The Pilgrims tell their stories – Part 2: Kolkata

Puri – Calcutta we travel by train

Suryani: At dawn on February 10, 2024, we leave Puri, somewhat sleepy but full of enthusiasm and with our spirits super elevated. Like good soldiers we make our way to the train station and after a short wait we split into two different carriages. A group of us manage to get seats in a sort of lounge in the middle of the carriage. This allows us to converse, but right from the start we decide to sing, and the journey immediately turns into a beautiful movie with a soundtrack taken from the songs of Yogananda and Swami Kriyananda.

Kirtan in the train

It is immediately festive, and although at first the faces of the other passengers seem astonished, I eventually discover, as I look around, that their disapproval has quickly turned into a splendid and natural smile over which hovers lightheartedness and lightness that only an impromptu kirtan could create. The small tables are laden with typical Indian sweets that we received as gifts from our friends in Delhi, each of us offers what we have in our backpacks, and between one song and another, three hours pass very quickly.

The atmosphere is very nice, filled with joy and many smiling faces. I am immediately reminded of Yogananda’s phrase – “chanting is half the battle”, and it is indeed. Although the journey is very long, we immediately try to elevate our spirits and face this adventure to the best of our ability, which, with great wonder, turns into a wonderful movie where nature is the master of a land full of greenery and waters surrounding this wonderful continent.

Nagendra Bath Bhaduri (Badhuri Mahasaya): The Levitating Saint

Gloria: In Kolkata, just a few streets away from Master’s home, the house and ashram of the Indian Saint, Badhuri Mahasaya, still exist. While in divine ecstasy the saint was often levitating. I knew nothing about him except for what I vaguely remembered from the Autobiography, where the young Mukunda, who often visited him, considered him a great saint who also had a splendid sense of humor.

The Goddess Kali

Just before our group was entering the house, I was speaking with a friend about the way the goddess Kali, goddess of destruction and rebirth, is depicted: fierce with no pity for human falsehood and the enemies of Divine Truth. Going into the ashram, we first went to the first floor where the saint lived and where he stayed for the last 20 years of his life. There, I unexpectedly felt a deep calmness and inner lightness, a blessed atmosphere, permeated with Light.

Bedroom of Badhuri Mahasaya

Afterwards I went to the lower floor and sat in front of the statue of the goddess Kali, that Bhaduri Mahasaya venerated. The saint – by pronouncing the name of God or chanting His glory, was falling into Ecstasy, thereby practicing Bhakti Yoga and regarding this the easiest and safest way to attain God. In that small, semi-dark room, as I meditated in front of the statue of the goddess, I perceived, for the first time, the quality of unconditional love which is her other side, her essence: on one side darkness, on the other, shining light beyond good and bad. Deep inside what may seem the most difficult of challenges. She is Love.
Sometime later, after reading the biography of Badhuri Mahasaya, I realized how the Energy and Light of where he lived, convey, without words, his life story and union with God.

Master’s House

Dhuti: The family of Sananda Lal Gosh

  • Sananda younger brother of Yogananda (third son)
  • Harekrishna, third of four children, oldest surviving son of Sananda, married to Anjali
  • His children Somath (son) and Papia (daughter)
  • Somath married Saritha and from their union they have two daughters Sudharshana and Sulagna
  • Suddo is the only son and child of Sudharshana and her husband Diptiranyan

Master’s house has always enthralled me. The very first time I went there on pilgrimage in 2012 we pulled up. To the house and I sat in the bus looking out the window I was moved to tears. I just kept thinking,  4 Garpar Road, 4 Garpar Road!

4 Garpar Rd

I have visited there a number of times since then and have become friends with Saritha. This special time we had this time felt like family visiting family, and her heart felt very open to us. I was very touched by her energy. I was able to meditate in the room longer than other times and so was able to go deeper.

