PANDIT GOPI KIRISHNA

I was born in the year 1903 .. in the small village of " Gairoo ".. about twenty miles from Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir.
It was the parental home of my mother, and she went to stay there at the time of my birth to have the care and attention of her elder sister and brothers during her confinement.
My father had constructed a small, two storeyed hut of his own in their big compound. It was a humble structure, built of sun dried bricks with a thatched roof and served as our residence for a long time ; for the years of my child-hood and afterwards at intervals .. whenever tired of the city .. we yearned for a breath of country air.
My first faint recollections of child-hood circle round a medium sized house in a quiet sector of the city of Srinagar.

PANDIT GOPI KRISHNA

" Child-hood miracle "

Another indelible child-hood memory is of a moonlit night with my mother and one of my maternal uncles, sleeping on an open from the sides but roofed top of a small wooden cabin, used as a granary, a common structure in rural habitations in Kashmir.

We had travelled all day on horseback on the way to the distant abode of a reputed HERMIT, but failing to reach our destination at nightfall had sought shelter in the house of a farmer, who accommodated us thus for the night.

I cannot recall the appearance of the SAINT, except that his long, matted hair fell on his shoulders as he sat cross-legged against one of the walls of his small room directly facing the door. I remember him taking me in his lap and stroking my hair, which my mother had allowed to grow long in conformity with a solemn vow she had taken not to apply scissors or razor to it except at the time of the sacred thread ceremony. Years later, when I had grown intelligent enough to understand her, my mother revealed to me the purpose of her visit to the saint.

She said that years before he had appeared to her in a dream at a most anxious time. She had passed the preceding day in an extremely perturbed frame of mind caused by my inability to swallow anything owing to a swollen and badly inflamed throat. In the dream, the HOLY PERSONAGE .. of whose miraculous deeds she had heard astounding accounts from innumerable eyewitnesses .. opened my mouth gently with his hand and touched  its  interior  down  to  the  throat  softly  with  his  finger;  then  making a sign to her to feed me vanished from sight. Awakening with a start, my mother pressed me close to her and to her immense relief felt me sucking and swallowing the milk without difficulty.

Overjoyed at the sudden cure, which she attributed to the miraculous power of the SAINT, she then and there made a vow that she would go on a pilgrimage to his place of residence to thank him personally for the favour. Owing to household worries and other engagements she could not make the pilgrimage for some years and undertook it at a time when I was sufficiently grown up to retain a faint impression of the journey and the visit.

The most surprising part of the story is that .. as my mother affirmed afterwards repeatedly .. the HERMIT, at the very moment of our approach after entering the room, casually inquired whether I had been able to suck and swallow my milk after his visit to her in the dream! Wonder-struck, my mother had fallen prostrate at his feet, humbly invoking his blessings upon me.

 

" What am I ? "

Another remarkable event of my child-hood, at the age of eight, which I remember more vividly, occurred one day as I walked along a road in Srinagar in early spring on my way to the house of our religious preceptor. The sky was overcast and the road-muddy, which made walking difficult. All at once, with the speed of lightning, a sudden question, never thought of before, shot across my mind. I stood stocks till in the middle of the road confronted within to the depths of my being with the insistent inquiry, "What am I ? " .. coupled with the pressing interrogation from every object without, "What does all this mean ? ".

My whole being as well as the world around appeared to have assumed the aspect of an everlasting inquiry, an insistent, unanswerable  interrogation, which struck me dumb and helpless, groping for a reply with all my strength until my head swam and the surrounding objects began to whirl and dance round me. I felt giddy and confused, hardly able to restrain myself from falling on the slimy road in a faint.

Steadying myself, I proceeded on my way, my childish mind in a ferment over the incident of which, at that age, I could not in the least understand the significance.

 

" A Remarkable Dream "

A few days later I had a remarkable dream in which I was given a glimpse of another existence, not as a child or as an adult but with a dream personality utterly unlike my usual one. I saw a heavenly spot, peopled by god- like, celestial beings, and myself bodiless, something quite different .. diffused, ethereal.. a stranger belonging to a different order and yet distinctly resembling and intimately close to me, my own self transfigured, in a gloriously bright and peaceful environment, the very opposite of the shabby, noisy surroundings in which I lived.

 

" Formal Education "

In the year 1914, we journeyed to Lahore where my father was required to present himself personally at the Treasury to receive his pension. From that day to the time of my appointment in the year 1923, we lived there summer and winter. At the age of fourteen, starting with easy stories, I turned from Urdu to English, devouring hungrily every story book and romance that came into my hands. From novels and other light material I gradually passed on to popular elementary books on science and philosophy available in our small school library.

I read avidly, my developing mind eager for satisfactory replies to the questions which cropped up as the result of my own survey of the narrow world in which I lived, and the stray glimpses of the broader one of which I came to know more and more from the graphic accounts contained in the books.

By the time I had completed my first year at college, the impact of the books, especially elementary treatises on astronomy and natural science to which I had access in the college library, as well as my ideas, formed or confirmed by continued study, had become powerful enough to start me on a path contrary to the one I had followed in childhood, and it did not take me long to emerge a full-fledged agnostic, full of doubts and questions about the extravagant notions and irrational beliefs of my own religion, to which I had lent complete credence only a few years before.

