“Dear Master (Sri Yukteswar), why do you want me (Paramhansa Yogananda) to wear an astrological bangle?”
“It is only when a traveler has reached his goal that he is justified in discarding his maps. During the journey, he takes advantage of any convenient short cut. The ancient rishis discovered many ways to curtail the period of man’s exile in delusion. There are certain mechanical features in the law of karma which can be skillfully adjusted by the fingers of wisdom.
“All human ills arise from some transgression of universal law. The scriptures point out that man must satisfy the laws of nature, while not discrediting the divine omnipotence. He should say: ‘Lord, I trust in Thee, and know Thou canst help me, but I too will do my best to undo any wrong I have done.’ By a number of means — by prayer, by will power, by yoga meditation, by consultation with saints, by use of astrological bangles — the adverse effects of past wrongs can be minimized or nullified.
“Just as a house can be fitted with a copper rod to absorb the shock of lightning, so the bodily temple can be benefited by various protective measures. Ages ago our yogis discovered that pure metals emit an astral light which is powerfully counteractive to negative pulls of the planets. Subtle electrical and magnetic radiations are constantly circulating in the universe; when a man’s body is being aided, he does not know it; when it is being disintegrated, he is still in ignorance. Can he do anything about it?
“This problem received attention from our rishis; they found helpful not only a combination of metals, but also of plants and — most effective of all — faultless jewels of not less than two carats. The preventive uses of astrology have seldom been seriously studied outside of India. One little-known fact is that the proper jewels, metals, or plant preparations are valueless unless the required weight is secured, and unless these remedial agents are worn next to the skin.”
“Sir, of course I shall take your advice and get a bangle. I am intrigued at the thought of outwitting a planet!”
“For general purposes I counsel the use of an armlet made of gold, silver, and copper. But for a specific purpose I want you to get one of silver and lead.” Sri Yukteswar added careful directions.
“Guruji, what ‘specific purpose’ do you mean?”
“The stars are about to take an unfriendly interest in you, Mukunda. Fear not; you shall be protected. In about a month your liver will cause you much trouble. The illness is scheduled to last for six months, but your use of an astrological armlet will shorten the period to twenty-four days.”
I sought out a jeweler the next day, and was soon wearing the bangle. My health was excellent; Master’s prediction slipped from my mind. He left Serampore to visit Benares. Thirty days after our conversation, I felt a sudden pain in the region of my liver. The following weeks were a nightmare of excruciating pain. Reluctant to disturb my guru, I thought I would bravely endure my trial alone.
But twenty-three days of torture weakened my resolution; I entrained for Benares. There Sri Yukteswar greeted me with unusual warmth, but gave me no opportunity to tell him my woes in private. Many devotees visited Master that day, just for a darshan. Ill and neglected, I sat in a corner. It was not until after the evening meal that all guests had departed. My guru summoned me to the octagonal balcony of the house.
“You must have come about your liver disorder.” Sri Yukteswar’s gaze was averted; he walked to and fro, occasionally intercepting the moonlight. “Let me see; you have been ailing for twenty-four days, haven’t you?”
“Please do the stomach exercise I have taught you.”
“If you knew the extent of my suffering, Master, you would not ask me to exercise.” Nevertheless I made a feeble attempt to obey him.
“You say you have pain; I say you have none. How can such contradictions exist?” My guru looked at me inquiringly.
I was dazed and then overcome with joyful relief. No longer could I feel the continuous torment that had kept me nearly sleepless for weeks; at Sri Yukteswar’s words the agony vanished as though it had never been.