This is one of my favorite stories in the biography. It’s an excerpt taken from Chapter 2 of the biography, where Yogananda (“Mukunda” in the story) is still a little boy, and plays a trick on his family after meditating for two days straight.
Mukunda’s meditations were not what one might expect of a little boy. For one thing, he would often meditate for long hours—seven, eight at a time. As he told me, “I would practice Hong-Sau (a meditation technique) for seven hours at a time, until I went breathless.” For another, he often had extraordinary visions.
He told himself, however, “Some day I must have a really long meditation. After all, what are seven or eight hours—out of a twenty-four hour day? Don’t people work that long merely to supply their material needs?”
One morning Mukunda awoke with the thought, “A whole year has passed. And still I haven’t fulfilled the promise I made to myself! Will a long meditation always wait until ‘tomorrow’? Why not today? Why not this very morning?”
He sat down for meditation. Forty-eight whole hours passed. To Mukunda, they seemed more like forty-eight minutes. During a part of that ecstatic period, his body rose above the ground in levitation.
At last he returned to the pandemonium of this bustling world: the sounds of servants at their household chores; the voices of family members in the rooms below; the hubbub of people’s voices in the streets, and the noise of traffic outside. This cacophony invaded his ears discordantly, though it could not disturb his inner peace. In the passageway to the kitchen he met the cook—the same one, perhaps, whose hand he had stuck to the wall. This faithful servant had for many years been suffering from a pain in his back. Mukunda touched him, and the man was instantly healed.
It was lunchtime. Mukunda’s family members were seated Indian fashion on straw mats around the dining room floor. They had paid scant attention to Mukunda’s absence of two days. They knew he liked to meditate, and left it at that.
Mukunda now joined them. While he ate, he was conscious of a transcendent detachment from everything. Looking up at one point, he noticed Bodi, the wife of Ananta (Mukunda’s older brother), regarding him curiously. Bodi, like Ananta, had never approved of what they both considered Mukunda’s “religious fanaticism.” Smiling inwardly, Mukunda thought, “Let me have a little fun with them all, especially with Bodi!”
Withdrawing his consciousness partially from the body, he returned a little bit to the complete inwardness he had experienced scarcely half an hour earlier. His body, suddenly deprived of energy, fell silently backward to the floor. Bodi uttered a frightened cry. Quickly she stepped over and felt his pulse. There was no heartbeat. The rest of the family, terrified, gathered around the inert form.
The family doctor, frantically summoned, requested that the boy’s body be carried to a couch. After careful examination, he pronounced the dreaded verdict: “He’s dead.”
Bodi looked around her solemnly. “This,” she declared, “is what comes of too much yoga practice!”
The rest of the family uttered loving encomiums for this dear child, now lost to them forever.
Present in the room was a maidservant who was much-loved by the family; they used to call her “Maid Ma.” Maid Ma had served them for many years with an almost motherly devotion. But she would sometimes argue hotly with Mukunda for bringing his friends to the house, in ever-increasing numbers. Now she added her encomiums to those of the rest.
“Alas! though it’s true he was mischievous, for all that he was a good boy.” Then, disconsolately, she cried, “O Bhagavan (Lord)! now I won’t have anyone to fight with anymore!”
Mukunda could contain himself no longer. “Oh, yes you will!” he cried.
“You!” shouted Maid Ma. “I knew you were only playing!” She picked up a broom and, in mock anger, threw it at him.