Visiting places where saints lived has brought deep experiences for many a devotee. One place in particular, for me, has been Puri, on the Bay of Bengal, where Sri Yukteswar, Paramhansa Yogananda’s Guru, founded an ashram. A narrow winding street, what we would call an alley, leads from the beach to Karar Ashram. Here Sri Yukteswar’s body is interred in a beautiful little mandir.
Sitting on a low wall across from the entrance of that little road I thought, with awe, “This is the same beach, the same street on which Sri Yukteswar and Yogananda walked together.” In Autobiography of a Yogi, Sri Yukteswar says, “Come, let us go to the beach.” How many times had they, and other disciples, gone past this very spot? I imagined them walking and talking, hand in hand.
On my first visit to Sri Yukteswar’s mandir in 1990, our group gathered inside and around the small mandir to meditate. Everyone found a place to sit and we settled in. Or, rather, tried to. Mosquitoes abounded! Buzzing around our heads, zeroing in for a meal, annoying beyond belief. I took my wool shawl and covered my head and arms. It was hot and airless. With great effort I tried to sit still and focus my attention. An amazing thing happened.
In Autobiography of a Yogi, after Sri Yukteswar passes from his body, he appears to Yogananda in flesh form. He relates that he has been directed by God to serve on a distant astral plane called Hiranyaloka. Well, on that hot, mosquito-ridden day in India, sitting close to Sri Yukteswar’s body, my mind became more still than I’d ever experienced before. I felt an infinitely long line of energy extending far, farther away than I could ever have imagined, connecting me to Sri Yukteswar in Hiranyaloka. There, in that distant, astral thought plane he resides in perfect, still awareness. The power of that meditation has stayed with me all the years since. I knew this was a divine blessing from my Paramguru, (my Guru’s Guru).
That’s the beauty of pilgrimage. One never knows how or at what moment an inspiration will come. Without those mosquitoes I doubt I would have made the focused effort needed to garner that blessing. On subsequent visits to Sri Yukteswar’s ashram I’ve never again encountered more than a few mosquitoes wandering lazily about. Thank you, Sri Yukteswar. Your methods are unusual and effective!