The Pilgrims together with Sudarshana, Somnath, Saritha e Suddho

She shared many beautiful stories with us, some that I had not heard before. And her daughter Sudharshana was there and her grandson Suddho who is carrying the mantle of master’s legacy at 4 Garpar Road. He is a cute, smart, bright, energetic 4 or 5-year-old. He took great pride in showing us some of the pictures in the different rooms. We spent time in Master’s fathers rooms looking at the pictures and hearing more stories. We had a wonderful lunch cooked by a family member who caters events. She is related to Bishnu’s lineage, Master’s brother. Saritha asked me to take something to Serampore, to her Brother /cousin-in-law Durlabh. That’s Ananta’s grandson. It’s beautiful to see the love between the family members.

Master is alive. And very strongly present in his family, and especially at 4 Garpar road, alive with the presents of many saints! And soon they will all be visiting Italy!

Tulsi Bose

Suryani: One of the places I visited again, with pleasure, was definitely the home of Tulsi Bose, a childhood friend of Mukunda Lal Gosh. It was February 11, 2024, and with the whole group of pilgrims we went to a road parallel to 4 Gulpar Road. Today this place has become an Ananda Sangha Kolkata association that aims to offer the opportunity to visit a sacred place where the great Guru Paramhansa Yogananda spent many years meditating and spreading the techniques of Kriya yoga.

Manash; Gurupriya is in the background at the entrance

There we met Manash and Gurupriya. Tulsi Bose had a daughter named Hassi. Manash is the son of Hassi and Devi Mukherjee. Manash grew up in Tulsi Bose’s house and told us many good stories.

One of the most beautiful stories I remember is how Mukunda (Yogananda) met his friend Tulsi Bose.

“One day while Tulsi Bose was training in running, he noticed that a slender little boy was staring at him. It was not the first time he noticed him, but that day Tulsi decided to approach him and asked him why he kept staring at him. Yogananda then replied, I see that you train every day and I would like to challenge you to a running race.

Tulsi looks at him and thinks, “But why does this scrawny little boy want to challenge me?”

Partly for fun, partly out of curiosity he accepts but is immediately beaten by Yogananda. Tulsi then asks for a rematch and for 5 more times he is defeated; he then asks the Master, “But how is that possible? How can you beat me if you have never trained and if you are so skinny?”

Yogananda then answers him, “Tomorrow morning at 4:30, come to my house because then you will find out.”

That was how the two began their friendship that lasted their entire lives. Even today inside those walls it is still possible to feel that powerful vibration created through the deep meditations of those two young boys who, with faith and determination, fulfilled their life’s purpose: to practice and spread the techniques of Kriya Yoga.

Durga: The house of Tulsi Bose holds many relics such as the Trident of Mahavatar Babaji and the bed in which Yogananda and Swami Sri Yukteswar slept.

Manash told us that the family members sleep in this bed when they are sick because it contains healing powers.

Bed of Master

I personally came in contact with this sacred bed. I had problems with my intestines for several days and could hardly eat anything. One hour in this bed and I was healthy again. I am very grateful to the family of Tulsi Bose for opening the house to Ananda so that all of Yogananda’s disciples can see these relics.


Suryani: From Calcutta we take a short journey to Serampore, which is about one hour away by bus. Serampore is a quiet village crossed by the Ganges River but it is also a place where important events in the life of our beloved Guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, took place.

Yogananda spent his youth in the ashram of his Guru Swami Sri Yukteswar. It was the place where he first saw Mahavatar Babaji under the banyan tree, but it is also the place where today the family of Durlabh Lal Gosh, grandson of Ananta Lal Gosh, Paramhansa Yogananda’s older brother, resides.

Serampore Ashram

Giampi: Sri Yukteswar’s ashram in Serampore shone brightly. As soon as we were inside, I took off my shoes and proceeded barefoot on the soft lawn of the garden. I looked to the right at the famous terrace in Yogananda’s autobiography, then I went inside.
We sat outside after chanting. In front of the picture of the great Swami, I closed my eyes and such sweetness pervaded my heart, the same thing I experienced in his ashram in Puri. I sensed his sweet and protective side.
Although seeing his stern look many times at the temple, I felt a little uncomfortable, as if I sensed his reproach for my slow spiritual progress 😉

Sri Yukteswar’s ashram in Serampore

Anyway, back to the story…I almost immediately went into a deep meditation and had a very sharp vision of an ancient Indian city I had never seen, and of me climbing a hill. At the top, beyond the temple roofs, I saw a light. I could tell it was a special light and already felt a “thrill”.

