The New Sun
From time to time there come down to Earth from choice, not necessity, spiritual giants. They come out of compassion for the people of Earth to help alleviate their spiritual ills. They teach them the way to live, inspire them to tread the path of understanding of who they are and why they are living, and encourage them to go forward to the goal of truth. They give up their Heaven to do good on Earth, as Saint Therese of Lisieux put it.
These great people of compassion are perfected souls, whose love of humanity draws them down into the denseness of Earth to live among us as mortals. Many of these perfected souls I have met in my search for truth in India.
One such spiritual giant was Bhagavan Sri Nityananda of Ganeshpuri, India, who took mahasamadhi in October 1961. I met him under strange circumstances, from the limited Earth concept. I have a firm belief that has been substantiated by circumstances that everyone is looked over, encouraged and helped by perfected beings. Often, though we have never met them on the Earth plane, they can inspire us from a distance by their thought-force to go forward up the so-called path, which ends in knowing who we are in reality. To find this out is the universal search which goes on in each of us, the driving force which makes everyone seek love and knowledge. In the early stages of evolution, the seeking is outward, until through trial and error, the realization comes that happiness depends on oneself and is within and that love is not felt in fullness by receiving, but in giving. For then one breaks through the outside boundary of the little eggshell of self, in which most dwell, into a broader concept of the world. The heart center opens and love flows from an unending well within, bringing joy and happiness to the giver and the receiver.
Bhagavan Nityananda said that a person's mind must come to a certain point before the saints, the divine Masters, the satguru will reveal themselves to the seeker. Until the mind comes to that point a pupil is unteachable, for arrogance, pride, jealousy, hate, fear all the lower characteristics, the animal nature keep him from accepting simply, like a child, the awakening to the understanding of his own Self. Until then, the Divine Teacher remains hidden in the world or in the spiritual realms if not in a physical body, ready to reveal his presence as soon as the soul's light shines forth. Patiently a teacher waits until the student is ripe, ready to be plucked from the dark labyrinth of the illusion of his own mind.
I first met Bhagavan Nityananda in Oakland, California. As a young girl striving to know the reality of life, I had no seemingly visible teacher to help. I was doing meditation and pranayama, breathing exercises, by myself, struggling day and night to still my mind and control my senses.
There is a saying, "Take one step towards the teacher, and the teacher will take ten steps toward you." It is my contention that not one soul in this world, if it is pure in motive or sincere in effort, will go unseen or unheard, though there is often no visible outward sign. This proved true for me, and I believe I am no exception. For as I was striving to control the senses, the mind, the breath Wham! in the corner of the room there appeared a yogi, with deep-set eyes half-closed, sitting in contemplation in lotus position under a tree. Not a word was spoken, not a movement made by this yogi, yet grace came upon me instantly, and the breathing exercises and meditation became easy. It was a complete turnabout from the difficulties of sadhana into a peace.
This vision encouraged me to continue striving. It gave me an impetus to carry on by myself. The vision of the yogi disappeared from my room as quickly as it had appeared, but the help I had so needed, the contact with a perfected soul, had come. I then knew my search was right and had not gone unseen by my then-unknown teacher. Someone had cared enough to reveal himself and help.
It was to be many years before I met him in the body and that again was his grace, for he drew me to him in a strange and wonderful way in India.
When in New Delhi, suddenly my mind came to that point mentioned by Bhagavan Nityananda: it went wild. First I thought, "What is the use of all this sacrifice, this striving, this searching? Let me go back to the world." And at that very moment my mind changed and all I could think about was getting to the land of Lord Krishna in Brindavan. I paced up and down the hotel room saying, "I must see Krishna today or I will never see Him in this life." I rushed off to Brindavan, barely catching the train. Upon arrival, a man took me to his guru. Seated before his teacher, I was leaning back against the wall, and this teacher, who was a complete stranger to me, said sternly, "Sit up." I obeyed, and I felt a rush of power rise up the spine. When I met Nityananda later, he explained that he saw my mind had come to the fork in the road either to go on searching or to turn back to the Earth vibrations and at that moment, through thought-force transference, he sent me to the other teacher, and the teacher knew I had been sent to him by Bhagavan Nityananda and gave the necessary help. The hierarchy of true perfected gurus has no separation, no jealousy, no "me and mine" consciousness. They all work together for the betterment of humanity.
