by Durga Smallen
I met Devi Mukherjee for the first time in the Fall of 1986. My husband and I were leading a pilgrimage to India with our long-time friends and gurubhais,(1) David and Asha Praver. Our spiritual teacher, Swami Kriyananda, had told us stories about Devi. They had been brother monks together in Yogoda Satsanga Society (YSS), the Indian branch of Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF). The two organizations were founded by our guru, Paramhansa Yogananda. Devi had joined YSS in India, and Swamiji had joined SRF at Mt. Washington, Los Angeles, the international headquarters. They met in Calcutta in October, 1958, and both lived in the YSS ashrams until Kriyananda left SRF in 1962.
Devi, his wife Hassi (pronounced Hashi), and their son Manash now live in Calcutta and serve as the meditation group leaders of Ananda, the organization founded by Swami Kriyananda in 1968. Devi and his family are deep and sincere devotees of Paramhansa Yogananda, and dear friends of us at Ananda who know them. Their dedication to God and Guru, and also their divine friendship for Kriyananda, is deeply inspiring.
Devi and Hassi live in the home of Yogananda’s close boyhood friend, Tulsi Bose, Hassi’s father, and keep their home open twenty-four hours a day to anyone who wishes to meditate in the rooms where Yogananda meditated, and also Anandamoyee Ma, Sri Yukteswarji, Balaram Bose (a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa), Swami Vivekananda, and other great saints.
This is Devi’s story of the great men and women he has met during forty-five years of spiritual seeking. As we interviewed him about details in his book, tears constantly came into his eyes as he relived those thrilling scenes.
In the Mahabharata (one of the great spiritual epics of India), Lord Krishna tells his disciple, Uddhava, to go to the Himalayas and meditate on Him. For thousands of years, pilgrims have done likewise, braving the dangers of snow, narrow mountain paths, and wild animals to reach the great temples there, dedicated to the worship of God. Devi, possessed of a keen desire to make these pilgrimages, met saintly people and had extraordinary experiences in their presence, experiences that bestowed on him deep soul peace and a sense of inner fulfillment.
When I asked Devi why he had wanted to make these long treks, he replied, “I wanted to meditate in holy places, and I wanted my life to be shaped by saints.”
He met God-realized beings in, and outside, the small villages that are the heart of that amazing land of sages and saints whose lives are far removed from what most people consider the “normal” the hubbub and bustle of daily commerce.
As he states in his book, however, “Even though I had met a few highly advanced yogis in my travels, up to January, 1955, I never felt an inclination to accept a guru.” In that month it was that he met his own destined guru, once-living in form but now in formlessness, Paramhansa Yogananda.
I hope you enjoy Devi’s book as much as I have. You will come to know this man as much through his vibrations as through the story he relates. I hope that you, too, will be impressed and grateful for the example of his moment-to-moment focus on the divine, which turns many a prospective disaster into a divine blessing.
Brothers and sisters in the family of the same guru, or spiritual teacher.
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