My fascination with Fables n Fairy tales began on my mother lap as a kid when i used to listen with rapture all tales of valour of ancient kings , mythological tales of scriptures. All night my mind regaled those stories as dreams went wild in fantasies. Those bed time stories at impressionable age had deep impact to this day and perhaps in future lives as well..Once iam old enough to read books , my choice of books were still the same ..Stories of Valour, Kings from Scriptures, humour n adventures..Sprituality was always my favourite after all it was part of family. (My grandfather became disciple of Avadhoota & vowed to become Saint. Hilariously married more than once & led colorful life) Among all those tons of books on this topic i read i bring out few best within my limited understnding. All are extremely good hence there is no best among this list.Each has its own speciality n uniquness.Here i go:
* Warning : some of these might be accused of being charlatans. Use your own judgment. My opinion is simple: i take what benefits me & leave the world opinion to world.
1. Autobiography of yogi & Himalayan masters by Paramahamsa Yogananda & Swami Rama
I bracket them under one kind. Both are amazing journeys of boy saints under their respective enlightened Masters from India to America. Probably they are best export of India to west after Swami Vivekananda . Both books speak of amazing anecdotes of siddhis. While Yogananda exposed world to amazing immortal Babaji , Swami Rama spoke on Himalayan traditions & was.also accused as CIA agent in India & fraud in America. Film Baba by Rajinikanth was partly influenced by both the books. Books by both the authors subsequent to these are great read to whet spiritual appetite of seekers & aspirants.
2. Stumbling into Infinity by Micheal Fishman: Author is one of foremost disciple of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar who started Art of Living. It’s bitter-sweet roller-coaster journey of Author with Guruji. It’s not story of miracles & wonders but gentle story of doubting disciple journey before becoming ardent believer. It is also story of Sri Sri from his days under Mahesh Yogi of Transcendental Meditation , building of organization, authors part in growing up etc. Ashtavakra Gita by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is quite a revelation which is well interpreted for modern times. I came to know later that Mahesh Yogi who was most popular Guru in 60s (Beatles trained yoga under him) was also teacher to Jaggi vasudev (Isha foundation), Rishi Prabhakar (SSY) & Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (AoL).
3. “Destined into infinity by Stephen Knapp” & “He came to set Captives free by Rebecca Brown” & “Reminisences of seeker by Kapil Bhaskar ”
These three can be termed as spiritual thrillers though I can’t say how true the stories are. First two are more or less same while third can be read free on Kindle Unlimited. First was written by ISCKON devotee & the story is about foreigner who on visit to India discovers that he is destined to battle asuras with help of his Master who teaches him Narayana mantras while Rebecca claims to be help exWitch to fight against Satanists who allegedly infiltrated into society through catholic church & new age teachings (that included Lord Shiva, Yoga, meditation, TV series etc through which Satan controls humans). Again she was declared as fraud. However book was quite edgy. Similarly Kapil Bhaskar (he can be found on FB) states that he used occult to grow rich & famous . His ex Gurus in occult use him to get themselves rich & powerful. But in this process loses a.lot ,however later he was saved by genuine Guru.
4. Aghora Trilogy by Robert Svoboda
Life is mere memory ., be it beautiful or bitter, its just a memory” muses Aghori Vimalananda. I read that line in Odessey book store when i was a teen. I never got enough funds to buy that book. I had to wait for another 5 years before i could lay my hands on it
Aghora 1(the Left hand of God); Aghora 2(Kundalini); Aghora 3 (Law of Karma). When i read Aghora-1 for the first time i lost half my sleep in nights due to sheer fear.All books i read till now are books that go easy on reader but Aghora triology is no-holds-barred .He shows no mercy and is often ruthlessly frank.No sugar coating for benefit of ignorant reader.These books are of Left hand of Tantra. Aghoris themslves are fierce saints who are said to eat dead bodies and these books “Left hand of Tantras” are more extreme in frankness. Though not suggested for faint hearts, neverthless its very informative which would open new grooves in your brain
Western world or urban populace knew less of Aghora Sadhus till these books came out. Author dispels myths around these ferocious saints who are said to eat human meat& involve scary rituals. The book is of author & his interactions with Vimalananda Aghori. Vimalananda lives like any city dweller in city, gambles in horses, enjoys life to peak as householder while being intense devotee of Goddesses. He opens the world of Aghora discipline & culture to his disciples while ordering him not to publish about him for 20 yrs after his death. Very fantastic book.
