Wednesday, April 9, 2014

127. If One lays The Life At God’s Feet: part two

I came across five examples of acts similar to the one narrated in the previous blog, I.e., willing to die unless one hears from God or His representatives. Three of them have been previously described. However, they will be very briefly narrated again.

1. Yogananda’s need to hear from God prior to his going to America. (Blog 79). When he was ordered to go to America, Sri Yogananda got worried that he will be lost in the materialism of the West. He started meditating, with the vow that he will continue praying till death, unless he hears from God. After several hours of his lamentation, Babaji (the founder of his sect and reputed to be several hundred years old) came to him, and assured him that his mission had Divine sanction.

2. Sri Ramakrishna was in utter despair (blog 20). Life was not worth living. He was sitting in the temple. His eyes fell on the sword hanging on the wall. He thought of ending his life. Like a mad man he grasped the sword and ran outside to end his life.  The blessed Mother chose to reveal Herself at that moment. He fell down unconscious, and was engulfed in a sea of light.

3. Giri Bala. (Blog 80). This holy woman was overweight when she was a girl. Her mother-in-law constantly criticized her habit of overeating. One day stung by her mother-in-law’s remarks, she vowed not to eat anything at all! She prayed to God for help. Help came in the form of her Guru, who taught her some secret mantras, by which she could live without eating and drinking!

4. Robert Bogucki, a 33 year old man from Alaska went into Australian desert to find some spiritual answers. In his own words, “I just wanted to spend a while on my own, just nobody else around, just make peace with God”. He was rescued after 43 days. He drank muddy water, and ate flowers and wild plants. He was without food for about 6 weeks and without water for about 12 days. Western Australia’s Great Sandy Desert is one of the harshest places in the world. God did not let him die, because he had gone there for the sake of God

5. Brunton met the leader of a spiritual movement called Radha Soamis that had originated in 19th century (the fraternity exists to this day) India. His name was Sahibji Maharaj. The leader thought that to travel on spiritual path, a master was absolutely essential. He told Brunton the story of his own search for the master.
I was desperate to find a master. I asked the trees, the grass, and the sky to enlighten me if truth existed. I sobbed my heart out like a child.
One day I resolved to give up eating and starve to death, unless and until the divine power saw fit to grant me some illumination.
The next night I had a vivid dream, wherein a master appeared to me and revealed himself as such.
I asked his address. His answer was ‘Allahabad ’
I told the dream to a friend, who brought a group photograph, and asked me if I could recognize the master of my dream. I at once recognized him.

God did not let him starve to death!



Wednesday, April 2, 2014

 126. If One lays The Life At God’s Feet: Part One

There are over 7 billion inhabitants of planet Earth. Then there are close to 1022 star systems (one followed by 22 zeroes). The estimate by Kepler spacecraft data was that:
“22 percent of Sun-like stars have Earth-like planets”
What I wanted to point out by the numbers mentioned above is that there are lots and lots of planets, and even if intelligent life (like us) may be present only in one in a billion Earth-like planets, there are still quadrillions of intelligent life forms.
There is only one Creator (God)
Now, consider for a second, that you want to attract the attention of God. Now you may ask, that why should one attract the attention of God. Business of living continues without us calling God. That
is true, but some of us have this desire.
Some years ago, I asked a saint (through an intermediary) that I want jazzab (oblivion to time and space while all thoughts are focused on God). The saint said that jazzab is good, but it is not the most important thing in the path towards God-realization. The most important and difficult thing is to come in the notice of God.
God could, if He wanted to, be aware of all of the quadrillions of us, but it will probably be un-necessary. Therefore, it is more than likely that He does not know any of us, individually, just as I do not know any of the 25 trillion red blood cells in my body.
It is this mote’s opinion that there is one sure way to attract  God’s  attention, and that is to lay one’s  life at God’s feet. If you try to sacrifice your life, for the sake of God, and only God (not religion or a cause), and nothing else, two things happen with unexceptional certainty:
He won’t let you die!
He will take notice of you. Who is this strange person?

A man, this mote intimately knows, was on the path of God. Almost ten years passed and there was no progress. This man was in utter despair. He was also very depressed. Matters came to a point where life without God was a burden. Separation from God was tearing him apart. Longing for God was such, that he would shed tears every day. He would call God to just acknowledge him___ his existence__, but there would never be a reply. Finally he decided to kill himself. Just before the attempt to kill himself, he asked himself “ Be honest. You are going to die in a few hours and may meet God face to face, just tell why you are ending your life?  He gave the following answer, in all the near-death truthfulness. “ The reason is that I cannot bear separation from God any more. I don’t want to be separate from Him anymore. If there is a God (which he believed without doubt, but he said it for the sake of argument), after death I will meet Him, and thus get my desire, and be extremely happy. If there is no God, then there will just be oblivion; nothingness, which won’t be a loss, because the drama of life with its present pain and anguish, will be over”.

He pushed the plunger of the syringe, saying, “ Here I come, God!”. The syringe was filled with a powerful blood pressure lowering drug, Labatalol. He injected approximately hundred times the normal dose. ( He had crushed into white powder one hundred 300mg tablets, a total of 30,000mg, and dissolved them in water. Normal dose is 100-300 mg). The syringe had to be filled multiple times because there was too much liquid. He chose injection and not swallowing, because he did not want to take the risk of the powder just sitting in the stomach, and not being absorbed due to low blood pressure.
As he was injecting himself, he was thinking, God will answer him now. He was emotionally blackmailing God! He was like the proverbial kid who threatens to jump in the well, if mother does not accede to his wish.
The mother replies “ go ahead”. The kid does not jump.
But in this case the man was jumping in the valley of death by pushing the piston, again and again. He was also thinking, that one cannot blackmail God. That will be His defeat. But will the God let a true devotee die?
Maybe, God wanted to see, whether the man is empty talk, or will he actually carry out the act? Will he falter at the penultimate moment?
The man had imagined many scenarios, but in his wildest dreams he had not thought that he would survive such a massive dose.
The man laid alone, on a couch, for about fifty fifty-five hours, before help arrived. His blood pressure fell to very low levels. He would go in and out of consciousness and unconsciousness/sleep.
He remained sick for about two months. Due to low blood pressure his kidneys stopped functioning. He had to be hemodialysed with artificial kidney for a couple of weeks. Repeated infections with C.diff complicated the course.
He recovered completely.
God did not answer him.
God did not let him die.
After some more years, he did feel progress in his path towards God.
He earnestly feels that it was this act, laying his life at God’s feet, which caused him to succeed. After all, such an act must be extremely rare. Even the Creator takes notice.

