Tuesday 14 November 2023


Then there was another set of phenomena which affected the higher nature of man and the Swamiji gave the instance of the thief who went to the cave of "Pavhari Baba," the saint of Ghazipur, to rob him. The thief entered his hermitage, but on seeing the saint awake he dropped the few utensils he had taken and was bolting away. But the saint gathered the things and ran after the thief and overtaking him the saint fell upon his knees and, with tears in his eyes, begged the thief's pardon for having disturbed him by intruding and insisted on his accepting the stolen goods saying "they are yours, they are yours. Your need is greater than mine." But what was the effect? When Swamiji went to Hrishikesh, he met a great Sadhu in a small asrama and during the course of the conversation he elicited the fact that that Sadhu was the thief who had come under the influence of the great saint of Ghazipur, under those peculiar circumstances and renounced the world that very moment.

Swamiji ended his discourse by saying "You see that as St. Paul says there are what are called the Graces of the Spirit and the powers of the Spirit. The powers of the spirit can be attained by even persons who without being highly spiritual, practise mental concentration; but what counts for spirituality and attainment of Salvation or Mukthi are the Graces of the Spirit which while unconsciously possessing these powers make light of them and the graces of the spirit manifest themselves as Love, Light and Bliss."

In this connection, it would be interesting to quote from his Biography, a piece of advice which Swamiji condescended out of pity to give to a learned Theosophist who besieged Swamiji with all sorts of queries asking him whether he had been in the Himalayas and whether he had met there any Mahatmas who possessed all sorts of incredible powers, who left their physical bodies in Thibet and appeared to persons in Madras and so on. The Swamiji regarded the man with much interest and seeing that he had a great heart but was entangled in this pseudo-mysticism because of his credulous nature, he gave him a bit of his mind and effectively diverted him from his distorted notions of what constituted spirituality. Swamiji spoke with great vehemence of feeling, and said to him, "My man, you seem rather intelligent. With your learning and enlightenment how could you unhesitatingly swallow all those wild fantastic tales? It befits a person of your type to exercise your own discrimination. Spirituality has nothing to do with the display of psychical powers which, when analysed, show that the man who performs them is the slave of desire and the most egotistical of egotists. Spirituality involves the acquisition of that true power, which is character. It is the vanquishing of passion and the rooting out of desire. All the chasing after psychical illusions, which means nothing in the solution of the great problems of our life, is a terrible wasting of energy, the most intense form of selfishness, and leads to degeneracy of mind and physical conditions. It is this nonsense which is demoralising our nation. Turn your attention to the realities of life about you. What we need now is practical common sense, a public spirit and a philosophy and religion which will make us men, which will make us stand on our own feet. We want a religion which will give us faith in ourselves, a rational self-respect, and the power to feed and educate the poor and relieve the misery around us. What will you do with a Mahatma residing somewhere in the Himalayas and appearing before you from the sky, when the people around you are dying of starvation and the millions are degenerating for; want of education? Nonsense! if you want to find God, serve man! If you want to acquire power, serve your brother-men." The gentleman on hearing this was overcome by emotion, and understood the righteousness of the Swami's attitude. He assured him that he would thenceforth follow his valuable precepts. Indeed, the Swami had little patience with men who debauched their manhood in mystery-mongering, effeminating themselves and wasting their energy, which should have been employed in the development of the highest powers of the soul.'

(Vedanta Kesari - Oct 1914)
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