A HERMIT IN THE HIMALAYAS
live in solitude at Gangotri in 1923. Whilst there he had an experi-
ence which demonstrated the power of his spiritual achievement.
He came face to face with a big tiger which made no attempt to
harm him but just sat on its hind legs and stared at him for some
time and then disappeared into the jungle near by.
"He remained in the neighbourhood throughout an entire winter,
when no other soul would have dared to stay because the snow, seven
feet high, buries the whole place. No food of any sort could be
obtained there during the winter season, but the Tehri State
authorities arranged with the nearest local officials to send food
supplies at intervals. But the astonishing thing is that Swami
Jnanananda insisted on remaining almost absolutely naked through-
out the period of his stay, except for a very narrow loin-cloth.
Jnanananda lived in an exposed cave, without door and without
fire. When he was asked how he could remain naked in such terrible
cold, he said: 'In front of my cave at Gangotri I would sit on a slab
of stone for meditation and enter into Samadhi. I became accus-
tomed to the inclemencies of the weather without any difficulty.
One day I was urged to throw away all my clothes suddenly with-
out any apparent reason. I felt some power urging me from inside.
That power and the name of the Lord rendered me quite indifferent
to the cold which I did not feel.' Imagine him living in that wild
deserted region, surrounded by snow and ice alone, with great
avalanches sweeping down from the high peaks from time to time
and liable to fall upon him. His only company was the silent Hima-
layas themselves and such wild animals as chanced to pass that way,
and a few simple hill-folk. Today, if you ask the hillman who vised to
bring his food about the Swami, you will discover how he grew to
love this great soul, for his eyes light up as he speaks and his heart
melts with joy------"
Suddenly, Pranavananda stops talking. His eyes half-close,. he
breathes agitatedly and stertorously. I think he is going to have a
fit. But no, soon he quietens down and passes by gentle stages into a
trance. His body remains serene and unmoving, save for the slight
rise and fall of his shoulders as he breathes silently.
And then I become aware of a vital change in the atmosphere.
That mysterious stillness which heralds the coming of a higher
state of consciousness or of a higher being invades the air. I realize at
once that something important has happened so I swing half-round
to face the Yogi directly, as I sit on the ground, interlock my legs in
meditation posture, and attempt to adjust myself mentally to what-
ever is to come.
Across the inner eye, the mind's eye, the clairvoyant pineal
gland—the name means nothing to me—there flashes the face of a