“4 Garpar - My Place of
Salvation where I found God.”
Paramahansa Yogananda's boyhood home
4 Garpar Road Kolkata
Following the footsteps of Master
Pilgrimage: Kolkata-Dakshineswar to neighbouring Serampore
"My steps were eager as I returned to my Garpar Road home. Seeking the seclusion of my small attic, I remained in meditation until ten o'clock. The darkness of the warm Indian night was suddenly lit with a wondrous vision. Haloed in splendor, the Divine Mother stood before me. Her face, tenderly smiling, was beauty itself.
Always have I loved thee! Ever shall I love thee!
The celestial tones still ringing in the air, She disappeared.
Paramahansa Yogananda's attic alter
Paramahansa Yogananda's attic
My heart was set to go to America, but even more strongly was it resolved to hear the solace of divine permission. I prayed and prayed, muffling my sobs. No answer came. My silent petition increased in excruciating crescendo until, at noon, I had reached a zenith; my brain could no longer withstand the pressure of my agonies. If I cried once more with an increased depth of my inner passion, I felt as though my brain would split. At that moment there came a knock outside the vestibule adjoining the Garpar Road room in which I was sitting.
Opening the door, I saw a young man in the scanty garb of a renunciate. He came in, closed the door behind him and, refusing my request to sit down, indicated with a gesture that he wished to talk to me while standing.
"He must be Babaji!" I thought, dazed, because the man before me had the features of a younger Lahiri Mahasaya. He answered my thought. "Yes, I am Babaji." He spoke melodiously in Hindi. "Our Heavenly Father has heard your prayer. He commands me to tell you: Follow the behests of your guru and go to America. Fear not; you will be protected."
After a vibrant pause, Babaji addressed me again.
You are the one I have chosen to spread the message of Kriya Yoga in the West.
Babaji drawn by Masters brother, Sananda Ghosh.
Now at 4 Garpar Road, There in a small attic room I engaged in daily meditations and prepared my mind for the divine search.
The memorable morning arrived with inauspicious rain. Hearing the wheels of Amar's carriage in the road, I hastily tied together a blanket, a pair of sandals, Lahiri Mahasaya's picture, a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, a string of prayer beads, and two loincloths. This bundle I threw from my third-story window.
Paramahansa Yoganandas escape from the 3rd story window
Father embraced me warmly as I entered our Garpar Road home. "You have come," he said tenderly. Two large tears dropped from his eyes. Ordinarily undemonstrative, he had never before shown me these signs of affection. Outwardly the grave father, inwardly he possessed the melting heart of a mother. In all his dealings with the family, his dual parental role was distinctly manifest.
My sister Uma met me as I entered our Garpar Road door."You are getting quite stylish, using perfumes!" Without a word, I motioned her to smell my hand.
"What an attractive rose fragrance! It is unusually strong!" Thinking it was "strongly unusual," I silently placed the astrally scented blossom under her nostrils. "Oh, I love jasmine!" She seized the flower. A ludicrous bafflement passed over her face as she repeatedly sniffed the odor of jasmine from a type of flower she well knew to be scentless.
A classmate accosted me one afternoon on Garpar Road. "Hello, Nantu! My invisibility at school has actually placed me there in a decidedly awkward position." I unburdened myself under his friendly gaze. Nantu, who was a brilliant student, laughed heartily; my predicament was not without a comic aspect. "You are utterly unprepared for the finals! I suppose it is up to me to help you!" The simple words conveyed divine promise to my ears; with alacrity I visited my friend's home. He kindly outlined the solutions to various problems he considered likely to be set by the instructors.
After one interview with Dr. Roy, during which I repeated Sri Yukteswar's advice about a meatless diet, I did not see the man again for six months. He stopped for a chat one evening as I sat on the piazza of my family home on Garpar Road.
"Tell your teacher that by eating meat frequently, I have wholly regained my strength. His unscientific ideas on diet have not influenced me." It was true that Dr. Roy looked a picture of health.
But the next day Santosh came running to me from his home on the next block. "This morning Father dropped dead!"
In 1915, shortly after I had entered the Swami Order, I witnessed a vision of violent contrasts. In it the relativity of human consciousness was vividly established; I clearly perceived the unity of the Eternal Light behind the painful dualities of maya. The vision descended on me as I sat one morning in my little attic room in Father's Garpar Road home. For months World War I had been raging in Europe; I reflected sadly on the vast toll of death.