Later in a cab in Bombay, I saw a small picture on the dashboard. It was dark and I couldn't even see the details of the tiny picture, yet I felt impelled to ask, "Who is that?" The cab driver answered, "That is a great saint, thirty-three miles from Bombay in Ganeshpuri." The next day I went to find the saint. I found him, and the search, inner and outer, was over. I even saw a picture of him sitting under a tree, exactly as he had appeared in the vision in my room in Oakland ten thousand miles away! Swamiji Nityananda told his close disciples, "I gave her an experience in Delhi and I introduced myself to her in a cab." They asked, "How could this be, Swamiji, when you haven't left here for twenty-five years?"
Yes, I firmly believe that when the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear. No one in this world is alone in his search for God-realization, but is watched and inspired if the mind is quiet and not garbled by worldly thoughts. Joan of Arc, when asked why only she could see the saints, gave the reply that no one cares to go apart to pray. In the Bible it is put, "Go into the closet and close the door." (Mt. 6:6) In other words, sit quietly with mind turned inward.
Nityananda's very presence changed a person. There was no need for words, talking or lessons. The force emanating from his silence, one movement of his hand, and the nature within changed. My first sight of him as I lined up with a hundred people to walk one at a time before him was an experience I will never forget. I froze, the body went stiff, perspiration drenched me, and all I could say inaudibly as I stood transfixed before him was, "My beloved. My beloved." My outward search was over. No need to look further. Peace and completion came within. The trail had ended.
He is a mighty man of God. I say "is," not "was," for even though he has dropped his body, his force of love never left the Earth and can be tapped by calling his name. I used to chant, "Nityananda Satguru Maharaj, I am knocking on your heart," as I rode the three and a half hours to Ganeshpuri from Bombay. It seemed to have a great effect, for as soon as I would arrive I would not have to wait for darshan line to go in, as he would send for me to come in. To me he appeared like Lord Shiva, never as a human. Too numerous are his miracles to try to enumerate them all, and the miracle of his Being, his Essence, is really the greatest miracle of all. The following stories illustrate this.
Near Nityananda's ashram there are three adjacent springs: one warm, one hot, and one unbearably hot. Nityananda used to bathe in these pools. An acquaintance of mine who visited the ashram in the early days was in the pool at four in the morning when he felt a rumble of earth, and there was Swamiji, standing majestically. He wanted to scramble out, but Swamiji waved for him to stay, and the Master joined him in the water. From this experience, a complete change came into his consciousness. I always bathed in these springs before going to Nityananda to get his blessing.
One day a child was found drowned in the pool. The parents rushed the inert body to a nearby doctor and the child was declared dead. The parents then rushed to Nityananda, with the body of the child in the father's arms. They knocked at the door. He finally came out, and they said, "Our child is dead." He said, "No child dies. Place him here in my room and go and sleep." After a half hour he came to the sleeping parents and said, "Come and get your child. He has slept long enough." The child was alive.
As I met the great God-men and God-women of modern times like Sathya Sai Baba, Bhagavan Nityananda, Paramahansa Yogananda, Sri Mahadevananda Maharaj and the saint Ammal and saw miracles unfold before my eyes through them, the ancient perfected Beings of God became alive for me and a conscious reality.
Sri Mahadevananda Maharaj, my yogi guru who passed away not long ago at the age of 170 years, also once brought a man back to life. A disciple telephoned him and despairingly said, "I have just had an automobile accident and killed a man. Please help me, Swamiji, please." Swamiji was silent for a short time and quietly replied, "Do not fear or grieve. In the morning the man will start to breathe and sit up." To the amazement of all at the morgue, in the morning this happened, and the disciple was set free.
Sathya Sai Baba had an elderly disciple and his daughters visiting him at his ashram. One daughter told me the following story: Their father passed away while at the ashram, and they placed his body in a small room. They ran to Baba excitedly and told of their father's death. He smiled and seemingly ignored them. For three days the daughters repeatedly told Baba about their father's death, and it wasn't until the third day that he came to the room, tapped the dead man and said, "Get up and go to the bhajan hall and join the singing." The man did as he was told.
Thousands of years ago the perfect men of God were performing similar miracles. We all know the story of the return to life of Lazarus (Jn. 11:1-44). Master Jesus went on the third day after word had been sent to him. He calmly went and asked that the stone be moved from the entrance of the tomb. The family had been concerned that Lazarus had been dead so long, but Jesus, like Nityananda, denied death and used the words, "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth," and later added, "Lazarus is not dead," to give faith to those who would see Lazarus alive again. He lifted up his eyes and said, "Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard me." In spite of the fears of the family, Jesus commanded in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth." And Lazarus arose and came out of the tomb.
