna” had presumably more to do with the expectations of those around him than with any desire on his part to represent himself in a certain way. Also, what is noteworthy is the fact that in accepting that consensual title, he pointedly redefined its meaning. Apparently, his spiritual realization was close enough to the irrevocable Condition of Liberation that he did not feel that he was misrepresenting his actual state by adopting the popular label of “sthita-prajna.”

The higher stages of life are marked by an intense capacity for equanimity, as demonstrated by the Saint throughout his long life. That equanimity was the basis for the high degree of energy and attention he was capable of devoting to the spiritual process. But the Disposition of Liberation or Enlightenment consists in perfect equanimity, because there no longer is a subject to be disturbed by objects. Hence there is also perfectly free energy and attention.

When we look at the Saint’s life as a whole, as it is recorded in this book, we are left with the impression that he was a remarkable yogi, demonstrating the approach and attainments of the devotional mysti- cism of the fourth and fifth stages of life in Master Da Free John’s

seven-stage framework.° The features of both stages are, briefly, as follows:

The fourth stage of life involves the realization of equanimity or balance and clear responsibility for one’s lower life, with the will intact. It involves freedom from negative emotions, reactivity, all self-defeating programs. The fifth stage of life involves entrance into suspension, rather than balance. The breath becomes balanced in the yoga of the fourth stage, but it becomes suspended in the fifth stage. At that point one enters into the investigation of the higher personality in order to transcend and master it.

  1. Please see “The Seven Stages of Life’ at the back of this volume, pp. 237-38, for a brief description of these stages.

  2. Da Free John, Easy Death (The Dawn Horse Press, 1983), p. 197.


But in order to mature in and beyond the fifth stage of life, represented by conventional mysticism, the yogi must overcome all the numerous illusions and enticements of his mystical ascent. And this occurs only rarely, because it presupposes the cultivation of discrimina- tive wisdom, or understanding (jnana), relative to the mechanisms and patterns of the egoic personality.

Shri Tapasviji Maharaj’s perennial “vision quest,” his essentially devotional (bhakta) orientation, his exemplary faith disposition, as well as his employment of traditional means of yoga and tapas for the generation of altered states of consciousness, are all expressions of his fundamentally fourth-stage approach. That he was also familiar with fifth-stage mystical phenomena and powers is evident from many of the incidents related in the present biography. Most remarkable, in this respect, was his ability to determine the time and yogic manner of his own passage from the physical body, which indicates a high degree of control over the Life-Force (prana) and attention.

The same level of yogic control is indicated by his insensitivity to pain during his astonishing fakiristic forms of penance and also during a major glandular operation that was apparently performed without anesthetic. There is also the evidence of his display of extraordinary powers. From the scattered statements, it is, moreover, clear that the Saint leaned toward the witnessing consciousness as it is fully cultivated and perfected in the sixth stage of life. But the overall picture that is emerging is that of a mystic, whose heart was filled with love for the Divine in its qualified (saguna) aspect and who had occasional experi- ences of the temporary ecstatic dissolution of attention in the unqualified (nirguna) Ground of all existence—a rare and noble achievement indeed! Thus, the Saint’s life is a wonderful demonstration of the dedication that is needed to work the miracle of self-transformation to the point where the Divine can literally enter one’s life.

In India, and even in the United States, the Saint has attracted attention because of his longevity and his knowledge of the secrets of prolonging life through natural means. But it has seldom been recognized that the rejuvenation treatment that he underwent on three different occasions in his life was so successful only because of his spiritual stature. That point is convincingly argued by Dr. Scott Anderson in his introduction and by Dr. Daniel Bouwmeester in his appendix to this book.

The objective of the present foreword was to look at Shriman


Tapasviji’s life from the broad perspective of the tradition of God- Realized Adepts and to supply the reader with some tools for a critical appreciation of that great Saint.


Kaya-Kalpa and the “Lost” Fountain of Youth

by Scott V. Anderson, M.D. The Radiant Life Clinic and Research Center

The world and the body arise as spontaneous modifications of one universal all-pervading Life-Energy, Light, or Radiant Spirit. Surrender bodily into that Life-Current and be Happy.

There is a great Fountain of Youth. It is not hidden in some faraway jungle or secret Andean or Himalayan valley. It is literally “right under your nose,” even contained in your next breath.

It is the all-pervading Life-Energy that sustains you in this and every moment. This Life-Force is presently beating your heart, breathing your lungs, and nourishing every cell of your body. It is the Principle by which you and every other animate being enjoys the condition of aliveness.

That Force is also the healing, purifying, and rejuvenating Intel- ligence that can be contacted directly through conscious psycho-physical participation. As the contemporary spiritual Adept Da Free John has observed:

The physical body does not live and survive by its own power. It is lived by the universal Life-Energy that also lives all other things and beings. This Radiant Life-Energy of God may be felt in the body as bliss, feelings of well-being, and love. It is our eternal Sustenance.

1, Da Free John, The Bodily Sacrifice of Attention (The Dawn Horse Press, 1981), p. 55.

  1. Editorial commentary in The Eating Gorilla Comes in Peace, by Bubba CoS Free S158 (The Daven Horse Press, 1979), p. 401.


Tapasviji Maharaj, the hero of the present biography, lived in intimate contact with that Life-Energy by virtue of his intense devotional life. His story hasa mythic quality to it, which seems so far removed from our own lives that it even sounds like a fairy tale. His biography depicts a world populated by living forces with which most of us, living as we do in the late twentieth-century West, will be quite unfamiliar.

Yet, the Force to which he submitted his entire life is still with us. However feeble our awareness of that living Energy may be, it is the very Condition of our lives. So, whatever we may make of the Saint’s incredible odyssey, his life of spiritual practice is exemplary, and it holds before us the very real possibility of self-transformation and discovery of that Life-Force—the real Fountain of Youth.

Apart from its inspirational value, this biography of Tapasviji Maharaj touches upon many areas of contemporary interest. Perhaps most fascinating is its description of the regenerative treatment known as “kaya-kalpa.” This Sanskrit phrase means literally “body-fashioning,” or “body-work.”

As part of his life of devotion, Tapasviji Maharaj engaged in dramatic and little-known rejuvenative practices on three separate occasions. Each time, he emerged with youthful vigor and even, we are told, new growths of hair and teeth.

Kaya-kalpa is part of a vast and only partially systematized tradition of Ayurveda, which is the system of medicine indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. The term “ayurveda’ means “knowledge or wisdom (veda) of life.” It stands for a vast body of experiential knowledge, gathered over several millennia, about health and illness and optimal adaptation to life.

Our understanding of Ayurveda as a whole is made difficult by numerous factors: It is an ancient tradition with prehistoric roots; it includes many different schools of thought and practice; its major source texts are in Sanskrit, of which only a handful have been translated into English, and even these are not readily available; practitioners who are fully trained in the entire tradition are very rare. Furthermore, there are many indications that the tradition as a whole suffered under the British Raj. With the gradual advance of the dominating Western medical paradigm in the Eastern hemisphere, many of the subtleties of the Ayurvedic system appear to have been lost in India.

What makes Ayurveda least accessible to our modern under- standing is that its underlying presumptions about the nature of reality


are at odds with the prevailing materialism of our time. The Life-Force, as a living Power, is taken for granted in Ayurveda. Depending on the particular Ayurvedic school, this Power—called “prana” (literally “life- breath”?)—is assigned various degrees of importance, but always it is presumed as the essential healing Force. Ayurveda is an elaborately developed body of practical wisdom based on the presumption of the livingness of all things rather than the thingness of all life. It is in this, perhaps, more than in any of its details, that Ayurveda can teach us.

The whole subject of rejuvenation and longevity has been of perennial interest to humankind. The current approach to this subject matter is based on the prevailing viewpoint of scientific materialism. Just as we are now encouraged to believe that our thoughts are a function of brain electrochemistry, so the materialistic approach sees the Hindu art of rejuvenation, or kaya-kalpa, as a purely physiological matter as well.

The arcane treatment method of kaya-kalpa, to the extent that it is examined at all, is regarded as a lost wisdom about the use of rare medicinal substances. It is presumed that the herbs administered during the arduous kaya-kalpa treatment are somehow the key to the efficacy of the regimen, and that until we are able to recover the pharmacologic “secrets” of this ancient practice, we cannot make use of it at all.

Armed with the radical wisdom of the Adept Da Free John, however, we may see the whole subject in a different light. Over a period of years, in the late seventies, Master Da Free John engaged in an extended and detailed consideration of various approaches to health, rejuvenation, and longevity, including kaya-kalpa, hatha yoga, and other traditions from around the world. His interest in this area stemmed from an essential feature of his own Realization—that the human body is a full participant in the “chemistry” of true spiritual life. In other words, far from being a matter of mere introversion, authentic spirituality is, by his testimony, a process of whole-bodily existence.

Master Da Free John requested that the health practitioners among his students establish The Radiant Life Clinic and Research Center to engage this practical and experimental consideration. As the Adept received reports on information gathered from many sources, he would respond with talks, essays, and requests for further research.

The Clinic contacted key experts all over the world, including Dr. Chandrasekar Thakkur, an Ayurvedic physician of Bombay. Arrange- ments were made for Dr. Thakkur to come to the United States, and he spent a period of time instructing several members of The Radiant Life


Clinic in the practical details of his ancient art. Some of these instructions are disclosed and placed in the context of the Teaching of Master Da Free John in the appendix by Dr. Daniel Bouwmeester, who was directly involved with the Clinic’s kaya-kalpa research (see below, pp. 216-36).

The significance of kaya-kalpa, we came to understand, is that it represents a dramatic example of what can occur when we relate to the healing Life-Force. This has been the clarifying import of Master Da Free John’s consideration of this naturopathic method. In kaya-kalpa, the Life-Force itself is the Fountain of Youth, if only we learn how to drink of it. The key is total bodily submission to Life, which yields radical rejuvenation.

However, no matter how attracted we might be to this idea, its actual I practice is extremely demanding. Tapasviji Maharaj was no ordinary man. Through many years of arduous spiritual discipline he developed unusual yogic capacities that prepared him for the extreme rigors of kaya-kalpa. When he later administered the kaya-kalpa treatment to others who sought his aid, but who were less well prepared than he, the results were predictably far less successful. His “patients” simply lacked the right (spiritual) relationship to the discipline of kaya-kalpa.

What makes kaya-kalpa so difficult? If we examine the more familiar research in fasting and sensory deprivation, we can get a clear feeling for this difficulty. An essential part of the kaya-kalpa treatment is a prolonged and total “fast” from all ordinary life-involvements. This includes abstaining from all activity (as well as from food) and isolation in a dark and silent cell—a kind of solitary confinement. The halluci- natory projections that inevitably occur in such a situation have to be properly understood and transcended, otherwise madness or else some superficial way of “passing the time” will result, which will interfere with the process. Thus, an extraordinary level of self-control and practical self-understanding and the capacity to commune with the Force of Life is required in order even to tolerate the regimen, let alone to make full use of it. We are therefore unlikely to see transformations as dramatic as those of Tapasviji Maharaj among ordinary individuals, even if they were to attempt something like the kaya-kalpa method.

In The Eating Gorilla Comes in Peace, published in 1979, Master Da Free John has identified the effective principle of all pro-longevity practices:

Through a natural relationship with the All-Pervading Life and natural, ordinary responsibilities for diet and meditation and all the other practices of


ordinary life, the rejuvenating chemistry, the ‘‘nectar of the moon,” the secretion of the glandular system, particularly from the brain but also from other areas of the body, is rightly distributed to the entire body, thus maintaining us in a natural state of health and longevity. 3

The “rejuvenating chemistry’? of which the Adept Da Free John speaks was the hidden subject of a number of ancient esoteric traditions, notably hatha yoga. The six-hundred-year-old Hathayoga-Pradipika refers specifically to “the lunar nectar,” the mythic “soma,” a substance that enlivens and rejuvenates the entire body. The effort to retain this substance in the brain for the purpose of mystical awakening is the origin of such yogic practices as shoulderstand and headstand. 4

In the above-quoted passage, Master Da Free John also speaks of the “ordinary responsibilities” for diet and health. The emphasis here lies on the word “ordinary,” for to become obsessed with health and dietary disciplines is counterproductive. Why? Because it represents a futile search for happiness. To quote the Adept:

The right or regenerative use of the functions of the body-mind of Man is Communion with the Radiant, All-Pervading Reality. Thus, the point of view of the practice of right diet and health is not the conventional one of how to feel better and how to live longer. Good health and longevity are, in a sense, secondary effects of the fundamental responsibility of a human life, which is devotional submission to participation in the Divine Reality. Communion with God is naturally regenerative.

Seen from this vantage point, the successful application of kaya- kalpa is an example of just how dramatic the changes can be when life is lived as submission to its own Principle. The life of Tapasviji Maharaj was miraculous in ways that we, in our skeptical mood, are apt to dismiss as fantasy or as the exaggeration of doting followers.

However, current longevity research supports many of the features of his story, at least by other examples if not by detailed “explanation.” For instance, there are other reports of individuals who, at remarkably

  1. Bubba [Da] Free John, The Eating Gorilla Comes in Peace, p. 517.

  2. See Georg Feuerstein, The Inverted Pose (Viparita-Karani-Mudra) According to the Sanskrit Texts (Durham, England: Yoga Research Centre, 1980).

  3. Bubba [Da] Free John, The Eating Gorilla Comes in Peace, pp. 275-76.


advanced age, grew a second set of adult teeth—surely one of the more incredible aspects of Tapasviji Maharaj’s story. The San Francisco Chronicle carried a story on November 23, 1978, of a woman in Pakistan, 146 years of age, who was growinga new set of teeth. ° Likewise, there are an increasing number of reasonably well documented cases of extreme longevity in otherwise “ordinary” individuals in Europe and the United States. Charlie Smith died at a Veteran’s Administration Hospital in 1979 at age 138.’ Arthur Reed died in 1984 in Oakland at 123.8 Approximately 15,000 Americans will this year celebrate birthdays of 100 years or more! In the Soviet Union there are numerous cases, perhaps less well documented, of individuals in the range of 120 to 160 years of age.

Is there a biological limit to the human life span?? Any answer to this key question must be qualified. Just as athletic records are broken each year, so records for longevity fall on a regular basis. World population growth coupled with continued socioeconomic progress will exert a steady upward pressure on longevity records in the years to come. Thus, we will have to correct upward our current estimate of human life span of “around 100 years” as the ranks of our centenarians swell. Furthermore, a future, mature applied science of pro-longevity will likely be a major contributor to this upward trend. The question may soon become, Is there a bio-technological limit to the human life span?

There are many people who find the prospect of such longevity repugnant. Given the common lot of “quiet desperation,” the River Lethe seems more appealing than any Fountain of Youth. To many, death comes as sweet relief. All too familiar is the spectacle of a protracted death at the hands of our technologically sophisticated health care system. The “beating-heart cadaver” kept alive only by virtue of machinery is literally a fate worse than death for many, many people.

So, why lead a long life? We know instinctively that older members

  1. See Kenneth R. Pelletier, Longevity: Fulfilling Our Biological Potential (New York: Delta, 1981), p. 315.

  2. Ibid., p. 316.

  3. See the San Francisco Chronicle, April 19, 1984.

  4. Life span is defined as maximum age attainable under ideal conditions. Life expectancy, on the other hand, is a statistical average indicating the likely age at death. Thus, despite progressive increases in life expectancy over the last several hundred years (thought to be due primarily to improved public health measures), there does not appear to have been any significant increase in life span.


of our society can and should be repositories of cultural wisdom. Yet, most of the reported extreme long-livers have not had any special purpose in their longevity. They were simply living ordinary day-to-day lives. Tapasviji Maharaj, on the other hand, could give a clear answer to _ this question. He looked to prolong his life in order to continue his spiritual practice. For him such practice was the traditional one of “tapas,” or asceticism, performed for the sake of purifying the psyche of its worldly attachments and for enjoying Communion with the Divine.

While we may appreciate the nobility of such an ideal, we cannot help wondering whether there is not a more natural and hence convincing approach. Such an approach is indeed found in the Way of life recommended by the Adept Da Free John. Here spiritual practice is engaged from a radical or “always already free” disposition. And from that perspective, long life is desirable as a means for the full manifestation of that prior Freedom in the form of a totally transformed life.

Regeneration is not an end in itself. It does not occur for the sake of the body-mind in itself or for its own sake. In fact, regeneration occurs only when the body-mind is sacrificed or yielded to the All-Pervading and Transcendental Reality. The Translation of the whole bodily being into the Divine is the ultimate Realization of the cycle of regeneration that begins with the purification, harmonization, and rejuvenation of vital-physical functions, through the right practice of diet and health.

Those in whom this process of surrender to the All-Pervading and Transcendental Reality is complete can then be of great service to others:

It is only through insight into our self-possession and Awakening into love, feeling, or the relational disposition that we begin the Life-conserving and regenerative politics of true and radiant health, and of human maturity and spiritual growth as well.

This recognition has immense significance for human society. It reveals the futility and delusion of the private man and his personal accumulation of experience and objects, both good and bad, high and low, positive and negative. Those in whom this recognition has awakened can no longer be content with the politics of Narcissus, the self-possessed one. They are moved to create a new

10, Bubba [Da] Free John, The Eating Gorilla Comes in Peace, pp. 279, 284.


culture among men, in which the true and radical principle of relationship may

be lived and fulfilled, even from birth until death.

Such a culture is a human sanctuary, in which individuals can live and grow, free of the fear-based stress of ordinary life. In the context of such aculture, increased longevity can allow a community to mature and develop the higher spiritual faculties that are latent in the human body-mind.

What can we gain, then, from the consideration of Tapasviji Maharaj’s rejuvenation? There is a simple approach to this matter of regeneration that is available to us all. That is to translate the basic principle that underlies kaya-kalpa into the pattern of daily living and begin to engage such a Life-positive regimen even within the context of our present lives. This does mean adapting over time to a very different Way of life. There is a precedent for and a demonstration of such a Way in the life and Teaching of Master Da Free John:

The distribution of the Life-Force to the whole body through conscious participation in the natural cycle of the breath, through exercise, through sexual communion, !2 and through the exercise of the feeling breath, under all conditions, in all activities, and in all relations, is the key to the health and rejuvenation of the bodily being.13

Master Da has exhaustively considered how we can consciously participate in the Divine Life-Force in the context of our ordinary activities. Eating, moving, breathing, sexual loving, working, and even cleaning our teeth must all be engaged in the spirit of this surrendered disposition.14

Kaya-kalpa, hatha yoga, and other regenerative regimens can be and traditionally have been performed froma strategic or ego-based perspec- tive as methods of progressive purification, by which the practitioner is drawn closer and closer to a goal of Happiness or Liberation. Master Da Free John has demonstrated that such an approach is self-limiting and totally unnecessary.

  1. Ibid., editorial commentary, p. 263.

  2. “Sexual communion” is a technical term used by Master Da Free John to describe the regenerative sexual embrace that he explains fully in his book of emotional and sexual wisdom entitled Love of the Two-Armed Form (The Dawn Horse Press, 1978).

  3. Bubba [Da] Free John, The Eating Gorilla Comes in Peace, p. 277.

  4. See “The Written and Spoken Teaching of Master Da Free John,” especially “The Practical Texts,” pages 239-46 at the back of this volume.


In sheerly physical terms one can in fact lengthen one’s life through such practices. But from a spiritual point of view, such goal-oriented activities are not appropriate. It is in the natural process of relational living that longevity is Spontaneously attained. Longevity is natural in the case of one who lives constantly in God-Communion via physical activity, via the breath, and via higher conscious participation in Life and living relationships. 5

Thus, the Fountain of Youth is only rightly approached by one who is already Happy and standing Free of the egoic need to seek longevity. It is on that basis that practitioners of Master Da Free John’s Way of self-transcendence engage the yoga of the Life-Force—not to escape or “solve” any problem or dilemma that is felt to burden one’s ordinary life. Rather, this yoga is simply a secondary discipline that supports the practice of Happiness by freeing and magnifying the available life-energy.

Health and longevity are secondary effects. They are not pursued for their own sake in the Way of Life that we practice. Anything pursued for its own sake is a form of self-meditation, self-possession, self-protection, a hedge about Narcissus. But from the point of view of the Divine Life, rather than self, we assume disciplines that secondarily keep us alive and enlivened, even physically blissful. We are healthy not only because we take the right dietary substances into the body, including rejuvenating herbs and the like, but primarily because we are enlivened by direct Communion with the All-Pervading Life. !6

In this sense, the entire Way of life recommended by Master Da Free John makes use of the essential principle underlying kaya-kalpa. From time to time, practitioners of this Way engage in fasting and retreat from worldly obligations. These incidents serve their gradual maturation in participating in and with the Life-Force. Eventually, they may be truly prepared to make use of the kind of radical fasting and isolation involved in kaya-kalpa (or something like its traditional form as described in the biography of Tapasviji Maharaj).

Meanwhile, The Radiant Life Clinic will continue to research longevity and rejuvenation. The aggressive materialism of current medical research must be countered and balanced. Material substances taken into the body are certainly a factor in longevity but not its key. A more comprehensive and truly holistic approach is both legitimate and

  1. Bubba [Da] Free John, The Eating Gorilla Comes in Peace, p. 312.

  2. Ibid., pp. 517-18.

much needed.

But a truly “practical scientific approach” will have to adopt a much larger view of the human organism than that the body is merely a biochemical machine. However appealing such a bio-technological view may be, it is grossly reductionistic and only perpetuates the desperate seeking of people for the latest cure, the newest supplement, or the most recent therapy. Such seeking for health is itself a stressful motive of the ego that will only hasten disease. There is no real longevity in such an approach. Worse, it denies people their potential of direct and un- mediated access to Life itself.

In summary, research suggests that remarkable rejuvenation and longevity are possible, particularly for those who discover the true Fountain of Youth—the creative Force of Life. Furthermore, the most direct and appropriate way to make use of these remarkable possibilities is through total dedication to a spiritual Way of life that includes psycho- physical sensitivity to and, in Master Da Free John’s words, conductivity of the All-Pervading Life-Force. Only in the context of such a Way can right use be made of rejuvenative techniques—including the dramatic kaya-kalpa technique used with obvious success by Tapasviji Maharaj.


Photo of Tapasviji Maharaj in 1939 at the age of 169



Lord Krishna, the indwelling Guru, has prompted me to write this biography of my most venerable Sadguru 1, Shriman Tapasviji Maharaj 2.

He was about 169 years old when I first met him in November 1939 at the residence of Rana Lakshman Singh of Bangalore. He happened to be visiting Bangalore that year in the course of a long pilgrimage to Rameswaram, Tirupathi, and other holy places in South India; he had never before left the North of the peninsula.

In his infinite compassion, he adopted me as his disciple at that time. He imparted spiritual wisdom to me, enlightening my mind with his answers to philosophical questions that had been puzzling me for many years. He protected me and my family from every kind of affliction for sixteen years thereafter.

It was October 12, 1955, when he entered maha-samadhi 3 at Jhansi (Uttar Pradesh), casting off his body with the ease of a snake shedding its slough. He was over 185 years old at the time. He died the exact moment that he had predicted to us. My two sons and I and fifteen other disciples gathered around him reverently, singing the Names of God. He blessed us all and sat erect in the lotus posture. Then he uttered the pranava, entered into samadhi, and took his last breath. It was a wonderful yogic

  1. The Sadguru is the teacher (guru) of the Real (sat), who has Realized the Transcendental Self.

  2. The name Shriman Tapasviji Maharaj is really a string of honorific titles. “Shriman” means “Illustrious one,” and “Tapasviji” means “Practitioner of austerities,” the Hindi suffix “ji’? being a designation of respect, and “Maharaj” means “Great king,” which is a common title for masters of Yoga.

  3. “Maha-samadhi” or “great ecstasy” is the yogic term for the transitional process of conscious dying, leading, ideally, to perfect Liberation.

4, The term “pranava” is the esoteric designation of the sacred syllable “om,” which is considered by Hindus the most auspicious of all mantras (or words of power).

  1. The samadhi referred to here is the conventional yogic technique of removing attention from the external world and turning it inward, upon the structures of the body-mind. At first the yogi experiences a blissful state of consciousness in which there is still mental activity in regard to the object of contemplation. This is known as savikalpa-samadhi. As his concentration deepens, he enters into the state of nirvikalpa-samadhi or “formless ecstasy,” which often tends to be confused with ultimate Liberation or perfect En- lightenment. Whereas in nirvikalpa-samadhi the yogi is blissfully oblivious to the external world, upon perfect Enlightenment (or Sahaj Samadhi) he Realizes God “with open eyes.” That supreme Condition is based on the transcendence of attention itself.


feat. Following all the injunctions on conscious dying given in the eighth chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita, he demonstrated to us what maha-samadhi is or ought to be. This last act of his long and saintly life epitomized his incessant practice of austerities (tapas).

The name bestowed on him by his Guru was Vishnudas (“Servant- devotee of God Vishnu”). However, he became well known throughout North India as Shriman Tapasviji because of his performance of pancagni ritual and other forms of severe austerity for prolonged periods. He performed khade-tapas’ for twenty-four years and pancagni for twelve years. Most importantly, Lord Krishna granted him darshan on several occasions.

One or two years after Shriman Tapasviji’s maha-samadhi, I published short biographies in English and Kannada, in which I had to omit many of the incidents of his life. Numerous readers of those biographical sketches encouraged me to publish a comprehensive biography of the Saint, whose life they found most inspiring. In response I have put together the present volume.

My contact with Shriman Tapasviji was sufficiently intimate and of appreciable length to make such an undertaking feasible. Also, the Saint was pleased to disclose many wonderful incidents of his long life. I have endeavored to relate them to the best of my understanding and ability. God’s Grace is indispensable for compiling such a work as this, and I feel I have received Divine Help in abundant measure.

In this context, I respectfully acknowledge the gracious words of encouragement and benediction by His Holiness Shri Shivabalayogi, who now resides in his hermitage at Bannerghat Road, Bangalore. When I told him that I had written the biography of Shriman Tapasviji, he invited me to read it to him. I did so over three successive days. That great yogi blessed my labors saying: You have described Shriman Tapasviji’s life satisfactorily. He and I knew each other very well. He helped me when I

  1. The pancagni (“five fires”) ritual is a traditional ascetic practice, which is engaged by exposing oneself for a prolonged period of time to the scorching heat of five fires—four at the cardinal points and the fifth being the burning Indian sun overhead.

  2. Khade-tapas is a practice of austerity involving maintaining a standing posture for a prolonged period of time and even sleeping in this position, in this case with one arm raised above the head.

  3. The Hindi word “darshan” (Sanskrit “darshana”) literally means “vision” or “sighting.” Thus, the Divine Being revealed Itself to Shriman Tapasviji in the visionary form of Lord Krishna, who is traditionally considered to be an Incarnation of Vishnu. Throughout his long life, Shriman Tapasviji had a special spiritual association with Lord Krishna.

2 27

myself was performing tapas on the banks of the Godavari. I had to face many obstacles during the twelve years of my tapas, and Shriman Tapasviji helped me on several occasions. He now resides in brahma- loka.9 I went to brahma-loka in my subtle body and met him there. I convey my blessings to you.”

I have described the memorable meetings between Shriman Tapas- viji and Shri Shivabalayogi in chapter 43. I was personally present on two occasions. It was from that time on that the fame of the young yogi spread everywhere, because the aged Saint declared before an astounded audience that the then fifteen-year-old practitioner was one of the greatest yogis he had met in his life. Recently, Shri Shivabalayogi has disclosed to me some more details of his contact with Shriman Tapasviji. I trust that chapter 43, in which I describe the relationship between these two great spiritual figures, will be of absorbing interest to all lovers of spiritual literature.

Shriman Tapasviji’s life bears out that he belonged to the group of mahatmas 10 known as ishvara-koti,11 who take birth to propagate the eternal Dharma or Law as enunciated in the fourth chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita. As he himself told us frequently, he left his hermitage in North India and traveled to Bangalore at the direction of Lord Krishna

Himself. He was thus directed by the Divine to make contact with devotees who lived there in order to uplift them by imparting spiritual wisdom. To obey Lord Krishna, the Saint created all kinds of circum- stances at Bangalore and other places so that devotees who were destined to meet him obtained his darshan of their own accord. And most remained attached to him until the end of his mission.

After Shriman Tapasviji settled down in his hermitage near Dibbagiri Hill on April 4, 1941, I visited him every weekend and also stayed with him during the week now and then. Sometimes he would refer to a particular incident in his life, and when we questioned him about it, he would willingly share with us the details of his experience. In

  1. Brahma-loka is the highest Dimension of existence, the Uncreated Domain of God, the Radiant Transcendental Being. When Shri Shivabalayogi states that he went to visit that Realm in his “subtle body,” then this is to be understood as a figure of speech.

  2. The honorific title “mahatma” has the meaning of “great self” or “great soul.” It is bestowed, by popular consent, on those who are seen to be particularly compassionate, motivated solely by the desire to alleviate the suffering of beings.

  3. The compound “ishvara-koti” means literally “Lord’s peak” and refers to Incarnations or Descents of the Divine, which are better known as “avatars.”


this way, my fellow devotees and I were able to reconstruct Shriman Tapasviji’s life story.

Some incidents related in this biography are truly astonishing, but they are nevertheless perfectly authentic. I would like to ask the reader to suspend his natural inclination to doubt and disbelief. Coleridge gives us sound counsel when he says that books relating to the experiences of a Saint must be read after shedding the normal human tendency to doubt the truth of events that appear to be abnormal.

Thus, Shri Tapasviji Maharaj told us that he saw with his own eyes the Goddesses Lakshmi, Mahalakshmi, and Gangadevi, and Lord Krishna, Dattatreya, and Parashurama and others. He also saw Ashvat- thaman, Durvasa, Narada, Parashara, and other Divine sages. He saw and talked to a mahatma who was five thousand years old, and witnessed yogis actually transforming themselves into tigers shortly to resume their human form. These and similar events are undoubtedly extraordinary, but because of Shriman Tapasviji’s testimony we must treat them as facts. Some of his experiences are as classical as those described in the Puranas. !2 Nor are such experiences closed to us: We can verify them for ourselves, provided we adopt the same intense tapas that ennobled the Saint’s life.

It testifies to the greatness of our country that such saints and sages take birth frequently and that they have appeared in every century and in every corner of this vast peninsula. A mahatma like Shriman Tapasviji, though born in far-off Punjab, belongs to every part of India, and his spiritual life is a source of inspiration to all of us, as is the saintly life of Paramahamsa Ramakrishna of Bengal.

The single most important lesson to be learned from this biography is that every earnest seeker of God can be certain to receive Divine Grace at every step. And if some form of spiritual discipline (sadhana) is undertaken and pursued with a will to succeed, the Divine Lord will certainly manifest Himself. When we asked Shriman Tapasviji if we too could have the vision of Lord Krishna, he invariably gave the following reply: “Bhagavan exists here and everywhere. He is called Brahman ‘4 in the Upanishads. He has infinite powers of manifestation. Call upon

  1. The Puranas are Sanskrit encyclopedias that represent precious repositories of religious and philosophical as well as historical knowledge.

  2. The honorific appellation “bhagavan” means literally “Blessed one.”

  3. Brahman is the Absolute or Divine Being.

  4. The Upanishads, of which over two hundred are known, are esoteric Sanskrit texts containing the wisdom of nondualism—Advaita Vedanta.


Him with love and single-mindedness and He will give you darshan.” Indeed, this message was the single theme of his discourses, just as it was the single object of his own spiritual quest. In order to follow his footsteps, one must have firm faith in the reality of God and the descent of Divine Grace. Shriman Tapasviji would frequently tell us: “Bhagavan is the Reality behind this phenomenal universe. You must have firm faith in His existence. There is nothing that Bhagavan cannot do for you.”

Shriman Tapasviji was born as a prince of a small kingdom. His earthly possessions gave him endless trouble and grief. So he abandoned all mundane ambitions at one stroke and became an ascetic. He prayed for Divine Grace and practiced severe austerities as enjoined in the sixth chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita. Then Lord Krishna granted him darshan, and everything else followed from this. He became a jivanmukta, ‘ attaining to the Supreme Good of human life. His biography teaches us this great lesson, and his wonderful life is a jewel in the rich hagiography of India.

The Lord’s Grace is indispensable for writing about the life of so great a Saint. I pray for Grace in the words of the Bhagavata-Purana: “O Lord! Thou art Pure Consciousness. Every state of my mind is a projection from Thy Source. My ideas flow from Thee. Thou art the jiva,’7 and Thou art what is called Ishvara. ‘ Thou art the Primordial Nature too. Thou art the Infinite. Thou art Brahman extolled in the Vedas. !9 Thy Powers are endless.” I invoke the Lord’s Grace so that I may be granted the necessary power of understanding and linguistic skill in order to describe the spiritual glory of my Sadguru Shriman Tapasviji Maharaj.

T. S. Anantha Murthy August 1968 Malleswaram, Bangalore

  1. The jivanmukta is, as the Sanskrit word indicates, “Liberated in life,” that is, he is God-Realized. This designation is often mistakenly applied to yogis and ascetics who have experienced nirvikalpa-samadhi (see n. 5).

  2. The jiva is the individual soul or body-mind, which according to Vedanta philosophy has to rediscover its identity with the Transcendental Self, which is called “tparamatman.”

  3. Ishvara is here the Creator-God. The Sanskrit word means “Lord.”

  4. There are four Vedas—Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda, and Atharvaveda—consisting of hymns and incantations. These collections, which date back to the second millennium B.C., are to Hinduism what the Old Testament is to Christianity. The Upanishads, however, can be compared to the New Testament.



The Early Life of Shriman Tapasviji

The few facts elicited from Shri Tapasviji regarding his birth and early life allow me to say that he was born on a Thursday in 1770, most likely in March, during the Mogul rule of India. His father was Maharaj Mangal Singh, the ruler of the Patiala state, and his mother was Maharani Nanda Kaur. Both were Rajputs1 by birth, but practiced Sikhism, which had spread to the Punjab by that time. My revered Guru was their second son, whom they named Krishna Singh. He was a strong, healthy child with beautiful features. The fact that his mother breast-fed him for three years may have contributed to the exceptional vitality and the powers of endurance that characterized him throughout his life. His strength and courage were uncommon. Evenas a young boy he rode and learned to control the most unruly of horses and elephants.

When he was about six years old, however, his mother died. His father remarried, producing many sons, who were to be a source of vexation to Krishna Singh.

Because of the unstable political conditions in the Punjab, Krishna Singh and his elder brother were trained for military careers. They became expert at wrestling and other martial arts, and as they grew older took part in many battles against the invading Moslems. Krishna Singh’s prowess as a soldier pleased his father.

In addition to his military training, he was taught Gurmukhi? and Hindi, and studied the Sacred Book of the Sikhs, the Granth Sahib, which contains the essence of the Upanishads. Krishna Singh and his elder brother frequently listened to stories from the two national epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. They had great reverence for Guru

  1. The Rajputs were the aristocracy of Rajasthan who claimed direct descent from the warrior (kshatriya) estate of ancient Hinduism.

  2. Gurmukhi is the “Guru’s script,” in which the sacred literature of the Sikhs is written.


Nanak,* and Krishna Singh conceived a great fondness for the sage Vishvamitra. 4 He used to say that he desired to become a great seer like Vishvamitra and would sit for meditation in the palace gardens. At that time, however, neither he nor his father could have imagined that someday he would indeed seek refuge in the Himalayas to perform the austerities of the ancient Vishvamitra.

When the brothers reached marriageable age, suitable brides were selected for them and the nuptials were performed. They lived together in the same household with their brides, along with their father and stepbrothers. Krishna Singh became the father of one son, and since his brother had none, the child became the object of great affection for both his parents as well as aunt and uncle.

The Maharaj had grown old now and Prince Krishna Singh was compelled to take a leading role in the frequent skirmishes that took place on the borders of the state. As a result, he lived away from his home, engaged in military operations, and his secret desire to become a sage faded. This way of life continued until he was more than 55 years of age, when a quick succession of adversities turned his mind once more toward God.

He had been absent from home for many months when, upon his return, he discovered that his wife, his son, and his elder brother had died. Alone under his roof, the most poignant grief filled his heart. A few days later he embarked upon the journey that would mark the turning point in his life. He went to Delhi to seek the aid of Mogul Emperor Bahadur Shah in consolidating the security of Patiala. Because of a few casual words spoken by the emperor, however, he never returned to his home, but travelled to Hardwar, where he settled on the banks of the Ganges to embark on what was to be a long life of spiritual discipline.

3, Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh tradition, lived between 1469 and 1539. He was a pupil of Kabir and with his teaching sought to bridge the gulf between Hinduism and Islam.

  1. Sage Vishvamitra (“World Friend”) was one of the most illustrious spiritual figures of ancient India, around whom numerous legends have been woven.



Krishna Singh’s Interview with the Mogul Emperor and Its Consequences

Early one morning, a lone horseman left Patiala and trotted toward Delhi. He was well armed with the military accoutrements used in those distant days. His personal attendant had begged permission to accompany him to Delhi, but Krishna Singh had refused escort, saying that his sword and his destiny would protect him. He wore diamond rings on his fingers and a flowing turban on his head. A steel helmet under the turban protected his head, as the steel doublet hidden beneath his long coat protected his chest. In the saddlebags of his beautiful horse he carried plenty of gold coins, but his heart was laden with sorrow.

It was a dark night when Krishna Singh arrived at the gates of Delhi to find them locked. The sentry refused him entry because it was past nine o’clock. He was told he had to return after four o’clock the next morning. The prince went to a mussa firkhana1 and found lodgings for himself and his horse. He tried to sleep and give rest to his limbs, but his sorrow was too great for sleep to take immediate possession of him. The oft-quoted line of Shakespeare, “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown,” aptly describes his state as he lay on the rough couch of the inn, his mind filled with deep sadness at the loss of his dear ones and weighted with the responsibility for his homeland.

He knew no onein the city of Delhi, but was befriended and taken in by a man named Kumerji, a Hindu vizier employed at the palace of the emperor. Krishna Singh did not at first tell the vizier of his real purpose in Delhi, but posed as a common traveler. Thus, he spent several days seeing the sights of the city. He found that Delhi was a city enclosed by ramparts broken at intervals by four or five massive gates, which were

  1. Mussa firkhana is a hostel for mendicants.


guarded by sentries and locked after dark. He saw the sundials, sand- dials, and water pots that were kept near the police stations for recording the time of day. There were officers in charge of these time-measuring devices who recorded the time on public notice boards at frequent intervals. A cannon was fired at noon and again at nine in the evening so that subsidiary time-stations could set the correct time.

Krishna Singh was taken to see the famous Chandni Chowk Road, which was the main street even in those days. A sixteen-mile marble canal ran the length of the road, fed by the Yamuna River. All the people of Delhi, including the residents of the emperor’s palace, where the canal passed through the gardens, took water from the canal for domestic purposes. Majestic trees grew on both sides of the canal, providing shade for the road that ran beside it.

Kumerji took his guest to see the palace orchards where mechanical contrivances built by Mogul engineers enabled them to control humidity and temperature in the pavilions of the orchards. In the summer pavilion, cool breezes and light showers could be artificially created, and there the emperor and his family sat in the summer to escape the severity of the midday sun. In the winter pavilion, they could likewise avoid the biting cold, as the contrivances there allowed the temperature to be increased to any agreeable level. In the bathroom of the palace, an oil flame heated great quantities of water, which, by means of pipes, supplied copious amounts of warm water to the large bathing tubs in which the emperor and his family could conveniently sit and bathe. When Shriman Tapasviji (alias Krishna Singh) told us these details, he emphasized the fact that Mogul engineers were using principles similar to those of modern air conditioning and water heating, long before electricity was put to practical use.

Another thing that attracted Krishna Singh’s special notice was the Mogul emperor’s Friday trip to the Juma mosque on the back of an elephant. The distance between the palace and the mosque was about twelve furlongs, or approximately a mile and a half. The animal was made to walk so slowly, however, that the trip required three hours! As the elephant advanced, the aged emperor, who was seated under a gorgeous canopy, threw coins for the poor to either side of the road, and beggars and urchins ran helter-skelter to pick them up. Part of the reason for the slowness of the procession was the fear that some child might be crushed to death by either the royal elephant or the mounted attendants. The


emperor’s return trip took no more than ten or twelve minutes, because no alms were distributed.

Having grown to know the vizier, Krishna Singh disclosed his Purpose in coming to Delhi. Kumerji was surprised and delighted to discover that his guest was a Rajput prince and set about to secure him an audience with the emperor. On the appointed day, Kumerji and Prince Krishna Singh went to the Red Fort, the royal palace. After the customary formalities, the prince was ushered into the presence of Bahadur Shah, the Mogul emperor.

The emperor was telling his beads, remembering God, when the prince saluted him respectfully. The emperor asked him to be seated and explain his mission. The prince described the deteriorating political situation and asked that the emperor initiate steps to bring about peace in the Punjab. The emperor listened, continuing to tell his beads, and then replied as follows. “Prince Krishna Singh, I am happy to have met you. Your desire to enlist my aid in establishing peace in your state is commendable, but I must tell you that my powers of intervention are negligible. My writ does not run very far.”

“*You have no peace of mind. I, too, have no peace of mind. I amnow convinced that devotion to God brings more happiness to a man than possession of an empire or kingdom. I say that a saint’s life is preferable to that of a king. I bid you farewell. Peace be with you.”

At this, the prince left the chamber and returned with Kumerji to his house. The very next day he took leave of his generous host, saying, “Vizier Kumerji Sahib, permit me to depart from your hospitable roof. You and your son have rendered a great service to me. I will go home now, but will return to your house sooner or later.” He embraced Kumerji and his son, mounted his horse, and departed.

Instead of returning to Patiala, however, the prince made a revolutionary decision to abandon worldly pursuits and flee to Hardwar to do penance. As he rode away toward Jagadri, his horse kicked off the dust of the Mogul capital in a short time. Many years later, the famous Saint kept his promise and returned to Delhi to seek out Kumerji and his son. Finding that they had both died, he traced Kumerji’s grandson, Ramasvaru, who worked as a clerk in a government office. He introduced himself, saying, “I am a sadhu,* whom people call Tapasviji. Long, long

  1. The Sanskrit word “sadhu” means “good one” and is widely applied to anyone doing penance.


ago, when I was still known as Krishna Singh, I was your grandfather’s guest.” Ramasvaru received the Saint with reverence and astonishment, and thereafter, whenever the Saint would visit Delhi, he always paid a visit to the vizier’s grandson.



Krishna Singh’s Renunciation and Triumph over the First Obstruction

Having bid farewell to Kumerji, Prince Krishna Singh rode towards Sharanpur, about sixty miles away. He passed through Jagadri and after a few miles arrived at a crossroads, one road leading to Patiala and another to Sharanpur. His noble horse trotted off towards Sharanpur, not realizing that it would never again set foot in the Punjab.

A short distance along the road, Prince Krishna Singh met with a most unexpected obstruction to his journey. It was his first battle against the hostile forces that always oppose man’s endeavor to attain a higher spiritual state. The incident was extraordinary, as was the manner in which he confronted and eventually overcame it.

As he rode along silently, determined to reach Hardwar as soon as possible, he heard the loud hissing of a cobra overtaking him, He turned and saw the reptile, but not realizing that it was his enemy, spurred his horse forward to outdistance it. To his surprise, the cobra too increased its speed, swaying and hissing behind the horse in a frightening manner. Enraged, the prince decided to alight and slay the cobra, but the creature dextrously avoided his blows and tried to bite him. The prince, too, was agile and avoided the snake’s menacing efforts to strike, but try as he might he could not wound it. Eventually, the cobra glided off into the bushes and disappeared. Thinking he had scared it away, the prince mounted his horse and resumed his journey. After about a mile he heard the familiar hissing behind him. Turning, he saw the same snake pursuing with remarkable speed. Tying his horse to a tree, the prince stood waiting for it with drawn sword.

The cobra approached with raised hood and struck out at him once again. A duel ensued between man and reptile in which neither was hurt, but in which the cobra was eventually driven off. Mounting his horse once again, the prince rode away as fast as he could. Imagine his dismay


when, a few minutes later, the cobra appeared ahead of him, standing on its tail in the middle of the road.

The prince could not imagine how it had overtaken him. It occurred to him that he was being tested by the maya1 of God, because no ordinary cobra could have done such a thing. He thought that perhaps humble prayer would accomplish what his courage and swordsmanship had not. He decided that he must convince the cobra of his genuine and irrevocable resolve to abandon worldly ambitions and become an ascetic. In this mood, the prince removed his turban, helmet, and sword and placed them on the ground. Thus disarmed, he stood before the reptile with his hands folded reverently. “O cobra,” he began, “you appear to be the maya of God. I am going to the banks of the Ganges to perform penance and seek the Vision of God. Please do not hinder me. I implore your Grace. I surrender myself to you.”

Having uttered this prayer, he prostrated before the cobra and then stood up. It had not moved, though it could easily have struck him. Now it swayed its terrible hood for a few seconds, lowered it, and then glided away.

Convinced that the cobra would no longer obstruct him, the prince flung himself on his horse and rode without respite until at last his horse began to limp with pain. He dismounted at once, though Sharanpur was only a few miles away, and tied his horse to a tree, kissing its face affectionately for having brought him safely so far.

Now the prince had to act quickly because daylight was fading. With the setting sun as his witness, he removed all of his clothing and stood naked in the wind and sun. Tearing his turban into pieces of cloth, he twisted one around his waist and covered his genitals with another, thus fashioning a kaupina or loincloth for himself. Spreading the remaining cloth on the ground he heaped his sword, coat, trousers, helmet, gold coins, and rings upon it. As he did so, an idea flashed through his mind that perhaps one of his rings might be of some use on the journey to Hardwar, to barter with and obtain food. He stooped to pick up a diamond ring and untying his waistband put it in one of the folds. He forgot about the ring for many years—the idea of bartering for food never crossed his mind again. Long afterward, in a wonderful event recounted in chapter 9, a Goddess appeared to Tapasviji and directed him to discard the ring.

  1. Here the Sanskrit word “maya” (lit. “she who measures”) stands for the Creative Power (shakti) of the Divine Being.


Now the prince wrote two identical notes, which read as follows: “The cloth bundle tied to this horse contains precious things and gold coins. Any person who finds it may take away everything. But he will be bound to take care of the horse with love and due attention.” He tied one note to the saddle, the other to the face of the horse. The horse was weeping, having sensed that it would be left to its fate far from its native land. Krishna Singh also wept, saying over and over to his horse, “My son, I must go in quest of God. Do not grieve for being left alone here. The lucky man who finds you here will protect you.”

Weeping, he walked away from the place of his renunciation without looking back. He walked until his tired legs could not move forward. It was dark and he was famished. Weary and hungry, he stretched himself under a tree. Thus, the prince, who was between fifty-five and sixty years old now, converted himself into a homeless mendicant. Twinkling stars shone above as he lay on the ground, his mind at rest.

After a short time, providence came to his aid. A peasant who lived nearby happened to pass the tree and was amazed to see a naked sadhu lying there. The new monk asked the peasant to fetch some food and water, which he did, bringing coarse roti? and water. Unaccustomed to such food, the monk was unable to eat, and noticing this, the peasant ran back to his house of his own accord and brought soft wheat chapatis. Then the peasant exclaimed, “O sadhu, you are either a soldier running away from the battlefield or a nobleman very recently turned monk.”

The prince was astonished at the shrewdness of the rustic villager and told him his story, admitting that he had become a monk just two hours previously. The peasant was dumbfounded to learn that he had had the good fortune to feed a renunciate who had been a prince until that evening. When the peasant returned to his village, the new monk slept soundly under the tree.

  1. Roti is a baked, flat whole wheat bread.



The Saint Settles in Hardwar and Begins His Sadhana

We have followed the footsteps of Krishna Singh to an unknown spot a short distance from Sharanpur. Hardwar was still sixty miles away, but his enthusiasm for reaching the site of his spiritual practice or sadhana was so great that he walked the entire distance in one day, arriving at the holy precincts of the city before the twilight had faded. He was no longer a prince, but a poor mendicant.

When the new ascetic reached the banks of the Ganges he lay down on the sand to give rest to his limbs. His long-cherished desire was partially fulfilled and his heart was filled with delight. Exhausted, he slept where he lay.

Waking early, he bathed in the sacred river for the first time in his life and afterwards selected a mound near a place called Saptasarovara (“Seven Splendid Lakes”) on which to build a hut of bamboo poles and dry branches for his residence. He solved the problem of food by eating berries, roots, herbs, and green grass.

An intense spirit of renunciation took hold of him. He chose a Name of God and began to do japa1 with it twenty-four hours a day, which had the effect of obliterating the habit-memories or samskaras of his former life. Later he used to recommend to his disciples the recitation of any Name of God as the best means of purifying the mind. He lived in this manner in his solitary hut for some months and became a new man altogether, coming to feel that he had been born and bred on the banks of the Ganges.

After some months he came into contact witha merciful Guru, who was not merely a yogi, but a knower of Brahman, as expounded by the ancient scriptures. He was an adept of all the branches of hatha yoga, 2

  1. Japa is the meditative recitation of a sacred mantra, in this instance one of the many Names of the Divine.

  2. Hatha yoga or the “forceful yoga” seeks first to steel the body for the ordeal of spiritual


having spent most of his life in its study and practice. The Guru of Ayodhya, as he was called, put Krishna Singh to severe tests and found that he possessed not only the capacity for renunciation but the necessary aspiration to tread the path of spiritual life with devotion and single- minded resolution. Having tested Krishna Singh, he formally adopted him as a disciple, bestowing upon him the name Vishnudas (“Servant of Vishnu”).

Vishnudas was initiated into the theory and practice of hatha yoga, becoming proficient in all he was taught in spite of his old age. Some of the practices he learned from his Guru were neti, dhauti, puraka, kumbhaka, recaka, khecari-mudra, ganesha-kriya, navali-kriya, vajroli- mudra, vasti-kriya and shatcakra-bhedana.3 Vishnudas performed all these exercises again and again in the presence of his Guru. His regular and lengthy practice of breath control or pranayama enabled him to curb his mind and reach ecstasy or samadhi. In that state, his mind became as steady as a flame in a sheltered room and entered into its source or place of origin, called the Self (Atman) or Brahman in the scriptures, whose nature is Bliss. By the Guru’s grace and by right practice, Vishnudas attained the state of Bliss described in the sixth chapter of the Bhagavad- Gita and became a great yogi.

Thus, the Guru’s grace (guru-kripa) and the Self’s Grace (atma- kripa) combined to lead Vishnudas to success in his spiritual endeavor.

However, Vishnudas noticed that the Happiness of samadhi was obstructed or incomplete when he returned to the waking state, and so he asked his Guru to teach him the secret of remaining in a state of transformation and then to bring about the condition of formless ecstasy (nirvikalpa- samadhi) by conducting the Life-Force, in the form of kundalini-shakti or “serpent power,” from the lowest bodily center (at the base of the spine) to the crown of the head.

  1. The technique of neti is used to cleanse the nasal passages; dhauti involves the swallowing ofa long piece of cloth to cleanse the stomach; puraka, recaka, and kumbhaka are the three phases of breath control, viz. inhalation, exhalation, and retention; khecari-mudra is performed by turning the tongue backwards and up into the aperture in the upper palate; ganesha-kriya is presumably identical to the practice of matangini-mudra, which entails sniffing and expelling water through the nose, as described in the Gheranda-Samhita (111.88-89); navali-kriya is probably another name for nauli-kriya, which is executed by isolating and rolling the vertical muscles of the abdomen; vajroli-mudra is the obscure practice of sucking up water through the penis—a technique considered particularly valuable in the sexual ritual of Tantrism to control seminal emission; vasti-kriya involves the sucking up of water by contracting and dilating the anal sphincter; the most secret process of hatha yoga is shatcakra-bhedana, the “piercing of the six centers” by manipulating the Life-Current in the body, forcing it to ascend by means of breath-control, intense concentration, and other techniques.

  2. This blissful state is nirvikalpa-samadhi. (See Preface, p. 25, n. 5.)


unobstructed peace. His benevolent Guru taught him the secret doctrine of brahma-jnana expounded in the Upanishads. Brahma-jnana is Knowl- edge of one’s true Self, the nature of which is pure Awareness or Consciousness. All of life is the manifestation of the Self, which dwells in every one. Well versed in the ancient Shastras or sacred texts, the Guru of Ayodhya instructed Vishnudas not to identify with the modifications of the mind, but to abide in the natural state of the Self or Atman, which is Bliss. As the Katha-Upanishad (1.2.12) proclaims, “for the sages who perceive That abiding in oneself, there is everlasting Bliss.” Vishnudas intuited the truth of what his Guru taught him because he had great powers of self-knowledge or introspection.

Vishnudas conveyed his gratitude to his Guru, who had helped him to overcome sorrow. His Guru blessed him, telling him that he had learned everything that was worth knowing and could thus wander freely, engaging ascetic disciplines in order to be firmly established in the atma-nishtha° state. Thus began Vishnudas’s wanderings along the sacred Ganges.

  1. The Sacred compound “atma-nishtha” means “Self’s perfection,” which is the Disposition of Self realization.



The Saint Performs Austerities for Six Years and Departs Suddenly for Gangotri

Vishnudas had entered Hardwar as the sadhaka or spiritual aspirant Krishna Singh, and by the Grace of God had spent ten or twelve years there acquiring knowledge of all that his benevolent Guru could teach him. He was no longer a novice, and his Guru, realizing this, sent him away to wander according to his mood and to perform austerities wherever he chose. His old name and life had been forgotten; he was now Vishnudas, servant of Vishnu, the Divine, who ever resided in his heart. He had become a knower of God (brahmavid).

His once majestic body was now emaciated and bent with age. A flowing white beard and mustache proclaimed his more than seventy years. He was naked except for the loincloth that he had fashioned years ago from his turban. In his right hand he carried a long bamboo walking stick and in his left, a water pot (kamandalu). In spite of his advanced age, his eyes shone with the lustre of the Self’s Power (atma-shakti).

Vishnudas wandered alone along the Ganges, enjoying the beauty of his surroundings. After several days, he conceived a desire to enter and remain in samadhi for as longa time as possible, and so he began to search for a suitable cave. He found one at last on the summit of Nilakantha Mahadeva Hill. The cave was warm, protected by a boulder at its mouth, and there was a flat stone platform, no doubt used by a mahatma in the it.

He sat in the lotus posture and meditated as instructed by his Guru. Attaining samadhi, he remained in that state for some years—about six, judging from the growth of the various trees and shrubs surrounding the cave. By engaging in this extended samadhi, during which the Life-Force (prana-shakti) kept his body alive, he tested and discovered the extent of his yogic power.


Upon returning to the waking state, he went to the nearby village of Rishikesh, where he rested awhile, partaking of the food offered to him by some hermits, and then he traveled to Lakshman Jhula where he occupied an existing hut, fully intending to spend several months there. An odd incident occurred, however, that prompted his removal to a far remoter part of the Himalayas.

After the former prince Krishna Singh had left the kingdom of Patiala, his father Mangal Singh died, leaving the office of Maharaj to the eldest son by his second wife. In due time, the new Maharaj undertook a pilgrimage to the Badari Narayana Shrine, stopping for rest with his retinue at Lakshman Jhula. Noticing the Saint’s hut, and hearing that an aged ascetic resided there, he went to pay his respects and receive blessings. At first the Maharaj did not recognize his stepbrother, old and changed as he was. Nor did Vishnudas, who was seated ona deerskin, pay much attention to his visitor until he heard him say, “Mahatmaji, I am Maharaj Karam Singh, and I have come from Patiala with my attendants ona pilgrimage to the Badari shrine. Hearing that a great saint lived here, I have come to receive your blessing. Please bless us all.”

At that point, the Saint knew the visitor to be his own stepbrother and asked him to be seated. Karam Singh asked some philosophical questions, to which the Saint replied in their native tongue. Recognizing his brother’s voice at once, the Maharaj said, “Mahatmaji, your voice and features resemble those of my long-lost stepbrother, Krishna Singh. May I know if you are he?”

The Saint smiled and said, “Your conjecture is correct,” at which Karam Singh wept with delight and replied, “I amso glad to find you alive and a great saint. I will not go to Badari now, but will return to Patiala and take you with me. Youare very oldand your life here in this hut must be difficult.”

The Saint, of course, could not agree to return to Patiala, having chosen to spend the remainder of his life in the Himalayas. “Look here, Karam Singh,” he explained, “you can see that I have become a mendicant. I cannot return to Patiala—this hut is my palace, and I feel no discomfort here. You may go now, with my blessings.”

Karam Singh could not accept such a reply. He lamented and wept and implored the Saint to abandon his Himalayan abode and accompany him to their homeland. Vishnudas tried to make Karam Singh under- stand his desire to spend the remainder of his life in the Himalayas, but the latter only fell at his feet and begged him to change his mind. At last,


the Saint simply directed him, “First go to Badari and obtain God’s darshan, which was the real purpose of your pilgrimage—your meeting with me was coincidental. I appreciate your desire to take me with you, and we can discuss it further on your return.”

By this reasonable suggestion Karam Singh was persuaded to continue on his pilgrimage. In the two weeks required to travel to Badari and back, the Saint abandoned his hut and, picking up his staff and water

pot, journeyed to far-off Gangotri, where there was no chance of meeting any of his family members again.



A Sadhu from the Punjab Earns the Grace of the Saint

After walking for a number of days, feeding solely on fruit and berries, Vishnudas reached the outskirts of Gangotri, where a large number of ascetics were performing austerities. He, too, selected a suitably secluded spot and, entering samadhi, remained in that state for a long time. While he sat, a young Punjabi sadhu of the Nirmala sect observed him and conceived the desire to become his disciple. The sadhu waited until the Saint regained the waking state and then prostrated to him and said, “Mahatmaji, my name is Kripal Singh. I have been doing sadhana here for some months and want permission to serve you. Please adopt me as your disciple. I have studied Sanskrit and the Granth Sahib and want to practice austerities as you do.”

The Saint gave a suitable reply, and permission to be served by the young aspirant, all in the Punjabi’s native tongue, which gave much pleasure to him. The Saint also revealed his name and antecedents, and Kripal Singh was delighted to know them. In this way, the protecting hand of destiny brought the aged Saint and the able-bodied Kripal Singh together. The young disciple began to serve and take care of the Saint at all times.

A few weeks later, the Saint decided to pilgrimage to the Badari Shrine, and Kripal Singh begged to accompany him, wishing to remain in his service. The earnestness of his request pleased the Saint, who replied, “(My son, you may accompany me if you desire. Together we will obtain Lord Narayana’s darshan.”

The Saint had always traveled alone, requiring no one to serve him. It was only his love for Kripal Singh that prompted his assent. The Saint and his disciple set out, wending their way along the beaten track through the Himalayas toward Badari. Kripal Singh served the Saint, and the Saint instructed him in matters relating to his sadhana. Kripal Singh was a learned man, familiar with the traditional injunction


to secure satsang, or the company of the wise, at all times, and he served the Saint energetically in order to earn his grace.

At one point, they passed Svargarohana (“Heavenly Ladder”) Hill, the site of a huge circular pond said to be the very one into which the ancient Pandavas had thrown their celestial weapons before entering the realm of Lord Yama.1 They tried to discover traces of the Pandavas’ route, but there was no trace on the ice- and snow-clad hill. Because of the sacredness of the spot, many yogis sat here and there, rapt in samadhi. The Saint, too, desired to sit and absorb himself in meditation, and did so while Kripal Singh performed austerities close by. In the days to come they halted at Alakapuri and then at Gourikund to perform tapas, moving slowly at the convenience of the aged Saint.

As they set out from their most recent stop at Gourikund, a very curious event took place which separated the Saint and the sadhu for a time. They meta tall ascetic of imposing appearance, with matted locks of hair tied in spirals atop his massive head, and only a leaf for a loincloth. He addressed the Saint, saying, “Mahatmaji, I amglad to have met you. I have been performing tapas here a long time and have acquired many powers. I see that you are also possessed of some powers, and I want a companion to go with me to indra-loka.* Your young disciple cannot accompany me, so please send him on to Badari Shrine to wait for you.”

The Saint did so, and after Kripal Singh had left, the ascetic collected herbs and prepared pills from them, instructing the Saint to rub them on his hands and feet, as they would prevent him from feeling the cold and enable them to walk on icy tracks. In addition, he gave him two large pills to hold in his mouth to prevent hunger and thirst for months on end. Familiar with the application of these herbs, the Saint did as he was instructed, and they marched along the route that the ascetic indicated, day and night, for many weeks. The ascetic quietly led the way and the Saint followed, not doubting the existence of indra-loka.

At last, the Saint spied many beautiful buildings on the slopes of the surrounding hills and handsome men and women walking about among them. Pleasant musical sounds emanated from the place. The ascetic cried out, “Mahatmaji, we have reached our destination. Yonder is

  1. Yama (“Restrainer”) is the Ruler and Judge of the dead. His realm is known as yamacloka. The story of the five Pandavas’ encounter with Yamais told in the Mahabharata,

  2. Indra-loka, or the realm of Indra, is one of the spiritual planes of existence, which is here described as having an actual spatial location (or at least point of entry in relation to the material realm).


Indra-loka. I have always been desirous of visiting it, but I wanted to do so with a companion. By accident I met you. Ordinary mahatmas cannot walk so far or endure so much exertion. Let us enter the town and visit Indra, who rules the Kingdom.” As he spoke, a beautiful chariot drawn by four milk-white horses arrived and stopped nearby. A gandharva? alighted from the chariot. He looked like a king, with a crown of precious stones on his head. On his left shoulder was folded a black rug, and in his right hand was a whip. He addressed them in Hindi, “Mahatmas, I convey my pranams to both of you. Lord Indra has sent me to bring you into his presence. Sit in my chariot and I will take you to his palace, which you cannot reach on your own.”

The Saint and his companion stepped into the chariot, which began to move swiftly. Both passengers became giddy and then unconscious.

When they awoke, they found themselves lying on the ground at a spot very near Badari Shrine! The ascetic exclaimed, “The gandharva played a trick on us. They are jealous of human beings and do not wish us to enter their kingdom. He used his superior powers to bring us here. I am sorry I was unable to take you to indra-loka as I promised. I am now going to Girnar Forest to do tapas and acquire more powers. You will find Kripal Singh waiting for you here.”

Having said this, the ascetic left the Saint.

When the Saint told me this extraordinary story, asked him if such celestial beings really do exist somewhere. He said, “Look here, Murthy, haven’t I just told you what happened to me and the other mahatma? Gandharvas do exist. They have more powers than human beings, but are jealous of us. You, too, could see them, but you cannot reach the distant spot I visited on that occasion. It is hidden within the Himalayas.” In this manner the Saint was pleased to set my doubts at rest.

  1. A gandharva is simply a spirit-being, associated with the celestial world of God Indra.



The Five-Thousand-Year-Old Mahatma

When the Saint appeared at Badari, Kripal Singh welcomed him eagerly and listened in amazement to the story of the Saint’s sighting of indra-loka. They worshipped together at the shrine of Badari Narayana and obtained the darshan of God. Narayana1 is the most appropriate name of the Supreme Being, because He is the indwelling Reality in the heart of all human beings. It is Narayana who is extolled and described in the Upanishads as Brahma, Shiva, Akshara, Svaraj, and so on.

According to the story in the Shrimad-Bhagavata,? the Supreme Being took birth as a rishi or sage in order to teach the highest wisdom to seekers of Truth. His father was called Dharma (Law) and his mother, Murti (Form). After he was born, the story goes, he practiced the most difficult forms of tapas in Badarika Ashram, where the temple now stands. This is why the shrine is held in such high esteem by all God- lovers. The greatest seers (rishis) worshipped Him there and continue to do so to this day. Having worshipped there themselves for several days, the Saint and Kripal Singh wandered on, living on a root called jaminkhand, which, when put into the fire, provided them with grain- like particles resembling rice. After a period of constant travel they were overtaken by the monsoon.

The severe winds and rain of the monsoon precluded further travel, and Kripal Singh discovered a forest lodge where a lone guard resided. They asked the guard if he would give them food and shelter for four months—the duration of the monsoon—and he welcomed them, delighted to play host to the Saint and his disciple. The Saint absorbed

  1. The name “Narayana” hints at the fact that the Divine Being, Vishnu, has the primordial waters (nara) for its abode (ayana). In iconography, Narayana is depicted as resting on the cosmic serpent, Shesha, who supports the world.

  2. Narayana’s birth is briefly referred to in book IV, chapter 1, and the story of his is mentioned in book V, chapter 19. ee


himself in samadhi and spent his time in a corner of the building. When the monsoon was over, they blessed the hospitable forest guard and continued their journey.

They traveled eastward for six months, halting occasionally at hermitages along the way. At last they came to a meadow where hundreds of beautiful cows and calves were grazing. Never had they seen such cows in these remote recesses of the Himalayas, and it occurred to them that a hermitage must exist nearby. Before they had advanced much further, a majestically tall man approached. He was eight feet tall, wore a bhoja leaf as a loincloth, and had a black beard and matted locks tied up ina cone on his head. Shri Vishnudas and Kripal Singh had never seen such an awe-inspiring mahatma, and they folded their hands in respect.

His benign countenance showed surprise at finding them near his almost inaccessible cave, and they explained that they were sadhus traveling toward Nepal. The stranger led them to his cave, which was hidden amongst large boulders and contained three compartments. He offered fruits and milk to his guests and invited them in pure Sanskrit to appease their hunger and stay with him for a few days. Shortly, he went out and drove the herd into an enclosure for the night. When he returned, darkness had set in, and they slept.

The next morning, their host milked the cows and brought milk and fruit for their breakfast. The travelers desired to hear the story of this wonderful mahatma, but first Kripal Singh explained to him in Sanskrit that they wished to travel to Katmandu to obtain the darshan of Pashupatinath (Shiva), and asked to have the quickest route pointed out. The mahatma was familiar with every footpath and track in the area and gave them a detailed description of how they should proceed. Now they asked him to tell them about his life, how long he had been living in this remote cave, and why he knew Sanskrit but no Hindi.

Their host replied that he had been living in this cave since the time of King Ugrasena, who had ruled Mathura during the lifetime of Lord Krishna. “I was born in Ayodhya, and my name is Dvivedi. I learned two Vedas when I lived in Ayodhya. Lord Krishna was then living in Mathura, and my Guru instructed me that Shri Krishna was the Incarnation of God and that I should go to Mathura and obtain his darshan. I travelled to Mathura, but in the meantime, Shri Krishna had gone to Dvaraka Heaven. I went to Badarika Ashram and spent many years there performing austerities, and when I left I traveled into the interior of the Himalayas with a cow and a calf that were presented to me


when I left Badari. At last, I discovered this snug cave, where I have been living for many centuries. The cows have multiplied so that now there are many hundreds of them.”

Shri Vishnudas and Kripal Singh were astonished at this story, and asked him to explain how he had sustained his life for over five thousand years.* Dvivedi smiled and said, “My longevity is easily explained. I drink cow’s milk and eat some herbs which I will show you.”

Their host left and returned in a moment with herbs and creepers, which they examined carefully. The leaves on the creepers had red spots on them. Dvivedi began to explain. “These creepers grow abundantly in this locality. They are called soma-lata (soma creepers), and there are fifteen varieties. On the day of the new moon there are no leaves on the vines, but the next day, one leaf will appear, increasing daily until on the full moon there are fifteen leaves, each marked with one or more red spots. I collect these leaves and crush them. They yield a kind of milk which I drink along with cow’s milk. The juice of soma-lata will enable anyone to live for thousands of years. If I select the round-shaped leaves, I can live for ten thousand years. This is the only secret of my longevity. I spend most of my time performing tapas, and I enjoy solitude, so I have selected this remote cave in which to live. That is all of my story.”

Having said this, Dvivedi fell silent and closed his eyes.

Though his guests stayed with him for ten days, he gave no more particulars about his amazingly long life of tapas. During those ten days, all three spent their time practicing austerities according to their mood. Occasionally, the ancient Dvivedi gave discourses on brahmavidya in archaic Sanskrit style, and every morning and evening he gave his guests fruit and cow’s milk. He did not give them soma-lata, nor did they request it. At the end of ten days he gave them permission to depart. By way of blessing, he raised both of his wonderfully long hands to his two guests, who respectfully took his leave.

  1. Modern scholarship places the Adept Krishna in the early centuries of the first millennium B.C., which would reduce the mahatma’s age to ca. 3,000 years.

  2. This appears to be the famous soma plant, which was known already to the seers of the Vedic age (2000-1200B.C.). See R. Gordon Wasson, Soma: Divine Mushroom of Immortality (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1972). 52


Visit to Katmandu, Nepal

The Saint and his attendant followed the track described by the ancient mahatma and journeyed toward Katmandu. They arrived on the morning of the auspicious day of Shivaratri, 1 when the doors of Pashupatinath’s (Shiva’s) Temple would be opened. The journey had indeed been arduous. Shri Vishnudas had grown older and his eyes were dimmer.

Hundreds of sadhus like themselves had assembled at the village of Tapathaili adjacent to the temple. At the appointed time, the doors of the ancient Shiva Temple were flung open, and the pilgrims rushed in to obtain the darshan of God, in the form of a linga.* Shri Vishnudas and his companion entered the temple along with the others and witnessed the puja conducted by the priests, and conveyed their adoration to God.

The Saint told us that Lord Shiva had once manifested Himself in human form at that very spot and that he had afterwards transformed Himself into a linga, which has been worshipped ever since. +

Having fulfilled their purpose, they settled down in a village called Beeramgoan to shake off the fatigue of their arduous journey. Some weeks later, Shri Vishnudas felt that his body had rested sufficiently that he could leave the village. He decided to travel eastward and visit Parashuramkund in Assam. When he disclosed this decision to Kripal

  1. Shivaratri (“Shiva’s night”) is a festival in honor of God Shiva, which is held on the fourteenth night of the dark half of the moon in January-February.

  2. A linga (lit., “sign”) is an ovoid stone, representing the phallus of God Shiva, and thus his creative Power.

  3. The Sanskrit term “puja” means “worship” and stands for any ritual in honor of the Divine Being, or a manifestation of it—from a single offering to a complex ceremony.

  4. Folklore knows of another explanation: A hunter who had killed more birds than he could gather before nightfall climbed a nearby tree to rest until dawn. His restless sleep shook loose leaves and blossoms, causing them to fall onto a linga that was situated at the foot of the tree. Asa result of this inadvertent worship, the hunter was blessed with much good fortune. The Shivaratri festival is said to remember that incident, which was a sign of Shiva’s incomparable grace.


Singh, the latter was greatly disappointed because he had been under the impression that the aged Saint would retrace his steps to Gangotri, where they had first met. Kripal Singh tried to dissuade the Saint. “Mahatmaji, you are too old to travel without a companion. I want to go back to Gangotri. Why do you want to go eastward?”

Shri Vishnudas replied, “‘My son, it is Ishvara’s will that I go to Parashuramkund and do tapas there. Lord Parashurama performed tapas there in ancient times, and the place is attracting me. You go back and fulfill your desire. I will travel alone and spend my time in solitude. I give you my blessings and permit you to depart.”

Having said this, Shri Vishnudas embraced Kripal Singh and allowed him to leave Beeramgoan. The young man prostrated to the aged Saint over and over again and set out on his return journey.

Now the Saint was alone in the hut where they had resided together. The fact that there was no one to serve him made no difference to him. He was established in his own Self and the virtue of self-reliance (svava- lambana) had become characteristic of him asa result of his long practice of tapas. A mahatma who has realized the indwelling Self is not distressed by being separated from others. He sat alone, established in the peace




The Saint’s Adventures on the Way to Parashuramkund

The long trip made by Shri Vishnudas from Nepal to Parashuramkund in Assam is significant, because it was there that he underwent his first kaya-kalpa treatment and regained the vigor of manhood. It was there that he learned the secrets of that treatment, which transforms an old man into a youth. Before I describe that great event, I will narrate a few remarkable incidents that occurred on the way.

After leaving Nepal, he proceeded slowly toward Assam. The journey was uneventful until he passed through Dacca, where he halted for some weeks and gave rest to his tired limbs, having walked for months along the southern slopes of the Himalayas after crossing the boundary of Nepal. From Dacca, he set out to Manipur and on the way passed through a dense forest. While threading his way through thickets and bushes, he saw a sight the likes of which he had never seen. He heard the roar of a tiger coming from the opposite direction and stood still, looking up. Toward him camea sadhu with a long beard riding on the back of a huge tiger. Sadhu and tiger approached the Saint and stopped nearby. The sadhu stared at the Saint, while his tiger roared, but the Saint merely stood and watched without fear or concern. The sadhu, apparently discerning that the Saint had no fear, spurred his tiger and rode away in the direction from which the Saint had come.

The Saint resumed his journey and crossing the forest finally arrived at the town of Manipur. He rested there for some time and then set out again in the direction of Parashuramkund. On the way, he passed through the Naga Hills, and as he was wending his way amidst those hills he chanced upon a large crowd of Naga tribesmen, known for their cannibalism. They gathered around him, and he stood still while they gaped and shouted. He tried to move on, but they shrieked and surrounded him more closely. Realizing that they had made him their


prisoner, he sat down quietly and meditated. The Nagas, who were all naked, including the young girls and old women, now watched him from a distance. They did not touch or go near him. After some time, while his eyes were closed, they brought food—rice and mutton—and placed it near him. He ate a little rice and drank the water he carried in his water pot, abstaining from the mutton. He made signs that he wanted to move on, but the tribesmen seemed bent upon keeping him prisoner. Ten days and nights passed in this way, and the Saint continued to sit and meditate. At last they seemed to realize that their prisoner was no ordinary human being, fit neither to be eaten nor killed, and they set him free, dancing around him and making loud noises, gesturing that he was free to leave. Thereupon, the Saint stood up and walked away carrying his walking stick and water pot.

The Saint crossed the forest, moving on and on until he came to a massive hill that he was too exhausted to climb. Darkness overtook him and he rested at the foot of the hill until daybreak. He had been climbing for some time when he noticed a temple built on the crest of a small hill, and with some difficulty he made his way to the temple and entered it. The view from the temple was so charming that he decided to halt under its roof for some days and rest. Accordingly, he lay down on the veranda of the temple and was soon fast asleep. The next day he bathed in a pond nearby and went into the temple to obtain the darshan of the Goddess Kamakshi, 1 who was the presiding deity there. The priest of the temple was also present, and he conducted the puja in the presence of the Saint. When the Saint emerged from the temple, an extraordinary thing happened.

As he descended the steps from the temple, there was no one in sight. Then, all of a sudden, a beautiful young girl was climbing toward him on the same flight of steps. With remarkable swiftness she reached the step on which the Saint was standing and stared at him. He supposed that she had come to worship in the temple and stood aside for her, but she did not move and addressed him as follows: “Mahatmaji, you havea gold ring hidden in the folds of the cloth tied to your waist. It is visible to me. Because you are a man of renunciation, you should not keep it. Please give it to me.”

The Saint was perplexed. The reader will recall that the Saint, many

  1. Goddess Kamakshi (“Wanton-eyed”) is a form of Durga, the fierce, bloodthirsty Companion of the Divine Lord Shiva.


years previously, was possessed for a moment by fear of want and had secured the ring on his person thinking he might barter it for food. Remembering the ring for the first time since then, he replied, “Mother, I had forgotten the ring and will certainly give it to you.”

The strange damsel smiled and said, “Mahatmaji, I do not want your ring at all. You may give it to the priest of the temple,” and so saying she disappeared.

The Saint realized that Kamakshi Devi? had herself mercifully manifested before him and directed him to divest himself of the ring. He removed the ring from his waistband and returned to the temple to give it to the priest, who was astonished to hear of the encounter with the Goddess. He received the ring with pleasure and respect, and once again the Saint descended the hill and continued his journey toward Para- shuramkund. He walked hundreds of miles and passed through many more forests. No one could tell him where Parashuramkund was. Guided by his intuition, he wended his way to the southern tip of Assam, arriving at last at his destination.

Considering his age and physical debility, this solitary journey from Katmandu to Parashuramkund was a remarkable feat of endurance and tenacity of purpose.

  1. “Devi” means simply “Goddess.”



The Saint Undergoes Kaya-Kalpa Treatment and Becomes Young Again

Parashuramkund is a holy site on one of the smaller hills of southern Assam. A pond of clean water on the summit of the hill enhances its charm and serves all the purposes of hermits who choose to stay there to pursue their spiritual austerities undisturbed. It was there that Lord Parashurama is said to have bathed and done tapas in ancient times. Shri Vishnudas reached that hallowed spot after having traveled hundreds of miles. He bathed in the holy water of the pond and then promptly sat down on a rock and began his tapas. The overhanging branches of a mighty tree served as protection and shelter. He sat there in samadhi for many days, only noticing the hut on the summit of an adjacent hill when he eventually went in search of food.

Being famished, he climbed the hill with much difficulty and entered the hut. There he found an old mahatma sitting at his ease. He greeted the mahatma courteously and was welcomed with great cordiality and invited to sit ona deerskin. After the Saint had recovered his breath, the mahatma inquired, “Paramahamsaji,* may I know where you have come from? I have been doing tapas here for a long time, and I have never come across another saint like yourself. I bathe in the pond on the adjacent hill and spend the rest of my time in this hut. It seems you are not native to this place.”

Pleased to find such a courteous and communicative mahatma, the Saint replied, “Mahatmaji, I am a Punjabi sadhu. My Guru lives near Hardwar and has given me the name Vishnudas. I have come here to

  1. Parashurama (“Rama with the axe”) is the sixth Incarnation of Vishnu, who descended ae Earth in order to reestablish the Law. In the course of restoring the universal Dharma to mankind, he is said to have exterminated the entire warrior (kshatriya) estate.

  2. A paramahahamsa (“supreme swan”) is the traditional appellation for a freely wandering renouncer, whose mind is steeped in the contemplation of God alone.


spend my last few days and to cast off my body when I am so inclined. I know some yogic methods by which to do so and may cast off my body shortly. You can see that it has become very old and infirm, and my eyesight, too, is extremely poor.”

After a moment of thought, the mahatma of Parashuramkund replied, “Paramahamsaji, I wish to serve you. I see that your body is worn out. However, I know the art of kaya-kalpa and can rejuvenate your physical form, so that you will regain strength and vitality. I will prepare the medicine, and you need only take it according to my instructions. Another mahatma taught this secret to me, and I find you to be eminently suited to make use of the treatment.”

The Saint was astonished at this proposal and replied, “Mahatmaji, I have no personal desire to be rejuvenated, but if it is the will of Ishvara that you use my body for trying out your medicine, you may do whatever you please with it. I place my wizened body at your disposal. Do with it as you deem fit.”

Delighted with this response, the mahatma said, “Paramahamsaji, I will build a hut for you nearby and prepare a bed of straw. All you have to do is lie peacefully on your bed of straw for three months and allow me to administer the medicine and the milk that you must take with it. It will work its wonders. You will experience a miracle.”

The two lived quietly in the hut for some days while the mahatma made all the preparations for the treatment. He examined the Saint’s pulse a number of times and taught him how to diagnose disease in this manner. When all was in readiness, the Saint went to his new bed of straw and lay down without the least concern for the results of the treatment.

Readers will be better able to appreciate and understand the benefits of the kalpa treatment if I give a full description of the bodily condition of the Saint as he lay down in his hut. He was nearly one hundred years old. He was unable to tell us how many years had actually passed since he had left Patiala, because he had spent so many of them in samadhi. However, he estimated that forty years had elapsed since he had first reached Hardwar. In addition to the usual deterioration of the body due to old age, his hard austerities had contributed to its decay and debility. Ex- posure to the cold winds of the Himalayas and the hardships of long and continuous journeys on foot without food and rest had also reduced his vitality. All his teeth had fallen out, he was partially deaf, and his eyesight was dim—in fact, he had not been able to see the stars distinctly for many years. His tall body was bent at the waist, and he leaned forward when he


stood or walked. Even with the support of his walking stick, his legs tottered now and then. His skin was wrinkled, hard, and weather-beaten. It is a wonder that he managed to reach Parashuramkund, a feat that attests to his uncommon strength of will.

The mahatma, who had so lovingly made all the necessary arrange- ments, frequently expressed his pleasure at this opportunity to serve a Paramahamsa. On the morning of the first day, he went to the Saint’s hut with the medicine and a big cup of milk. “Paramahamsaji, I will start giving you the medicine today. I will be taking notes each day about your progress, which you may read when the treatment is complete. Do I have your permission to begin?”

The Saint smiled and said, “‘You may do as you please,” and took his first dose of medicine and warm milk.

The mahatma left, saying, “Jai Sita Ram.”?

The Saint rested or slept for the first five days, taking his medicine each morning. He answered the calls of nature with a crude commode that the mahatma himself emptied and cleaned each day. On the sixth day, however, he began to fall into a state of semi-consciousness, which he himself reported to the mahatma. His companion assured him that the medicine had begun to take effect and that a state of unconsciousness would ensue and last for some days. The Saint smiled and took his medicine and by evening was completely unconscious. In the meantime the doctor-mahatma continued to visit him, administer medicine, and record his vital signs. In this way, he cared for the Saint with respect, love, and devotion. When the Saint at last opened his eyes on the twenty- second morning, an amazing change had taken place. He immediately noticed that his vision was improved. Then he found that new teeth were growing in his gums. In addition, his limbs had become supple and his hair had turned dark again.

When the mahatma entered the hut with “Jai Sita Ram” on his lips and found the Saint conscious and cheerful, he beamed with happiness that his first administering of the treatment had met with such remarkable success. “Paramahamsaji,” he exclaimed, “I am so happy to see these new signs of vitality in your body. I will continue the treatment for the full ninety days, at the end of which your body will have acquired the strength and vitality of your youth,”

  1. This Hindi greeting means “Victory to Sita and Rama,” Sita being the Spouse of God Rama.


The Saint, who was accustomed to long periods of peaceful inactivity, replied that he would remain there until he was asked to get up.

On the morning of the ninety-first day the mahatma came into the hut shouting “Jai Sita Ram” and, beaming at the Saint, said, “Para- mahamsaji, you may get up now and bathe in Parashuramkund, The treatment is a typical success.”

While the mahatma praised him as a wonderful saint, the patient got up from his bed with the ease of a man of twenty. He stood erect. His limbs and muscles were so supple that he could jump and skip. His vision was strong and his new teeth had grown to their normal size. His skin was bright and rosy and his hair was black. His voice, which had been feeble, was as strong as when he was twenty.

Altogether, there was no trace of infirmity in his one-hundred-year- old body. With a happy smile, the mahatma, who now appeared old and frail by comparison, urged him to run to the pond and bathe. The Saint did so, descending the hill with an agility that amazed him. On his return, the mahatma gave him hot milk to drink, and they exchanged many warm words of mutual regard.

For some weeks, the two mahatmas lived quietly in their huts, while the Saint grew stronger and stronger. His host read his notes to him and explained the theory and practice of kaya-kalpa. The Saint, whose memory was prodigious, learned everything he was taught, and in this way the art of kaya-kalpa was passed on. The two often rambled in the hills, where the mahatma pointed out the various herbs he had used to prepare the medicines, as well as many others used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine.

After passing many days in this happy company, the Saint said, “You know that I was ready to cast off my infirm body by yogic methods, because my old body was no longer serviceable for doing tapas. As a result of your service to me, however, this body has become so strong that I am now inclined to spend the rest of my days performing tapas. Please permit me to depart.”

His friend replied, “Paramahamsaji, of course you can go, but before you do, give me the guru-dakshina” that is due me in the form of a kaya-kalpa treatment. After you perform this duty, you and I will

  1. The guru-dakshina is an honorarium given to one’s teacher for his instruction. It is an expression of the traditional Hindu ideal of mutual sacrifice as the basis for all social relationships.


perform tapas together. I wish to follow your example and spend the rest of my days performing tapas.”

This request gave great pleasure to the Saint, and together they set about to collect the herbs and prepare the medicine. The Saint performed the functions of both physician and nurse, just as the mahatma had done, and the three-month treatment yielded the same miraculous results that it had in the Saint’s case.

By now, the rainy season had begun, and they lived quietly for another six months in their respective huts, enjoying each other’s society whenever they were so inclined. More than a year had elapsed since the Saint had first set foot in Parashuramkund, old and infirm and ready to discard the body. No one would have recognized the stalwart sadhu with the shining black hair who now set out with his companion to see the ocean at Rangoon, more than a thousand miles away.



Along the Banks of the Irawaddy River

Never having seen the ocean, the Saint desired to walk along the Irawaddy River, across the peninsula of Burma to the city of Rangoon, where the river merges with the salt waters of the ocean. Accordingly, he went to apprise his friend the mahatma, who said, “Paramahamsaji, the trip you wish to undertake is formidable indeed. You will have to cover more than a thousand miles! Your body is sufficiently strong for such a journey, and so is mine as a result of your service. May I go with you?”

The Saint was delighted with this proposal and replied, “Come, let us together enjoy the charms of the mighty river and the ocean.” They picked up their water pots and set out.

During the kalpa treatment the mahatma had been presented with a cow anda calf. He led the animals for a few miles before giving them to a fortunate peasant who passed them on the road, saying, “My son, I give you this cow and calf. They have served me well; now they are yours. Take care of them, and they will add to your prosperity.”

The peasant prostrated to the venerable donor and drove the animals to his village.

The sages quickened their pace now and crossed the valley of Dahl-Dahl. Climbing the first mountain that fell in their path, they beheld the broad expanse of the majestic Irawaddy below. The sparkling water, reflecting the blazing sun, appeared to bea stream of molten silver. They descended quickly and followed the river leisurely, resting here and there, until they reached Mandalay, where they halted for some days. As the language of the inhabitants was different from Hindi, they could speak to no one, and had to resort to gestures to communicate their needs. The natives of that town were all Buddhists who stared with dismay at the unfamiliar sight of two Hindu monks clad only in loincloths, with matted hair and beards flowing over their bare chests.


The mahatma, who had never stirred from his solitary hut, exclaimed, “Paramahamsaji, these Buddhists are inhospitable. They treat us as if we were strange human beings. Burma is not the place for me, so let us go back to our own country. There is nothing worth seeing here. My mood is to return to Parashuramkund.”

“Mahatmaji,” the Saint smilingly replied, “what you say is true. You should go back and live in your hut, while I continue my journey to the ocean. I will return and seek your darshan again.”

The mahatma was glad to retrace his footsteps, and so he bade good-bye to the Saint whose company had long been a source of joy to him. The two holy men were not destined to see each other again. The wonderful Saint had a poet’s enthusiasm for the ocean, the infinite majesty of which he was determined to see. The inhospitable residents of Mandalay did not discourage him, as he was indifferent to notions of duality.

For two days, the Saint walked along the western bank of the river enjoying the ever-new charms of the scenery. He met no human being until the end of the second day when he spied a dwelling by the river. He walked toward it and found a Buddhist monk sitting alone.

If the monk had had much imagination, he might have recognized the Buddha himself in the person of the tall Indian Saint who stood, smiling, at the door. Not knowing a word of Burmese, the Saint gestured that he was hungry, and the monk, either softened by the Saint’s need or inspired by his saintly presence, beckoned him to enter and made gestures that he should make himself at home. The Saint rested and the monk left to prepare food, returning much later with rice, dahl, and vegetables. The Saint spent the interval in repose of body and mind. He was, in the language of the Bhagavad-Gita, a sthita-prajna.1 His inward peace could not be shaken by either the respect or disrespect of others, nor did he take any notice of the defects of others. The qualities of egolessness had become natural to him. Having eaten, the Saint slept till morning, when the monk again entered the room, accompanied by an elderly Buddhist woman.

The lady, who appeared to be a person of authority, stood and watched the Saint for some time, and then exchanged a few words with the monk. Having scrutinized the Saint, the lady appeared to have

  1. A sthita-prajna is literally “one who is settled in wisdom.” “When one forsakes all desires that enter the mind, o son of Pritha, and is oneself content in the Self alone, he one is called settled in wisdom” (Bhagavad-Gita II.55).


determined that he deserved her veneration, and she spread a mattress for him to sit upon. Then she and the monk made gestures of begging the Saint to stay in the hermitage as their guest for some days. He was pleased with their manners, and gladly consented to remain. At noon they returned with food and stood at a respectful distance while the Saint ate in silence. They had become his devotees. When the Saint was finished, the monk brought other monks in to obtain his darshan. None of them had ever seen a Hinduascetic with matted hair and flowing beard, naked but for a loincloth. They sat silently round him and were filled with amazement at his awe-inspiring stature and beaming countenance. Now and then, one of the monks would puta question to the Saint in Burmese. Unable to respond in kind, the Saint responded in Hindi, which seemed to satisfy the monks. All were awed when they saw the Saint rooted to the same spot in the room for days on end and were satisfied that their guest was a genuine mahatma.

From the fourth day, the old lady and the monk began to serve the Saint with more than usual enthusiasm, feeding him delicious meals. As the lady became more familiar with him, she began to teach him Burmese, picking up various articles in the room and saying their names. The Saint would laugh and repeat the words and give their equivalents in Hindi. Whenever the young monk and the lady entered the Saint’s room they would play this game, and the Saint applied himself to learning with great seriousness. After some days, he gave a recitation for them of all he had learned, reeling off hundreds of Burmese words. They were all aston- ished by his memory and always amused by the occasions of learning new vocabulary, when the Saint would laugh with them like a child.

At one point the old lady ventured to ask the Saint how old he was.

His lustrous eyes and radiant face attested to his youth, but the few white streaks of his otherwise black hair indicated his true age. Rather than replying directly, the Saint asked the lady how old she was, and she replied that she was seventy. Then he asked the monk, who replied that he was thirty. The Saint then told them that his age was seventy plus thirty. All the monks assembled there were astonished to hear that their robust guest was one hundred years old.

Now, whenever the Saint would express the desire to continue his journey, they would earnestly entreat him to stay some days more. The hermitage appeared to be well enough stocked that they could afford to detain and feed the Saint, even lavishly, without risking the embarrass- ment of running out of food. Thus, the Saint spent a month in the


Buddhist hermitage. At last, however, he decided to resume his

southward journey and bade farewell to the old lady and the monk who had served him with uncommon devotion.



The Saint Meets a Sadhu Who Can Transform Himself into a Tiger

The Saint left the hermitage in Man- dalay and continued his journey along the western bank of the Irawaddy. For many days he plodded through uninhabited forests and valleys, the tiver to one side and varying hills rising on the other, when at last he spied a hermitage at the foot of a hill. Tired and hungry, he decided to stop there for a few days. Upon entering it, he noticed that it was quite similar to the monastery in Mandalay.

The head monk was a man of liberal views and expressed no distaste at the entrance of a half-naked Hindu ascetic. The Saint begged for food and shelter in the Burmese that he had learned in Mandalay, and was welcomed respectfully into the hermitage and invited to consider it his own. The Saint and the monk conversed and the monk was delighted to learn that his guest had learned Burmese at the monastery in Mandalay from the old lady and the young monk. Then he said, “Mahatmaji, I live alone here, cook my own food, and spend my time in prayer according to my religion. I welcome you. Please take rest here. Now allow me to prepare some food for us so that we can dine together.”

The Saint lay down to rest, but soon seated himself in the lotus posture to meditate and was quickly lost in samadhi. Two or three hours later the monk returned with rice, dahl, and vegetables, and was surprised when the Saint did not become aware of his presence. He waited for some time, filled with veneration, for he had never seen anyone in samadhi. When the Saint at last opened his eyes the monk said, “Mahatmaji, please prepare to dine. I will serve you here.”

The monk’s manners and humility revealed that he was imbued with feelings of true hospitality. His guest ate leisurely and remarked that the food was very good. The monk was glad at this opportunity to serve and feed such a great sage, who sat before him like Lord Buddha, with the same benign eyes and pleasing smile. He said, “O Saint, please stay here


for a month and take rest. I will be happy if you can comply with my ptayer.”

Pleased with his host, the Saint replied that he would remain for some days. When the Saint had finished his meal, the monk went to the kitchen and dined alone. When darkness set in, he brought an oil lamp and a soft mattress and again found the Saint sitting in meditation like a living Buddha. The next morning, the Saint bathed in the river and then allowed the wind and sun to dry his matted hair. The monk observed that his venerable guest was indifferent to heat and cold and was an embodiment of bliss. He was filled with joy to behold the Saint basking his tall, majestic body in the sun. After a time, the Saint picked up his water pot and returned to the hermitage to sit in meditation. At noon, the monk served him a meal, and at about sunset the Saint walked about in the courtyard to relax his limbs. In this way, the Saint lived quietly with the monk for some days until a curious incident took place that prompted the Saint’s departure.

It was evening, and the Saint and his companion were walking in the courtyard when a crowd, carrying baskets and shouting, was seen moving up and down the hillside. The Saint asked what they were doing and the monk replied, “There is a sadhu living in a cave on the top of that hill who has the power to transform himself into a tiger. Whenever he is hungry he roams in his tiger form and kills human beings and animals. But if he finds food, he will retire to his cave. Those people are leaving rice and sweetmeats for him so that he will not kill human beings.” The Saint was reminded of the story of Bakasura in the first section of the Mahabharata, in which the brave Bhima kills the cannibal Bakasura, thus rescuing the inhabitants of the town of Ekalavya from the terrible fear they had helplessly endured.

Without saying a word, the Saint picked up his water pot and walked away toward the hill, approaching the crowd. The monk followed to see what he would do. Questioning the peasants, the Saint was told that one of the villagers had seen the terrible sadhu roaming the hills and that they were afraid that at any time he might take his tiger form and kill the cowherds. The Saint then asked how long they had been placating the sadhu with baskets of food. One of them responded, “Mahatmaji, this sadhu has been living on this hill for many years. After he killed some of the villagers we became alarmed and adopted this method of saving our lives. We have been doing this for many years.”

The Saint addressed the group, saying, “You need not be afraid of


this sadhu any longer. I am going up the hill to see that he does no more harm.”

At this, the monk and the villagers were stricken with concern and cried out, “Mahatmaji, don’t go up the hill. The sadhu will kill you!” They added strength to their entreaty with piteous exclamations, but the Saint only smiled and continued to climb the hill. No one followed him. Instead, the villagers turned around and fled in fear.

It was almost dark. The Saint quickened his footsteps and arrived where the baskets of rice and sweetmeats had been left. He sat down quietly close by and began to wait. Total darkness soon enveloped him. Several hours elapsed, but no sound indicated the movements of eithera tiger or a human being. The solemn silence was not disturbed by as much as the droning flight of a beetle or the screech of a moping owl. For a time, the twinkling stars faintly lit the boulders, but when clouds shrouded the hill, total darkness invaded the Saint’s vigil. He sat alert and unperturbed.

At last, his patience was rewarded. A majestic tiger walked slowly toward the rock where the food had been placed. Then a miracle occurred. Mysteriously and suddenly, the ferocious animal became a human being. Now the Saint beheld a naked human figure with matted hair and beard. The Saint shouted and said, “Who are you?”

The sadhu looked up startled and stared at him for a moment. Then, with a smile, he approached and sat down near the Saint. He did not answer the question, but said instead, “Mahatmaji, can you give me some ganja?”1

The Saint happened to have a little clay pipe and some ganja which had been given to him on his travels. It lay in his water pot where the sadhu could see it. They smoked together. The Saint then told him how afraid the villagers were of him and asked if he had killed any human beings. The sadhu replied, “Mahatmaji, I am a Hindu samnyasi2 like yourself. I have not killed any human beings. I live in a cave on this hill and spend my time there doing tapas. I have the power of assuming the form of a tiger, and when I feel hungry, I take that form and kill wild animals. Sometimes, for relaxation, I roam around the hills. The villagers, however, are afraid of me, and supply my food in the way you have observed.”

1, Ganja is the female flowering tops of Indian hemp.

  1. A samnyasi is a renouncer, one who has assumed the discipline of renunciation (samnyasa) or nonattachment toward all things.


The Saint was satisfied with the sadhu’s explanation and thus had no need to do what Bhima had done to Bakasura. They continued to sit and talk, and at the request of the sadhu the Saint gave a brief account of his life of austerities. The Saint also asked the sadhu if he knew the route to Rangoon, which he did, and the Saint was given all the details. When the morning light dawned they bade farewell to one another, the sadhu carrying his bag of rice and sweets back to his cave.

When the Saint narrated this extraordinary story to me, I remarked that most people would simply not believe it. “Murthy,” he retorted, “I have told you what I have seen with my own eyes, and I tell you that such siddhis* can be acquired through certain kinds of practices. My own store of siddhis is full of such capabilities, and I can transfer them to you if I so desire. But I know that siddhis belong to the domain of maya, and he who possesses them is not elevated spiritually. It is better for you not to have such siddhis at all. The proper aspiration of a wise man is to realize the Atman or Self. Remember the words of Lord Krishna in the Gita. He extols the superiority of self-knowledge. Is it not so?” Then the Saint quoted this verse from the Bhagavad-Gita (IV.38): “Nothing here (on Earth) purifies like Wisdom. He who is perfected in yoga discovers That within himself in time.’ Then he said to me, “Look here, Murthy, Wisdom is the real thing and everything else is unreal. Wisdom alone is the real thing.”

As soon as the sadhu returned to his cave, the Saint resumed his southward journey, soon arriving at the Irawaddy and following its meandering course. After walking many miles he came to an area where rows of margosa trees* were seen growing almost endlessly. Having traversed a shady avenue of margosas, he spied a hermitage, a short distance beyond which was the town of Tatmow. As he approached the hermitage he passed a monk, whom he asked for food and shelter. The monk, captivated by the awe-inspiring stature and countenance of the Saint, welcomed him and provided a suitable room for his stay. At dinner time he was served a sumptuous meal. The Saint explained to his host that his route led him to Puram and then to Rangoon. His familiarity with Burmese amazed the large number of young monks who lived there, and, at their request, he stayed as their guest for some days.

  1. The Sanskrit word “siddhi” means “power,” referring here to the magical abilities acquired through sadhana or spiritual discipline.

4, The margosa tree is a species of the genus Melia, which yields nim oil.


It was a long way to Puram, which was, moreover, on the eastern side of the river. After walking two or three days he had to cross the river by boat. There were dozens of fishermen there, each witha ferryboat. They crowded around the tall, half-naked Saint out of curiosity and talked about him in appreciative terms, thinking he could not understand them. When he asked in Burmese if they could ferry him across the river to Puram, they all shouted, “Come and sit in my ferry. You need not pay me any fare! Do not neglect me!”

The Saint selected a boat at random, and that fortunate fisherman and his assistants plied their oars with all their might. They asked him where he had come from, but they had never heard of, nor could they make out the meaning of, “Himalayas.” It was a long, rough ride over the swift, wide Irawaddy. When the Saint was safely landed on the opposite bank, he blessed them all and set out towards Puram.

Preferring not to go into the town, the Saint found a cave on a hill and slept there till morning. When he emerged the next morning, he found two boys grazing sheep and asked them if they would get him some food. The two astonished boys had never seen such an awe-inspiring saint and ran to their homes to fetch rice for him. Shri Vishnudas rested in the cave one more day. At about midnight a very curious thing happened. He was seated quietly when two tigers appeared at the entrance of the cave. The tigers appeared to observe him carefully and then walked slowly towards him, their eyes glowing red. The Saint gazed at them calmly, and then the tigers prostrated to him by bending their front legs as though they had been trained to do so. Rising, they stood silently before him for a time and then ran away.

The Saint was astonished at this uncommon exhibition of tameness and devotion. After the sun rose, the boys who had fed him on the previous day came to serve him of their own accord, and he told them about the tigers’ unusual behavior. The boys replied that they had often seen these tigers in the area, and that they had been the pets of a sadhu who had occupied this same cave and had taught them to prostrate. The boys then led the Saint up the hill to another cave with a bigger entrance. Two signs were attached to the entrance, one saying “To Rangoon” and the other warning of a large python within that travelers should guard against. The boys added that the cave did become a long tunnel that led to Rangoon, but that they had never ventured inside and they advised him not to enter it. Rather, they said, he should enter the town of Puram and proceed to Rangoon from there. Accordingly, the Saint descended the


hill into Puram.

