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Trailanga Swami: Remarkable Incidents from His Life

Trailanga SwamiQ: Do you have anything further to add to Trailanga Swami’s story that may not have been written by Master Yogananda in his autobiography?

Yes, I do. First, three things that Yogacharya Oliver Black told to me when I spent all day with him in the fall of 1968. Yoganandaji had himself told these things to Mr. Black.

Trailanga Swami liked to tantalize the British police in Benares. Of course, they were scandalized at his nudity, so they were always trying to arrest him for it. He really liked having them run after him, for though he weighed a great deal, he could go very fast, but would always run only an arm’s length away from them. Eventually he would take a street that led to the Ganges, and just as they thought they would catch hold of him he would leap far out into the Ganges. There he would either just sit on the water, remaining stationary even through the river was flowing very swiftly, or when the water was clear he would sink to the bottom and sit in meditation. Whichever he did, he would remain there for days with the police taking shifts to watch and eventually arrest him. And then he would disappear! Eventually it would start all over.

In Autobiography of a Yogi, Yoganandaji tells of times when Trailangaji would be locked in a jail cell and then after a while be seen walking along the roof.

But there was a variation on that. Just like in the Middle Ages, there were stout wooden “cages” at the juncture of streets where the police would put criminals to be mocked and pelted with rocks and whatever the cowardly populace had to hand. Since he was so fat, they would have a hard time jamming Trailanga Swami in one of those cages, and when they did, his fat body would bulge out through the slats. But after a while he would suddenly be sitting on top of the cage, and not inside. When the police would start climbing up to grab him, he would jump out into the street, and the whole chase scene would be repeated.

Having decided that I would not be shocked at the account, Mr. Black then told me that often Trailanga Swami would stand in the Ganges and make his genitals as large as a fire hose and spray the pilgrims (and police) with the same force as a fire hose. But it was not urine, it was marvelous perfume! He would also go into a Shiva temple and either urinate on the linga or urinate in his hand and then pour it over the linga. Of course, the priests and worshippers went wild, but it would be discovered that it was heavenly perfume, and not urine at all.

Swami KriyanandaAt the beginning of 1968, Swami Kriyananda was scheduled to teach a two-week seminar on yoga at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. In time he realized that he would not be able to do the seminar, so he asked me to go in his place. At the end of the first week Swamiji came to the afternoon session and showed us slides of India which he had taken. (He also sang bhajans for us, including Gokula Chandra, accompanying himself on the tanboura.)

One of the slides showed the temple in Trailanga Swami’s Benares ashram. The central object was a life-size marble statue of the Swami, but to the side and standing on the floor was a half-relief sculpture of the goddess Kali. Although it was not in any way an artistic production, something about it fascinated me. I remarked on it to Swamiji, and he told me that one day Trailanga Swami had been in another part of the ashram conversing with a disciple. At one point, the Kali image, having come to life, walked into the room where they were seated and held a conversation with Trailanga Swami, then walked out, returned to the temple and became stone again. The disciple was absolutely stunned and speechless. But Trailangaji simply said to him: “So now what have you got?” meaning that no experience, however amazing, was of any value whatsoever if it did not impart wisdom or meaningful change to the aspirant.

Finally, I can tell you that you can purchase a book on Amazon: Trailanga Swami and Shankari Mataji by Swami Paramananda Saraswati. Shankari Mataji was a disciple of Trailanga Swami. Yoganandaji briefly wrote about her in his autobiography and included her photograph. The material in the book is mostly her memories of Trailangaji which she personally told the author.

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