A Backward Glance at Eighty Recollections & comment

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It was stationary for a moment, through sudden abatement of breeze, which sufficed to firmly entangle the string with a cactus plant on top of the opposite house. A perfect loop was formed for my seizure. I handed the prize to Uma. If the other kite comes to you, then I shall believe. I continued my prayers with a crescendo intensity. A forcible tug by the other player resulted in the abrupt loss of his kite. It headed toward me, dancing in the wind.

My helpful assistant, the cactus plant, again secured the kite string in the necessary loop by which I could grasp it. I presented my second trophy to Uma. This is all too uncanny for me!

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Spiritual teacher; from Sanskrit root gur, to raise, to uplift. My name was changed to Yogananda when I entered the ancient monastic Swami Order in My guru bestowed the religious title of Paramhansa on me in see chapters 24 and Traditionally, the second caste of warriors and rulers. This noble Sanskrit poem, which occurs as part of the Mahabharata epic, is the Hindu Bible. Babu Mister is placed in Bengali names at the end.

A yogic technique whereby the sensory tumult is stilled, permitting man to achieve an ever-increasing identity with cosmic consciousness. See chapter A Sanskrit name for God as Ruler of the universe; from the root Is, to rule. There are names for God in the Hindu scriptures, each one carrying a different shade of philosophical meaning.

The infinite potencies of sound derive from the Creative Word, Aum, the cosmic vibratory power behind all atomic energies. Any word spoken with clear realization and deep concentration has a materializing value. The poet Tennyson has left us, in his Memoirs, an account of his repetitious device for passing beyond the conscious mind into superconsciousness:. Kali is a symbol of God in the aspect of eternal Mother Nature. Mother was in Calcutta, joyously supervising the wedding preparations.

Father and I alone remained at our home in Bareilly in northern India, whence Father had been transferred after two years at Lahore. I had previously witnessed the splendor of nuptial rites for my two elder sisters, Roma and Uma; but for Ananta, as the eldest son, plans were truly elaborate. Mother was welcoming numerous relatives, daily arriving in Calcutta from distant homes. She lodged them comfortably in a large, newly acquired house at 50 Amherst Street.

Everything was in readiness—the banquet delicacies, the gay throne on which Brother was to be carried to the home of the bride-to-be, the rows of colorful lights, the mammoth cardboard elephants and camels, the English, Scottish and Indian orchestras, the professional entertainers, the priests for the ancient rituals. Father and I, in gala spirits, were planning to join the family in time for the ceremony.

Shortly before the great day, however, I had an ominous vision. It was in Bareilly on a midnight. As I slept beside Father on the piazza of our bungalow, I was awakened by a peculiar flutter of the mosquito netting over the bed. The flimsy curtains parted and I saw the beloved form of my mother.

Rush to Calcutta if you would see me! Mother is dying! I sobbed out the fatal tidings. If we get any bad news, we shall leave tomorrow. Father and I left distractedly. One of my uncles met us en route at a transfer point. A train thundered toward us, looming with telescopic increase. From my inner tumult, an abrupt determination arose to hurl myself on the railroad tracks.

Already bereft, I felt, of my mother, I could not endure a world suddenly barren to the bone. I loved Mother as my dearest friend on earth. Her solacing black eyes had been my surest refuge in the trifling tragedies of childhood. But I scarcely believed him. When we reached our Calcutta home, it was only to confront the stunning mystery of death. I collapsed into an almost lifeless state. Years passed before any reconciliation entered my heart.

Storming the very gates of heaven, my cries at last summoned the Divine Mother. Her words brought final healing to my suppurating wounds:. See in My gaze the two black eyes, the lost beautiful eyes, thou seekest! Father and I returned to Bareilly soon after the crematory rites for the well-beloved. Early every morning I made a pathetic memorial-pilgrimage to a large sheoli tree which shaded the smooth, green-gold lawn before our bungalow.

In poetical moments, I thought that the white sheoli flowers were strewing themselves with a willing devotion over the grassy altar. Mingling tears with the dew, I often observed a strange other-worldly light emerging from the dawn. Intense pangs of longing for God assailed me. I felt powerfully drawn to the Himalayas. One of my cousins, fresh from a period of travel in the holy hills, visited us in Bareilly.

I listened eagerly to his tales about the high mountain abode of yogis and swamis. He revealed my plan to my elder brother, who had just arrived to see Father. Instead of laughing lightly over this impractical scheme of a small boy, Ananta made it a definite point to ridicule me. But I was inexplicably thrilled by his words. They brought a clear picture of myself roaming about India as a monk. Perhaps they awakened memories of a past life; in any case, I began to see with what natural ease I would wear the garb of that anciently-founded monastic order.