To be continued.



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

125. The Most Famous Fakir Of Egypt


The name of the most famous fakir of Egypt was Tahra Bey. He had piercing eyes. He had a medical degree and could speak many languages. He had been received by many kings and Signor Benito Mussolini. He was well known for stabbing his body with arrows and knives, and be buried alive. Once he permitted himself to be buried for twenty eight days. He was comfortable in European or Arab dress. Many scientists and doctors had investigated his claims and found them to be genuine. Here is what Brunton has to say about him:
I, who have seen several of his feats done by half a dozen fakirs in different parts of India and Africa, find no difficulty in believing them possible; whereas knowing the man, I know also, that he actually does possess the powers which he claims
Brunton gathered a small group of doctors and other professionals to watch his performance.
On the floor were various articles to be used in his demonstrations. Every article was carefully examined by the group.
Tahra Bey touched and pressed certain parts of his temple and the nape of his neck. He seemed to suck air in his mouth. In a minute he was entranced. At the same time he uttered a peculiar sudden cry. He went into cataplexy.  His body became rigid like a board. He would have fallen to the floor, like a dead man, if his assistants had not caught him.
His body was placed on scythe-like blades. A doctor checked his pulse, it was 130.
A large block of stone weighing 90 kilogrammes (approximately 198 pounds) was placed on his bare stomach. The assistant showered blows upon the block with a hammer. Tahra Bey’s body remained rigid and taut, never yielding an inch, as if he was made of iron. Eventually the stone broke.
Tahra was then lifted up into a standing position, still apparently unconscious. The doctors examined his body and did not find the slightest mark from the scythe-like blades. He was then placed on a plank studded with sharp nails. An assistant jumped over his body. When reexamined there was no mark on his skin by the spikes!
Tahra Bey slowly came back to life. His eyes were fixed. He inhaled air violently. He opened his mouth so wide that one could see his tongue curled backwards. He brought the tongue forward with his hand.
Next, Tahra Bey allowed his cheeks to be pierced by hat pins. They also ran thick skewers through his jaws. Tahra Bey was fully awake, and did not elicit any sign of painfulness.
A doctor was allowed to plunge a large dagger into his throat in front of the larynx.
Some of the doctors, who were skeptical, repeatedly checked his pupils, in order to note whether they contracted or dilated. It was thus possible to determine whether he had taken any drug which made him insensible to pain. His eyes were quite normal.
When all these weapons were withdrawn there was not a single drop of blood on his skin!
Doctors were so astonished that they jabbed more needles and arrows in his face, shoulders and chest.

Tahra Bey then showed another power that he possessed. He allowed to be stuck by a sharp knife in the chest. When knife was withdrawn there was no blood. A doctor expressed a wish to see the blood flow to assure himself that the fakir was really wounded. Tahra Bey then allowed the blood to flow. It inundated his chest. When the doctor was satisfied, Tahra Bey stopped all flow of blood by mere will power!
 An assistant passed a flaming torch along the entire length of the fakir’s leg. The audience heard crackling of skin, but Tahra Bey’s face remained calm and composed!
The fakir announced, that this insensitivity to pain lasts for twenty-five minutes

He also showed his power over a hen and a rabbit. He touched some nerves and they became paralyzed, yet conscious. He then reversed the condition to normal

The most important test of the evening came next. Resurrection.
The test conditions were such that there was no chance of fraud.
Tahra Bey announced that he would be buried alive for exactly one and a half hours.
A coffin was brought. It was carefully examined. The floor of the apartment was checked for trap-doors. Still a rug was placed as a precaution.
Tahra Bey induced auto-cataplexy in him, just as he had done before.
He was examined by doctors. No breathing, no heartbeat!. He was like a dead man. There were no signs of life. It would have been hard to tell the difference between him and a dead body!
His assistants covered him completely with soft red sand.
After the allotted time, the sand was removed. He was put in a chair. Slowly, he became normal.
He had no memory of what happened to him during the time he was in the coffin.

What was the explanation of these amazing demonstrations?

Tricks, illusion and conjuring?

Magic? Just as the Egyptian who had thirty disembodied spirits under his command, or the old magician of Egypt who made the white fowl be killed by genii (blog 122)? Also the bombardment of the haunted house by bones and stones by spirits.(blog 109)

Hypnotism. Like the French woman who could read while her eyes were heavily taped (blog123) and did not show pain when stuck by a needle. The wound was bloodless

Yoga? Like the three tricks performed by the Indian sadhu; being buried alive, rope trick, and levitation. (Blog 124)

Miracles? There are twenty five miracles (supernatural events) described in blog 104-7, performed by men and women of God.

The answer is none of the above!

Tahra Bey claimed himself to be a man of science. There was nothing supernatural. He knew of certain laws of nature by which he could perform these feats. They were little known psychic laws, but nonetheless, laws. He had command over two secrets which enabled him to perform all his feats:
               1. Pressure on certain nerve centers of the body
               2. Ability to enter into cataleptic coma
When one is in cataleptic coma, heart and breathing, both, stop. There is no flow of blood. Body becomes insensitive to pain (similar to a modern operation under general anesthesia). To accelerate the healing of wounds he did two things: he temporarily accelerated the blood flow and he raised the temperature of the blood (which killed the microorganisms).
If a reader wants more details he can read it in the book (‘a search in secret Egypt’, by Paul Brunton)
              













Thursday, March 20, 2014

124. Three Yogic Feats

Indra Devi ( blog 87-8, also see the list of books ) witnessed three amazing yogic feats. One day a man and his two children, aged about ten came to the gate of her father’s house. The man was dressed in ochre-colored robes. The children were possibly twins. He offered to show three yogic feats, for a price:

The Sadhu said that he will be buried underground for twenty four hours. They could cement it at the top and drive their car over it. He would show the rope trick. The third trick consisted of levitation. A price was agreed.
 A pit was dug in their garden. It was nine feet by four feet, and nine feet deep. The sadhu uttered some mantra and descended in the pit. He put some cloth in his ears and closed his eyes and nostrils with his fingers. He recited a mantra in Sanskrit eleven times. His breathing became slower and slower till it was hardly perceptible. The pit was filled with sand and earth. The top was cemented
Next day, the pit was opened and the earth removed. Sadhu was lying there like a dead person, with a thin cloth covering his face. The two children put drops of some green oil in his ears, nostrils and eyes, and also rubbed his body with the oil.
After a few minutes the sadhu opened his eyes. He was helped out of the pit. He looked a little bit tired but otherwise none the worse. He drank some milk and appeared to recover almost completely. He left after promising to perform the other two tasks the next day.
The sadhu returned the next evening with his two children. He was a dark thin man. He took out a thick rope about thirty feet long from his dirty cloth bag. He curled one end of the rope into a ball and threw it into the sky. The rope swayed a little bit and then became stiff as if it was hanging by a hook! The upper end of the rope was clearly visible. He then asked his little boy to climb up the rope. The boy did it as if he was climbing a palm tree. Suddenly his clothes started falling on the ground. He could still be seen holding the rope by his hands and feet.
Sadhu shouted: “Ram, all you alright?”
The boy answered, “Yes, father I am alright.”
“Do you want to come back?”
“No, I plan to go higher”
Right before the spectator’s eyes the boy started vanishing. Soon he disappeared. Now there was only the rope!
“Ram, where are you”
From a distance the child answered “Back to earth”
The sadhu started pulling down and winding the rope
The boy’s voice came from close, “Let me help you”
There were about fifty people watching, while the poor sadhu with tattered clothes performed in the garden. No stage, no lights, no special effects.
The girl came forwards. She was in a dirty, flimsy dress. Her hair were tied up in a rag. She was no more than ten feet from the audience. He took out a stick, about ten feet long, and let it stand behind her. He passed his hand over her body and pressed her forehead with her fingers, all the time reciting some mantras.
After about ten minutes, he touched the middle of her back with the end of the stick, while he swept her up with the other hand. She lay on the point of the stick about five feet above the ground!
He recited some more mantras and then abruptly removed the stick from underneath the girl. The girl was now suspended in the air without any support!
Indra’s husband passed his hand under her to make sure that there was no support. Two other persons also investigated without touching the girl, but there was no trickery.
After seven minutes he picked up the girl and laid her down tenderly on the grass. She looked utterly exhausted and dazed. The sadhu gave her some milk to drink and took his leave.

He was never seen again. It was said that he was a primitive man______   a bhil from the forest___who probably went back to his jungle hut.

Monday, March 17, 2014

123. Hypnotists

Brunton was well versed with hypnotism, as the following incident illustrates. During his journalistic investigations on cults, he became aware of an ex-clergyman, who had a forceful personality and possessed strong hypnotic powers. He was using his powers for nefarious ends. One evening, by chance, he met a woman on the street, who was a friend’s wife. She told him that she was on her way to the hypnotist’s house, to spend a night with him. Brunton examined her and found that she was completely under strong hypnotic influence. Brunton felt it was his duty to de-hypnotize her and send her home, which he did.
He consulted an Indian friend. He told him the incident, as well as, his investigations about the ex-clergyman’s activities.
The Indian was outraged, and said that he would put a heavy curse on the man. Brunton did not want to go that far, and asked to first give an ultimatum to the man to leave the area immediately. The Indian said that the ultimatum was fine, but he would also lay a curse on him. Which he did.
At the conclusion of the rite (for curse) Brunton left and went to the pseudo-prophet’s house.
He found him in a small hall, with a large body of his disciples.
There was a scene of indescribable confusion.
The hall was plunged in complete darkness. All the bulbs in the house had suddenly exploded with the force of bombs. This occurred at precisely the same time, when my Indian friend’s rite of cursing reached its end point!
People were rushing to get out. Above all the din, harsh voice of their master could be heard, a voice laden with fear and despair.
“The devil is here. This is the devil’s work”
He was lying prone on the platform floor. His followers had heard him fall heavily on the platform.
Brunton gave him the ultimatum.
The man left. He died within one year in an obscure country village.

