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The Perfect Tranquility of Lahiri Mahasaya

Lahiri Mahashaya, Master of Tranquility“The Vedas are such that their scope is confined to the three gunas; be free from those three gunas, indifferent toward the pairs of opposites, permanently fixed in reality, free from thoughts of acquisition and possessiveness, and possessed of the Self.” (Bhagavad Gita 2:45).

“Permanently fixed in reality.” A simple sentence, but a profound concept. Later in this chapter it is elucidated by Krishna saying:

“With the elimination of attraction and aversion, even though moving among the objects of the senses, he who is controlled by the Self, by self-restraint, attains tranquility. In tranquility the cessation of all sorrows is born for him. Indeed, for the tranquil-minded the intellect [buddhi] at once becomes steady” (Bhagavad Gita 2:64, 65).

A living example

This truth is illustrated by an incident from the life of Yogiraj Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasaya. He continually expounded the idea that the goal of yoga is to be established in sthirattwa, in perfect tranquility.

“A group of spiritual leaders from Calcutta once conspired against Lahiri Mahasay.  They invited him to join in an evening discussion on spiritual matters.  Lahiri Mahasay accepted the invitation and accordingly attended the meeting.

“The conspirators had well prepared themselves to trap Lahiri Mahasay.  For example, if Lahiri Mahasaya were to express his preference for a particular deity, or ishta devata, then a particular leader would find exception to that choice.

“In fact, each  member of the group selected a particular devata (deity) such as Lord Vishnu, Lord Krishna, Lord Siva, the Goddess Kali and prepared to debate and challenge Lahiri Mahasaya choice.

“As soon as Lahiri Mahasay arrived, he was received in the traditional manner and shown proper courtesy.  After a while one of the members of the group asked Lahiri Mahasay, ‘Upon which deity do you meditate?’

“Lahiri Mahasay looked at him but did not reply.  Then another gentleman asked him, ‘Who is your ishta devata?”’  Lahiri Mahasay turned his head towards him and looked at him in the same way, while keeping his peace.

“Finally, a third gentleman asked him, ‘Can you tell us upon which deity usually you meditate?’

“Lahiri Mahasay faced him and said very gently, ‘I meditate on sthirattva (tranquility).’

“The gentleman replied that he did not understand what was meant by this.  Lahiri Mahasay continued to observe silence.  After some time, another gentleman asked him, ‘Could you please explain this?  I do not understand exactly what  you are saying.’

“Lahiri Mahasay, as before, continued to maintain silence.  Another gentleman asked, ‘Can you enlighten me as to what you mean by that?  I do not understand at all!’  Lahiri Baba told him, ‘You will not be able to understand, and also I will not be able to make you understand (realize) through words.’

“The group was at a loss.  All of their preparation and conniving had come to naught.  Only silence prevailed.  All kept silent.

“After a long time Lahiri Mahasay got up and silently prepared to leave the meeting.  All showed him the traditional courtesy as he left.”

Here we see how to fulfill Krishna’s counsel: “Be…permanently fixed in reality.”

Material detachment

Next in the Gita Krishna uttered another simple phrase: “Free from thoughts of acquisition and possessiveness.” Swami Swarupananda renders it: “[Be] free from [the thought of] getting and keeping.”

Frankly, this is such a high ideal it is virtually impossible to comment on, except to say that it refers to intangibles as well as tangibles. To transcend the impulse to acquire or keep is itself liberation, for only a liberated consciousness is capable of such a condition (or non-condition).

Practically speaking, the best policy is to immerse ourselves in sadhana that leads to liberation. Then we will attain the state Krishna has set forth to us.

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