Birth of a Saint
In commemoration of Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas’ birthday, which falls on December 28th of this year, we would like to share the following excerpt about His birth and youth from chapter 3 of This House Is On Fire: The Life of Dhyanyogi.
Shri Anandi Ma teaches that reading the lives of saints can help us deepen our understanding of the spiritual life. What greater saint can we read about than Shri Dhyanyogiji? If we can truly imbibe His life and teachings, we can become great like Him.
The birthday of the Teacher is a very auspicious time for devotion and spiritual practices. Be sure to check in with your local DYC group for info on celebration plans at the local level.
Like many of the world’s great saints, Dhyanyogiji was born into a simple life. Durgadih was a humble village consisting mainly of rice fields surrounded by trees. Flat, moist and lush green, its stillness was broken only by the constant flutter of singing birds. The Mishra home was a one-room hut with a clay tile roof. Inside, there was an area used as a kitchen, but there were no partitions and no furniture. The cooking was done on the floor, and bedding was unrolled each night for sleeping.
Yet Dhyanyogiji’s arrival on Earth was anything but ordinary. Sampattidevi [Guruji’s mother] had great hopes for the new life developing in her womb, but nothing could have prepared her for the child who arrived during the winter of 1878. She named the infant Kashinath, which is a name for Shiva meaning “Lord of Kashi.” Lord Krishna had told Sampattidevi in a dream that her new son was an enlightened being in his previous life, yet he had selflessly chosen to take another body and return to this world to help others reach this same state.
In the years to come, it would be said that merely being in Dhyanyogiji’s presence would free people from their suffering. In his first months, there may have been few signs that something was different about the boy, but as young Kashinath grew, it became more and more apparent that he was an unusual child. Reading, writing, and arithmetic were a waste of time, he complained, when he could be learning about God instead. Though he loved his family, he had no interest in household responsibilities and found that kind of life suffocating.
The saying “boys will be boys” did not apply to Kashinath. While other children fell into much mischief or were occasionally ill-tempered, he remained calm and in control even in the most difficult circumstances. When another child beat him or abused him in some way, he forgave them and showed no signs of anger or resistance.…
One day, when he was just five years old, Kashinath’s family realized they hadn’t seen him since early morning. Shivkumar [his eldest brother] was surprised but thought, “He is still a child, and he may have gone off to play.” But when lunchtime came and the boy was still nowhere to be found, the family grew anxious and began to search in earnest. When they discovered Kashinath, he was deeply absorbed in meditation, trying to merge with God. His father, Ramdahin, felt that finding the child sitting with eyes closed, tender hands joined in a mudra, was the beginning of the fulfillment of Sampattidevi’s dream.
In fact, Kashinath’s spiritual education had already begun. He was strongly attracted to the spiritual energy at Maunibava’s [his great uncle] ashram and was soaking up whatever he could during his visits there.…
Whenever a relative or a family member died, he became obsessed by the question “Will I also die like this?” He knew that, as sure as the sun would set in the west, one day he, too, would die and nothing could prevent it. This prompted him again to ask himself the question, “Who am I who will leave this body behind?”
At the heart of Kashinath’s desire to draw closer to God were two simple questions: “Who am I?” and “What is death?” By the time he was just seven years old, Kashinath was constantly haunted by these eternal puzzles, difficult even for the wisest sage to understand. Whenever the question “Who am I?” arose in his mind, he became restless and grief overpowered him. Peace only came to him when he sat near Maunibava and Dandiswami [a spiritual mentor] or chanted the names of God. His fear of death was so profound that he would faint if he heard that someone had died. Once, while crossing the river on his way home from school, Kashinath saw a corpse floating downstream. He was so terrified that he refused to go back to school for several days.
Whenever a relative or a family member died, he became obsessed by the question “Will I also die like this?” He knew that, as sure as the sun would set in the west, one day he, too, would die and nothing could prevent it. This prompted him again to ask himself the question, “Who am I who will leave this body behind?” He knew he was different from his body, yet at the same time he argued, “If I am different, then who is performing the acts of walking, eating, laughing, and speaking?” No adults around him other than Maunibava and Dandiswami took his questions seriously. When he asked his friends, “Who are we?” they laughed and said, “You must be mad to ask such questions. We are the children of our parents. We are Brahmins. Who else can we be?” But Kashinath was not satisfied with these answers.
Whenever he was especially troubled by these questions, he ran for solace to the peace of Maunibava’s ashram. On one occasion when he was feeling conflicted, a spontaneous idea popped into his head. “Why shouldn’t I leave home to be free from all this?” At that moment, it was as if a series of closed doors opened one by one. He began to visualize,
like images in a movie, past members of the Mishra family who had freed themselves from the bondage of worldly life. Maunibava, Janakidasi [Guruji’s aunt], and his maternal uncle had all released their possessions as if scattering leaves to the wind. They had realized the transient nature of earthly happiness and advanced far on the path to renunciation.
After this vision, Kashinath knew he had no choice. To find himself and his future with God, he would have to leave his past behind.
COMMENTS: Many disciples had the opportunity to be with Dhyanyogiji while he was in the body; others have experienced Him in meditation, dreams, or visions. Please share your experience in the Comment box below.