 

" Failure in college examination "

I had not studied religion or tried any method of direct spiritual experience, or acquired systematic knowledge of any science or philosophy beyond that provided by a few elementary volumes, the questions and problems which agitated my mind at that young age never found a satisfactory solution in any book on science, philosophy or religion.

More intent on demolition than construction, I read ravenously until in my second year and I began to neglect my prescribed studies to the extent of giving preference to the library over the classroom. I was brought to an abrupt halt by my failure in the college examination towards the end of the year 1920. The shock demolished with one blow the seemingly invincible fortification of intellectual

scepticism my immature judgement had created around myself.

 

" I am Crestfallen "

Failure in a house examination at the College, which prevented me from appearing in the University that year, created a revolution in my young mind. I was not so much worried by the failure and the loss of one year as by the thoughts of the extreme pain it would cause my mother, whom I loved dearly.

Having never suffered the ignominy of a failure in my school life, and always highly spoken of by the teachers, I felt crestfallen, pierced to the quick by the thought that my mother, proud of my distinction and sure of my ability to get through the examination with merit, would be deeply hurt at this avowal of my negligence.

 

"My other worldly father"

Born, in a village, of a family of hard-working and God-fearing peasants, fate had destined my mother as a partner to a man considerably senior to her in age.

My father, with a deep mystical vein in him, returned to the land of his ancestors when almost past his prime, to marry and settle there. Even during the most active period of his worldly life he was always on the look-out for Yogis and ascetics reputed to possess occult powers, and never tired of serving them and sitting in their company to learn the secret of their marvellous gifts.

He was a firm believer in the traditional schools of religious discipline and YOGA, extant in India from the earliest times, which among all the numerous factors contributing to success allot the place of honour to renunciation, to the voluntary relinquishment of all worldly pursuits and possessions, to enable the mind, released from the heavy chains binding it to the Earth, to plumb its own ethereal depths undisturbed by desire and passion.

My father chose for himself a recluse's life, about twelve years after marriage, his gradually formed decision hastened by the tragic death of his first-born son at the age of five.

Retiring voluntarily from a lucrative Government post, before he was even fifty, he gave up all the pleasures and cares of life and shut himself in seclusion with his books, leaving the entire responsibility of managing the household on the inexperienced shoulders of his young wife.

 

"My Heroic Mother "

My father renounced the world when my mother was in her twenty eighth year, the mother of three children, two daughters and a son.

How she brought us up, with what devotion she attended to the simple needs of our austere father .. who cut himself off completely from the world·· never even exchanging a word with any of us, and by what ceaseless labour and colossal self-sacrifice she managed to maintain the good name and honour of the family would make fit themes for a great story of matchless heroism, unflinching regard to duty, chastity, and supreme self-abnegation.

I felt guilty and  mortified. How could I face her  with  an admission of  my weakness ? Realizing  that  by  my  lack of  self-control  I had betrayed the trust reposed in me, I determined to make up for the lost opportunity in other ways. At no other time in my life should I be guilty of the same offence again.

 

" Mind Control Books "

Having made the resolve, I looked around for a means to carry it into effect. In order to succeed it as necessary to have at least some knowledge of the methods to bring one's rebellious self into subjugation. Accordingly, I read a few books of the usual kind on the development of personality and mind control. Out of the huge mass of material contained in these writings, I devoted my attention to only two things: concentration of mind and cultivation of will.

I took up the practice of both with youthful enthusiasm, directing all my energies and subordinating all my desires to the acquisition of this one object within the shortest possible period of time.

Sick with mortification at my lack of self- restraint, which made me yield passively to the dictates of desire to substitute absorbing story books and other light literature for the dry and difficult college texts, I made it a point to assert my will in all things, beginning with smaller ones and gradually extending its application to bigger and more difficult issues, forcing myself as a penance to do

irksome and rigorous tasks, against which my ease-loving nature recoiled in dismay, until I began to feel a sense of mastery over myself, a growing conviction that I would not again fall an easy prey to ordinary temptations.

 

" Yoga and Occultism"

From "MIND CONTROL" it was but a step to "YOGA" and "OCCULTISM". I passed almost imperceptibly from a study of books on the former to a scrutiny of spiritualistic literature, combined with a cursory reading of some of the scriptures. Smarting under the disgrace of my first failure in life, and stung by a guilty conscience, I felt a growing aversion to the world and its hopelessly tangled affairs that had exposed me to this humiliation; and gradually the fire of renunciation began to burn fiercely in me, seeking knowledge of an honourable way of escape from the tension and turmoil of life to the peace and quietude of a consecrated existence.

At this time of acute mental conflict, the sublime message of the " Bhagavad Gita " had a most profound and salutary effect on me, allaying the burning mental fever by holding before me the promise of a perennially peaceful life in tune with the Infinite Reality behind the phenomenal world of mingled joy and pain.

In this way, from the original idea to achieve success in wordly enterprise by eliminating the possibility of failure owing to flaccid determination, I imperceptibly went to the other extreme: I was soon exercising my will and practicing meditation not for temporal ends, but with the sole object of gaining success in YOGA even if that necessitated the sacrifice of all my earthly prospects.