Puram was a large town. The Saint walked along its main streets until he found a secluded monastery, where he begged for food and shelter. The monks welcomed him warmly and gave hima spacious room for his stay. The Saint spent most of his time in silent meditation, and the monks would all sit around him, watching his blissful countenance. When he returned to the waking state he talked to them ina gracious and friendly manner in his newly-acquired language. After some days, he told them that he must leave for Rangoon, but they begged him to prolong his stay, which he did. When again he tried to leave he was once more prevailed upon to remain, and in this way he lived with the monks for over a month. During this period, large numbers of Buddhists came to the monastery and obtained his darshan and blessings. A mahatma does not require the spoken word to guide or help those who come to him. His gracious glance or nod or actions constitute instruction. A saint’s gaze may inspire true intuition in the mind of an attentive disciple, as it appeared to do in the case of the Buddhist monks of Puram.

Whatever begins must end. The Saint’s long stay finally came to an abrupt end when he decided to resume his journey. He bade farewell to the earnest monks and, picking up his water pot, walked out of the monastery and back to the eastern bank of the Irawaddy where he walked for three months. He crossed hundreds of hills and valleys and forded dozens of streams, all the while enjoying the forest and the ever-changing moods of the river as would a poet. The river was his constant companion, at times rushing forward headlong, at other times gliding gently, at times looking like a stagnant, shining pool. The Saint, however, had but one mood, that of enduring peace, and he walked leisurely, stopping wherever he pleased.

After more thana hundred days of solitary travel, the Saint reached Rangoon, built upon one of the deltas formed by the mingling of the Irawaddy with the Indian Ocean. The distance from Mandalay to Rangoon is three hundred miles, but the Saint walked several times that distance following the zigzag path of the river.

At last, he beheld the glory of the dark blue waves of the ocean. He stood on the sandy beach and surveyed the horizon while the waves roared and thundered around him. He had never seen either the ocean or aship, and now he saw bothat once, for the British had conquered Burma some years previous and their warships and cargo boats were anchored

here and there on the broad expanse of the sea. The ships appeared to him


like floating islands, and the sight filled him with wonder. Some were just entering Rangoon and others were leaving, blowing foghorns and belching their clouds of smoke. It was an altogether unfamiliar scene.

He bathed and sat on the sand until nightfall, and then he saw another astonishing scene. The lamps of the ships began to dazzle his eyes with brilliant light. Parallel beams of light shone from the lamps, illuminating not only the dark waters of the ocean but the hundreds of smaller vessels floating along the coastline. The Saint admired the spectacle.

Having spenta good deal of time on the beach, the Saint entered the town. Rangoon was nota large city in those days. The houses were made of wood, and most were thatched huts. The residents had never seen a half-naked Hindu saint with a begging bowl in hand, and they stared at him as he walked slowly by. When asked where the monastery was in their own tongue, however, they became courteous and served him by taking him there. The presiding monk received him cordially and accommodated him ina hut that became the Saint’s residence during his stay in Rangoon. He lived quietly there, resting after his strenuous journey.

The monastery at Rangoon was a large institution where hundreds of monks resided and practiced their religious exercises. All were captivated by his saintly charm and became his admirers, as in all the other monasteries where he had stayed. Many residents of Rangoon obtained his darshan, and his fame as a great Hindu samnyasi spread rapidly. His beaming smile and gentle talk contributed to the removal of the strong prejudice of the Buddhists against wandering Hindu monks, particularly those who were content with only a loincloth. The Saint was an inspiring hermit and the embodiment of renunciation, and thus the Burmese became his admirers and devotees.



The Saint Begins His Return Journey to India after Seven Years of Tapas in a Cave

Having enjoyed the hospitality of the Burmese monks and nuns, Shri Vishnudas began his return trip by a different route that they recommended. After several days he rested ina cave and was amazed to see a nearby orange grove in which every tree was laden with oversized fruit. Burmese working in the garden told him that a great adept lived in the grove and that this accounted for the abnormal fertility of the trees. The Saint tried to contact this mysterious sadhu but could not do so.

Some days after he left the cave the Saint lost his way in a maze of thickets where a man-eating tiger lived. The tiger was following the Saint when a boy and his little sister, watching from a nearby hut, cried out in warning, “Mahatmaji! Run to our hut and save your life!”

The Saint entered the hut and the children fastened the door behind him, then pulled their guest to the window and showed him the tiger prowling nearby. The children shotat the tiger through the window with bows and arrows, and the beast ran away.

After their agitation had subsided, the children began to examine the Saint’s long beard and matted hair and asked him many innocent questions. In due time, their mother and father returned home, surprised to see their children conversing with a half-naked sadhu. They were happy to hear that the children had been instrumental in saving his life. They begged him to stay with them and because their devotion was great, the Saint complied with their request. He stayed with them for eight days and was worshipped like a God for the first time in his life. The peasants thought he was the Buddha come back to life, and worshipped him with

flowers and incense and waved burning camphor before him. They praised him in Burmese song and fed him delicious dishes. Their hut


became a hermitage, and the Saint was delighted to see so much devotion in their untutored hearts.

When the Saint left he walked along a stream until he came to the outskirts of a village where the residents were experiencing difficulties with another tiger-sadhu. There an agitated crowd told him that a sadhu was living in a cave on a nearby hill and was killing people after transforming himself into a tiger. The Saint told them that he would go up and drive the sadhu away if he were indeed doing these things. Accordingly he climbed the hill and, discovering the cave, sat in it to wait. Night fell, and the Saint still waited with closed eyes. Suddenly, the cave was illumined with dazzling light. Opening his eyes, he saw a naked sadhu standing a few paces away, his eyes burning like electric torches. The bearded and naked sadhu exclaimed, “You are a Punjabi sadhu and have come here from such a long distance. No one has ever ventured to my cave before. You are welcome.”

The sadhu spread a tiger skin for the Saint, and they ate plantains1 together and then smoked tobacco. Now the Saint told his host what the villagers had said. The sadhu laughed. “Mahatmaji, what they told you is not true. I don’t kill people. 1am a Hindu sadhu like yourself and have wandered all over India, finally settling in this cave. The Burmese do not like naked sadhus and I am always naked, so to keep them away I sometimes transform myself into a tiger. I spend long periods of time in samadhi.”

The Saint was pleased with the sadhu and spent several days as an honored guest, while he and his host each sat in a corner absorbed in samadhi.

Taking leave of the sadhu, the Saint resumed his journey toward Mandalay, and once back on the banks of the Irawaddy he began to look for a suitable cave in which to meditate. While searching, he discovered the most remarkable cave he had ever seen. It consisted in all of twenty- one chambers, each leading to the next. When he entered the innermost cave, he saw a mahatma sitting in samadhi state with a rosary in his hand anda hairy bear-skull over his head to keep away wild animals. He was no longer counting his beads because he was in a deep trance. The Saint sat by him for a while, but as there seemed to be little probability of his regaining the waking state, the Saint left and resumed the search for a cave of his own.

  1. A type of banana.


In the course of this search, Shri Vishnudas climbed a hill and found two huts, one of which was unoccupied. He settled into it, intending to spend some years there. After several days he happened to see a tall mahatma emerge from the other hut, and thus came into contact with another Indian saint, Jagannath Das, who had migrated to Burma from Orissa in order to perform austerities. Jagannath Das showed the Saint a beautiful pond nearby where they bathed together. They became friends.

At some point Jagannath Das showed two extraordinary pills to the Saint. The virtue of one was that ifa person held it in his mouth he could fly like a bird for short distances. The Saint tried this pill and found that he could indeed lift himself up by flapping his arms like wings. The virtue of the other pill was that it allowed a person to fly for thousands of miles to distant lands, but the Saint had no occasion to try it.

Shri Vishnudas asked his friend to show him a cave where he might spend seven years in samadhi and was taken to a cave onan adjacent hill. The Saint did indeed spend seven years there, sitting most of the time in samadhi. During this period, he ate a very small quantity of food every four or five days, provided by a Burmese peasant. At some point, a cheetah began to occupy the cave with him, without, however, disturbing his meditation. Whenever he went out to bathe, the cheetah would follow like a dog, sometimes carrying his water pot between its teeth, and depositing it gently without spilling the water. At the end of the seven- year period the Saint discovered that it was Jagannath Das who had transformed himself into a cheetah and served in this way.

Now he resumed his journey to Mandalay, intending to go back to Parashuramkund as soon as possible.



The British Police Arrest Shri Vishnudas and Lord Krishna Liberates Him from Jail

Shri Vishnudas reached Mandalay after performing tapas for seven years in Burma, but he had no desire to stop there for he was determined to get to Parashuramkund as quickly as possible. Destiny, however, put a brake on his free movement. The British had recently conquered Burma and were concerned about internal rebellion. They suspected that the Saint might be a spy or rebel disguised as an ascetic, and so they arrested and confined him, demanding that he furnish proof of his innocence. Knowing no one in Mandalay, the Saint was unable to do so and was detained in jail for ten days. He remained there without anxiety or resentment, since a forest cave and a jail cell were the same to him. On the morning of the tenth day, Lord Krishna appeared to him and said, “Mahatmaji, you will be released during the course of the day. You must go to Vraja Bhumi1 and settle there.”

The Saint replied that he would start as soon as he was set at liberty, and Lord Krishna vanished.

Shortly, Lord Krishna appeared in the guise of a well-known Burmese nobleman, announcing to the jailer that he had come to vouch for Shri Vishnudas and offer bond for him. The officer promptly sent for the Saint, who saw a Burmese nobleman on whom he had never before laid eyes. The nobleman was asked if he knew the Saint. He replied that both he and his father had known the mahatma for along time, and after the bond was signed by the nobleman, the Saint was set free. He set out for Parashuramkund with his heart full of gratitude to Lord Krishna.

The Saint traveled along the Irawaddy and after many days of exertion reached the hill on which he expected to find the mahatma of

  1. “Vraja Bhumi” refers to the region of Mathura, where in ancient days the Adept Krishna spent his youth.


Parashuramkund. But both huts were empty and dilapidated, and no one was able to tell him where the mahatma had gone. He lived in his old hut for several days and rested, During that time he had an extraordinary dream in which he saw Guru Nanak. The great saint did not speak but cut two locks of hair from Shri Vishnudas’s head. With that, the dream ended. The Saint sat up and examined his head, finding that the two locks of hair were indeed missing. He concluded that Guru Nanak had adopted him as a disciple and from that moment the Saint considered him as his Guru. His heart was full of joy and gratitude as he left the hut and resumed his journey.



Shri Vishnudas Obtains the Darshan of Lord Yama

The Saint now began his long journey to Vraja Bhumi, and, as was his habit, chose to walk along the banks of a river, in this case the Brahmaputra. Arriving at a cave that pleased him, he decided to stop there and perform tapas for two years. He used to tell us that the only necessary preparation for tapas was to choose an agreeable spot. After spending fifteen months there, a young man, who referred to himself simply as Brahmacari,1 began to serve him and practice austerities according to the Saint’s instructions. After the two-year period ended, the Saint and Brahmacari continued to occupy the cave.

One morning an extraordinary thing happened. The Saint was reclining in his corner of the cave conversing with Brahmacari, who sat close by. They had been talking for a few minutes when the Saint fell silent and closed his eyes. He was suddenly absorbed in a celestial vision in which a chariot descended from the skies and stood near him. Two angels alighted, shedding light from their bodies. “Mahatmaji,” they said, “Lord Yama has sent us to take you into his presence in Heaven. Be seated in our chariot and accompany us.”

He obeyed them and the chariot ascended, stopping near a beautiful building in Yama’s realm where the Saint was asked to alight. The angels took him to Lord Yama and said, “Mahatmaji, here is Yama to welcome you.

Lord Yama smiled at the Saint and said, “Mahatmaji, why have you come here?”

Shri Vishnudas explained what had happened and Lord Yama scowled at the angels and said, “You have made a mistake. This is not the mahatma whom I asked you to fetch.” As this was going on the Saint saw fierce-looking angels fetch sinners from Earth and stand them before

  1. Rather than a personal name, the Sanskrit word “brahmacari” is the traditional description for one who observes chastity (brahmacarya).


Lord Yama. He also heard pleasing musical sounds emanating from the regions of heaven. Lord Yama directed the angels to conduct the Saint around, introducing him to the many regions of Heaven. When the Saint was again in the presence of Lord Yama, the great Lord said to him, “Mahatmaji, you have seen the abodes of the virtuous. They return to Earth, however, after their punya? is exhausted. Sinners, who suffer in the hells, also return to Earth when their punishment is over. No one resides here permanently. Now you must return to your cave.”

The angels had him sit in their vehicle, which descended swiftly to Earth slantwise. As the chariot was returning to Earth the Saint saw his body lying in the cave and Brahmacari weeping over it, with a large stack of firewood nearby. When they touched the ground the angels said, “Mahatmaji, go back to your house, which is your physical body, lying there without life in it.”

The Saint alighted and stood near the cave, and almost immediately the angels vanished. At that point the vision ended, and the Saint opened his eyes and moved his limbs. Brahmacari rushed forward to embrace him, overjoyed. “Maharaj,” he exclaimed, “thow have you been able to come back to life? As soon as you closed your eyes, your body slumped. You were cold and your pulse had stopped. I wept like a child and began to collect wood for a funeral pyre. As I was waiting for some others to come and help me lift your body, you came back to life!”

Brahmacari continued to weep, but for joy, and embraced the Saint over and over again.

Now the Saint told the story of his vision to his disciple, who was stunned to hear of his Master’s experience and relieved that he had not consigned the Saint’s body to flames.

Some days later, another interesting event took place. The Saint conceived a desire to acquire facility in the navakantha-siddhi. 3 When he mentioned this to Brahmacari, the young man said that a sadhu named Paramananda” knew it and explained where Paramananda’s hermitage was located. Leaving Brahmacari in their cave to continue his tapas, the Saint set out.

  1. The Sanskrit term “punya” means “merit” and denotes the stock of good karma acquired by a person through his positive volitions and deeds.

  2. An obscure yogic capacity, the term “navakantha-siddhi” means literally “nine-throated power.”

  3. The name “Paramananda” means literally “the Supremely Blissful.”


When the Saint arrived at the hermitage he did not disclose his identity to Paramananda, but merely saluted him respectfully. His host treated him with indifference, thinking him an ordinary sadhu. Para- mananda was an old man of about seventy, and though the Saint was much older he appeared younger. Shri Vishnudas remained in the hermitage for some weeks without revealing his name or the reason for his visit. In the meantime, Brahmacari became anxious about his Master and followed him to the hermitage. Finding him, Brahmacari saluted and asked why he had not yet returned home, to which the Saint replied that he had not yet learned the siddhi from Paramananda. At that point, Paramananda questioned Brahmacari, with whom he was acquainted, and learned that the sadhu seated on the floor was none other than Shri Vishnudas. “What?” Paramananda exclaimed. “He is Shri Vishnudas, whom I have long been desirous of seeing?” And he left his raised platform covered with tiger skin and prostrated to the Saint. “Mahat- maji,” he continued, with tears in his eyes, “please pardon me for treating you with indifference. I have long been desirous of paying my respects to you. You are an ancient sage in comparison to myself. Pardon my sin, which I have committed unknowingly.”

Shri Vishnudas replied, “Mahatmaji, I came to you in order to learn the navakantha-siddhi, and therefore you are my preceptor even though I am older than you. You need not feel sorry for having neglected me, as I was simply waiting for an appropriate moment to disclose the purpose of my visit.”

Humbled, Paramananda venerated Shri Vishnudas with flowers and washed his feet, and, of course, taught him the navakantha-siddhi. He begged the Saint to stay in the hermitage for a few more days and requested him to tell the story of his experiences in Burma. Shri Vishnudas consented. He also related the story of his kaya-kalpa treatment, and Paramananda and his disciples were astonished to hear the wonderful incidents that had taken place during the Saint’s very long life. Some days later the Saint and his disciple took their leave and returned to their cave.



The Saint Performs Rigorous Tapas and Obtains the Darshan of Lord Krishna

Having practiced and attained perfection in the navakantha-siddhi, the Saint set out for Darjeeling, on foot a seven-hundred-mile trip northeast of the forest where he lived presently. He was now about 115 years old. He walked day after day, unmindful of the cold weather, which became more severe as he approached the range of hills near Darjeeling. When he stopped to rest by a stream he conceived a desire to perform tapas for three years standing on only one leg. He chose a spot under a tree from which he could easily reach a branch with which to steady himself. Then, having bathed in the cold river and uttered the sacred syllable “Om,” he began his tapas, entirely naked. With both hands reaching up to the branch of his chosen tree, he steadied his body, then crossed his right leg over his left knee. He resolved to maintain this position for three full years while meditating on Lord Krishna, whom he adored as his sole refuge and whose Grace he sought for the successful completion of his difficult vow. He closed his eyes and became absorbed in Divine contemplation, as firmly rooted to the ground as the trunk of the tree whose branch he held with two uplifted hands.

Several days passed. The news of his fierce tapas spread far and wide and monks and hermits gathered round him, wondering at the severity of his discipline. On the sixteenth day his samadhi ended and he opened his eyes, accepting a cup of milk from one of the aspirants gathered before him. When he had appeased his hunger he closed his eyes once more and again entered samadhi. This routine continued, and each time he regained the waking state he allowed the arm that had held the branch to rest by his side for the next fifteen days, but his left leg continued to be

  1. See Preface, p. 25, n. 4.


rooted to the ground while the right crossed it at the knee. Those fortunate individuals who were present when he opened his eyes would give him milk, which he sipped only to close his eyes again, reentering samadhi.

Thousands of people obtained his darshan during this three-year period, and because they did not know his name they began to refer to him as Tapasvi or Tapasviji, which is how the name Tapasviji Maharaj became associated with the Saint.

At the end of the three-year period a mysterious event took place. The Saint was standing, absorbed in samadhi, when a stranger dressed in the conventional garb of a samnyasi came very close to him, stared at him, and then cried out, “Mahatmaji! This is the Kali Yuga!2 Ugra-tapas3 should not be performed in this age as no purpose is served by doing so.”

The Saint opened his eyes and observed the stranger, but said nothing as he had also taken a vow of silence (mauna). The stranger repeated his words, and receiving no response, caught hold of the right leg of the Saint and forced it to the ground, thereby breaking it and causing the Saint great pain. The Saint cried out, “Sadhu, you have fractured my bone at the knee and I am in much pain.”

The stranger replied, “What? Have I caused you pain? I will cure it at once,” and he massaged the Saint’s leg, healing the break and promptly removing the pain. Then the mysterious sadhu said, “I live in a village close by and if you are so inclined you may come and see me at your convenience,” and he disappeared.

It did not occur to the Saint that the samnyasi was Lord Krishna himself, for the maya-shakti of Lord Krishna envelops the comprehen- sion of all beings, and his words and acts can only be understood when he himself grants the power of true insight. Thus, after the samnyasi had left the Saint ignored his words and crossed his right leg as before, continuing his meditation. He did this for two or three more days, until he had a vision of Lord Krishna in his heart. He saw Krishna’s face and heard the following words: “Mahatmaji, I am Shri Krishna. It was I who appeared before you in the guise of a samnyasi, and it was I who asked you to

  1. According to traditional Hindu chronology, we exist at the very beginning of the Kali Yuga or Dark Age, which will last for a full 432,000 years. Thereafter, anew “Golden” Age of Truth will begin.

  2. The Sanskrit compound “ugra-tapas” means “rigorous penance,” which refers to the kind of austerities much praised in the Mahabharata and the Puranas.


terminate your ugra-tapas. You must discontinue it now and proceed to Vraja Bhumi.”

Now the Saint understood that Lord Krishna had showered his Grace upon him and he ended his tapas at once, saying “Krishna- arpanam aste.”5 He walked slowly away from the hallowed spot where he had seen and spoken to Lord Krishna. He decided to go immediately toward Vraja Bhumi and, picking up his loincloth and water pot, began the journey of a thousand miles.

The Saint decided to conduct his pilgrimage as a khade-tapas and vowed to observe a series of conditions until he reached Mathura, the center of Vraja Bhumi. The conditions were: to be on his feet at all times, to keep his left hand above his head at all times, to remain absorbed in contemplation of Lord Krishna at all times, and to walk leisurely without desire to reach a particular place at a particular time. The Saint performed this penance for twenty-four years before arriving in Mathura. Some of the outstanding events that occurred during that period will be recounted in the next several chapters.

  1. The Sanskrit phrase “Krishna-arpanam aste” means “one keeps surrendering to ee by which the Saint reaffirmed his single-minded devotion to the Divine.

  2. See Preface, p. 26, n. 7.



The Saint Meets Ramakrishna and Obtains the Darshan of Shiva

With his left hand held high and his water pot in his right, Shri Tapasviji traveled to Dacca and from there toward Calcutta. On the way, a Bengali householder conveyed his respects and begged him to accept some food. The Saint stood in the man’s courtyard to eat, but of the boiled rice and fried fish that were offered him, he ate only the rice. Since he had not slept since leaving Darjeeling, he felt sleepy after eating the rice. So, he leaned against a wall and promptly fell asleep. He had a dream in which Shri Krishna appeared and said, “This householder who has fed you worships me every day and offers me fish and rice. Ask him not to offer me fish. He should also not offer fish to saints and sadhus.”

The next morning, the Saint told the householder about the dream and directed him to obey Lord Krishna’s command. Then he resumed his travels. While bathing in the Ganges, the Saint obtained darshan of Goddess Kali, who pointed him to Dakshineswar. When he arrived there, he saw the great saint Ramakrishna’ sitting quietly on the banks of the river. He greeted Shri Ramakrishna, who was by then famous throughout Bengal, and Shri Ramakrishna was pleased to see the tall, majestic figure of the Saint. They had a brief exchange in which Shri Ramakrishna said that Kali, whom he worshipped, was the Mother of the universe. The Saint replied, “Ishvaras maya-shakti manifests in many forms, of which Kali is one.”

The Saint observed that Shri Ramakrishna had a pleasing and tranquil countenance.

After this brief encounter, Shri Vishnudas moved westward along the Ganges, and in a few days passed through the coal-mining area of Raniganj. There, a curious crowd of Englishmen who had never seen a

  1. Shri Ramakrishna (1834-1886) was the teacher of the still more widely known Swami Vivekananda (1862-1902).


naked sadhu surrounded him. When their curiosity was satisfied they allowed him to move on. After several more days, he entered a thick forest that, unbeknownst to him, was infested with man-eating tigers. He had entered the forest in the dark of the night, with his mind absorbed in God, paying no heed to the dangers of travel. Suddenly, he heard the mighty roar of a tiger, and the animal appeared before him. The Saint looked at the tiger with his benign eyes, and the animal stared back. Then a miracle occurred. The noble tiger walked gently toward him and prostrated by bending its forelegs. The Saint, pleased with its refined manners, patted it affectionately, saying, “My son, you may go now. God bless you.” The tiger walked away into the dense jungle.

The Saint moved on without rest for some days more and eventually reached Vaidyanath, where he saw some pilgrims bathing in a pond. After greeting him, they said they were all going to Puri. The Saint resolved to also pilgrimage to Puri in order to obtain the darshan of Lord Jagannath.2 Then, resting against a tree, he slept for a while. While he slept he saw a naked avadhuta3 with long hair and wooden sandals walking toward him on the surface of the pond. He woke up, and to his great surprise the avadhuta of his dream was standing before him, ready to speak. He said, “Mahatmaji, I know you intend to go to Puri, but I ask you to travel to Ajagavinath, which is thirty kos4 from here and there obtain the darshan of Lord Shiva.”

With that the avadhuta vanished. The Saint realized that he had received the darshan of Shiva himself, disguised as an avadhuta. Gratefully, Shri Vishnudas set out for Ajagavinath and obtained darshan of the image of Shiva installed in the temple there, remaining in the temple courtyard to rest for a few days. During his visit several Muslims, who lived in the neighborhood of the temple, asked that the priest not blow the conch during the Shiva worship. The priest brought the matter to the attention of the Saint, who explained to the Muslims that the blowing of the conch was obligatory during Shiva worship and that they should not object to it. When the Muslims beheld the aged Saint, they changed their minds and promised not to complain again. They conveyed their respects and did not disturb the priest during the Saint’s stay.

  1. Jagannath (“Lord of the world”) is a form of Krishna. In contrast to Krishna, however, Jagannath is depicted as extremely ugly. His image in Puri is a crudely carved block of wood.

  2. Anavadhuta (sometimes spelled “avadhoot”) is one who has shaken off the fetters of the world and roams freely in the Bliss of the Absolute.

  3. A kos (Sanskrit: krosha) is approximately 1% miles.



The Saint Meets a Cobra Called Motiram and Gives Spiritual Instruction to a Female Monk

The Saint set out from the Shiva Temple and walked along the foot of the Shringarishi Hills where he saw a wide and lofty cave that attracted him. He found he could stand in it with his left hand raised above his head. So, he entered it and became absorbed in samadhi. While Shri Vishnudas was thus absorbed, a cobra entered the cave and began to climb on his body, coiling itself around his neck and raising its hood above his head. This caused the Saint great discomfort and difficulty with breathing, and, emerging from samadhi, he addressed the cobra as follows: “Why do you disturb me in this manner? If you want to bite me, you may, but do not suffocate me.”

The cobra appeared to understand and disappeared. The Saint continued to do tapas in the cave for many days, and when the cobra tried once more to approach him he held up a blazing ember from the fire, and the reptile turned away.

Some days later, a woman monk who was practicing austerities in another part of the same hill came to the Saint’s cave and obtained his darshan. The Saint told her about his trouble with the cobra, and she explained that a great adept who had since died once occupied this same cave and that the cobra, whom the mahatma had called Motiram, had been his constant companion. She knew the cobra, she said, and it was harmless. It would even come when called, she told him, and she cried out “Motiram!” several times and the cobra appeared and hissed. The lady offered rice and milk to the cobra. It drank the milk and then disappeared.

The woman monk desired to learn brahma-jnana, the knowledge of the Absolute, from the Saint. Finding that she was a worthy disciple, he instructed her in brahma-vidya, the science of the Absolute, and then she


took her leave.

The Saint continued his journey and arrived at Rishikund, where Shringarishi is said to have bathed in ancient times. After many more days he came across a large banyan tree. Standing beneath it, he performed tapas for several weeks, One night, while standing under the tree wide awake, the surroundings were suddenly illuminated by a dazzling light. A beautiful four-armed Goddess with a shining body and wearing a crown on her head stood before him, addressing him thus: “Mahatma, listen to me. Under this tree an image of mine is hidden. In three days it will emerge from the ground of its own accord. When it does, you must take it away and have it installed in a temple, where it should be worshipped.”

Before the Saint could reply, the Goddess disappeared. After three days an idol which resembled the Goddess did indeed appear, and with great respect, the Saint carried it to a hot spring called Sitakund surrounded by four ponds—Ramkund, Lakshmankund, Bharatkund, and Shatrughnakund. The Saint entrusted a brahmin with the idol, repeating the Goddess’’s instructions that it be installed and worshipped ina temple. The brahmin received the idol with respect and promised to carry out the instructions.

Continuing on his way, the Saint selected a spot on a hillock and stood there performing tapas for several days. There he met a sadhu who told him that a 135-year-old mahatma who had a second face on the back of his head was doing tapas on Narayanaganga Hill and that the Saint should definitely see him. The Saint agreed to do so and went on, stopping for a few days to do tapas at a temple where an image of Shringarishi was being worshipped. Afterward, he entered a deep forest, which was dense and dark. He entered samadhi under a tree, and several days later a remarkable thing happened. He was brought back to the waking state by the deafening roar of animals and upon opening his eyes saw a sight he had never seen before. Tigers, leopards, bears, boars, wolves, and foxes had all surrounded him in packs and were roaring and shrieking at him. He had seen wild animals before, but never such an assembly as this. The creatures kept their distance, but they raged on. Frowning at them, the Saint said, “All of you must disperse now. I must not be disturbed any more.”

He waited to see what they would do. All but one lordly tiger continued the uproar. The beast raised a mighty and frightening roar and chased the other animals away. Within a few minutes, all had run


helter-skelter back into the forest. Having accomplished its task, the tiger approached the Saint and stillness reigned all around. Like a watchman, it slept near the Saint, who entered once again into samadhi. After some days the Saint opened his eyes to find the tiger still resting by him. He blessed it and moved on to Narayanaganga Hill, where the 135-year-old mahatma was expecting him. “You are welcome!” he shouted. “I know that the sadhu living on Munghere Hill sent you to my place. He is a real adept. Please stay for eight days in my cave. Youcan stand and do tapas.”

The Saint thanked the brahmin mahatma and stayed with him for a full eight days.



The Saint Gives Some Proud Sadhus a Lesson

Now the Saint walked westward along the bank of the Ganges. Not having eaten for many days, he was very hungry. So, he approached some orthodox brahmins, but they refused to feed him. Undisturbed by their unkindness, he moved on until he meta villager, whom he asked for food. The peasant said that he would be glad to feed him if he were to accompany him to his house. The Saint replied that he could not do so, but promised to wait by the river for the villager to return with food, which he did.

After some days of continuous traveling, the Saint took a track plagued by a vicious cobra that was known to bite all passersby. He was warned to avoid the road, but since he knew no fear he continued on this route. Promptly, the cobra came hissing at him. The Saint stood still, watching the reptile. Before it was within striking distance, he shouted at it, “Cobra, take care! If you try to bite me you will die immediately.”

The cobra paid no heed and died as it tried to strike the Saint. Later, the Saint met the people who had warned him about the cobra, and they were glad to hear that the vicious reptile was dead.

Some days after this incident, having walked without respite, the Saint again found himself being very hungry. He went to a hermitage and begged for food, but the residents were proud of their supposed status and treated the Saint with disrespect because he was covered with dust from head to foot. Although they had plenty of food in their kitchen, they sent him away without feeding him. The Saint warned, “Because you have refused to give food to a hungry sadhu, you too will have nothing to eat today.” Unperturbed, he moved on.

A little later, the hermitage residents found to their dismay that all their food had become unfit to eat. Realizing that their refusal to feed a hungry sadhu had brought about this disaster, they ran after the Saint, falling on their knees and begging him to pardon them and revoke his


curse. “All right,” he said. “Go back. The same food will now be fit to eat.” Upon returning to the hermitage, they found that the Saint had revoked his curse. They thanked him for his mercy.

They had learned an important lesson, namely, that outward signs of religion and spirituality are not important, but that renunciation and compassion are the true tests of one’s spiritual advancement.

In this manner, Shri Vishnudas proceeded towards Vraja Bhumi, with his mind always absorbed in God. He was honored in some places and ill-treated in others, but he pursued his pilgrimage with equanimity, occasionally creating lessons for those who should have behaved better than they did.

Several days later he reached the town of Patna, a place of pilgrimage for all Sikhs. In Shri Vishnudas’s estimation, too, it was a sacred place because the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Govind Singh, was born there. The story of his birth is that his father, Teg Bahadur, was once traveling to Puri Jagannath to obtain the darshan of God. His wife was pregnant, and when they reached Patna she gave birth to Govind Singh. The house where he was born, as well as another in which he played, are both preserved and are called Harimandir by the Sikhs. Shri Vishnudas was a lover of both Guru Govind Singh and Guru Nanak, and so he went directly to the Harimandir to bow to the holy relics of Guru Govind Singh. The Sikhs fed the Saint with reverence, but rather than delay there, he walked back to the riverbank and stood there doing his usual tapas. A Muslim devotee wished to serve him by giving him food and engaged a brahmin cook to prepare meals for the Saint. Thus, Shri Vishnudas spent a month on the banks of the Ganges near Patna.



The Saint Instructs Two Aghori Sadhus

More than seven years had elapsed since the Saint had begun his khade-tapas. Hitherto his practice had been to repeat the name of Lord Krishna, but once he set out from Patna he began to do japa or repetition of the sacred syllable “Om” with each breath. Generally this practice is done only when stationary, but the Saint decided to take it up even though he was always on his feet except for brief periods of rest or while eating. He was to continue the repetition of “Om” until he reached the banks of the Yamuna River, at the close of the period of his vow. He had not lowered his left arm since leaving Darjeeling, and it was now fixed in its vertical position. The nails had grown five or six inches, piercing the palm and causing him much pain.

Several days after leaving Patna, the Saint arrived in Gaya and meditated standing under the bodhi1 tree where Gautama the Buddha is said to have been Enlightened more than 2,500 years ago. After some days he continued his journey.

While climbing a hill one day, he was accosted by a young Aghori2 sadhu. Seeing the Saint dragging his weary legs up the hill, the Aghori was desirous of exhibiting his powers and earning the applause of the old mendicant. “Maharaj!” he cried. “Stop for a while, and I will show you my powers.”

The Saint smiled and stood still for the young man, who brought and cut up hundreds of fish and swallowed the pieces. Then he

  1. The Sanskrit term “bodhi” means simply “enlightenment.” The tree under which the Buddha Awakened to the supreme Condition of Nirvana was an ashvattha tree (Ficus religiosa). (See n. 3 below.)

  2. The Aghoris or Aghorapanthis are celibates who, following the cult of Shiva in his form as Aghora (“Non-terrible”), are notorious for their cannibalistic rituals, haunting of cemeteries, and eating of all kinds of refuse. They justify their unconventional behavior by arguing that good and evil, pleasant and unpleasant are only constructs of the mind and do not characterize Reality as such.


regurgitated the fish, which were now alive. “Mahatmaji, I have given life to dead fish. What can you do? Can you give life to that dead tree stump?”

The Saint said that he could and sprinkled a little water from his water pot on the stump. In a minute or two the stump started sprouting leaves. The young sadhu was crestfallen and began to weep. “I am sorry,” he said. “I tried to test you, but my power is nothing compared with yours. Pardon me.”

The Saint replied kindly, “My son, powers are deluding. Cultivate love of Bhagavan and earn true wisdom.” Having said this, the Saint moved on.

Somewhere on the same hill lived a female monk whom the Saint had heard about. She carried a dagger and had killed several men who had tried to molest her. Like the young sadhu, she belonged to the Aghori sect. The Saint met her while walking towards her cave. She was a young woman of about thirty, with strong, attractive features, piercing eyes, and long hair that partially covered her nudity. A dagger lay near her. Seeing the Saint, she stood up and invited him to be seated and accept food from her. He explained that he would eat standing up. When she offered him rice and fish, he refused the food. Instead, the Saint asked why she was not a vegetarian, and also why she was nude and carrying a dagger. She countered that according to her vow, she must perform austerities in the nude and that she carried the weapon for self-defense. She further explained that as an Aghori nun she was allowed to eat meat and fish.

The Saint instructed her, “What you are doing is w3rong. You must cover your nakedness. A woman’s body lures even great saints. It is the source of temptation. Therefore, cover your body to some extent, throw away your dagger, and avoid meat and fish. If you do these things, you will soon perceive advancement in your spiritual practice.” The nun received this instruction with true humility and replied that she would do as the Saint advised. He explained that he had spoken to her at the direction of God and that she should thank God and not himself.

Shri Vishnudas then continued his journey and after many days arrived at Kashi, the famous abode of Shiva, where he bathed in the river and worshipped in the Shiva temple. He stood in front of the temple for some days in samadhi. When he opened his eyes, a brahmin addressed him, saying, “Mahatmaji, I have brought an ashvattha? plant and have

  1. The ashvattha tree is sacred to all Hindus, who see in ita living symbol of the eternal Tree of Life, whose roots are in heaven.


dug a hole in which to plant it. Please plant it. I will care for it in the future.”

The Saint agreed to do so. Even now, that tree stands in the Raja- ghat, the royal cremation ground, in Kashi.

Eventually, the Saint walked on toward Prayag, a short distance away.



The Saint Heals a Dying Child and Receives the Darshan of Guru Nanak

Arriving at Prayag, Shri Vishnudas stood by the river, steeped in the contemplation of the sacred syllable “Om.” After a day or two he opened his eyes and beheld a devout brahmin holding plate of food for him, which he accepted. Several days later in the same spot, Nana Sahib, the Maharashtra leader of the Indian Mutiny (1857-1859), also had the good fortune to meet the Saint. Disguised as a samnyasin, Nana Sahib introduced himself and described how he had fled Kanpur and avoided being arrested by the British. The rebel wept and prayed for peace of mind. He begged the Saint to tell him of a safe place where he could hide in the Himalayas. Shri Vishnudas gave him spiritual instruction and pointed out a particular place in the Himalayas, advising him to spend the rest of his life contemplating God. The Saint also explained that he himself would eventually be settling on the Yamuna River near Mathura, and years later Nana Sahib went to Mathura and obtained the Saint’s darshan once again.

Some days later, the Saint arrived at the Gomati River in Kanpur, where he rested for a few days and recovered from having withstood three days of torrential rains and blinding lightning in the jungle. As he walked along the river through the Naimisharanya Forest, he saw a mahatma seated on a tiger skin. The Saint greeted him, but the mahatma spoke disdainfully to him, after which a most curious thing occurred. A scorpion stung the proud mahatma, who began to howl with pain. Certain that he had been punished by God for his incivility, the mahatma fell at the feet of the Saint and said, “Mahatmaji, you are Bhagavan in human form. You have done me a great favor today. My insolence has been fully punished and my undue pride destroyed. Forgive me.”

The Saint told him that he was not personally affected by respect or disrespect, but that he nevertheless advised him to treat everyone with respect. Then he plucked a leaf froma shrub and told the mahatma to rub


the sting with it, whereupon the pain immediately disappeared. The Saint moved on and was soon absorbed in contemplation beneath a tree.

Some time later, the Saint reached Misrak, where he built a fire and stood near it to meditate. While performing austerities there, a villager brought his dying son to the Saint and begged him to save the child. The Saint told the man to take ash from the fire and smear the boy’s body with it. The child recovered at once, and he and his grateful father walked back to the village.

Shortly after this incident, the Saint met some people who told him about a young brahmin who had been practicing the gayatri-mantra1 and had acquired various powers asa result, which he was misusing, bringing much grief to innocent people. The Saint asked to be taken to the brahmin. When they were face to face, the Saint said, “People say that you have caused sorrow to others by cursing them. Why are you misusing the gayatri-mantra? Give up this habit. If I curse you, you will die.”

The haughty brahmin realized that he would be ruined if he displayed anger, and he replied humbly, “Mahatmaji, thank you for having advised me. Please do not curse me. From now on, I will not misuse my power. I will no longer curse people. You are my father and protector. By your Grace, I have learned the greatest lesson of my life.”

The Saint was pleased at this transformation, and moved on to a more private place to perform tapas. After several days of practicing japa he heard a voice, bidding him as follows: “Travel along the Mala River and enter Pilbhit. There you will meet an Aghori mahatma. From there, go to Rita Sahib, where Guru Nanak will give you darshan.”

The Saint heard this extraordinary akasha-vani? with great delight and embarked on the next lap of his pilgrimage, soon to reach the banks of the Mala River.

Contemplating the sacred syllable “Om,” Shri Vishnudas walked along the banks of the river until he came upon a sadhu sitting on a solitary rock. “Mahatmaji,” said the Saint, “please tell me if an Aghori monk lives in these parts.”

  1. The gayatri-mantra, a sacred invocation from the Rigveda (III.62.10) invoking the solar God Savitri, has a position in Hinduism equivalent to that of the Lord’s Prayer in Christianity, except that the gayatri may only be uttered by the three higher classes. It reads as follows: tat savitur varenyam bhargo devasyo dhimahi dhiyo yo nah pracodayat (“Let us contemplate the excellent brilliance of God Savitri so that He may inspire our visions”).

  2. The Sanskrit eer poured “akasha-vani” means literally “ethereal voice.”


“Yes,” replied the sadhu, “I will show you his cave.” And he got up and led the Saint within sight of the cave. The cave was high and spacious, large enough for the Saint to stand in with his upraised arm, and he conceived a desire to perform tapas there for seven years. However, he wanted to make sure that no one else was living there, and since he saw no one inside he stepped out and looked around. Close by was a bamboo thicket. When he approached it a voice called out, “Mahatmaji, you are welcome! I am the Aghori mahatma you have come to see at the behest of the akasha-vani. Please eat these fruits.”

With that, the mahatma came forward and offered fruit to the Saint. After the Saint had eaten, he asked the mahatma for permission to occupy his cave for seven years. The mahatma had no objection, saying that he would live in the thicket. Thus, the Saint began his seven-year tapas in the cave. Whenever he returned to the waking state he would converse with his host. Seven years passed, at the end of which the Saint proceeded to Rita Sahib, in obedience to the akasha-vani.

After some days, the Saint came across a river in flood. There were no boats, so he began to ford it. As he waded through the water, a crocodile tried to attack him, but the Saint merely frowned at the creature and uttered the syllable “Om,” which was sufficient to turn the crocodile away. Having safely crossed the river, Shri Vishnudas spotted the hill known as Rita Sahib. At the summit was a tree where Guru Nanak had performed tapas, making it a site of pilgrimage for all Sikhs. The Saint, too, approached the tree with profound respect, circumambulat- ing it and then plucking several fruits as prasad.3 It is said that the tree bore only bitter fruits, but that when Guru Nanak meditated there he made one branch bear sweet fruit for the sake of his devotees. The Saint also obtained the darshan of an adjacent fig tree, also associated with Guru Nanak. The Saint stood under these trees and performed tapas for almost eight years before Guru Nanak appeared to him in human form.

The Saint was filled with delight. He circumambulated Guru Nanak and prostrated to him, saying, “I am delighted to have your darshan in human form.”

Guru Nanak replied, “Iam your Guru. I adopted you as my disciple long ago, but for the sake of convention, I ask you to become the disciple of a living Guru.”

  1. Prasad (Sanskrit: prasada) is a gracious offering. The word also has the meanings of “radiance, clearness,” pointing to the purity of the gift received.


The Saint said, “I will go to Mastramji and beg him to give me diksha.”

“You may do so,” said Guru Nanak. “I also want you to go to Vraja Bhumi and settle there. From today, meditate on Shri Krishna’s Name. He will give you his darshan after you have settled there.”

After giving these instructions, Guru Nanak disappeared. The Saint remembered the Grace of Guru Nanak over and over again, his heart full of gratitude. He felt that his long period of tapasya had come to an end.

The next morning, he set out for Vrindavan, which is the heart of Vraja Bhumi.



The Saint Terminates His Twenty- Four-Year Tapas and Enjoys the Darshan of Lord Krishna and Ashvatthaman

The Saint’s twenty-four-year journey and khade-tapas was almost at an end. From Rita Sahib he passed through Pilbhit and walked along the Ganges till he came to Bareilly, finally halting at Katchalghat because he was both weary and famished. He stood on the dry bed of the river hoping that someone would be prompted by Lord Krishna to come and feed him. Within an hour an old brahmin addressed him. “Mahatma, I salute you. My house is very near, and I beg you to accept my hospitality. Please dine at my residence.” Feeling that it would be inappropriate to ask an old man who was unable to stand much physical exertion to fetch food from his house, the Saint followed him home. He stood in the courtyard while the brahmin and his mother fed him with great devotion by putting morsels of food in his right hand. When he was ready to walk back to the river the old lady saluted him and said, “Mahatmaji, I have grown very old. Please tell me when I will die.”

The Saint replied that she would cast off her body the very next day. Then he returned to the riverbed to spend the night as usual in his standing position. At daybreak his host came to say that his mother had passed away just an hour before.

The Saint pursued his journey westward and arrived at Varaha Kshetra, where he rested for some time. His destination was fast approaching. After many days he reached the Yamuna River and followed its course until he arrived at Mathura. The area called Vraja Bhumi, to which Shri Vishnudas had been directed by Lord Krishna and Guru Nanak, consists of Nandigrama, Govardhana-giri, Barsana, and Mathura, all of which are within ten or twelve miles of one another and


are associated with the Vraja clan to which Lord Krishna belonged. Shri Vishnudas decided to walk the twelve miles to Vrindavan to formally terminate his khade-tapas in that sacred place. Walking the last lap of his journey he arrived at last at Vrindavan, the center of Vraja Bhumi. He bathed in the river at a spot called Bhim-Ghat and then ended his twenty-four-year tapas by sitting in the lotus posture in the shade of a kadamba tree, his heart filled with gratitude for Lord Krishna, who had protected and guided him all these years.

For nearly a quarter of a century the Saint had stood at all times, holding his left hand above his head, his mind absorbed in the Supreme Self. His arm had withered for want of circulation and was fixed in its vertical position. His nails were imbedded in his palm, but unmindful of the pain he had walked thousands of miles, visited hundreds of holy places, and obtained the darshan of saints and sadhus.

It was on a feast day in the month of Shravana that Shri Vishnudas arrived at that hallowed spot. Throngs of Krishna-worshippers bathed at Bhim-ghat, and many pilgrims saluted the Saint with reverence. The pilgrims informed him that this was a special day for worshipping Krishna, called Rasa-Lila Day after the dance of the gopis called rasa-lila. 1 He was also told that Lord Krishna himself would give darshan and feed some of his special devotees on that day. The Saint was delighted to have set foot in Vrindavan at such an auspicious time and continued to sit under the tree reciting Lord Krishna’s name. He resolved to break his fast only if Krishna appeared and gave him food with his own hands.

He sat alone now in contemplation. The pilgrims had all gone to the temples for the special celebration. Hours glided by as he sat with his eyes closed, sure that he would obtain Lord Krishna’s darshan and be fed by him. Toward evening, his longing was fulfilled. “Mahatmaji!” said a voice. “Get up now! I have brought food for you to eat.”

The Saint opened his eyes and saw an old orthodox brahmin standing before him. His face was radiant and he was clad in a white shirt and red-bordered dhoti. He held a walking stick under his left arm and carried a plate of food and a jug of water. The Saint stared at the stranger, captivated by his charming countenance. When the Saint did not take the plate of proffered food, the stranger said, “Mahatmaji, I know you have taken a vow not to eat food unless Lord Krishna offers it to you. Come,

  1. This celebration is in memory of the circular dance known as rasa-lila, in which Lord Krishna ntly multiplied himself so that each of his female devotees, the gopis or Fee re ieee imagined herself to be holding Lord Krishna’s hand.


Saint, you are very hungry and I have brought puri? and water for you. If you do not eat I will beat you with my stick!”

Still the Saint sat with his mind full of wonder, gazing at the stranger. The brahmin put the plate and the jug on the ground and raised his stick, at which point the Saint was overcome by the power of the brahmin and began to eat the puri. While the Saint ate, the brahmin stood silently ata distance. Then another unusual thing occurred. Hundreds of monkeys began to gather round the Saint to try to steal his food. The stranger warned them, “You monkeys, here is a mahatma taking his meal. You should not steal his food. Take care! If you disobey me I will beat you all with this stick. Now run away!” The monkeys seemed to understand and fled to perch in the trees.

When he was finished the Saint said, “You seem to be a caturvedi brahmin. My hunger is appeased.”

The brahmin picked up the empty plate and the jug of water and walked away without replying. The Saint watched as the brahmin walked a few yards and then vanished. The Saint was amazed. He got up and inspected his surroundings to see if perhaps the stranger had hidden himself somewhere, but could find no trace of him. Then he guessed that the brahmin must have been Lord Krishna himself. He wished he had spoken a few more words with him, and he became dejected at his inability to recognize Lord Krishna.

The Saint continued to sit under the tree, and when it was dark he laid his tired body against it and slept. He had a wonderful dream in which Lord Krishna appeared with a crown on his head anda flute in his hands and said, “Why are you so dejected? I am Krishna. You wanted me to feed you, and I appeared before you in the disguise of a brahmin and fulfilled your wishes. It was I who gave you darshan at Mandalay, and now I ask you not to leave Vraja Bhumi.”

At this the Saint woke up, all his doubts dissolved. He contemplated Lord Krishna’s Grace, and his mind was restored to its usual state of peace. In this manner, he spent some eight days in the shade of the kadamba tree. During that time, many pilgrims gathered around him, and someone would invariably feed him. His physical strength was soon restored, and he shook off the weariness of his extraordinarily arduous journey.

  1. Puri is a fried and puffed whole wheat bread.

  2. A caturvedi (“knower of the four”) is one who has memorized the four great sacred hymnodies—Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda, and Atharvaveda. 101

During that time another wonderful event took place. One evening the Saint entered the temple of Banki Vihari Mandir, where a silver idol of Lord Krishna as a baby was installed. The priest worshipped the idol, Swinging it gently in a cradle. As the Saint watched he suddenly saw Lord Krishna’s human form being rocked. The infant sat in the cradle, playing and laughing. The Saint enjoyed this extraordinary mystical experience for some time and was greatly delighted. He felt that it was Lord Krishna’s special Grace that made it possible for him to have such a vision. When, years later, the Saint described this event to us, his face was beaming with happiness, and he told us that he could not adequately express the bliss, awe, and love that he felt when he beheld the infant Krishna, whose eyes resembled lotus flowers, whose brow was enchant- ing, and whose face was illumined with a halo of white light. When, after eight or ten days, the Saint left the tree and returned to

Mathura he stopped by the dry bed of the Yamuna River, at the spot known as Gowghat. He lit a fire to warm himself. In the firelight he saw ten cows—distinct in color, beauty, and appearance—walking toward him, and behind them a cowherd. The cowherd, who appeared to be about twenty years of age, was no ordinary boy. He had a beautiful face and was wearing a crown stuck with peacock feathers. His skin was blue. He worea dhoti around his waist, and his upper body was naked. A black rug, neatly folded, was thrown across his left shoulder. He carried a stick in his left hand and a flute in his right. His movements were nimble and swift as he drove the ten cows forward, flourishing the stick now and then above his head. There was grace in his every movement. Fascinated, the Saint watched the scene, and as he watched, the cowherd came near him and stared at him. The Saint tried to speak, but found to his dismay that he could not utter one word. He tried to stand up and follow the cowherd but could not move. The cowherd passed on with his cows, and the Saint could distinctly smell a very pleasant odor emanating from all of them. Now he understood that it was Lord Krishna he was seeing, and as he was thanking Krishna for this vision, it disappeared. The Saint sat in the same spotall night remembering the Grace of Lord Krishna and the mysterious and happy scene.

As soonas the day dawned, the Saint left for the village of Pasaya. It was noon when he reached its outskirts. By then he was very thirsty but could not find a well anywhere, and so he rested beneath a tree. Attracted by his saintly face, some passersby gathered around him. He asked them if there was any water nearby and got the following interesting reply.


