Introduction by the Author
I have decided to narrate a few traditional stories which are well-known in India. These stories are not my own creations; they are about spiritual Masters who used to show their occult power as easily and as often as we drink water. I am one of those who do not appreciate miracles, for quite often miracles only feed curiosity, and there is a yawning gulf between curiosity and aspiration. Again, there are some Masters who think that it is advisable for an individual to start his spiritual journey, even if he has to start with curiosity. Eventually the same person will enter into the world of true aspiration.Sometimes occultists want to prove that modern science does not have the last word with regard to God’s creation. They want to show that the infinite wealth of the inner world can easily silence all the achievements of mankind in the outer world. To be sure, what we call a miracle is nothing but a common occurrence in the world beyond our senses. Inwardly we can learn from these great Masters, from their fascinating miracles, from their soul-stirring lives. That is why I am interested in telling these stories.
— Sri Chinmoy
The great liberator-snake
Gambhirananda was a great spiritual Master. While still in his youth, before he became known as a great Master with tremendous occult power, he happened one day to pass by a cottage owned by a great aspirant. He did not know anything about the owner, and when he entered into the cottage nobody was there. He stayed inside the cottage and meditated there for three days. Each night a snake appeared before him.When the actual owner came back, he was surprised and happy to see a young seeker. Gambhirananda told the owner about the snake. The owner said, “I have been meditating here for twelve years in order to see that snake. It is not a mere snake. It is a great spiritual Master, a great liberator, who takes the form of a snake. Whoever sees the snake will, without fail, be liberated. I am so happy that you have seen the snake. I am so proud that you have taken shelter in my little cottage.”
Commentary: The human in us will never know when the God-Hour will strike. It is the divine in us that knows when the God-Hour is about to strike for us. The human in us is always puzzled even when the God-Hour strikes. But the divine in us knows that it is a normal occurrence that takes place unseen by our human eyes and unnoticed by our human mind. God’s Hour strikes when man is ready with his unconditional surrender-bell.
Music: aspiration-bud and Realisation-flower
Gambhirananda was a great musician. He used to play on the sitar most hauntingly. A spiritual Master named Bijoykrishna opened an Ashram with his own disciples near Gambhirananda’s home. But in the middle of the night when Bijoykrishna would hear Gambhirananda playing on the sitar in the distance, Bijoykrishna would run through the forest, which was filled with dangerous and ferocious animals, without being afraid, only to place himself at Gambhirananda’s feet.Commentary: Gambhirananda’s outer music helped even another Master’s aspiration increase. His inner music accelerated the speed of God’s March within Bijoykrishna. The outer music brings our soul to the fore. The inner music helps us to see God’s Compassion-Eye, His Illumination-Feet and His Satisfaction-Delight.
Master, you have and you are the man-saving power
Gambhirananda had a very close attendant named Akki who served him for many years. One day Akki became extremely ill quite unexpectedly and died. His younger brother, Munni, came running to the Master, crying. He touched his Master’s feet and said, “You have to save your favourite disciple, Akki. He has died.”Gambhirananda said, “I do not claim to have that kind of power.”
Munni said, “You don’t have to claim to have it. I am claiming it on your behalf. You do have that power.”
Gambhirananda could not refuse Munni’s loving emotional demand, so he went with Munni to see his disciple’s dead body. When the Master sprinkled a few drops of water from a sacred vessel on Akki’s body, Akki came back to life.
Commentary: Death-power snatched Akki away, but his Master’s Compassion-power brought him back. Death says to the body, “Look what I can do.” The Master says to death, “I do not deny your capacity, but God has given me a higher capacity. You believe in God’s cosmic Law. I, too, believe in God’s cosmic Law, but at times God gets tremendous joy by breaking His own cosmic Law, if by doing so He can increase the aspiration for Light and Truth in a seeker.”
The soulful and blessingful tiger
Gambhirananda used to play music far into the night for his disciples and admirers. One night, while he was playing, a tiger appeared before him. The members of the audience all began shouting and screaming, and they ran out of the room. But the Master remained calm and said to the tiger, “Come, let us go. Let me put you back in your den. These people are afraid of you.”After the Master had led the tiger back to his den, the disciples and admirers came back into the room. Then Gambhirananda told them that this tiger was not a real tiger. He said, “A Master of the highest order has taken the form of this tiger, and moves from place to place to bless seekers. He did not come to devour us, he came to bless us.”
Commentary: When one realises God, the ferocious qualities of the animal world do not and cannot torture or frighten him, for he deals with omniscient Light and omnipotent Power. Here a Master of the highest height assumed the form of a tiger not to devour the members of the audience but to remind them that the ferocious animal qualities within them were still looming large. But a Master like Gambhirananda can easily devour all the animal qualities of the audience and illumine them into the divine qualities of God-realisation, God-revelation and God-manifestation.
In a previous story a Master assumed the form of a snake. In that case and here also, the Master came, out of compassion, to tell the seekers that if they want to make the fastest progress, they should look at the world and see that the world is like a venomous snake or a ferocious tiger. The very nature of the earth-consciousness is to bite and devour. If you are not guarded, the tiger will bite you, so be cautious.
Give what you are and not what you have
One day a disciple of Gambhirananda brought his own son and his friend’s son to the Master. Alas, on that very day his friend’s son was attacked by cholera. The doctors said it was a hopeless case; it was only a matter of hours before he would die.The disciple felt miserable because the boy was his friend’s only son. So he went to Gambhirananda and begged him to cure the boy. In his mind the disciple was saying to himself: “Why did I bring this young boy? If he dies, what will I tell my friend?” Then he had another thought: “Oh, I have a few children. I won’t mind if one of my children dies instead of my friend’s son.”