 

" Spiritual Realities "

My worldly ambition died down.

At that young age, when one is more influenced by ideals and dreams than by practical considerations and is apt to look at the world through golden glasses, the sorrow and misery visible on every side by accentuating the contrast between what is and what ought to be tend to modify the direction of thought in particularly susceptible natures.

The effect on me was twofold : it made me more realistic, roughly shaking me out of unwarranted optimism based on the dream of a painless, easy existence, and at the same time it steeled my determination to find a happiness that would endure, and had not to be purchased at the cost of the happiness of others. Often, in the solitude of a secluded place or alone in my room I debated within myself on the merits and demerits of the different courses open to me.

Only a few months before, my ambition had been to prepare myself for a successful career in order to enjoy a life of plenty and comfort, surrounded by all the luxuries available to the affluent class of our society.

 

" New Yearnings "

Now, I wanted to lead a life of peace, immune from wordly fervour and free of contentious strife. Why set my heart on things, I told myself, which I must ultimately relinquish, often most reluctantly at the point of the sword wielded by death, with great pain and torture of the mind? Why should I not live in contentment with just enough to fulfil reasonably the few needs imposed by nature, devoting the time I could save thereby to the acquirement of assets of a permanent nature, which would be mine for ever, a lasting ornament to the unchanging eternal self in me instead of serving merely to glorify the flesh?

The more I thought about the matter, the more strongly I was drawn towards a simple, unostentatious life, free from thirst for worldly greatness, which I had pictured for myself. The only obstacle to the otherwise easy achievement of my purpose which I felt was rather hard to overcome lay in winning the consent of my mother, whose hopes, already blasted once by the sudden resolve of my father to relinquish the world, were now centred in me.

The urge to devote myself to the search for reality was too strong to be suppressed. I was on the horns of a dilemma, torn between my filial duty and my own natural desire to retrieve the decayed fortune of the family on the one hand, and my distaste for the world on the other.

But the thought of giving up my home and family never occurred to me. I should have surrendered everything, not excepting even the path I had selected for myself, rather than be parted from my parents or deviate in any way from the duty I owed to them. My whole being revolted at the idea of becoming a homeless ascetic, depending on the labour of others for my sustenance.

If God is the embodiment of all that is good, noble, and pure, I argued within myself, how can He decree that those who have a burning desire to find Him, surrendering themselves to His will, should leave their families, to whom they owe various obligations by virtue of the ties He has Himself forged in the human heart, and should wander from place to place depending on the charity and beneficence of those who honour those ties ? The mere thought of such an existence was repugnant to me.

I was determined to live a family life, simple and clean, devoid of luxury, free from the fever of social rivalry and display, permitting me to fulfil my obligations and to live peacefully on the fruit of my labour, restraining my desires and reducing my needs, in order to have ample time and the essentially required serenity of mind to pursue calmly the path I had chosen for myself.

At that young age, it was not my intellect but something deeper and more far-seeing, which, building on the reverse suffered by me and triumphing at the end over the conflict raging in me, chalked out the course of life I was to follow ever after.

 

" Practice of Meditation "

We lived in Lahore in those days, occupying the top part of a small three-storied house in a narrow lane on the fringe of the city. The area was terribly congested, but fortunately the surrounding buildings were lower than ours, allowing us enough sun and air and a fine unobstructed view of the distant fields.

I selected a corner in one of the two small rooms at our disposal for my practice and went to it every day with the first glimmer of dawn, for meditation. Beginning with a small duration, I extended the period gradually until in the course of a few years I was able to sit in the same posture, erect and steady, with my mind well under control and bent firmly on the object contemplated for hours without any sign of fatigue or restlessness.

Meanwhile, a sudden breakdown in my health due to heat created such an anxiety in the heart of my mother that she insisted on my immediate departure to Kashmir, attaching no importance to my studies when a question of my health was involved.

Receiving at this juncture an offer of appointment to a low-salaried clerical post in the Public Works Department of the State, I accepted it readily with her consent and left for the beautiful valley, with no regrets, to take part for the first time in the mechanical drudgery of a small office.

 

" Lahore to Srinagar "

Within a year, my parents followed me to Srinagar and soon after my mother busied herself in finding a matrimonial alliance for me.

Next summer, in the twenty third year of my life, I was joined in wedlock in the traditional manner to my wife, seven years my junior in age, belonging to a Pandit family of Baramulla.

I startled her on our very first meeting by leaving the nuptial chamber at three o'clock in the morning for a bath under the copiously flowing water tap in the nearby riverside temple, returning after an hour to sit in meditation without a word until it was time to leave for work.

My wife admirably adjusted herself to what must have seemed to her unsophisticated mind an eccentric streak in her husband, ready with a warm 'kangri 'when I returned from the temple numb with winter cold. About a year after, I was transferred to Jammu to serve my term in that Province. She followed me after a few months with my parents, to both of whom she endeared herself by her sense of duty and unremitting attention to their comfort.

