In the late ’80s I was driving home one night after giving a program in Sacramento, when Paramhansa Yogananda saved my life. Wyatt Farkas, another Ananda Village resident, and I had spent the evening at the Sacramento Zoo, where I gave a John Muir living history performance during a special event for zoo patrons.
A struggle to stay awake
It was after midnight when we reached Nevada City and began the last part of our drive home through the Yuba River Canyon. This stretch of the road parallels the steep mountains of the South Yuba River, and winds and curves for many miles. There are no guardrails—just a mountain wall on one side, and oaks and a sheer drop to the river, on the other.
It had been a long and full day for both of us. Wyatt was asleep, and I was fighting to stay awake. As we descended the canyon toward the Highway 49 bridge, I squeezed my eyes, and even tensed and relaxed my body several times. But it didn’t help. Suddenly I, too, fell asleep. Now with two sleeping yogis, the car veered across the road to the canyon’s rim.
I awoke to shouts of “Bharat! Wake Up! Bharat!!” Seeing the threat, I grabbed the steering wheel and managed to turn us away from almost certain calamity. Wyatt had warned me just in time.
Fully alert now, we continued on in silence. Wyatt was the first to speak: “Master came to me while I was sleeping and told me, ‘Bharat’s asleep! Wake him up!’” Wyatt had come right out of deep sleep and started shouting my name.
I had been thanking Yogananda inwardly even before hearing Wyatt’s account. Yogananda teaches that we should try to see the loving hand of God and Guru behind all that happens in our lives. This is a wonderful practice, yet in the beginning it can be simply an affirmation on our part.
Learning the full story of how Yogananda had come to our aid helped me to know that he is truly guiding and watching over us at all times.
The Guru is always with us
During the rest of the drive home, I felt a deep outpouring of love and gratitude for Yogananda. Swami Kriyananda writes in his book, The Path, how Yogananda’s grace protects his disciples, and I felt very fortunate to be counted as one of his children.
A couple of years later, I experienced a severe illness that lasted four years. It was my faith that Yogananda was there in the midst of it, overseeing my life, which got me through that difficult time.
Last fall Wyatt visited Ananda Village after many years of service at our Ananda Assisi community. We were catching up on each other’s lives when at one point I quietly asked, “Do you remember our drive from Sacramento when we nearly went into the canyon?”
Smiling inwardly, Wyatt simply said, “Yes.” We sat for a while, remembering the one who has guided and inspired our lives—not only on that eventful night—but every day since.