Somnath Ghosh. Grand nephew of Master and 4 Garpar Rd. custodian, share personal experiences about Yogananda & Sri Yukteswar...
Sananda Lal Ghosh (1898 - 1979 Masters brother) in his book, “Mejda,”-(Master boyhood nickname) adds the fun story that back in India, Dhirananda was having troubles at home: he didn’t get the privacy he needed for his meditations. So Yogananda invited him to his home in Garpar Road.
Written by Hare Krishna Ghosh (Sanandas Lal Ghosh son). (Full version)
I was not afraid of anything in this world as long as I used to sit by his side.
One day as I was sitting by Guruji’s side, with many devotees all around, a man came and stood at the door with tears in his eyes. He was trying to come in and touch Guruji’s feet and say something to him. Guruji looked at him and said to him, “No, don’t come in.”
I was surprised to see Guruji refusing to let that man come in. But the man was still standing there. After some time Guruji said to that man,
“When you repent for what you did, you are pardoned.”
The man came in and touched Guruji’s feet and said, “Guruji, I am very sorry for what I said before you left for USA. I am very sorry for those words.” Then Guruji blessed him. When all was over, I was very curious and asked some of the senior devotees as to the cause of all this.
I asked them, “Who was that man and what happened to him?” Because I saw that the man’s face was disfigured and he could not talk properly. The devotees told me, “Hare Krishna, this man, out of some jealousy or some other reason spoke some bad words against Lahiri Mahasaya in front of Guruji.” This happened just before Guruji was going to America in 1920. So naturally Guruji was very upset with that man and asked him to withdraw those words which he said against Lahiri Mahasaya, but the man didn’t withdraw his words
Then Guruji said to that man, “If you do not withdraw your remarks, you will be punished by God,
and the mouth by which you speak those words will be disfigured.” And so it happened. After Guruji left for America, that man gradually showed signs of what Guruji said. He could not speak properly and could not eat properly for 15 years. But in 1935 I have seen that man become quite normal within 15 days when Guruji blessed and pardoned him.
My son, Somnath, also is very keen to keep the house clean and suitable for all the devotees who come here.
You are requested to receive an invitation before proceeding from,
Dakshineswar Ashram:Yogoda Satsanga Society of India (YSS).
YSS Garpar Road centre in Bhattacharya Lane
A Prayer Answered
The Dhyana Mandir here was the first temple Paramahansa Yogananda started to meditate with his friends.
Divine Mother, answered the prayer of Mukunda (Paramahansa Yogananda's childhood birth name) who was in search of a suitable place nearer to his home at 4 Garpar Road, where he could meditate along with his friends. Through the instrumentality of a boy of around his age named Tulsi Bose this site at 17/1, P. B. Lane was made available for Mukunda’s spiritual activities. Meditation till this day is still conducted here each Saturday at 4.30 - 7.00 p.m.
Tulsi Bose Shrine
Tulsi Bose was the boyhood friend of Paramhansa Yogananda, who would often come to this home to meditate when his own home was too noisy. This house is often called a seed, because it is where Paramhansa Yogananda started his very first school. Paramhansa Yogananda also used to teach people to meditate on this property. It truly is where his worldwide work began.
Many saints have visited this house including Swami Vivekananda,
Master with Tulsi Bose
This photo was taken in Tulsi Bose’s courtyard, as stated by Tulsi Bose’s grandson, Manash. Left to right: Master, Kebalananda, Satyananda, Tulsi Bose and Dhirananda. The original photo still hangs in the Bose’s family home.
50 Amherst Street Kolkata
Is where Paramahansa Yogananda's mother had passed away.
Later, Master Bhaduri Mahasaya resided here for many years. Paramahansa Yogananda and his brother had a vision of their mother while meditating here with Master Mahasaya.
The Levitating Saint
"Master Mahasaya possessed control over the flood-gates of my soul: again I plunged prostrate at his feet. But this time my tears welled from a bliss, and not a pain, past bearing."
"Think you that your devotion did not touch the Infinite Mercy? The Motherhood of God, that you have worshiped in forms both human and divine, could never fail to answer your forsaken cry."
"Who was this simple saint, whose least request to the Universal Spirit met with sweet acquiescence? His role in the world was humble, as befitted the greatest man of humility I ever knew."