 

" Worldly duties "

By the very nature of my duties it was utterly impossible for me to escape comment and criticism of my acts, which influenced the life and career of someone or other. But some of these acts had also the reverse effect of confronting me with my own conscience on behalf of a poor and support-less, but deserving candidate. Because of a desire to deal equal justice in all cases, I was frequently brought in conflict with hidden influences surreptitiously at work behind the apparently spotless facade of Government offices, which every now and then created insoluble problems and odious situations for me.

 

" More Interested in Spirituality "

Temperamentally, I was not suited for a profession of this kind, but possessing neither the qualifications for another, nor means nor inclination to equip myself for a better one, I continued to move in the rut in which I had placed myself on the first day.

Although I worked hard and to the best of my ability, I was more interested in the study and practice of YOGA than in my official career. The latter I treated merely as a means to earn a livelihood, just sufficient to meet our simplest needs. Beyond that it had no value or significance for me.

Deceived and disillusioned, I turned finally to the practice of YOGA, not as an expedient to save myself from the consequences of my own dereliction, but as a practicable method available to thirsty minds to verify individually the undemonstrable central truths of religion.

When nothing tangible happened for nearly seventeen years, from the age of seventeen to thirty four, I began to despair, at times led to doubt the method adopted and at others to suspect the whole science.

 

" First Spiritual Experience "

One morning .. during the Christmas of the year 1937 .. I sat cross-legged in a small room in a little house on the outskirts of the town of Jammu, the winter capital of the Jammu and Kashmir State in Northern India. I was meditating with my face towards the window on the east through which the first grey streaks of the slowly brightening dawn fell into the room.

Long practice had accustomed me to sit in the same posture for hours at a time without the least discomfort, and I sat breathing slowly and rhythmically, my attention drawn towards the crown of my head, contemplating an imaginary lotus in full bloom, radiating light.

I sat steadily, unmoving and erect, my thoughts uninterruptedly centered on the shining lotus, intent on keeping my attention from wandering and bringing it back again and again whenever it moved in any other direction. The intensity of concentration interrupted my breathing; gradually it slowed down to such an extent that at times it was barely perceptible. My whole being was so engrossed in the contemplation of the lotus that for several minutes at a time I lost touch with my body and surroundings. During such intervals I used to feel as if I were poised in mid-air, without any feeling of a body around me. The only object of which I was aware was a lotus of brilliant colour, emitting rays of light.

This experience has happened to many people who practise meditation in any form regularly for a sufficient length of time, but what followed on that fateful morning in my case, changing the whole course of my life and outlook, has happened to few.

 

" Strange Sensations "

During one such spell of intense concentration, I suddenly felt a strange sensation below the base of the spine, at the place touching the seat, while I sat cross- legged on a folded blanket spread on the floor. The sensation was so extraordinary and so pleasing that my attention was forcibly drawn towards it. The moment my attention was thus unexpectedly withdrawn from the point on which it was focused, the sensation ceased. Thinking it to be a trick played by my imagination to relax the tension, I dismissed the matter from my mind and brought my attention back to the point from which it had wandered.

Again I fixed it on the lotus, and as the image grew clear and distinct at the top of my head, again the sensation occurred. This time I tried to maintain the fixity of my attention and succeeded for a few seconds, but the sensation extending upwards grew so intense and was so extraordinary, as compared to anything I had experienced before, that in spite of myself my mind went towards it, and at that very moment it again disappeared. I was now convinced that something unusual had happened for which my daily practice of concentration was probably responsible.

 

" I felt a stream of liquid light, with a roar, go upwards "

I had read glowing accounts, written by learned men, of great benefits resulting from concentration, and of the miraculous powers acquired by yogis through such exercises.

My heart began to beat wildly, and I found it difficult to bring my attention to the required degree of fixity. After a while I grew composed and was soon as deep in meditation as before. When completely immersed, I again experienced the sensation, but this time, instead of allowing my mind to leave the point where I had fixed it I, maintained a rigidity of attention throughout.

The sensation again extended upwards, growing in intensity, and I felt myself wavering ; but with a great effort I kept my attention centered round the lotus. Suddenly, with a roar like that of a waterfall, I felt a stream of liquid light entering my brain through the spinal cord.

Entirely unprepared for such a development, I was completely taken by surprise but regaining self-control instantaneously·· I remained sitting in the same posture, keeping my  mind on  the  point  of  concentration.  The  illumination  grew brighter and brighter, the roaring louder, I experienced a rocking sensation and then felt myself slipping out of my body, entirely enveloped in a halo of light.

I felt the point of consciousness that was myself growing wider, surrounded by waves of light. It grew wider and wider, spreading outward while the body, normally the immediate object of its perception, appeared to have receded into the distance until I became entirely unconscious of it.

I was now all consciousness, without any outline, without any idea of a corporeal appendage, without any feeling or sensation coming from the senses, immersed in a sea of light simultaneously conscious and aware of every point, spread out, as it were, in all directions without any barrier or material obstruction.

I was no longer myself, or to be more accurate, no longer as I knew myself to be, a small point of awareness confined in a body, but instead was a vast circle of consciousness in which the body was but a point, bathed in light and in a state of exaltation and happiness impossible to describe.