Chatting one morning with Dwarka, I felt a love for God descending with avalanchic force. My companion was only partly attentive to the ensuing eloquence, but I was wholeheartedly listening to myself. I fled that afternoon toward Naini Tal in the Himalayan foothills. Ananta gave determined chase; I was forced to return sadly to Bareilly. The only pilgrimage permitted me was the customary one at dawn to the sheoli tree. My heart wept for the lost Mothers, human and divine. Father never remarried during his nearly forty remaining years. Assuming the difficult role of Father-Mother to his little flock, he grew noticeably more tender, more approachable.

With calmness and insight, he solved the various family problems. After office hours he retired like a hermit to the cell of his room, practicing Kriya Yoga in a sweet serenity. But Father shook his head. Ananta was present at her deathbed and had recorded her words. Although she had asked that the disclosure be made to me in one year, my brother delayed. He was soon to leave Bareilly for Calcutta, to marry the girl Mother had chosen for him. But in any case you are bristling with divine ardor. When I captured you recently on your way to the Himalayas, I came to a definite resolve.

I must not further postpone the fulfillment of my solemn promise. I first knew your destined path when you were but a babe in my arms. I carried you then to the home of my guru in Benares. Almost hidden behind a throng of disciples, I could barely see Lahiri Mahasaya as he sat in deep meditation.

As my silent devotional demand grew in intensity, he opened his eyes and beckoned me to approach. The others made a way for me; I bowed at the sacred feet. My master seated you on his lap, placing his hand on your forehead by way of spiritually baptizing you. Shortly before your birth, he had told me you would follow his path. Your little face was illuminated; your voice rang with iron resolve as you spoke of going to the Himalayas in quest of the Divine.

The most singular event in my life brought further confirmation—an event which now impels my deathbed message. While our family was living in Lahore, one morning the servant came precipitantly into my room. Bowing at his feet, I sensed that before me was a true man of God. Your next illness shall prove to be your last. Finally he addressed me again:. I will not give it to you today; to demonstrate the truth in my words, the talisman shall materialize in your hands tomorrow as you meditate. On your deathbed, you must instruct your eldest son Ananta to keep the amulet for one year and then to hand it over to your second son.

Mukunda will understand the meaning of the talisman from the great ones. He should receive it about the time he is ready to renounce all worldly hopes and start his vital search for God. When he has retained the amulet for some years, and when it has served its purpose, it shall vanish. Even if kept in the most secret spot, it shall return whence it came. Not taking the offering, he departed with a blessing. The next evening, as I sat with folded hands in meditation, a silver amulet materialized between my palms, even as the sadhu had promised.

It made itself known by a cold, smooth touch. Do not grieve for me, as I shall have been ushered by my great guru into the arms of the Infinite. Farewell, my child; the Cosmic Mother will protect you. A blaze of illumination came over me with possession of the amulet; many dormant memories awakened.

The talisman, round and anciently quaint, was covered with Sanskrit characters. I understood that it came from teachers of past lives, who were invisibly guiding my steps. A further significance there was, indeed; but one does not reveal fully the heart of an amulet. How the talisman finally vanished amidst deeply unhappy circumstances of my life; and how its loss was a herald of my gain of a guru, cannot be told in this chapter.

But the small boy, thwarted in his attempts to reach the Himalayas, daily traveled far on the wings of his amulet. The Indian custom, whereby parents choose the life-partner for their child, has resisted the blunt assaults of time. The percentage is high of happy Indian marriages. An anchorite; one who pursues a sadhana or path of spiritual discipline. Though she died before the wedding, her natural maternal wish had been to witness the rites. A customary gesture of respect to sadhus.

My keen love of travel was seldom hindered by Father. He permitted me, even as a mere boy, to visit many cities and pilgrimage spots. Usually one or more of my friends accompanied me; we would travel comfortably on first-class passes provided by Father. His position as a railroad official was fully satisfactory to the nomads in the family. Father promised to give my request due consideration. The next day he summoned me and held out a round-trip pass from Bareilly to Benares, a number of rupee notes, and two letters.

Unfortunately I have lost his address. But I believe you will be able to get this letter to him through our common friend, Swami Pranabananda. The swami, my brother disciple, has attained an exalted spiritual stature. You will benefit by his company; this second note will serve as your introduction. I set forth with the zest of my twelve years though time has never dimmed my delight in new scenes and strange faces. The front door was open; I made my way to a long, hall-like room on the second floor. A rather stout man, wearing only a loincloth, was seated in lotus posture on a slightly raised platform.

