Aghori Baba was a tantric master with a vast knowledge of the scriptures. Extremely intelligent, he was a spiritual scientist who constantly experimented with the dynamics of matter and energy, their interchangeability, and how they relate to pure consciousness. The scriptures pertaining to the aghora path describe the way matter and energy in numberless forms have evolved from consciousness, how this whole universe has been created by consciousness, and how consciousness uses matter and energy as a stage for its divine play. One who knows this truth is learned, and one who has gained a direct experience of it is enlightened.

My teacher, Swami Rama, had a special love for Aghori Baba and the cave where he lived. Even after this sage left his body, Swamiji frequently visited this cave, often taking select students with him. In 1983, when Swamiji spoke of this saint in the context of the aghora tradition and the esoteric knowledge of solar science (surya vijnana), I got a glimpse of Swamiji’s relationship with this master.

By now I was certain that Aghori Baba was one of Swamiji’s main sources of knowledge about solar science. From conversations with him and from the writings of a great scholar, G. N. Kaviraj, I had learned that masters of this esoteric science possess extraordinary healing powers and can transform matter into energy, and vice versa, at will. In my heart I had a feeling that Swamiji himself was a master of this science, for both in India and in the United States I had heard dozens of tales about him healing others and materializing objects—such as a Shiva lingam, yantras, and different kinds of flowers—out of thin air.

The scriptures pertaining to the aghora path describe the way matter and energy in numberless forms have evolved from consciousness.

One such story revolved around the Tandon family in Kanpur, whose members had been Swamiji’s students for a long time. As the family was preparing to celebrate a wedding, one of the children fell ill. The doctors could do nothing, and it appeared that the boy would die. Swamiji stopped by, and when he heard of the condition of the child, he asked for and received a glass of water. He then walked around the boy’s bed with the glass in his hand, drank the water, and left the house. Instantly, the child’s fever disappeared and he made a complete recovery. There are similar accounts of Swamiji healing people here in the United States.

I had no doubt about the truth of these stories, but I did not know the specific practice that enables a yogi to gain the extraordinary ability to heal others or to transform one form of matter into another. Then late one night, after I had read Swamiji some pages of my Hindi translation of Living with the Himalayan Masters, he dismissed me with instructions to come again in the morning. I went to see him at 6:30 a.m.

Normally he slept in a corner of his small dining room, but that night he had made his bed in the adjacent conference room. I found him sitting on the blanket he used for a bed, which was unusual at so late an hour. Soon after I entered the room I noticed that the big rubber tree growing in the western corner seemed to have shrunk. The tree had grown so tall that the top was bent against the ceiling, and we had been planning to move it to the solarium, where the ceiling is higher. But now its top was at least two feet below the ceiling. At first I thought someone must have put it in a smaller pot or maybe even pruned it, but when I looked more closely I saw that the pot was the same and the top of the tree was intact. So I asked, “Swamiji, what happened to this plant? Why is it so short?”

“I was making an experiment on how to make a big object become smaller,” he replied.
“How did you do that?”
“It is simple: remove some of its mass by transforming it into energy and transport it to another place.”
“How did you transform the plant’s matter into energy?” I asked him.
“And where did you transport it?”
“Do you want to see how I did it? I’ll show you.”

With that, he pointed his index finger at the plant and asked me to put my hand between the plant and his finger, which was approximately three feet away from the plant. I felt an incredible current of energy passing from his finger toward the plant. It was unbearable—I could not keep my hand there. Then, asking me to keep my eyes on the plant, Swamiji explained that he was transferring some of the matter from his body into the plant. Within minutes small lumps appeared all over the plant; the largest were on the trunk. Swamiji said that although the rubber tree is fast-growing, it could not assimilate the amount of matter he was transferring into it so quickly, which was why the lumps had appeared.

Dropping his finger, he said, “Now the plant is a couple of pounds heavier and I’m a couple of pounds lighter.”
Then he raised his finger again and reversed the procedure. This time, when I put my hand between his finger and the plant, I felt a strong energy current coming from the rubber tree. Within five minutes all the lumps on the plant had vanished.

I was curious to know how the human body could assimilate such a mass of matter in minutes, so I asked, “Are there lumps in your body now?”
He said, “No.”
“So where are you depositing the matter? And how are you assimilating it?”
“I’m depositing it in my abdomen,” he replied. “I’m giving it to the fire, who will digest and properly distribute it throughout the body in the course of time.”

From previous discussions with Swamiji and from reading the scriptures I knew that fire is the basis for all the transformation. So when he said, “I’m giving it to the fire who will digest and properly distribute it throughout the body,” I saw an opportunity to hear more about fire. Swamiji was in a generous mood, so I asked, “Swamiji, what is this fire? Where does it reside? What are its functions? Is it the fire or is it the yogi with the help of fire who transforms matter into energy and vice versa? Is it through our practice that we gain mastery over the fire or is it through the practice that we receive the grace of the fire? And ultimately, what is the exact practice for unraveling the mystery of fire?”

Swamiji said, “Aghori Baba was the master of this science, and he always reminded me that fire is the core of yoga practice. It is the action of fire that enables a yogi to cultivate and maintain a radiant body and a brilliant mind. Yogis meditate on fire at the navel center, but in our tradition adepts meditate on fire at the pelvic center, known as svadhishthana. Here fire is called samvarta agni. This particular aspect of fire transforms matter into energy; inseparable from it is samaya agni, which transforms energy into matter. All forms of change—physical, mental, and spiritual; internal and external—are totally dependent on these two inseparable aspects of fire. Some meditate on this fire by following the path of yoga, and others worship it by performing ritual offerings and mantra recitation.”

I asked, “May I learn and practice this science?”
“Why not?” he replied. “In fact we should offer an intensive course on this subject. It will help people. The course will be called Path of Fire and Light.”
That is how Swamiji started his annual retreat and intensive that came to be known by this name. Later the lectures were compiled and published in book form under the same title.

Source: At the Eleventh Hour by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait
Further Reading

Path of Fire and Light: Advanced Practices of Yoga

by Swami Rama


Most people begin their practice of yoga with asana. But as practice progresses, many become curious about the deeper dimensions of this time-honored spiritual path. Books that touch on advanced spiritual practices and experiences are fascinating, but they often leave readers feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about the details of the practices. This volume avoids such pitfalls.

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