"His role in the world was humble, as befitted the greatest man of humility I ever knew. In this Amherst Street house.
Paramahansa Yogananda went on to describe several seemingly miraculous experiences with Master Mahasaya. "I would roll on the ground where he'd walked, so great was my love for him. I felt that even that ground had been sanctified."
“I saw a yogi remain in the air, several feet above the ground, last night at a group meeting.” My friend, Upendra Mohun Chowdhury, spoke impressively.
“The yogi lives so close to my home that I often visit him.” My words brought keen interest to Upendra’s face, and I made a further confidence.
“I have seen him in remarkable feats. He has expertly mastered the various pranayamas of the ancient eightfold yoga outlined by Patanjali. Once Bhaduri Mahasaya performed the Bhastrika Pranayama before me with such amazing force that it seemed an actual storm had arisen in the room! Then he extinguished the thundering breath and remained motionless in a high state of superconsciousness. The aura of peace after the storm was vivid beyond forgetting.”
“How does he remain in the air, defying the law of gravitation?”
“A yogi’s body loses its grossness after use of certain pranayamas. Then it will levitate or hop about like a leaping frog.
“Let Mukunda (Paramahansa Yogananada) come when he will.” The sage’s eyes twinkled. The saint and I entered the meditative state. After an hour, his gentle voice roused me. “You go often into the silence, but have you developed anubhava?” He was reminding me to love God more than meditation.
“Do not mistake the technique for the Goal.”
“Those letters come from far-off America.” The sage indicated several thick envelopes on a table. “I correspond with a few societies there whose members are interested in yoga.
The saint held me with his tranquil eyes. I did not realize that his speech was a veiled prophetic guidance. It is only now, as I write these words, that I understand the full meaning in the casual intimations he often gave me that someday I would carry India’s teachings to America.
I continued my after-school pilgrimages to the saint’s door. With silent zeal he aided me to attain anubhava.
Although it throws me ahead of my story by a number of years, I will recount here the last words given to me by Bhaduri Mahasaya. Shortly before I embarked for the West, I sought him out and humbly knelt for his farewell blessing:
“Son, go to America. Take the dignity of hoary India for your shield. Victory is written on your brow; the noble distant people will well receive you.”
My eldest sister Roma gazed beseechingly at me. Her plea touched me.
An inspiration seized me. “Tomorrow,” I said, “I am going to the Dakshineswar temple. Please come with me, and persuade your husband to accompany us.
As I turned away without reply, he caught my arm. “Young Mr. Monk,” he said, “don’t forget to make proper arrangements with the temple authorities to provide for our noon meal.”
“I am going to meditate now. Do not worry about your lunch,” I replied sharply. “Divine Mother will look after it.”
The world receded as I became devotionally entranced. My mind was concentrated on Goddess Kali. “Divine Mother,” I silently remonstrated, “Thou didst not come to me in vision, and now Thou art hidden in the temple behind closed doors. I wanted to offer a special prayer to Thee today on behalf of my brother-in-law.”
My inward petition was instantly acknowledged. First, a delightful cold wave descended over my back and under my feet, banishing all discomfort. Then, to my amazement, the temple became greatly magnified. Its large door slowly opened, revealing the stone figure of Goddess Kali. Gradually it changed into a living form, smilingly nodding in greeting, thrilling me with joy indescribable.
“Divine Mother,” I prayed, “wilt Thou not spiritually change my sister’s husband?”
The beautiful figure, hitherto silent, spoke at last: “Thy wish is granted!”
“You little fool,” my brother-in-law blurted out, “you have been sitting there cross-legged and cross-eyed for six hours. I have gone back and forth watching you. Where is my food? Now the temple is closed; you failed to notify the authorities; we are left without lunch!”
I was emboldened to exclaim, “Divine Mother will feed us!”
Satish was beside himself with rage. “Once and for all,” he shouted, “I would like to see your Divine Mother giving us food here without prior arrangements!”
His words were hardly uttered when a temple priest crossed the courtyard and joined us.
“Son,” he addressed me, “I have been observing your face serenely glowing during hours of meditation. I saw the arrival of your party this morning, and felt a desire to put aside ample food for your lunch. It is against the temple rules to feed those who do not make a request beforehand, but I have made an exception for you.”
I thanked him, and gazed straight into Satish’s eyes. He flushed with emotion, lowering his gaze in silent repentance.
The following afternoon I visited my sister at her home. She greeted me affectionately. “Dear brother,” she cried, “what a miracle! Last evening my husband wept openly before me. He said, ‘I am happy beyond expression that this reforming scheme of your brother’s has wrought a transformation. I am going to undo every wrong I have done you.
“A stately Yogoda Math in Dakshineswar, fronting the Ganges, was dedicated in 1939. Only a few miles north of Calcutta, the hermitage affords a haven of peace for city dwellers. The Dakshineswar Math is the headquarters in India of the Yogoda Satsanga Society and its schools, centres, and ashrams in various parts of India.” Paramahansa Yogananda.
It is the headquarters of Yogoda Satsanga Society of India, the organization founded in 1917 to spread his teachings in India and in neighboring countries.
Anybody is welcome to visit Yogoda Satsanga Math. Please note Self Realisation Fellowship (SRF) members or Yogoda Satsanga Society (YSS) members are permitted for an overnight stay .
Pilgrimage: part two
Paramahansa Yogananda uncle's Serampore
Yogoda Satsanga Dhyana Kendra (Meditation Centre) originally been the home of Paramahansaji’s uncle Sri Sarada Ghosh. A room on the ground floor of these premises had at times been lived in by Paramahansa Yogananda during his college years, in dedicated now converted into a shrine. ‘Anandalok’ - ‘The Abode of Joy.’
Paramahansa Yogananda's room at Anandaloka
Sri Yukteswar’s Hermitage
The Hermitage subsequently has been replaced by a small temple constructed in 1973. The Sri Sri Swami Sri Yukteswar Smriti Mandir.
I was conscious always that I was in the presence of a living manifestation of God. The weight of his divinity automatically bowed my head before him.
Daily life at the ashram flowed smoothly, infrequently varied. My guru awoke before dawn. Lying down, or sometimes sitting on the bed, he entered a state of samadhi. It was simplicity itself to discover when Master had awakened: abrupt halt of stupendous snores. A sigh or two; perhaps a bodily movement. Then a soundless state of breathlessness: he was in deep yogic joy.
Breakfast did not follow; first came a long walk by the Ganges. Those morning strolls with my guru — how real and vivid still! In the easy resurrection of memory, I often find myself by his side: the early sun is warming the river. His voice rings out, rich with the authenticity of wisdom.
A bath; then the midday meal. Its preparation, according to Master’s daily directions, had been the careful task of young disciples. My guru was a vegetarian. Before embracing monkhood, however, he had eaten eggs and fish. His advice to students was to follow any simple diet which proved suited to one’s constitution.
Quiet evening hours often brought one of my guru’s discourses, treasures against time. His every utterance was measured and chiseled by wisdom. A sublime self-assurance marked his mode of expression: it was unique. He spoke as none other in my experience ever spoke.
His thoughts were weighed in a delicate balance of discrimination before he permitted them an outward garb. The essence of truth, all-pervasive with even a physiological aspect, came from him like a fragrant exudation of the soul.
A night-long philosophical discussion was not rare; any disciple could summon it by intensity of interest. I felt no tiredness then, no desire for sleep; Master’s living words were sufficient.
“Oh, it is dawn! Let us walk by the Ganges.”
“Here I was, heart pounding, standing within his courtyard on quiet Rai Ghat Lane. I entered for the first time the hermitage where I was to spend the best part of the next ten years with India’s Jyanavatar, "incarnation of wisdom."”
“Daily life at the ashram flowed smoothly, infrequently varied. My guru awoke before dawn. Lying down, or sometimes sitting on the bed, he entered a state of samadhi. It was simplicity itself to discover when Master had awakened: abrupt halt of stupendous snores. A sigh or two; perhaps a bodily movement. Then a soundless state of breathlessness: he was in deep yogic joy.” Paramahansa Yogananda.
Remember that finding God will mean the funeral of all sorrows.
Pain and pleasure are transitory; endure all dualities with calmness, while trying at the same time to remove their hold. Imagination is the door through which disease as well as healing enters. Disbelieve in the reality of sickness even when you are ill. The power of unfulfilled desires is the root of all man's slavery.
Ordinary love is selfish, darkly rooted in desires and satisfactions. Divine love is without condition, without boundary, without change. The flux of the human heart is gone forever at the transfixing touch of pure love.
Sri Yukteswar - Incarnation of Wisdom