A Vision of America
“America! Surely these people are Americans!” This was my thought as a panoramic vision of Western faces passed before my inward view.
Immersed in meditation, I was sitting behind some dusty boxes in the storeroom of the Ranchi school. A private spot was difficult to find during those busy years with the youngsters!
The vision continued; a vast multitude, gazing at me intently, swept actorlike across the stage of consciousness.
The storeroom door opened; as usual, one of the young lads had discovered my hiding place.
“Come here, Bimal,” I cried gaily. “I have news for you: the Lord is calling me to America!”
“To America?” The boy echoed my words in a tone that implied I had said “to the moon.”
“Yes! I am going forth to discover America, like Columbus. He thought he had found India; surely there is a karmic link between those two lands!”
Bimal scampered away; soon the whole school was informed by the two-legged newspaper. I summoned the bewildered faculty and gave the school into its charge.
“I know you will keep Lahiri Mahasaya’s yoga ideals of education ever to the fore,” I said. “I shall write you frequently; God willing, someday I shall be back.”
Tears stood in my eyes as I cast a last look at the little boys and the sunny acres of Ranchi. A definite epoch in my life had now closed, I knew; henceforth I would dwell in far lands. I entrained for Calcutta a few hours after my vision. The following day I received an invitation to serve as the delegate from India to an International Congress of Religious Liberals in America. It was to convene that year in Boston, under the auspices of the American Unitarian Association.
My head in a whirl, I sought out Sri Yukteswar in Serampore.
“Guruji, I have just been invited to address a religious congress in America. Shall I go?”
“All doors are open for you,” Master replied simply. “It is now or never.”
“But, sir,” I said in dismay, “what do I know about public speaking? Seldom have I given a lecture, and never in English.”
“English or no English, your words on yoga shall be heard in the West.”
I laughed. “Well, dear guruji, I hardly think the Americans will learn Bengali! Please bless me with a push over the hurdles of the English language.”
When I broke the news of my plans to Father, he was utterly taken aback. To him America seemed incredibly remote; he feared he might never see me again.
“How can you go?” he asked sternly. “Who will finance you?” As he had affectionately borne the expenses of my education and whole life, he doubtless hoped that his question would bring my project to an embarrassing halt.
“The Lord will surely finance me.” As I made this reply, I thought of the similar one I had given long ago to my brother Ananta in Agra. Without very much guile, I added, “Father, perhaps God will put it into your mind to help me.”
“No, never!” He glanced at me piteously.
I was astounded, therefore, when Father handed me, the following day, a check made out for a large amount.
“I give you this money,” he said, “not in my capacity as a father, but as a faithful disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya. Go then to that far Western land; spread there the creedless teachings of Kriya Yoga.”
I was immensely touched at the selfless spirit in which Father had been able to quickly put aside his personal desires. The just realization had come to him during the preceding night that no ordinary desire for foreign travel was motivating my voyage.
“Perhaps we shall not meet again in this life.” Father, who was sixty-seven at this time, spoke sadly.
An intuitive conviction prompted me to reply, “Surely the Lord will bring us together once more.”