Then looking to the right towards a paved mule path that was slightly uphill, I saw the masters walking on the uphill path. As I reached them, they turned a little to look at me, and at that moment, besides the vision of their compassionate eyes, I felt the strong vibration of divine love.
It was such an intense and real moment, that I was moved to tears of happiness, but melancholy as well, until the vision faded away.
I am truly grateful for this experience.

Serampore Ghat

Madri: We are people who love the shelter of trees...  This phrase uttered by Babaij has always resonated in my heart, made me feel Babaji a little closer, a little more accessible. How much more natural is it to find shelter in the shade of a great tree, to feel its protection, its aura, its majestic presence. Buddha himself had enlightenment at the foot of one.

The tree I am about to talk about is being very special, blessed by the presence of Babaji, Swami Sri Yukteswar and the disciples of this great Guru. It is a banyan tree, a plant that grows on the Indian continent, an imposing, 100-year-old creature whose form unites earth and sky, with its branches falling from above and joining the ground creating a whole, in a continuity reminiscent of infinity.

Banjan tree of Babaji

The Serampore ghat houses the banyan tree where Babaji manifested to our param Guru thanking him for writing the text we know as The Holy Science.

Sri Yukteswar at that time was a young disciple “in training” as we would say today … and he was so excited by the presence of the Great Master that after returning to the Ghat to bring welcome sweets-as we experienced, Indian hospitality is wonderfully generous and amiable to the palate-Babaji not having accepted the invitation to go to Sri Yukteswar’s house, to his return to the Ganges, precisely he could not see him because his mind was too restless.

Banjan tree

Our pilgrimage led us to that very sacred spot, and even our mind, unfortunately still restless, did not allow us to see Babaji in body, but heart devotion and meditation allowed us to feel His presence, under the banyan tree, on the banks of the Sacred Ganges.

For a moment time stood still, a sense of expansion and a sacred vibration took over, the material world became less apparent and the subtle reality of spirit became vivid and tangible.

We bowed at the Sacred Altar of Leaves and chanted Aum as we returned to Calcutta.

Jai Babaji

Serampore: We visit Yogananda’s nephew

The family of Ananta Lal Gosh

Suryani: The family of Ananta Lal Gosh

● Ananta elder brother of Yogananda
● Ramkrishna, the only child of Ananta, married Meera and to whom Durlabh and Krishna were born.
● Durlabh married Babu and from their union Ishan was born.
● Ishan is the only child of Durlabh and Babu, and has a son named Pupu.

Durlabh and his family have invited us to their home for lunch but what awaits us is much more than a good Indian lunch. What awaits us is also the stories of their family and of Paramhansa Yogananda.

We are welcomed into a beautiful single house where there is a large dining room on the second floor, and two bedrooms. There are about 40 of us and we can’t all fit in the hall so we spread out a bit. We look around for traces of our Guru Paramhansa Yogananda and his family. The house is simply furnished but is full of very special mementos and objects, such as a large painting with Yogananda’s figure, a display case with objects that apparently do not have much value but are reminders of our Guru’s life.

After eating a very delicious typical Indian meal with basmati rice seasoned with ghee, cashews and cumin, a dhal of lentils and some very spicy vegetables accompanied by a special chapati, we finished with a delicious typical Indian dessert rich in milk and almonds and adorned with silver paper. Ishan, Durlabh’s son, begins telling some stories about his grandmother Meera, Ramkrishna wife, who was originally the betrothed chosen by Bhagabhati Lal Gosh for Yogananda. Yogananda refused to marry Meera because he wanted to become a Sannyasi, that is, a renunciate. So Yogananda never married Meera but saw something special in her. In fact, a few years later he was the one who performed the marriage between Meera and his grandson Ramkrishna.