In Cairo, there lived a French couple, Monsieur Ades and his wife Madame Margueritte. He was gifted with hypnotic power. His wife was a good hypnotic subject. Brunton investigated them and could find no trickery. Here is a narration by Brunton about the demonstration. As a precaution Brunton had also invited a British officer’s wife. All four sat around a table. There were certain preliminary feats. Then came the final experiment. She was put in second degree of hypnotic trance by her husband.
Madame Margueritte eyes were closely taped. The tape also included eyebrows, eyelids and cheeks. As a further safeguard a thick red velvet bandage was tied around her face and head. She could not see through the eyes.
Ades asked us to select at random any passage from any book.
We marked a paragraph from a French book and laid the book open for her.
Ades said in a firm voice:
“Now find the paragraph. Read it, and transcribe what you read on a paper beside you”
Madame Margueritte started writing the passage, word for word. She would write few words, and then turn her gaze at the book. She kept on going alternately from the book to the page. It was clear that she could read the page despite the heavy bandages! Brunton asked her husband to command her to underline the second word of the second line and the third word of the third line. She underlined both words correctly.
She was commanded to write with her left hand. Although not ambidextrous, she performed the task with ease.
The visitor took the hand of the Madame Margueritte in her hand and concentrated strongly upon the mental image of her husband. After a short time Madame Margueritte described the character, capacities, temperament, and even the physical appearance of the visitor’s husband! Most extraordinary was her statement that he was a Government official.
Ades stuck a needle in her hand. The other end of the needle was visible on the other side. Madame Margueritte did not feel any pain.
When the needle was withdrawn there was not a single drop of blood visible on the skin or the needle.

Brunton requested Monsieur Ades to explain the strange feats of hypnotism. He replied that our brain has enormous unharnessed potential. There is a subconscious aspect of our mind. If one puts the conscious state in suspension, by hypnotism, in certain subjects, the subconscious state takes over. It can see or hear, without the aid of normal eyes or ears. He (Ades) had put his wife in deep hypnotic trance, so her conscious mind was suspended. One needs somebody with hypnotic power to put a suggestible subject into a trance. Monsieur Ades had trained his magnetic influence after several years of practice. In a similar vein, one needs a subject who is naturally receptive to this magnetic force. One cannot hypnotize a person who does not want to be hypnotized.






Wednesday, March 12, 2014

122. Magicians

Brunton met his first real magician in India. His name was Mahmoud Bey, and he was from Egypt. Brunton asked him to demonstrate his powers, which the magician agreed. He asked Brunton to write a question on a piece of paper and fold the paper as small as possible.  Meanwhile, Mahmoud withdrew away and half turned his back to him.
Brunton wrote the following question, “Where did I live four years ago?” and folded the paper, as instructed.
Mahmoud came back, and told Brunton to hold the paper and the pencil tightly in his clenched fist. The magician closed his eyes and went into what looked like a profound concentration.  He opened his eyes and said quietly, “ The question you asked was ‘Where did I live four years ago ?’” Brunton was astonished.
This was a case of mind reading, extraordinary!
Next, the Egyptian, ordered Brunton to unfold the paper and examine it.
The paper revealed, under the question, the name of the town where Brunton lived four years ago! Some unknown hand had written the answer in pencil.
Brunton was amazed beyond measure, because mind-reading could not provide the name of the town, and write it too, on the tightly clenched paper in his fist. His pencil had remained in his fist too.
He asked the magician to repeat it. The Egyptian agreed.
This time Brunton wrote “What journal did I edit 4 years ago”
Mahmoud closed his eyes, and concentrated. He gave the correct answer.
He told Brunton to unfold the paper.
The name of the journal he edited four years ago was clumsily written with a pencil
For a third time he requested the magician to repeat his demonstration. Mahmoud succeeded again.
Brunton was baffled beyond measure. He thought of three possible explanations for the supernatural performance: mind-reading, hypnotism, and conjuring. He rejected all three.
It could not be conjuring because the pencil and paper came from Brunton, the paper never left his hands, and questions were randomly selected by him, without any premeditation.
It could not be hypnotism because Brunton knew the subject and would have recognized if somebody was trying to influence him, and furthermore the questions and answers were still there on the paper. Brunton finally came to the conclusion that the magician had read his mind, and with some inexplicable magic written the answers
Brunton felt the presence of invisible and eerie forces in the room (Brunton was a psychic).
“Can anybody in England do this?” The Egyptian asked
He was compelled to admit that nobody could do it under those test conditions.

Brunton requested him to explain his methods, knowing full well that magicians and conjurers never reveal their secrets. The magician declined
Brunton asked him to just tell the broad outline of his feats, the theoretical side only.
Mahmoud mused over his query for a while.
“I am willing to do that”
They met the next day. The explanation was neither of the three that Brunton had considered and rejected. Mahmoud told Brunton that he had invisible spirits under his control, and he was also a thought reader. He spent several years to make the spirits obedient to him. He had thirty spirits at his command which did his bidding. One of the spirits was of his dead brother, who helped him. Most of the others were Jinns, native inhabitants of spirit world, who never took a human body.
These spirits were proficient in one task only. For instance the jinns, who produced the pencil-written words on the paper, would have been quite unable to ascertain his questions. Mahmoud tried to employ only good jinns, and not the evil ones, used by African sorcerers. Because the evil ones were dangerous servants who would sometimes turn on their master and kill him.
One had to know each spirit’s name. The Egyptian could summon a spirit by concentrating on him, or writing his name in Arabic on a paper. They would come instantaneously.