“Mahatmaiji, there is a sacred kadamba tree a short distance from here. It is said that Lord Krishna and Radha once sported under its shade and that when Radha became thirsty, Lord Krishna took a leaf from the tree and made it into a cup, holding it under a hole in the tree. To Radha’s amazement, river water came flowing through the hole even though they were well above the level of the Yamuna. Such is the wonderful lila” associated with the tree, and you may go and see it. Further, the great Ashvatthaman” is said to be fond of that tree and visits it now and then.”

The celebrated Ashvatthaman was one of the commanders-in-chief of the Kauravas in the epic war that took place almost three thousand years ago between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, and which is described in detail in the Mahabharata. Aided by Lord Krishna, the Pandavas defeated their enemies and Ashvatthaman fled to the Himalayas, where he has done penance ever since. His extraordinary longevity, the result of a boon granted to him by his father, Drona, who was a learned brahmin and gallant warrior, has enabled Ashvatthaman to live in the same body for countless centuries. Ashvatthaman is thus said to be one of the cirajivis or “long-lifers” like Hanuman. ° He is further reputed to be well versed in all the traditional lore and in the science of weapons and warfare. He was one of those who, along with Bhishma, Drona, Yudhishthira, and others, heard the Bhagavad-Gita, the spiritual instruc- tion that Lord Krishna gave to Arjuna on the battlefield. All of them are long dead except for Ashvatthaman, and so he alone knows exactly what Lord Krishna told Arjuna.

Hearing this miraculous story of the kadamba tree, the Saint decided to test its veracity and, asking for more exact information about the location of the tree, set out to find it. He discovered it without any difficulty. There was nothing peculiar about it except that it was an unusually tall tree with overhanging branches. When he stood under it he felt even more thirsty than before, and a desire arose in him to obtain

  1. The Sanskrit word “lila” means “play, sport”—the spontaneous interaction of the incarnation of the Divine Being (such as Lord Krishna) with other beings, that is, his Play with devotees and the world.

  2. The name “Ashvatthaman” means “Horse-voiced.” It was given to the ancient warrior because when he was born his first cry sounded like the neighing of a horse and was compared to the sound made by the celestial steed Uccaihshravas.

6, Hanuman (or, rather, Hanumat), which means “heavy-jawed,” was the simian chief of the mythological army of apelike warriors whose military exploits are told in the Ra: “ He saved Lord Rama’s life at one point, for which he was rewarded with the gift of an extraordinarily long life of millions of years.


water from the hands of Lord Krishna himself. In this mood he sat down, resolved not to quench his thirst unless Lord Krishna gave him darshan and water. He sat there fora long time. The weather was oppressively hot and his thirst became almost unbearable, but he continued to sit. After some time a young boy came walking up to him, astick in his hand anda tug thrown over his left shoulder. The boy approached and said, “Mahatmaji, I know that you have resolved not to drink unless Lord Krishna gives you water. Come, I will give you good drinking water.”

He drew the Saint close to the trunk of the tree where there was a hole, probably made by birds. The boy plucked a leaf from the tree, and converting it into a drinking cup, held it beneath the hole. To the Saint’s great surprise, water began to flow from the hole, filling the cup to overflowing. The boy gave the water to the Saint and said, “Your desire is now fulfilled. Drink this water and quench your thirst.”

The Saint drank and the boy continued, “I know that you want to meet Ashvatthaman. Stay under this tree for a time. I will send him to you.”

The Saint did not realize that the boy was Krishna himself, but he sat under the tree until dark and then he slept. He had a dream in which Lord Krishna appeared to say that it was he who had given water to the Saint. When the dream ended Shri Vishnudas woke up and gave thanks to Lord Krishna.

Shri Vishnudas remained beneath the kadamba tree or an adjacent margosa tree for a day or two, sitting at his ease or meditating. At midnight on the second day there was a brilliant moon, and he sat open-eyed enjoying the silence of the moonlit surroundings. Suddenly he heard footsteps approaching and in a minute or two could distinguish the features of an approaching stranger. He wore a turban, along coat, anda white dhoti and had a very long beard and mustache. He was nearly 6% feet tall, and his limbs were proportionately large. He walked slowly and majestically toward the Saint. As he came near, the Saint could see that his skin was fair and smooth. Shri Vishnudas rose to his feet. The stranger did not speak, however, but stood silently holding his walking stick in both hands, his chin resting on the handle. The Saint spoke first. “Maharaj, may I know if you are Ashvatthaman?”

To this the stranger replied, “Yes, my name is Ashvatthaman. The boy whom you met two days ago asked me to give you darshan.”

Ashvatthaman had begun his reply in Sanskrit, but seeing that Shri Vishnudas did not understand, he began again in Hindi. For five minutes


he said nothing else, but stood with his chin resting on his stick. Then he lifted his head and said, “Tapasviji, your long tapas has come to an end. You need not wander in the future. Your left hand will shortly become normal and usable if it is massaged. Now you must go to Kotban Forest and reside there. Every full moon I come here from the Himalayas and stay under this kadamba tree for some time—I like it and so I visit once a month. If you like, you can come and see me here once again.”

The Saint thanked Ashvatthaman and then said, “Maharaj, I have often seen Lord Krishna in visions and in other forms, but I have never seen him in his Divine, four-handed form. Please help me to have such darshan of Lord Krishna.” Ashvatthaman agreed to meet Shri Vishnudas again and help him to obtain the vision he desired.

The Saint met Ashvatthaman many more times, both under the _ sacred kadamba tree and in the Himalayas, and heard from his lips a full account of everything relating to the ancient war. Thus, his meeting with Ashvatthaman is one of the major events in the Saint’s wonderful life story. Thanking Lord Krishna for this meeting, the Saint spent several more days by the kadamba tree and then set out toward Kotban Forest, a part of Vraja Bhumi, where he would settle down.



The Saint Obtains the Darshan of Shri Radha Devi

After the extraordinary meeting with Ashvatthaman, the Saint traveled eastward toward Kotban Forest in obedience to the directions received from Lord Krishna, Guru Nanak, and Ashvatthaman. On the way he passed through the hamlet of Barsana situated by the side of a hillock of the same name. On the hill, a beautiful temple called Manmandir, built by a ruler of one of the North Indian states of the time, attracted his attention, and he climbed the steps and entered it. It was a large and magnificent edifice of marble and he found the idol of Radha, the Consort of Lord Krishna, installed within. The priest, who was worshipping the Deity when the Saint entered the temple, locked the doors soon after evening worship, requiring the Saint to leave.

As it was growing dark, the Saint decided to spend the night on the open veranda of the temple. For some time he sat in repose on the platform, enjoying the beauty of the solemn night, when all of a sudden he saw two Goddesses emerge from the temple, though its doors had been locked from the outside. They were very beautiful, wearing fine attire and dazzling jewelry. Though human in form, their bodies emanated bright light. As they passed about three feet from him, the shorter of the two addressed the other, saying, “Shri! A mahatma is sitting here.”

The taller Goddess replied, “Yes. I know him. He is known as Tapasviji and is on his way to Kotban Forest at the direction of Lord Krishna.”

After exchanging these words they moved quickly away and the Saint could no longer see them. He guessed that the taller Goddess was Shri Radha herself and the shorter, her attendant. He sat in the same spot throughout the evening in a happy, wakeful state. At midnight the Goddesses returned. They came very close to him and stood for a while


regarding him. The shorter of them said, “Shri, the same mahatmais still sitting here.”

Radha Devi said, “‘Yes, he is sitting here to see the Divine form of Lord Krishna, but he will not be able to obtain darshan of Lord Krishna now.”

Then she and her companion moved on and disappeared from view.

The Saint decided to stay in the same spot for some days more and talk with Shri Radha, if she would give him the opportunity. He sat in meditation throughout the next day. When it became dark, he returned to the waking state, hoping that Radha Devi might come out of the temple again, but he was disappointed. He resolved to sit there for as many days as necessary to obtain the darshan of Shri Radha.

The very next night his ardent desire was fulfilled. At about midnight, Radha Devi and her companion walked toward him just as they had done forty-eight hours previously. They were talking with each other, but he could not hear their words. However, when they came near him, he stood up respectfully and conveyed his salutations to Shri Radha. She smiled at him. He tried to prostrate to her but to his amazement could not move his limbs at all. He was rooted to the spot. Such was the power of Shri Radha. However, he managed to open his mouth and say, “O Mother! I convey my respects to you!”

She smiled graciously and said, “Mahatma, what do you want?”

He replied, “Mother, I am eager to see Lord Krishna’s Divine form. Help me to obtain such darshan.”

Radha Devi replied, “Go and settle in Kotban Forest. You will see Lord Krishna there.”

So saying, Shri Radha walked quickly away with her attendant. They seemed to be rambling here and there on the hill as though they were enjoying the scenery and wherever they moved their bodies shed bright light.

Having thus obtained Shri Radha’s darshan and blessing the Saint walked towards Kotban jungle. On the way, he passed through a village called Nandagoan, where Lord Krishna had lived with his foster parents before they migrated to Vrindavan. It was in that village that his foster mother Yashoda rocked him in the cradle and sang him to sleep, and also where the demon-woman Putana tried to kill him by feeding him with her poisonous breast-milk. Lord Krishna sucked her poison-laden breasts and killed her in the process.


The Saint found a large temple built on the top of Nandagoan Hill and on entering saw idols of Lord Krishna and his brother Balarama as ten-year-old boys. 1

He saw the priest worshipping the idols and he, too, conveyed his adoration. Then he rested awhile outside the temple and surveyed the surroundings. From the summit of the hill he could see Radha Devi’s temple of Barsana and, on the other side, could catch a distant glimpse of the forest of Kotban. From the height of Nandagoan Hill the forest looked like an extensive patch of vegetation.

Having descended the hill, the Saint walked along the road, passed by the town of Koshikalan, and from there took a northern turn and walked another stretch of five miles, which brought him to the fringe of the forest of Kotban. Lord Krishna had allotted him an extensive domain in which to spend the remainder of his life, and he wended his way through the bushes in search of a suitable residence. Wherever he turned he saw clusters of kadamba trees of unusual height. The forest belonged to the Gangetic Valley. The soil was rich, and green grass grew everywhere. He saw thousands of stags and other harmless animals roaming fearlessly and walked through herds of deer who merely stared at him. Dozens of peacocks flew or walked close by, while a countless number of parrots flew overhead and sported in the foliage of the tall trees. He had never seen such huge numbers of parrots and peacocks. They added charm to the forest with their singing and shrieking.

Admiring these beasts and birds, he walked here and there in search of a suitable place, and at last he discovered a mud hut, built by a hermit of times past and located on arise. It consisted of two rooms, one behind the other. There were no windows, and yet there was sufficient light even in the inner apartment. He felt that it was just the kind of cavelike dwelling that would afford him both the shelter and the privacy that he required. The roofs of the two rooms were made of mud-thatch and the walls were very thick, which would prevent the hut from becoming unduly warm, even in midsummer. At a short distance was a pond of clear water that he found to be sweet. He was pleased to find all the necessary amenities in that remote corner of the forest. He sat down with his heart full of gratitude to Lord Krishna for having guided his footsteps from far-off Burma to this enchanting place where he could peacefully

  1. As is evident from Tapasviji Maharaj’s account in chapter 26, the temple also contained an idol of Lord Krishna’s foster father, Nanda Baba.


spend the remainder of his days.

Shankaracarya has said, “If a man abandons his desire for worldly enjoyment and possessions, and if he is content to live ina temple, a hut, or the shade of a tree, with nothing more than the skin of a stag for a cloth, and if he is content to lie down on the bare earth, for such a man of renunciation there will be unbroken peace, and his bliss is real happiness.”2

After placing his water pot on the floor, the Saint lay down on the bare earth, stretched his weary legs, and enjoyed his natural repose. He spent the entire day in this way. When darkness set in, he moved to the inner room and slept on the floor, enjoying the peace of the blessed Gods. The next morning, he got up early according to his usual habit and took a bath in the cold water of the pond, returning to his hut for his habitual meditation. He had nothing else and nothing more to do. At about noon, a peasant from the local village of Kotban passed by. He was a lover of saints and conveyed his salutations to the holy sage. “Mahatmaji!” he said. “May I fetch you some food?”

The Saint replied, “My son, you may if you are so inclined. I am really hungry.”

The man ran to his village, Kotban, some two miles away and spread the news that the old hut situated in the forest was no longer vacant, but that a venerable mahatma was living in it. He returned to the hut with plates of wheat roti and other food. He was accompanied by a number of other villagers who were amazed to see the majestic Saint sitting alone in front of the long-untenanted hut. They respectfully offered plates of food to him and begged him to appease his hunger. He ate inside the hut, but when he had finished he came out and talked with them ina leisurely way.

His long, matted locks and his imposing stature inspired the villagers with awe. They asked him many questions, and his smile captivated their hearts. He explained that he had occupied the hut at the direction of Lord Krishna and that his left hand had become fixed in a vertical Position because he had held it aloft for twenty-four years as part of a khade-tapas. They did not know what a khade-tapas was, but were all glad to see a venerable mahatma living so close to their village, and they hoped to obtain his darshan now and then.

  1. Shankaracarya (788-820 A.D.) is even today celebrated as the greatest exponent of Advaita Vedanta, the Hindu tradition of nondualism.


In this providential manner, the Saint’s presence became known to all the residents of Kotban and other surrounding villages. Each day, one or the other of them would go there for his darshan and to offer food or perform some service. In this way, Lord Krishna’s Grace allowed the Saint to spend his first few days in the forest comfortably.

Some time later, an extraordinary event took place that had far- reaching consequences. Early one morning while meditating, the Saint heard a mysterious voice say, “Mahatmaji! A woman who in her former life was your mother has taken a new birth. She is now a peasant woman and works in her field at a short distance from your hut. Go in quest of her, and you will easily discover her identity. You must enlighten her and give her knowledge.”

The Saint was amazed. He got up from his seat and walked toward the fields between the edge of the forest and the village of Kotban. At first he saw no one, and so he waited until villagers began to arrive to work their respective plots. He walked along the ridges of many fields, and at last he saw a solitary woman driving away monkeys that were destroying the corn in her field. He walked straight toward her and, standing close by, scrutinized her features. After a minute or two, he called “O Mother!” The woman heard these words and turned her head to stare at him. He smiled again and said “Mother” loudly. The woman was about fifty years old, well built and strong, though she had passed the prime of her life. She gave no answer, but stared at him wistfully for three full minutes.

All of a sudden her face brightened, her expression indicating that she was in a state of ecstasy. She uttered the word “beta,” meaning “son,” and moving forward quickly, held the Saint’s body in a motherly embrace. She then kissed his forehead as though she were kissing a child and stroked his matted locks and flowing beard. She was oblivious to the fact that she, an unlettered peasant woman, was holding a venerable saint in embrace. She was also oblivious to the fact that she had never before seen this mahatma. For a few moments, she treated the aged Saint as _ though he were an infant in her arms. Her breasts even began to ooze milk, which surprised her greatly.

At that point her state of ecstasy came to an end. She recollected the associations of her present birth, that she was a poor, ignorant peasant woman and that the saint standing in front of her was an awe-inspiring, venerable mahatma whose long gray hairs proclaimed his extreme old age. She was overpowered with feelings of bashfulness and reverence and


bent down to catch hold of the Saint’s holy feet with timid adoration. She stood up and conveyed her respects with folded hands. Now, feelings of great devotion took possession of her, and she walked a few yards to a bush where she had hidden her brass drinking vessel. She washed his sacred feet with the water by way of worshipping him and after she had done so, stood silently gazing at his happy face. The Saint, who had watched her all this time, laughed aloud and again said, “Mother.”

Till then, she had not noticed that the Saint’s left hand was withered and held aloft in an unusual manner, but now she asked him about it, and he explained his khade-tapas. He told her that it would regain its normal state if it were massaged with oil. On hearing these words, she expressed her relief and with a broad smile said, “Maharaj! I will serve you. I will come to you tomorrow with my husband and son and we will all massage your left hand and make it supple and serviceable again.”

Then she picked up her vessel and went away toward the village. The Saint was convinced that the peasant woman was the mother who had given birth to his present body. He realized that she too had recognized this for some minutes but that her memory of him had been erased from her mind as soon as she recollected her present birth.

The next morning the Saint was sitting in front of his hut after having finished his bath and meditation. Mayi (Mother), as the Saint came to call her, arrived in the company of her husband Jivan Singh, her son Dharma Singh, and her cousin Narayana Singh. All of them prostrated to the Saint, who received them with a gracious smile. Mayi — introduced her husband, son, and cousin to him, who all soon became his devoted disciples. They had brought milk and food and offered it to him with genuine love. He ate what they had brought, and when he reemerged from his hut they gathered round him and examined his left hand. They decided to fetch a barber the next day and have the nails cut and the imbedded pieces removed. In the meantime Mayi applied oil, and the three male members of the group rubbed and massaged the withered limb. After thus serving him for some time, they took his leave saying that they would come again on the next morning.

The next day, Mayi and her family returned to the Saint’s hut with milk and food along with a barber named Hira Lal. After the barber had cut and pulled the imbedded nails, the others massaged the hand for

some time. In this wonderfully devoted way they massaged his hand for nearly three months, when it began to show the first signs of improve- ment. It became somewhat supple and it could be bent at right angles.


Encouraged, they continued the treatment for two years, at the end of which the fingers became flexible to some extent, and the arm could be bent by the Saint himself. It was no longer necessary for him to keep it upright, and it gradually regained its natural position. The holes in the palm filled, and the hand became just strong enough to pick up his water pot and tie his cloth. However, it never recovered the strength of a normal hand, though it ceased to be painful.

During this period of several years, Mayi’s husband was absent for daily service to the Saint on only one occasion, when he lay in bed with pain in his stomach. When the Saint heard of his illness he accompanied Mayi to Kotban, where he prepared a medicine of green leaves for Jivan Singh. Within ten minutes he got out of bed, beaming with happiness.

All of this took place between 1895 and 1900.



A Haughty Young Sadhu Disturbs the Peace of the Hermitage

Having settled in Kotban Forest, the character of the Saint’s life changed somewhat. Devoted disciples had restored his left arm and, by serving him a meal each day, also restored his robust health. They had also presented him with an ochre robe with which he covered his entire body, feeling that it was indelicate to wear only a loincloth in the presence of the many women who now came for his darshan. Each day he sat in the front room of his hut, retiring to the back room only to sleep. Sometimes he rambled in the forest for a little exercise or to enjoy the sight of the many deer and peacocks. At some distance from his hut, five huge kadamba trees grew close together, forming a great canopy. He liked to sit alone in that beautiful spot, but would occasionally give darshan there to those who begged for such favor. He was now nearly 120 years old.

One day a group of sadhus told him that at a short distance from Delhi in Chalukana was a holy site where an ancient sage named Shaunaka Rishi performed tapas many centuries ago and that he might visit there if he liked. The Saint suddenly decided to go to Chalukana and spend several weeks performing tapas, and he picked up his water pot and proceeded toward Delhi. After nearly sixty miles he reached the great city he had visited many years previously. At the time of his first visit, Delhi was the capital of the Mogul Empire. Now it was the capital of the British Empire. The object of his former visit was to seek an audience with Bahadur Shah, while the purpose of his present visit was not connected with any worldly desire at all. He was now a great saint, to whom all the glitters of the world were a play of maya.

While wandering the roads of Delhi, someone showed him the way to Chalukana, and a few old inhabitants of that tiny hamlet led him to the dilapidated temple where Shaunaka Rishi is reputed to have performed


tapas in the time of Mandhata.1 The Saint inspected the ruins and decided to do tapas there for six or seven weeks. He sat down inacorner of the temple and entered samadhi. He remained in that state for many days until his concentration was disturbed by the hissing of aserpent. He opened his eyes and saw a small, black cobra, just eighteen inches in length. It was hissing near him and emitting flames when it hissed. He had never seen such a cobra before and guessed that his body would be poisoned if its flame touched him, so he shouted and scared it away. After it had disappeared, he sat as before and reentered the state of samadhi, becoming oblivious to his surroundings. Some time later he opened his eyes to find the same cobra hissing near him and noticed that the reptile emanated both light and heat. Though it was very dark he had no difficulty following its movements because it illuminated both itself and its surroundings. He shouted at it again and without paying any further heed, closed his eyes and resumed his meditation.

During this period, he had not taken any food, nor had he moved from his seat. At some point, a devotee came to obtain his darshan and offered him a jug of milk. He drank a cup of the milk and, keeping the unused portion, closed his eyes again for meditation. Later he heard the hissing again and saw that the cobra was drinking the milk. From that day, the cobra became his friend and stopped hissing in his presence. Perhaps it was grateful to him for having supplied milk, which it had probably lacked for many days. What was more, the cobra would coil itself and sleep close to the Saint while he spent his time in samadhi. It appeared that this small cobra had been living there from the time of Shaunaka Rishi. It tried to attack the Saint at first because he had disturbed its ancient, solitary reign of the old temple and its surround- ings, but the Saint’s extreme fearlessness in its presence must have made it realize that he was a maharshi? worthy of its homage. The Saint fed it with milk as soon as any devotee brought it to him. He drank his portion of the milk only after he had first fed the wonderful cobra. When he had done tapas for forty-five days in the temple, the Saint returned to his hut at Kotban.

  1. Mondhata was a sage of royal descent who is said to have sired three sons and fifty Jeera akon ended up being married to the sage Saubhari. See his story in the Vishnu-Purana (1V.2).

  2. The compound “maharshi” means “great seer.”


Some hours after the Saint’s return, a resident of Kotban Village obtained his darshan and asked him where he had gone so suddenly without telling Mayi or anyone else. The Saint explained that he had gone to do tapas at a distant place, and the peasant ran back to his village to spread the welcome news of the return of the Saint. Mayi and her husband set out at once with baskets of food for their master, who was touched by their love. After his devotees had all returned home he retired to his inner room and slept.

The next morning, when the Saint went to the pond to take his bath, he saw a newly-constructed hut. After finishing his bath, he went over to see who had begun to live there and he found a young sadhu standing outside. He addressed the young man, saying, “Mahatmaji! You are welcome to this forest. When did you arrive here? I have been living in the old mud hut there for some three years.”

The young sadhu simply said, “Very good,” and went into his hut. He behaved so rudely to an aged saint because he was consumed by pride. The Saint, however, took no notice of the young man’s superciliousness and returned to his hut and began his meditation. At about noon, Mayi and others came and fed the Saint, and he sent some puri and vegetables to the young sadhuso that he, too, might appease his hunger. In this way, several days elapsed. During those days, none of the villagers took any notice of the young sadhu. He saw that the Saint, however, was treated with love and devotion and he became jealous. In addition, he began to nurse hatred against the innocent inhabitants of Kotban Village on the grounds that they lavished attention on the old sadhu and totally neglected to pay any respect to himself. So one afternoon, when he saw Mayi and others leaving the Saint’s hut, he accosted them, saying, “You are paying attention to the monk there and take no notice of me. Take care! I will punish you. I will ruin all of you. I will cause hailstones to fall in abundance on your fields and your crops will be destroyed.”

He planted a pair of iron tongs firmly in the ground and told the stupefied villagers that rain and hail would fall that night and destroy their crops.

The Saint, who was sitting in his inner room, heard the words of the proud sadhu. He came out and walked toward the hut of the arrogant young man, noticing that his own devotees were standing there in a state of alarm. “Mahatmaji,” he said, “what is the matter? Why are you so angry?’ ’

The young man answered, “Old monk! Look at me. If you have any


Powers, protect your devotees. I have planted my tongs here. Rain and hailstones will fall tonight and destroy the crops of your devotees. If you can, you may remove my tongs from the ground and protect the villagers. We will see who is more powerful.”

With a smile on his face, the Saint said, “Mahatmaji! Your conduct deserves punishment. I warn you beforehand. Do not injure these innocent people. They have done you no wrong.”

The proud sadhu grew ruder still. “Look here! My name is Bhanshivala. You will see Bhanshivala’s power tonight.”

He turned his angry eyes towards the Saint by way of challenge. The poor villagers were bewildered and frightened. They said to the Saint, “Maharaj! This sadhu has powers. His siddhi is awful. He has cursed us. Please protect us.”

The Saint pacified them and said, “Do not be alarmed. This vain sadhu cannot do you any harm at all. I will remove his iron tongs and destroy his black magic.” The Saint proceeded to pluck the tongs from the ground and throw them at Bhanshivala. Bhanshivala, who had assumed that the aged Saint was a simple old hermit, was crestfallen. He picked up his tongs and ran away with tears in his eyes. Such was Bhanshivala’s vexation. He could not reconcile himself to the fact that he was no match for the aged Saint with regard to such mystic powers. After the villainous sadhu had departed in shame, the Saint told the residents of Kotban, “Do not be afraid of rain or thunders or hailstones. I have destroyed the magic of the sadhu. He knows that he can do nothing as long as I am here.”

The poor villagers were reassured by the aged Saint, who retired to his hut. All of them returned to their homes, but that night they watched the skies to see if any dark clouds would suddenly bring a downpour of rain or hailstones. To their great relief, there was no sign of rain at all, and they slept in peace. The next morning, they obtained the Saint’s darshan and thanked him for having set at naught the evil designs of Bhanshivala and saved them from famine.

Some days after Bhanshivala had fled the forest, the Saint bathed in the pond as usual. He heard human voices coming froma nearby thicket and walked toward it to see if anyone was hiding there. He found nothing but two new earthen pots placed securely one above the other in the hedge. He took out the pots and examined them. The upper pot was empty but the lower pot contained sweet curd. He assumed that someone had placed them there, and he went to his hut to start his meditation.


Again the next morning he heard voices coming from the same direction, and he went into the thicket and found two new pots fixed on a thorny bush. He found fresh curd in one of the pots. It was obvious to him that a human being must be using the thicket to hide the pots, and he went away. On the third morning, he went to the same bush and discovered two new pots, both containing fresh curd. He decided to sit under the thicket to see who was hiding pots of curd. He sat in the shade of the thicket throughout the day and spent the night there as well, always awake, sure that no one could enter the thicket without his knowledge. And yet when he rose to go to the pond for his morning bath, he was amazed to see two new pots of fresh curd just behind him! Then he realized that Lord Krishna was playing a joke on him, with the idea of giving him curd, and so he ate the curd with profound respect. He considered it Divine prasad and continued to sit there till afternoon, thanking Lord Krishna for his love of his devotees. After eating a small amount of Divine curd, his hunger was appeased and his stomach full, which astonished him.

When Mayi and other devotees arrived with baskets of food at about noon, he told them that he had eaten curd supplied by Lord Krishna and that he was not hungry at all. The devotees were all astonished to hear the story, and the Saint gave all of them small quantities of the curd, which he had saved for them. Mayi asked the Saint to explain why Lord Krishna should supply curd to him in such a mysterious manner. The Saint explained, “Lord Krishna loves his devotees, and sometimes the mood strikes him to play with them. On this occasion, he played with me and hid pots of curd to mystify me. He is so wonderfully great that he can enter any place and do anything without our being able to see what he does or how he acts. So, even though I was very alert and watchful, I could neither hear nor see him when he deposited the pots just behind me. He is therefore called Bhakta- vatsala.”3 This explanation pleased all who were present. Such an experience illustrates that Lord Krishna is the Lover of those who remember him in worshipful adoration. The Saint was full of bliss and gratitude when he narrated these details of his spiritual history to me.

  1. The epithet “Bhakta-vatsala” means “he who is attached to devotees.”



The Saint Undertakes Pancagni and Jaladhara Tapas and Converts Water into Ghee

Three or four months had elapsed since the Saint had received the gift of curd from Lord Krishna. During that period, Tapasviji lived peacefully, remembering the Lord’s Grace and Love, which he had experienced in such abundant measure. Forty months had passed since he had settled down in Kotban Forest. His devotees had increased in numbers and visitors also began to come for his darshan and guidance. He lived happily in the manner described by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita (V.24):

“The yogi, who has discovered inner joy, inner delight, and the Light within, and who has become the Absolute, attains to extinction in the Absolute.”

The Saint belonged to the class of yogis described in this verse. Though he was old, he had the strength of a young man, and he decided to make use of his vitality and stamina by performing two difficult forms of penance—pancagni and jaladhara—for twelve years.

Pancagni-tapas consists of sitting amidst four fires burning at a distance of 4% feet from the center, during the four hottest months of the summer. The blazing sun above is the fifth fire. The tapasvi sits amidst these five fires, enduring the extreme discomfort of the oppressive heat while yet remaining in a state of samadhi. The four fires are kept blazing by attendants feeding them with dry cakes of cow dung.

Jaladhara-tapas consists in sitting in an open field at night for about six hours during the four coldest months of the winter and allowing attendants to pour hundreds of pots of cold water on one’s head continuously. The ascetic who is bathed in this way endures the extreme discomfort caused by wind and water, while yet merging his mind in God and remaining in the samadhi state during the entire process.


The Saint asked his numerous devotees in Kotban and other surrounding villages to serve his performance of these two austerities. Thousands of dry cow-dung cakes were necessary for feeding the flames of the pancagni, and a number of people had to be present during the tapas to fuel the fires during the hottest part of the day. Men and women of Kothan and other villages began to prepare cow-dung balls in their homes and heap them near the spot that the Saint had chosen for the fire tapas. The jaladhara tapas required less service, as all that his devotees had to do was pour pots of water on his head while he sat on a rock near the pond during the six coldest hours of the night. Men of good cheer and strong arms were needed to fetch water quickly from the pond and pour it.

For the pancagni-tapas the Saint chose a clear plot of ground near the cluster of kadamba trees by his hut, because his devotees could sit under the shade of the trees and serve him while he sat under the blazing sun. On an auspicious day in the beginning of summer, the Saint bathed in the pond, ate a little food, marked a circle around himself, and asked his numerous devotees to ready the heaps of cow-dung cakes along the circumference of the circle. When all the fires began to blaze, the flames rose above his head and formed a canopy round about and above him. He selected particular persons to watch the fires until 4 P.M. and to keep the flames blazing by feeding them with cow dung at frequent intervals. As soon as his enthusiastic devotees had all understood his directions, the Saint sipped a little water, sat erect, and closed his eyes to absorb his mind in Brahman. He sat in that state for five hours during the hottest part of the day. His purpose was to sit in samadhi, unmindful of the terrible heat and discomfort. The only relief permitted him was to sip a mouthful of water from his water pot every now and then. Whenever he did so, he opened his eyes and gave directions to his devotees to keep watch over the fires and to prevent onlookers from gathering around him.

At about 4 P.M. he got up from his seat and retired to his hut, where he drank a cup of milk to which almond paste had been liberally added. It was Mayi’s special duty to provide his milk. She was the only woman who was allowed to be present at the site. Her duties were to supervise the devotees who tended the fires and to provide the Saint’s morning meal. In this manner, he performed five-fire tapas for one hundred and twenty days during that summer. At the end of that period his skin was black, burnt or otherwise affected by the unbearable heat. He rested quietly


during the autumn, and when winter arrived he started to do jaladhara tapas.

The winter months in North India are severely cold. On the appointed day, the Saint, clad in a loincloth, sat on a rock near the pond at about 11 P.M. Dozens of devotees fetched pots of cold water from the pond and poured them over the body and head of the Saint, who closed his eyes and entered samadhi. He sat until 4 A.M., during which time his devotees poured pots of cold water on him continuously. Unmindful of the terrible cold and biting winds, the Saint endured the ordeal for one hundred and twenty nights. Since this tapas had to be performed during the night, no woman was permitted to take part in serving him. Not even Mayi was allowed to be present, but she was granted his darshan after sunrise, while serving him a cup of warm cow’s milk. In this extraor- dinary manner, the Saint performed these two kinds of tapas for twelve consecutive years.

During this period, thousands of sadhus and monks visited the hermitage to obtain the Saint’s darshan, but he spoke with no one. All were amazed at the severity of his austerities and were struck by the brahma-tejas1 beaming from his eyes. Anyone who visits those sites will feel ineffable tranquility if he sits and contemplates the Saint’s spiritual austerity.

Several wonderful incidents occurred during this time. The first relates to Mayi, whose duty it was to feed the Saint each day at about 9 A.M. If she failed to arrive with her basket of chapatis and vegetables, he would be compelled to perform pancagni-tapas without any breakfast, which would certainly have caused him discomfort. One day, she brought the bread and vegetables in a small basket and set it ona stone in the kadamba grove to await the arrival of the Saint. Suddenly a monkey snatched up the basket and climbed a tree. Mayi had never seen a monkey in the grove, and it was only after it had climbed the tree that she noticed it. She was distressed. The monkey was about to break open the food packets. She threw a stone at it hoping the animal would drop the basket. But it only jumped to a higher branch. Mayi wept. She knew that at the appointed time the Saint would sit within the five fires, whether he was hungry or not. In desperation she decided to pray to the monkey. With folded hands, she said, “O Monkey-god! I beg you not to open the food packet. Drop the basket to the ground. It contains food pespared on the

  1. Brahma-tejas means literally “the fire of the Absolute.”


use of the Saint. Do you not know that the Saint is my son? If you spoil the food packet, he will have no breakfast, and he will sit for his tapas ina hungry state. Come! Restore the basket to me by placing it gently on the ground.”

The monkey answered her ardent prayer, and climbing down the tree, deposited the basket at Mayi’s feet and ran away. She grasped the unopened basket and shed tears of joy. The Saint arrived and sat down on the stone platform to eat. Mayi served the bread to the Saint and described the mischief caused by the monkey. The Saint smiled and said, “Oh, Mayi, there are no monkeys in this forest. The monkey that played with you was Lord Krishna Himself. He played a joke on you and removed your distress by restoring the basket in response to your prayer. Shri Krishna knows your faith and your service to your Guru. He is pleased with you.” The lady was delighted to hear such an interpretation of the trouble caused by the monkey.

The second noteworthy incident connected with the Saint’s pan- cagni-tapas occurred several days after he had begun it. He was seated in the midst of the fires with his eyes closed when he had the vision of a stranger sitting in front of the fire. He opened his eyes to see who it was, but the man was no longer visible. He closed his eyes again and, to his great surprise, the stranger was clearly sitting outside the circle of fires. The Saint opened his eyes a second time but there was no trace of the stranger. When he closed his eyes a third time he could no longer see the man, and so he began to meditate. After some time, however, his meditation was again disturbed by the stranger sitting before him. The Saint ignored him and performed his tapas until 4 P.M. as usual. The stranger was visible to him and to no one else throughout the day. When the Saint terminated his tapas and opened his eyes, the stranger, who appeared to be a brahmin, was running away to hide behind a bush. The Saint went straight to the bush to investigate the matter, but could find no one. He asked his attendants if any stranger had been allowed to join the gathering on that day, but none of them had seen anyone. The Saint concluded that the stranger must have been a mahatma possessed of psychic powers who had come to witness the tapas.

The most outstanding incident connected with the Saint’s per- formance of the pancagni-tapas relates to his receiving the unexpected darshan of Jagadguru Shri Chandra. One night, the Saint was sitting quietly in the mud hut. It was dark both inside and outside, and he had no attendants guarding his doorway. Suddenly, his room was lit up as


though a bright lamp had been brought in, and he saw the majestic figure of Shri Chandra standing before him. Shri Chandra was a great sage who had cast off his body some four hundred years previously. His face was beaming with celestial light. His countenance was that of a young boy. He had no beard or mustache, but he had long, matted hair. He wore a brass chain round his waist with a loincloth fastened to it. He had performed tapas for many years before his death and had also established the order of renouncers called Udasis. The Saint, too, belonged to the Udasi order and therefore had great respect for the venerable sage who had given him darshan so unexpectedly. He expressed his gratitude, and then Shri Chandra addressed the Saint and said, “Tapasviji! Have you any desires?”

The Saint answered, “Maharaj! I have no desires. All my desires have been fulfilled.”

Shri Chandra was pleased with this reply and said, “Tapasviji! You have been performing pancagni-tapas. Continue with it for a full twelve years. You will be able to complete it without any obstacle. But, ask you not to undertake such an austerity again.” Having given this instruction, the sage walked out of the mud hut.

At that time, an epidemic of cholera was spreading in the nearby villages, and Shri Chandra desired to protect the villagers of Kotban, who so faithfully served Tapasviji, from that scourge. So, accompanied by the Saint, Chandra silently walked from the forest toward Kotban and around the hamlet. It was midnight. All the inhabitants were fast asleep, and no one saw the two great mahatmas treading the streets of their village. As a result of the Grace and power of Shri Chandra, the fortunate residents were spared the terrors of the epidemic, and received their just reward for having served the Saint for so long. After slowly walking around the village, Shri Chandra and the Saint retraced their steps to the mud hut. Shri Chandra bade farewell to the Saint and disappeared as mysteriously as he had come.

The last miraculous incident occurred when the Saint’s devotees celebrated the completion of the twelve-year tapas by feeding thousands of people and giving cows as gifts to deserving recipients. Provisions had been stored abundantly. After all the guests had been fed sumptuously and the cooks were about to retire, a large number of visitors arrived from a distant place. By that time, all the puris had been exhausted. There was wheat flour to make fresh ones but there was no ghee in which to fry them. The cooks were dismayed and ran to the Saint, who was resting in


the hut, to report the difficulty to him. He walked to the kitchen with them and saw the empty frying pans on the stove. He filled the pans with water and told them to fry the puris. His attendants were amazed. “Maharaj!” they protested. “You have poured water into the pans, not ghee. How can we prepare puris in boiling water?”

The Saint said, “Examine the water carefully.” The cooks saw that the water had become ghee. Their difficulty had been miraculously solved by the power of the Saint. They prepared fresh puris and fed the new guests sumptuously, in the presence of the Saint himself. He possessed many such siddhis but was generally disinclined to use them. On that day, he used his powers to save his attendants from embarrass- ment and to feed the hungry visitors. When he was praised by his devotees for the miracle, he smiled and said, “Do not praise me. It is all Shri Hari’s? Grace. Remember and praise the glory of God, who alone is the worker of miracles.”



Shri Krishna Gives Darshan Again

After spending twelve more years performing austerities, the aged Saint, who was now about 130 years old, spent some weeks resting the body, which had successfully withstood the tigors of his religious vows. Within a few weeks, his strength had sufficiently recuperated to permit him to undertake a small pilgrimage to the two hills of Barsana and Nandagoan, which he had visited nearly fifteen years previously at the time when he obtained Shri Radha’s darshan.

He passed through the forest of Kotban to Koshikalan, and from there to Barsana, where the inhabitants lived in small houses built on platforms dug out from the slopes of the hill. He passed through rows of houses as he ascended the steps to reach the magnificent marble temple of Shri Radha, and he entered the inner temple just at noon when the ~ ceremonial worship was being conducted. Shri Radha is represented in the form of a marble statue, which the priest had dressed gorgeously and bedecked with glittering ornaments. The Saint conveyed his salutations to the Goddess and went back outside, where he saw the temple’s extraordinary well, from which the priest drew water for the puja. The well was four hundred feet deep. Coils of rope used for drawing water were heaped at a distance. Six or seven strong pairs of hands were required to draw one bucket of water, which is why the residents of Barsana now get their water from a well at the foot of the hill. Even that is a difficult process, however, because every pot of water must be carried up hundreds of stone steps to their houses. However, all the people of Barsana are employed as servants of the temple, and so they remain there in spite of the hardships.

The Saint sat near the marble platform where he had once obtained the darshan of Shri Radha and her companion and decided to spend a whole day there. He entered samadhi and remained in it until morning.

Having enjoyed the peace of samadhi for many hours, the Saint set out for Nandagoan Hill, eight or nine miles away. Here too, houses are


built on small terraces cut out from the hillside. The Saint began to ascend the steps to the temple but, overcome by hunger and fatigue, rested on the steps. He attracted the attention of a householder who lived close by, who took him to his house and offered him roti and vegetables. After his hunger and thirst had been appeased the Saint was able to climb the remaining steps and enter the inner temple. He saw three idols carved in black stone representing Shri Krishna, his brother Balarama, and their foster father Nanda Baba. After conveying his salutations to all of them, he sat down in the corridor of the temple, once again overcome by exhaustion. Though he had eaten an hour previously, he felt hungry. He stretched his legs and lay down on the floor.

After resting an hour, the Saint began the descent, but he felt so weary and hungry that he sat down on the steps of the Shiva Temple, built on one of the terraces. A few boys who were playing there were amazed at his matted hair and long white beard. They decided to play a practical joke on the aged Saint, and cried, “Maharaj! A snake is hiding here. We boys are afraid of it. Please drive it away.’

The Saint got up from his seat and searched for the snake here and there and became even more tired. He began to gasp for breath, at which the boys laughed and said, “Maharaj! There is no snake at all. We wanted to play with you, that is all. Forgive us our mischief.”

The Saint laughed with the urchins and said, “tMy sons, it is fine. I am not angry with you. I enjoyed your trick, which has amused you so greatly.”

He descended some more steps and began to feel giddy, so he sat down to rest his heart and lungs, reclining against a stone and closing his eyes. Somewhat rested, the Saint was about to get up and climb down the remaining steps, when Shri Krishna approached him in the guise of a young and handsome lad of the most prepossessing appearance. The Saint stared at the boy who had suddenly appeared before him. He was blue from head to foot and had a bewitching smile. They looked at each other for several seconds, and then the blue-skinned boy came very close to the Saint and said, “Mahatmaji, I know you are tired and hungry. I have brought a cup of buttermilk for you. Drink it and you will regain your strength at once.” He put a small cup of buttermilk in the hands of the Saint. The cup was so small that it contained just one or two spoonfuls of buttermilk. The Saint said, “My son, you have given me very little buttermilk. I am so tired and hungry that I require more food than what you have brought. Do you think that two spoonfuls will suffice


for me?”

The blue lad said, “Mahatmaji, it would not matter if I had brought you only one spoonful of buttermilk. Do not doubt me. Drink what I have brought. It will appease your hunger, and it will give you all the strength you need. Drink and tell me how you feel.”

The Saint obeyed. No sooner had he done so, than he felt a sudden accession of strength. He felt rejuvenated both physically and mentally and his hunger had disappeared. With a cheerful heart, he said, “My son, your buttermilk is excellent! I do not feel hunger now and my weariness is gone.”

The blue-eyed lad smiled and said, “Now, Mahatmaji! You must return to your hut. Go straight to your hermitage.” And he ascended a step or two and vanished into thin air.

It was only after the Saint saw the boy vanish mysteriously that he realized that Shri Krishna himself had given him darshan and buttermilk. He was grateful for the display of such benevolence and thanked Shri Krishna over and over again for having filled his aged limbs with fresh strength and vitality and making him fit to resume his journey. With Krishna’s Name on his lips, the Saint set out from Nandagoan Hill and reached his hut without undue fatigue.

He slept until the next morning and got up long before daybreak as usual to bathe in the pond, when Mayi and other devotees arrived with warm milk and food for his breakfast. After eating what they had brought, he told them how Shri Krishna had given him darshan at Nandagoan Hill and how his weariness had disappeared on drinking a little of Lord Krishna’s buttermilk.

Some days later, an equally interesting event took place. The water of the pond in which the Saint bathed and which supplied the hermitage with drinking water had become brackish and unfit for drinking, and sweet water had to be secured from a long distance. When summer arrived, procuring good drinking water became very difficult indeed. Shri Krishna, in his infinite mercy, solved the problem in his own mysterious way. One morning long before daybreak the Saint was meditating when a floating vision passed before him in which he saw Krishna and six cowherds. Shri Krishna appeared in the very same blue-eyed form in which he had manifested at Nandagoan, and the Saint heard him say to his companions, “Look here, this mahatma is experiencing difficulty in finding sweet drinking water. What shall we do to remove his trouble?”


At this, the Saint opened his eyes, but could no longer see or hear the vision, so he closed his eyes and tried to meditate. To his surprise the vision reappeared, and he heard the same words repeated. He opened his eyes again, the vision vanished, and he sprinkled cold water on himself to be sure that he was fully awake. Finding that he was, he closed his eyes once again to meditate, only to find Krishna telling the cowherds once again that something must be done about the water. Now the Saint simply sat with his eyes closed and watched, and as he did Krishna turned to him and said, “Keep your eyes closed and follow me. I will show youa spot where there is a spring of sweet water where you may have a well dug.”

The Saint stood up and walked behind the Divine form of Shri Krishna for some distance. When he opened his eyes to see if Shri Krishna was, in fact, walking in front of him, he saw no one, so he closed them at once and saw Krishna beckoning him to follow. With closed eyes, he followed Krishna’s vision-form for many yards until they arrived at a kadamba tree. “Mahatmaji,” said Krishna, “here is the spring of sweet water.”

The Saint opened his eyes to see the spot with his ordinary vision and noticed that he was standing by a kadamba tree some distance from his hut. When he closed his eyes, he heard Krishna say, “Have Vishvakarma come here at once!”

Vishvakarma, a tall, muscular man with curly hair, arrived from somewhere and saluted Shri Krishna. “‘Vishvakarma,” said Krishna, “there is a mahatma who is having trouble finding sweet water. Dig a well here for his use.”

Trowel in hand, Vishvakarma approached the Saint and saluted him, then proceeded to dig a well within a few minutes. Clear water bubbled out of the well, and Krishna took a handful and sprinkled it around by way of blessing. Then he offered some to Vishvakarma to examine it for purity and some to the Saint, who found it to be sweet and sprinkled a few drops on his head as Krishna’s prasad.

At that point the vision ended abruptly. The Saint walked back to his hut, contemplating what had happened, when it suddenly occurred to him to return to the spot to check out the well. But when he arrived at the tree, there was no trace of it. So he went back to his hut, thinking that Lord Krishna must simply be playing with him. As he was sitting on his bed wondering at the event, a stranger appeared outside his door. “Maharaj,” said the man, “I salute you. My name is Gangesha. I am a


mason and have come to dig a well for you. My tools and workmen are nearby.”

He called out and six workmen came forward and saluted the Saint, who was greatly surprised at the extraordinary connection between his vision and Gangesha’s arrival. He asked Gangesha how and why he had arrived fully prepared to dig a well on this particular morning.

“Maharaj,” explained Gangesha, “just before daybreak I was sitting smoking my hookah1 when it suddenly occurred to me that I should visit you and obtain your darshan. It also struck me that I must serve you by digging a sweet-water well in your hermitage. I told myself that I would come tomorrow, but on second thought I decided to come today with all my workmen and tools. I felt that the well must be completed today, so here we all are at your service. Please show us where we should dig.”

Now the venerable Saint had no more doubts about the reality of the vision. He gladly led Gangesha and his men to the tree where Shri Krishna had had the well dug by Vishvakarma, and they worked throughout the day, completing it before evening. Sweet water oozed out and filled the new well to the brim. Two days later they returned and lined the well with stones.

As a result of his service, Gangesha became a very rich man ina short time. I visited this wonderful well in 1950 and the water was still sweet, even though adjacent wells had turned brackish. While narrating the events in this chapter, the great Saint exhorted us to rely on Shri Krishna’s Grace. He frequently recited a well-known stanza from the Bhagavad-Gita (X VIII.66), explaining that both the spiritual path as well as the goal of all spiritual discipline is summarized in that verse:

“Relinquishing all concerns go to Me for shelter. I will deliver you from all sin. Do not grieve!”

When speaking of this great instruction, the Saint used to say that Shri Krishna had actually uttered these very words when he instructed Arjuna on the battlefield. Ashvatthaman, who was present with Krishna and Arjuna then, had verified this. Tapasviji used to say to me, “Murthy, tum Bhagavan ke upar viswas rakho; Bhagavan ke upar bhakti karo; tumhara kalyan hojayiga” (“Murthy, you should keep faith in the Lord, worship the Lord, and his blessing will come to you”). His own life and spiritual efforts were based on this same admonition.

  1. A water pipe.



The Saint Undergoes a Second Kaya-Kalpa Treatment at the Age of 150

The Saint lived happily in his hermitage

for many years and grew to be nearly 150. In due course, he began to experience various symptoms of bodily debility. In addition to the general weakness of his limbs, his eyesight had again become dim and most of his teeth had decayed and fallen. He was partially deaf, and his hair had become wholly white or grey. His skin was black and wrinkled, and his sallow face proclaimed his extreme old age. The Saint, therefore, decided to undergo the rejuvenation treatment that he had learned from the mahatma of Parashuramkund.

As soon as he decided to undergo the kalpa treatment, all necessary help arrived by Shri Krishna’s Grace. The Saint needed two young and intelligent servants to prepare the medicine according to his directions as _ well as to administer it to him, and two such youths, named Haridas and Laldas, obtained his darshan at that time and agreed to live in the hermitage with him and render every necessary service during the kalpa treatment. He intended to take the medicine for 365 days in order to obtain the full benefit of the treatment, and for that purpose he required an underground cell. His wealthy devotees were glad to assist him. First they built a set of new rooms near the sweet-water well for the use of the attendants and then they built a commodious underground cell close by. Mayi cheerfully agreed to fetch fresh cow’s milk every day.

Before beginning the treatment, the Saint instructed Haridas and Laldas, “My sons, on the appointed day, I will leave this hut and move to the new underground cell. I will keep the jar of medicine with me in the cell. You must see that no one comes near the cell on any account. After I enter the cell, close the door and lock it from the outside and keep the key safely on your person. I will fasten the bolt from the inside and lie down on my bed where I will be either sleeping or in meditation, and so no one


should disturb me except at stated hours. Open the door every morning at daybreak and enter the cell with a vessel of fresh cow’s milk, leaving it and a measured quantity of medicine by me. Take care that no one else accompanies you when you visit me at daybreak, not even Mayi.”

When Haridas and Laldas had understood these and other necessary directions, and when the chosen day arrived, the Saint left his mud hut and entered the cell. It had no windows or skylight and would be faintly lit only when the door was opened at dawn. It would otherwise be completely dark, and the Saint felt that the cell served his purpose admirably.

