Delightful weeks sped by. Sri Yukteswar was planning a religious procession. He asked me to lead the disciples over the town and beach of Puri. The festive day dawned as one of the hottest of the summer.
“Guruji, how can I take the barefooted students over the fiery sands?” I spoke despairingly.
“I will tell you a secret,” Master responded. “The Lord will send an umbrella of clouds; you all shall walk in comfort.”
I happily organized the procession; our group started from the ashram with a Sat-Sanga banner. Designed by Sri Yukteswar, it bore the symbol of the single eye, the telescopic gaze of intuition.
No sooner had we left the hermitage than the part of the sky which was overhead became filled with clouds as though by magic. To the accompaniment of astonished ejaculations from all sides, a very light shower fell, cooling the city streets and the burning seashore. The soothing drops descended during the two hours of the parade. The exact instant at which our group returned to the ashram, the clouds and rain passed away tracelessly.
“You see how God feels for us,” Master replied after I had expressed my gratitude. “The Lord responds to all and works for all. Just as He sent rain at my plea, so He fulfills any sincere desire of the devotee. Seldom do men realize how often God heeds their prayers. He is not partial to a few, but listens to everyone who approaches Him trustingly. His children should ever have implicit faith in the loving-kindness of their Omnipresent Father.”
Sri Yukteswar sponsored four yearly festivals, at the equinoxes and solstices, when his students gathered from far and near. The winter solstice celebration was held in Serampore; the first one I attended left me with a permanent blessing.
The festivities started in the morning with a barefoot procession along the streets. The voices of a hundred students rang out with sweet religious songs; a few musicians played the flute and khol kartal (drums and cymbals). Enthusiastic townspeople strewed the path with flowers, glad to be summoned from prosaic tasks by our resounding praise of the Lord’s blessed name. The long tour ended in the courtyard of the hermitage. There we encircled our guru, while students on upper balconies showered us with marigold blossoms.
Many guests went upstairs to receive a pudding of channa and oranges. I made my way to a group of brother disciples who were serving today as cooks. Food for such large gatherings had to be cooked outdoors in huge cauldrons. The improvised wood-burning brick stoves were smoky and tear-provoking, but we laughed merrily at our work. Religious festivals in India are never considered troublesome; each one does his part, supplying money, rice, vegetables, or his personal services.
Master was soon in our midst, supervising the details of the feast. Busy every moment, he kept pace with the most energetic young student.
A sankirtan (group chanting), accompanied by the harmonium and hand-played Indian drums, was in progress on the second floor. Sri Yukteswar listened appreciatively; his musical sense was acutely perfect.
--Paramhansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi