THE STORY OF FARIDUDDIN GANJ SHAKKAR
Dr. Bharucha told Baba of a man in his home town (Navsari) who professed to have the power to drive out evil spirits from people possessed by them. Bharucha asked Baba, "How such powers are developed, and are the people who have them really advanced souls on the path?"
In reply, Baba stated:
It is possible to derive such powers if you gain tantric knowledge –mystical formulas for attainment of supernatural or magical powers. These powers may then be utilized for good or bad purposes – good when they are used for removing evil spirits from people and ghosts, bad when they are used for selfish ends and self-aggrandizement. These tantric powers have nothing to do with the Spiritual Path and the divine powers of the planes. Miracles performed by people possessing such powers are very childish. Even Vivekananda got himself in a terribly bad predicament when he began to crave such powers. His Guru, Ramakrishna, saved him in the nick of time. (1)
Baba then further explained:
A person wanting to possess such powers makes a small circle (chilla-nashini) (2) around himself and sits within its limits for forty days and nights repeating a particular mantra. If he succeeds in sitting there for the full forty days without a break, he gains certain powers. But it is not easy to go through such an ordeal and do such penance, as the person often sees weird and terrifying sights and is practically forced to leave the boundary of the circle due to fright. If he leaves the circle, he gains no occult powers and would have to start the process again.
Regarding miracles, Baba narrated the tale of Baba Fariduddin Ganj-Shakkar:
Farid did a lot of penance in order to gain powers. He did not eat for days on end and developed a severe gripping pain in his abdomen. As a last resort, he hung himself upside down deep inside a well. After several days, he was miraculously brought out of the well and found to his utter astonishment that he had derived some great powers. He at once began using them. Some birds on a nearby tree were sitting. He uttered: "Let the birds fall dead," and all the birds fell to the ground dead! He then said: "Let the birds come to life and fly away," and immediately the whole flock was alive and flew away!
He went from village to village, showing off his powers and thus feeding his ego. At a particular village, he saw an old woman drawing water from a well and splashing it just outside the well. The woman continued this monotonous procedure for a long time. Farid, desperately disgusted with the seeming madness of the woman, confronted her and asked her why she did such a foolish, time and energy-consuming action. She cryptically replied: "Son, by splashing water here, I am trying to put out a fire raging in a village ten miles from here! This action is not as easy as making dead birds fly away again!"
Farid realized at once that the woman was not an ordinary person and asked for forgiveness for his past deeds. She directed him to a Perfect Master sitting underneath a tree some distance away. Farid approached him and found that the tree he was sitting under was totally dry, and the hot sun was beating fiercely upon him. At once, he made use of his powers, turning the tree's branches full with green leaves. The Master just looked up at the tree and the branches became barren again. Farid again made the tree green, but a glance from the Master denuded it again. This happened five times. At last Farid realized that his powers were nothing compared to the Master's, and he surrendered himself to him. The Master advised Farid to become a real fakir, and not to play like a child with such powers. He said that miracles are not the criterion of fakiri (fakir-hood).
Baba Fariduddin Ganj-Shakkar eventually became a Perfect Master. Baba then narrated another story of a Mohammedan who had gained certain powers through tantric knowledge:
This man even had powers to give sight to the blind (3) and so had a very big following. He stayed in a huge building that had several floors. One day while he was standing on the terrace of his house, he saw a cow fall in a well. He instantly stretched out his hand toward the well and pulled out the cow.
Very close to his house was a river and on the other bank lived a Perfect Master. Since the Master did not perform any miracles, his following was very limited. The Master, on learning of the cow incident, sent one of his men to ask the Mohammedan to stop all that nonsense. The Mohammedan flew into a rage and swore that he would revenge himself on the Master, and made his plans.
One night, he sent for a very beautiful prostitute and, for a fee, asked her to go to the Master with wine and pork. She was instructed to entice the Master to eat the pork and drink the wine. So she went. The Master appeared very happy to see her and thoroughly enjoyed her company, and also the food and wine she had brought for him.
The next morning, the prostitute returned to the Mohammedan very happy with the news of her success. The Mohammedan was also very happy now that he had the proof to denounce the Master and his spirituality, as he had gone against the tenets of the Muslim religion (by eating pork and drinking wine).
The Mohammedan, with a band of his ardent followers, decided to go to the Master to denounce him. He rode on a horse and soon began crossing the river, while his followers waded after him. When the horse was in midstream, the horse stopped and began to urinate in the river. Observing this, the Master shouted out and reprimanded the Mohammedan for allowing his horse to pollute the river.
The Mohammedan scoffed at this and thought the Master was completely insane, for he could not imagine how a little urine could pollute the whole river. He shouted back at the Master: "How can this urine pollute a river?"
The Master replied: "How then can a little wine and pork pollute the Ocean that I am?" The Mohammedan understood the depth of these words and went to the Master and surrendered himself to him.
Baba concluded, "Powers have no importance. Only love counts on the path. This requires the daring to annihilate oneself. Miracles are childish things."
Power to perform miracles by tantrik is no sign of spiritual advancement, but it degenerate the spiritual progress. Perfect Masters are like unlimited ocean and no amount of filth can pollute it. Only love for God counts on the path of spirituality.
(1) Refer to a most remarkable and revealing biography of any modern Guru, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna about the life of the Sadguru of Calcutta, Ramakrishna Kathamrita, translated by Swami Nikilananda in 1942.
(2) Regarding chilla-nashini (forty days of austerities), also called a penance, refer to The Nothing and the Everything, page 78.
(3) Refer to God Speaks, page 47, regarding the miraculous occult powers attained in the third plane of the subtle world.