Mukunda, the future world famous yogi Paramahamsa Yogananda, returned home and joined a college in Calcutta. His Guru resided in a town nearby called Serampore and Mukunda found it irresistible to be away from his Guru. He would often cut classes and spend days with his guru, Sri Yukteswar. The story of his early life is covered in an earlier post here. The story of his life in high school till he finds his guru is found here.
His guru was not a gentle teacher. He relentlessly went after Mukunda, attacking his bad habits and making sure that his ego was in check. Modern day gurus can hardly employ such methods but Sri Yukteswar was not out to win a popularity contest. He had a task to do. He wanted to make sure that his disciple made spiritual progress and also be ready to face the rigors of his destined stay away from home in the West.
Mukunda bore the brunt of the assault willingly, humbly deferring to his Guru. He clearly understood the spiritual worthiness of his great teacher and was happy to be learning from such a spiritual stalwart. Soon he was initiated into Kriya Yoga. Although he had been initiated twice before, once by his father and again by his tutor Shastri Mahasaya (also later known as Swami Kebalananda), the initiation by his guru immediately put him in a special place. In his autobiography he states, “A great light broke upon my being, like the glory of countless suns blazing together. A flood of ineffable bliss overwhelmed my heart and inner core.”
Staying with his guru also meant learning to deal with the mosquitoes. Once when he was listening to a discourse from his guru, a rude little mosquito began to disturb Mukunda. When the mosquito sat on his thighs he instinctively raised his hands to strike it. A thought then entered his mind that he should stick to the principle of ahimsa or non-violence and spare the mosquito. He hesitated and Sri Yukteswar watched this. “Why don’t you finish the job?” He asked Mukunda.
“Are you advocating that I take a life?” Mukunda inquired surprised at his guru’s words. Continue reading →
Yogananda as a high school student. Painting by his younger brother
From a young age Mukunda felt a relentless pressure to make spiritual progress. From early days he showed clear signs of a deep spiritual intuition and his family was aware of the prophecy that he was destined to make a bigger impact on the world stage.
Yet there was deep skepticism. Mukunda’s family was well off and the traditional path to deep spirituality lay in initiation as a monk by giving it up all. Though Mukunda was eager to jump in with both feet and renounce the world, his family was extremely reluctant to allow him to do so. The life of an ascetic monk, in India, is extremely difficult and the family was not yet willing to cast Mukunda away into the deep end of the pool. This is the second part on a series of posts covering the life of the world famous yogi: Paramahamsa Yogananda. The first part was about some incidents in Mukunda’s life as a child. Yogananda was the name given to Mukunda after he was initiated into monkhood. Since in this part of the narrative he is still not a monk we will refer to him by the name given to him by his parents: Mukunda.
Mukunda’s restlessness to make deeper spiritual progress drove him. He attempted to run away from home, when he was 11, but his adventure was short lived and he was tracked down and escorted back. Once again, when he was 13, he attempted to run away. Again he was tracked down and his eldest brother, Ananta, went to get him back. On the way back Ananta and Mukunda stopped in Benaras to meet a renowned saint. Ananta hoped that this renowned saint would be able to give Mukunda some guidance on how he could make spiritual progress. Once they were in his presence Ananta addressed the saint, “Your holiness, kindly bless us, I have also bought my brother to receive your blessing and guidance.”
The saint looked at Mukunda and addressed him directly, “Young man! Are you seeking the Divine? Your search is at the end: I am God!” Continue reading →
Mukunda had his heart in his mouth as he approached the class bully. He was fed up with the torment unleashed by the bully on his fellow classmates and wanted to put an end to it. “You got to end the bullying, or else I invite you to a fight to decide this matter!” He told the bully. Though Mukunda was strong and athletic he was no match for the bully. He knew that the fight would be one-sided and he would get a sound beating, but some deep intuition inside him told him that somehow he would prevail. Now he was betting on this intuition and suddenly not feeling too confident as the bully looked him over. “You want to fight me?” The bully asked incredulously.
Immediately the atmosphere became electric and the air sizzled with tension. The word spread quickly that Mukunda was taking on the bully. There was no backing down now as a crowd began to gather around the two. Soon the fight was on and though he was wildly cheered it soon became apparent that the fight was one sided and Mukunda was taking a terrible beating. To finish off the fight the bully hoisted Mukunda over his head and threw him to the ground. It appeared as if the crash on the ground broke Mukunda’s back and he writhed in pain and gasped for air. Everybody knew that he was finished and there was hushed silence. Mukunda knew that he was beaten but he also knew in his heart that this was not the outcome that was destined to come about.
He drew on his reserve of strength and attempted to get up. The bully saw this but could not believe his eyes and rushed towards Mukunda. He planned to once again pick Mukunda up in the air and throw him to the ground to finish off the fight once for an all. But somehow Mukunda locked the bully in a death grip as he bent down to pick him up. With all his might Mukunda pressed the bully’s neck with relentless pressure. Unable to free himself from this grip the bully began to bang Mukunda’s head against the ground. The impact was so ferocious that Mukunda almost passed out, but somehow he held on to his grip. Soon the bully began to lose strength and he grasped for air. “Promise me now that you will never again bully anybody and I will release you!” Mukunda said. The bully was reluctant and once again tried to push Mukunda’s head against the ground. He was not successful this time and as Mukunda increased the pressure he found that he would soon pass out. Finally out of desperation the bully assented and Mukunda released him immediately. A wild cheer arose in the crowd. Mukunda had won the fight! Continue reading →
I started yoga 12 months ago, to try and quiet my mind….well I have done that & more!!
A wonderfully unexpected side effect was a dramatic improvement in my severe back pain. I once needed to see a chiropractor twice a week. I have not gone in over 6 months, and my back is even better!! I started trying Hot yoga classes at Kripalu & Power Yoga this past summer & greatly enjoyed the heat.
On the suggestion of my Kripalu instructor, I tried a HotCore (Bikram) yoga class, and although the style was very different, I was hooked! It was very challenging, but my back was so flexible in the hot room. Although I greatly enjoy all the postures & the heat, the most profound effect is not during class but after. I have such an energy surge it is unbelievable. Although I do not ingest any caffeine, my husband jokingly wonders if I go to yoga or to a coffee shop for 90 minutes!! (I go to yoga, the energy boost lasts longer !!)
I have found a wonderful balance between HotCore (Bikram) and Power yoga, and do both as often each week as I can. And I am totally addicted to the heat!!! I am excited about how good my back, body and mind feel, and I am excited at the possibilities of how much better my back will become.
Thank you Peter, for your patience & understanding as my body slowly returns to normal function.
This is a testimonial written by Robbie Saugus. This has been reposted with permission from Peter Sklivas of Yoga Passion. You can find the original here.
This is a story about a woman who was diagnosed with lung cancer after never smoking a day in her life. Shortly after her chemotherapy, she began taking yoga lessons. Two years later, she is cancer free and attributes yoga in helping with her recovery.
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