After some time, the duration of which I could not judge, the circle began to narrow down; I felt myself contracting, becoming smaller and smaller, until I again became dimly conscious of the outline of my body, then more clearly. And, as I slipped back to my old condition, I became suddenly aware of the noises in the street, felt again my arms and legs and head, and once more became my narrow self in touch with body and surroundings.

 

" Back from a Strange land "

When I opened my eyes and looked about, I felt a little dazed and bewildered, as if coming back from a strange land completely foreign to me.

 

" What happened ?? "

What had happened to me ? Was I the victim of a hallucination ? Or had I by some strange vagary of fate succeeded in experiencing the Transcendental? Had I really succeeded where millions of others had failed? Was there, after all, really some truth in the oft-repeated claim of the sages and ascetics of India, made for thousands of years and verified and repeated generation after generation, that it was possible to apprehend reality in this life if one followed certain rules of conduct and practised meditation in a certain way?

My thoughts were in a daze. I could hardly believe that I had a vision of divinity. There had been an expansion of my own self, my own consciousness, and the transformation had been brought about by the vital current that had started from below the spine and found access to my brain through the backbone.

I recalled that I had read long ago in books on YOGA of a certain vital mechanism called " Kundalini ", connected with the lower end of the spine, which becomes active by means of certain exercises, and when once roused carries the limited human consciousness to transcendental heights, endowing the individual with incredible psychic and mental powers.

 

" I was in a state of exhaustion"

Saying nothing to my wife, I took my meal in silence and left for work. My appetite was not as keen as usual, my mouth appeared dry, and I could not put my thoughts into my work in the office. I was in a state of exhaustion and lassitude, disinclined to talk. After a while, feeling suffocated and ill at ease, I left for a short walk in the street with the idea of finding diversion for my thoughts.

I could not walk for long. I took no interest in the people whom I met, and walked with a sense of detachment and indifference to my surroundings quite foreign to me. I returned to my desk sooner than I had intended, and passed the remaining hours toying with my pen and papers, unable to compose my thoughts sufficiently to work.

When I returned home in the afternoon I felt no better. I could not bring myself to sit down and read, my usual habit in the evening. I ate supper in silence, without appetite or relish, and retired to bed.

After about 3 am, sleep refused to come. I sat up in bed for some time. Sleep had not refreshed me. I still felt fatigued and my thoughts lacked clarity. The usual time for my meditation was approaching. I decided to begin earlier so that I would not have the sun on my hands and face, and without disturbing my wife, went upstairs to my study. I spread the blanket, and sitting cross-legged as usual, began to meditate.

 

" Again a rush and a roaring noise "

As soon as I arrived at the usual pitch of mental fixity, I again felt the current moving upward. I did not allow my attention to waver, and again with a rush and a roaring noise in my ears the stream of effulgent light entered my brain, filling me with power and vitality, and I felt myself expanding in all directions, spreading beyond the boundaries of flesh, entirely absorbed in the contemplation of a brilliant conscious glow, one with it and yet not entirely merged in it. The condition lasted for a shorter duration than it had done yesterday. The feeling of exaltation was not so strong.

 

" No more a normal self "

Little did I realize that from that day onwards I was never to be my old normal self again, that I had unwittingly and without preparation or even adequate knowledge of it roused to activity the most wonderful and stern power in man, that I had stepped unknowingly upon the key to the most guarded secret of the ancients, and that thenceforth for a long time I had to live suspended by a thread, swinging between life on the one hand and death on the other, between sanity and insanity, between light and darkness, between heaven and Earth.

Even after the change from the chaotic to the more or less spiritual trend of mind, the critical element in my nature never left me completely.

 

" Mystical Experiences "

I was not one to be satisfied with shadowy appearances and cloudy manifestations, with cryptic symbols and mystic signs.

Flashes of light before the eyes followed by darkness, humming in the ears due to pressure on the tympanic membrane, peculiar sensations in the body caused by fatigued nerves,  semi-hypnotic conditions  resulting  from  protracted  concentration, appearances and phantoms due to tricky imagination in a state of tense expectancy, and other similar phenomena had absolutely no effect on me.

By continued practice I had no doubt acquired a high degree of proficiency in the art of keeping the mind in a state of fixity for a long time and in maintaining a condition of absorption for long periods without discomfort.

I thirsted for rationality in religion, for the worship of truth, whatever and wherever that might be. There was no spectacle more painful for me than the sight of a conscientious and intelligent man defending an absurdity which even a child could see through, simply because it formed an article of his faith to which he must hold at any cost, even if that cost included the sacrifice of reason and truth.

On the other side, the irrationality of those who attempted to squeeze the universe within the narrow compass of reason was no less deplorable. They were ignorant about the nature of their own consciousness. The unknown entity that inhabits human bodies is still enveloped in mystery, and the rational faculty, one of its inseparable possessions, is no less an enigma than the owner itself.

