The Illustrations from the life of Shree Lahiri Mahashaya was first published in the 3rd Edition of Anweshan, July 2020. We are publishing the same in the web format so that devotees can once again drink the nectar of divinely intoxicated events of Lahiri Baba’s life.
The Call of Destiny
Shyamacharan got employed in the Public Works Department at the age of 23. He started off his employment at Ghazipur (Uttar Pradesh), after which he was transferred for work to various places like Mirzapur, Buxar, and Gorakhpur. In November 1868, Shyamacharan received a transfer order to Ranikhet (then a remote town in the Almora district in the Himalayas) as a Head Clerk. A week later, he left for Ranikhet, leaving behind his wife and children with his acquaintance in Varanasi.
After a journey of several days, Shyamacharan reached Ranikhet. At that time Ranikhet was a secluded place. The PWD department, which was under then the British government, was carrying out the road construction project for better communication in the hilly terrains. The serene surroundings, pristine environment, and snow-capped peaks could fascinate anyone and Shyamacharan too was enthralled by the extraordinary beauty of Nature. Every day therefore after finishing his daily work, he used to go out for an evening stroll.
The First Meeting with the Master
One day, like every evening, he was on an outing to a quiet place, with some sepoys and peons. Suddenly Shyamacharan felt that someone was calling out his name from a distance. After moving a little further, he saw a young monk, standing atop a small mountain, calling out his name. Seeing Shyamacharan, the monk came down. He told Shyamacharan, “I knew you will come this way, so I was waiting for you at this place. My cave is on the top of this mountain. Come to my cave tomorrow after finishing your office work. “.
Memories from Past Life
After returning to his tent, Shyamacharan spent the entire night thinking about meeting the monk. He had heard how robbers in secluded places rob travelers in the guise of monks. He kept wondering how that monk knew his name. He spent his entire night in this dilemma.
Shyamacharan finished his work early on the second day and set out alone to meet the monk. The path leading to the mountain was through a thick forest. After walking a few miles, Shyamacharan forgot the way. The realization that he was on the wrong track, diminished all his chances of returning to the camp before dark.
Unable to choose the right path, the directionless Shyamacharan sat on a block of rock. Then he heard a voice “Shyamacharan, come here”. Chasing the voice, he reached a cave located at the top of the mountain, where he saw the same monk standing there.
“Shyamacharan did you recognize me?” The monk asked. “This is the same place where you have practiced intense meditation. This tiger skin mat and water pot belong to you. Don’t you recognize these things?”, the monk inquired. Surprised Shyamacharan was unable to remember anything. He replied, “O revered one, I am failing to remember anything; please forgive me”.
The monk then said to Shyamacharan, “Mahamaya made you forget everything but don’t worry, you will recall everything”. After uttering these words, he touched Shyamacharan in a certain way and a thunder-like energy ran through Shyamcharan’s body. After a while, Shyamacharan was able to remember his past lives and recognized the monk as his Guru in his previous birth.
The Initation into Kriya
Shyamcharan’s initiation into Kriya Yoga took place in a cave in the Dronagiri mountain under the Dwarahat mountain range, 15 miles from Ranikhet. After Shyamcharan’s initiation, a new chapter in the world of self-realization began. Shyamacharan was not alone who benefited from this ancient science of Kriya Yoga, but millions of householders and ascetics were too destined to receive this nectar in the coming years.
The Initial Days of Sadhana
After meeting his master in Ranikhet, Shyamacharan was transferred to several places and eventually got posted at Danapur. During his stay in Danapur, he practiced rigorous kriya. During this time, he was so discreet that no one knew about his routine. After finishing the office, he continued to practice Kriya in the quietness of the night. He never let laziness overpower him. This is the reason that an intense practice of meditation could not make him physically weak.
The Kriya yoga technique taught by his Guru became the foundation of Shyamcharan’s life.
In the coming days, after crossing various steps of Sadhana, he was about to transform from a normal householder to Yogiraj, the exponent of Kriya yoga.