Haridas and Laldas followed the strict daily routine described by the Saint for a year, living quietly in their rooms and allowing no one to approach or even speak in the vicinity of the cell. The Saint spent his time either in sleep (which he could enter at will), in meditation, or in repeating a mantra. Everything he did was associated with the contempla- tion of God. He never allowed his mind to become blank. Rather, his mind was still when he was in samadhi, or else he was actively remembering Shri Krishna’s Name. After the Saint had taken the medicine for many months he began to feel some signs of bodily rejuvenation. Slowly and surely his muscles became strong and his emaciated limbs regained their former size. Haridas and Laldas noticed the signs of improvement and expressed their pleasure, but they were told not to divulge the secret to anyone; the results of the treatment would be assessed and disclosed to others only after the treatment was complete. At last, the final dose of medicine was taken on the 365th day and the Saint told his attendants that he would give darshan to all his devotees the next day. They retired and sent word to Mayi that she would be able to obtain the darshan of the Saint the next morning.

The next day, Haridas and Laldas opened the door of the cell and prostrated to the Saint, who was standing to receive them, beaming with happiness. His broad, full face proclaimed his regained youth. His skin was rosy and shining with not even the vestige of a wrinkle from head to foot. All the joints of his old body had become supple and strong and his grey hairs had all turned black. His eyesight had become powerful, his deafness had disappeared, and a new set of teeth had grown in. He felt that he had regained the stamina and physique of a young man of thirty years. Even Haridas and Laldas, who had been privileged to see him day after day, were amazed at their Master’s tall, muscular body when he gave them darshan that morning. They fell at his feet over and over again and


told him that they were glad that their humble services had fulfilled their purpose. The Saint told them that the success of the treatment was all due to the Grace of Lord Krishna and that the medicine and so forth were all secondary and unimportant.

His attendants told the Saint that Mayi was waiting outside to obtain his darshan. He replied, “Yes, she has served me for a very long time. Fetch her at once. She can see me today.”

Haridas brought in Mayi, who had not been allowed to see her Master fora year. She prostrated at his feet and then stared at him, unable to believe her eyes. When she had last seen him, he was wrinkled, emaciated, and weak-eyed. Now, a clear-skinned, well-built, agile man with strong, clear eyes stood before her. Mayi expressed her joy with respect and love, and after she had obtained the Saint’s darshan, Haridas and Laldas permitted other devotees to enter. Thus, the second kalpa treatment gave a new span of life to the aged Saint.

Four days after the treatment had been formally terminated, a devotee named Jayaval Singh came and obtained the Saint’s darshan. Jayaval Singh was wealthy and had served the Saint in various ways. He, too, was astonished to behold the youthful face and features of his Guru, and he prostrated to the Master and said, “Maharaj, this kalpa treatment baffles my understanding. If a stranger saw you today, he would say that you were only thirty years old. If you permit me, I will make arrangements to hold a feast in commemoration of the success of your arduous kalpa treatment, which has been a kind of tapas for you. No ordinary man can stay in a dark cell for a year in sleep or meditation. I think that the success of your treatment is the combined result of the medicine and the power of your tapas.”

The Saint agreed to the celebration, and arrangements were made to feed hundreds of people, who were thus able to obtain his darshan.

Jayaval Singh was a wealthy man, but he had no children. At the end of the celebration, he fell at the feet of the Saint and said, “Maharaj, I have one grief. I have no children. Please be so good as to remove my grief.”

The Saint touched Jayaval Singh’s head and said, “Jayaval Singh, forget your grief. Within four years you will be the father of a son.” The devotee was greatly pleased when he heard these words of benediction, and he was even more pleased when a son was born to him in due course.

During the Saint’s kaya-kalpa treatment several wonderful events


occurred, some of which are recorded here. The first great event was Sage Narada’s visit to the cell.

The Saint was sleeping on his bed when the cell was suddenly illuminated with dazzling light. He sat up and beheld a celestial sage whom he did not recognize and asked the visitor who he was, to which the sage replied, “I am Narada.” The Saint stood up and conveyed his respect by folding his hands. Narada had a happy, smiling face; he wore dazzling earrings and was clad ina yellow shirt and dhoti. In his left hand he held a vina’ that rested on his shoulder. He radiated light and happiness. Now he raised his right hand and blessed the aged Saint, who stood reverently in front of him, and he said, “Tapasviji, I have come to take you to the celestial worlds. I cannot take you in your physical body. I will take you in your astral body. Lie down on your bed.”

The Saint replied, “Sir, while you are standing, I am disinclined to lie down.”

Narada said, “It does not matter at all.”

Thereupon, the Saint lay down quietly on the bed and as soon as he closed his eyes, he felt his consciousness separate from his physical body. Then he had the sensation of traveling in the sky in the company of the great sage. While in his astral body he could see his physical body lying unconscious within the cell. The Saint felt that he and Narada were traveling northward toward the pole star. On the way, he saw what appeared to be a hill, and he noticed a river flowing at its foot. Hundreds of souls were crowded on the banks of the river. Some were weeping and trying in vain to cross the river while black and grim-faced beings beat and punished others who stood weeping on the banks. Some souls fell into the river and were drowned there. Now Narada took the Saint further up, where he saw many other souls crossing the river, holding the tails of cows that swam across. The river was known as Vaitarani. Virtuous souls crossed it easily, while wicked souls perished in doing so. Flying further up, the Saint saw another hill, this one stretching north to south and also having a river flowing down. The water of this river was milk white and many holy and divine beings were bathing there. When the Saint expressed a desire to bathe in it, Sage Narada informed him that only Deities could do so. However, Narada took a handful of the water and sprinkled it on the head of the Saint, who also sipped a few drops with devotion. Then Narada and the Saint traveled further upward,

  1. The vina is a lute, which is India’s chief musical instrument.


where they beheld three temples, each surrounded by beautiful gardens embellished with flowers and emanating a pleasing scent. The sky was golden yellow. The Saint saw no one there, and he felt that it was the abode of everlasting silence.

Narada then said, “Tapasviji, I have taken you around three lokas? from the outside. I have no power to take you to the interior of these celestial regions as I have not obtained permission to do so. You must be content with what you have seen. Now, let us go back to the surface of the Earth.”

As soon as Sage Narada said this, the Saint felt that they were both descending very rapidly, and in a very short time he beheld his underground cell and the rooms where Haridas and Laldas were sleeping and also the surroundings of his hermitage. What was more, the Saint perceived his own physical body lying motionless on the bed within the cell. Almost at once he felt his consciousness reenter his prostrate body through the nose, and his experience as an astral being came to an abrupt end. He opened his eyes, as though he had awakened from sleep and once again beheld the majestic figure of Sage Narada standing in front of him. It seemed to him that his passage through the three celestial worlds had taken place ina very short space of time. He stood up and talked with the wonderful Sage who taught him two mantras, one of which would enable him to travel to vishnu-loka or to any other loka, while the other would enable him to come back to the Earth. The great Sage directed him not to teach or divulge the secrets of the two mantras to any human being, warning that he would forget the mantras if he disobeyed these instructions.

Sage Narada further told the Saint, “Your young son, who was born before you became an ascetic and who died before you abandoned your home, has taken a new birth and is a young lad of twelve years. He will meet you at Vrindavan ina short time. Your elder brother, who also died, has taken a new birth and is now a brahmin living in South India. Two servants of yours have taken fresh births in Aligarh and will meet you in twenty years. Others of your relatives have taken birth in new surroundings, and every one of them will meet you of their own accord, and help you contact your elder brother and other devotees. You must give them all spiritual guidance.”

  1. A “loka” is a realm or subtle plane of existence.


Having disclosed these facts, Sage Narada asked the Saint to close his eyes. When he opened them Narada had disappeared, and the Saint found himself standing alone near his bed enveloped in darkness. He lay down again thanking Sage Narada for the extraordinary Grace shown to him.

The next interesting event relates to a mysterious cobra. The Saint’s cell had no window or skylight and only one door, which was opened for just a few minutes each day and shut and locked again. Thus, no rat or snake could enter the cell unless it came with Haridas or Laldas. In spite of this, a black cobra sometimes became visible in the dark cell. It made its presence known by moving around his bed, sometimes hissing and expanding its luminous hood. It was not inclined to harm him, so he guessed that some mahatma had mysteriously entered his cell and transformed himself into a cobra just to obtain his darshan. He would therefore regard it in a friendly way and smile to show that he, too, was pleased with its darshan. One day, however, when he was sitting in samadhi, he felt the cobra climbing up his spine and twisting itself into his hair and he was compelled to return to the waking state. He caught the cobra’s head and pulled it away, placing it on the floor, where it disappeared.

On another day, the Saint felt his chest and abdomen encircled by the cobra. The tightness of its grip caused him much discomfort. He expected it to loose itself quickly, but when it did not he caught hold of its head, forcibly pulled it away and dropped it gently on the floor. The cobra did not take offense at such rough treatment, but lay quietly near him. The Saint addressed it and said, “My son, you are disturbing my samadhi frequently. Please abstain from doing so.” The cobra seemed to understand, for it disappeared from the cell at once and the Saint did not see it again.

One more incident of outstanding importance occurred during the same period, and it must be mentioned before this chapter can be closed. A few weeks before the treatment ended the Saint was fast asleep when he was disturbed by a loud noise and sat up to see what was the matter. The cell was completely dark and nothing could be seen, but he heard the sound of human footsteps from the corner. He could not imagine who was inside his room or how the lock of his door had been opened. Fortunately, his attendants had put an oil lamp and a packet of matches inside the cell in case an emergency arose. He lit the lamp and looking around was amazed to see the great Ashvatthaman sitting in the corner.


He saluted Ashvatthaman with great respect and thanked him for having graciously granted darshan.

Ashvatthaman replied, “Tapasviji, I knew that you were undergoing kaya-kalpa treatment, and I came from the Himalayas just to see you.”

The Saint then saw that Ashvatthaman was carrying a bow and a quiver of arrows on his left shoulder, and he said, “Maharaj, I see that you have your bow with you today. Is it possible to teach me the science of archery?”

Ashvatthaman smiled at this request and said, “Tapasviji, this is the Kali Yuga, in which it is not permissible to teach the science of archery. However, I will show you one or two things about this bow I have brought today.”

Ashvatthaman taught the Saint the art of manipulating this particu- lar kind of bow, and the Saint practiced using it as Ashvatthaman demonstrated.

Then the Saint said, “Maharaj, please grant me a special boon. I desire to sit in unbroken samadhi for one thousand years. Please help me to realize this desire of mine.”

Ashvatthaman replied, “Tapasviji, what you ask cannot be granted at all. You have got much work to do to help mankind. If you sit for a thousand years in samadhi you cannot serve the world, and therefore I cannot accede to your request.”

Then the Saint said, “Maharaj! Please help me to get Shri Krishna’s darshan in his Divine four-handed form.”

Ashvatthaman again replied, “This is the Kali Yuga. In this yuga, Shri Krishna does not manifest himself in a Divine form.”

Finally, the Saint asked Ashvatthaman to give him darshan once again and Ashvatthaman said, “That is easy. After completing the kalpa treatment you will regain your former strength and vitality and will be able to travel to the Himalayas. I now live in a cave near Alakapuri region. When you come there, I will see you.”

Such are the wonderful events that occurred during the Saint’s second kalpa treatment.



The Saint Visits Ashvatthaman and Other Great Sages at Alakapuri

The Saint informed Haridas and Laldas that he wished to go to the Himalayas alone and asked them to remain in the hermitage till he returned.

Accordingly, the Saint went to Koshikalan, where he boarded a train and traveled to Hardwar. This was his first railway journey, undertaken about 1920. From Hardwar he walked towards Gangotri, at last reaching the Himalayan region known as Alakapuri. He stopped at Chowkamba, 1 where he erected a thatched hut and settled down in it as a Himalayan hermit.

He expected that Ashvatthaman would come of his own accord, and before long his expectation was fulfilled. One morning he was sitting in front of his hut when the great Ashvatthaman approached and greeted him cordially. Ashvatthaman asked the Saint to reside in the hut for some months and promised to visit him frequently and narrate the whole story of the Mahabharata. Some days thereafter, he met the Saint again in the same spot, and they sat down comfortably under a tree and had the first of many long conversations. As he had promised, Ashvatthaman began to describe the story of the Pandavas and the Kauravas. The Saint knew that Shri Vyasa? had embellished the tale in many places, and he wanted to hear the events as they had actually occurred.

Ashvatthaman visited the Saint day after day for many months and narrated the entire Mahabharata. In this manner, the intimacy between the Saint and Ashvatthaman increased day by day over the four months that were required to finish the story. At the end of that time, the Saint

  1. “Chowkamba” means “four pillars,” after the four ice-clad mountains which stand nearby and resemble pillars.

  2. Vyasa is the legendary “arranger” of India’s great national epic, the Mahabharata, as well as many of the Puranas. He is also credited with the authorship of the oldest extant Sanskrit commentary on the Yoga-Sutra.


asked if Ashvatthaman would find it convenient to introduce him to Parashurama,? Ashvatthaman explained to him that Lord Parashurama was just then absorbed in samadhi and that it would be a year before he would see anyone. Then Ashvatthaman said, “Tapasviji, you may return to your hermitage now and come here again next year at this season. I will then help you to obtain Parashurama’s darshan.’ Thus, they bade farewell to each other.

After many days of ceaseless travel, the Saint arrived at his old hut at Kotban. Haridas and Laldas were delighted when they saw their Master safely home from his long and arduous Himalayan trip. He spent the whole of that year quietly in the midst of his loving devotees.

The next summer the Saint set out again from his hermitage and, following the same route, arrived at Chowkamba. He found the thatched hut still in place. He repaired it and began to live there just as he had the previous year. Shortly, Ashvatthaman came to greet him, and the Saint received him with due respect and thanked him for giving him darshan so soon.

Ashvatthaman noticed that the thatched hut was exposed to winds and that it was not a comfortable dwelling. “Tapasviji,” he said, “I will show you a better place to build a hut. When you settle down in it I will fetch Lord Parashurama and introduce you to him.”

He led the Saint to a convenient spot between two hills, where there was an old hut. The Saint repaired it, making it habitable and comfortable. He had spent a few days there and was sitting on a stone platform in front of the hut one morning when he suddenly beheld two majestic figures approaching him. One was Ashvatthaman himself, and he surmised that the other must be Lord Parashurama, whom he had long desired to see. He stood up and conveyed his respectful salutations to his august visitors.

Parashurama raised his right hand by way of benediction. He was not only taller than Ashvatthaman but even more awe-inspiring. The Saint himself was about six feet two inches and had an imposing presence. Ashvatthaman was four or five inches taller than the Saint, but Parashurama was seven feet in height, and his arms were noticeably long and powerful. His broad face was lustrous. His eyes were so expressive of magnetic attraction that the Saint could not long look at them without being overpowered by their brightness. Parashurama’s head was massive,

3, See chapter 10, p. 57, n.1.


and the grandeur of his countenance was augmented by his long white beard. He wore a white dhoti, and his upper body was also covered by a white cloth. Parashurama’s skin was also white. Parashurama carried a bow and a quiver of arrows on his broad left shoulder and his famous battle-ax, Parashu, was tied to his waist. Thus, the Saint stood in front of those two wonderful personages, both of whom were known to him to be immortals.

After a few minutes, Ashvatthaman said to Parashurama in Sanskrit, “Tapasviji has often obtained darshan of Shri Krishna in human form, but he is desirous of seeing Shri Krishna’s Divine four-handed form.”

Parashurama replied, also in Sanskrit, “This is the Kali Yuga. No one can see Shri Krishna’s Divine form in this yuga.”

Parashurama and Ashvatthaman conversed for some time in Sanskrit, but the Saint was unable to understand them. Then Para- shurama lifted his right hand in blessing and Ashvatthaman did the same, and asked the Saint to close his eyes. When he opened them, both Parashurama and Ashvatthaman had disappeared. He was exceedingly happy that his long-cherished desire to obtain the darshan of Para- shurama had been fulfilled through the kindness and Grace of Ashvatthaman. He stayed in that solitary hut for some days and then set out from Alakapuri for his hermitage.

He lived quietly for some months. One day, some sadhus visited his hut to obtain his darshan and told him that there was a holy site, near the village of Kamar, called Charapatadi Hill, where the footprints of Shri Krishna could be seen ona rock. The Saint made up his mind to visit the spot and verify the truth of this report. He made the short trip to Kamar village and found the footprints. There were also some hoofmarks on the stones, said to have been imprinted by the cows that Shri Krishna grazed in his boyhood.

There was also an old temple at the site in which he found an idol of Sage Durvasas. * He made up his mind to stay in the temple and do tapas for some weeks. Accordingly, he made his ablutions in a bathing tank and sat in meditation for many days. When he returned to the waking state it was past midnight, and he went to the tank to take his bath under the starlit sky. As he descended the steps, he saw a majestic person already in the water. The stranger shouted angrily, ““Who are you? Why did you come here at this time of night?”

  1. Durvasas, son of Sage Atri, is considered a partial incarnation of Lord Shiva. Durvasas was famous for his irascible temperament and for predicting the death of Krishna. 138

The Saint guessed that the awe-inspiring bather was none other than Sage Durvasas himself, and he bowed his head in humility, saying, “Maharaj, I came here to bathe at this hour thinking that there would be no one to see me. I realize that I have disturbed you. I am sorry to have trespassed on your privacy, and I beg your pardon.”

The sage laughed loudly and his countenance regained its normal composure. After finishing his bath, Durvasas stepped out of the water and ascended the steps of the tank, deliberately going near the Saint, who bowed his head once again to show his respect for the ancient sage. The Saint said, “Maharaj, I request you to visit my hermitage and give me darshan whenever it is convenient for you to do so.”

Durvasas replied, “No, I cannot. If you come to my place of residence, however, I will give you darshan. I live in Kailas.”

Having said these few words, he put on his wooden sandals, walked two or three feet from the tank, and then suddenly disappeared. The Saint took his bath leisurely and returned to the temple, where he spent several more days. In due course he walked back to his hut.

After spending some time quietly, the Saint again set out from his hermitage to obtain the darshan of Sage Durvasas. He traveled by train to Kitcha and then crossed many hills and valleys of the Himalayan mountain range on foot. On the way, he came across a large farm and was surprised to see an Englishman and his wife living there with their children. The Englishman greeted the Saint in Hindi, “Maharaj, my wife and I are retired. We have a guest room. I beg you to stay with us for a day or two and then proceed with your journey.”

The Saint was pleased with the courtesy and hospitality of the English gentleman and accepted his invitation. He was fed sumptuously and given a warm bedroom to sleep in. The next morning, the Englishman came to the Saint’s room and they conversed at length. “Maharaj, in my previous birth, I was a Hindu monk, doing penance on the banks of the Sharada River. One other sadhu and I were the disciples of the same Guru and we did tapas together in the same cave. But, somehow, I got a desire to enjoy the pleasures of worldly life, so I gave up my body of my own accord and in due course took a birth in England as the son of a rich man. I was well educated and married an English girl, whom I loved. Two children were born to me by her. She and I and our children have migrated to India to spend our remaining days here. I selected this Himalayan spot and built a farm for my occupation. I know that my wife and my two boys will all die before me, and after they die


I will cast off my own English body and take a new birth in India. I want to become a monk again.”

The Saint said that he was glad to learn these details of his life. On his part, the Saint told his host that he was on his way to the mountain of Kailas and that he hoped to obtain the darshan of Sage Durvasas there. The Englishman closed his eyes for a few minutes. When he opened them he said, “‘Maharaj! I can tell you that you are going to meet Durvasas when you go round the hill of Kailas.”

After having enjoyed a two-day rest under the roof of the spiritually minded Englishman, the Saint set out again on his long pilgrimage to Kailas. He passed through the valleys and hills of Kathgodan, Almora, Nainital, Benital, Takalmondi, and Dhar-choola and after many days of weary travel, arrived at his destination. Kailas Hill was a beautiful mountain, covered with perennial snow, projecting into the sky like a giant cone. Its sides were so slippery that it was not possible to climb it at any point, and he therefore began to walk round the hill. After he had walked a short distance, he was delighted to behold the majestic figure of Sage Durvasas sitting alone on a rock. Durvasas was wearing only a loincloth, though it was very cold. His water pot and a pair of wooden sandals were close by him. The Saint, on the other hand, was wearing a woolen rug on his upper body and deerskin on the soles of his feet.

As soon as Sage Durvasas saw the Saint, he smiled and welcomed him. “Tapasviji, I have been waiting for you. I have fulfilled my promise and sat down here to welcome you.” The Saint bowed his head in respect and expressed his pleasure. “Tapasviji!” Durvasas said, taking his water pot in his right hand. “Come with me. I will take you to Manasa- sarovara. You must see it.”

Durvasas led the way with agile steps. They covered a long distance and at last arrived at the beautiful lake of Manasa-sarovara. Sage Durvasas took a little water from the sacred lake and sprinkled it on the Saint. Further ahead they saw swans swimming gracefully on the crystal clear water. Sage Durvasas pointed to the swans and said, “These birds have been living in this lake for many hundreds of years.”

After going a little further up, the sage pointed to a spot in the distance and explained, “In ancient times, a demon called Basavasura performed fierce penance there in order to earn the Grace of Lord Shiva.”

5, Lake Manasa-sarovara, also known in legend as Mandodaka, is said to be the source of the terrestrial Ganges.


They walked on and crossed many valleys, coming at last to the actual site of Basavasura’s tapas. There was a pond there and, standing at the edge of the pond, Durvasas said, “Sitting on that rock, Basavasura meditated on Lord Shiva for thousands of years. He bathed in this very pond, and therefore it is known as a rakshasa-tala. Further along, Durvasa pointed out another rock where King Mandhata? had per- formed tapas in ancient times, and then led the way back to the lake.

They stood together for a long time enjoying the extraordinary beauty and tranquility of the surroundings, and then Durvasas said, “Tapasviji, I wish to go back now. You may return to Kotban Forest. Do not reveal my place of residence to anyone. If you disobey me, I will curse you.”

The Saint saluted the great sage once again and said, “I have long been desirous of obtaining the darshan of Lord Shiva. Please take me to Shiva’s abode.”

Sage Durvasas replied, “It is not possible for you to ascend Kailas Hill. So, your desire cannot be fulfilled.”

As they were about to part the Saint said, “Maharaj! May I know when I can obtain your darshan again?”

Durvasas replied, “Oncea year, I visit Kamar village and bathe in the tank there where you first saw me. I like the place because I once performed tapas there in ancient times. You may see me there.”

The Saint bade a respectful farewell to the great sage who had been so gracious to him. As soon as he had conveyed his obeisance, Sage Durvasas was no longer visible to him. For a while, the Saint stood alone in that holy spot and contemplated the extraordinary kindness of Durvasas. He then retraced his steps, and after many days of continuous travel reached his hermitage.

  1. “Rakshasa-tala” means literally “Demon’s plane.”

  2. King Mandhata, son of Yuvanashva, is said to have been nursed by Lord Indra himself, who had the baby suck his finger.



The Goddess Lakshmi Appears before the Saint and Confers Three Boons

After his return from Kailas, the Saint lived quietly for some time in Kotban, but the solitude of his hermitage was too often disturbed by visitors and soa desire arose in his mind to go toa more secluded spot and do tapas for a number of years at a stretch. Some wandering sadhus told him that there was a holy site called Parasharakund near the town of Faridabad, where the ancient Sage Parashara, the father of Vyasa, had performed penance. This was just the kind of holy place that suited the Saint’s inclination, and he set out from his hut and walked the fifty miles to Faridabad. From there, he traveled to the foot of a small hill where Parasharakund lay. It was a very secluded place, and he liked the clear and healthy water of the pond. There was also a temple of the Goddess Lakshmi on the slopes of the hill.

Every day he bathed in the pond and then sat down in a remote corner of the temple to meditate. He remained in samadhi for some days, and upon returing to the waking consciousness he would eat and relax for a while according to his inclination. In this manner, he spent eight to ten weeks.

It was his habit to bathe long before daybreak whenever he took a vow of tapas. One night he went to the pond at midnight and saw another mahatma bathing there. He had much longer hair than the Saint and his beard was white with age. The Saint did not want to disturb him, so he waited silently till the mahatma had finished his bath and left. Some days later he saw the same naked sage bathing leisurely at midnight. It occurred to the Saint that the mahatma was none other than Parashara. When the mahatma finished his bath he walked deliberately toward the Saint, who bowed his head in respect. The ancient mahatma was pleased, and smiled and raised his hands in blessing. “Tapasviji!” he said. “This is avery good place for doing tapas. Stay here and continue your austerities


for six years.”

Accordingly, the Saint stayed for six years and continued the same routine of tapas. During that time he often obtained the darshan of Sage Parashara, whose spiritual stature was similar to that of Durvasas.

At noon one day the Saint was sitting on a rock when he suddenly beheld the beautiful four-armed Goddess of Fortune standing in front of him and smiling graciously. She wore silk and had dazzling ornaments on her neck, hands, feet, and waist. A beautiful crown of gems adorned her head. The Saint, naked except for his loincloth, had nothing to offer to the Goddess, but he prostrated at her feet and washed them with the water he had in his water pot.

The Goddess said, “O mahatma, I am Hingla Devi.1 I have come to give you my darshan. I know you have been doing tapas here for some time.”

He prostrated at her feet once again and then stood with folded hands. “Mahatma!” she continued. “I want to give you three boons. The first is that you will soon become famous. The second is that you will have a large ashram built for your residence near the mud hut where you now live.”

On hearing these gracious words of the Goddess, he said, “tO Mother, I have no desires at all. Why do you tempt me? Of what use is an ashram for me? I am a wandering, naked sadhu, and the fame of which you speak cannot increase my happiness.”

The Goddess replied, “I know that you have no desires. It is my desire that your fame should spread far and wide. The third boon is that the boons of which I have spoken will never fail. I will have the ashram built for you, and I want you to reside in it.” Having uttered these words, the Goddess disappeared.

Having performed his austerities at Parasharakund and obtained boons from the presiding Goddess of that sacred place, the Saint returned to his hut at Kotban. He spent his time peacefully following a regular daily routine. Rising long before daybreak, he took a bath in Shitalkund and sat in meditation till about eight o’ clock in the morning, when a devotee would serve hima cup of cow’s milk. He would quietly sit outside the hut till about noon, when he would eat his midday meal and retire to rest in the inner room. During the evening he would talk with and enlighten those who had the good fortune to visit him. He would

  1. Hingla Devi is a Hindi name for Goddess Lakshmi.


drink a second cup of milk at night and retire for the day.

In this context, it will interest readers to know how Lord Shri Krishna Himself spent his days. In the tenth book of the Bhagavata- Purana, Shuka Maharshi describes the daily habits of Lord Krishna: “Shri Krishna rose long before daybreak, at the time of day know as brahma-muhurta. He washed his hands and feet and thus performed his ablutions. He would then sit quietly for meditation. Through meditation Shri Krishna established himself in peace and bliss, after having withdrawn his mind and merged it in the atman, which transcends the play of Maya” [paraphrase]. It is clear that Shriman Tapasviji observed this same daily routine. In this manner, he spent a number of years quietly in the solitude of the forest, which he had made his home at the direction of Shri Krishna Himself.

During this time, the Saint went to Hardwar for the celebration of Mahad-varuna-parva2 accompanied by his attendant, Laldas. Thousands of pilgrims had gathered there to bathe in the sacred waters of the Ganges on the parva day. Laldas and the Saint were camping at a spot called Niladhara along the bank of the stream and Laldas suggested that they go at once to the river to bathe, to avoid being caught in the rush of pilgrims. The Saint replied that Laldas should go on alone. “‘I have till now not obtained the darshan of Goddess Ganga,”? he explained, “though I have bathed in the river hundreds of times, long before I settled down at Kotban. I have just now taken a vow not to bathe or eat or drink water until Ganga Devi grants me darshan.” He gazed at the stream thinking of the Goddess Ganga and soon fell asleep.

While he slept, the Saint received a wonderful vision, in which he beheld the beautiful form of Ganga Devi.

Smiling, the Goddess took the Saint’s hands and tugged at him saying, “My son! Wake up. You must bathe in the river now. Is it not time for you to stop your meditation and to take a bath in the Ganges?”

The Saint said, “First of all, tell me who you are. Then I will stand up.”

She replied, “I am the Goddess Ganga.”

He said, “Prove to me that you are Ganga Devi. I will get up from my seat only if you prove your identity.”

Hearing these words, the Goddess exercised her Divine power and

  1. The Mahad-varuna-parva festival is in honor of Varuna, God of the Sky.

  2. Ganga Devi is the Goddess of the River Ganges. The name means “she who goes swiftly. 4 She is often identified with Parvati, Shiva’s Divine Consort.


pulled the Saint forcibly to his feet. She then made him follow her to the tiver. The Goddess jumped into the flowing water, saying, “My son! If you follow me, you will realize my identity.”

He bathed in the river with great reverence and sipped a little of the holy water, after which he returned to the stone platform.

At that stage the dream ended and he opened his eyes. He noticed that he had not moved from his position on the platform, where he had been sitting for nearly twenty hours, but to his great surprise he found that his body was wet and his beard and hair were dripping. He shouted to rouse Laldas, who was sleeping near him.

Laldas came and exclaimed, “Maharaj! You took a vow not to bathe in the river till Ganga Devi gave you darshan, but you are dripping wet. Did you go to the river alone? I thought that you would not go to bathe without taking me with you.”

Laldas touched the body and head of his Master to convince himself that the latter had indeed taken a plunge in the river. The Saint told Laldas that he had not gotten up from the platform but that the Goddess Ganga had given him darshan in the dream state and made him bathe in the river.

The Saint narrated this story to myself and others in 1940 and we, too, could not understand the mystery of this dream and asked him to explain how his body and hair had become wet if he had not really entered the water of the Ganges. He smiled and said, “Murthy, Ganga Devi can do many wonders. Her power is mysterious. The dream that I had that night was due to her incomprehensible power. She induced the dream and made me undergo all the experiences I have narrated. Divine personages can do many things that ordinary human beings cannot do or comprehend.”

After the Saint returned from Hardwar, he stayed in his hut for a number of years without going anywhere. Either Laldas or Haridas lived in the hermitage and served him. At the end of that period, an occasion arose for him to visit Hardwar again. Once every twelve years an assembly of monks and sadhus of all denominations, called kumbha- mela, * is held on the banks of the Ganges at Hardwar. The Saint decided to take part in the assembly and went to Hardwar accompanied by Laldas in March of 1926. From the point of view of a chronological account of

  1. The kumbha-mela festival is the principal assembly of Hindu monastics. The gathering occurs at intervals of six and twelve years and attracts tens of thousands of Practitioners of all orders.


his life history, this incident is a landmark, for from this time on we are able to state precisely when and on what date such and such an event in his life took place. Until the Saint visited Hardwar in 1926, he was himself unable to state the exact chronology of his movements because he had always wandered and lived far from the cities. This date is also significant for the Saint’s biography because it was then that he met another Udasi monk, Baba Purandas, who became an intimate friend and was thus able to give me much information about my Guru’s past. >

The Saint and Baba Purandas lived together on the banks of the Ganges and took part in the assembly of sadhus. After it was over they ascended Gouri Sankar Hill, on the summit of which are two temples dedicated to Shiva and Chandi respectively. Having obtained the darshan of the God and Goddess there, they climbed Anjani Hill, in which there is a beautiful cave. They entered the cave and saw a naked Aghori mahatma sitting alone ona tiger skin and warming himself before a fire. Seeing his two visitors, the mahatma smiled and welcomed them, asking them to sit on his platform with him. Seeing that he was in a communicative mood, the Saint requested him to tell them about his life of tapasya.

The mahatma smiled and said, “O Mahatmaji, my name is Kalkanath. I have been living here, doing tapas, for over five hundred years. I belong to the time of Gorakhnath. * Two other sadhus of my sect used to do tapas with me in the Girnar Hills, but Gorakhnath, who also lived there, quarrelled with us and, as he was more powerful than we, drove us away. The three of us came here, and I have continued to reside in this cave while my two companions have gone elsewhere. One of them lives near Peelabhith on the banks of the Mala River, and the other lives on Dhania Hill near Gaya.”

After he had told his extraordinary story, the Saint and Purandas noticed that there were human bones scattered around the cave, and they asked him to explain.

The mahatma laughed and said, “We are Aghori sadhus. Some- times, when I feel very hungry, I transform myself into a tiger and kill human beings to appease my hunger.”

  1. Baba Purandas, a monk of the Udasi order, was an intimate friend and admirer of Tapasviji who supplied the author with much of the history of the Saint’s early life.

  2. Gorakhnath (Sanskrit: Gorakshanatha) is the founder of the Kanphata (“split-ear”) order, which developed the tradition of hatha yoga. Goraksha is attributed with the authorship of several Sanskrit works on hatha yoga. His probable time was between the ninth and eleventh centuries A.D.


Baba Purandas joked, “Mahatmaji! Are you hungry now? Are you likely to become a tiger now?”

The Aghori sadhu laughed heartily and said, “No! No! I am not hungry now. I will not harm either of you. Moreover, I have recently taken a vow not to kill human beings.”

At that, the Aghori mahatma closed his eyes and went into a deep samadhi, becoming oblivious to the presence of his guests. The Saint told Baba Purandas that he had previously met other Aghori sadhus in solitary caves who were not afraid to eat human flesh and that they usually transformed themselves into tigers when they were in the mood. Baba Purandas had never met any such sadhus and the news greatly amazed him. From there, the Saint returned to his hermitage accom- panied by Laldas and Baba Purandas.



The Saint Visits Mathura, Where He Obtains the Darshan of Shri Krishna and the Gopis

After some time, Purandas left for his own ashram at Hyderabad. A few days later some sadhus arrived to obtain the darshan of the Saint. They reported that they had arrived at Kotban after visiting many holy sites, including a place called Siddha- kund, eighty miles from the Saint’s hermitage, near Tuglabad. They had hoped to see a great ascetic said to be performing tapas in a cave there, but he did not appear, and they thought that perhaps if a tapasvi like the Saint were to go, he would receive the darshan that they had failed to. Hearing this story, the Saint, who was a lover of great ascetics, decided to visit the hill they described. He asked Laldas to stay in the hermitage, and he set out alone towards Tuglabad and arrived at Siddhakund. A desire arose in his mind to sit in the cave and spend a year doing tapas. Accordingly, he bathed in the pond and began to do tapas in the cave.

He spent ten or twelve months there but did not obtain the darshan of the mysterious mahatma. When summer arrived, the small cave became too warm, and the Saint lay outside ona rock to sleep. One night the Saint was lying under the sky with his eyes closed, half-asleep, when a leopard appeared and sniffed his legs and arms. Its whiskers and foul breath disturbed the Saint, and he opened his eyes. Noticing that he was awake, the leopard stood at a distance and watched him. He closed his eyes again to see what it would do, and the leopard again came up to him and sniffed as before. He gave a sudden slap to the leopard’s neck. It did not run away, but growled and stood near him. Its strange behavior fascinated the Saint. “My son,” said he, “do not disturb me. Lie down quietly if you like. Do not be offended with me.”

It did not sit down, but continued to stand. So, he addressed it again, “You are not inclined to obey me, but it does not matter. If you do not like to lie down quietly, get away from here and visit me tomorrow. I do


not like you to disturb me.”

The leopard went away and the Saint slept. The next morning, he sat inside the cave absorbed in meditation. He did not see the leopard again until several nights later when it came to the cave and sat down peacefully without disturbing him.

The Saint discovered through his jnana-drishti 1 that the ascetic who resided there had deliberately assumed the form of a leopard and had furthermore graciously left his cave just to enable the Saint to perform tapas there. The bodily form of a leopard had been assumed to play with him, and the Saint was greatly pleased at the sportive behavior of the mahatma, who, though unwilling to be seen in his human form, was nevertheless willing to give darshan in the form of the leopard. The Saint now felt that he had stayed long enough and walked back to his hermitage.

For some months after he returned from Siddhakund the Saint did not stir from his hermitage. Then, a devotee named Daya Ram came to him and said, “Maharaj! A great Muslim saint is living near Gorakhpur in Kusambi Forest. He is a great mahatma, whom you might wish to see.”

The Saint was pleased to hear this. He set out from his hut at once and walked towards Gorakhpur, which he reached after many days. From there, he went to Kusambi Forest and made inquiries about a Muslim fakir residing in the area. He was unable to find anyone to guide him, and so he rambled here and there and at last found a small thatched hut that he guessed was the residence of the fakir. His intuition was correct. He had only covered a few yards when he heard a shout of greeting from the dilapidated hut. “Maharaj! I am just taking my lunch. Please come in. You are welcome.”

Real Saints and genuine fakirs are all childlike in their behavior, and they express their love and respect for one another unhampered by any display of false prestige. The fakir had intuitively understood that the Saint had come in quest of himself, and he therefore welcomed the visitor with exuberant cordiality. When the Saint entered, the fakir said, “Maharaj! You are welcome. You have come a great distance to see me. Please sit down. What can I offer you? I know that you do not like to eat mutton, which I am eating.”

The Saint replied that he could not eat mutton or fish, and that he would simply rest awhile, allowing the fakir to finish his meal. After the

  1. The Sanskrit term “jnana-drishti” means literally “wisdom’s gaze,” the inner or “divine sight”—clairvoyance.


meal, the fakir washed his hands and sat very near his guest and said that he was glad to see so great a saint in his hut. The Saint smiled and the fakir said, “You must eat something. What shall I give you?”

He asked his attendant to fetch something from the kitchen and a plate of cooked mutton arrived, which the fakir covered with a white cloth. The Saint repeated that he would not eat mutton, whereupon the fakir picked up the plate and said, “Maharaj! This plate contains potato, not mutton,” and he removed the white cloth. The miraculous effect of his words was that the mutton had been transformed into plain boiled potato. Both the fakir and the Saint laughed heartily when they saw the potato.

“Now, Maharaj,” said the fakir, “tyou can have no objection to eating this potato.”

The Saint replied that he had no objection at all and ate a few pieces of potato, which gave great pleasure to his extraordinary host. The Muslim fakir then clasped the Saint’s hands and kissed them reverently. They sat together and conversed for some time. Finally the Saint bade farewell to the fakir and left Kusambi Forest for his own mud hut.

The Saint was eager to obtain darshan of true lovers of God, whether they were Hindu or Muslim. While narrating this anecdote to me, he remarked that the fakir of Kusambi Forest was one of the many true lovers of God whom he had met among the Muslims, and that that fakir had acquired many powers as a result of the austerities he had performed according to the tenets of his religion.

In the month of Karteeka special festivities in honor of Lord Krishna were celebrated at Mathura, Shri Krishna’s birthplace, and Tapasviji wished to be there to witness them. He walked the thirty miles to Mathura where he stayed on the top floor of Nathuram Building, a dharma-shala.2 He visited various temples, where he witnessed the usual festivities and special worship of Lord Krishna, but the high point of his visit was an exceptionally mysterious spiritual experience.

One morning at about three or four o’clock, he woke up to go to the Yamuna River to take his morning bath. Before he went downstairs the Saint stood for a while on the open terrace of the roof and looked around. The whole city was quiet. Standing by the parapet he bent over and looked at the street below, noticing how deserted it was. Suddenly the silence was disturbed by the sound of music coming from his right,

  1. A dharma-shala (literally “lawful house”) is a hostel for mendicants.


and he saw a crowd of women singing and walking up the road toward the tiver. Their dress, features, and language were completely unfamiliar to him, even though he had often visited Mathura. He strained to see the bevy of beautiful women as they passed by the side of the building on which he stood, and to his great surprise he beheld Lord Krishna walking in their midst. The Saint stared at Shri Krishna and noticed his blue color. Shri Krishna held the hand of one of the women with his right hand and held a flute in his left hand. Lord Krishna looked up and regarded the Saint. Their eyes met, and the Saint was thrilled to realize that Shri Krishna was giving him darshan along with the gopis, with whom he had sported when he lived on this Earth five thousand years ago. The Saint decided to join the wonderful procession, and descended the staircase with lightning speed. Shri Krishna and the group of gopi women were walking down Holydarvaza Road and he quickened his pace, but though he walked as fast as he could, he could not overtake the group of women. Thus, he walked two or three furlongs behind the wonderful procession that had enthralled him so completely. His desire was to mingle with the procession and walk in Shri Krishna’s company to the river. At last, the group turned the corner of the side street which led to the river. He ran forward so as not to lose sight of them but when he turned the corner there was no one in front of him.

This experience delighted his heart, and he stood at the corner of the street for a long time, contemplating Shri Krishna’s Grace. With his heart full of devotion to Shri Krishna and the gopis, the Saint bathed in the river before returning to his room. In 1950, he took me to Mathura and to the same top-floor room. The Saint stood near the parapet of the terrace and said, “Murthy, long ago, I stood in this very spot, and beheld Lord Shri Krishna and the gopis walking in the road below.”



The Saint Meets Krishnadas, Who in His Former Birth Was the Saint’s Son

After obtaining the darshan of Shri Krishna and the gopis at Mathura, the Saint returned to his hermitage at Kotban. His attendants, Haridas and Laldas, were not there to receive or serve him because they had been unable to endure the hardships and uncertainties of their life at the hermitage in his absence. Sometimes there were plenty of provisions in the hermitage, and sometimes there would be nothing at all. When they complained to him about their difficulties, he used to tell them, “My sons, I am myself a mendicant. I depend wholly on what the Lord sends me for our livelihood. I cannot make provision even for one night, because I am a sadhu, content to enjoy what destiny brings to my hut.”

Neither Haridas nor Laldas had the requisite courage to endure the hardships of an ascetic’s life, so they had begged the Saint’s permission to leave. The Saint replied, “Both of you have served me for a long time, in spite of many hardships, and now you feel unable to stay. I permit you to go anywhere you please. Meditate on Shri Krishna; he will protect you.”

Therefore, he lived alone for some time after his return from Mathura. Whenever he felt particularly hungry, Mayi or another devotee would come and feed him with milk or wheat bread, and in this manner he spent a few weeks. Then, an extraordinary event took place.

Early one morning, the Saint was meditating. All was dark both inside and outside the hut when he heard a mysterious voice from an invisible source, as though a human being were speaking loudly to him. “O sadhu! Listen! Before you becamea monk, you had an only son. That son died before you abandoned your home, and he has now taken a new birth as the son of brahmin parents who live near Agra. He will come and meet you at Vrindavan.”

On hearing these words, the Saint opened his eyes. He recollected


what the great Sage Narada had told him in this regard during his second kalpa treatment, and some days later he set out for Vrindavan, which is about thirty-five miles from Kotban Forest. He walked the distance leisurely, visiting some hermitages on the way. When he arrived at Vrindavan, it was the day of the rasa-lila festival. He bathed in the Yamuna River and then sat down under a kadamba tree on its banks.

Among the pilgrims who gathered to obtain his darshan was a young lad of about twelve years who suddenly rushed out of the crowd, ran toward the Saint, and fell at his feet, sobbing. He addressed the Saint without any further ceremony and said, “Father! Where have you been all these years?”

He uttered these words over and over again, weeping as he spoke. The Saint tried to console the boy, who sat down on the former’s lap without any shyness or hesitation. The boy began to caress the aged Saint and stroke his white beard and hair. The onlookers were astonished at both the strange behavior of the boy and the loving way in which the white-haired Saint fondled him. The boy frequently uttered the same words, though the Saint gave no reply to his question.

The mystery of the drama was this: The boy had, somehow, recollected that he was, in his former birth, the son of the Saint. For him, the external appearance of the Saint had no significance at all. He saw only his fond father, not an imposing mahatma, and he behaved with the liberty of a son. The Saint stroked the cheeks and face and head of the boy with tenderness, and said, “My son! Why do you weep? Be comforted. Recover your peace of mind.”

Some of the onlookers gave fruit and sweets to the Saint and begged him to give them to the boy. The Saint invited him to eat anything he liked, but although the boy did not eat anything, he did become calm and frequently said “‘Father.”

“My son!” said the Saint. “Tell me who you are. What is your name? Where are your parents? Why have you come here?”

The boy astonished the bystanders by giving the following reply. “Father, my name is now Harivamsha. My parents are residents of Pethakeda village. My father is dead, but my mother is alive. She is in the village. From today, you are both my father and mother. You must take me with you wherever you go.”

He hugged the Saint as he spoke. Onlookers who were watching the progress of this moving drama were astonished to see a promising boy so completely surrendering himself to the Grace of an aged saint, whom he


had met apparently accidentally just a few minutes ago. As for the Saint himself, no action or utterance of Harivamsha came as a surprise. He did not reply but pacified the boy by saying, “My son, be comforted. Forget your sorrow. Shri Krishna will protect you.”

Hearing these words of assurance, the boy suddenly ran into the crowd that had gathered at some distance and in a few minutes came back, accompanied by some of his friends and relations. Addressing them he said, “Look here, today I have discovered my father. The Saint whom you see there is my father. From today, I will live with him. Go back to my village and tell my mother that I have sought the protection of this venerable Saint. Tell my mother not to worry herself about me in the future.”

Harivamsha’s friends and relatives were amazed at his words, but they could not do anything. They went away, leaving him in the company of the Saint. In this extraordinarily dramatic way, Harivamsha sur- rendered himself to the Grace of the wonderful Saint.

Afterward, the Saint and Harivamsha witnessed the rasa-lila, which was enacted near one of the Krishna temples of Vrindavan, and together they ate the food distributed by the priests of the temple.

When the Saint walked back to his hermitage, Harivamsha followed as though he had known him from his birth. They passed through Mathura and visited the top-floor room in Nathuram Building, where a number of the Saint’s devotees had gathered to obtain his darshan. When they saw Harivamsha serving the Saint they asked him to tell them who the new boy was. The Saint told them what had occurred, and they asked Harivamsha if he were willing to go to Kotban Forest and live in solitude in a mud hut. The lad smiled at the incredulity of the devotees and said that he was not afraid of living in any forest, so long as he lived in the company of his “father.” The devotees were pleased to hear such words of faith. The Saint asked them to purchase some woolen and cotton clothes for the boy’s use, and shirts, rugs, and dhotis were all purchased by the Saint’s wealthy devotees, who gladly made a present of them to Harivamsha. Then the Saint set out for Kotban Forest. Harivamsha, carrying his bundle in his armpit, followed the footsteps of his venerable Master. They walked the whole distance in easy stages and at last reached the hermitage.

The Saint asked Harivamsha to reside in the rooms that had been built for Haridas and Laldas. The boy learned the art of cooking in a short time and began to serve the Saint with great love and devotion, which


soon transformed him into a sage’s son or rishi-putra. When he was about eighteen years old, the Saint was satisfied that the boy had sufficient moral and physical stamina to lead the austere life of a samnyasi, and he initiated him into the Udasi order. After the appropriate formalities he conferred the name Krishnadas on the young sadhu.



The Saint Undergoes Kaya-Kalpa Treatment for the Third Time, and Lord Dattatreya Gives Him Darshan

When Mayi and other long-stand- ing devotees of the Saint visited, Krishnadas was introduced to them as the Saint’s own son living in a new physical body. Everyone who heard the story was astonished. Mayi and the others treated Krishnadas with love and respect. There was nothing they would not do for his physical well-being and happiness. The Saint would always address him as “son” instead of calling him by name. Krishnadas, on his part, addressed the Saint as “Maharaj” to show his respect, but in his heart he bore filial love towards Tapasviji. The great Saint, who had lived a life of extreme nonattachment for so long, began to feel a kind of paternal attachment toward Krishnadas, often taking pleasure in his smiling face. In this wonderful manner a normal human relationship was introduced into the life of the Saint, who had spent nearly a hundred years in secluded caves and forests, with no attachment to any particular person or place.

About a year after Krishnadas came to dwell in the hermitage, an occasion arose for both of them to undertake a short trip. The Saint was invited to dinner by a long-standing devotee, who lived in the village of Basti, some miles away. After walking several miles, the Saint and Krishnadas had to cross a river, beyond which the village of Basti was situated. When they reached the river, they found it to be in flood and not fordable. A boatman plying his tiny boat offered to ferry them across. However, the river was so wide and the current so unusually rapid that the boat was caught in midstream for a long time. The boatman became so tired that he could scarcely hold his oar. The tiny boat was being tossed hither and thither by the water, and the Saint and Krishnadas felt that their lives were in grave danger. All of a sudden, a torrent of floodwater was seen rushing down from upstream. The boatman cried out, “Maharaj! We are lost! Jump into the river and swim 156

ashore if you can.”

At this, the boatman jumped in and swam away to safety. Krishnadas did not know how to swim, and the Saint could not abandon him. The situation was desperate. Krishnadas began to sob, but the Saint held his hand and encouraged him. Now the flood waters were upon them but the boat did not capsize. Just then a miracle happened. The Saint noticed a big crocodile approaching the boat. It had smelled their bodies and obviously intended to devour the Saint and Krishnadas when they fell into the river. The Saint knew how to make use of the crocodile’s services, however. There was a strong rope lying in the boat, one end fastened to the bow. The Saint took Krishnadas’s shirt and tied it to the loose end of the rope. Then he threw the bundle toward the crocodile. As the clothes had the smell of human skin, the crocodile caught the bundle with its teeth, thinking that it had caught a meal, and its natural instinct made it pull the rope and tug them toward the bank of the river. Thus, the Saint and Krishnadas were saved from a watery grave.

They went on to Basti where many devotees were waiting for the Saint’s darshan. They were all told of the dangers from which the aged Saint and his disciple had been saved and they extolled the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the Saint. But Tapasviji Maharaj assured them that it was the protecting hand of Lord Krishna that had enabled him and Krishnadas to surmount the twin dangers which they had encountered that day.

For three or four years after his return from Basti, the Saint did not leave the hermitage. Whenever he was not engaged in meditation, he would sit with Krishnadas and narrate stories from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and the Bhagavata-Purana. During the process of story telling, he would give spiritual instruction to the young lad, whose knowledge of books was negligible. The Saint knew the Granth Sahib also, and he read it to Krishnadas and explained the meaning of the verses.

However, Krishnadas was not inclined to read books, even when they were placed in his hands, and as he had had little or no schooling, the Saint tried to place him in the charge of learned pandits, so that he, too, might become a scholar. But Krishnadas was not willing to leave the immediate companionship of the Saint and therefore he made no progress in book knowledge. He was convinced that he would and could learn everything that he needed to by serving the Saint and living in his holy company. Sometimes, learned Sanskrit scholars would visit the Saint to obtain his darshan and blessings, and the Saint would suggest


that Krishnadas live with them for a time and improve his knowledge. But whenever the Saint made such a proposal, Krishnadas would plead, “Maharaj! Please do not drive me away from your presence. I do not want to become a scholar. My only desire is to serve you and to live with you.”

