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Observations placeholder

Daniélou, Alain – The Way to the Labyrinth – Swami Karpatri reads his mind



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Daniélou, Alain – The Way to the Labyrinth [translated by Marie-Claire Cournand]

Swami Karpatri was a wandering monk- a sannyasi-and a man of astounding knowledge. He came to Benares from time to time and stayed there during the rainy season. He could only live in a temple or, if necessary, in the house of an unmarried Brahman who strictly observed the rules of everyday life, the acts of purification, and all the other rites of his caste.

Ganga Shankar Mishra, the librarian of the Hindu university, fitted these various requirements. He had built a house outside the city where sannyasis could accept his hospitality, and it was here that Swami Karpatri lived when he came to Benares. The learned swami was small and thin and wore nothing but a bit of saffron-coloured cloth. He seemed frail and sensitive to the cold, travelled only on foot, yet covered great distances. He was considered the spiritual leader of a large part of northern India. Although he refused all honours, he selected the shankarachharyas, the four monks who are the spiritual leaders of Hinduism. These monks can sometimes be seen at important ceremonies being carried about on magnificent golden palanquins with all the royal appurtenances, wearing nothing but a piece of rough, orange-coloured cloth around their loins.

Vijayanand had spoken about me to Swami Karpatri, and I was allowed to attend his darshana. The darshana (vision) is a kind of reception where saints, yogis, or kings permit their followers to contemplate them in silence. Sometimes they remain quite still and motionless; at other times they converse with a small, chosen group on various topics relating to philosophy, dogma, or even current events.

I was allowed to go up to the terrace of the house. The swami was sitting on one of those low, wooden tables, covered with an immaculate sheet, that also serve as beds. A hundred of his followers were seated on the floor in four groups, depending on their rank.

According to form, I prostrated myself flat on the floor with my hands crossed at the proper distance away from the monk, then went to sit among my lowly peers. The master did not appear to see me. He said nothing to me, but that was not necessary, for he could read people's minds. He began to speak of things that were of very special interest to me. I found it extremely difficult to adjust to this phenomenon: being in the presence of someone who knew everything I thought, everything I was. With such a man one could not lie, there was not a need for apologies or excuses. I went several times to the master's darshana. Later, when he created the Dharma Sangh, a movement for the defense of Hinduism against modern trends, we had many long conversations together.


The source of the experience

Daniélou, Alain

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps