AkhandanandaBholanath DidimaGurupriya Didi Paramananda
HaribabaBhaijiGopinath KavirajAtmananda
Swami SwarupanandaSwami ChinmayanandaSwami VirajanandaSwami Vijayananda
Swami BhaskaranandaSwami SivanandaSwami BhajananandaSwami Omkarananda
Br KamalakantaBr YogeshdaBr AtuldaBr Hari HardaSri Abhayda
Br TanmayanandaBr PanudaSwami Keshavananda


Br Yogeshda

“Seek and Ye shall find (St. Mathew 7:7. St. Luke 11:9.) Yogeshda’s experience is truly a great example of these words of Jesus Christ. Yogeshda was in search of someone who could show him
the Path and his desire to Seek led him to Mataji.

In the following narrative of Yogeshda’s early experiences Mataji’s Grace manifests itself. In every doubt, in every quest, Her loving hand is extended imperceptibly to hold the seeker’s hand and gently lead him on the Path without much difficulty. It was about the year 1925-26. Yogeshda was working as an assistant in the Health Laboratory in Dacca on a salary of Rs. 60/- per month. Since his early days, he had been inclined towards the life of a sadhu. He had taken part in the Freedom Struggle and believed in the Swadeshi Movement. Because of this he had undergone a prison term. News went round that a lady had come to Dacca, who lived with her husband in an orchard grove of a Muslim Nawab at Shahbag. The lady observed purdah as was the custom, and performed her normal household duties, but was becoming known for her extraordinary attraction and her mystic powers.

A Government servant who was a disciple of Sri Aurobindo periodically came on admìnistrative dutìes. He, too, related to Yogeshda the happenings in the grove. There was a large hall where the Nawabs had formerly held mahfils with the accompanying dancing and singing. Twice a week Mataji came to the hall and sang bhajans with the few people that happened to come there. In those days no one did pranama to Her. She touched no one and no one touched Her. Yogeshda went for Mataji’s darsana. At first he could only see Her feet because Her face was completely covered. On one occasion he happened to see Her throw something out of the house and he noticed the swift movements of Her bangled wrists and hands.

Mataji would come to the meeting with Bholanath and clap Her hands in rhythm with the singing and recite Kirtan. Once Mataji requested Bholanath to ask Yogeshda to sing a bhajan. He did so. Thereafter this became a regular performance twice a week. By then Mataji had Her face uncovered during kirtan. Yogeshda was struck by the radiance of Her inner beauty. He was fascinated by the sight of her face and the light that shone on it. At every meeting some strange things happened. Mataji would get into a trance very often. Whenever Mataji entered the hall, She would bend Her head and touch the ground in pranama and then sometimes roll in a most supple and swift manner. It looked as if She had no neck and no bones. Tears would flow from Her eyes during kirtan. At one meeting Mataji walked around as usual, singing bhajans. Suddenly She came towards Yogeshda who was sitting cross-legged on the floor. She put one foot against his back and holding the finger of Bholanath, got onto Yogeshda’s shoulders and stood there. The next moment She was flat on the ground in pranama. Yogeshda was wonderstruck. When someone asked him afterwards how much weight he had felt, Yogeshda said, “Hardly any at all”. There had been no pressure on him.

At the fifth meeting a few people gathered as usual. Yogeshda sat in great awe, as always, waiting for some guidance from Mataji for his spiritual life. Mataji came holding a garland of flowers in Her hand which She gave to Bholanath. Then clapping Her hands in tune with the music She walked around trying to do kirtan. Suddenly, She uttered, “Hari Om” and fell into a trance. Later She asked for the garland, broke the string, pulled the flowers apart and threw them to the people sitting around. One flower struck Yogeshda on the forehead and fell away from him. Mataji then said, those who had received flowers could come and do Pranama. Yogeshda did not go to do obeisance as he felt he had not received the flower since it had fallen away from him. All others pranamed. Yogeshda went home but could not help crying all the time. He did not cook his meal and lay down on his scanty bedding.

The next meeting he did not attend. A messenger came to call him later. When he arrived at Shahbagh, Mataji asked him what he was doing, if he was married, where his parents were, what was his pay and similar questions. She enquired if he could get leave and for how long at a time, and how soon he could get leave for three months at a stretch. She asked him to go and apply for long leave and then return to Ma. He did as he was bidden. When he came back to Mataji, She indicated to Bholanath to ask everyone to leave the room and to close the door as she had something to say in private to Yogeshda. This was the first “private” Mataji granted to anyone. After this the practice of giving private interviews started. When they were alone, Mataji said to Yogeshda that She was going to ask him to do some difficult work, but only for a little while. He should take long leave and adopt the life of an ascetic, subsisting on begged alms for one whole year only. He was not to tell this to anyone nor disclose what Mataji had told him nor show that he recognised Mataji and Her Party if by chance, he happened to meet them anywhere. From the first of Phalgun (February – March) of that year he should live by begging and take his first alms from his brother. About that time, Dacca was recovering from its first Hindu -Muslim riots. Life was very unsafe as there was frequent killing. Yogeshda would rather stay with friends than go home late at night. When Yogeshda took long leave Mataji told him that his salary would be kept at Shahbagh and only enough would he given to him to go and visit his mother. He was to stay there for only three days. When he went home and knocked at the door, it was midnight. All were surprised to see him and wondered why he had come at that hour.
He told them that he felt like seeing them as he had taken holidays to go to the Kumbh Mela. (Mataji was also going to Hardwar to attend the Kumbh). His brother was not at home. He had gone away on some work and had left Rs10/- with his wife. On taking leave of his mother, Yogeshda touched her feet and asked for some money for the fare. At once his sister-in-law put the Rs. 10/- into his hand. Thus he received his first alms from his brother as Mataji had directed. Mataji’s imperceptible hand had made this possible even though the brother was absent. This is how Mataji’s all-
knowing ways exert their influence in all matters concerning Her devotees. With some salted dry foodstuffs, a blanket and a lota (a round goblet-like vessel with a narrow mouth) Yogeshda left home.

In obedience to Mataji’s instructions, he shaved his head and beard at a place where no one could see him. Then he was not to shave again for a whole year. After buying the ticket for Hardwar, he had a few rupees left. The train journey passed without discomfort. He had enough food with him and would not have to beg from any passenger. He felt awkward at the thought of having to beg. He was a stranger in strange company, going on a strange mission to strange places. How would he beg? It was the hardest thing to do. Yet he knew he could not put it off for long. He had to prepare for it mentally.

At Hardwar, he felt bitterly cold. After the warm climate of Bangladesh such cold was a painful surprise. He did not have enough clothes. The night in the train he sat cuddled up in his blanket. As he came out onto the platform there was a drizzle which made him feel even colder. Another sadhu joined him and together they made their way to the holy bathing place. A panda followed them with the usual purpose of extracting some money from them. After a while, he realised that he could get nothing and so left them. Seeing them just arrive, a boy came up and told them to go to
“Hari” or “Brahma Kundh”; it was raining by now. Covering himself with his blanket, Yogeshda walked to the stated spot to have a bath in the holy Ganges. So cold was the water that after just two dips he was trembling and shivering. It had never occured to him that it could be so cold anywhere in the world. He tried to get warm by walking about on the pavement. The rain had stopped. There were some empty seats with large umbrellas fixed to the ground. He sat under one of them. A panda came and asked him to move away as it was his place. It again drizzled, so he went to the next seat. That also he was asked to vacate by another person. He was shivering and was wondering where to go when someone came up to him and suggested Bhola Giri Ashram. On reaching there, Yogeshda found the venerable sadhu in meditation. He had many followers in Dacca. One rich man named Yogesh Das had built a temple in Bolagiri’s name in Dacca. When the Mahatma was ready to give darsana, many people did pranama to him. For the first time Yogeshda saw devotees prostrate in Sashtang pranama (lying flat on the ground. face downwards, with folded hands stretched above the head in humble supplication). When he gave his name as Yogeshda the Mahatma thought that he was the person who had built the temple. But when he found that this was not so, he again closed his eyes in
meditation. Thereafter, Yogeshda left. Again he was wondering where to go. A young boy accosted him and directed him across the Ganga where he would find many places to stay. He said the ferry-man nearby would ferry him across free of charge. The place was near the Lakshman Jhula. Due to the rush because of the Kumbh Mela, the place was full of people. Most of the kuties (small huts) were occupied. On searching he found some shelter – just a roof and walls with a mud flooring, but no door fixed to the entrance. He decided to stay there. That night he huddled up in a corner, feeling miserably cold without the warmth of a meal besides insufficient clothing. Next day he gathered some branches and twigs to make a door for protection from the strong gales. But when
the leaves dried there were gaps through which the icy wind rushed in with piercing fury. Yogeshda got hold of bits of cloth and covered the gaps. This was of course only a poor protection.

Here he spent some days. The discomforts were richly compensated by the grandeur of nature’s beauty. He was overjoyed at the sight of the high mountains, so close to him. They seemed to dip their feet into the holy waters of the river that flowed majestically in the centre of valley enriching every part of the land. Such scenery was not to be found in his home country.


Extract from “Of Those who have Surrendered at Her Feet.”

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