His head and unwrinkled face were clean-shaven; a beatific smile played about his lips. To dispel my thought that I had intruded, he greeted me as an old friend. I knelt and touched his feet. He nodded. In astonishment, I handed him the note of introduction, which now seemed superfluous.

He glanced at the letter, and made a few affectionate references to my parent. One is by the recommendation of your father, for whom I once worked in the railroad office. The other is by the recommendation of my Heavenly Father, for whom I have conscientiously finished my earthly duties in life. I found this remark very obscure. Does He drop money in your lap? He laughed. I never crave money now. My few material needs are amply provided for. Later you will understand the significance of a second pension.

Abruptly terminating our conversation, the saint became gravely motionless. A sphinxlike air enveloped him. At first his eyes sparkled, as if observing something of interest, then grew dull. A trifle restlessly, I looked about me in the bare room, empty except for us two. My idle gaze took in his wooden sandals, lying under the platform seat. The man you wish to see will be with you in half an hour.

I heard somebody coming up the stairs. The swami has spoken to no one but myself since my arrival! Abruptly I quitted the room and descended the steps. Halfway down I met a thin, fair-skinned man of medium height. He appeared to be in a hurry. Less than an hour ago I had just finished my bath in the Ganges when Swami Pranabananda approached me.

I have no idea how he knew I was there at that time. As we proceeded hand in hand, the swami in his wooden sandals was strangely able to outpace me, though I wore these stout walking shoes. I walked here as fast as possible. I was very glad to see him again today at the bathing ghat. Am I losing my mind? Did you meet him in a vision, or did you actually see him, touch his hand, and hear the sound of his feet? His eyes opened widely. I never expected to witness such a miracle in my life! I thought this swami was just an ordinary man, and now I find he can materialize an extra body and work through it!

The subtle unity of the phenomenal world is not hidden from true yogis. I instantly see and converse with my disciples in distant Calcutta. They can similarly transcend at will every obstacle of gross matter. It was probably in an effort to stir spiritual ardor in my young breast that the swami had condescended to tell me of his powers of astral radio and television. Inasmuch as I was destined to undertake my divine search through one particular guru—Sri Yukteswar, whom I had not yet met—I felt no inclination to accept Pranabananda as my teacher.

I glanced at him doubtfully, wondering if it were he or his counterpart before me. The master sought to banish my disquietude by bestowing a soul-awakening gaze, and by some inspiring words about his guru. He was Divinity Itself in the form of flesh. If a disciple, I reflected, could materialize an extra fleshly form at will, what miracles indeed could be barred to his master? I used to meditate with another disciple for eight hours every night. We had to work at the railroad office during the day. Finding difficulty in carrying on my clerical duties, I desired to devote my whole time to God.

For eight years I persevered, meditating half the night. I had wonderful results; tremendous spiritual perceptions illumined my mind. But a little veil always remained between me and the Infinite. Even with super-human earnestness, I found the final irrevocable union to be denied me. One evening I paid a visit to Lahiri Mahasaya and pleaded for his divine intercession.

My importunities continued during the entire night. I see Thee materialized before me in a physical body; bless me that I may perceive Thee in Thine infinite form! I have interceded for you with Brahma. In meditation that night, the burning Goal of my life was achieved. Now I ceaselessly enjoy the spiritual pension.

Never from that day has the Blissful Creator remained hidden from my eyes behind any screen of delusion. The peace of another world entered my heart; all fear had fled. The saint made a further confidence. Then I mentioned another matter.

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Please release me. Brahma keeps me continuously intoxicated. The doctor inquired the grounds for my premature request. I know the divine will of Lahiri Mahasaya worked through the doctor and the railroad officials, including your father. After this extraordinary revelation, Swami Pranabananda retired into one of his long silences. As I was taking leave, touching his feet reverently, he gave me his blessing:. I shall see you again, with your father, later on.

Kedar Nath Babu walked by my side in the gathering darkness. How pleasant to look forward to at least one of the pensions that Swami Pranabananda enjoys! But it is impossible; I cannot leave Benares. Alas, two bodies are not yet for me! Choto Mahasaya is the term by which a number of Indian saints addressed me. In its own way, physical science is affirming the validity of laws discovered by yogis through mental science.

For example, a demonstration that man has televisional powers was given on Nov. Calligaris told the other professors that if certain areas on the skin are agitated, the subject is given super-sensorial impressions enabling him to see objects that he could not otherwise perceive.

To enable his subject to discern things on the other side of a wall, Professor Calligaris pressed on a spot to the right of the thorax for fifteen minutes. Calligaris said that if other spots of the body were agitated, the subjects could see objects at any distance, regardless of whether they had ever before seen those objects. God in His aspect of Creator; from Sanskrit root brih, to expand. Emerson chuckled. In deep meditation, the first experience of Spirit is on the altar of the spine, and then in the brain.