Yogiraj: The Ever Compassionate One
One day Shyamacharan, seeing his Sahib (reporting officer) worried, enquired about his agony. He came to know that Sahib’s wife was unwell in England and that her condition was so serious that it was difficult to save her life. Yogiraj, the ocean of mercy was moved by seeing the helplessness of his Sahib. Shyamacharan entered an empty room and went into intense meditation.
After some time Shyamacharan came out of the room and informed Sahib that his wife was now doing well, and he would get her news soon through a letter. The British Sahib did not believe Shyamacharan who had by now become the famous Pagla Babu (the mad one) because of his aloofness. After a few days, the British Sahib received his wife’s letter from England and to his surprise found the content of such letter matched exactly with the words of Shyamacharan.
After a few months, the British Sahib’s wife came to Danapur from England and incidentally one day came to the office with her husband. That was the day when she saw Shyamacharan. She then told her husband that it was that great person, Shyamacharan, who stood by her death bed and it was only by his blessings that she survived the clutches of death.
Sahib too became overwhelmed with reverence by becoming aware of Yogiraj’s supernatural abilities.
Yogiraj’s Meeting with Tailang Swami
The famous homeopathic physician of Varanasi, Gopalachandra Bandopadhyay was a disciple of Yogiraj. Gopal Babu sometimes used to visit the famous saint Tailang Swami, also known as the walking Shiva of Varanasi. One day Gopal Babu along with some of his friends requested Yogiraj to meet Tailang Swami.
Yogiraj agreed. A few days later, Gopal Babu along with Yogiraj reached Panchganga Ghat Ashram to meet the Swami. At that time, Tailang Swami was surrounded by many of his disciples. Shyamacharan was wearing a dhoti-kurta. On seeing him, Tailang Swami got up, ran, and embraced Yogiraj with a big hug. After the greeting was over, both the Mahayogis remained calm and stood for some time in silence. Tailang Swami’s devotees were amazed to see his actions, as he always used to sit in silence.
After some time Yogiraj bid farewell to Tailang Swami. After he left, the devotees asked him the reason for his excitement. The always silent Tailang Swami replied on a slate, “By remaining a householder, He has realized the supreme truth which Ascetics seek by renouncing everything – even their loincloth!”. After this incident, Shyamacharan’s fame spread far and wide.
Kashimoni Devi’s Realization about Yogiraj
Kashimoni Devi was not fully aware of the heights of spiritual progress achieved by her husband in yoga practice.
One day, she woke up at midnight. Unable to find her husband nearby, she started searching for him with the help of a lamp. She saw that in a corner of the house her husband (Yogiraj) was levitating in the void in Padmasana (lotus posture).
Seeing this remarkable feat of her husband, tears started flowing from her eyes. She sat down with folded hands near him and prayed for his forgiveness. She did not know how many mistakes she had committed knowingly and unknowingly over these days.
After some time Yogiraj returned to his normal state. After apologizing for her mistakes, Kashimoni expressed her desire to be initiated in Kriya Yoga. She received initiation from Yogiraj the next day.
Prarabdha: Yogiraj’s Teaching About Life
Yogiraj, accompanied by one of his devotees, Krishnaram used to go every morning to Rana Mahal Ghat to take bath. On that day also, like other days, Yogiraj was returning home after finishing his bath through the narrow streets of Kashi. While walking, he suddenly asked Krishnaram to tear a piece of cloth. Krishnaram could not comprehend his Guru’s word. Both kept walking when just a few steps ahead a brick fell off suddenly from the roof of a house at Yogiraj’s feet that injured his toes due to which blood started oozing. Yogiraj quickly tore some cloth from one part of his garment and started tying his finger, in which he was helped by Krishnaram.
After this incident, Krishnaram asked Yogiraj with folded hands – ” O venerable one if you had a premonition that a brick is going to fall, why didn’t you move from that place? You wouldn’t have got hurt then”.
To this Yogiraj said to Krishnaram with a mysterious smile, “Things do not happen this way. If I had withdrawn that time, then at some other time I would have had to repay this loan with interest. Whatever is destined will have to be borne and the sooner it exhausts, the better.”
