Baba in the West

Although Paramahamsa Hariharananda was invited several times by his Western disciples to visit the West, he was not interested. But in 1974, he was ultimately invited by a group of disciples from Switzerland and Germany, and at last he agreed to the Divine will. The prophecy of Swami Shriyukteshwarji and direction of Shri Babaji came true. In his own words: "I had no desire to go abroad, but six disciples of Switzerland, who visited Puri for the third time, insisted on my visiting their country. They said, 'You are always busy with Indian disciples. There are hundreds of true seekers of God waiting abroad. Should you not help them? Are you born only for India?' These words from a group of sincere disciples moved me and I decided to go on a mission to the foreign countries."

On June 3, 1974, he started for Europe from Delhi, accompanied by a few disciples. He touched the sacred soil of India and boarded the big carrier of Air France to go to Zurich via Paris. He stayed one day in Paris before traveling to Zurich and was impressed with the lifestyle of Western people and their mannerism.

From Zurich he flew to Belgium, and then on to the United Kingdom. During this tour, Germany was the fifth and final country he visited. He went from Belgium to Germany by car; staying first in Meresburg and then in Koeln. In those two places, several hundred people were initiated into Kriya Yoga. His first travel to the West brought a new era in the history of the Kriya Yoga Movement after Paramahamsa Yogananda.

Being pressed by Western disciples, he again undertook his Western tour in 1975. From Bogota, Colombia, a disciple came to accompany Paramahamsa Hariharananda to the USA. They boarded the plane on May 24, 1975, from Delhi to Curacao in South America. After an extremely long flight he reached there about 11 p.m. that night, to find hundreds of people waiting to receive him with flowers and love.

After a stay of six days in Curacao, he proceeded to Bogota, the capital of Colombia to deliver his divine discourse. In Bogota, every day the crowd increased, and people were even waiting outside on the streets to see him. They had to rent the biggest auditorium to accommodate the large gathering of seeking souls.

In one gathering there were several priests, nuns, and religious people. An elderly priest asked him, "Swamiji! Are you a Christian? We are all Christians. If you are not a Christian, then what can we learn from you?" Listening to this question, he promptly answered, "Is your God a Christian? To what religion does he belong? Does He dress like you? Is God a Hindu or a Muslim Fakir? How many Gods are there? What type of food does He take? I have realized there is one God, who is neither Hindu, nor Muslim, nor Christian. He is all-pervading, omniscient, and omnipotent. It is described in the Holy Bible, 'God made man and woman in His image and He breathed into the nostrils the breath of life.' Then man became the living soul. When God is everywhere, he is also in every human being. There is no question of caste, creed, or color; there is no boundary and segmentation of religions. As the sun is one and the moon is one, so also God is one." In this way he expounded the deep philosophy of Kriya Yoga and its practical application in daily life.

There were already many people in the USA initiated by Paramahamsa Hariharananda into Kriya Yoga. Knowing that he was in Curacao and Bogota, many people from New York and Washington D.C. visited him there and requested him to come to the USA. Accepting their invitation, he started for New York from Curacao via Miami.

During his twenty-four days stay in New York, he delivered many public discourses, radio talks, gave interviews, and initiated interested people. Many people from the USA came into contact with him and were blessed with his divine company.

From New York he proceeded to Washington D.C., accompanied by many of his old disciples. While in Washington D.C., there was a proposal of starting an institution, which was officially incorporated in 1976 under the name of Kriya Yoga Ashram. From there he left for Germany, on August 7, 1975. Then, after a trip spanning three continents, he returned to India.

Once again, after a long gap of nearly two years, for the third time Paramahamsa Hariharananda started for the West. In this way, Kriya Yoga spread from city to city and country to country. Thousands of people, being extremely interested in spiritual life and meditation, have changed their life and followed the practical instructions of Kriya Yoga.

A special feature of this great soul was his humility and love. His personality was unique. His talk was lilting and charming. He could be softer than a flower and sometimes harder than steel. He was a child with children, a friend to the young, and a companion to the old and distressed. He was an inspiration to all.

At the end of any correspondence, he always signed "Humble Hariharananda." It was one of his unique ways of teaching. Being a master, a Self-realized being, he was always humble. So for each student he gave the message to be humble. He often quoted the great saying of Shri Chaitanya:

trnadapi sunicena taroriva sahisnuna
amanina manadena kirtaniyo sada harih

"Be always lower than the grass, tolerant like the trees, give honor and love to the lowliest, remember the Lord continuously." His look was of love. His talk was divine. His activities were mysterious. His life was really unknown.