 

" Ultimate Goal"

My interest in the Study and Practice of YOGA was not the outcome of any deep desire to possess psychic gifts. The target I had in mind was far higher and nobler than what in the most attractive form I could expect, from the acquirement of the much coveted supernormal gifts. I longed to attain the condition of consciousness, said to be the ultimate goal of YOGA, which carries the embodied spirit to regions of unspeakable glory and bliss, beyond the sphere of opposites, free from the desire for life and fear of death. This extraordinary state of consciousness, internally aware of its own surpassing nature, was the supreme prize for which the true aspirants of YOGA had to strive.

 

" Transformation of Consciousness "

The  transformation of my own consciousness, the nearest and the most intimate part of me, that I had experienced more than once, and the memory of which was so strong that it could never be effaced or mistaken for any other condition. It could not be a mere figment of my fancy because during the vision I still possessed the capacity to make a comparison between the extended state of consciousness and the normal one, and when it began to fade, I could perceive the contraction that was taking place. It was undoubtedly a real experience, and has been described with all the power of expression at their command by mystics and saints all over the world.

 

" Kundalini "

" Kundalini " is as natural and effective a device for the attainment of a higher state of consciousness and for transcendental experience as the reproductive system is an effective natural contrivance for the perpetuation of the race. The contiguity of the two is a purposely designed arrangement, as the evolutionary tendency and the stage of progress reached by the parent organism can only be transmitted and perpetuated through the seed.

For a long time I could not understand what hidden purpose was being served by the unremitting flow of the new-born nervous radiation and what changes were being wrought in the organs and nerves and in the structure of the brain by this unceasing shower of the powerful vital essence drawn from the most precious and most potent secretion in the body.

Immediately after the crisis, however, I noticed a marked change in my digestive and eliminatory functions, a change so remarkable that it could not be assigned to accident or to any other factor save the serpent fire and its effect on the  organism. It appeared  as  if  I  were  undergoing a process of purgation, of internal purification of the organs and nerves, and that my digestive apparatus was being toned to a higher pitch of efficiency to ensure a cleaner and healthier state of the nerves and other tissues.

I was now a spectator of a weird drama enacted in my own body in which an immensely active and powerful vital force, released all of a sudden by the power of meditation, was incessantly at work, and after having taken control of all the organs and the brain, was hammering and pounding them into a certain shape.

I merely observed the weird performance, the lightning-like movements of the lustrous intelligent power commanding absolute knowledge of and dominance over the body.

 

" Seeing Internal Organs "

After only a few days, I found that the luminous current was acting with full knowledge of the task it had to perform and functioned in complete harmony with the bodily organs, knowing their strength and weakness, obeying its own laws and acting with a superior intelligence beyond my comprehension.

I watched the phenomenon in amazement. With the aid of the luminous stuff now filling my nerves, could, by diverting my attention towards my interior, discern clearly the outlines of the vital organs and the network of nerves spread all over my body, as if the centre of consciousness in the brain, now always ablaze with light, had acquired a more penetrating inner sight by which it could look inside and perceive dimly the interior of the body as it could see its exterior in a hazy, uncertain light.

At times, turning my attention upon myself, I distinctly saw my body as a column of living fire from the tips of my toes to the head in which innumerable currents circled and eddied, causing at places whirlpools and vortices, all forming part of a vast heaving sea of light, perpetually in motion.

The only explanation to account for it that occurred to me was that on such occasions my undeniably extended consciousness was in contact with the world of "prana ", or " cosmic vital energy ".

A new kind of activity had developed in my nervous system, but I could not determine which particular nerve or nerves were involved, though I could clearly mark the location at the extremity of the spinal cord and round the lower orifice.

There undeniably was the abode of " Kundalini ", as described by Yogis, the place where she lies asleep in the normal man, coiled three and a half times round the lowest triangular end of the spine, awakened to activity with proper exercises of which concentration is the main adjunct.

 

" Duties Continue "

I continued to attend to my household and official duties, gaining more and more strength every day. After a few more weeks I was able to work attentively for hours with my now transformed mental equipment without feeling any distressing symptoms.

But there was no perceptible change in my general outlook or efficiency, and barring the introduction of this mysterious and incomprehensible factor into my life, I was the same as before.

Towards the end of October 1939, I made preparations for my departure to Jammu with the office. I felt myself so thoroughly fit for the journey and subsequent sojourn there for six months all by myself that for reasons of her health I left my wife, my one unfailing partner in all my vicissitudes, in Kashmir, confident of my own ability to look after myself. Devout and God-fearing until my abnormal condition, I had lost all feelings of love and veneration for the divine, all respect for the sacred and the holy, and all interest in the scriptural and sacramental. The very idea of the supernatural had become hateful and I did not allow my thoughts to dwell on it even for a moment. From a devotee I became an inveterate enemy of faith and felt seething resentment against those whom I saw going to or coming from places of worship.

As the alteration in the state of my consciousness is the most important feature of my experience to which I wish to draw attention, having far-reaching results, it is necessary to say more about this extraordinary development, which for a long time I considered to be an abnormality or delusion.

 

" Super-mundane happiness "

The state of exalted and extended consciousness, permeated with an inexpressible, supermundane happiness which I experienced on the first appearance of the "serpent fire" in me, was an internal phenomenon, subjective in nature, indicating an expansion of the field of awareness, or the cognitive self, formless, invisible, and infinitely subtle, the observer in the body, always beyond scrutiny, impossible to delineate or depict.