Meditation has now become synonymous with image of serene Buddha in meditative state. Buddha was first revolutionary who defied existing status quo & order of the day. The popular memory of Buddhism is always maroon robed lamas, hidden esoteric potala palace of gentle Dalai Lama & mystical monasteries. Tibetan Buddhism (sikkim, ladakh, Tibet, Arunachal) was hidden under mystery almost till China occupied it. Padmasambhava, Milerepa, Nagarjuna etc great torch bearers of Buddhist wisdom that pervades to this day.
Lobsang Rampa (Author of 13 books with “The third eye “ being most popular) spoke about most bizzare wonders & powers of lamas. Aliens, secret passages into earth, astral travel to distant plans, invisibility, 3rd eye operations, soul transfer etc (wiki him for more) Western audiences didn’t know how to see his phenomenon as till that time no one could claim to be expert on Tibetan Buddhism . To my utter luck, I discovered book by unknown author made concise book including interesting parts of all 13 books. My interest in spirituality as 17 year old was totally due to his books.
Jetsunma Tenzin palmo, bio “Cave in the Snow”
is about European lady who gets attracted to Buddhism & comes to India. Does severe 12 year penance in snowy caves (3 yrs in total isolation) of Himalayas. She takes a vow to get enlightened in female form but had to stop her penance as her visa gets expired. Her fb posts & book is certainly insightful read. Inspirational as seldom we see female saints in modern world.(atleast I don’t know).
Few days ago I read “a step away from paradise by Thomas Shor” . It’s story of Saint who unsuccessfully tries to.open mystical land of Utopia in sikkim. He is joined by 200 followers who give up everything to join his once a lifetime journey. This gives peek into world of mysticism & Buddhist legends. This mystery land “Beyul Demoshong ” is land hidden by Padmasambhava (Saint who took Buddhism to Tibet aka Guru Riponche). Apparently, Padmasambhava foreseeing future hides treasures (wisdom, prayers, location of land etc) in earth, human memory etc to be awakened at time when it’s right. Amazing.
“Tibetan book of dead” is quite popular. Though I read it as teenager, now I don’t have recollection of it.
6. Born Again: Reincarnation Cases Involving International Celebrities, India’s Political Legends and Film Stars is Book by Walter Semkiw
Brian Weiss “Many life Many Masters “
These books shook minds of Western audience as they speak of reincarnation. For Asians, reincarnation is accepted fact but for Westerners, it’s unpalatable. Born Again charts who were who in past which includes Rekha, Indira Gandhi, Nehru, Abdul kalam etc. This book states that Tipu sultan has reincarnated as Kalam while his father Haider Ali was born as Vikram sarabhai, great scientist who was kalam guru. Both were rocket pioneers reborn later to finish what they started 400 yrs ago. In Wings of Fire (autobio of Abdul kalam), Kalam says how he was struck at picture of tipu sultan firing rockets in American lab. Perhaps his ancient memory was woken up momentarily.
Many life Many Masters ” is about past life regression by hypnosis where author discovers many past lives of his patients. He concludes many of phobias are due to past life experiences.
7. “Journey back home” by Radhanath Maharaj is bio of another westerner who comes in search of truth in India. At age of 14, author expresses weird nature in America, like, he couldn’t sit on chair to eat, or being vegetarian etc. At 17, he becomes hippie, travels across world to India. He tries various sadhanas with masters before he surrenders to Prabhupadha of Isckon. Currently he heads Mumbai Iskcon Temple. When I first heard of this book, I couldn’t afford it and five years later mysteriously someone gifts me this saying, he is not much a reader & book is lying idle for last 5 years.
8. There are many more interesting books by/on jaggi vasudev, Neem karoli baba, Dalai lama, Nityananda , Osho, Ramana maharishi etc but somehow either I didn’t connect well or I haven’t read. I haven’t added Om Swami memoir here as we all know about it & are here only after reading it. More than memoir I absolutely loved “Million thoughts “, “All is not well”, “Kundalini,” The wellness sense”,. Mahatria “Unposted letter “& “Most&More” are very modern, irreligius & can be read by any person of any age and greatly benefit from it, otherwise listen to his 5 minute videos on YouTube.
Phew, I started this post , however got so engrossed that I totally lost track of time. If you have come till this point, share which spiritual book had max impact on spiritual soulful odyssey?