The Mystery Behind Yogiraj’s Lone Photograph
Yogiraj did not like his publicity. For this reason, he never agreed to be photographed. However, some devotees decided that it was necessary to have a photo of Gurudev so that the devotees who were staying away could feel the proximity of the Guru through his picture. When Yogiraj came to know that a photographer had been hired, he told his devotees, “What will you do by getting me photographed? In the future, you will abandon your Kriya practice and just worship my image “. However, the devotees remained adamant and eventually, Yogiraj had to agree.
A skilled photographer named Gangadhar came to click the photograph of Yogiraj. In those days, the plate camera was in practice. Finally, Yogiraj sat in front of the camera for getting clicked. So Gangadhar Babu, the photographer, clicked his photo, after which he developed the plate for the picture.
To his surprise, there were pictures of everything within the frame that was captured except Yogiraj’s picture. At first, Gangadhar thought that maybe there was a problem with his camera, that is why Yogiraj’s picture did not get captured, but even after several attempts, the picture could not get captured by the camera. On seeing this, exhausted, Gangadhar prayed to Yogiraj to remove the effects of his illusion (Maya), otherwise, the devotees would be deprived of his picture.
Finally, Yogiraj agreed with a smile, and this time Gangadhar succeeded in taking the photo. Presently, the picture of Lahiri Baba that we are familiar with, is the same picture that was captured by Gangadhar Babu. Apart from this, no other actual captured pictures of Yogiraj are available anywhere.
The Omniscient Master
Once again, Abhaya (a disciple of Lahiri Baba) comes to the Guru’s feet with a wish to become a mother. “Give me a boon so that my newborn survives this time”, she expresses her desire to Yogiraj.
Yogiraj said in a calm voice, “Listen, you will give birth to a girl child, and she will live, but for this, you will have to follow one of my instructions and make sure that there is no mistake in obeying it.”
A light ray of hope arose in her heart. Abhaya thought that if her omniscient guru blesses her, the impossible can become possible. She says in a gratitude-filled voice to her Guru, “I will do as you command”.
The benevolent Shyamacharan said to his disciple Abhaya, “The girl will be born in the first hour of the night. Shortly before the birth of the daughter and till sunrise, you have to keep a lamp lit in the delivery room. But be careful that the lamp should not get extinguished.”
In due course, Abhaya gave birth to a beautiful girl. A lamp was lit as per Gurudeva’s instruction in the delivery room.
But towards the fag end of the night, due to the fatigue of childbirth, Abhaya fell asleep. By this time, the oil in the lamp was about to exhaust and the lamp was almost dousing.
At that time, an astounding incident took place in the maternity room. The door of the room opened with a loud thud. This loud sound broke Abhaya’s sleep. With astonished eyes, she saw that the compassionate Gurudev was standing at the door of the room. She saw Gurudev pointing towards the lamp and saying, “Look Abhaya, the lamp is about to extinguish; replenish the oil at once.” The tired Abhaya got up quickly and replenished the oil in the lamp. By then the compassionate figure of Gurudeva had disappeared from there.
A stream of tears erupted from her eyes as soon as she realized her Gurudev’s benevolence by appearing in his astral body only to keep his word. Later, when Abhaya came to meet her Gurudev, she narrated the entire incident to which Yogiraj replied with a soft smile, “It is your nature not to seriously obey duties. But try not to neglect your duties in the future.”
Relevance of Gita for Kriyabans
Yogiraj Shyamacharan had instructed every Kriyaban to read Gita daily. According to him, Gita, as a true guide, helps a seeker in his spiritual quest. He compared the scripture Gita to the soul of Bharata (India).
In order to spread the message of Gita to the masses, he printed copies of Gita and distributed them amongst the Kriyabans. Yogiraj had explained the verses of the Gita in the light of Kriya Yoga. Every day many devotees and seekers used to come to his house to hear the interpretation of the Gita.
At that time, Panchanan Bhattacharya and other advanced disciples wrote those interpretations and later compiled them in a form of a book, which is available today as “Spiritual Interpretation of the Gita”.