From a  unit  of  consciousness,  dominated  by  the  ego, to which I was habituated from child-hood, I expanded all at once into a glowing conscious circle, growing larger and larger, until a maximum was reached, the 'I' remaining as it was, but instead of a confining unit, now itself encompassed by a shining conscious globe of vast dimensions.

 

" More experiences "

At the time of my coming to Jammu, I had gained my equilibrium of mind and soon after was restored fully to myself, with all my individual traits and peculiarities. But the unmistakable alteration in my cognitive faculty, which I had noticed for some time and of which I was constantly reminded when contemplating an external object or an internal mental image, underwent no modification. except that with the passage of time the luminous circle in my head grew larger and larger by imperceptible degrees, with a corresponding increase in the area of consciousness.

Entirely absorbed in the contemplation of the enchanting view, I lost all touch with my surroundings, completely forgetting that I was standing like a statue in the middle of a road thronged at that time of day with crowds of employees going to the Secretariat. Collecting my thoughts, like one suddenly awakened from a beatific vision, I looked around, withdrawing my glance with difficulty from the delightful scene.

Pulling myself together, I walked leisurely in the direction of the office, keeping my eyes on the building and the portion of the overhanging sky in front of me. Completely unprepared for such a development, I could not bring myself to believe that what I was gazing at was real and not a vision conjured up by my fancy stimulated to greater activity by the intriguing aureole, perceptible to me always around my head. I looked intently in front and around again and again, rubbing my eyes to assure myself that I was not dreaming .

On entering my room, instead of sitting at my desk I walked out on to the verandah at the back, where it was my habit to pass some time daily for a breath of fresh air while looking at the fine view open in front.

 

" Extraordinary Colours "

During the past few months, when gazing at it, I found that it too had assumed grander proportions and had the same chalky appearance I had noticed in all other objects. On that memorable day when my eyes swept across the river bed to the hillock and from there to the sky, trying to take the whole panorama in one glance to make a comparison between what I was accustomed to see previously and what I perceived now, I was utterly amazed at the remarkable transformation.

The magnified dimensions of the picture and the slightly chalky appearance of the objects were both present, but the dusty haze before my eyes had vanished and instead I was gazing fascinatedly at an extraordinarily rich blend of colour and shade, shining with a silvery lustre which lent an indescribable beauty to the scene.

Breathless with excitement, I turned my eyes in all directions, viewing each object attentively, eager to find whether the transformation was noticeable in all or whether it was an illusion caused by the particularly clear and sunny weather on that day. I looked and looked, allowing my gaze to linger for some time on each spot, convinced more firmly after each intent glance that far from being the victim of an optical illusion, I was seeing a brightly coloured real scene before me, shining with a milky lustre never before perceived. A surge of emotion too deep for words filled my whole being, and tears gathered in my eyes in spite of myself at the significance of the new development in me.

But even in that condition, looking through tears, I could perceive trembling beams of silvery light dancing before my vision, enhancing the radiant beauty of the scene.

It was not difficult to understand that, without my being aware of it, an extraordinary change had taken place in the now luminous cognitive centre in my brain and that the fascinating lustre, which I perceived around every object, was not a figment of my fancy nor was it possessed by the objects, but a projection of my own internal radiance.

 

" Radiance within and the lustrous objectivity without "

The phenomenon was observable during darkness, too. At night, lamps glowed with a new brilliance while illuminated objects glistened with a peculiar lustre not wholly borrowed from the lamps. In the course of a few weeks, the transformation ceased to cause me wonder or excitement, and gradually I came to treat it as an inseparable part of myself, a normal characteristic of my being.

Wherever I went and whatever I did, I was conscious of myself in the new form, cognizant of the radiance within and the lustrous objectivity without. I was changing.

The old self was yielding place to a new personality endowed with a brighter, more refined and artistic perceptive equipment, developed from the original one by a strange process of cellular and organic transformation.

 

" Support of relatives "

It  was  my  good  fortune  to have  relatives  and  friends  whose  affection,  loyalty,  and  help contributed  to make the risky path I was traversing safe and smooth for me.

My two sisters, their husbands, the father and brothers of my wife, and also my friends, few but sincere, surrounded me with affection and loyalty.

Among all my benefactors they stand out like two ministering angels, and the debt of gratitude for the unbounded love they bore me and the invaluable service they rendered I can never hope to repay in this world.

My mother died more than one and a half years before the occurrence and yet it was no less to her excellent upbringing than to the great devotion of my wife that I owed my survival.

 

" Daily dive into the absolute Consciousness "

The daily dive into the conscious ocean to which I had now unexpectedly found access had a most exhilarating effect on my mind. I was overwhelmed with wonder at the incalculable wealth I had found within myself. The distracting anxiety I had felt and the grave doubts I had entertained about my condition vanished altogether, yielding place to a feeling of inexpressible thankfulness to the divine power, which in spite of my ignorance, constant resistance, many faults, frailties, and mistakes, had wrought with matchless skill a new channel of perception in me, a new and more penetrating sight in order to introduce me to a stupendous existence.