Brunton met his second magician in Egypt. His name was kept secret by his wish. He was the most famous magician of Egypt, or at least, Cairo. He lived in a large house in ancient quarters. Brunton went to his house and met the magician who was around sixty. The magician was very suspicious of Brunton. After several visits he became less reserved. He was also an astrologer, and made a horoscope of Brunton (which Brunton did not want)
One day he told Brunton to bring a white, healthy, fowl, and he will put a jinn-spirit at Brunton’s disposal! Brunton did not want it but the old man insisted.
 Brunton returned three days later with a plump white bird tucked under his arm.
The magician asked to release the bird in the middle of the room. He then instructed Brunton to step over an incense brazier, three times.
He drew a small square on a piece of paper. and subdivided it into nine small squares. He next wrote either an Arabic letter or a kabbalistic sign, in each of the nine squares in the diagram. Then he started muttering a magical incantation with eyes fixed on the fowl. Sometimes he would extend his hand and point a finger, as if he was giving an order.
Brunton noticed that the fowl started trembling.
The magician asked him to step over the brazier three times, again. When he returned to the divan, he noticed that the fowl was not looking at the magician any more, but had turned his eyes on Brunton. He fixed his eyes at Brunton, and never changed.
Brunton observed a strange change in the fowl, his breathing became labored. His beak opened with air-hunger. Finally he collapsed and died.
The magician was happy at the outcome. He said that it meant that the spirit had accepted his sacrifice. He explained, that sometimes the fowl does not die, which means that the spirit had not accepted that person.
Henceforth, the genie that destroyed the life of that bird as a sign that he was ready to serve Brunton, will work for his benefit.
Brunton was told to throw the dead fowl, at the hour of midnight, in the Nile River, and as he threw the bird he was supposed to make a wish. One day the genie will cause his wish to come true.
The magician acknowledged that the supremacy lies with Allah. The magicians use their art, but only Allah knows everything. Final word lies with God.
The magician also said that the secret is passed from teacher to pupil, and the pupil or master is not allowed to reveal the secret to anybody else. The apprenticeship was hard and dangerous. He had not accepted a single pupil. Eventually he was bound by the laws that governed his fraternity to accept and teach somebody before his death, but since he knew the exact date and year of his death, there was still time left.
I have narrated the two cases of black magic in blog 87 and 109. A practitioner of black magic tried to poison and kill Indra Devi, and Shahab lived in a haunted house which was frequented by the spirits of a woman and her murderer.

 


Sunday, March 9, 2014

121. Brunton, and control over snakes and scorpions


During his travels in Egypt, Paul Brunton met Sheikh Moussa, who had power over snakes and scorpions. Sheikh Moussa could smell a hidden snake or scorpion. He could then command them to come out of their hiding places. He would pick them, and make them docile. They would not bite him. The snakes could not bite him with their poisonous fangs, but would, sometime, bite him superficially on the skin. One species of scorpion (and some snakes) were immune to his power. 
Sheikh Moussa had multiple layers of protection against these creatures. First, he had a mystic power, transmitted from master to disciple at initiation. Second, a public and secret invocation, which consisted of certain phrases from Quran and magical incantations, uttered forcefully, with adjurations. It was the main power, which was given to the pupil by his teacher that forced these creatures to submit. Thirdly, he had a talisman which he wore around his upper arm. The talisman had a piece of paper which had certain Quranic verses and some magical spells written on it.

Sheikh Moussa told him that he belonged to an old Dervish order, which specialized in handling poisonous snakes and scorpions.

Sheikh Moussa gave a demonstration of his power. He offered to catch a snake. To obviate the possibility that the Sheikh had secretly hidden a snake in some area, the area was selected by Brunton. They (thirty or so villagers) all marched to that area. To show that he was not carrying a snake on his person, Sheikh Moussa removed all his clothes, except the shirt and socks. He stopped at a stone and said there was a scorpion underneath that stone.
He started, loudly and continuously, a magical incantation which also had Quranic verses in it. He emphatically ordered the scorpion to come out. None came. He started the incantation and adjurations, again, in a louder voice. Finally a big scorpion came out. He picked it in his unprotected hands. Brunton examined it. Its sting was intact. Several times it will move its sting, as if by a force of habit, but stopped, as if by a barrier, and did not complete its motion of stinging. To further demonstrate his control over the creature, he put the scorpion on the ground. He started walking towards the debris as if to escape, when Sheikh Moussa ordered him to stop, and it stopped at once.

Next, Sheikh Moussa declared that there was a snake under the roots of a tree. He started again his magical incantation and exhortations. After some minutes, no snake emerged. Sheikh Moussa got frustrated. He declared that there really was a snake there. Finally, he kneeled, by the roots of the tree, and still reciting his spells, thrust his hand in a hole, and brought out a five foot long squirming cobra. After some tussle, he completed tamed the snake. Then he released him in the dust and pointing his forefinger at him, ordered him to lay his head in the palm of his hand.
The cobra stopped its hissing and laid his head in his palm, like a child might rest its tired head upon its mother’s lap!
It was a sight Brunton had never witnessed before. Not even in India where he had seen plenty of snakes and snake charmers

Brunton obtained a large table spoon and thrust it in the serpent’s mouth. After repeated bites, he obtained a quantity of poison in the spoon, one or two drops of which would have been sufficient to kill a man.
Soon, Brunton became the first European pupil (and second ever pupil) of Sheikh Moussa. After a week of fasting and prayers, he was given the “Word of power” (which was to be used mentally), and the magical incantation. He was also given the talisman. After receiving all three, he had immunity, against these creatures for two years.
Both master and pupil went over several field trips in the desert and handled snakes and scorpions. Gradually, over weeks, Brunton became quite proficient. He could grasp a poisonous snake and will it to go to sleep, by giving it a mental command of “go to sleep”. He would also hold the talisman in one hand at that time.

Brunton handled deadly cobras and poisonous vipers several times, and even put them around his neck, yet they never once attacked him.

Once, in the old temple of Edfu, Brunton was crawling along an extremely narrow, pitch dark tunnel, which had undisturbed dust of many centuries. Suddenly, a monstrous yellow scorpion emerged from a crevice and moved towards him. There was not enough room for Brunton to maneuver. He pointed his forefinger towards the creature, and uttered the word of power, loudly, and peremptorily ordered him to stop, with the utmost mental concentration and strength he could muster.
The scorpion stopped dead still.
It remained in the same spot, transfixed, till Brunton crawled back to safety with the light of his electric torch. For all he could tell, the unfortunate scorpion may still be on the same spot, awaiting the command of release.
The magical incantation is given in the book.

Despite all the powers, the immunity against snakes is not absolute. Sheikh Moussa’s first pupil was his son. He died of a snake bite, on his first solo field trip. His grandfather, died by a viper bite, after a life time of immunity against snakes.





Wednesday, March 5, 2014

 120. Does hell exist?

Years ago (probably twenty-five), somebody casually remarked, “There is no hell, just heaven. God is kind and merciful; therefore, there cannot be a hell”. That remark gnawed on my mind for years. The more I thought, the more I was convinced that there cannot be a hell.
Few years ago, I came across the book; ‘Finding the joy within you, by  Sri Daya Mata’ and found this story:
Master (Swami Yogananda) was once talking to a very dogmatic man. He said to Master, “Do you not belief in hellfire and damnation?”
Guruji replied, “No, except that man creates a Hades right in here and now. He makes out of this world and his own life a heaven or a hell, depending upon his behavior…..”
The man was not convinced and kept on arguing. Master changed the subject. After a few moments Guruji said:
“Isn’t it true that you have a son who is causing you great suffering because he drinks and indulges in bad behavior………”
The man’s jaw dropped “How did you know? Yes this has been the greatest sorrow of my life”
“Then may I make a suggestion”
“Yes”. The man was eager for a solution.
“All right take him out for a walk in the hills, and have two trusted friends waiting there for you. They should pounce upon him and bind him. Then let them build a huge roaring fire. Let them throw your son in the fire”
The man was flabbergasted. “Are you mad to make such a suggestion?”
“Exactly so! Yet you ascribe such behavior to God, who created you and instilled in you that love for your child. How dare you attribute to Him feelings so callous and punitive that He will take all of His children that have done wrong and cast them in eternal flames?”  

Swami Ramdas (blog 82-85) writes:
“In one place, a school master came for discussion. The schoolmaster was in favor of Shuddhi movement (reconversion of Muslims and Christians to Hinduism) while Ramdas was against it, as Ramdas opposed every effort on the part of anybody to create differences in religious faiths. That all faiths lead to the same goal is a most beautiful and convincing truth. At the end the friend exceeded the limits of decent talk.
Next day at the same time, the friend came again. He could scarcely talk, he could only whisper. His throat was choked up.
‘O Maharaj, he exclaimed, falling at the feet of Ramdas, “God has punished your slave for using such rough words to you yesterday…..’
‘O friend, Ramdas is really sorry to hear this, but be assured of this; God never punishes. God is love and is always kind…………the so called evil is of our own making.’
At once, pulling Ramdas’s right hand the friend rubbed the palm on his throat, and strange to say, his throat cleared and he began to talk more clearly and in a few minutes he was alright!
‘Behold Maharaj, how powerful you are!”

‘You make a mistake, dear friend; Ramdas is a poor slave of Ram, possessing no powers at all. Your faith alone has cured you, and nothing else.                  

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

119.  Two Unique visions of Swami Yogananda

I should have added these visions of Swami Yogananda in my account of him in blog 79-81; I am rectifying that mistake, because the two visions are profound and unique.

Cosmic consciousness. His Master struck him lightly on the chest and he had the vision of cosmic consciousness. I am giving an abbreviated version; complete description is in his autobiography (see the list). His body became motionless and still. His breath was drawn out as if by a huge magnet. People in distant streets were visible and moving. His ordinary vision was changed to spherical, he could see on the sides and the back of his head. He saw a white cow that was leisurely approaching. As she passed behind a brick wall, he could still see her. Master, his body, the pillared courtyard, the furniture and floor, the trees and the sunshine, occasionally violently vibrated. All objects in his vision tumbled and vibrated. Everything in his vision finally became a luminescent sea.
               He experienced an oceanic joy. He realized that the Spirit of God was an exhaustless bliss. A swelling glory in him enveloped towns, countries, continents, the earth, stars and galaxies, and floating universes. The whole cosmos was gently luminous, and resembled a lighted city at night, seen from a distance. On the farthest edges, was an undiminished mellow radiance. It was indescribably subtle, unlike the gross light which made the planetary picture.
               The divine dispersion of rays was from an Eternal Source blazing into galaxies, transfigured with ineffable auras. He saw the creative beams condense into constellations, then resolve into sheets of flame. Irradiating splendor issued from his heart (nucleus) to every part of the universal structure.
               Suddenly, he came to his senses. His guru ( Sri Yukteswar ) was standing motionless before him. “Don’t get over drunk with ecstasy. Let us sweep the floor”. He got hold of a broom and started sweeping the floor. He realized that his master was teaching him balanced living.
               The guru told him later, that it was the Spirit of God that sustained the universe. He is transcendent and aloof in the uncreated void. Those who attain Self-realization in this world live in similar twofold existence: conscientiously  performing their duties in the world, and yet immersed in an inner beatitude.

               This Divine experience comes with a natural inevitability when the seeker is ready. His intense craving begins to pull at God, with an irresistible force. The magnetic ardor pulls the cosmic vision in the seeker’s range of consciousness.
               Sri Yukteswar taught him how to summon the blessed  experience at will, and also how to transmit it others, when their intuitive channels were ready. He also told him that one may control the whole universe, but find the God elusive still. Spiritual advancement is not be measured by one’s display of outward powers, but solely by the depth of his bliss during meditation.
               Ever-new joy is God. He is inexhaustible

A lesson, that he learnt, was that without controlling the breath and the wandering thoughts, the Infinite as One Light cannot be perceived. These two, are like storms, that lash the oceans of light into waves of material forms, such as houses, trees, humans, and animals. As often as he quieted these two natural impulses, he could visualize all the forms melting into one luminous sea.