At this point Gambhirananda read his mind. “You great sacrificer!” he said, “You are ready to let your son die! What right do you have to sacrifice your son? Your life belongs to you, but your son’s life belongs to him. You cannot claim your son’s life. You have not yet learned the ABC of spiritual life, and you are showing off about what a great sacrificer you are. Be sincere! Try to know where you stand in the spiritual life. Start from the very beginning. Learn the ABC of spiritual life and then think of sacrifice.”
The Master mocked the disciple, scolded him and insulted him. Then finally he cured his friend’s son.
Commentary: It is easy to be generous at the expense of others. In the outer world when we sacrifice something, we are totally aware of the results of our action. At times it is the results — which are glory, name and fame — that prompt us to make an act of sacrifice. But in the inner world there is no such thing as sacrifice. Through our constant prayer and meditation we become fully aware of our universal oneness. When we separate our existence from the blind limitations of the body, we see ourselves not only as unlimited possibilities but also as infinite inevitabilities. Our sense of separativity we sacrifice in order to become great. Our sense of unity we treasure in order to remain always good.
The joint initiation of the earth-reality and the Heaven-reality
One day a middle-aged man and his wife went to Gambhirananda and asked to be initiated. The Master said, “Not today, but in a few months’ time I shall initiate you.”It happened that the wife was attacked by a severe illness very shortly afterwards and died. The man was very sad, but he still wanted to become a real disciple of Gambhirananda. So he went to the Master and again asked to be initiated. The Master agreed, and set the date.
At the time of initiation, the man begged Gambhirananda to initiate his deceased wife as well. The Master said, “How can I do that? She is dead; she is no longer with you.”
The man said, “No, her soul is not dead. You promised you would initiate both of us. While initiating me, you can initiate her too. Please do me this favour.” He began crying, and finally the Master agreed.
Gambhirananda placed two small cushions side by side. The man sat on one, and the other remained unoccupied. While the Master was initiating the seeker, he placed one of his hands on the seeker and the other in the space above the empty cushion. In a few minutes’ time people saw that the cushion was moving, and they felt certain that it was the wife’s presence. In this way, Gambhirananda initiated both of them together.
Commentary: The true operation of initiation takes place mostly in the soul and not in the body-consciousness. When the Master initiates a seeker, he immediately helps the seeker remember his soul’s promise to the Absolute Supreme before the soul entered into the world-arena. When the Master initiates the physical in a seeker, he purifies the seeker’s outer existence by touching the seeker’s physical-reality. When he initiates the spiritual in the seeker, he pours a stream of illumining light into the seeker’s system. Physical initiation reminds us of our spiritual duty. Spiritual initiation reminds us of the immortality of our consciousness-light.
A flood of compassion-heart
Gambhirananda was a man of few words. Sometimes people used to misunderstand him, thinking he was indifferent to the world, because he used to hide his compassionate heart. But when necessity demanded, he helped people, cured them and illumined them unreservedly and unconditionally.Gambhirananda was fond of animals — both ferocious animals and tame household pets. Ferocious animals even roamed among the Master’s attendants. These animals were very fond of Gambhirananda, and he gave them much affection and love.
One night, a disciple was sleeping beside the Master’s room when some noise from inside the room woke him up. He quietly opened the door of the Master’s room and saw the Master feeding quite a few mice with small pieces of bread. He was offering them the bread with great affection.
When Gambhirananda saw the disciple, he was a little bit embarrassed to be seen feeding mice at that hour, but the disciple was very moved. The Master quite often showed tremendous indifference to seekers outwardly, but here the disciple saw that his compassionate heart cried even for poor little mice.
Commentary: It is almost impossible to fathom a spiritual Master’s compassion-height and justice-light. His justice-light is admired and adored by the brave. His compassion-height is loved and adored by the hopeless and helpless. But his compassion-height and justice-light together prepare the seeker for an integral understanding of God the Creator Supreme and God the creation Manifested.
The conqueror of two realities: time and space
Once a woman went to Gambhirananda crying and crying because for a long time she had not heard anything from her son, who was in England. She was terribly worried and she begged the Master to tell her something about her son. The Master said he did not have that kind of occult power, but she cried and cried until finally the Master agreed. He entered into a room for twenty minutes and when he came out he said, “Don’t worry. Your son has left England and is now in Bombay. He is coming back to you. In three days’ time he will arrive home.”On exactly the third day the son arrived home. When the mother told him the story, the son laughed and laughed. “I have been to Europe,” he said, “so I know that this is only a kind of superstition you are enjoying.”
The mother said, “All right, but at least come and see this spiritual Master.” So the son went with his mother. When he saw Gambhirananda he almost fainted. “Hello, what are you doing here?” he demanded.
The disciples who were with the Master became angry. “Why are you speaking to our Master with such disrespect?” they asked.
The young man said, “I saw him on the ship in Bombay, near my cabin. He was walking around in the same dress he has on now. I was surprised to see him and I wondered why a poor man like him was standing near the first-class cabins. So I asked him the same question: ‘What are you doing here’? but he only smiled at me! He didn’t speak. Now I see him here.”
Then the son bowed down to the Master and said, ” Forgive me. Now I know that you are a very great spiritual Master. Forgive my audacity.”
Commentary: A spiritual Master is he who has conquered time and space. A spiritual Master is he who lives a forgiveness-life. A spiritual Master is he who cries and dies with the bleeding heart of humanity. A spiritual Master is he who smiles God’s Smile and spreads God’s Satisfaction-Delight in and through humanity’s evolving aspiration-quest.
(Sri Chinmoy, “India and her miracle-feast: come and enjoy yourself”, part 3 — Traditional Indian stories about Gambhirananda)