The young boy made the same statement over and over again, indicating that his life’s purpose had been fulfilled after having earned the Grace of the venerable Master, who was his Guru and also his “father.” Such was his steadfastness and devotion. Within three or four years, however, he managed to become fairly proficient in reading and writing, and he was naturally intelligent and observant. He cared little for his bodily comfort and served his Master with single-minded devotion. Sometimes, at the behest of the Saint, he would practice some spiritual austerity in addition to his duties.

The Saint later told me that Shri Krishnadas became a mahatma ina very short time as a result of his total surrender to his Guru. Until his death, service to his Guru was the sole sadhana of Krishnadas and his example illustrates the truth of Bhagavan Shankaracarya’s instruction, “There is no greater truth than the Guru. There is no greater penance than the Guru. There is nothing higher than knowledge of the Truth (which is Transmitted by the Guru). Obeisance to the venerable Guru.”

One morning, a new devotee came and saluted the Saint and introduced himself, “Maharaj! I have come to obtain your darshan and blessings. My name is Indra Narayan. I live in Etah.”

The Saint welcomed him and answered his philosophical questions. Indra Narayan felt that his life’s purpose had been served when he thus obtained the darshan and Grace of the white-haired Saint, whom he had long been desirous of seeing. The Saint was pleased with the visitor’s devotion, and he asked him to stay at the hermitage for a day. Accordingly, Krishnadas took the visitor to his own room and made him comfortable there. Krishnadas and Indra Narayan took their meal together, and during their conversation Krishnadas told the visitor that the Saint had become very old, that his real age was one hundred and sixty-five years, and that he would be able to recover fresh strength and vitality if he underwent another kaya-kalpa treatment. Krishnadas told

Indra Narayan how the second kalpa treatment had rejuvenated the Saint’s body, and Indra Narayan asked why the Saint had not yet taken the third. Krishnadas explained that a special hut would have to be built for that purpose, and that many thousands of rupees would be required. As Indra Narayan was a well-to-do landholder, he resolved to contribute


his wealth and service toward the kalpa treatment.

That evening Indra Narayan obtained darshan of the Saint and said, “Maharaj! Krishnadas has informed me that you intend to take kalpa medicine for the rejuvenation of your body and that you have been Postponing it for want of money and other necessities. If lack of money is the only cause of postponement, Iam willing to give you as many rupees as you may require, but I want to offer my personal services in addition to funds. I live in Etah where I have a big garden and many cows. If youcan shift your residence I will make all the necessary arrangements and build a proper hut for your treatment. Please accept my offer. That is my prayer.”

“My son,” replied the Saint, “the Lord has prompted you to help me, and Krishnadas wants me to accept your offer. We will therefore do as you have suggested.”

Indra Narayan was very happy when his offer of help was accepted by the aged Saint. “Maharaj! Your kind acceptance of my services fills me with delight. I will return to Etah and come back for you and Krishnadas in my car. Youare too frail to stand the strain of any other mode of travel. I will return within a week.” Then he turned to Krishnadas, saying, “Maharaj, I take your leave. Treat me as your brother. Let us serve the Saint together and help him to become strong again.” Having said these words, Indra Narayan obtained the Saint’s permission to depart from the hermitage.

True to his promise, Rao Bahadur Indra Narayan came back to the hermitage in his new motorcar. This was the first time that the Saint and Krishnadas had traveled in an automobile. Within a few hours, they reached Etah. Indra Narayan accommodated the Saint and Krishnadas in the farmhouse close to his own bungalow and made every arrangement for their comfort. Within a few days, he had a new hut built within the

garden according to the plan suggested by the Saint. He hada well dug in the vicinity and purchased cows of a particular breed, feeding them with wheat bran and other special fodder according to the Saint’s instructions. With the help of Krishnadas, the Saint prepared the kalpa medicine and on an auspicious day entered the new hut and made it his residence.

Addressing Indra Narayan, the Saint said, “My son, you have made all the arrangements necessary for the successful outcome of my kalpa treatment. I will confine myself in this room for forty days and will see no one except Krishnadas.” The Saint gave detailed instructions concerning his privacy and daily routine, and then closed his eyes.


Twenty days elapsed without signs of improvement and the Saint was somewhat worried. One night he lay down to sleep, but could not, though it was past midnight. All of a sudden, his dark room was illuminated with celestial light. He sat up and beheld the glorious form of Shri Guru Nanak. The Saint was filled with joy on seeing the Blessed Guru, who had shown his Grace so unexpectedly. He stood up respectfully and bowed his head.

Guru Nanak said, “Tapasviji! I have given you my darshan in this way with the intention of taking you with me to obtain the darshan of Lord Krishna.”

As soonas he heard these words the Saint beheld a Divine vision. He and Guru Nanak left the hut and walked till they came to a tree where they saw Lord Krishna standing majestically in the shade. The Saint prostrated at the lotus feet of Shri Krishna, who smiled radiantly at him.

Lord Krishna said, “So, Tapasviji! You were dejected today while you sat in your hut because the kalpa medicine has not yet begun to rejuvenate your body. I want to assure you that your treatment will be successful and that your debilitated body will regain its lost vitality. You will perceive signs of rejuvenation tomorrow morning. Do not allow your mind to get depressed.”

The Saint prostrated to Shri Krishna once again, his heart full of bliss. At that point the wonderful vision faded away, and he opened his eyes and found himself sitting alone as before in his dark cell. He continued to sit on his bed with his heart overflowing with happiness.

When the day dawned, Krishnadas entered the room carrying the usual pot of milk, and the Saint told him about the Divine Grace he had received during the night. Krishnadas was greatly pleased to learn from his Master that Lord Krishna had assured the success of the kalpa treatment.

Two or three days later an unexpected thing occurred. The Saint happened to scratch his head and was amazed when his hair fell out at his touch. When he passed his hands over his face he was equally astonished to see his white beard and mustache falling from the skin at the slightest touch. He passed his hands over the whole of his head and face again and again, with the result that every hair fell as though he had shaved with a

sharp razor. Young Krishnadas, who had been accustomed to seeing his master with a head full of hair, could not believe his eyes. There was not even one gray hair on the skin, and even more remarkable, the Saint’s skin was rosy and shining, the wrinkles on the face and neck were gone,


and the skin was smooth and beautiful. The Saint’s eyes, in particular, were lustrous and clear, and the eyesight had improved. These signs of bodily rejuvenation were expected by the Saint, who was aware of the efficacy of the medicine, but to Krishnadas all these symptoms of rejuvenation were nothing short of a miracle. The Saint told his disciple that the medicine had begun to work as a result of Shri Krishna’s Grace, but that the treatment would continue for the full forty days, as originally planned.

Five days before terminating his treatment the Saint was sitting on his bed doing japa. All of a sudden the door, which was locked both inside and out, was flung open and the hut was flooded with celestial light. To his amazement he saw Lord Dattatreya1 approach him. Dattatreya had a single head but three faces. He wore a massive jate2 on his head but his face was clean-shaven. His countenance was a picture of youthfulness. He had four hands, in one of which he carried a trident. He was tall, thin, majestic, and completely naked. Two white dogs accom- panied him. The Saint prostrated humbly to the august visitor. He wanted to circumambulate Lord Dattatreya, but there was not sufficient space and so he stood with his hands folded respectfully. Lord Dattatreya lifted two of his hands in blessing and began to speak in Sanskrit. The Saint explained that he did not understand Sanskrit and Dattatreya repeated in Hindi, “Tapasviji! I am Dattatreya. I was going from the Girnar Hills to the Himalayas when I saw you doing tapas here. SoI came to this room to give you darshan. I want you to travel to South India. You must go there and meet your devotees and enlighten them.”

The Saint replied, “Bhagavan! I do not know anyone in South India.”

“Why do you say so? Do you not remember what Narada told you before? What Narada has told you is true. Your devotees will come to you of their own accord when you reach South India!’ Then Lord Dattatreya vanished as suddenly as he had come. The door was closed, the lock fastened by an invisible hand, and the room was as dark as before. The Saint sat down on his bed with his heart full of devotion to Lord Dattatreya, who had bestowed his darshan.

Day by day, the Saint’s body became stronger and stronger and

  1. Dattatreya is iconographically depicted as having three faces, which symbolize B: Vishnu, and Shiva, and as being accompanied by (usually) four dogs. rahma

  2. A jate is a cluster of matted locks.


every limb became supple. All symptoms of old age and debility had been removed from his body. Sadhu Krishnadas who, on the forty-first day, was the first person to see the Saint in broad daylight, could not at first believe that he was in the presence of his venerable Master. In the place of his old and withered Guru, he saw a youthful sadhu. In fact, the Saint looked younger than Krishnadas himself. His voice, however, had remained unchanged. The old, familiar voice was the only sure outward sign that proclaimed the Saint’s identity. Unable to contain his joy and satisfaction, Krishnadas embraced his Master, whom he so dearly loved, and the Saint asked him to go and fetch Rao Bahadur Indra Narayan.

When Indra Narayan came, he did not recognize the Saint at first. He expected to see the old Saint with one or two physical signs of improvement, but instead he saw a young man with a ruddy face, sitting in the lotus posture on the cot. He asked Krishnadas to tell him where the Saint was. Krishnadas smiled at Indra Narayan’s confusion, and the Saint called the latter to his side. The familiar voice allowed his devotee to recognize him, and he fell at the Saint’s feet.

“O my son!” said the Saint. “I am the same old sadhu whom you brought from Kotban to Etah. By the Grace of Lord Krishna, my old and infirm body has been rejuvenated to such an extent that I appear young.”

Indra Narayan expressed his pleasure at the success of the treatment. “Maharaj! Krishnadas and I are both immensely pleased that our humble services have borne fruit. We are glad to see that youare no longer in the grip of old age. We will bathe you in hot water.” They took him to the adjacent bathroom and gave him a bath, rubbing his rejuvenated body with soap and oil. Now the Saint’s body looked more beautiful than before. They dressed him in new, ochre-colored robes and he gave darshan to hundreds of devotees filing past the hut. They were amazed at the robust appearance of the Saint, whom they had known to be an aged and withered man just a few weeks before.

A few days after the treatment, the Saint and Krishnadas left Etah and returned to the hermitage by car.



The Saint Gives the Kaya-Kalpa Treatment to Two Famous Men

Having brought the Saint and Krish- nadas from Etah, Rao Bahadur Indra Narayan stayed with them in the hermitage, which had been neglected during the Saint’s absence. He purchased a large quantity of provisions and filled the ashram kitchen. He knew that the Saint had to be fed well at regular intervals for some weeks, even though the treatment had miraculously rejuvenated his body. A rejuvenated human body performs its metabolic process so efficiently that the patient must eat a good deal of wholesome food in order to consolidate the signs of physical improvement. Otherwise the body will waste away. Indra Narayan and Krishnadas joyfully cooperated with each other and took good care of the Saint, feeding him three times a day—an unusual amount for him—for a month after they returned from Etah.

In the meantime, the Saint’s longtime devotees began to visit the hermitage, and all were pleased to see their aged Guru restored to health and vigor. But only his familiar voice enabled them to recognize him. Because he did not speak to her immediately, even Mayi did not recognize him when she first saw him. The Saint and Krishnadas were sitting together when she came in, and she said to Krishnadas, “I came to see Guruji. Where has he gone?” Krishnadas smiled at her helplessness, and the Saint spoke to her, allowing her to realize that the hefty, round-faced, and black-haired sadhu before her was the same one she had last seen two months ago.

Some days later, the Saint and Krishnadas traveled to Delhi, which was sixty miles from the hermitage. They stayed as guests of Ramasvarup, a devotee who was a civil servant and the grandson of Kumerji, his host of more thana hundred years past. He did not even recognize the Saint when he first entered the house. Ramasvarup was amazed at the youthful appearance of the Saint. He told everyone he knew that a mahatma of 165


years was visiting him, and many people flocked to his house. Among those who thus became aware of the Saint’s success in the kaya-kalpa treatment was a doctor from Delhi by the name of Rajavaidya Anandasvami. He was a physician of the Ayurvedic system of medicine, of which kaya-kalpa is a part. At the time he was attending the famous Pandit Malavia, who was very ill. Anandasvami obtained the darshan of the Saint at Ramasvarup’s house. The doctor was astonished when he saw the saintly as well as extraordinarily youthful appearance of Shriman Tapasviji. He introduced himself to the Saint and said, “Mahatmaji! I am wonder-struck at the effect of the kalpa medicine. Can you give the same kaya-kalpa treatment to Malaviaji? He is a good and pious man and he needs your help.”

The Saint was the embodiment of benevolence. He would never say no when he could say yes, and so he replied, “I have heard of Pandit Malavia. If he is willing to undergo the treatment, I will prepare the medicine and administer it to him.”

After the Saint and Krishnadas had returned to the hermitage, Dr. Anandasvami followed them and obtained the Saint’s darshan.

“Maharaj!” said the doctor. “I have consulted Pandit Malavia. He is too weak to come here and obtain your darshan, but he is anxious to see you and discuss the kaya-kalpa treatment in person. I beg you to travel with me to Mussouri and give your darshan to Malaviaji there.”

The Saint agreed to do so, and Anandasvami took him and Krishnadas first to Dehradoon and from there to Mussouri. At Dehradoon, Haridatta Sastry, a learned Sanskrit scholar and guru of the rulers of the small states of Mandi and Suketh, obtained the darshan of the Saint and was struck with the latter’s radiant health and spiritual perfection. Haridatta Sastry earned the Grace of the Saint and begged the latter to give him kalpa treatment along with Pandit Malaviaji. The Saint loved all learned and pious brahmins, and he readily agreed to give the kalpa treatment to Haridatta Sastry if the latter could arrange to stay with Malaviaji during the course of the Pandit’s treatment.

Next, Dr. Anandasvami took the Saint and Krishnadas to Mussouri, where they met Pandit Malaviaji. The ailing Pandit saluted the Saint with profound respect and soon forgot his sickness because he was more interested in discussing philosophy. The Saint uplifted the Pandit and removed some of the latter’s doubts, and then they discussed the theory and practice of kaya-kalpa. Pandit Malavia was astonished at the Saint’s great knowledge of this ancient art and was eager to undergo the


treatment. By that time, Pandit Haridatta Sastry had sent telegrams to the rulers of Mandi and Suketh advising them to invite the Saint to their states and obtain his darshan. The two rulers in turn sent telegrams to Anandasvami, requesting him to escort the Saint to their homes. Anandasvami then begged Tapasviji to visit Mandi and Suketh and when the Saint agreed, the doctor made suitable arrangements to take him and Krishnadas on horseback to the states.

Thus, the little party left Mussouri on horseback and set out on their journey. They dismounted at Vaidyanath, where there was a Shiva temple. Many learned brahmins had assembled to obtain the darshan of the Saint, whose fame was spreading. Anandasvami and the brahmin pundits took the Saint round the temple. On the walls of the inner temple, they saw an old inscription cut on a stone that all the learned scholars tried to read but could not decipher. They asked the Saint if he could read the Sanskrit words and he said, “I do not know Sanskrit, but I can tell you whatis written here.” He looked at the inscription with some attention and announced, “It says that the ancient Ravanasura per- formed tapas in this spot and propitiated Lord Shiva.”

All the scholars were astonished at his ability to grasp the contents of the inscription though he could not read the words. They stayed in the temple overnight and continued their journey the next morning.

Anandasvami, Krishnadas, and the others who now accompanied the Saint crossed the Trimohini River. The water was shallow, and their horses forded it easily and reached the other side ahead of the Saint, whose horse was particularly slow and had also stopped in midstream to take a long drink. While his party stood on the far bank, waiting, a wall of water was seen approaching from upstream. Heavy rain had fallen the previous day, and the accumulated water in the catchment area had suddenly burst through its embankment. Such things are very common in the hilly areas of India, where rainfall is abundant. They shouted, “Maharaj! Whip your horse, cross the river!”? But the sandy bed of the river where his horse was standing made rapid movement impossible. The momentum of the torrent increased, and the current overcame the unfortunate animal, rendering it immobile. Krishnadas cried out in agony, fearing that his Master would be swept away along with the horse. But Divine Grace and the Saint’s intrepidity saved him and the horse.

As my readers are well aware, the Saint was an experienced rider and, moreover, fearless. He turned the horse into the oncoming torrent and held it there. When it was upon them he simply bent his head and


allowed the water to glide over their bodies. The worst past, the level of the turbulent stream fell sufficiently low for him to coax the horse to the bank. Krishnadas stopped weeping and thanked God for having saved his Master from what appeared to be certain death, while Dr. Anandasvami, who was responsible for the trip, was relieved of his anxiety.

The Rajas of Mundi and Suketh welcomed the Saint with profound respect and were both astonished to learn that he was 165 years old. They conveyed their gratitude to him for giving darshan to them in their own homes. After completing this unscheduled trip, the Saint and Krishnadas returned to the hermitage at Kotban.

The Goddess Lakshmi had resolved that the reputation of the Saint would spread both in and outside of India, and she appears to have made Pandit Madan Malavia an instrument’of her purpose. A celebrated political leader, he was a friend and associate of Mahatma Gandhi, whose own fame had by then reached the distant corners of both hemispheres. Now, Malaviaji had become sick due to old age and having obtained darshan of the venerable Saint at Mussouri, was convinced of the possible benefits that could be derived from kaya-kalpa treatment. Thereupon, he wrote a letter to the Saint and sent it through his emissary, Anandasvami.

Anandasvami again obtained darshan of the Saint at Kotban and delivered the letter written by Pandit Malaviaji, which explained that he had obtained the Senate’s approval of the proposed treatment, and requested that the Saint visit Benares immediately so that they could discuss the matter further and decide upon a location. The Saint agreed to visit Benares and Anandasvami escorted him and Krishnadas there by train. Both Malaviaji and Haridatta Sastry agreed to wait till summer. In the meantime, Malaviaji would have the special kalpa hut built at Allahabad both for himself and his friend, Haridatta Sastry, and would bear the expense involved in the preparation of the medicine and in the purchase and maintenance of two or three cows. After all these arrangements had been made, Malaviaji bade farewell to the Saint, who returned to his hermitage and began preparing the medicine.

On an auspicious day the Saint began the treatment, visiting each of his patients while Krishnadas weighed the medicine. The Saint graciously gave the first dose with his own hands and had them each drink fresh cow’s milk. They were forbidden to eat or drink anything else. The Saint directed them to rest quietly in bed for forty days and to refrain from every kind of activity or work, but to trust in Shri Krishna’s Grace and


spend their time in Divine contemplation, to the degree that they could. He told them that he would visit them once every day to supervise the administering of their medicine and observe their signs of improvement.

A few days later, Pandit Malaviaji complained to the Saint of fullness of stomach. He had been cleaning his bowels by taking enemas for several days. The Saint advised him to discontinue this harmful practice, warning him that continued enemas would substantially reduce the benefit of the treatment. He assured Malaviaji that the medicine would strengthen the intestines and cure the symptoms of which he was complaining. Alas, Pandit Malavia was unable to comply with the Saint’s instructions.

For forty days the Saint and Krishnadas entered the rooms of the patients at daybreak and gave them the medicine. The Saint spoke lovingly with them, gladdening their minds and removing the tedium of their solitary confinement. On the morning of the twenty-first day, Pandit Malaviaji told the Saint, “Maharaj! Iam happy to inform you that

I feel much stronger than when I started this treatment. It gives me great pleasure to say that my eyesight has improved. I have long used spectacles, but today I can read without them and have just written a

letter to Mahatma Gandhi, informing him of the beneficial effects of your treatment.”

The Saint smiled and said, “Panditji! I am pleased to hear this. Do not worry about the success of the treatment. Forget your concerns. Shri Krishna will enable you to recover your vigor if you take the medicine for the remaining period of twenty days.”

The treatment continued according to schedule and both patients were slowly getting better.

On the forty-first day, Malaviaji and Pandit Sastry were allowed to leave their rooms. Their health and appearance had improved beyond their expectations. Local doctors examined them and certified that their weight had increased by ten pounds and that their general health and vigor had appreciably improved. Their feeling of debility had disap- peared, their eyesight had become strong, and their mental functions had regained their previous standard. Both gentlemen were over seventy years in age but their appearance, at the end of the treatment, indicated

that they were men of middle age. They asked the Saint to sit on a chair between them and had a group photograph taken in honor of the occasion. That photo clearly proclaims the benefits that the treatment conferred on them. Hundreds of articles appeared in newspapers both in


India and abroad, along with the photo. The Saint and his achievements became known worldwide. Look magazine published a letter about Shriman Tapasviji, proclaiming him the eighth wonder of the world. In this way, the venerable sage, who had spent more than one hundred years in solitary caves engaged in Divine contemplation, unknown except to sadhus and to gods, suddenly became a world-famous personality.



The Second Boon of the Goddess is Fulfilled

The Saint did not stir from his hut until

April 1938, when the kumbha-mela was celebrated at Hardwar. Krishna- das suggested to his Master that they go and the Saint agreed, because he wished his young disciple to come into contact with the sadhus and monks of India who would congregate there.

Arriving at Hardwar, they camped in a stone mantapan1 on the banks of the Ganges. The Saint showed Krishnadas some of the holy places where he had done sadhana nearly a hundred years previously. One morning when Krishnadas and the Saint were seated on the banks of the river, Rana Lakshman Singh came to obtain his darshan. This gentleman had not seen the Saint before but had heard of him from many well-known people. He prostrated to the Saint and said, “Mahatmaji! I beg to introduce myself to you. My name is Rana Lakshman Singh. My elder sister is the Maharani of Mysore. For some time, both of my eyes have been giving me much trouble. No doctors have been able to cure my trouble, and I have come here from Bangalore, where I heard that you gave the kaya-kalpa treatment to Pandit Malaviaji. I beg you to examine my eyes and cure my trouble—you are my last hope. Before coming here, I went to your hermitage at Kotban, where I learned that you had come here for the kumbha-mela. I seek your Grace.”

The benevolent Saint examined Rana Sahib’s eyes at once. He discovered the trouble but he could do nothing at Hardwar. He told Rana Sahib, “Krishnadas and I are now ona pilgrimage. We will stay here fora few days and then return to our hermitage. No medicine can be prepared for you here, but I know what to apply to your eyes, and Krishnadas will prepare it at the hermitage. If you can come to Kotban and stay for forty days, I will treat you and your eye trouble will disappear.”

  1. A mantapan is a covered place of worship.


Rana Sahib conveyed his gratitude and said, “Maharaj, I will now return to Bangalore to rest and consult my sister and then visit you at your hermitage.”

The Saint spent some fifteen days in Hardwar and the surrounding environs. During that time, another man approached the Saint respect- fully and said, “Maharaji! I am the secretary of the Maharaj of Jhind. My master pays his respects to you and begs you to visit him. He is sick and bedridden, and asks that if you are so pleased, you cure him. If you grant his request, I will escort you to Jhind.”

The Saint agreed to visit the old Maharaj. The secretary took the Saint and Krishnadas by motorcar to Jhind, where the Maharaj received the Saint with great respect and repeated his request in person. The Saint agreed to treat the royal patient. He had Krishnadas prepare medicine and the raja took it for ten days. It had a miraculous effect on him. Within that short time, his physical troubles were cured and he became healthy and strong. The old Maharaj was naturally delighted, and he worshipped the Saint and expressed his great gratitude. Afterward, the Saint and Krishnadas were driven back to the hermitage.

Some time later, the Saint was sitting in the inner room of his hut and Krishnadas was sitting outside when a tall, well-dressed gentleman, his wife, and their attendants arrived in motorcars. The gentleman was Raja Ambikeshvara Prasad Singh, the ruler of Manakapur. He saw young Krishnadas standing outside the hut and introduced himself, saying, “Svamiji! I have come desiring to obtain the darshan of Shriman Tapasviji. Please tell your Guruji that we are here and allow us to see him.”

Krishnadas entered the hut and communicated the news, and the Saint came out beaming. Raja Ambikeshvara offered flowers and fruits and saluted the Saint with humility. His wife and other followers, too, conveyed their salutations. The Saint received them kindly and asked them to sit down.

“Svamiji,” said the raja, “I have heard that you have successfully rejuvenated Pandit Malavia by giving him kalpa medicine. I have come to you to request that you give me similar treatment and cure my bodily troubles.”

His young wife added, “Svamiji! I beg you to fulfill my husband’s request. He has become sick, and I wish that by your Grace he regain his health.”

“I am willing to comply with your prayer,” replied the Saint, “but in


this forest we do not have the necessary accommodations, and it is not possible for me to go to your home. If you can construct a kalpa hut near this ashram, live in it for about two months, and maintain two or three good cows, I will give you the same treatment that I gave to Pandit Malavia.”

The raja said, “Svamiji, what you have proposed is easy for me. I will buy some land in the vicinity and have a proper house built in a short time.”

“If you can do so, I will treat you.”

The raja had brought with him a gentleman by the name of Mathura Prasad, a wealthy landowner who lived in Koshikalan. The raja gave him a large sum of money and requested that he buy two or three acres of land near Kotban and have suitable structures built according to the directions of the Saint. Mathura Prasad could easily consult with the Saint at frequent intervals because he lived so near the hermitage. Mathura Prasad was then introduced to the Saint.

A few days later, Mathura Prasad purchased four acres of agri- cultural land about four miles from Kotban Forest. He reported his purchase to the Saint and both of them inspected it. The Saint found the land to be suitable, and the raja sent his officers to have a building constructed. Within a few months a kalpa hut and a well were completed. When the raja was informed that all was ready, he arrived with his wife and other personal attendants and occupied the new buildings. The raja then had a thatched hut constructed for the Saint’s convenience, as it was a long walk from Kotban Forest. The Saint came and inspected the work. He was satisfied with the arrangements they had so thoughtfully made for him and occupied the new hut while Krishnadas lived in one of the rooms of the new kalpa hut.

On the morning of an auspicious day, the Saint administered the first dose of medicine to the raja. The Saint instructed him to drink cow’s milk three times a day and to refrain from eating or drinking anything else. He was asked to avoid all worries and rest quietly for forty days, speaking to no one except Krishnadas. The Saint visited the raja every morning to see that he received the proper doses of the medicine and also

to watch and record his symptoms. He was pleased to find that the Taja’s health improved day by day. The treatment continued for forty days. On the forty-first day the raja was so rejuvenated that he was surprised when he saw himself in a mirror.

The next day, the raja and rani celebrated the great event by feeding


thousands of people sumptuously and giving gifts of cows and clothes to the guests. They stayed there for a few days more, living happily in the holy company of the Saint, who then gave them permission to return to Manakapur. On the date of their departure, Raja Ambikeshvara Prasad Singh saluted the aged Saint and said, “Maharaj! I have only one more favor to ask you. Please permit me to make a gift to you of this land and its buildings. I beg you to accept this property as my humble gift to you.” The rani, too, made the same entreaty.

The Saint was satisifed that the donor and his rani were eager to make the gift to him, and he consented to receive the land. The raja took tulasi leaves2 in his right hand and the rani poured water on them, and together they said, “Krishna-arpanam aste.”3

The Saint gave them great pleasure by saying, “Raja Sahib! I have accepted your gift. The thatched hut which you constructed for my temporary residence will become my permanent hermitage. Krishnadas will use the room you have used till now. I permit you to return happily to your native place.”

The Saint conferred the name “Vishnu Dham” (Vishnu’s Resi- dence) on the property and resided there on and off until his death. Over time, the Saint’s devotees improved the hermitage by having more guest rooms, kitchens, and storehouses built, making the hermitage more useful to the Saint’s increasing number of devotees.

  1. The tulasi (basil) plant is sacred to God Krishna and his Divine Consort Lakshmi. It is a purifying agent.
  2. See chapter 16, p. 83, n. 5.



Rana Lakshman Singh’s Eye Trouble Is Cured

During this time, a messenger from the raja of Maksadpur arrived at Vishnu Dham with a letter for the Saint. The raja had obtained the darshan of the Saint at Allahabad, where he had requested that he visit his kingdom. The Saint had replied that he would do so in a few months. The letter referred to this promise and contained a fresh invitation to visit Maksadpur. The raja begged the Saint to accompany the messenger, who had been charged with the duty of escorting him. Thereupon, the Saint and the messenger traveled to Maksadpur, where the aged raja and his ministers received the Saint with great respect and begged him to stay in their state for fifteen days and instruct them.

The raja was a spiritually inclined person. He questioned the Saint on many matters that troubled him and received instruction. When Tapasviji was about to depart the raja asked if he could give him the kalpa treatment. The Saint directed him to visit Vishnu Dham and receive the treatment there. When all the arrangements had been made the Saint returned to his hermitage.

The raja’s personal attendants arrived in advance and built a kalpa hut according to the Saint’s instruction. In time the Taja arrived and began to reside in the hut, and on the appointed day his treatment began. Kalpa medicine produces its wonderful effects only if the patient can rest peacefully during the period of treatment and avoid mental agitation. The Saint taught the raja a mantra and directed him to repeat it whenever his mind was disturbed. This practice was beneficial to the old raja, and at the end of forty days he was astonished when he looked at his face in the mirror and discovered that he had regained the appearance and vivacity of a young man. The raja thanked the merciful Saint over and over again, and after prostrating to him and obtaining his blessings, he and his attendants returned to Maksadpur. These events took place during the


summer of 1939, but before the summer ended, another great event occurred at Vishnu Dham.

Readers will recall that Rana Lakshman Singh visited the Saint at Hardwar during the kumbha-mela of 1938. The Saint had examined his eyes and discovered what the trouble was, assuring Rana Sahib that he would be cured if and when he visited Vishnu Dham. After returning to Bangalore, Rana Sahib was examined by many eminent ophthalmolo- gists, as his relatives were opposed to his being treated by a sadhu, but the pain was not relieved in spite of the best treatment he was able to secure.

When Rana Sahib arrived at Vishnu Dham in 1939, he found Krishnadas standing near the kalpa hut. He introduced himself, saying, “Svamiji! You may remember me. Shriman Tapasviji examined my eyes a year ago at Hardwar and promised to cure my trouble if I visited his ashram. I have come a long distance with only one of my attendants to seek his Grace and help. Please take me to him.”

Krishnadas informed his Master and then led the ailing visitor to the hut. The eyes of Rana Sahib were so painful that he could hardly open them to see the merciful face of the Saint, who emerged from his hut to greet the visitors. However, he recognized the Saint’s beaming counte- nance and fell at his feet. “Maharaj! I hope you will remember me. I pray for your Grace and help. I am tormented by the pain of my eyes and no doctor has been able to give me any relief. You are my last hope.”

The Saint, who was the embodiment of compassion, examined Rana Sahib’s eyes and took his pulse. “Rana Sahib, your eye trouble will be cured in forty days. Forget your distress. Stay in the kalpa hut and treat it as your home. Krishnadas will take care of you. We will prepare the medicine in a few days and start the treatment. In the meanwhile, reside happily in the ashram. You have come here by the Lord’s Grace.”

Then Krishnadas led the visitor back to the hut and accommodated him and his servant there.

With the help of Krishnadas the Saint prepared the juice of a particular herb and simply applied it to Rana Sahib’s head. No other medicine was given to him and no restriction was imposed on his diet. The juice was applied to the patient’s head from morning till evening for forty days and Rana Sahib began, slowly but surely, to experience the symptoms of relief. The redness of his eyeballs was reduced, irritation of the lids decreased, and at the end of forty days he was completely relieved.


He was pleased beyond all expression. His long-standing pain had been fully removed. With his heart full of gratitude and respect, he addressed the Saint thus, “Maharaj, I have no words fit to describe my gratitude to you. My eye pain has disappeared through your Grace. You have accomplished what many doctors have not been able to do. My grief is gone. You have performed a miracle. All my relatives, who advised me not to seek your help, will be astonished when they see me again in Bangalore. I am unable to repay your extraordinary kindness, but I want to make a prayerful request. I live in Bangalore. I invite you to visit my residence from which you can travel all over South India. I will make all the arrangements for your travel and place my car at your disposal. I want to serve you in that manner. Please accept my invitation. Come any time.”

The venerable Saint smiled. He replied that he would senda message if and when he undertook a trip to South India. Rana Lakshman Singh obtained the Saint’s blessings and returned safely and happily to Bangalore, where he spread the story of his good fortune among his friends and relatives.



The Saint’s “Son” Krishnadas Dies Suddenly

Shriman Tapasviji and his disciple Krishnadas lived quietly for some time after the events described in the foregoing chapter. Krishnadas was not only the attendant but also the cook and secretary of his Master. He would be engaged in some service or the other from early morning until late in the night, enabling the Saint to stay alone and undisturbed in the thatched hut, which was about two hundred yards away from the kitchen and other rooms of Vishnu Dham.

Early each morning, Krishnadas boiled milk and took it to the Saint, who by then would have finished his usual meditation which began at 4:30 A.M. The Saint would drink milk leisurely and talk to Krishnadas for a time, eventually sending him away to finish his own breakfast and attend to his other duties. At noon, Krishnadas would serve the midday meal to his Master, returning to the kitchen to eat his own meal and serve the manservant who would by then have returned with the cows from the grazing grounds. At dusk, the Saint customarily walked from his hut to the kitchen, where he would either converse or simply sit quietly with his disciple. At about eight o’clock, Krishnadas would prepare chapatis and vegetables for the Saint and serve them to him in his hut.

One night in August of 1939, young Krishnadas went to the Saint’s hut at about 8:30 and served the usual evening meal to his Master. After the Saint had eaten, Krishnadas prostrated to his gracious Master and with his permission went back to the kitchen. Krishnadas did not tell the Saint that he felt ill. He ate his supper and served the evening meal to the servant. He did not tell the servant about his physical discomfort either, and both of them went to their respective rooms and slept. At about midnight, Krishnadas woke up with pain in the abdomen. He supposed that he had an attack of dysentery and did not light the lamp or call the servant. He went out to the fields and passed stools, feeling uneasy and exhausted. This occurred repeatedly until he collapsed on his bed,


unconscious. Comatose, he passed stools on the bed. The servant, who had heard a feeble call, got up to find Krishnadas lying helpless on the bed. He called the young sadhu by name, but Krishnadas did not answer. Holding his hurricane lamp, the servant ran to the Saint’s hut and knocked at the door. “Maharaj!” he cried. “Come quickly! Krishnadas is sick and unconscious.”

The Saint walked swiftly to Krishnadas and found his dear and devoted disciple lying on the bed, unconscious. He felt his pulse, which was feeble, and examined his stools, inferring that Krishnadas had had an attack of cholera. There was a medicine cabinet in the room which contained many preparations, but the Saint could not find what he needed for Krishnadas, nor could he find the living herbs outside, for it was too dark. So he sat by Krishnadas and watched his symptoms.

Krishnadas never regained consciousness. Within an hour after the Saint had entered his room, the young sadhu cast off his body.

The sudden death of his beloved disciple filled the venerable Saint with great sorrow. He wept by the dead sadhu, the tears flowing uncontrollably over his bare chest. The unlettered servant, who too loved Krishnadas dearly, stood and wept in the corner of the room. Till early morning, the aged Saint sat and wept without uttering a word. When the cock’s crow was heard, he asked the servant to go to Koshikalan and inform Mathura Prasad and other devotees. When the servant left, the pale glimmer of the kerosene lamp threw its rays on the lifeless body of Krishnadas and the weeping face of the venerable sage, whose intense wisdom and nonattachment were temporarily over- whelmed by the attachment he had for his dead devotee, who had long been his sole companion and attendant.

The grief-stricken servant ran to Koshikalan and roused Mathura Prasad. With tears in his eyes, he conveyed the sad tidings of the sudden death of Krishnadas and asked Mathura Prasad to come to the ashram at once and make arrangements for the cremation of the deceased sadhu. Mathura Prasad and his old mother were grieved at the sad news, and Mathura Prasad sent word to other devotees, who arrived at his house one by one. They set out immediately and arrived at Vishnu Dham together.

When Mathura Prasad and his companions entered the room they saw the venerable Saint still weeping by the dead body of Krishnadas. It was clear that he was overwhelmed by sorrow, but none of them had the courage to console him. All conveyed their respects and stood silently


awaiting his directions.

At last he turned to Mathura Prasad and said, “This sadhu joined me when he was a lad of twelve years and has served me with great devotion for twenty years. He and I lived together in the same mud hut at Shitalkund, before we came here. I initiated him near that pond, and he and I did tapas there. Therefore, I want him to be cremated near there. Observe the rites due to a samnyasi.”

Mathura Prasad replied, “Maharaj! We all know that Krishnadas served you with extreme devotion, and we too loved him dearly. We grieve at his sudden death. We will obey your directions.”

Now the Saint stood up, having sat alone for five hours by the body. With tears in his eyes, he walked back to his hut and sat in the lotus posture on his customary tiger skin. He felt a great void.

At about 2 P.M. Mathura Prasad and the others returned after cremating Krishnadas. They reported to the Saint that they had carried out his directions. He was sitting like a statue on the tiger skin and gave no reply. They decided to cook food and serve it to him, so they milked the cows and boiled some milk and offered it to him. He took no notice of the milk, but continued to gaze at the sky. They went to the kitchen and prepared some bread and vegetables and placed it before him.

Mathura Prasad summoned up all his courage and said, “Maharaj, we have prepared some food for you. We know that your beloved disciple, who cared for you with exemplary affection, is dead and that no one can replace him, but please eat some chapatis. You have not eaten anything all morning.”

The Saint gave no reply, but sat staring at the sky. Mathura Prasad and the others could not afford to stay at the hermitage any longer, and they silently saluted the Saint and walked back to their homes.

The next morning, Mathura Prasad returned to the hermitage with his old mother, who was well known to the Saint. Together they cleaned the kitchen and prepared bread and vegetables and decided to persuade the Saint to break his fast. At noon, they entered the hut and prostrated to the Saint who was sitting in the same posture in which they had left him.

“Maharaj! We have prepared food and brought it to you. You have not taken any food for thirty-six hours. Please eat a few chapatis. We beg you to forget your sorrow.”

The Saint gave no reply, but wept. The old lady, too, shed tears and sat down near the Saint. She did not have the courage to press him again


to eat. They waited for some time to see if the Saint would get up or tell them anything else, but he did not stir. They covered the food and left him silently and returned to their home. Darkness at last enveloped the hut but the Saint did not move.

The next morning dawned. At about 9 A.M., Mathura Prasad and other devotees again arrived at the hut to pay their respects to the Saint. Mathura Prasad removed the untouched dishes and cleaned the hut. The Saint took no notice of his devotees’ doings. At noon, they prepared fresh food, heaping vegetables and chapatis on a plate and carrying it to the hut.

Mathura Prasad said, “Maharaj! We have come here to be of service to you. We have prepared fresh food. You have not eaten anything for three days and you have not moved from your seat. We request you to eat at least one or two rotis.”

The Saint did not reply, but only sat and stared at the ceiling. Not knowing what else to do, Mathura Prasad and the others conveyed their respects silently and left the hut one after another. The Saint continued to sit in the same posture abstaining from food, milk, and even water. Then a great miracle occurred.

The Saint continued to sit alone on his tiger skin with his eyes fixed on the ceiling of the hut. It was near sunset when Shri Krishna entered the hut in the guise of a cowherd, wearing a black rug on his left shoulder. He sat near the Saint and said with his bewitching smile, “Mahatmaji! What is the matter with you? You are morose. I have never seen you in sucha sorrowful state. Why are you so grief-stricken?”

The Saint did not realize who his visitor was, but replied, “‘Tell me who you are. I had a disciple called Krishnadas, who died suddenly. It is his death that has caused sorrow in my mind. Nothing interests me now, and I feel a sense of void round about me.”

Then Lord Krishna began a long discourse and enlightened the Saint in this fashion: “What, Svamiji! Have you forgotten the famous verse from the Gita: “As a man casts off worn-out clothes and wears other, new ones, so does the embodied self cast off worn-out bodies and enter other, new ones’ (II.22)? Do you not know that the physical bodies of human beings are subject to decay and death? Does the spirit of your disciple Krishnadas ever die? Is his true Self subject to the effects of decay or death? Is not the process of death characteristic of the physical body, which is the outer sheath of the Atman?”

Shri Krishna put these and similar questions to the Saint, smiling all


the while. The Saint was astonished when he saw an ordinary cowherd displaying such knowledge of the scriptures. Unable to answer the questions, the Saint simply gazed at his visitor.

The young cowherd continued, “Mahatmaji! I will remind you what Lord Yama told Naciketa,” and he recited the appropriate lines from the Katha-Upanishad’ fluently and gracefully. Then he recited a number of verses from the Manusmriti.2 After all this he finally said, “Mahatmaji! Have you, at least now, been able to forget the sorrow that arose in your mind on account of the death of Krishnadas? I have never seen your face so clouded.” Shri Krishna laughed aloud. “You have not eaten any food or taken water for three days. Now, you must regain your bliss and eat some food.”

With these words, the strange cowherd pointed out the plate of food lying in the hut. The Saint’s heavy sorrow melted away in the presence of Lord Krishna. The Saint forgot Krishnadas’s death. The death of Krishnadas escaped from his memory, just as one forgets the incidents of a dream. The Saint’s face brightened. He began to beam with his normal cheerfulness. With a happy countenance, he addressed the cowherd and said, “My brother! Have you taken any food? You, too, may eat some food at the ashram. You may rest here for a time.”

The cowherd said, “Mahatmaji! I want nothing. I do not feel hunger or thirst at any time.”

With these cryptic words, the cowherd crossed the door of the hut and disappeared from view. Then the Saint realized that Lord Krishna, who had at all times befriended and protected him, had removed his sorrow. He stood up and stepped out of his hut to wash his hands and legs. As he was doing so, his devotees gathered around one by one. He talked to them kindly, and they were relieved to discover that he had shaken off his grief. Mathura Prasad returned to the hermitage now and was filled with joy when he saw the venerable Saint talking affably with devotees. His disciples enthusiastically prepared fresh chapatis and vegetables together and served the Saint in his hut, just as Krishnadas had been accustomed to do, and stood round him while he ate. Soon after the meal the Saint felt very sleepy, and the devotees took their leave and left

  1. The reference could be to the following stanza of the Katha-Upanishad (1.2.18): “The Wise One [i.e., the Self] is not born, nor does It die. It did not issue from anything, nor did anything spring from it. It is unborn, eternal, abiding, and primordial. It is not killed when the body is killed.”

  2. The Manusmriti is a collection of laws based on custom and the religious teaching of the Vedas.


him alone to sleep. He then had a dream that determined his future.

In the dream he saw Lord Krishna, who said, “O Saint! It was I who gave you darshan in the disguise of a cowherd. I saw that you were overwhelmed with sorrow on account of Krishnadas’s sudden death, and I instructed you and removed your grief. Now, I want you to leave this place and go to South India. Sage Narada has already told you that many of your devotees are living in South India at present and that you must uplift them by giving them spiritual instruction. They will all meet you when you go there.”

At that point, the dream ended, and the Saint sat up in bed with his heart full of gladness. He made up his mind to travel to South India and then remembered that Rana Lakshman Singh had invited him to visit Bangalore. After daybreak, he sent word of his departure to his numerous devotees, including Mayi and her son Dharma Singh, who offered to accompany him. Two other devotees, Pandit Kanhia Lal and Pandit Kapiladeo, also volunteered to accompany the Saint and serve him. A wealthy devotee paid the expenses of the whole party, and the Saint sent a message to Rana Lakshman Singh.



The Saint Explains Why the Wise May Be Overcome with Grief

Hearing the story of Krishnadas’s death several years later, the same question arose in my mind that had arisen in the minds of those who had seen the Saint weeping helplessly by the body of his dead disciple. I said to my revered Guru, “The Gita declares that a person of steady wisdom does not feel grief when an event that would cause sorrow in an ordinary person occurs. You had transcended the notions of pain and pleasure. Why, then, did grief overtake you? What is the significance of the verses in the Gita?”

The Saint replied, “Bhagavan Vyasa, who composed the verses of the Bhagavad-Gita, was omniscient. Whatever he has said is profoundly true and acceptable. No one can improve the language of the Gita. Everyone accepts the statements he makes relative to this matter. But, Bhagavan Vyasa’s description of a sthita-prajna! or a gunatita* must be understood or interpreted in the light of one important fact—that no embodied human being can become perfect and possess all the char- acteristics of steady wisdom, as enumerated in the Gita.

“However great a saint may be and even though people call him a sthita-prajna, his wisdom may still become enveloped by the maya-shakti or deluding Power of the Lord. When a person’s wisdom is thus decreased or reduced, his mind is clouded by some degree of delusion, and consequently he is moved by notions of I-ness and mine-ness. Though such a state is temporary in the case of a truly wise man, while it lasts he, too, feels grief when he loses an object for which he has some attachment. No human being can truly and fully become free from every trace of grief and delusion. All persons must accept this basic fact of human nature.

  1. The term “sthita-prajna” is defined on p. 63, n. 1.

  2. The Sanskrit term “gunatita” means literally “the who has transcended (atita) the qualities (guna),” meaning the qualities of Nature.


“A classical instance that proves this proposition is the conduct and behavior of Shri Ramacandra. Shri Rama was certainly an Incarnation or Avatar of God. Yet, he was embodied as a man, and he wept when he discovered that his wife Sita had been abducted by Ravana. He wept because he was attached to her. During his war with Ravana, his extraordinarily faithful brother, Lakshmana, became unconscious on the battlefield. On seeing the helpless state of Lakshmana, Lord Rama gave expression to his despair. His love of dear Lakshmana was so intense that Rama was grief-stricken when he saw that brave warrior lying senseless on the field of battle. No one can fully describe the degree of grief which Shri Rama felt on that occasion.

“Another classical example is that of Shri Krishna, who was omniscient and a master of yoga. When he heard that his father Vasudeva had died he was so grief-stricken that he shed tears and remarked that Destiny was the ruler of mankind. In the tenth book of the Bhagavata- Purana, we find Sage Shuka’s description of Shri Krishna’s woeful state at the time of hearing the sad news of his father’s death.

“It is clear that everyone will feel sorrow when those who are dear to them die. The birth of the feeling of grief under such circumstances is the very nature or svabhava of the mind; such feelings are natural. Prakriti, of which human personality is made, causes the birth of sorrowful thoughts and feelings under such circumstances. However great a jnani may be, his svabhava will engender feelings of attachment or grief according to his circumstances, and he will be subject to such feelings. But, in the case of truly wise men the play of such feelings will last for a very short time. For ordinary people, however, feelings of sorrow not only last longer but destroy peace of mind to a greater extent. A mahapurusha” who has never been affected by grief at any time in his life has never been born. Such a man can never be born. Therefore, even though a saint is a jivanmukta? or a gunatita or a sthita-prajna, he will be affected by feelings of delusion and grief at rare intervals according to his circumstances. Such a jnani, however, regains his natural state of tranquility very quickly, unlike the ordinary man, who nurses his grief

  1. Prakriti denotes the entire psycho-physical cosmos.

  2. The Sanskrit compound “maha-purusha” means “great man,” referring to a saint or sage.

  3. The jivanmukta is, as the Sanskrit word indicates, “he who is Liberated in life.” The state of jivanmukti or “Liberation in life’? is contrasted with that of videhamukti or “disembodied Liberation,” coinciding with death.


for an unduly long time. The state referred to as total absence of grief and delusion cannot be obtained by any human being. There is no reality in such assertions. The verses of the Bhagavad-Gita, which refer to the state of a man of steady wisdom, ought to be understood in the light of these remarks,”

Having given this discourse in response to my question the Saint gave the illustration of a tree, to enable us to understand him better.

“Take the case of a large tree exposed to a strong wind. When the wind blows the trunk shakes comparatively less than the thinner branches, Even the trunk shakes a little, though it appears to be steady. The trunk is shaken to a very small extent and regains its immobility almost immediately. Its upper and thinner branches, however, shake longer and more easily because even a small amount of wind is capable of making them unsteady. This aptly describes the state of the human mind. Those who are steady in their wisdom resemble the trunk, and they are shaken comparatively very little by delusion and grief. Their sorrow is momentary and they regain their composure almost immediately. Ordinary men and women, on the other hand, are like the smaller branches of the tree. They are vexed by small causes and they suffer from grief and vexation longer. Their feelings of delusion and grief persist as kleshas and such kleshas overpower their understanding for a long time.”

In this manner the venerable Saint answered my question, beaming all the while. His happy face and words of wisdom illuminated the understanding of myself and others who were there.

  1. The kleshas are the causes of human bondage and suffering. Patanjali in his Yoga-Sutra (IL.13) lists five such kleshas: ignorance (avidya), “I-am-ness” (asmita), attachment (raga), aversion (dvesha), and the will to live (abhinivesha).



The Saint Arrives in South India

Shriman Tapasviji and his three atten- dants traveled to Madras by the Grand Trunk Express. They changed trains at Madras and reached Bangalore at the end of September 1939.

Rana Lakshman Singh received the Saint with great respect and love and accommodated the party in his large home on Mahatma Gandhi Road, where they stayed as his guests for nearly four months. During those months thousands of men and women, rich and poor, obtained the

Saint’s darshan under the roof of his hospitable host. During that time, : Rana Lakshman Singh took the Saint and his attendants to Mysore City for the Dussera Celebrations,1 where he obtained the darshan of the Goddess Camundeshvari at the summit of Camundi Hill. The Saint also gave darshan to the ruler of Mysore, Sir Krishnaraja Wadeyer, and his family. The Maharani of Mysore became his devotee from the day she saw him at the palace, and her devotion continued till her death fifteen years later.

Newspapers published many articles about Tapasviji—about his extreme longevity and his knowledge of kaya-kalpa medicine. I became aware of him through the newspapers and also from friends while I was working as Second City Magistrate of Bangalore. I could not find time to go to see the celebrated Saint until November 11, 1939.

The Saint’s radiant countenance and the kindness he extended to everyone who called on him indicated to me that he was a Knower of 4 Brahman, established in equanimity (samatvam). I fell at the Saint’s feet “ and asked some spiritual questions. He gave answers at once with the certainty that comes only from knowledge of the Self. It was evident to me that the Saint was accomplished in jnana and yoga, as defined in the Bhagavad-Gita. He graciously accepted an invitation for dinner and since

  1. The autumn festival of Dussera is celebrated all over India as a worship of Durga, Consort of Shiva. It extends over ten days—hence its name, which is derived from the ‘ Sanskrit “dasharatra,” meaning “ten nights.”


that great day, the Saint has extended his love uniformly and helped and protected myself and my family in dozens of ways. He was the most benevolent Sadguru, and no words that can be uttered or written

adequately describe the compassion he extended to his disciples in general and to myself in particular.



Shriman Tapasviji Works a Miracle on the Way to Rameswaram

For four months the Saint stayed at Bangalore with Rana Lakshman Singh. During that time he and his attendants visited various places of pilgrimage, including Rameswaram. The trip to Rameswaram was made in Rana Sahib’s large car. They halted at Salem overnight and then continued their journey. At about sunset, the car had to cross a small stream that was normally fordable at a particular spot and nowhere else. As the car reached the spot, the driver, aman named Madiah, saw a bullock cart stuck in the stream, its wheels imbedded in the sandy bottom. Unless the cart could be moved the Saint’s car could not cross. Just then, heavy rain began to fall. Madiah alighted and observed that the wheels of the bullock cart were sinking deeper and that the bullocks were exhausted. Madiah asked the Saint’s attendants to push the cart. Now six people, including the cart driver, pulled at the wheels but were not able to budge them. Rain was lashing against their faces and darkness was setting in. An hour was spent in a futile attempt to free the cart. The cart driver began to weep because he feared that his bullocks would die in the middle of the stream. Then Madiah had an idea. He went to the car in which the Saint was sitting unconcernedly, though he was watching what the others were doing.

“Maharaj, six men have toiled to lift the wheels, but we have failed. Please help. If the cart is not moved our motorcar must stand in the road till tomorrow morning.”

The Saint alighted and walked toward the bullock cart. He asked the cart driver to whip the bullocks as soon as he touched the wheels. The Saint placed his right hand on the wheel and loudly uttered, “Om.” The peasant urged his bullocks, and they easily pulled the cart forward and out of the river. All were amazed and happy.

Madiah started the Saint’s car, everyone got in, and they arrived at their destination two hours late. The Saint’s devotees who were waiting


there to welcome him provided all the necessary comforts to him and his attendants, all of whom had been drenched in the rain. When the Saint was asked how his touch enabled the bullocks to pull the cart out of the rut, he smiled and said, “Bhagavan’s Grace enabled me and my companions to escape from the ordeals of the journey.” Such was his humility whenever his miraculous powers caught people’s attention.

Thousands of people obtained the Saint’s darshan while he was in Bangalore because he was reputed to be nearly 169 years old. As prophesied, his South Indian devotees met him, one after another, beginning in September of 1939. I was one of them. I obtained his darshan a number of times and discussed philosophical questions with him. He did me the great favor of adopting me as one of his disciples. In due course our intimacy increased, and he would occasionally narrate the experiences of his long life.

On one occasion, he visited the Nandi Hills by car and happened to notice a plot of land near Dibbagiri Hill that he indicated would be a good place for a hermitage. The plot of land was soon purchased by devotees, and after some months a hermitage suitable for his residence was built. In the meantime, the Saint had left Bangalore and returned to Vishnu Dham. When the construction of the new hermitage was completed, a telegram was sent to Vishnu Dham. On the fourth of April, 1941, the Saint was driven to the new hermitage. He lived there and gave it the name Vishnu Ashram. It was his residence whenever he came to Bangalore.

On the same day, another great event took place. The Saint had come alone from North India. So, when he settled down in the new hermitage he had no one to attend him. He said to me, “Murthy, leave your son, Satchidananda, here with me. He will be of service to me, and I will take care of him. I will cook and he will help me.”

The boy was twelve years old at the time. Asked if he was willing to forgo his studies and stay with the Saint in the distant forest hermitage, he said, “1am willing to stay with Svamiji in this ashram. I amnot afraid. I do not feel sorry about my studies being interrupted.”

His mother and I and many other devotees were pleased with his courage and also with his desire to serve the Saint. Shriman Tapasviji, too, was pleased with the readiness of the young boy, and he was left in Vishnu Ashram under the benevolent protection of the aged sage. For a few days, the Saint himself cooked for both of them, but shortly Satchidananda learned the art of cooking and began to serve the Saint in


every way. He stayed at Vishnu Ashram for four months and earned the Grace of the Saint. At the end of that time, the Saint returned to Vishnu Dham. He took Satchidananda with him and showed him Mathura, Vrindavan, Nandagoan, and other holy places. After this, Satchidananda returned to Bangalore and to school. Later the Saint came back to South India for a brief sojourn, and when he returned to Vishnu Dham, he took Satchidananda back into his service. In January of 1943 he showered his Grace on the young lad by initiating him into the renunciate order. The great sage was very fond of the young lad and used to call him “Satcha.” In this extraordinary manner, a young boy born in Mysore had the good fortune to become attached to and earn the Grace of the celebrated Saint.



The Saint Cures a Sick Man by His Mere Touch

Shri Tapasviji would spend the sum- mer in Vishnu Ashram, and return to his North Indian hermitage in the winter. In 1943 and 1944, however, he spent most of his time in Vishnu Ashram and new devotees gathered around him. Some of them improved the ashram buildings and had new-wells constructed. Another young man who, like Satchidananda, was a native of Bangalore earned the Saint’s Grace. The Saint gave him the name Narayanadas and initiated him. These two young men served the Saint both when he stayed at the hermitage and when he undertook any tour outside Mysore. It is unnecessary to mention the names of the other devotees—every one of them received his Grace in different ways.

A story relating to the extraordinary Grace shown by the Saint to one of his householder disciples is worth particular mention, because it indicates how unbounded his love and power were. A disciple wrote to the Saint informing him of his desire to visit the ashram on a particular day, but when the day arrived he was bedridden with a severe attack of lumbago. When the Saint learned of the disciple’s sickness he left the ashram at once for the disciple’s house. He sat by the bed while his devotee explained how he had become crippled by the sudden attack of lumbago. The Saint touched him on the abdomen and told him to get up. The disciple was amazed to find that his back pain had disappeared. Then the Saint took his devotee on a trip to the Devarayadurga Hills to obtain the darshan of Goddess Lakshmi Narasimha Svami, the presiding deity of the hill.

In mid-1942, the great mahatma Anandagiri went to Vishnu Ashram for a three-day visit to obtain the Saint’s darshan. I had become acquainted with Shri Anandagiri at Bangalore and so had the good fortune to accompany him when he visited Shriman Tapasviji. Ananda- giri did not know Hindi and the Saint did not know Tamil or Kannada,


and so their meetings sometimes took the form of sitting on chairs and simply regarding each other. On only one occasion did they exchange a few words, employing me as an interpreter. On the third and last day of Anandagiri’s visit he said to me, “Shri Tapasviji has attained a state higher than that of Ramana Maharshi. In Shri Tapasviji, there is no mind. He has no relative notions such as external purity or external impurity. Such ideas do not arise in him.”1

After Shri Anandagiri had left I told the Saint what he had said. The Saint simply remarked, “Anandagiri has expressed such an opinion as the result of his kindness. That is all I know.”

Early in 1944, the Saint returned to Vishnu Ashram from his North Indian hermitage and decided to perform one year of tapas from the thirty-first of March, 1944, until the thirty-first of March, 1945, during which he would contemplate God day and night. He told us that he would not leave his room, that he would abstain from his usual meals and take only two cups of cow’s milk each day, and that the main door of his room should be locked from the outside. His two attendants would enter the room from the side door at 10 A.M., and again at night, and leave a cup of milk on a stool and lock the door again at once. He would not give darshan to anyone else during this year. After these instructions were conveyed the Saint shut himself up in his meditation room, and the two doors were locked. He did not come out till noon of March 31, 1945. By way of special Grace, he permitted me to visit him for five minutes once each month. During these moments, he would utter a few words of benediction and send me away as soon as the five minutes ended. During this year the Saint’s body became so weak as a result of dysentery that he could not even walk from his room to the attached bathroom, but was forced to crawl. In spite of his weakness he continued his austere tapas until the appointed time.

His disciples lived on the ground floor of the building and were in constant attendance in order to prevent any disturbances that might be caused by mischievous persons. After the Saint developed dysentery they fixed a bell in his room so that he might call for assistance if he fell as a result of exhaustion. He only used it once, however, and it was not because he required help.

  1. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950) was a fully God-Realized sage who has been hailed as such by many great spiritual figures, including the contemporary God-Realized Adept Da Free John. It is not clear what Shri Anandagiri meant when he placed Shri Tapasviji’s spiritual attainment over that of Shri Ramana.


Seven or eight months after the tapas had started, the Saint pulled the bell one night. Swami Satchidananda was sleeping alone on the ground floor, and woke up, afraid that the Saint had fallen down. He ran upstairs and entered the Saint’s room where, to his astonishment, Satchidananda saw five mahatmas, with beards and matted hair, sitting and talking with the Saint. There was a lamp burning in the room. No one could have entered the room because the lock that Satchidananda had himself fastened was intact, and he had opened it with a key before entering. He stood bewildered, wondering how these five awe-inspiring mahatmas had come into his Guru’s room at midnight.

The Saint noticed Satchidananda’s bewilderment and said, “Satcha! Convey your respects to these mahatmas! They have come to give darshan to me.”

The young disciple prostrated, and the visitors conveyed their benediction. Then one of them said, “Satchidananda! Do not feel wonder or confusion at our presence. We were all flying from the Himalayas to Rameswaram when we saw Shri Tapasviji doing tapas in this room. It is our custom to obtain the darshan of saints who perform tapas, and so we entered and obtained the darshan of your Guru.”

Even after hearing these words Satchidananda’s amazement did not end, because the event was beyond his comprehension. After a few minutes, the mahatmas stood up and said to Shriman Tapasviji, “Maharaj! We are all glad that we had your darshan. We will not interrupt your tapas further. Permit us to go.”

The Saint told them to do as they pleased, and the moment he did the five mahatmas vanished. None of them passed through the door near which Satchidananda was standing, and he was confounded by this mysterious phenomenon. The Saint explained to him that some yogis possess extraordinary powers that cannot be comprehended by people who do not have them.

On March 31, 1945, the Saint terminated his one-year tapas. Myself, my wife, my sons, and many other devotees were present at Vishnu Ashram to obtain the darshan of the Saint as he emerged from his meditation room. The lock that had been fastened to the front door was opened. He came out and gave darshan to the hundreds of men and women assembled there. His eyes were lustrous with the fire of Brahman; his countenance was marked with his ever-pleasing smile. He blessed all of us, and we prostrated to him. A brahmin priest performed the fire ceremonies, and the Saint himself poured the final oblation of ghee into


the altar fire. Then, quite unexpectedly, the Saint turned to me and said, “Murthy! Are your two sons here? The upanayana ceremony2 must be performed for them today. The agni-homa3 has been done and a long tapas has just been completed, and this is the right place and occasion when upanayana ought to be done.”

This was great Grace. The two boys quickly bathed in the cold water near the well and sat in front of the altar fire. The priest recited appropriate mantras and taught the gayatri-mantra to the two boys. The merciful Saint blessed them and gave them spiritual instruction. Afterward the Saint said, “‘I will break my fast today, but before I do I must visit a Shiva temple. Lord Shiva is the greatest of ascetics and my one-year tapas has been completed with his Grace. Therefore, I must worship Lord Shiva formally in a temple.”

He was taken to the Shiva temple at Doddaballapur and went into the inner sanctum of that temple with flowers and other articles of worship. He closed the doors and remained alone for a full hour, evidently performing formal worship or puja on the shiva-linga.* After he came out of the temple, he told the assembled devotees that he had worshipped Lord Shiva with due ceremony and prayed for his Grace. Once back in his hermitage, about eight miles away, he sat leisurely in his room and broke his fast. For two or three months he resided quietly, increasing his daily meal slowly and steadily, and in the course of time he regained his usual good health.

  1. At the upanayana ceremony the young initiand, who has to be a member of the upper three estates—brahmana, kshatriya, and vaishya—is invested with the sacred thread (sutra), which is worn over the right shoulder and hangs down under the left.

  2. The agni-homa is simply the offering of substances like ghee into a sacred fire—a rite performed since ancient times at different initiatory occasions or during formal worship,

  3. The term “shiva-linga” is synonymous with “linga,” defined on p. 52, n.2.

Photo, Shriman Tapasviji at the end of his one-year tapas in 1945 at the age of 175.



The Saint Confers His Grace on a Wandering Sadhu and Gives Kalpa Medicine to Sambamurthy and Siddalingiah

Two or three months after Shri Tapas-

viji terminated his one-year tapas, he left Vishnu Ashram and traveled to North India along with his samnyasi disciples. He spent more than a year in a forest near Jabbalpore and performed penance there. During his absence a wandering samnyasi arrived at Vishnu Ashram hoping to obtain the Saint’s darshan, but as the Saint was absent, stayed in one of the hermitage rooms, engaged in his usual meditation. In the spring of 1948, the Saint returned to Vishnu Ashram, where I received him. The wandering samnyasi, who had a master’s degree in English and who had abandoned worldly pursuits in quest of spiritual knowledge, asked me to introduce him to the Saint.

The samnyasi was a young man of about thirty-five years. He had real dispassion and steadfast determination. He did not know Hindi but was proficient in English. He addressed the Saint with tears in his eyes, saying, “Holy Sage! Please take pity on this poor beggar, who has been waiting for your darshan for nearly five months. You are the ocean of mercy. Please help me.”

I translated these words, and the Saint conferred his Grace, giving spiritual instruction in simple Hindi, which I translated into English for the benefit of the naked samnyasi, who listened with rapt attention.

The Saint’s words were those of the Upanishads, and his exposition was easy and lucid. The instruction consisted of brahma-vidya or atma- vidya. When the Saint concluded, the sadhu circumambulated him three times with folded hands and fell prostrate on the floor with the utmost humility. The Saint adopted him as a disciple and gave him the name “*Keshavadas.” The Saint directed him to wear a loincloth, which he did


from that day.

“A sadhu,” the Saint explained, “can be naked only when he has lost all bodily consciousness and obliterated self-righteousness from his mind.” He quoted a Hindi verse to the effect that a sadhu can afford to roam naked only when he can eat and drink with the palms of his hands without any sense of either shame or self-esteem.

Keshavadas stayed in Vishnu Ashram for five months and learned to cook for the Saint. He performed such personal service with exemplary gratitude. He told us that he had worked as an assistant professor of English in Palghat College for a few years and that he had later become a wandering sadhu. He stayed in Vishnu Ashram till the end of 1948 and then went to Uttara Kasi to perform tapas.

A few months later, Bulusu Sambamurthy, a devotee and a native of Kakinada, visited the Saint and stayed with him for a short time. Sambamurthy was an old man in poor health who asked to be given the kaya-kalpa treatment. At about the same time, Shri Siddalingiah, ex- minister of Mysore, who had also served the Saint for a long time and who too had become ill, requested the Saint to administer kaya-kalpa medicine to him. Since these two devotees made their request at about the same time, the Saint decided to comply with their prayers. He had suitable arrangements made at Vishnu Ashram and accommodated them in separate rooms, where they resided for forty days and received kalpa medicine from their Master. This took place in the early part of 1951. The two gentlemen felt that the treatment enabled them to recover their health, and the doctors who examined them before and after the kalpa treatment certified that they had each gained ten pounds in addition to improving their general health.



A Wicked Sadhu Files a False Suit against the Saint

My readers may recall that Raja Ambikeshvara Prasad of Manakapur State had in 1938 and 1939 given the land and buildings that comprised Vishnu Dham to the Saint. Since then, the Saint’s numerous devotees had improved and enlarged the hermitage. A covetous sadhu named Yogananda happened to visit Vishnu Dham and saw that it was a convenient place. He obtained the darshan of the Saint and stayed as a guest for a few days. During his stay, he discovered that the Saint was not in possession of a registered gift deed. The Raja of Manakapur had, in fact, wanted to execute a gift deed in the Saint’s name in 1938 and 1939, but the Saint, being ignorant of the law, had said that, being a renunciate, he was not inclined to own property. Yogananda knew that gifts of land and buildings could become legally valid only when a gift deed was properly executed and registered, and thought that he could take advantage of this defect in the Saint’s title to the hermitage. Yogananda went to Manakapur and discovered the donor had died and that his younger brother had inherited the estate. The brother knew nothing about the gift that had been made orally by his deceased elder brother. So, at the request of Yogananda, the new raja executed a registered sale deed in favor of the former, transferring Vishnu Dham to him. With the support of this title deed, Yogananda filed a civil suit in the court of the Munsiff of Mathura pleading that he should be put in possession of the hermitage after dispossessing Shriman Tapasviji Maharaj.

The Saint was in his South Indian hermitage when he received the summons issued by the court in respect to Yogananda’s suit. The Saint was astonished when I read and explained the summons to him. He and I traveled by train from Bangalore to Manakapur where, informed of Yogananda’s suit, the new raja was vexed at his hasty execution of the sale deed, explaining that Yogananda had practiced fraud and induced him to


execute the sale deed. He told the Saint that he would file a written statement in Mathura Munsiff’s court to the effect that Yogananda had, by misrepresentation, induced him to execute the sale deed and that the sale deed was invalid on that account. The new Raja of Manakapur was a religious man and anxious that the oral gift made by his deceased elder brother to the aged Saint not fail on account of the new sale deed. Thereupon, the Saint and myself and the raja’s representative went to Mathura and filed the statement in the civil court there. Yogananda’s suit was dismissed with costs. In this way, the Saint’s legal claim to Vishnu Dham became permanently established in a court of law.



The Saint’s Devotees Build an Ashram for Him at Kakinada in 1951 and the Saint Visits Shri Shivabalayogi at Adivarapupeta

Bulusu Sambamurthy wished the Saint to pay a visit to him in Kakinada, and the Saint agreed. Sambamurthy took the Saint to Madras and from there to Kakinada. Sambamurthy was well known in Madras and Kakinada, and his numerous friends obtained darshan of the Saint in both cities. Many rich and enthusiastic men and women of Kakinada became devotees of the Saint and, desiring that he reside for some months at Kakinada, had a large ashram built for him within a few months. After the ashram was constructed, the Saint formally occupied it in October of 1951, conferring the name Yogashram to it. I lived at Kakinada for two months to supervise the construction’s progress, according to directions given by the Saint himself. Swami Satchidananda, Swami Narayanadas, and a devotee named Channabasappa also resided at Kakinada for brief periods during that time.

The contact between Shriman Tapasviji and Shri Shivabalayogi! of Adivarapupeta is one of the most important events described in this book because it illustrates how two great mahatmas love and serve each other. In this regard, a few outstanding facts about Shri Shivabalayogi’s life must be told. His original name was Satyaraju. He was born in the hamlet of Adivarapupeta in the East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh on January 24, 1935. His father died when he was three years old, and he was taken care of by his mother Parvatamma and her father. During his boyhood, he exhibited extreme honesty and love of God. He

  1. See The Life of Sri Sivabalayogi, by Prof. S. K. Ramachandrarao of Bangalore, which gives factual details relating to the contact between Shriman Tapasviji Maharaj and Shri Shivabalayogi. 199

lived in Adivarapupeta till August 7, 1949, when Lord Shiva gave him darshan, taught him a mantra, and directed him to perform tapas for twelve years. He performed tapas for one year on the banks of the Godavari and in October 1950 his devotees constructed a room for him to meditate in. He completed his twelve-year tapas in August of 1961. Until April of 1963, he lived as before in his meditation room. On April 1, 1963, he left his hamlet and arrived at Vishnu Ashram, where he resided in the meditation room in which Shri Tapasviji had done tapas. His devotees built a large hermitage for him at Bangalore and he began living there on August 7, 1963. Since then, he has been doing tapas there and conferring wisdom and solace on all who obtain his darshan. Such is the briefest outline of the divine life of Shri Shivabalayogi Maharaj.

Shri Tapasviji resided in his new hermitage at Kakinada in 1951 and 1952 along with his attendants. Bulusu Sambamurthy, one of his many attendants, first told the Saint about Shri Shivabalayogi, who had begun to do tapas on the banks of the Godavari. He took the Saint from Kakinada to the spot where the young yogi was absorbed in meditation, twenty miles from Yogashram. When Bulusu Sambamurthy and the aged Saint saw Shivabalayogi, the latter was absorbed in deep samadhi. The Saint stood in front of the young yogi for half an hour, but he did not come to the waking state. The Saint admired the deep state of samadhi in which young Shivabalayogi was established.

Shri Tapasviji possessed extraordinary powers of jnana-drishti and so discovered that the young yogi, who was only sixteen years old, was the reincarnation of the North Indian sage Jagadguru Shri Chandra, who had died more than four hundred years ago. He told this to Bulusu Sambamurthy and many others. After he returned to Kakinada, Shri Tapasviji announced in a public meeting that Shri Shivabalayogi was the reincarnation of an ancient sage of our country and that the yogi’s powers of tapas were marvelous. Such public appreciation by Shriman Tapasviji increased the fame of the young yogi at once. Some days thereafter, the aged Saint traveled from Kakinada once again and went to the spot where Shri Shivabalayogi was sitting in samadhi. The Saint had taken Chan- nabasappa with him. They waited for one hour, hoping that the young yogi would gain waking consciousness, but he did not.

The Saint then told Channabasappa, “This young yogi is the reincarnation of Jagadguru Shri Chandra, who was my own Guru in my former birth. We cannot disturb his samadhi state. He will not wake up today, but let us offer our worship to him,” 200

The Saint worshipped the yogi with flowers and he and Chan- nabasappa returned to Kakinada.

A few months later, in November of 195 1, Shriman Tapasviji traveled once again from Kakinada to Adivarapupeta to visit the young Shivabalayogi. On this occasion I accompanied the Saint, who told me, “The young yogi whom I will show you today is a very great mahatma. Buy some lotus flowers and other articles of worship.”

We purchased various puja articles and traveled by jeep to Adivarapupeta, where we found Shivabalayogi sitting in a meditation room. It was a wonderful experience for all of us. The young yogi was then sixteen years old. He had no hair on his chin or upper lip and was slender and fair. He was so deeply absorbed in samadhi that he never became aware of us. The venerable Tapasviji placed two lotus flowers at the feet of the young yogi and I, too, worshipped him with flowers. We stood for half an hour in front of him, hoping that he would open his eyes and talk to us. Atabout 11:30 the yogi’s lips began to move, and he began to repeat the sound of “Om” very loudly. The chanting of the sacred syllable was a great pleasure to hear. He continued to chant for half an hour when, at noon, the chanting came to an end. He had never been in the waking state. The utterance of the mantra was automatic and with each breath the sound of “Om” emanated from the heart of the yogi. The chanting ended as abruptly as it had begun, and the Saint and his attendants left the room and rested in the courtyard. The yogi’s mother, Parvatamma, then closed the door of his room and locked it.

While we were all sitting in the courtyard, the venerable Saint said to me, “Murthy! This young yogi is the embodiment of the yoga of meditation. His wonderful yogic state is the result of the tapas done in previous births. He is the incarnation of Jagadguru Shri Chandra.”

Five or six days thereafter, when the Saint and myself were resting at Yogashram, a gentleman by the name of Garaga Narasimhamurthy Rao arrived in a jeep and introduced himself as follows: “I have come here at the direction of Shivabalayogi, whose darshan I obtained today. He could not talk to Shriman Tapasviji when the latter went to see him a few days ago because he did not come to the waking state on that day. Today, however, he is in the waking state and wants to see Shriman Tapasvijiand talk with him. If Shri Tapasviji is inclined to go now to Adivarapupeta, I will take him in my jeep.”

I translated this message to the Saint. It was 2 P.M. and very sultry, but Tapasviji decided to undertake the trip, and other devotees were sent


for. At about 3 P.M. the party left Kakinada and traveled to Adivarapu- peta along with Garaga Narasimhamurthy, who took the Saint straight to the yogi’s room. The Saint entered the room first, and we followed him. The young yogi welcomed Shriman Tapasviji with a beaming smile, and they saluted each other with folded hands. The yogi did not know Hindi, so he asked Shri Tapasviji in Telugu to sit on the same tiger skin on which he was seated. The Saint sat down to his right and said that he was glad to see Shivabalayogi and talk to him. His words were translated into Telugu, and the yogi responded that he was pleased to see and talk with the Saint. The Saint was pleased to introduce me and the other devotees to the yogi, who said, “Manchidi” (“very good”) as each one of us was presented to him. He smiled throughout the introductions.

Then the Saint said, “You have been doing tapas in this room for a few months. Tell me if there is anything that is obstructing your meditation. I will serve you by removing all obstructions that may be hindering you.”

Shivabalayogi replied, “The windows of this room have been eaten up by white ants, so that they rattle. That noise sometimes obstructs my meditation. There is no other obstruction.”

When this was translated to the Saint, he addressed one of his devoted disciples who was an engineer and asked him to have the windows replaced with new teak shutters. The devotee said that he would attend to the work immediately.

Then the Saint said to the young yogi, “I am glad to have met and talked to you. May I go now?”

Shivabalayogi said that he, too, was pleased. Thereupon ie Saint stood up, folded his hands, and walked out of the room. The others prostrated and followed the Saint out. The yogi immediately closed his eyes and absorbed himself in samadhi. Parvatamma locked the medita- tion room. It was most inspiring to watch the great yogi slip effortlessly and immediately into samadhi.

Afterward, the Saint and his party assembled in front of the Shiva Temple in the town of Draksharama, a short distance from the yogi’s dwelling. Parvatamma followed us, and after prostrating to the Saint, stood at a short distance. Asked what she desired, she told the Saint that she was having difficulty procuring the daily cup of milk that her young yogi son was drinking at that time. The Saint solved her problem at once. He purchased a beautiful cow and its calf for two hundred rupees and delivered the animals to Parvatamma along with twenty rupees. He said


to her, “Daughter, do not neglect to give a cup of milk in the morning and another cup of milk in the evening to your yogi son. This is all he needs in his present state. Buy fodder for the cow with the twenty rupees.”

Parvatamma saluted the Saint and thanked him for his help. She assured him that she would serve her son as directed.

Shriman Tapasviji resided in Yogashram for some months after his interview with Shri Shivabalayogi. It appears that he met him twice more and taught him a mantra, and then departed for Kakinada.

Shriman Tapasviji was destined to cast off his mortal body on October 12, 1955, about five years after his last interview with Shri Shivabalayogi. The young yogi was engaged at that time in his own vow of twelve years’ tapas. After his penance was completed, Shri Shivabalayogi left his hamlet and began his peregrinations. He first went to Kakinada and spent some days doing tapas in Yogashram, after which he went to Vishnu Dham near Dibbagiri Hill on April 1, 1963, where hundreds of devotees received him. He sat on the same cot on which Shri Tapasviji used to sit and started his tapas. The yogi was pleased to grant me a special interview on April 2 while in Kakinada and to convey his blessings.

On that occasion I said, “Yogi Maharaj, you have come to the ashram of Tapasviji from a long distance. May I know if there is any special significance?”

The yogi was pleased to give the following reply. “Recently, when I was in samadhi state, I entered brahma-loka, where I obtained the darshan of Tapasviji. He asked me to undertake a tour and visit this ashram and stay here for some days. I will likewise visit North India and stay for some time at Vishnu Dham. It is Tapasviji’s desire that I should spend some days in all the hermitages where he performed tapas during his lifetime. I must act according to Tapasviji’s desire. So I have come here.”

After disclosing this extraordinary fact, Shri Shivabalayogi became silent. He imparted his blessings to me, and I left his august presence.

These particulars have been briefly narrated here because they show how intimate was the contact between Shriman Tapasviji and Shri Shivabalayogi.



Shriman Tapasviji Gives His Darshan to the Rajapramukh of Mysore

After visiting Shri Shivabalayogi, the Saint resided for a few months in Kakinada. Once he went to the beach with his devotees and took a bath in the Bay of Bengal. On another occasion, he went to the banks of the Krishna River and bathed. He then decided to return to Vishnu Dham. He went to Madras for a few days and stayed with Bulusu Sambamurthy. While he was there, the Raja of Pithapuram obtained his darshan and begged him to visit his palace. The Saint traveled in the raja’s car to his residence, where the raja introduced his wife to the Saint, who blessed her. Then the raja brought his infant son and placed the baby on the Saint’s lap. The Saint lovingly lifted the baby in his arms, kissed its forehead and laid it on the raja’s lap. The child smiled and laughed while it was being fondled by the Saint, and the raja and his family were delighted to see the baby responding merrily to such attention.

The Saint returned to Sambamurthy’s residence in Madras and in due course traveled to Bangalore, where he stayed for a few days in Shivacharan Saitji’s house, with myself in attendance.

While the Saint was staying in Bangalore, several officers of the Mysore Palace visited him and told him that His Highness the Raja- pramukh of Mysore was desirous of obtaining his darshan. They had come to invite him to Mysore City and a palace car was available for the journey. The Saint acceded to the invitation and said that he would leave Bangalore for Mysore the next morning. In Mysore, he stayed with Rana Lakshman Singh, who took him to Mysore Palace. The Rajapramukh, Shri Jayachamarajendra Wadiar, received the Saint with great respect and the other members of the royal household were all presented to him. During the private conversation His Highness had with the Saint, he told the Saint that he would soon visit Vishnu Ashram to obtain the Saint’s darshan again.

These events took place in early 1955, only months before the Saint’s death.



The Saint Falls Ill at Jhansi

A few days after Shri Tapasviji gave darshan to the Rajapramukh of Mysore, he left for Vishnu Dham. Before he left Bangalore, however, he was pleased to visit Tumkur and give darshan to myself and my family. He stayed for one day in my home, giving no indication that he was either sick or that he would cast off his body in North India. He blessed all the members of my family and left for Bangalore in the middle of February 1955. From Bangalore, he and Satchidananda traveled to Madras and from there to Vishnu Dham, which is about five miles from the Kosi railway station and about thirty miles from Mathura. He lived there as usual in his thatched hut, spending his time in his habitual tapas. His disciples, Satchidananda and Nar- ayanadas, lived in different apartments at a distance from his hut. They cooked and served his two daily meals, but otherwise he required very little service, having long been accustomed to live alone in jungles and caves. In addition to his loincloth, he wore only one ochre-colored upper cloth when he went out of his hut. His robust body was, in spite of being more than 185 years old, capable of withstanding all inclemencies of weather. Apart from diabetes, he did not suffer from any disease. His eyes, ears, and teeth were all sound. His digestion was satisfactory and till about four or five months before he shook off his body, he did not show any signs of debility.

In the middle of 1955, his bodily troubles began to cause discomfort, though he never complained of pain or illness. Two small glands on his thigh joints became enlarged and painful, and he could not move about as before. He could easily have suggested a remedy and his young disciples would have prepared it, but he had become indifferent to his body. When his disciples said, “Maharaj! You are in pain, as we can see. Please tell us what to do,” he would smile and answer, “All right! I will think about it,” and close his eyes. His attendants could not put any more pressure on him.

A few days passed away in this manner. Then, the Saint developed a


fever. The disciples, who did not know what to do in that secluded forest hermitage, became anxious and took him from the ashram to Jhansi, where a devoted old disciple, Biharilal Vasishth, lived. This gentleman was the president of Jhansi municipality. The Saint was accommodated in Biharilal’s house, and he engaged a number of doctors to care for his Guru. The physicians consulted a famous surgeon, Dr. V. R. Damle, and he suggested that the swollen glands be removed. They asked the Saint if he were willing to undergo an operation. The Saint replied, “Iam not the body. I hand over my body to you. You may do anything with it.”

Having secured the Saint’s consent for an operation, the devotees removed him from the house to a hospital, where Dr. Damle and his assistants took charge of him. The Saint told them that chloroform should not be administered to him, that he could endure any pain and that he would not move his body in the slightest during the operation. Thereupon, Dr. Damle removed the two glands.

When I met Dr. Damle at Jhansi in October of 1955, he described how unconcernedly the Saint bore the pain of the long operation and how cheerful he was throughout. From the surgeon’s oral and written descriptions of the event, it is clear that Shriman Tapasviji was operated upon without chloroform. After the wounds were stitched up and bandaged, the Saint stood up, walked out of the hospital and entered a waiting car. He was taken to Sunder Babu’s spacious home, which was more convenient for all concerned.

The Saint convalesced there, and Dr. Damle and other physicians attended him with devotion, but in spite of their efforts, the wounds, which were about twelve inches long and one inch wide, did not heal. Three months elapsed and the wounds still showed no sign of healing. The surgical stitches gave way and the skin did not close. Further complications set in. The Saint’s digestion was so upset that he could not even assimilate milk or fruit. His body became weaker day after day and by the end of the first week of October 1955, he had no muscular strength, and required four strong attendants to sit up in bed. However, he was always cheerful and always fully conscious. The great Saint manifested Sat, Chit, and Ananda, dwelling in an infirm human form.



The Saint’s Disciples Feel That His Long Life Is Coming to an End

The Saint never recovered from the effects of the operation. Satchidananda and Narayanadas, who were in constant attendance, began to fear that their benevolent Guru’s life was ebbing away and that he could never again undertake a trip to South India. Therefore, they sent messages to the Saint’s disciples asking them to come to Jhansi for final darshan. I was one of those who received these sad tidings. My son Gautama and I traveled together and reached Jhansi at noon on the tenth of October 1955. Shri Sunder Babu Malhotra was well known in Jhansi, so we easily discovered the house, though we had never visited there. Entering his home, we saw that seven or eight disciples had already arrived. Satchidananda was, of course, present. He led us straight to the Saint, who was lying peacefully ona cot with his eyes closed. He was breathing with difficulty and did not open his eyes. Satchidananda bent down and said, “Maharaj! Anantha Murthy has come.”

Shriman Tapasviji opened his eyes and smiled when he saw me saluting with folded hands. What a gracious look! The Saint, in a feeble voice, said, “When did you come, Murthy?” With these simple words, the Saint conveyed his habitual graciousness.

“I have just now arrived.”

The Saint was anxious to know if I had undertaken such a long railway journey without a companion. “With whom have you come?”

“I have come with my son, Gautama.”

The Saint moved his eyes to find Gautama, who was standing amidst the others. He stepped forward and saluted the merciful Saint with folded hands. On being questioned by the Saint, Gautama said, Maharaj, I will sail by boat and go to England in December.”

The Saint raised his right hand and said, “Bhagavan will protect you in England.”


Such words of blessing uttered so naturally by the Saint, even on his deathbed, melted the hearts of all who were present. Gautama was overwhelmed with gratitude for the Saint’s gracious blessings.

The effort of uttering these few words exhausted Shri Tapasviji and he coughed for two or three minutes. Narayanadas brought warm water and gave him one or two teaspoonfuls. This gave him some relief, but the Saint did not speak anymore. He did not open his eyes again for another hour. Gautama and I continued to stand near the Saint’s cot. With sadness in our hearts, we examined the Saint’s wounds and his general bodily condition. We lifted up the thin ochre-colored cloth with which his naked body was covered. His muscles had wasted away and he was emaciated. The two wounds were bleeding and they extended up to the navel pit. His legs could not be bent as a result and his metabolism had been so greatly disturbed that he could not retain milk or water in the stomach. The only service he required was to be given a sip of warm glucose-water whenever his throat was dry. When he sipped water, he had to be raised by four or five devotees and then put back slowly into his bed.

Thus, the aged Saint endured much pain with extraordinary serenity. Fits of coughing exhausted him now and then. It was evident that his end was imminent and that he might shake off his body at any moment.



Shri Tapasviji Casts Off His Body

He continued to lie on his back in the same peaceful state on the eleventh and the twelfth of October. On the morning of the twelfth, Dr. Damle examined him and dressed the wounds. The doctor asked the Saint how he felt, to which the Saint replied, “I am in a happy state.” And the Saint inquired about the doctor’s health.

Atabout noon on the twelfth, the Saint said to me, “Murthy! Do not go out of the room. Sit here and read the Bhagavad-Gita continuously.”

I sat in a corner of the room with a copy of the Gita and began reciting the verses loudly. The young disciples stood near his cot, watching him and giving him teaspoonfuls of warm water whenever he asked. His last sip of water was given to him at about 2 P.M.

At 3:30 he opened his eyes, looked around, and raised two fingers of his left hand. He did not speak but we understood that he would enter mahasamadhi’ in two hours. He closed his eyes and breathed slowly. He was fully awake and could hear the sound of the clock in his room. When the clock struck 4:30 he opened his eyes and looked around at all of us. Now he lifted one finger of his left hand, and we understood that he would give up his body in one hour. He closed his eyes again and lay tranquilly on his cot. Eighteen of his devotees, including the doctors, stood around him.

When the clock struck 5:00, the venerable Saint opened his eyes and said a single Hindi word in so feeble a voice that even those who stood near his head could not make it out. It was very important for us to comprehend him, and therefore I approached the head of the bed and bent over him. “Maharaj! We have not understood what you said. Please repeat it loudly.”

The Saint opened his eyes and said, “Below,” and we understood that he desired to be placed on the floor. Six devotees took hold of the

  1. Mahasamadhi (“great ecstasy”) is the conscious transition out of the body.


corners of the bedsheet and slowly lifted him from the cot and down to the cement floor. This was what he wanted but it fatigued him, and he began to cough and gasp. After two minutes he recovered his breath and became silent. Then he opened his eyes and said, “Satcha.” The young man went near the Saint’s head and bent down to listen to his last words. The benevolent Saint pulled Satchidananda’s head down on his own chest for a minute and murmured some words in his ear. After a minute, he released his hold of Satchidananda. It appeared to us that the merciful Guru had conveyed his parting blessings to the young sadhu, who had served him from his boyhood. The young sadhu stood near the Saint’s head, his eyes filled with tears. While he lay peacefully after blessing his disciple, the clock struck 5:30. It was then that the aged Saint performed his miraculous mahasamadhi.

As soon as he heard the clock, Shriman Tapasviji said loudly, “Ram-Ram bolo.”? This direction was given to all of us who had the good fortune to witness his final yogic deed. Eighteen of us stood around the aged Saint. He blessed us by saying, “Bhagavan will do good to you all.”

We all began to chant God’s Names. We began with “Hare Rama,” “Hare Krishna,” “Radha Shyama,” and so on. While we chanted we had our eyes fixed on the Saint’s face. He was breathing slowly and thythmically, as though he were doing pranayama, but his eyes were closed. His countenance reflected a serene and Self-absorbed state. To us, it appeared that he would breathe his last lying on the floor. But we were wrong.

He had no strength to sit up and could not bend his legs because of his terrible wounds, and his voice had become inaudible. Now, however, we saw him take a deep breath and retain it for some time. His chest expanded. He pressed his palms together. His eyes were now open and they were bright with the lustre of Brahman. Suddenly and mysteriously, he sat bolt upright without help, crossed his legs quickly and easily and sat in the lotus posture, as effortlessly as when he was strong and healthy. He placed his hands one above the other as he used to do to sit for meditation and sat in that posture, motionless, for one minute.

While he sat, we all observed him with the deepest interest and loving veneration. His serenity and the brightness of his eyes cannot be adequately described. He then fixed his gaze between the eyebrows and

  1. “Ram Ram bolo” is Hindi for “Repeat the Name of Ram”.


was motionless. After a minute he slowly and loudly uttered the sacred syllable “Om” in a long-drawn tone. His voice, which had been practically inaudible for many days, was strong. That was his last breath. He departed from the body before we realized that he had done so.

The aged Saint whom we had all been adoring was no longer dwelling in that body. His head was about to fall, when Narayanadas and Satchidananda caught the body and gently placed it in a reclining position. I felt the Saint’s pulse and found that it had stopped. We worshipped the Saint, who had shown us the significance of maha- samadhi, by continuing to chant for two more hours. In this manner, Shriman Tapasviji cast off his body in his 186th year.

It is appropriate now to refer to the Bhagavad-Gita and quote three verses from it that deal with conscious death.

Controlling the bodily gates, confining the mind in the heart, fixing the Life-Current within the head and established in yogic concentration, reciting Om, the monosyllable of the Absolute, and remembering Me—he who thus departs, abandoning the body, goes to the supreme state. By the Yogi who is continually yoked, whose consciousness is ever undiverted and who always remembers Me, I am easily attained, O Parthava (VIII. 12-14).

Readers may compare these verses, spoken by Lord Krishna to Prince Arjuna, with the manner in which Shri Tapasviji abandoned his body on the evening of October 12, 1955, at Jhansi. His concentration of mind, the total absorption of his being in God, the drawing of his life-breath into his head by his wonderful yogic power and his ability to overcome bodily pain and debility at the last moment of his earthly life were all integral measures he adopted in our presence when he entered his final samadhi. His long utterance of “‘Om” was the last function of his life-breath and the last act of his mind. Eighteen devotees, including myself, witnessed this mahasamadhi as the result of his Grace. It is clear that the aged Saint followed every one of the yogic steps mentioned in the Gita. Shriman Tapasviji demonstrated the efficacy of Lord Krishna’s directions.

The Saint’s body was carried by train from Jhansi to Vishnu Dham by a group of twenty devotees. They sang God’s Names throughout this last journey. The body of the holy Saint was respectfully deposited in his hut at 7 A.M. on the morning of the thirteenth. Preparations were made to cremate the body with due religious ceremonies. At noon, Satchidan-


anda lit the funeral pyre and performed the last rites in the presence of myself and hundreds of grief-stricken devotees. On that hallowed spot a marble temple has been built with a marble statue of the Saint consecrated as a monument to the spiritual glory of Shriman Tapasviji Maharaj.



Shriman Tapasviji’s Philosophy

I now intend to give a brief summary of Shriman Tapasviji’s spiritual philosophy. The Saint was an embodiment of real wisdom, and his knowledge was based on direct personal experience, though he possessed plenty of book learning as well. He gave spiritual instruction to me and many other disciples on the strength of his direct insight and intuition. An ordinary philosopher tries to solve the problems of life and death with the mind, but this instrument is feeble and its rules of logic are liable to error or prejudice. By God’s Grace, Shriman Tapasviji became a sage and a seer through his life of spiritual discipline. His utterances were spontaneous and he gave answers to all the philosophical questions put to him by hundreds of devotees. The questions related to the existence of God, the laws of karma, the duties of man, and so forth. On the basis of the Saint’s formal instruction, I have compiled the following systematic exposition of his philosophy. Brahman or Bhagavan is the only Truth. He has numerous Names, but all these Names refer to only One Supreme Being. Realization of this Truth is the only means of Liberation, or perpetual Bliss. That happy state is not attained till Knowledge of God takes birth or is intuited in one’s inmost being. Mere intellectual comprehension of this fact is not of much use, because doubts assail the human mind at one stage or another. Until one is established in the Knowledge of Brahman, one is subject to the inexorable laws of karma. Till that state is reached, the conscious entity (jiva) is liable to take birth and to become embodied endlessly. The goal of human efforts should be to escape from the endless cycle of transmigratory existence (samsara). A man is said to be wise only if he acts and behaves in such a manner that he Realizes Freedom as quickly as possible. The course of such a person is said to be sadgati. A person is said to be unwise if he acts and behaves in such a manner that it becomes more difficult for him to attain sucha happy state. The course of such an unwise man is durgati.

God is not external to this world or outside our own being. The Self


that manifests in every one of us is included in the world, which entails both the animate and the inanimate objects perceived by the senses. This wonderful manifestation is Brahman. Whatever exists beyond our senses of perception is also Brahman. That which is called Brahman or Atman in the Upanishads is also called Vasudeva. The great Upanishadic saying “All this is truly Brahman” is a statement of plain fact.

God is not unconscious (jada). Endless powers inhere in Him, and when He manifests them this wonderful manifestation comes into being. When His powers manifest, he is called gratified (saguna). All His powers together are called Shakti. When He ceases to exercise His Shakti, He is called unqualified (nirguna). That unmanifest aspect of His Being has no name. His endless powers begin to manifest as a result of His mere volition (sankalpa). No other effort on his part is necessary for that manifestation. That aspect of the Supreme Being is called Ishvara (the Lord). His multitudinous powers are also called prakriti. Prakriti consists of three distinct gunas, or qualities, called sattva, rajas, and tamas. Every act, thought, and movement of human beings is composed of the play of these three gunas. In fact, this manifestation is the visible form of these gunas. When the gunas are not in play, this manifestation ceases to exist. It is then said to be in the unmanifest (avyakta) or causal (karana) state. When the gunas are functioning, the manifestation is said to be in the effective (karya) state. This process of creation is both timeless and endless. It is therefore called ashvattha.

God Himself incarnates in multitudinous ways. He becomes associated with the play of prakriti and is deluded in the process, and He is then called a conscious entity (jiva). His essential nature is Happiness, but as a jiva he forgets his true nature. He regains his true nature with the help of a true teacher or sadguru, who is pleased to Enlighten him. God incarnates in another, Divine manner as a sadguru. He is not fettered by the deluding powers of prakriti, because He is manifesting Himself as the Lord of prakriti or maya-shakti. Shri Krishna was a Divine Incarnation of this Divine type. He was the embodiment of Brahman with all Brahman’s powers or kalas inhering in Him. So, Shri Krishna is the most glorious or perfect form of Brahman’s manifestation. Shri Rama was also an incarnation of Brahman, but He manifested Divine Shakti to a lesser extent.

The term Brahma refers to that aspect of Brahman in which his desire (sankalpa) is to become manifest. The term Vishnu indicates that aspect of Brahman in which His sankalpa is to sustain this manifestation.


The term Rudra (or Shiva) indicates that aspect of Brahman in which his sankalpa is to dissolve this manifestation into Himself. Thus, there is only one indivisible God or Ishvara, and therefore there is no superiority or inferiority in the connotation of the three terms, Brahma, Vishnu, and Rudra.

Action performed by human beings with the awareness of Ishvara and His power of manifestation do not affect the doer. That is, acts done without egoism (ahankara) do not beget any seeds of rebirth. Awareness or Knowledge of Ishvara’s Shakti is Fire of Knowledge (jnana-agni), and it burns away or destroys the sense of doership (ahankara). Ishvara is the giver of fruits of human acts, and He confers the fruits of human deeds, taking into account the disposition (bhavana) of the person who performs action. It is therefore necessary for a wise man to remember Ishvara or Bhagavan at all times. The best way to remember Bhagavan or God is to be aware of the fact that He resides in the heart of everyone and that it is His Shakti that wields power in all persons, including the worshipper. Worship or remembrance of God in any other form which suits the temperament or inclination of the individual is also fruitful.

Guru and Bhagavan are in reality one and the same thing. The Guru, who imparts Knowledge of Brahman to the disciple, enables the disciple to become a Liberated one (mukta). But the disciple must have faith (shraddha) in the instruction imparted by the Guru. Such faith is purity of mind, which can and ought to be cultivated in order to understand the directions of the sadguru. Real insight will dawn in the mind of the disciple only if his mind is pure and steady. Time is also necessary for the ripening of true spiritual knowledge. Contact with holy persons is of great benefit to a spiritual seeker, because the conduct of holy men and women enables all seekers to shake off the false sense of egoism.

Egoism is the greatest obstacle to the dawn of spiritual wisdom. Wisdom and egoism are incompatible. A seeker who has secured the Grace of a knower (jnani) and become his disciple is assured salvation. If the guru is a real Knower of Brahman, the only reason why there may be delay in his disciple’s Liberation is that the latter’s egoism obstructs the ripening of the knowledge he receives from his guru.

The conscious entity or jiva exists in everyone. This jiva is certainly Brahman, because nothing exists without Brahman. The jiva migrates from one body to another at the time of death. The duty of a wise man should be to escape from the necessity of rebirth. He can do so by realizing that he is not a jiva but Atman or Brahman. He should Realize


that State before his present body dies. If he succeeds in doing so, he will not be born again. If a Liberated being (mukta-purusha) takes a human birth, his Freedom will inhere in him from infancy. He will be able to impart knowledge and enlighten or uplift all those whom he desires to assist in their progress on the path of sadgati. Such a man of wisdom is said to belong to the group of mahatmas called Ishvara Koti. The work done by sucha mahatma in uplifting devotees is done by himas service to God.

All pious acts performed by ordinary men and women, which tend to lead them on the path of emancipation, are included in the word dharma. It is this spirit of dharma that contributes to the awakening of jnana. Dharma therefore ennobles mankind. Human acts which tend to retard spiritual progress are all included in the word adharma. Every earnest person should strive to realize his own true Divine State as soon as possible.

Briefly summarized, this is the philosophy of Shriman Tapasviji. He expressed himself in simple Hindi words. He was lucid and clear while giving instruction. He was both a worshipper (bhakta) and a knower (jnani), as defined in the Gita. He was able to expound the truth because he discovered it through personal and direct experience. No error arose in his talks and utterances. If there is an error in this printed compilation of the Saint’s philosophy, it is due to my own imperfect understanding and not to the Saint himself, because that great mahatma was established in true spiritual wisdom.



The Soma of Inherent Happiness

by Daniel Bouwmeester, M.D.

Rejuvenation is a subject of popular fascination, not only because we desire longevity, even immortality, but also because longevity at least seems possible. Today we are offered an ever-increasing number of old and new practices and substances that promise longevity. Through the fledgling discipline of electrobiology, for example, medical science has come to accept the reality of the regenera- tion of animal limbs via electrical induction, and researchers are considering the possibility that such regeneration can occur in humans as well.1 We know already that fingertips spontaneously regenerate on children under the age of eleven.” Thus, certain of the phenomena that are reported to have occurred in Tapasviji Maharaj’s kaya-kalpa treat- ments are today more plausible and acceptable. Dr. Scott Anderson gives a good list of supportive research in his introduction to this book. And, as he indicates, further light can be shed on this important matter with the aid of the wisdom of the Adept Da Free John.

Dr. Daniel Bouwmeester is a member of the Renunciate Order of The Johannine Daist Communion. The Johannine Daist Communion is the fellowship of practitioners of the Way taught by Master Da Free John.