Body made of light. One day, after writing a chapter of his autobiography, as he was sitting on the bed in a lotus position, he looked at the ceiling. He saw that the ceiling was dotted with mustard colored lights, scintillating and quivering. Innumerable pencils of light merged into a shaft and fell on him.
               His physical body lost its grossness. He felt as if he was floating on the bed, barely touching the bed. The body became weightless and moved to and fro. His surrounding, the walls and furniture were as before, but the lights on the ceiling had multiplied, and they hid the ceiling. He looked at his arms. He could move them, but they were weightless.
               A voice spoke to him, as if it was coming from within the light. “This is the cosmic motion picture mechanism, shedding its beams on the white screen of your bed sheets; it creates a picture of your body. Behold your body is nothing but light.” He understood that the divine reproduction of his body was similar to the picture produced on a cinema screen, coming from a booth.
               This vision lasted for a long time. He saw his body in the faintly lit bedroom. Though he had many visions in his life, but none was ever more singular.
               He spoke entreatingly, “Divine light, please withdraw this humble body into Thyself; even as Elijah was drawn up to heavens, in a chariot of flame”.

               His supplication was evidently startling. The beam disappeared. His body came back to its original shape.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

118. Amma, Mufti Sahib  

I have mentioned Amma (literally, means mother) in blog 3, when a seeker dreamt about her. He was in great distress at that time. She consoled and guided him in that dream to a centuries old room. She had died sometimes earlier.
               One day the seeker saw, in the graveyard adjacent to the tomb of Mian Mir, a mad woman sitting under a tree. Nobody would go near her because she would throw stones on anybody who tried to come near her. Something in her struck the seeker. The seeker was endowed with this gift of recognizing holy persons, and holy persons recognize something in the seeker and allowed him to have their company. Her clothes were clean, an oddity in a mad person. He tried to approach her, but had to retreat, in the face of stones and volley of angry words. He tried to go near her another day. The woman said, “It is you again” and threw a stone. The seeker sat down behind a grave, far from the reach of stones. The woman said “so you are afraid of stones, alright, you can come near, I won’t hit you”. After that the seeker would visit her every 1-2 weeks. He noticed that during sitting or sleeping, she would always keep her face towards Mecca, where Kaaba, the holiest site of Islam, is located.
               She had meager belongings. It included a kaffan (burial cloth) for herself. She told the seeker that it had been washed with aab-a-zamzam (water of zamzam well, located in Kaaba)
               One day it was very hot. The seeker asked her whether he should bring water for her. She said, “Yes, bring it from the faucet”.  The seeker brought a glass of water. She drank some water, and then gave the glass to the seeker and said; “you drink too”.  The seeker also drank. In mysticism, it is considered a great gift, if a saint offers you something to eat, or his own clothes or shoes
               One day, after amma’s death, the Qalander who trained the seeker, sarcastically said to the seeker, “even amma’s water failed to transform you”. How did he know the incident? The seeker had not told him. This is a proof that amma was a spiritually exalted person and not a mere mad woman
               One day the seeker found her deathly sick. It was very cold. She was lying under the tree without any cover. The seeker went home and brought a blanket. Amma refused to use it, saying “God will provide her”. The seeker brought a packet of biscuits. She threw the packet away, saying something like, “My Allah will give me biscuits, if He wants to”. The seeker informed the Mufti Sahib (mentioned below) that the amma was dying. Later that night Mufti Sahib had a dream in which he was told to bury her under the same tree where she lived, and wrap her in the kaffan, she had carried on her head for many a miles. Her grave is located under that tree.
               A man kept vigil the night she was dying. The seeker asked him how he was related to the mother. The man said that some years ago, as a boy, he got paralyzed. Amma during her wandering happened to visit his village. His elder brother carried him to the mother. Amma told his brother to leave the boy, overnight, with her. She gave him gur (brown sugar candy). The strength in his legs came back gradually, and in a few weeks they came close to normal. After that incident he lost interest in the world, and with her permission, followed mother in her wanderings. He was not allowed to stay with her at night or where she camped. Eventually amma arrived in Lahore. She liked the tomb of the famous saint, Mian Mir. There was running water in the faucets for pilgrims. Free food was distributed, and there was a hundreds of year old graveyard, where there was solitude and shade. He would visit mother every day or two. Mother would give him money to buy her food and other provisions.
               I have mentioned in blog 64 of a person who had been wandering for 25 years in his spiritual quest. His guide brought him to the mother’s grave and told him the story of mother. The wanderer expressed the desire to do meditation at the grave. As I remember, he meditated over there for 2-3 days. The guide asked him what was happening. He replied amma’s asthan (a Hindi word for site) is showing him worlds.
               The proof of mother’s greatness is evident by these incidents: her helping the seeker as recited in blog 3, Qalander acknowledging her spirituality in the leftover water incident, Mufti Sahib having a dream directing him what to do with her dead body, her curing the paralysis of the boy, the experience of the 25 years wanderer when he meditated on her asthan , and finally the old man’s (mentioned in blog 117) desire to visit her grave.

Mufti Sahib.  I have mentioned Mufti sahib, above, in my foreword to book 2, (blog 53), and in blog 112. He was posted, by government, as the mufti (religious scholar) at the shrine of Mian Mir, the famous sufi saint. As such, he led the Friday prayers.
Mufti sahib was a simple, humble man. He was a poor man. The government salary barely met his, and his family’s, needs. I have narrated in blog 112, the two incidents, when his tearful prayer to feed the guests, and to visit his family at Eid, were instantly answered by God. Mufti sahib himself used to say that God listened to him. When, for the first time, he visited Kaaba (the holiest site in Islam) he did not find in himself the courage to enter the holy building (house of Allah), and sat outside for a week or two. He prayed to God “make me Yours”
When I asked Mufti sahib, through an intermediary, to look into my affairs and see what the reason for my lack of spiritual progress was. He gave the answer, “everybody, eventually, gets it, some early and others late. He is doing alright”. At another time, I conveyed to him, that I am not getting the Lms (touch of God). I thought, that Mufti sahib may find it blasphemous (in orthodox Islam it is an evil thought, because God and man cannot come physically close). But no, according to the intermediary, the Mufti sahib went into almost an ecstasy, and exclaimed, Lms! Lms!

