The Resurrection of Harides the Yoghi
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
PSYCHISM Analysis of Things Existing ESSAYS BY PAUL GIBIER, M. D. Director of the New York Pasteur Institute.
From the following narration, which we abbreviate from a long and detailed relation written by an eye-witness, Dr. Honigberger, and confirmed by Sir Claudius Wade, British Resident Minister at Lahore one may obtain an idea of the perseverance of the yoghis, and see to what fearful maceration they coolly submit their bodies.
Dr. Honigberger is an Austrian physician, who, for several years, has held the position of private physician to Run jet Sing, Rajah of Lahore. As for the yoghis, let us say at once that they are solitary ascetics who commonly live in the forests or on the mountains. They are priests of a Brahmanical order. Here we give in brief the story, according to Dr. Honigberger, who supported it through documents which are perfectly authentic.
Having meditated at length upon the choice of an existence, and judging, probably from the retrospection of his prior lives, that it was time he should end his cycle and absorb himself in eternal Nirvana with Brahma, that is to say, with Universal Intelligence, Harides, a Brahmin, became a hermit. He began the practice of the religious, physical and intellectual exercises which constitute the training towards that which Dr. Preyer calls Anabiosis, and which Hindoos term Yog Vidya and Bu-Stambha or Vaju-Stambha, or the art of producing (by means of ecstasis and the elimination of the dementals or Genii, intelligent forces of the Earth and waters) a complete and non-perilous suspension of the vital functions. In this state, they say, one may be interred quite a long time and return to life, or float upon water without fear of being submerged.
Having built for himself a half-underground cell, with but a narrow door, Harides, aided by his disciples, entered and stretched himself upon a soft couch made of woolly skins and carded cotton. His servants then secured the door with clay and left him. Either sitting in the position of the Pamadsan or lying on his couch, the ascetic now sought to concentrate thought through reciting prayers upon the Brahmanic beads, or in pondering deeply upon the Divinity. At first he could remain in his narrow cell but a few minutes ; then becoming gradually more and more accustomed to the lack of air, he trained himself to stay there for hours and days. While in this solitary retreat, he began the exercise of the Pranayama, or cessation of breathing. He began by holding his breath for five minutes, then ten, then twenty-one, and so on up to eighty-four minutes. He, moreover, caused a series of twenty- four small incisions to be made beneath his tongue, one incision each week.
These operations, together with massage, were done to enable him to curl his tongue back against the pharynx, in order to close the opening of the glottis during Anabiosis,
During this time the ascetic observed all the rules of yoghism, he ate vegetables only and refrained absolutely from any carnal intercourse.
At last, when he was ready to undergo the final trial, which we will soon relate, he submitted himself to a rehearsal of it several times before presenting himself at the Court of Lahore.
Why did he present himself before Rajah Runjet Sing? We presume that he went, as did all of the old prophets of Israel, to reproach the Rajah for his sins (kings, alas, commit sins, and are as human as the rest of mankind), to upbraid him for dissoluteness of his Court and to preach to all penance and amendment. To give a proof of his divine mission, he offered to remain under ground in a coffin for weeks or months with assurance of returning to life !
His proposition was accepted.
Harides the Yoghi made his last preparations.
He purified his body externally by ablutions, and internally by fasting and taking the juices of sacred plants. He cleaned his stomach, not with a rubber tube as in modem lavage, but by means of long bands of fine linen, which he partly swallowed and withdrew afterwards.
When the appointed day was at hand, an enormous crowd assembled. Harides, surrounded by his disciples and accompanied by the Rajah and his Court, gravely advanced to the place of trial.
After a linen shroud had been spread upon the ground, he placed himself in the middle, turned his face to the East, and then sat down with legs crossed in the pamadzan attitude of Brahma sitting on the lotus. He appeared to meditate for some moments, then fixed his gaze towards the end of his nose after having curled his tongue back. Soon his eyes closed, his limbs became stiff, and catalepsy, then lethargy, or rather Thanatoida (a new word which we propose) that is to say, a state similar to death, took place.
The disciples of the solitary saint then hastened to close his lips and to plug his ears and nostrils with pledgets of linen smeared with wax. They united the four corners of the shroud above his head and knotted them together. The seal of the Rajah was placed upon the knots and the body was enclosed in a wooden box, four feet by three, securely nailed and also set with the royal seal.
A cemented grave that had been prepared three feet under the surface of the ground, with dimensions exact for admitting the box, received the yoghi's body. The door was closed, sealed and completely stopped up Vvith clay. Notwithstanding these precautions, sentries were ordered to watch the grave night and day, although it was surrounded by thousands of Hindoos who had piously come, as to a pilgrimage, to witness the burial of the saint.
At the end of six weeks, the time that had been agreed upon for the exhumation, a still greater concourse assembled upon the spot. The Rajah ordered the clay that walled up the door to be removed and saw that his seal was intact.
The door was then opened, the box with its contents taken out, and after ascertaining that the seals upon it were also unbroken, the body was lifted from its narrow resting place.
Dr. Honigberger remarked that the shroud was covered with mildew, which he explained was caused through the dampness of the sepulchre.
The ascetic's body, lifted out of the box by the disciples and still folded within the shroud, was placed against the cover of the box. Then, before it was uncovered, warm water was poured upon the head. Finally, after the seals had been identified and removed, the body was taken out of the winding sheet which covered it.
Then Dr. Honigberger examined him carefully.
He was in the same attitude as upon the burial day, except that the head was resting upon one shoulder. The skin was wrinkled ; the limbs were stiff. The whole body was cold, excepting the head, upon which warm water had been poured.
The pulse could not be perceived over the radials, any more than it could be felt at the brachials and temporals. Upon auscultation the heart gave no sign of life, and the heavy eyelids, on being lifted, showed eyes set as in death.
The disciples and servants washed the body and rubbed the limbs. One of them applied on the yoghi's cranium a warm layer of paste made of rye flour, which he renewed several times, while another disciple removed the plugs from the ears and nostrils and opened the mouth by means of a knife. Harides, like unto a waxen statue, still evinced no sign of revival.
After opening the yoghi's mouth, the disciple caught his tongue and pulled it forward to a normal position, and there held it, as it had a tendency to fall back over the larynx. The eyelids were rubbed with ointment, and a last application of the warm paste was applied to his head. At this moment the ascetic's body was shaken by a tremor, his nostrils became dilated and a deep inspiration followed; his pulse beat slowly and his limbs gave signs of circulation. A little melted butter was poured on his tongue, and, after a most painful scene, whose issue appeared to be doubtful, the lids raised and "the eyes suddenly resumed their brightness."
The resurrection of the yoghi was accomplished, and when he saw the Rajah, he simply said : "Do you believe me now ?"
Half an hour had been spent in reviving him, and "after the same lapse of time, he was found sitting at the Rajah's table, still weak, but clothed in royal robe and decorated with a necklace of pearls and golden bracelets'
Sometime afterwards, having probably been challenged by the Rajah, the Yoghi again committed himself to the grave. On this occasion it was six feet underground. The tomb was walled up, the earth beaten over it, some loam was placed over the whole and barley sown upon it.
Still, according to the same eye-witnesses, Harides was this time left for four months in his grave. At the end of the prescribed period he was taken from it and revived as before.
The source of the experienceHindu and yoga
Concepts, symbols and science items
ConceptsRaising the dead
Activities and commonsteps
SuppressionsContemplation and detachment
Cut out sex