Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Autobiography of a Yogi - Behind the scenes


Mrinalini Mata (President and Sangha Mata)  

One evening in the Encinitas hermitage, late in 1946, we younger devotees were busily engaged with our kitchen duties when Gurudeva came through the door. All activity stopped and our attention was fully concentrated on his broad smile and an even more beautiful than usual twinkle in his eyes. His hand was behind his back, concealing “something.” He called for a few others to come and had us line up in front of him. Then he displayed before us the hidden treasure — an advance copy of his book, Autobiography of a Yogi. Midst “Oh’s” and “Ah’s” we could scarcely express our joy to behold at last the long-awaited account of his life among the great saints and sages of India — with which he had so often enthralled us during precious hours in his company. He opened to a few pages, saving for last the illustration of Mahavatar Babaji. Almost breathlessly we offered our reverence and absorbed the blessing we felt to be among the first to glimpse the likeness of our Param-Paramguru.

In early December, we were all summoned to Mt. Washington to participate in the arrival of parcels of books from the publisher, and in preparing them for posting to the many eager devotees — hundreds of back orders. Weeks ahead of time when any of us had free moments we were engaged in typing address labels on one of our old manual typewriters. Huge tables (flat boards on sawhorses) were set up in the office, ready for assembly-line wrapping of each individual book in brown mailing paper off a huge roll, hand-cutting it to just the right size, affixing labels and postage stamps moistened first from wet sponges. No automation or mailing machines in those days! But oh what joy to participate in this momentous event in Self-Realization Fellowship history. The world would know our blessed Master through this sublime ambassador.

In the third-floor sitting room, Gurudeva sat at a desk for hours without a break, autographing every book. The books were removed from the publisher’s shipping cartons, opened, and placed before him in a steady stream as he signed each one — emptying one fountain pen while another was being refilled.

It was late when he summoned me to come upstairs. He was still autographing books. The senior disciples urged him to take some rest, but he refused even to consider it until every book in that shipment was signed with his blessings. He had the most beatific expression on his face, as though a very real part of himself and his love for God were going out to all the world in those printed pages, and it should not be withheld one extra moment.

It was with inexpressible joy that we sat at his feet to meditate in the wee hours of the morning. The Master had handed each of us our personal copy of this treasure, and all other copies had been wrapped for mailing in the morning or packed for sending to his temples in Hollywood and San Diego. Autobiography of a Yogi was on its way to a divine destiny, ultimately to carry the Guru’s blessings and love for God to millions of seeking souls.

Brother Bhaktananda 
Shortly after I entered the ashram in 1939, Paramahansaji spoke with a couple of us on the verandah of the Administration Building at Mt. Washington. He remarked to us that God told him he was to write certain books during his lifetime; and when those books were finished, his mission on earth would be over. Autobiography of a Yogi was one of those books. When the Autobiography first came out, I read it from cover to cover in a day, or two — how wonderful and inspiring! I remember thinking that this book will play a major role in promoting interest in Paramahansaji’s teachings. To date we have seen only the tip of the iceberg.

Sister Parvati 

I vividly recall when Autobiography of a Yogi was first released. Some time later I asked Paramahansaji if he would write a little thought in my copy. He wrote, “Find the Infinite hidden on the altar of these pages.” Sometimes when I’ve had a specific need, I have opened the Autobiography to some passage and thought, “I don’t remember ever seeing that before!” But it exactly addresses what I had to deal with at the moment. Though I would not have known where to go in the book to find it, it leaps off the page when I need to see it. I have found that the Master’s counsel is really true — you can find the Infinite hidden on the altar of those pages.

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