India! Land of great saints and yogis. One has only to set foot on that sacred ground, if he is sensitive, to feel the blessings rising up there from. Fittingly did Paramhansa Yogananda end his life with the last words of his poem, “My India”: “I am hallowed. My body touched that sod” —from the Prologue
Chronicling his stays in India from 1958 to 1962 and again in the winter of 1972-1973, Swami Kriyananda shares inspiration from his visits to many saints, including Anandamayee Ma, Yogi Ramiah (Sri Rama Yogi), Swami Muktananda, Swami Narayan, and Sathya Sai Baba.
As a swami steeped in Hindu spiritual heritage but coming from the West, Swamiji reveals unique glimpes into Indian society and culture, ashram living, the devotee-guru relationship, and the daily experience of high souls. He offers these insights primarily through letters he wrote while in India.
His relationship with Anandamayee Ma is especially revealing. To the devotees around her in those days, Swamiji was known as her “chhoto chele” (little child). Swamiji writes, “I could have the sense of familiarity with her that I never had with my own Guru, whom I held too much in awe,” explaining that he considers her as his true spiritual mother.
In the “Early Visits” section of this book, Swamiji shares the time he spent with Yogi Ramiah, tells us of his life and repeats stories the saint told. Paramhansa Yogananda told Swamiji “Very few saints have attained final liberation.” But he went on to say that in addition to his line of gurus and two others, “I also met another fully liberated soul. His name was Yogi Ramiah. He was a disciple of the great master, Ramana Maharshi.”
Like the visits to saints described by his friend Devi Mukherjee in Shaped by Saints, but with delightful variations, Swamiji’s story is a spiritual journey, indeed a deeply personal pilgrimage. Through the pages of this slender but treasure-filled book, the reader will find a closer connection with India and its holy ones.
How fitting that Swami Kriyananda has returned to India to make it his home near the end of his own life’s journey.
In him India has found a son who can hear her elusive melodies, and sing them in such a way that others, too, may hear them. —from the Preface to Part II