Taming a Cobra
It so happened that I (Paramhansa Yogananda) never saw Master (Sri Yukteswar) at close quarters with a leopard or a tiger. But a deadly cobra once confronted him, only to be conquered by my guru’s love. This variety of snake is much feared in India, where it causes more than five thousand deaths annually. The dangerous encounter took place at Puri, where Sri Yukteswar had a second hermitage, charmingly situated near the Bay of Bengal. Prafulla, a young disciple of later years, was with Master on this occasion.
“We were seated outdoors near the ashram,” Prafulla told me. “A cobra appeared near-by, a four-foot length of sheer terror. Its hood was angrily expanded as it raced toward us.
My guru gave a welcoming chuckle, as though to a child. I was beside myself with consternation to see Master engage in a rhythmical clapping of hands. He was entertaining the dread visitor!
I remained absolutely quiet, inwardly ejaculating what fervent prayers I could muster. The serpent, very close to my guru, was now motionless, seemingly magnetized by his caressing attitude. The frightful hood gradually contracted; the snake slithered between Master’s feet and disappeared into the bushes.
“Why my guru would move his hands, and why the cobra would not strike them, were inexplicable to me then,” Prafulla concluded. “I have since come to realize that my divine master is beyond fear of hurt from any living creature.”
The Healing of Mukunda
One afternoon during my early months at the ashram, found Sri Yukteswar’s eyes fixed on me piercingly.
“You are too thin, Mukunda.”
His remark struck a sensitive point. That my sunken eyes and emaciated appearance were far from my liking was testified to by rows of tonics in my room at Calcutta. Nothing availed; chronic dyspepsia had pursued me since childhood. My despair reached an occasional zenith when I asked myself if it were worth-while to carry on this life with a body so unsound.
“Medicines have limitations; the creative life-force has none. Believe that: you shall be well and strong.”
Sri Yukteswar’s words aroused a conviction of personally-applicable truth which no other healer — and I had tried many! — had been able to summon within me.
Day by day, behold! I waxed. Two weeks after Master’s hidden blessing, I had accumulated the invigorating weight which eluded me in the past. My persistent stomach ailments vanished with a lifelong permanency. On later occasions I witnessed my guru’s instantaneous divine healings of persons suffering from ominous disease — tuberculosis, diabetes, epilepsy, or paralysis. Not one could have been more grateful for his cure than I was at sudden freedom from my cadaverous aspect.
Cooling the Sands
Sri Yukteswar was planning a religious procession. He asked me to lead the disciples over the town and beach of Puri. The festive day dawned as one of the hottest of the summer.
“Guruji, how can I take the barefooted students over the fiery sands?” I spoke despairingly.
“I will tell you a secret,” Master responded. “The Lord will send an umbrella of clouds; you all shall walk in comfort.”
I happily organized the procession; our group started from the ashram with a Sat-Sanga banner. Designed by Sri Yukteswar, it bore the symbol of the single eye, the telescopic gaze of intuition.
No sooner had we left the hermitage than the part of the sky which was overhead became filled with clouds as though by magic. To the accompaniment of astonished ejaculations from all sides, a very light shower fell, cooling the city streets and the burning seashore. The soothing drops descended during the two hours of the parade. The exact instant at which our group returned to the ashram, the clouds and rain passed away tracelessly.
“You see how God feels for us,” Master replied after I had expressed my gratitude. “The Lord responds to all and works for all. Just as He sent rain at my plea, so He fulfills any sincere desire of the devotee. Seldom do men realize how often God heeds their prayers. He is not partial to a few, but listens to everyone who approaches Him trustingly. His children should ever have implicit faith in the loving-kindness of their Omnipresent Father.”
Sri Yukteswar Gets Paramhansa Yogananda into a Four-Year College
The first two years of my course at Scottish Church College were drawing to a close. In India two successful years of college bring an Intermediate Arts diploma; the student may then look forward to another two years and his A.B. degree.
On his return from Puri, Sri Yukteswar gave me a pleasant surprise. “Your Calcutta studies are now over. I will see that you pursue your last two years of university work right here in Serampore.”
I was puzzled. “Sir, there is no Bachelor of Arts course in this town.” Serampore College, the sole institution of higher learning, offered only a two-year course in Intermediate Arts.
Master smiled mischievously. “I am too old to go about collecting donations to establish an A.B. college for you. I guess I shall have to arrange the matter through someone else.”
Two months later Professor Howells, president of Serampore College, publicly announced that he had succeeded in raising sufficient funds to offer a four-year course. Serampore College became a branch affiliation of the University of Calcutta. I was one of the first students to enroll in Serampore as an A.B. candidate.
“Guruji, how kind you are to me! I have been longing to leave Calcutta and be near you every day in Serampore. Professor Howells does not dream how much he owes to your silent help!”
Sri Yukteswar gazed at me with mock severity. “Now you won’t have to spend so many hours on trains; what a lot of free time for your studies! Perhaps you will become less of a last-minute crammer and more of a scholar.” But somehow his tone lacked conviction.