 He had the power to alleviate common sufferings like headache, scorpion bite, etc, by performing dum on the sick person. The dum, is an Islamic spiritual process, bestowed to an authorized person, by his murshed. Certain Quranic verses are recited. The relief of sickness is temporary. A person cannot perform a dum on himself. Mufti sahib would make his daily round of the sick and needy, and do dum, if needed. He did it for free.
               As an example of the healing power, here is an account by Brunton, in his book, ‘a   search in secret Egypt’: Among the other activities of……..was the practice of healing. One day I watched a demonstration. A man came to him with rheumatic pains in the left thigh. He gently stroked the latter for a minute, recited a prayer from the Quran, for another minute, and told his patient that the pain would soon go………..There was certainly a diminution of the pain, although it was difficult for me to ascertain whether this was a permanent relief or a temporary one”. Sheikh Abu Shrump bestowed two powers to Brunton, one over evil genii, and the other a healing power. The Sheikh got these powers from his ancestors, and traced it back to the holy prophet Muhammad pbuh. Another Sheikh ( Moussa) gave Brunton power over snakes and scorpions ( he used this power many times)         
               Mufti sahib’s superior, a petty Govt. official, ordered Mufti sahib to charge people for dum, and to share the money with him. Mufti sahib refused. He said, “I will not make Quran a source of income”. The officer was not mollified. He received a transfer order to another shrine at Pakputtan.
               An influential person asked Mufti sahib that should he approach some officials to get the order cancelled. Mufti sahib said “No, my days in Lahore, are now complete”
















Friday, February 28, 2014

117. Data Gunj Bakhash. Part 4

1.      One time this mote was puzzled by something Data sahib did. He (Data sahib) had some problem. He went to the tomb of Ba-Yazid Bistami’s, a highly advanced mystic. There he stayed for 3 months and did great austerities. He would take bath 3 times a day and do his ablutions 30 times a day. I have narrated this incident in blog 62
This mote could not figure out the purpose of these baths and ablutions. Surely, cleansing of the body won’t solve the riddle. I asked a spiritual person. His answer did not satisfy me. This riddle gnawed on his mind, too. One day, he saw a saintly person doing multiple ablutions in the tomb of Data sahib. He kept this practice for several days. The spiritual person thought that the saintly person might be sick because ablutions are required after going to bathroom. He said to him “Sir, are you sick? Should I get you some medicine?”
The saintly person smiled and replied “no, I am not sick. As you probably know, for most spiritual practices, you are required to do an initial ablution, even though, one may not need it”
               They were sitting hardly 10 yards from Data Sahib’s tomb. My spiritual friend instantly knew that Data sahib provided him the answer through that saintly person.

2.       One day, last year, an advanced disciple of Data sahib went to Data Darbar. There was a strong police presence at the tomb, for fear of bombers. Police removed people who were trying to sit on a nice, tiled, corridor. The disciple saw a 90-5 year old man being forcibly removed from that area by 2 policemen. Few hours later, he once again saw the same old man being removed by the police. Next day, he saw the same incident being repeated. He enquired from the policemen, who said that they have removed this Baba( old man) 3-4 times but he reappears. God knows how he comes back (climbs the wall?). As the disciple was leaving, the old man said, “You moorakh (foolish person in Hindi), what kind of host are you? Ask him to call me. I do not have enough time”. As  the disciple left, in a flash, he received Data Sahib’s message. “Bring him in and look after him”. He  told the old man that Data Sahib is calling him. He also entrusted somebody else to look after him (tea, food, etc). The old man had a sheet. He covered himself in that sheet and stayed like that for about 48 hours, near the railing of the tomb. The attendant was worried that the Baba might have died, but there was some movement under the sheet.
               As the Baba finished, the disciple asked him whether he would like to go to Mian Mir? Baba said, yes, take me to Miray. He prayed on Mian Mir tomb, in a Hindu fashion. Then the Baba said, take me to the old lady’s grave, whom you buried. The disciple took him to amma’s grave (hardly anybody knows who amma was and where was she buried ). Then he asked for water. The disciple brought water from the same tap, he had brought for amma, couple of years ago. The old man drank some water and poured the rest on the grave. Then he asked to be taken to Bhati Gate. Over there, he said “Son! Your duty is over. Whenever we go to a place, we pay homage to certain people, sites” he patted the disciple on the back, lovingly. The disciple asked, “Where are you from? He said we have no country or religion. When I was 25-28 years old I came here and was benefitted from this place (Data Darbar)

3.  . Many Sikhs from India come to attend the annual urs of Mian Mir, because Sikhs have special attachment to Mian Mir, a Sufi saint of Muslims, because the foundation of golden temple in Amritsar (the holiest site of Sikh religion) was laid by Mian Mir. Last month, at urs, many Sikhs came. One night at about 2 AM, one Sikh came to a disciple of Data sahib, who happened to be there. He said, “ Before coming I sought permission from my guru. He told me to seek you at the tomb. He gave your description and said “ he will be wearing a woolen white shawl and will have a scar on right eyebrow”. The disciple  asked to meet him at Data Durbar at a certain time that day.
The man was present at Data Durbar at the appointed time. The disciple took him to the window which gives a view of the tomb. The man threw some things (petals?) on the holy tomb.  The disciple asked him if there was something else that he wanted. The man said, he wanted some Faiz( gift). The disciple  got him consecrated tabbarrak (white powder ) from the Durbar and took him to the cellar, where both prayed to Data Sahib.
This incident proves that the disciple was a special mureed of Data Sahib, whose duties included helping and guiding special persons, because it was his description which was given to the Sikh pilgrim.