Even farther back in time, Elijah performed a similar miracle (I Kgs. 17:18-24) to the one performed by Nityananda of bringing the child back to life. Elijah, who saved the widow and her son during the lean years of drought by miraculously keeping the barrel of meal filled and the cruse of oil filled, brought her son back to life. The mother came to Elijah telling of the child's death. Like Nityananda did thousands of years later, Elijah took the dead body of the child to his room and laid him down. He said, "Oh Lord my God, I pray Thee let the child's soul come into him again." The child came to life, and Elijah called the mother and said, "See, thy son liveth."
Yes, God is as powerful now through the perfected God-men as He was thousands of years ago. Miracles are repeated and repeated through the ages to inspire the world to have faith in God. Call Him Jehovah, Yahweh, Father, Shiva: it is the same Power/Light/Energy, no matter what the name. This power works when alignment to it is accomplished through love and realization of the oneness in diversity, through realization of the Atma, the God within.
A miracle of Bhagavan Nityananda in the early days was told to me by the one to whom it happened, a young girl. At that time he rested at night in a large space, and devotees rested around him. The girl arrived late and was informed by the others there was no space for her. Nityananda came to her as if he had heard and said, "Come and be near me." She was suffering with scabies, which doctors had not been able to cure. During the night Nityananda's foot kicked her, and the disease was immediately cured.
There are records of miracle after miracle. I have never met a realized person who did not have a sense of humor and joy bubbling from him. There was a devotee of Shirdi Sai Baba who had never heard of Bhagavan Nityananda. One day in Bombay there was a knock at her door, and there stood an old man who looked exactly like the saint Shirdi Sai Baba dressed the same, with a kerchief around his head. He said, "Please give me a drink of water, I am thirsty." Shirdi Baba at this time had passed away about thirty-five years before. The devotee took the old man in and gave him food and drink. He thanked her and walked away and disappeared. Later she was taken to Ganeshpuri to meet Nityananda. He said to her, "I came to your home and you kindly gave me food and drink." She was amazed and said. "Swamiji, why did you come in the form of Shirdi Sai Baba?" His reply was, "You would not have known me in this form as you had never seen or heard of me, so I came in a form you knew and loved."
A Parsi lady visited the shrine of Shirdi Sai Baba, and one of the ashram officials there in Shirdi told her that if she wanted to see Shirdi Baba, she should go to Ganeshpuri and meet the great yogi saint Nityananda. He did not mean that Nityananda and Shirdi Baba were one and the same soul. He meant that ocean water is ocean water, no matter what size and shape the bottle in which it is contained. God-life which is contained in all perfected ones is in its pristine purity untainted by the mortal container. It is the self-same essence in them all.
There are records of miraculous healings, innumerable cases. Nityananda would often do his miracles by giving instructions to the person to do something. A case of tuberculosis, supposedly incurable according to the doctors, was cured by the person obeying instructions and going to worship and pray before a certain deity in the temple at Vajreshwari, near Ganeshpuri. The eyesight of a blind woman came back after she stayed near Nityananda for a short time.
While staying in Mangalore in his early days, he would merely give leaves off the trees as a remedy and devotees were cured. It was not the leaves: it was the power and love with which they were given.
A government official went to see Nityananda and said he had heart trouble. He was instructed to bathe in the hot springs. He did and was healed. Endless are the healings done by him of every describable disease.
A devotee came to Swamiji and said he wished to go on a pilgrimage to Badrinath in the Himalayas. Nityananda informed him that the Ganges, the Himalayas and Shiva were right where he was in Ganeshpuri, so why should he travel so far? The devotee went anyway. When he arrived at Badrinath, he saw an old beggar sitting and chanting. The beggar asked him for alms: "Give me five rupees." The pilgrim gave it. When he returned to Ganeshpuri, Swamiji started singing the same song the beggar had and said, "Here is your five rupees." The man was shocked, for Nityananda then proceeded to tell him every detail of the trip. Nityananda taught the man in this way that God is where you are no need to travel to mountain shrines.