We spend the rest of the afternoon chatting and absorbing the blessed energy of this simple family that is blessed to belong to a generation of saints. What I will certainly carry in my heart is this strong feeling of being home. In fact, this humble family managed to leave a beautiful feeling in our hearts, as though they were our extended family.


Goddes Kali in Dakshineswar

Prashana: The second stop on our pilgrimage was Kolkata, the city of Goddess Kali (Kali-Kata, abode of Kali). From the moment our train left for Kolkata, I could truly feel the vibration of this aspect of the Divine Mother which was very much present.
During our stay in this city we visited the Dakshineswar temple, a very special place dedicated precisely to Kali and mentioned in the twenty-second chapter of the Autobiography of a Yogi “The Heart of a Stone Image.” In this temple lived the great master Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa.
To enter the temple, we had to leave our shoes, phones and backpacks on the bus and walk barefoot toward the entrance, bringing only our meditation essentials: free of the superfluous, much lighter, and rooted in the earth. Mother Kali helps to eliminate what is not needed.
Guided by Kirtani, we went to meditate in the hall of columns where Yogananda meditated, just opposite the inner temple where the murti (statue) of the Goddess is kept.
The feeling was of being in the presence of such a Power that the only thing to do was to surrender totally and open up to let it into our heart and our whole being. I don’t remember anything else about that meditation, just this overwhelming Love that I couldn’t help but love back.
After some time in meditation, the attraction was so strong that I felt I wanted to see murti more closely to have her darshan (divine vision). Thanks to some of the group who were already waiting in line, I succeeded in my intent despite the fact that it was close to closing.
It was a dazzling moment in front of this image of Kali, she was so beautiful and full of light – a moment that will remain forever etched in my consciousness, a moment of infinity. I remember how moved I was as I looked into the eyes of the pandit and thanked him for taking the flower I was handing him and offering it at the feet of the statue, then placing prasad in my hand.

Revisiting Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta (“The Missionaries of Charity“)

Thomas: It’s now around 5 years ago that I had been serving with the loving Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity.

When I talked about it, which I definitely did from time to time, I very casually called this experience “serving with Mother Teresa“, which caused confusion from time to time because she actually passed away in September 1997. However, I really felt I was serving in her Spirit. This experience was, until I came to my actual path of my Guru Paramhansa Yogananda, one of the most profound and life-changing experiences I had in my entire Life. It has definitely transformed me a lot and made me partly the person I am now. Without it, who knows if I would be actually living the life I am living now?

Statue of Mother Theresa

Therefore, I was always very eager to be back at her place in Calcutta, India one day. And even though it was not an “official sojourn“ on our pilgrimage, me and some of my dear Gurubhais grasped this opportunity to see her place for just about 2 hours.

There was still the same loving Sister in charge of the volunteers, and instantly we recognized each other… after 5 years…

It was a very beautiful first moment, followed by not that touching ones.

I thought “I prepared“ myself properly for this encounter, which I wasn’t fully.

She realized at once that, in her eyes, I was not a “proper Christian“ any longer.

And questions followed like: “Are you taking the sacraments? Do you go to holy mass? Do you receive the Eucharist?“ and so forth.

Well, I calmly responded that I love Jesus more than ever and that I am very close to my dear Saint Francis of Assisi. Further, I told her to not worry, God is with me more than ever. But it didn’t stop and she handed me over tons of materials about the teachings of the Church. I accepted it, holding her as an adorable person in my heart. She just did what she thought was right, and what is her reality of truth.

But those circumstances were in between our heart connection, culminating with the words “Don’t forget the truth“.

It didn’t really shock me, but it made me feel somewhat uncomfortable.

In a nutshell, I had a great experience and meditation there, at the tomb of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I always, eagerly, wanted to be back one day.

Now I came to understand that this karma and desire to be back at her place finally vanished forever. I feel freer and very blessed.

In Joy

Durga, Madri, Dhuti, Thomas, Gianpietro, Suryani, Prashana and Gloria

House of Tulsi Bose