  1. See The Body Electric, by R. O. Becker and G. Selden (New York: Morrow, 1985), pp. 150-87.

  2. Ibid, p. 156


As a staff member of The Radiant Life Clinic and Research Center, I have been involved for nine years with Master Da Free John’s considera- tion of what he calls radical rejuvenation. During this time my under- standing of rejuvenation has changed significantly. I started out with a “healthy skepticism” (meaning that my scientific background did not allow the possibility that the body may spontaneously and dramatically rejuvenate itself by becoming an unobstructed channel for the Force of Life). As I entered into the spiritual process with some seriousness, I found myself graduating to a “maybe, maybe not” attitude. At times my disposition was even enthusiastic, filled with childishly wishful delusions about a mysterious, magically transformative process. Without the aid of Master Da Free John’s wisdom the whole matter of rejuvenation would still be a fascinating, deluding, and elusive enigma to me. Now, I am able to view it in its expanded context, as an expression of the natural laws and higher spiritual potential of the life-process.

I am grateful to have been able to participate in Master Da Free John’s consideration of the kaya-kalpa treatment referred to in Tapasviji Maharaj’s biography. By illuminating ancient reports, modern research, and biographical accounts such as the present one, Master Da has lifted the veil of mythology enshrouding this subject and has exposed the fundamental elements of the rejuvenating process.

The staff of The Radiant Life Clinic began by trying to understand the health process itself. The definitions of health and the etiology of disease proposed by modern allopathic medicine are entirely governed by the materialistic premises of contemporary science. Hence, main- stream medical understanding is, in general, oblivious to the funda- mental principles that acknowledge the wholeness of Man.

In The Eating Gorilla Comes in Peace Master Da Free John reveals the law that is the foundation of our entire psycho-physical life. Simply stated, it is “reception and release,”? or the dynamic cycle manifested as inhalation-exhalation, assimilation-elimination, activity-rest. “‘The mat- ter of diet and health,” explains the Adept, “is simply a matter of applying yourself with intelligence to this dynamic process, to the law that is this process itself.”*

  1. The Eating Gorilla Comes in Peace: The Transcendental Principle of Life Applied to Diet and the Regenerative Discipline of True Health, by Bubba [Da] Free John (The Dawn Horse Press, 1979), Pp. 40.

  2. Ibid.


Disease, evidenced by toxicity, imbalance, and enervation, is a breakdown in this cycle. Master Da Free John explains:

Disease or poor health is always a result of three basic factors: (1) toxicity, which is a result of emotional contraction and obstruction; (2) imbalance, or the throwing out of balance of the two halves of the nervous system; and (3) enervation, loss of nerve force and the vital energizing chemistry of the endocrine system. Healing is, therefore, always a process of (1) purifying toxicity and obstructions, (2) rebalancing the being and restoring equanimity, and (3) the regeneration of the nerve force and vital chemistry in the body-mind.

Every part of this three-part process involves the total bodily being, but each particular phase also involves a primary functional system of the body. The purification phase involves the blood system, the balancing phase involves the nervous system, and the regeneration phase involves the endocrine or hormonal system.

The logic of this healing process is applicable to all aspects of maintaining health. For the purposes of healing a particular condition, each phase of this three-part cycle may be engaged sequentially, and the full cycle may be repeated as many times as is necessary to restore health. For the purposes of general daily health maintenance, the three processes may be applied simultaneously, by engaging life-practices that are inherently purifying, balancing, and regenerative.

The first phase of healing, or of basic maintenance of health, is, therefore, purification, a matter of abandoning the contracted emotional disposition, releasing oneself from emotional disturbances, engaging a self-purifying diet, using purifying herbs, fasting, and getting adequate rest. 5

The second dimension of the ordinary maintenance of health, as well as the second phase in any healing process, is the process of balancing the body-mind, especially the two sides of the nervous system. The regime that serves this process of balancing includes the basic processes of meditation, conscious exercise, © and

  1. For a description of these practices see The Eating Gorilla Comes in Peace, by Bubba [Da] Free John, especially pp. 60ff.

  2. “Conscious exercise” is the conscious cooperation with the Life-Force. As Master Da Free John puts it: “There is no isolated capsule of force, no separate life. There is only the interplay of cosmic energy in numberless forms of relationship. Through the conscious use of the psycho-physical form and life, or the formal and feeling utilization of life-force, one cooperates in the distribution or unobstructed communication of the infinite force of manifest light, which proceeds from the unmanifest or transcendent, All-Pervading, All- Conscious God-Light” (Bubba [Da] Free John, Conscious Exercise and the Transcendental Sun [The Dawn Horse Press, 1977], p. 29).


pranayama (or breath control), 7 and spiritual conductivity.8 These practices may also be aided by other regimes, such as acupuncture and polarity therapy, and the use of pranayama screens? or other therapeutic devices that help to balance the body-mind.

The third dimension of ordinary maintenance of health, as well as the third phase of the healing process, is to introduce new chemical energy or nerve force into the bodily system, which has already been prepared by the purifying regime and systematic balancing. This new hormonal force or hormonal chemistry is the chemistry naturally produced by the body itself. Therefore, we need not necessarily introduce chemistry from without, and thus as a daily practice the processes of purification and balance are generally sufficient for the body to produce chemistry and nerve force at a high and benign level. Among the practices that contribute to the introduction of this higher chemistry and nerve force in the system is the conservation and recirculation of sexual energy !° and chemistry. !!

“Radical rejuvenation’ is thus an extreme animation of the regeneration phase. When one looks at the historical accounts and research of radical rejuvenation, it is obvious that most efforts have been invested in discovering the perfect rejuvenative substance, or “soma.” !2

  1. Conscious exercise is based on (a) free attention, (b) relaxation-opening or feeling whole-bodily into the flow of the Life-Force in the body, and (c) the practice of the reception-release cycle by means of the breath. “Pranayama” is thus not any forced regulation or retention of the breath, but the conscious breathing of the Life-Energy (prana).

  2. By “conductivity,” Master Da Free John refers primarily to the conscious participation in the flow of the Life-Force and secondarily the observance of supportive disciplines, which all involve a right relationship to the all-sustaining Life-Energy.

9, Pranayama screens are used to realign and energize the body’s energy field. For a description of this technique see The Eating Gorilla Comes in Peace, by Bubba [Da] Free John, pp. 412-15.

  1. Sexual energy is an aspect of the Life-Force, as has long been recognized in the spiritual traditions of mankind. In the Way of life taught by Master Da Free John, a rightful attitude toward sexuality plays an important role. Neither asceticism nor sensualism are condoned, but sexuality is to be fully integrated into spiritual life. For a full discussion of a truly conservative (but not repressive) sexual practice, see Love of the Two-Armed Form, by Da Free John (The Dawn Horse Press, 1978, rep. 1985).

  2. Da Free John, quoted in Raw Gorilla: The Principles of Regenerative Raw Diet Applied in True Spiritual Practice, by The Radiant Life Clinic and Research Center (The Dawn Horse Press, 1982), pp. 21-23.

  3. The ritual consumption of “soma,” the draught of immortality, formed an important part of the sacrificial culture of the Vedic people who settled in northern India around 1500 B.C.


What is also evident is that this pursuit, which has occupied Man for thousands of years, has been frustrating and fundamentally fruitless. !3

When we of The Radiant Life Clinic began our research, we were also firmly convinced that the successful application of kaya-kalpa depended on discovering the definitive rejuvenative substance, such as that used by Tapasviji Maharaj, that would magically regenerate the body. This was a necessary, if erroneous, step in our consideration. Our eventual failure to identify the soma prepared us for Master Da Free John’s timely redirection.

Even though the Adept has had no training in medicine or physiology, one of the higher spiritual capacities, or siddhis4, he has employed in his Service to help others is his extraordinary sensitivity to the structure and functioning of the human body-mind. I have heard the Adept describe complicated neuronal pathways in his brain that were astonishingly accurate. At other times he has described interconnections between the brain and the endocrine system that were only recently verified by neuroendocrinological research. It was on the basis of this same siddhi of internal perception of the subtle functioning of the physical body and nervous system that Master Da Free John pointed us in a new direction in our research to discover the magical soma. Master Da explained:

The whole notion that soma is outside the body is false. The true soma is internal to the body. It is a substance secreted by the body when all of its key mechanisms and glands are purified and raised to the highest level of intensity, so that their secret chemistry may be generated in the body. Thus, if we can come to a right understanding of rejuvenating practices of the ancients, and of our own practice of true health, we need not feel obliged to find some “edible deity,” some absolute magical substance outside. What we must find is a method of approach, a regime, a methodology for purification and rejuvenation. We must also find useful substances in our environment and perhaps in many cultures and places in the world. But none of them will be absolutely effective in themselves because it is not the substance brought into the body that makes this absolute transformation. The body itself must make the transformation. 15

  1. An excellent summary of this ultimately futile quest is provided by Wendy D. O’Flaherty, “The Post-Vedic History of the Soma Plant,” in R. G. Wasson, Soma: Divine Mushroom of Immortality (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1971), pp. 95-147.

  2. The word “siddhi,” which stems from the Sanskrit root “sidh” meaning “to achieve,” is used here to denote a paranormal yogic ability or “power.”

  3. From an unpublished talk by Da Free John on November 15, 1977.


Master Da’s wisdom is reflected in the esotericism of the world’s ancient texts on healing and rejuvenation. Curiously, when one reads some of the accounts on radical rejuvenation more carefully, this wisdom is exactly what is emphasized. There is no miracle drug or substance that, when ingested, could magically restore our youth. Thus the idealistic search for a magical rejuvenating substance is, when fully considered, a chimera. The essence of rejuvenation, as demonstrated in the life of Tapasviji Maharaj, is in the sacrificial process of bodily submission to and Communion with the Divine Person or Reality. And because of this spiritual sacrifice the body is transformed and the “soma” released.

To illustrate this important point further, Master Da Free John once told the following anecdote:

The fundamentals of the kaya-kalpa process are like the story about the worker who left the factory every night with a small heap of sawdust in a wheelbarrow. As he left the compound, the gate attendant would look through the sawdust, checking for stolen goods. Though he was always suspicious, the gatekeeper could never find anything and always waved the fellow through. This happened every single day, week after week after week. The gatekeeper became more and more suspicious, but his searches revealed nothing. Finally the owners of the factory told the fellow that they knew he was stealing something, though they did not know what. They promised him there would be no reprisals if he would tell them frankly what it was he was so successfully stealing every night. He replied, ‘“Wheelbarrows.” 16

Because of our illusion that we are looking for something magical, we overlook what is most basic in this process of rejuvenation: the activity of the bodily being itself. Just as true healing is a matter of the body’s own activity, not something you do to it from without, just so the soma,” or the ultimate rejuvenating effect, is something the body does to itself. We can only help the body come to the point where it will do that. The soma is internal to the body itself, and it is not found in any substance that we can introduce into the body.

We also tend to overlook the process of the retreat (or temporary stepping aside from the activities of daily life). If you were to enter into seclusion where you could be completely rested, where you did not think, did not read, did not have conversations, did not have contact with others, did not daydream, did not

  1. Ibid.


stimulate yourself sexually—if you could do that for forty days, three months, or a year, and minimize your diet or perhaps fast for a long period of time, and then take only the most vital kinds of substances, such a practice would probably be sufficient in most cases. Such a retreat is itself the wheelbarrow, you see. ‘?

In part 2 of this essay we will consider in more detail the retreat, or regime of kaya-kalpa, to which Master Da Free John alludes in the above passage. To conclude this section, however, we should briefly consider under what circumstances this internal soma is released. Master Da Free John explains:

When the release of emotional reactivity is felt throughout the body, the centers in the endocrine system are stimulated, brought to a high state of purification, and balanced in their relationships with one another. Because of the intense stimulation by a higher energy, they begin to secrete a level of chemistry that is not generally present in the body-mind in its subhuman reactive states. Regeneration, however, is not only a matter of the secretions of the endocrine glands; it is catalyzed by the distribution of superior Bio-Energy throughout the body, which has become polarized most positively toward the brain centers. This combining of Bio-Energy and higher chemistry, and their distribution to the whole body, is the true soma. 18

Few people are psychologically and physically equipped to endure the rigors of the kaya-kalpa treatment, let alone benefit from this process spiritually. As Master Da Free John comments:

Kaya-kalpa is not to be undertaken casually. Just the thought of it should make you sweat. If it does not make you sweat, you do not have any idea what it can be like. If you were to endure that kind of isolation and deprivation for a prolonged period of time without being prepared, you would be screaming to get out. You would become crazy or blank or suffer all the reactions that can develop

  1. Ibid.

  2. Bubba [Da] Free John, The Eating Gorilla Comes in Peace, p. 279.


in such a situation. Your mind would tend to become exaggerated in various ways, depending on the obsessions you cling to. 19

Traditionally kaya-kalpa was reserved for those who had the capacity to undergo the test of submission. This capacity awakens only when one has endured the “thard school of self-knowledge” that relieves the heart from its egocentric habit and frees it for the gesture of love and ecstasy. Rightly understood, kaya-kalpa is a profound spiritual ordeal. It can be offered to those who are not thus spiritually prepared but then the true process is only imitated, and herbs are substituted for spiritual responsibility. Naturally, the results will not be the same. This is clearly brought out in Tapasviji Maharaj’s biography. Because he was an ardent spiritual practitioner, Tapasviji benefited greatly from his kaya-kalpa retreats. But others not so intensely involved in the spiritual process benefited far less.

Master Da Free John points out:

You may be able to rest at first, but then you will begin to become bored and create subjective methods for keeping yourself occupied. Soon you will feel the stark force of the deprivation itself. I have read about people who have been put in solitary confinement, and I have been amazed at what they do to occupy themselves. They do not make beneficial use of the occasion. Rather, they create games for themselves in order to keep their sanity, looking to the day when they will be released from prison. They walk around the room in patterns, draw on the wall, repeat things to themselves, play chess in their heads, and so on.

The games that people play within the limits of their confinement duplicate the ordinary state in some fashion or other. This is how people seek to maintain their sanity. But you must be free of that seeking, and so you must be responsible for the tendency to seek relief, which will become more and more profound during the kaya-kalpa treatment. Therefore, during the initial phase of relaxation and rest, you must surrender the need for your usual associations and not fear that you are going insane. At some point, you will indeed feel that you are going insane, when you are not thinking any more and when you have nothing to react to.”°

Obviously, a person must be prepared for the treatment through right counseling and practice. More than that, he or she must be able to

  1. From an unpublished talk by Da Free John on November 15, 1977.

  2. Ibid.


transcend physical, emotional, and mental states of reactivity. In The Johannine Daist Communion, spiritual practitioners are prepared for retreat through the meditative discipline of daily entering into the disposition of “Divine Communion.” It is in meditation that the individual contacts what Master Da Free John calls the “zero of Bliss,” the native uncaused Happiness of our being. He explains:

In the practice of meditation you encounter this zero of Bliss, and you must adapt to it. You must adapt to Infinity. One of the most critical aspects of spiritual growing is to come to the point where you no longer require contractions or defined conditions to feel safe, to feel alive, to feel that you are surviving. 7!

The participant must have already developed the capacity to remain oriented to the Divine Life, regardless of the subjective conditions of reactivity that may assail the being. In other words, it is essential that the kaya-kalpa participant be spiritually mature, experienced in the dis- cipline of real meditation, and thus capable of understanding (and transcending) all the phenomena, external and internal, that arise to his or her consciousness.

As well as being spiritually mature, the participant must be practically prepared as well. One must have handled all functional and relational affairs so that they will not absorb one’s attention during the retreat. Likewise it is desirable that the participant have experience with fasting and have lived on a wholesome, eliminative diet for approxi- mately one to two years prior to undertaking the fast. A complete medical checkup is essential, including diagnosis of the pulses, which will serve as a guide throughout the treatment. What must be appreciated is that the kaya-kalpa treatment presupposes adequate vital strength. Shoulda person be suffering from any debilitating ailments, these should be treated prior to the kaya-kalpa program.

An essential element of the kaya-kalpa process is isolation and rest. It is important to understand the need for the body and mind to enter into a profound state of relaxation. Ordinarily the body is constantly under stress. In the struggle for survival, every cell of the body contracts and armors itself against the external world, and in so doing also shuts out the all-pervading Life-Force. This activity of contraction obstructs the natural cycle of reception-release and is the root of all disease and

  1. Ibid.


premature aging. Deep bodily relaxation undermines the stress reflex of the body, permitting the body-mind to be saturated with a higher non- stress chemistry and to enter intoa feeling of bodily bliss. Master Da Free John points out that in this state the ‘tbio-computer is reprogrammed” from the stressful, aggressive, self-protective message to one of relaxa- tion, love, bliss, and the feeling of being sustained.

Obviously, in this condition of deep relaxation the body is extremely vulnerable and must be protected from stressful stimuli. In this profound state of relaxation the body’s reaction to seemingly insignificant stress signals can be so shocking that it not only prevents the process from proceeding but can also negatively program the body and more significantly the endocrine system. The body then becomes supersensitive to stress and thereafter generates an extreme response to even minimal stress. Naturally, such sensitivity to stress is the antithesis of what we want to achieve.

The environment for retreat must therefore be carefully considered relative to such factors as noise, temperature, air conditions, climate, and other effects from both the natural environment and the man-made surroundings. The environment must be pleasant, calm, healthy, isolated, and free of noise and pollution. The setting for retreat may vary, as can be seen in the descriptions in Tapasviji’s biography. Generally it is a specially constructed building with windows and doors situated in such a way that light and ventilation are indirect. A toilet and wash basin should be conveniently nearby. The only furniture required is a bed and possibly a comfortable chair. Spring or rain water should always be available. For the retreatant there is no reading, writing, television, sexual contact, or social contact of any kind apart from medical consultations as required.

Traditionally winter is the time of the year recommended for engaging a rejuvenation retreat, and this recommendation is validated by modern research on the biorhythms of the body. The body is in its most receptive disposition during the winter months and is thus most open to change in winter. Astrology is used by some traditionalists to determine the most auspicious day to begin kaya-kalpa. Basically, however, these points are secondary and only supportive to what is most essential, which is to put the participant in a position where he or she is psycho- physiologically capable of engaging in a process that is, as Master Da Free John explains, at the level of intensity and purity of the development of the embryo. This inherent, naturally purifying, and rejuvenating process


of the body is activated principally by isolation and rest on retreat.

In addition, a regime of herbal remedies may be recommended, to assist an elimination crisis and thus quicken the process. The purifying procedure is similar to that which we recommend prior to and during a fast. Generally the herbs used at this phase are those that purify the blood, e.g., sarsaparilla and sassafras, and those that purify specific organs, e.g., dandelion (liver), comfrey (lungs), and uva ursi (kidneys). Other herbs may be considered and other practices may also be added, such as massage, induced sweating, purgatives, self-induced therapeutic vomiting, and an enema.

Herbs that we have found useful in the rejuvenative phase are the Chinese herbs ginseng, dong kwai, and foti. Indian pennywort (also known as gotu kola) may also be used. We experimented with “chyavan prash,” which includes Indian gooseberries, minerals, and gems, and felt it also to be useful, although its preparation is complex. Other possibilities might be wheat grass or even amaroli.”* At times we considered organotherapy, either with mature adult cells or simply the RNA component of various cells, or even the embryonic cells of various organs and the placenta (cell therapy). We found these either ineffective or else too stimulating and thus potentially detrimental to our purposes.

The eliminative crisis is not physical alone. It involves the whole being—body, emotions, mind. Master Da Free John elaborates on this as follows:

Various sources describe the practice of preparing for retreat for a short period of time, beginning the cycle of elimination, and then entering into a period of retreat or complete isolation. In isolation, the individual begins a fast—not merely a physical fast or purgation, but a profound eliminative crisis through complete rest or fasting of all one’s functions. The individual not only causes the elemental body to enter into a process of elimination, but he or she also enters into complete rest emotionally, mentally, and psychically, and maintains that state of rest, or fast of all the functions, for a significant period of time.

After a period of elimination, through fasting or taking substances that physically serve this eliminative process, the rejuvenation phase of the retreat begins. But first the tissues of the body must be completely purified—the muscles,

  1. The yogic and Ayurvedic technique of “amaroli” refers to the ancient medical practice of drinking a portion of one’s own urine. See The Eating Gorilla Comes in Peace, by Bubba [Da] Free John, pp. 220-24.


all the organs, even the cellular structure of the fleshy body and the blood must be cleansed of impurities. Only after the cleansing process has taken place—and this is a very critical phase—does the rejuvenation phase begin, on the basis of this completely purified mechanism.

Then the individual can use various substances, any of which may be called soma, because they have the virtue of restimulating or triggering the key rejuvenative mechanisms of the body. The retreat continues for a significant

period of time until the signs of rejuvenation are full. Then it is appropriate to end the retreat and reorient the individual to his or her ordinary life. 3

To encourage the state of deep relaxation some kaya-kalpa programs intentionally use substances that induce unconsciousness or coma. During his first kaya-kalpa treatment, Tapasviji Maharaj spent a period in a semi-conscious state. He was advised by the attending mahatma that soon he would become completely unconscious for a few days, as part of the process. After two weeks, Tapasviji awoke—to a much younger and healthier body.*4 In Master Da Free John’s words:

If we are fully prepared before entering into isolation, we need not take a substance to relax us or to put us into a condition of hibernation or to project us into the astral dimension. We can, through our native spiritual responsibility, rest the body, emotions, and mind without necessarily occupying ourselves with astral or dream-level experiences separate from awareness of the body or the room. Instead, we rest in a condition of spiritual illumination, or meditation, or Samadhi.

Thus, we have the opportunity to be fully conscious of all the forms of contraction that arise—all the physical conditions, the conditions of the Life- Force, the energies of the bodily being, its psychic states, its mental states, sensations in the body, and so forth. We can monitor and be mindful of these conditions and penetrate their limiting effect so that we can cooperate with this process of purification and rejuvenation.

The most common cause for termination of the rejuvenative retreat is that the treatment is too disturbing for the participant. Kaya-kalpa is not meant to be an endurance test or an initiatory rite to be suffered for

  1. From an unpublished talk by Da Free John on November 15, 1977.

  2. See page 59 of this edition of Maharaj.

  3. From an unpublished talk by Da Free John on November 15, 1977.


its own sake. If the participant cannot be at ease emotionally, then the process will be inhibited and should be discontinued. This should, however, be an infrequent occurrence so long as the guidelines for preparation are carefully observed.

Likewise, it is reported in the literature that retreats have been stopped for such medical reasons as dehydration, nausea, giddiness, diarrhea, low blood pressure, and “thready” pulse that indicates critical loss of vitality. Dehydration can be prevented by adequate hydration throughout the retreat and this, together with some simple herbs, prevents nausea and giddiness. Diarrhea can often be treated while on retreat, but if severe or not readily controlled, then the retreat should be discontinued. During a fast the blood pressure naturally drops and the pulse becomes slower and weaker. The doctor must decide when the blood pressure is critically low and the pulse weak enough to indicate critical devitalization warranting cessation of the retreat.

The doctor should also look for the signs of rejuvenation. These include evidence in the participant of a strong eliminative phase and a strong assimilative phase. Whether such extraordinary signs of new hair and teeth occur as reported by Tapasviji Maharaj is to be seen, but the pulse will become balanced, weight will normalize, skin texture and color will improve, and there will be a general improvement in strength and vitality.

Master Da Free John makes it clear how kaya-kalpa might be used in the context of spiritual life.

At some point in your life and then perhaps periodically thereafter, you might want to consider applying the principle underlying our dietary and health practice in a most radical way, in order to rejuvenate yourself. In other words, you might wish to bring yourself to the optimum level of vital health possible at your age, to be completely healthy, as, say, a thirty-year-old, or a fifty- or sixty-year-old. It is not that we go white-haired and crippled into a room, turn off all the lights, lie still for forty days, and come out with black hair and a whole new set of teeth. This expectation is part of the magical, fanciful, and essentially irresponsible or childish approach to rejuvenation.

The kaya-kalpa treatment should be an extension of the diet and health practices that we already engage to keep ourselves in essentially good health. We should simply add to our understanding and perfect our practice of it, introducing periodic radical fasts and rejuvenation retreats. We can adopt the kaya-kalpa treatment in its various forms, from the spiritual point of view of our


culture. Basically, we would engage this kind of treatment not for any extraordinary purpose, but for the most ordinary purpose of bringing ourselves whole bodily into an optimum human condition, wherein we may live our spiritual life with the least unnecessary obstruction. 6

It is important to know that the art of “rasayana,” the Ayurvedic specialty of rejuvenation and tonics, is comprised of two forms. One is kaya-kalpa, which, as we have discussed, is characterized by isolation and rest and conducted outside the activities of daily life. Members of The Johannine Daist Communion undertake several different kinds of spiritual retreats in a yearly cycle. One retreat in particular, which is reserved for practitioners in the advanced stages of life, most resembles the kaya-kalpa circumstance of isolation, silence, minimal food, and concentrated practice of spiritual discipline. This retreat is recom- mended only for those who are observed, tested, and acknowledged to be free of reactivity to the changing and frustrating conditions of our ordinary human life as well as those conditions and phenomena generally regarded to be spiritual. Such individuals are capable of and thus responsible for abiding in and as the Transcendental Self or Divine Consciousness. A person who has been on such a retreat will obviously have some familiarity with, and appreciation for, the rigors of kaya-kalpa.

The other arm of the ancient Ayurvedic science of rasayana involves a daily regime of rejuvenation. Likewise, the Way of life spontaneously developed and Taught by Heart-Master Da Free John also acknowledges the necessity of maintaining both the daily practice of purification, balance, arid regeneration and also the radical or concentrated practice of periodic retreat. We have already discussed the general principles of retreat, which correspond to the traditional form of kaya-kalpa as practiced by Tapasviji Maharaj. But Master Da has also elaborated a unique science or “Way” of daily living. The essence of the Way he Teaches he calls Divine Communion. Divine Communion can be summarized as heartfelt surrender of the body-mind to the Living Spirit- Energy and Transcendental Consciousness of the Divine Person. Divine Communion is the essence of both daily living and the radical practices of meditation and yogic conductivity in which the devotee is concentrated almost exclusively while on retreat. The daily life-practices Taught by Master Da are secondarily regenerative and include Master Da’s system

  1. Ibid.


of “conscious exercise,” a purifying/rejuvenative diet (which includes periods of fasting and the use of purifying and rejuvenative herbal teas), bodily service, and the regenerative practice of “sexual communion,” or whole bodily submission to the Divine via sexual embrace. Most fundamental to the Way he Teaches is the practice of literal heartfelt Communion with the Living Divine. Such Communion is to be enjoyed and practiced as a discipline in every aspect and active moment of daily life as well as in daily sessions of meditation, while on retreat, and even under the conditions of dreaming and sleeping.

Study of Master Da’s Teaching’ on the practical disciplines of the Way of Divine Communion reveals that these disciplines are life-positive (as compared to many traditional approaches to spirituality, which tend to be life-negative), but longevity or even perfect health has never been the point of view or goal of the Great Way that he has Taught. As evidenced by the life of Tapasviji Maharaj, longevity and the radical signs of rejuvenation are the secondary results of direct submission to the Living God.

Health and longevity are secondary effects. They are not pursued for their own sake in the Way of Life that we practice. Anything pursued for its own sake is a form of self-meditation, self-possession, self-protection, a hedge about Narcissus. But from the point of view of the Divine Life, rather than self, we assume disciplines that secondarily keep us alive and enlivened, even physically blissful. We are healthy not only because we take the right dietary substances into the body, including rejuvenating herbs and the like, but primarily because we are enlivened by direct Communion with the All-Pervading Life, and that direct Communion, associated with right psycho-physical disciplines, enables the body to secrete chemical substances as well as to distribute bio-energetic force to every area of the body, from head to toe, toe to crown. This alchemy, native to the body itself, rejuvenates us, keeps us in good health, keeps us capable of growing, and keeps every area, every aspect, every dimension of the body-mind alive.

The dietary and health practice of members of The Johannine Daist Communion, which is essentially direct Communion with the All-Pervading Life associated with practical responsibilities, is rejuvenative in the highest sense. It keeps the individual totally associated in every part with the All- Pervading Current of Life. The practice Enlightens the body-mind. 28

  1. For a list of Master Da Free John’s published writings and recorded talks, please see pages 239-46 at the back of this volume.

28, Bubba [Da] Free John, The Eating Gorilla Comes in Peace, pp. 517-18.


On emerging from his year-long kaya-kalpa retreat, Tapasviji Maharaj made it clear to his devotees that the success of the treatment was due to the Grace of Lord Krishna and that the medicines and other rejuvenative measures were only secondary. ? For the authentic spiritual practitioner, Grace is not merely a living actuality but primary food, the very essence of life. And in his or her experience, health and happiness only come through self-surrender and the recognition that every single being is lived by the all-pervading Life-Energy. No amount of self- manipulation or egoic effort can realign one’s whole bodily being to the great Force that sustains everything. Such realignment presupposes the conscious submission of the ego to the larger Life or Reality. It is then that, as Tapasviji Maharaj knew, Grace intervenes and body and mind are made whole, hale, or healthy again. Master Da Free John, who is a fully Realized Master-Teacher of the ancient and most supreme Way of Divine Grace, explains:

The right or rejuvenative use of the functions of the body-mind of Man is Communion with the Radiant, All-Pervading Reality. Such submission of the functions of ordinary bodily life to God-Communion matures into levels of higher responsibility and transformation, and ultimately into Translation or perfect Transcendence of the conditions of the body-mind itself, wherein the experiential person is dissolved into the Radiant Consciousness of God. Thus, the point of view of the practice of right diet and health is not the conventional one of how to feel better and how to live longer. Good health and longevity are, in a sense, secondary effects of the fundamental responsibility of a human life, which is devotional submission to participation in the Divine Reality. Communion with God is naturally regenerative. °°

Master Da Free John distinguishes four stages in the process of “bodily regeneration in God.” He explains:

Just as the first stage of life essentially involves adaptation of the vital- physical being, so the first level of responsibility that we must fully realize is responsibility for the gross functional basis of our existence. Once the individual has heard the Teaching and has, in response, begun to engage in Communion

  1. See page 130 of this edition of Maharaj.

  2. Bubba [Da] Free John, The Eating Gorilla Comes in Peace, p. 275.


with the All-Pervading Reality, the first level of practice is personal responsibility for the regenerative exercise of the vital-physical being. That foundation discipline is a threefold process of purification, harmonization, and rejuvenation of the vital-physical functions, essentially through diet and the practice of health at the gross physical level of life. Thus, there are things we do that purify the body, things we do that harmonize and balance the functional dualities of the body, or the opposite sides of the body, and things we do that rejuvenate and enliven the body and raise the level of vitality.

The process of rejuvenation of the vital-physical functions also includes the whole range of disciplines of right association, such as the managing of one’s environment, one’s daily life, one’s work. But the first or initially most important of the personal disciplines assumed by devotees is the regenerative practice of diet and health. (This discipline is brought into coincidence with the primary moral or relational discipline, which is heartfelt service to others. And both of these disciplines are simply expressions of the foundation discipline of constant devotional Communion with the Living God.)

The second stage of the regenerative practice of life is the realization of responsibility for the whole body distribution or conductivity of the All- Pervading Life. It corresponds to the second, third, and fourth stages of life (or the stages of right adaptation to the emotional-sexual, mental-intentional, and psychic functions, respectively). This stage of bodily regeneration requires the purification, harmonization, and rejuvenation of the emotional-sexual func- tions, not merely through gross physical exercise but through the exercise of the Bio-Energetic Current and Field in which the body exists. Such exercise involves free feeling-attention and the cycle of reception-release engaged through the breath, as well as, and in coordination with, right exercise of the gross physical body.

The distribution of the Life-Force to the whole body through conscious participation in the natural cycle of the breath, through exercise, through sexual communion, and through the exercise of the feeling breath, under all conditions, in all activities, and in all relations, is the key to the health and rejuvenation of the bodily being. ;

The third level of responsibility for the regeneration of the whole body is the structural awakening that is native to usin the fifth stage of life. In that stage we become responsible for the higher chemistry of the body, the true “soma’? that is released when the “locks” on the Radiant Current of Life-Energy are opened. The true soma is not taken into the body from outside; it is not a magic mushroom or medicinal elixir. It is the “Water of Life,” the higher chemistry and higher Bio-Energetic harmony that is native to the body-mind. After the


bodily being has realized the regeneration of the vital-physical and emotional- sexual functions, then, in the fifth stage of life, states of suspension and the intensification of the principal centers of the body begin to appear. Thena kind of soma or elixir is distributed to the body from the pituitary and other glands deep in the brain. This internal nectar, which cannot be secreted until the body has realized its higher structural maturity, now enables the body to realize forms of higher regenerative transformation.

Then there is a fourth stage in the process of the regeneration of the bodily being, corresponding to the seventh stage of life. Regeneration is not an end in itself. It does not occur for the sake of the body-mind in itself or for its own sake. In fact, regeneration occurs only when the body-mind is sacrificed or yielded to the All-Pervading and Transcendental Reality. Therefore, the fourth stage of this practice of surrender to the All-Pervading Divine is in the seventh stage of life, wherein the body-mind is Transfigured and its limits transcended. The bodily being may manifest the signs of superphysical regeneration, including psychic powers, healing powers, genius, and longevity. There may even be total psycho-physical dissolution, even literal bodily dissolution, into the All- Pervading and Transcendental Radiance.

The Translation of the whole bodily being into the Divine is the ultimate Realization of the cycle of regeneration that begins with the purification, harmonization, and rejuvenation of vital-physical functions, through the right practice of diet and health. 31

Thus, the secret of what Master Da calls our “bodily regeneration in God” is to be attracted beyond oneself, and this is the great gift or blessing that is granted upon contact with a living Adept who not only communicates a Wisdom-Teaching but also magnifies in others the intuition of the native Condition of Happiness and Freedom. It is his spiritual radiance that restores the heart of those who engage the ordeal of a self-transcending life in his company to Joy and Bliss.

The living Spiritual Master is the ultimate Healer, and the mere Presence of such a one is the most benign healing Influence. Without obstruction or limitation of any kind, the Spiritual Master incarnates the All-Pervading Radiance and Transcendental Consciousness of God. Those who enter his Company enter the very Presence of God. He does not have to perform any special intentional action to heal—though he may in fact exercise specific

  1. Ibid., pp. 276-84.


healing capacities of both ordinary and extraordinary kinds. But his Radiant Presence itself spontaneously purifies, harmonizes, and rejuvenates his devotees whole bodily. It restores them to the Ecstasy of LoveCCommunion with God and, ultimately, to perfect Realization of God. The Presence of the Spiritual Master does not merely heal devotees of illness, quirks of character, and subhuman or degenerative habits. It heals us of the entire accumulation of our evolutionary history of embodiment in the world, and it draws us into Divine Bliss beyond the consolations of any form of future embodiment, high and low. This is the greatest and most Sacred Mystery, and it is for this reason that men and women have been advised since ancient times that the most auspicious occupation of Man is living devotion to a Spiritual Master. 32

Summary of Kaya-Kalpa Treatment


  1. The governing principle is isolation and rest.

  2. The environment must be pleasant, calm, healthy, isolated, and noise-free.

  3. The hut is the preferred dwelling, although a cave or an underground abode may also be used.

  4. The favored time of year is winter. Some Ayurvedic specialists make use of astrological determinations to determine the exact day.

  5. A decision is made prior to treatment as to the duration of the period of isolation. In general, the treatment extends over three weeks or forty days. Ninety days and one year are less typical.

  6. A decision is made on the substances to be used. Useful eliminative herbs are comfrey, dandelion, uva ursi. Useful regenerative substances are ginseng, dong kwai, foti, gotu kola, wheat grass juice, amaroli (urine therapy), or chyavan prash (which includes Indian gooseberry, gems, and minerals).


  1. He or she should be spiritually mature, stably and really capable of penetrating arising conditions with true understanding and Com- muning with the Divine Condition.

  2. Editorial commentary in The Eating Gorilla Comes in Peace, by Bubba [Da] Free John, p. 461.


  1. He or she should be capable of real meditation.

  2. He or she should have prior experience of aspects of the process and thus have the self-certainty of being able to endure this ordeal.

  3. He or she should have a realistic understanding and appreciation of the nature of this undertaking.

  4. He or she should be capable of abandoning practical functions and emotional relations in order to engage the kaya-kalpa process freely and with full attention.

  5. He or she should be experienced in the process of fasting.

  6. He or she should have lived a wholesome, eliminative diet for one to two years.

  7. He or she must be vitally strong enough to endure the process.


  1. He or she should be well trained in the true foundations of rejuvenative practices and fully competent and practiced in the areas of health, disease, and healing.

  2. He or she should be a tested practitioner of the spiritual process, with full experience of the yogic processes of the Life-Current and knowledge of the esoteric anatomy of the body-mind.

  3. He or she should have undergone the process in his or her own case.


  1. Diet: Should be identical to the pre-fast diet described in The Eating Gorilla Comes in Peace, pp. 184-85.

  2. Purifying sequence: Massage Sweating (hot bath or sauna) Self-induced therapeutic vomiting Purgatives Enema

  3. General medical examination: Full history of past and present diseases; CE examination, including blood pressure and oriental pulse diagnosis; laboratory tests, including urinalysis and full blood examination with hemoglobin and blood chemistry.



  1. Confinement to the hut:

There should be no reading, writing, television, daydreaming, intentional thinking, or conversations apart from responses to the doctor’s questioning. There should also be no visitors, and all sexual activity should be abandoned.

  1. Diet:

Rejuvenative substances with or without certified raw cow’s milk; free use of fresh spring or rain water.

  1. Twice daily doctor visits (8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.): Administration of substances with or without one glass of raw cow’s milk. Examination of pulses, hydration, color, blood pressure, urine, and stools. Enquiry into the participant’s feeling-disposition, quality of sleep, dreaming, and possible visionary experiences. The doctor makes an assessment of the participant’s general psychological state.

  2. Morning routine: Washing, dental care, and toilet; light yoga exercises and walking within the confines of the retreat quarters.

  3. Daily practice: It is most important that the participant should practice the art of moment-to-moment understanding of (and transcending) all arising conditions and Communion with the Divine Condition.


  1. The participant is psychologically unable to continue.

  2. There is critical dehydration, nausea, giddiness, or diarrhea.

  3. There is low blood pressure.

  4. The participant has a “thready” pulse, indicating devitalization.


  1. Balanced pulses.

  2. General improvement in strength and vitality, optimum for age.

  3. Improved skin texture and color.

  4. Normalizing of weight.

  5. The possible occurrence of such extraordinary phenomena as new hair or teeth, etc.


The Seven Stages of Life

The editorial foreword and introduc- tion to this volume, as well as the appendix, provide a larger spiritual context for the remarkable biography of Tapasviji Maharaj. These essays draw on both ancient and modern wisdom, and most especially on the Wisdom-Teaching of Master Da Free John. They also make use of Master Da’s model of “seven stages of life” as a framework within which to view spiritual experience and realization. This schema of seven stages is described briefly below. For a full description of these stages, we refer the reader to Master Da Free John’s summary work, The Dawn Horse Testament (The Dawn Horse Press, 1985).

First Stage: vital-physical adaptation, generally occupying the first seven years of life.

Second Stage: emotional-sexual adaptation, in which the individual learns feeling-sensitivity in relation to others and the world. This stage generally occupies the next seven years of life.

Third Stage: adaptation of the mind and will, in which the individual becomes “able to be present as love under the otherwise frustrating or pleasurable conditions of lower experience.” This stage occupies the third seven years of life in the case of an individual maturing in a true spiritual culture.

Maturity in the first three stages may be realized in approximately the first twenty-one years of life (although most adults do not represent such full maturity), while the last four stages, which involve growth beigog the grosser elements and functions, will vary in duration according qualities of the individual.


Fourth Stage: the awakening of the capacity for self-surrender to and into the Living Current of Being that pervades self and world, character- ized by the submission of all lower functions of the body-mind to the moral or sacrificial disposition of the “awakened heart.”

Fifth Stage: higher psychic adaptation, corresponding to the awakening of the brain core as achieved by yogis and mystics and culminating in an experience of ascended attention (also called “nirvikalpa samadhi”) that goes beyond all physical and mental references.

Sixth Stage: penetration of the root of individuated egoic conscious- ness, corresponding to Self-Realization as traditionally understood. In this stage, attention is inverted upon its own Source, the “witnessing” Consciousness, to the exclusion of all objects.

Seventh Stage: the awakening of Transcendental Divine Self- Realization, the native or intuitive identification with the Identity of all beings and selves. In this stage, there is no strategic act of introversion or extroversion. There is perfect Self-Abiding, and all conditions and states of the body-mind are simply recognized as non-binding modifications of the Radiant Transcendental Being.

Also from The Dawn Horse Press



THE DAWN HORSE TESTAMENT Of Heart-Master Da Free John $45.00 cloth, $17.95 paper

The Dawn Horse Testament is Master Da Free John’s Ecstatic summary of the Way of the Heart that he has Taught since 1970. In it Master Da Reveals the Mysteries and devotional “Secrets” of the Heart, which, previous to his Incarna- tion, have never been fully Revealed on Earth. Master Da says: “This Testament is my Intention to Awaken the Transcendental Self of every being to the Real Divine Condition.”

The Dawn Horse Testament is Master Da’s “Eternal Conversation”, his summary Teaching on the ancient Love-Yoga of Communion with the Living Divine Person, which he was born to Teach.

THE KNEE OF LISTENING The Early Life and Radical Spiritual Teachings of Da Free John

$8.95 paper The Knee of Listening is the first published book of Master Da Free John and the epitome of his Teaching. Published in 1972, it is the autobiography of the Illumined birth and early life of a Divinely Realized Adept who was born with the destiny of awakening and Teaching others. Written immediately after the culminating events of his Re-Awakening to the Transcendental Self, Master Da’s life-history serves as an example and lesson for all who would take up the Way of the Divine Ordeal that he Teaches. His story is a remarkable account of the sudden transformative experiences he endured, his unusual relationship to his Teachers, and his discovery of the radical process of “relational enquiry” and


non-verbal “re-cognition”—the transcendence of the ego or self-contraction. The basic Teaching of Master Da Free John is communicated and exemplified in the lessons and events of his early life, which are documented in this book, and which culminate in Transcendental Self-Realization.

THE METHOD OF THE SIDDHAS Talks with Da Free John on the Spiritual Technique of the Saviors of Mankind $9.95 paper

The Method of the Siddhas is an important historical document and the second of Master Da’s published books. It records a selection of Master Da’s talks during 1972 and early 1973, the first years of his formal Teaching Work. At the age of thirty-two the inspired Master Da began to communicate his Wisdom of the Heart in the radical language of “understanding”, for which he has since become well known. The Method of the Siddhas is full of stories of the considerations of Master Da and the people who came to him seeking answers and solutions in the early 1970s. Master Da speaks about the technical practices of his own Teaching as well as the practices belonging to other traditions, but the essential communication of the book is the shining genius of the Realized Adept, whose fundamental message then as today is the necessity of “Satsang”, “the Company of Truth”, the sacred relationship between the Divine Person and Man, Revealed through the Sacrificial Agency of the Heart-Master.


THE EATING GORILLA COMES IN PEACE The Transcendental Principle of Life Applied to Diet and the Regenerative Discipline of True Health $12.95 paper

CONSCIOUS EXERCISE AND THE TRANSCENDENTAL SUN The principle of love applied to exercise and the method of common physical action. A science of whole body wisdom, or true emotion, intended most especially for those engaged in religious or spiritual life. $8.95 paper

LOVE OF THE TWO-ARMED FORM The Free and Regenerative Function of Sexuality in Ordinary Life, and the Transcendence of Sexuality in True Religious or Spiritual Practice ~ $12.95 paper


  1. LISTENING to the Argument of Truth—the fundamental principles

THE FOUR FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS Talks and essays about human experience and the actual practice of an Enlightened Way of Life $2.95 paper


SCIENTIFIC PROOF OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD WILL SOON BE ANNOUNCED BY THE WHITE HOUSE! Prophetic Wisdom about the Myths and Idols of mass culture and popular religious cultism, the new priesthood of scientific and political materialism, and the secrets of Enlightenment hidden in the body of Man $12.95 paper

DO YOU KNOW WHAT ANYTHING IS? Talks and Essays on Divine Ignorance $6.95 paper

THE ADEPT Selections from Talks and Essays by Da Free John on the Nature and Function of the Enlightened Teacher $4.95 paper

THE GOD IN EVERY BODY BOOK Talks and Essays on God-Realization $3.95 paper

THE TRANSMISSION OF DOUBT Talks and Essays on the Transcendence of Scientific Materialism through Radical Understanding $10.95 paper




  1. HEARING and Understanding the Truth—the intuitive awakening

THE DREADED GOM-BOO, OR THE IMAGINARY DISEASE THAT RELIGION SEEKS TO CURE A Collection of Essays and Talks on the ‘‘Direct” Process of Enlightenment $9.95 paper

THE WAY THAT I TEACH Talks on the Intuition of Eternal Life $14.95 cloth



Talks and essays on the tacit intuition of Transcendental Consciousness, being a summary consideration of the Way of Radical Understanding or Divine Ignorance $8.95 paper

  1. SEEING and the Process of Spiritual Baptism—the emotional con- version to love

BODILY WORSHIP OF THE LIVING GOD The Esoteric Practice of Prayer Taught by Da Free John $10.95 paper

COMPULSORY DANCING Talks and Essays on the spiritual and evolutionary necessity of emotional surrender to the Life-Principle $3.95 paper

THE FIRE GOSPEL Essays and Talks on Spiritual Baptism $8.95 paper

“I” IS THE BODY OF LIFE Talks and Essays on the Art and Science a Equanimity and the Self-Transcending Process of Radical Understanding $10.95 paper


  1. PRACTICE and Realization of the Way—maturing practice

THE HYMN OF THE MASTER A Confessional Recitation on the Mystery of the Spiritual Master based on the principal verses of the Guru Gita (freely selected, rendered, and adapted) $9.95 paper

THE BODILY LOCATION OF HAPPINESS On the Incarnation of the Divine Person and the Transmission of Love-Bliss $8.95 paper

THE ENLIGHTENMENT OF THE WHOLE BODY A Rational and New Prophetic Revelation of the Truth of Religion, Esoteric Spirituality, and the Divine Destiny of Man $14.95 paper

THE PARADOX OF INSTRUCTION An Introduction to the Esoteric Spiritual Teaching of Bubba [Da] Free John $14.95 cloth

NIRVANASARA Radical Transcendentalism and the Introduction of Advaitayana Buddhism



The summary of Master Da’s instructions on ‘“the Perfect Practice’, or the Ultimate Practice of the Way $12.95 cloth, $6.95 paper

EASY DEATH Talks and Essays on the Inherent and Ultimate Transcendence of Death and Everything Else $10.95 paper


WHAT TO REMEMBER TO BE HAPPY A Spiritual Way of Life for Your First Fourteen Years or So $3.95 paper

I AM HAPPINESS A Rendering for Children of the Spiritual Adventure of Master Da Free John Adapted by Daji Bodha and Lynne Closser from The Knee of Listening by Master Da Free John $8.95 paper

LOOK AT THE SUNLIGHT ON THE WATER Educating Children for a Life of Self-Transcending Love and Happiness $7.95 paper


CRAZY DA MUST SING, INCLINED TO HIS WEAKER SIDE Confessional Poems of Liberation and Love by the “Western” Adept Da Free John $6.95 paper

FOREHEAD, BREATH, AND SMILE An Anthology of Devotional Readings from the Spiritual Teaching of Master Da Free John $20.95 cloth

GOD IS NOT A GENTLEMAN AND I AM THAT ONE Ecstatic Talks on Conventional Foolishness versus the Crazy Wisdom of God-Realization $6.95 paper


THE LAUGHING MAN magazine (quarterly) The Alternative to Scientific Materialism and Religious Provincialism

CRAZY WISDOM magazine The Monthly Journal of The Johannine Daist Communion (Available only to formal Friends and Students of The Johannine Daist

  • Communion)



The recorded ecstatic speech of Master Da Free John ($9.95 each): UNDERSTANDING


















CRAZY DA MUST SING, INCLINED TO HIS WEAKER SIDE Da Free John reads his Confessional Poems of Liberation and Love

OF THIS I AM PERFECTLY CERTAIN Ecstatic Readings by Da Free John

I AM THE HEART OF MAN : A recitation by Heart-Master Da Free John from The Dawn Horse Testament



THE BODILY LOCATION OF HAPPINESS $80.00, 56 minutes, VHS format

THE FIRE MUST HAVE ITS WAY $80.00, 57 minutes, VHS format


THE SECRET GOSPEL The Discovery and Interpretation of the Secret Gospel According to Mark, by Morton Smith $7.95 paper

THE YOGA OF LIGHT The Classic Esoteric Handbook of Kundalini Yoga, by Hans-Ulrich Rieker, translated by Elsy Becherer $7.95 paper

A NEW APPROACH TO BUDDHISM by Dhiravamsa $2.95 paper

VEDANTA AND CHRISTIAN FAITH by Bede Griffiths $3.95 paper

BREATH, SLEEP, THE HEART, AND LIFE The Revolutionary Health Yoga of Pundit Acharya $7.95 paper

THE SPIRITUAL INSTRUCTIONS OF SAINT SERAPHIM OF SAROV. edited and with an introduction by Da Free John $3.50 paper

THE DIVINE MADMAN The Sublime Life and Songs of Drukpa Kunley, translated by Keith Dowman $8.95 paper

THE SONG OF THE SELF SUPREME Astavakra Gita Preface by Da Free John Translated by Radhakamal Mukerjee $8.95 paper


LONG PILGRIMAGE The Life and Teaching of the Shivapuri Baba, by John G. Bennett $7.95 paper

SELF-REALIZATION OF NOBLE WISDOM The Lankavatara Sutra Compiled by Dwight Goddard on the basis of D. T. Suzuki’s rendering from the Sanskrit and Chinese $7.95 paper

MAHARAJ A Biography of Shriman Tapasviji Maharaj, a Mahatma Who Lived for 185 Years $8.95 paper

These books are available at fine bookstores or by mail order from:

THE DAWN HORSE BOOK DEPOT 750 Adrian Way, Dept. MJ San Rafael, CA 94903

Add $1.50 for the first book or tape and $.35 for each additional book or tape. California residents add 6% sales tax.