The torrential bliss is overwhelming, but the yogi learns to control its outward manifestations. After his retirement, Pranabananda wrote one of the most profound commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita, available in Bengali and Hindi. Stop in the lane where no one in my house can see you. These were my final instructions to Amar Mitter, a high school friend who planned to accompany me to the Himalayas. We had chosen the following day for our flight. Precautions were necessary, as Ananta exercised a vigilant eye.

He was determined to foil the plans of escape which he suspected were uppermost in my mind. The amulet, like a spiritual yeast, was silently at work within me. Amidst the Himalayan snows, I hoped to find the master whose face often appeared to me in visions. The family was living now in Calcutta, where Father had been permanently transferred. Following the patriarchal Indian custom, Ananta had brought his bride to live in our home, now at 4 Gurpar Road. There in a small attic room I engaged in daily meditations and prepared my mind for the divine search.

The memorable morning arrived with inauspicious rain. This bundle I threw from my third-story window. I ran down the steps and passed my uncle, buying fish at the door. I gave him a noncommittal smile and walked to the lane. Retrieving my bundle, I joined Amar with conspiratorial caution. We drove to Chadni Chowk, a merchandise center. For months we had been saving our tiffin money to buy English clothes. Knowing that my clever brother could easily play the part of a detective, we thought to outwit him by European garb.

On the way to the station, we stopped for my cousin, Jotin Ghosh, whom I called Jatinda. He was a new convert, longing for a guru in the Himalayas. He donned the new suit we had in readiness. Well-camouflaged, we hoped! A deep elation possessed our hearts. At the station we bought tickets to Burdwan, where we planned to transfer for Hardwar in the Himalayan foothills. As soon as the train, like ourselves, was in flight, I gave utterance to a few of my glorious anticipations. Our flesh will be charged with such magnetism that wild animals of the Himalayas will come tamely near us.

Tigers will be no more than meek house cats awaiting our caresses! This remark—picturing a prospect I considered entrancing, both metaphorically and literally—brought an enthusiastic smile from Amar. But Jatinda averted his gaze, directing it through the window at the scampering landscape. Thus no one at the station will surmise that we are running away together.

I unsuspectingly agreed. At dusk our train stopped at Burdwan. Jatinda entered the ticket office; Amar and I sat on the platform. We waited fifteen minutes, then made unavailing inquiries. But he had faded into the dark unknown surrounding the little station. I was completely unnerved, shocked to a peculiar numbness. That God would countenance this depressing episode! The romantic occasion of my first carefully-planned flight after Him was cruelly marred.

This trip is doomed to failure. We refreshed ourselves with famous Burdwan sweetmeats, sitabhog food for the goddess and motichur nuggets of sweet pearl. In a few hours, we entrained for Hardwar, via Bareilly. Changing trains at Moghul Serai, we discussed a vital matter as we waited on the platform. No matter what the outcome, I will not speak untruth. At this moment, a European station agent accosted me. He waved a telegram whose import I immediately grasped. The official then turned to Amar. The duel of wits that followed hardly permitted me to maintain the counseled stoic gravity.

I am the son of an English mother and a converted Christian Indian father. By this time my inward mirth had reached a zenith; I unceremoniously made for the train, whistling for departure. Amar followed with the official, who was credulous and obliging enough to put us into a European compartment. It evidently pained him to think of two half-English boys traveling in the section allotted to natives.

After his polite exit, I lay back on the seat and laughed uncontrollably. My friend wore an expression of blithe satisfaction at having outwitted a veteran European official. On the platform I had contrived to read the telegram. Please detain them until my arrival. Ample reward for your services. My friend sheepishly acknowledged the thrust. We halted briefly in Bareilly, where Dwarka Prasad awaited us with a telegram from Ananta. My old friend tried valiantly to detain us; I convinced him that our flight had not been undertaken lightly.

As on a previous occasion, Dwarka refused my invitation to set forth to the Himalayas.

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  • While our train stood in a station that night, and I was half asleep, Amar was awakened by another questioning official. The majestic mountains loomed invitingly in the distance. We dashed through the station and entered the freedom of city crowds. Our first act was to change into native costume, as Ananta had somehow penetrated our European disguise. A premonition of capture weighed on my mind. Deeming it advisable to leave Hardwar at once, we bought tickets to proceed north to Rishikesh, a soil long hallowed by feet of many masters.

    I had already boarded the train, while Amar lagged on the platform. He was brought to an abrupt halt by a shout from a policeman. Our unwelcome guardian escorted us to a station bungalow and took charge of our money. He explained courteously that it was his duty to hold us until my elder brother arrived. You will never meet a greater man of God than the one I saw only yesterday. My brother officer and I first encountered him five days ago. We were patrolling by the Ganges, on a sharp lookout for a certain murderer. Our instructions were to capture him, alive or dead.