There are many stories of his own travels. He was once on a train, and the conductor forced him to get off as he had no ticket. It is in the records that the train could not move, though there was nothing wrong with it mechanically. Someone told the stationmaster of the saint's great spiritual powers. They invited him to come onto the train, and it was able to move immediately.
Another railway story took place at the station Karsargod. The train conductor asked him for his ticket. He reached in his tiny loincloth and took out hundreds of tickets and asked, "Do you want a first-class, second-class or third-class ticket?" Yes, truly, those who have transcended the trivial foolishness of the world have a sense of humor.
These siddhis or miracles he did during his youth. Later, when he lived in Ganeshpuri, it was his presence which was the miracle in changing people, which must have been a great deal harder than creating tickets or stopping trains, for most earthly natures are hard nuts to crack.
Miracles are part of the nature of a God-man. As the mind of a saint or yogi thinks, so does it manifest. The miracles of Jesus, Mahadevananda, Sathya Sai Baba, Nityananda, Ammal are as nothing, as chaff in the wind compared to their message of truth and hope for mankind. But the miracles give faith and open up a closed mind.
Sri Swami Nityananda Maharaj was and is a perfect yogi, a Paramahansa in the yogic stage of Satchitananda Avastha, or living in eternal bliss, and he could impart his love and bliss with a glance of his eyes or a movement of his divine hand. Each person received Nityananda's grace as needed or sought. For some a regular weekly visit to Ganeshpuri brought about a marked change of outlook over time.
In my own case, as soon as I stood before this spiritual giant, this mahatma, a change took place. All outgoing thoughts turned inward, a peace and bliss was felt, and the mind became calm and quiet. Not an outward word had been spoken, but the change in consciousness had taken place within, silently. He knew everything without talking. I was standing in front of him and motioned to him that I was doing pranayama, to get his approval. He nodded that he understood. Later, I was carrying his book on yoga, <MI>Chidakash Geetha<D>, and I opened it on a bus thinking about Swamiji, and it opened to his answer. There on the page I turned to was, "A yogi is no yogi who does not have control of his breath."
When I was writing this article, I went to the bookcase and took out his book and said aloud to the air, "Where in your book is that about breathing?" I just opened the book at random. Yes, Swamiji still lives and blesses, for I turned to the following: "Those who do not concentrate on breath have no aim, no state, no intelligence and no fulfillment. So, concentrate and think. Concentrate on indrawing and outgoing breath...Breathe, concentrating on the sound the breath produces...Breathe in so that the internal sound may be audible to the ears."
I always found him in the superconscious state of bliss, mind immersed in the Infinite. One day he told me he would take me up to his consciousness so I could experience it. I sat in my room that night and a mantra started coming automatically, and a state of bliss came over me that is indescribable. There was no body consciousness. Bliss is too heavy a word to use to describe it. Air is too hard and heavy a word. I was, and at the same time, I wasn't. I guess God cannot be described, but can only be experienced. I smile when someone says, "Nityananda? You mean that yogi with the big stomach?" Yes, I say, but cannot explain that that body was a container for God. What can I say? He must be experienced. He was never a man, never a mere human.
I was once planning to go to the ashram after being away for a long time. A vision of him came and said, "Ask my disciple how I am." I wrote to the government official who had been healed of heart trouble and asked about Nityananda and got a reply. Even after passing, Nityananda was lovingly taking care of me. The reply said that he had taken mahasamadhi two weeks before. He had quietly passed away of his own volition, choosing his own time to pass, as do all great yogis, for destiny is in their own hands.
I went to his shrine and then went into his house and stood before his seemingly empty chair, where I had always seen him. I said, "Why did you leave, Nityananda? Why could you have not stayed with us longer?" I felt his presence as if he had never dropped his body and were still there. I heard his thoughts within me say, "You will never see me again except as the Atma, God within your own heart." He, like the great one he was, had put me on my own, never to seek outward again.
Nityananda'a body is no more. But the presence, the God-bliss and the God-power he brought to us by coming to Earth in a body is still here. From the moment I stood and gazed upon him, he never was a mortal to me. He was a window through which I could look and see the Infinite, a glimpse of the Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent God.
God-men come and bless the world in some obscure spots on Earth, like Jerusalem, Ganeshpuri, Puttaparthi, Belur Math. They pause a second here in eternity and leave, but their perfume lingers on for those who think of them.
Nityananda Satguru Maharaj, Your presence lives within my heart!