Shaped by Saints takes you on a pilgrimage as refreshing as it is profound. Devi Mukherjee’s inspiring account of the great men and women he met while trekking through the Himalayas puts you in touch with India’s timeless spiritual wealth—its saints and God-realized masters.
In these pages you will meet such great souls as Anandamoyee Ma who, through divine intervention, saves Devi’s life; Bhupendra Sanyal, a direct disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya and a source of life-long inspiration for Devi; and Tulsi Bose, Paramhansa Yogananda’s close boyhood friend and confidante, and the father of Devi’s wife, Hassi.
Devi also introduces us to many obscure characters, both saintly and “fallen,” like the ‘Pistol Swami’ who enjoyed scaring his guests literally ‘to death,’ and Kailash Pati, so full of divine love that he was able to pet wild tigers.
Devi finds his guru, Paramhansa Yogananda
Devi (Karuna) Mukherjee was born outside Calcutta in 1927. After graduating from college he worked five years as a salesman for a large Calcutta refrigeration company and “thus, perhaps,” Devi says, “ began my ‘career’ as a traveler!”
In 1955, after seeing the photograph of Paramhansa Yogananda in a local Calcutta newspaper, Devi sought out devotees of this Indian Master. Devi tells us, “Even though I had met a few highly advanced yogis in my travels, until now I had never been drawn to accepting anyone as my guru….How [these yogis] all impressed me! In their shining simplicity… it was obvious that they led their lives guided by divine teachings.”
As Devi traveled to the Himalayas, it was by keeping his mind focused on his own guru that he was able to find deep inspiration from the saints he met without getting pulled away from his chosen path. With his great openness of heart, humility, and love of spiritual truths, Devi was easily able to recognize souls who lived for God alone.
Advice from the saints: “Love God!”
In one of his travels, Devi tells us, “…I saw a swami taking his bath at a hot springs nearby…. I took a bath there also [and later] he asked me to follow him. Soon we reached his large cave. A fire blazed inside in a deep pit…we meditated for four hours… [As I was leaving I asked him to bless me.]
By way of reply he said, “You see the Alakananda [River] below us? It flows from Nil Kanta on its way to the ocean—such a long way away! What tremendous love she must have for the ocean! It takes so long to reach it, but no one can stop her owing to the force of her love. Your love for God should be like that: patient, constant, undeterred. Like a mighty river, the force of divine devotion will wash away any obstructions on your way. Keep on, with love, until you reach God’s ocean.”
Shaped by Saints is not a long book yet one you will want to read many times over, not only for its guidance on how to set our hearts and minds on the straight path to God, but also for its sweetness. Devi’s own quest for spiritual insight and growth, including his years as a monk with Yogoda Satsanga Society, Self-Realization Fellowship’s sister organization in India, forms an integral part of his story. His previously unpublished stories about his guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, draw the great Master a little closer through new glimpses of his courage, generosity, and loyalty to friends.