(Excessive use of ‘will-power’.)
Lala Harcharan Das, sadhanas of hath-yoga:
Body is wiser than brain
Cultural values for their own gains give importance and encouragement to some professions, means of livelihood. In India performers of religious rituals and its related jobs like head Mahant, Sanyasi, Yogi, etc. have been most revered professionals from the time immemorial. As a result, differentiation between survival and growth needs becomes difficult for those being in the profession who invest their life in attaining conceptual ‘heights’ of religion. In absence of recognizing their ‘uniqueness’, they lose the ability to meet the requirement of their survival needs. Their sufferings begin the moment they give importance to ‘willpower’ over the requirements of their ‘body’. Society, as a whole, showers recognition and appreciation. Most of them attain the status of a legendary figure. Simultaneously, the tragedy of their confusion results into revolt from ‘body’.
Celebrations of my mama’s (maternal uncle) marriage were on the peak. We returned from the Barat (marriage-party) and were preparing for ‘reception’. Everybody was busy. Each person in the family was rushing to accomplish one or the other task.
A news spread, “Lala Harcharan Das has arrived from Lucknow.” His coming home meant providing raw-food consisting of milk, nuts, and fruits to him. He didn’t take salted and cooked food. My grandmother used to tell, “Harcharan Das has developed snake’s venom in his blood. The person will die if he bites.” A thrill spread in every body’s mind the moment news came. There were whisperings. People were talking about him. He was a living legend for them who could acquire mystical powers through ‘yoga and willful-control’.
In the evening a stage was set for him. All the relatives and invitees were curious to witness the demonstration on mesmerism which Lala Harcharan Das was going to give. I, at age 8, was very excited with a feeling of seeing him who carried snake’s venom in his blood. Each eye was staring on the stage. Lala Harcharan Das appeared. He was a small structured, yellowish colored and bald-headed person.
He invited one small kid to the stage. Since it was my mama’s marriage and I was the only bhanja (nephew) and a small kid also, therefore I was forced to go. Forced because I was carrying impression which my grandmother seeded regarding snake’s venom. I was afraid of his biting. However, I went to the dais reluctantly.
He handed over a nicely packed big box to me. Then he requested one of the female invitees to give her ring. Among the ladies, one of the invitees put off the ring from her finger and handed over to someone who passed on to him.
He asked me to hold the box. He touched the ring with the box. The box was in my hands. He asked me to open the cover of the box. One after another I was opening the layers of colored papers. He told the spectators that he had put the ring into the box. I felt shy because I was not able to trace the ring. After opening so many layers of colored papers I felt tired. He inspired me. Lastly, in a small wooden box, one gold ring was lying. It was the same ring which was given by that lady to him. The ring was returned. She was happy. Still, I was not able to recall when did he put that ring into the box which I had been holding?
In recent past, Moradabad, famous for brass wares, had been ‘siddhpeeth’ for hath-yoga disciples. It was 1968 I was doing M.A. in psychology. Some discussions were going to ‘yoga’. Dr. Ramesh Chand Kandpal, Ph. D. in Sanskrit and a well-known Yoga expert mentioned, “I have come across with many yoga-sadhanas. Lala Harcharan Das has no match. You must have noticed a lump on the surface of his head. One day when he was performing hath-yoga he started moving upward against gravitational force. He was practicing in a closed room. The hook of the ceiling hit his head. That lump is a result of that ‘hit’. You know he has acquired the capability to fly during meditation.” I had lots of respect and regard for Dr. Kandpal. In 1988 I accepted him as “guru” who taught me many skills like visualizing ‘light’ in the center of the forehead and between the eyebrows, processes of ‘kundalini’ awakening, etc.
Dr. Kandpal’s appreciation about Lala Harcharan Das recharged my curiosity. He was my close uncle from both sides. He was my uncle because he was a cousin of my father. My father used to narrate the stories affirming possession of supernatural and mystical powers by him. He was my uncle because he was my aunt’s sister’s husband. Now I started feeling a powerful magnet in him.
He said, “57 years back I stopped taking salted and cooked food. For last 17 years, I have not been taking water. Whenever I find any problem I go to Ramganga, the river and stand in the water. I suck water from the river through my anus and penis and clear the bowels.” He shared with me some secrets for maintaining youth but didn’t open the secret of his flying. Rather, he used to avoid the topic whenever I attempted to pursue.
After 17 years I enquired from my father about him. He informed, “Harcharan Bhai saheb completed his journey but it was very miserable demise. The man who didn’t take water for decades; during his passing away he ate cooked food like poori, gulgule, pakodiyan, etc. He suffered diarrhea and died due to heavy loss of water.”
He has been a reference point to me whenever I was thinking of ‘yoga’, “With the exercise of ‘willpower’ one can attain supernatural powers.” The news given by my father was something like ‘heart-breaking’. I discussed with Dr. Kandpal who clarified, “I didn’t call him ‘yogi’. Yoga is a balance between mind and body.” I was not convinced about the philosophical clarifications but didn’t pursue the discussions with him further. When he was explaining logic to his statement, I got insight, “Too much control of desire for any purpose results like this. Body is wiser than the ‘willpower’.”