 

"  The news spreads "

In spite of all my efforts, the news of the strange psychic manifestations  in  me  leaked out. My host, friends, and colleagues at the office were struck by my altered behaviour and my constant mood of deep absorption.

In the meantime, the strange news travelled through the town, and crowds of people called at my residence, attracted by the rumours of the miraculous development in me.

Most of them came merely to satisfy their curiosity and to verify what they had heard, much as they would have gone to look at a freak or to watch the astounding performance of a conjurer.

The awakening of " Kundalini " is the greatest enterprise and the most wonderful achievement in front of man. There is absolutely no other way open to his restlessly searching intellect to pass beyond the boundaries of the otherwise meaningless physical universe.

The only source of strength I possess is my absolute conviction of the correctness under all circumstances of the disclosures I am making about " Kundalini " .

Pandit Gopi Krishna spent 35 years of his enlightened period, until his departure, he wrote more than fifteen books and toured the world lecturing to groups of scientists, YOGA devotees and the general public.

Pandit Gopi Krishna vacated his body in Srinagar, Kashrnir at the age of 81, on 31st July, 1984.

The system of complicated mental and physical exercises relating particularly to Kundalini is technically known as u Hatha Yoga ", in contradistinction to other forms of Yoga in vogue in India from very ancient times.

" Hatha " in Sanskrit is a compound of two words, 'ha' and 'tha " meaning the' Sun' and' Moon', and consequently the name " Hatha Yoga " is intended to indicate that form of Yoga which results from the confluence of these two orbs. Briefly stated, the moon and the sun as used here are meant to designate the two nerve currents flowing on the left and right sides of the spinal cord through the two nadis, or nerves, named ' ida 'and 'Pingala'.

The former, being cool, is said to resemble the pale lustre of the moon; the latter, being hot, is likened to the radiance of the Sun. All systems of Yoga are based on the supposition that living bodies owe their existence to the agency of an extremely subtle immaterial substance, pervading the universe and designated as ' Prana " which is the cause of all organic phenomena, controlling the organisms by means of the nervous system and the brain, manifesting itself as the vital energy.

The ' Prana " in modern terminology 'vital energy', assumes different aspects to discharge different functions in the body and circulates in the system in two separate streams, one with fervid and the other with frigid effect, clearly perceptible to Yogis in the awakened condition.

Because of its extremely subtle nature, vital energy has been likened to breath by the ancient authorities on Yoga, and it is maintained that the air we breathe is permeated with both 'Prana ' and 'Apana ' and that the vital currents flow alternately through the two nostrils along with the air at the time of inhalation and exhalation. Life as we know it on Earth is not possible without oxygen, and it is noteworthy that this element is an ingredient of both air and water, the two essential requirements of earthly life. This is a clear indication of the fact that on the terrestrial globe the cosmic vital energy, or ' Prana Shakti ' utilizes oxygen as the main vehicle for its activity. It is possible that biochemistry in  the  course  of  its  investigations  may  have  to  accept at a future date the instrumentality of oxygen in all organic phenomena as the main channel for the play of the intelligent vital force ' Prana '.

The whole structure of Yoga is based on the validity of 'Prana 'as a cognizable super-physical stuff. For thousands of years successive generations of Yogis have verified the assertions of their precursors. The reality of ' Prana 'as the chief agent leading to the super-conscious condition known as ' Samadhi ' has never been questioned by any school of Yoga. Those who believe in Yoga must first believe in 'Prana '.

Considering the fact that to attain success in Yoga one must not only ossess unusual mental and physical endowments, but must also have all the attributes of saintly character, honesty, chastity, and rectitude, it would be nothing short of obstinacy to discredit the testimony of numerous renowned seers, who in unequivocal terms have testified to their own experience of the super-conscious conditions resulting from systematic manipulation of Prana as learnt by them from their own preceptors.

Prana ' is not matter, nor is it mind or intelligence or consciousness, but rather an inseparable part of the cosmic energy or Shakti which resides in all of them and is the driving force behind all cosmic phenomena, as force in matter and vitality in living organisms; in short, it is the medium by which the cosmic intelligence conducts the unimaginably vast activity of this stupendous world, by which it creates, maintains, and destroys the gigantic globular formations burning ceaselessly in space as well as the tiny microbes, both malignant and beneficent, filling every part of the Earth.

In other words, Shakti, when applied to inorganic matter is ' force ' and when applied to the organic plane, ' life ' the two being different aspects of the creative cosmic energy  operating  in both  the  inorganic  and organic planes. For the sake of convenience and to avoid confusion, the term ' Prana ' or ' Prana-Shakti ' is generally applied to that aspect of the cosmic energy which operates in the organic sphere, as nervous impulse and vitality, while the generic name , ' Shakti  ' is applied to every form of energy, animate and inanimate; in brief, to the creative and active aspect of the Reality.

According to the Yogis, however, the existence of the life energy as a deathless entity becomes subjectively apparent in the superconscious state of Samadhi, and its flow through the nerves can be experienced even before that as soon as a certain measure of success is attained in meditation.

 

Source : " Kundalini .. Path to Higher Consciousness "

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