This is a narration of a true happening. It has taken place in the year 1919 at ‘Yogoda Satsanga Brahmacharya Vidyalay’ at Ranchi in Bihar. This Vidyalay was started by Paramahansa Yogananda with the ideals of right education for youth on a ‘Gurukul’ model.
The following narration is from Paramahansa Yogananda himself:
With 25 fertile acres of land at our disposal, the students, teachers and I enjoyed daily periods of gardening and other outdoor work. We had many pets, including a young deer that was fairly well idolized by children. I, too, loved the fawn – a young deer less than 1 year old – so much that I allowed it to sleep in my room. At the light of dawn the little creature would twaddle over to my bed for a morning caress.
One day, because some business would require my attention in the town of Ranchi, I fed the pet earlier than usual. I told the boys not to feed the fawn until my return. One lad was disobedient and gave it a large quantity of milk. When I came back in the evening, sad news greeted me, The fawn is nearly dead with overfeeding.
In tears, I placed the apparently lifeless pet on my lap. I prayed piteously to God to spare its life. Hours later, the small creature opened its eyes, stood up and walked feebly. The whole school shouted for joy.
But a deep lesson came to me that night, one I can never forget. I stayed up with the fawn until two o clock, when I fell asleep. The deer appeared in a dream, and spoke to me: You are holding me back. Please let me go; let me go!
All right, I answered in the dream.
I awoke immediately, and cried out, Boys, the deer is dying! The children rushed to my side.
I ran to the corner of the room where I had placed the pet. It made a last effort to rise, stumbled toward me, then dropped at my feet, dead.
According to the mass karma that guides and regulates the destinies of animals, the deer life was over, and it was ready to progress to a higher form. But by my deep attachment, which I later realized was selfish, and by my fervent (ie earnest, ardent and glowing) prayers, I had been able to hold it in the limitations of the animal form from which the soul was struggling for release. The soul of the deer made its plea in a dream because, without my loving permission, it either would not or could not go. As soon as I agreed, it departed.
All sorrow left me; I realized anew that God wants His children to love everything as a part of Him, and not to feel delusively (that is, misleadingly) that death ends all. The ignorant person sees only the unsurmountable wall of death, hiding, seemingly forever, his cherished dear relative or friend. However, the yogi – a man of unattachment – he who loves others as expressions of the Cosmic Power, Ishwar – understands that at death the dear ones have only returned for a breathing space of joy in the Omnipresent Ishwar.
This is a hugely illuminating essay. It shows us our weaknesses as human beings of seemingly finite capacity, for we so easily fail to grasp the true nature of Reality and become attached, most especially by love, to that which by its very nature is temporary and subject to the rigors of time, history and death as an inevitable corollary of the condition of humans and all creatures.
In our foolish fondness for Gods creatures, we try to hold them back to share our days without regard to the Divine Plan which has its own omniscient logic whose breathtaking dynamic we humans can never fully comprehend in our state of darkness which consists of attachments to objects or persons, or, in this case, pets, who like us are also subject to the dictates of time, mortality and finitude.
The true Yogi, as Paramahansa Yogananda came to realize through this incident when he tried foolishly and in vain to prolong the life of a loved creature beyond what its own karma and Gods mysterious divine plan allotted, behaves very differently.
It is only when we come to recognize and value the inscrutable logic of the Divine Plan which by a process of karmic progression leads all creatures, at last, to abide with the Supreme Consciousness, the source and spring of our very being, who is Being Itself, that we can truly behave with equanimity in all lifes situations. Once we truly comprehend this in it fullness and glory, then death has no terrors for us, for we have conquered time, history and finitude and accepted the natural progression of all creatures, great and small, towards their eternal home. What right have we to truncate or delay this process? Acceptance with joy is the only response of a true Yogi to the Leela or play of the Lord.