    He was known to be masquerading as a sadhu in order to rob pilgrims. A short way before us, we spied a figure which resembled the description of the criminal. He ignored our command to stop; we ran to overpower him. As we jumped in front of him, he spoke quietly. Prostrating myself at his feet, I implored his pardon, and offered my turban-cloth to staunch the heavy spurts of blood. The Beloved Mother is taking care of me. Thus you will feel no remorse. The sadhu was there and allowed us to examine his arm.

    It bore no scar or trace of hurt! I feel that my life has been uplifted through his sanctity. The officer concluded with a pious ejaculation; his experience had obviously moved him beyond his usual depths. With an impressive gesture, he handed me a printed clipping about the miracle. In the usual garbled manner of the sensational type of newspaper not missing, alas!

    Amar and I lamented that we had missed the great yogi who could forgive his persecutor in such a Christlike way. We thanked the officer for relieving our tedium with his marvelous story. He was probably intimating that he was more fortunate than we: he had met an illumined saint without effort; our earnest search had ended, not at the feet of a master, but in a coarse police station!

    So near the Himalayas and yet, in our captivity, so far, I told Amar I felt doubly impelled to seek freedom. We can go on foot to holy Rishikesh. But my companion had turned pessimist as soon as the stalwart prop of our money had been taken from us. Amar greeted his relative with affectionate relief. I was unreconciled; Ananta got no more from me than a severe upbraiding. Then you can resume your search here for a master. Amar entered the conversation at this point to disclaim any intention of returning to Hardwar with me.

    He was enjoying the familial warmth. But I knew I would never abandon the quest for my guru. A clever scheme had been prearranged by Ananta. Before seeing me at Hardwar, he had stopped in Benares to ask a certain scriptural authority to interview me later. Both the pundit and his son had promised to undertake my dissuasion from the path of a sannyasi.

    Ananta took me to their home. The son, a young man of ebullient manner, greeted me in the courtyard. He engaged me in a lengthy philosophic discourse. Professing to have a clairvoyant knowledge of my future, he discountenanced my idea of being a monk. Becoming a high-souled being, he soon attains perennial peace. Arjuna, know this for certain: the devotee who puts his trust in Me never perishes! Last Solstice Festival celebrated by Sri Yukteswar, December, , My Guru is seated in the center; I am at his right, in the large courtyard of his hermitage in Serampore. But the forceful prognostications of the young man had slightly shaken my confidence.

    With all the fervor of my heart I prayed silently to God:. Evidently he had overheard the spirited conversation between the self-styled clairvoyant and myself, for the stranger called me to his side. I felt a tremendous power flowing from his calm eyes. In response to your prayer, the Lord tells me to assure you that your sole path in this life is that of the renunciate. My saintly guide raised his hand in blessing and slowly departed. He and his son were gazing at me lugubriously. I turned away. To Ananta I remarked that I would not engage in further discussion with our hosts.

    My brother agreed to an immediate departure; we soon entrained for Calcutta. Detective, how did you discover I had fled with two companions? He smiled mischievously. I went to his home the next morning and unearthed a marked timetable. He has disappeared! Our generosity to the coachman had been slightly misplaced! He had checked Bareilly, so I wired your friend Dwarka there. After inquiries in our Calcutta neighborhood, I learned that cousin Jatinda had been absent one night but had arrived home the following morning in European garb.

    I sought him out and invited him to dinner. He accepted, quite disarmed by my friendly manner. On the way I led him unsuspectingly to a police station. He was surrounded by several officers whom I had previously selected for their ferocious appearance. Under their formidable gaze, Jatinda agreed to account for his mysterious conduct.

    The hilarious sequel on the train was worth all the anguish he had caused me. I must confess to a slight feeling of satisfaction: Jatinda too had not escaped an encounter with the police! At home in Calcutta, Father touchingly requested me to curb my roving feet until, at least, the completion of my high school studies.

    In my absence, he had lovingly hatched a plot by arranging for a saintly pundit, Swami Kebalananda, 5 to come regularly to the house. Father hoped to satisfy my religious yearnings by instructions from a learned philosopher. But the tables were subtly turned: my new teacher, far from offering intellectual aridities, fanned the embers of my God-aspiration. The peerless guru had possessed thousands of disciples, silently drawn to him by the irresistibility of his divine magnetism. I learned later that Lahiri Mahasaya had often characterized Kebalananda as rishi or illumined sage. All the movements of his slight body were marked by a restful deliberation.

    Ever gentle and loving, he was firmly established in the infinite consciousness. Many of our happy hours together were spent in deep Kriya meditation. But my progress in Sanskrit scholarship was unnoteworthy. I sought every opportunity to forsake prosaic grammar and to talk of yoga and Lahiri Mahasaya.

    My tutor obliged me one day by telling me something of his own life with the master. His Benares home was my nightly goal of pilgrimage. The guru was always present in a small front parlor on the first floor. As he sat in lotus posture on a backless wooden seat, his disciples garlanded him in a semicircle.

    His eyes sparkled and danced with the joy of the Divine. They were ever half closed, peering through the inner telescopic orb into a sphere of eternal bliss. He seldom spoke at length. Occasionally his gaze would focus on a student in need of help; healing words poured then like an avalanche of light. I was permeated with his fragrance, as though from a lotus of infinity. To be with him, even without exchanging a word for days, was experience which changed my entire being. There the most tenuous states came easily within my grasp. Such perceptions eluded me in the presence of lesser teachers.

    The master was a living temple of God whose secret doors were open to all disciples through devotion. He had the wondrous clavis which unlocked the profound philosophical science embedded ages ago in the Vedas. This technique cannot be bound, filed, and forgotten, in the manner of theoretical inspirations. Continue ceaselessly on your path to liberation through Kriya, whose power lies in practice. My saintly tutor recounted the story one day, his eyes remote from the Sanskrit texts before us. Should he have no light in his eyes, when he faithfully served our master, in whom the Divine was fully blazing?

    One morning I sought to speak to Ramu, but he sat for patient hours fanning the guru with a hand-made palm-leaf punkha. When the devotee finally left the room, I followed him. Never have my eyes been blessed with a glimpse of the sun. The disciple felt almost ashamed to ask that physical wealth be added to his spiritual superabundance.

    I have no healing power. He who ignites the stars and the cells of flesh with mysterious life-effulgence can surely bring luster of vision into your eyes. The splendor of the sun shall have a special dawn for you. For the first time, Ramu beheld the fair face of nature. The Omniscient One had unerringly directed his disciple to repeat the name of Rama, adored by him above all other saints.

    By perfection of resistless surrender, the master enabled the Prime Healing Power to flow freely through him. But the silent spiritual awakenings he effected, the Christlike disciples he fashioned, are his imperishable miracles. Bhagavad Gita, IX, Krishna was the greatest prophet of India; Arjuna was his foremost disciple. I always addressed him as Ananta-da. Da is a respectful suffix which the eldest brother in an Indian family receives from junior brothers and sisters. His biography has been recently published in Bengali.

    Born in the Khulna district of Bengal in , Kebalananda gave up his body in Benares at the age of sixty-eight. His family name was Ashutosh Chatterji. The ancient four Vedas comprise over extant canonical books. It contains every religious sentiment, all the grand ethics which visit in turn each noble poetic mind. It is of no use to put away the book; if I trust myself in the woods or in a boat upon the pond, Nature makes a Brahmin of me presently: eternal necessity, eternal compensation, unfathomable power, unbroken silence.

    This is her creed. Peace, she saith to me, and purity and absolute abandonment—these panaceas expiate all sin and bring you to the beatitude of the Eight Gods. At death the consciousness of man is usually drawn to this holy spot, accounting for the upraised eyes found in the dead. The central sacred figure of the Sanskrit epic, Ramayana. I did not have this wisdom of Solomon to comfort me; I gazed searchingly about me, on any excursion from home, for the face of my destined guru.

    But my path did not cross his own until after the completion of my high school studies. Everything else is complex. Do not seek absolute values in the relative world of nature. These philosophical finalities gently entered my ear as I stood silently before a temple image of Kali. Good and evil is the challenging riddle which life places sphinxlike before every intelligence.

    Attempting no solution, most men pay forfeit with their lives, penalty now even as in the days of Thebes. Here and there, a towering lonely figure never cries defeat. It pulverizes the stoutest ego. But true self-analysis mathematically operates to produce seers. The human mind, bared to a centuried slime, is teeming with repulsive life of countless world-delusions. Struggles of the battlefields pale into insignificance here, when man first contends with inward enemies! No mortal foes these, to be overcome by harrowing array of might!

    Omnipresent, unresting, pursuing man even in sleep, subtly equipped with a miasmic weapon, these soldiers of ignorant lusts seek to slay us all. Thoughtless is the man who buries his ideals, surrendering to the common fate. Can he seem other than impotent, wooden, ignominious? But ingenuity is equal to the maze. Inner research soon exposes a unity in all human minds—the stalwart kinship of selfish motive. In one sense at least, the brotherhood of man stands revealed. An aghast humility follows this leveling discovery. Release is given him from the deafening demands of his ego. The love of God flowers on such soil.

    With a sweeping gesture, my chance companion dismissed the ornate dignity. We strolled to the inviting sunshine at the entrance, where throngs of devotees were passing to and fro. Their hoary dictums suffice for this day and land. Not outmoded, not unsophisticated against the guiles of materialism, the disciplinary precepts mold India still. By millenniums—more than embarrassed scholars care to compute! Take it for your heritage. As I was reverently bidding farewell to the eloquent sadhu, he revealed a clairvoyant perception:. I quitted the temple precincts and wandered along aimlessly.

    Turning a corner, I ran into an old acquaintance—one of those long-winded fellows whose conversational powers ignore time and embrace eternity. But he held me by the hand, forcing out tidbits of information. He was like a ravenous wolf, I thought in amusement; the longer I spoke, the more hungrily he sniffed for news. Inwardly I petitioned the Goddess Kali to devise a graceful means of escape. My companion left me abruptly. I sighed with relief and doubled my pace, dreading any relapse into the garrulous fever.

    Hearing rapid footsteps behind me, I quickened my speed. I dared not look back. But with a bound, the youth rejoined me, jovially clasping my shoulder. You may have an unusual experience. The similarly worded prediction of the sadhu at Kalighat Temple flashed to my mind. Definitely intrigued, I entered the house and was ushered into a commodious parlor. A crowd of people were sitting, Orient-wise, here and there on a thick orange-colored carpet.

    An awed whisper reached my ear:. I looked directly at the saint; his quick gaze rested on mine. He was plump and bearded, with dark skin and large, gleaming eyes. Can you materialize flowers? My own purpose is to demonstrate the power of God. Philosopher, you please my mind. Now, stretch forth your right hand. I was a few feet away from Gandha Baba; no one else was near enough to contact my body.

    I extended my hand, which the yogi did not touch. To my great surprise, the charming fragrance of rose was wafted strongly from the center of my palm. I smilingly took a large white scentless flower from a near-by vase. A jasmine fragrance instantly shot from the petals.


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    I thanked the wonder-worker and seated myself by one of his students. He informed me that Gandha Baba, whose proper name was Vishudhananda, had learned many astonishing yoga secrets from a master in Tibet. The Tibetan yogi, I was assured, had attained the age of over a thousand years. He is marvelous! Many members of the Calcutta intelligentsia are among his followers. I inwardly resolved not to add myself to their number. With polite thanks to Gandha Baba, I departed. Sauntering home, I reflected on the three varied encounters the day had brought forth. A ludicrous bafflement passed over her face as she repeatedly sniffed the odor of jasmine from a type of flower she well knew to be scentless.

    Her reactions disarmed my suspicion that Gandha Baba had induced an auto-suggestive state whereby I alone could detect the fragrances. Because the yogi was reputed to have the power of extracting objects out of thin air, I laughingly requested him to materialize some out-of-season tangerines. Each of the bread-envelopes proved to contain a peeled tangerine. I bit into my own with some trepidation, but found it delicious. Years later I understood by inner realization how Gandha Baba accomplished his materializations. The method, alas! The different sensory stimuli to which man reacts—tactual, visual, gustatory, auditory, and olfactory—are produced by vibratory variations in electrons and protons.

    Gandha Baba, tuning himself with the cosmic force by certain yogic practices, was able to guide the lifetrons to rearrange their vibratory structure and objectivize the desired result. His perfume, fruit and other miracles were actual materializations of mundane vibrations, and not inner sensations hypnotically produced. Having little purpose beyond entertainment, they are digressions from a serious search for God. Hypnotism has been used by physicians in minor operations as a sort of psychical chloroform for persons who might be endangered by an anesthetic.

    But a hypnotic state is harmful to those often subjected to it; a negative psychological effect ensues which in time deranges the brain cells. Its temporary phenomena have nothing in common with the miracles performed by men of divine realization. Awake in God, true saints effect changes in this dream-world by means of a will harmoniously attuned to the Creative Cosmic Dreamer.

    Ostentatious display of unusual powers are decried by masters. The Persian mystic, Abu Said, once laughed at certain fakirs who were proud of their miraculous powers over water, air, and space. A true man is he who dwells in righteousness among his fellow men, who buys and sells, yet is never for a single instant forgetful of God! Neither the impartial sage at Kalighat Temple nor the Tibetan-trained yogi had satisfied my yearning for a guru. When I finally met my master, he taught me by sublimity of example alone the measure of a true man.

    Kali represents the eternal principle in nature. She is traditionally pictured as a four-armed woman, standing on the form of the God Shiva or the Infinite, because nature or the phenomenal world is rooted in the Noumenon. The four arms symbolize cardinal attributes, two beneficent, two destructive, indicating the essential duality of matter or creation.

    Laymen scarcely realize the vast strides of twentieth-century science. Transmutation of metals and other alchemical dreams are seeing fulfillment every day in centers of scientific research over the world. The eminent French chemist, M. This noted French scientist has produced liquid air by an expansion method in which he has been able to separate the various gases of the air, and has discovered various means of mechanical utilization of differences of temperature in sea water. Let us visit him tomorrow.

    This welcome suggestion came from Chandi, one of my high school friends. I was eager to meet the saint who, in his premonastic life, had caught and fought tigers with his naked hands. A boyish enthusiasm over such remarkable feats was strong within me. The next day dawned wintry cold, but Chandi and I sallied forth gaily. After much vain hunting in Bhowanipur, outside Calcutta, we arrived at the right house. The door held two iron rings, which I sounded piercingly.

    Notwithstanding the clamor, a servant approached with leisurely gait. Feeling the silent rebuke, my companion and I were thankful to be invited into the parlor. To our knowledge at that time, Finn Ronne had sledged more miles behind a dog team than any other man and was well aware of the grueling effort involved in advancing Antarctica's frontiers.

    Below us, the polar bound tracks of Amundsen, Scott, and Shackleton had long since been obliterated by the shifting winds. Not only were we on our way to pay homage to the remarkable feats of willpower, stamina, and courage of these early pioneers, but we intended to observe the great progress that had taken place since. The majestic and terrifying beauty of the Beardmore Glacier defies description.

    Bordered on either side by high mountains, this wide flowing frozen river moves its ice masses from the high polar plateau precipitously down to the Ross Ice Shelf. As we flew southward, numerous dense crevassed areas disrupting its surface could be seen from the safety of our vantage position in the cockpit of the plane. With brilliant sky overhead and only a few scattered clouds on the distant horizon, the sharp ridges and black rock outcrops stood in distinct contrast to the dramatic ice panorama of our flight track below.

    Continuously, we climbed up the steep glacier, so formidable to the early explorers, until we reached the edge of the 10, foot high polar plateau. An eternally white virgin surface stretched as far as the eye could see. For the next miles we scanned the endlessly white horizon for the Pole Station. Finally, we spotted movement on the distant snowy surface where men were preparing for our arrival. It was bitterly cold! We noticed it at once, particularly on our faces.

    The chill factor was 80 degrees below 0, Fahrenheit, although the temperature was a mere minus We marveled at those who had made it the hard way. Never could we know the feeling of those intrepid men who had endured so much hardship and incredible sacrifice. For us it had been spectacular and embarrassingly easy. Newcomers are ushered directly to the Pole, a few yards from the makeshift runway. We had just become the first husband and wife team to set foot there. I was the seventh woman to stand at the pole, the first six being woman journalists who jumped simultaneously from the airplane together during the command of Admiral George Dufek in the late 's.

    The South Pole is about ten feet high and decorated like a barber pole.

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    It is surrounded by the fluttering flags of the sixteen signatory nations to the Antarctic Treaty. The treaty "froze" national claims and opened the Continent to science and peaceful purposes only. As we staved off frostbite, the photographers recorded my husband's presentation to Deep Freeze's commanding officer, Admiral Leo McCuddin, of two historic photographs, one of Amundsen in December and one of Scott a month later, both at the Pole. Hurriedly, we ducked into the entrance of our Amundsen-Scott base and carefully descended the chiseled icy steps to buildings and their connecting tunnels buried some twenty feet beneath the surface.

    As we toured the station, the various scientific research programs came alive. Geological, biological and upper atmospheric information is being systematically inventoried at all of our Antarctic bases, along with similar occurrences in other area of the world. Some immediate applications of the results already obtained provide us with more accurate predictions in long-range radio transmission and weather forecasting, not to mention some legal and political problems connected with the already known mineralization of the continent.

    In a somewhat lighter vain, a fascinating three year study of the sleep and dream patterns of personnel was being conducted to help understand human adaptation to isolation. Our stay at the Pole station was concluded with a leisurely meal of steak, cafeteria style, after which we made a short-wave radio broadcast to Lowell Thomas, a friend of many years. The three and a half hour flight back to McMurdo our main U. The next morning we flew to Cape Royds. We intended to spend only an hour or so at the hut used in , by British leader Sir Ernest Shackleton when his party attempted to sledge to the Pole by manhauling their heavy loads.

    They came within 97 miles of their hard fought goal before adverse conditions forced them to turn back. It would have been impossible for them to have reached the Pole and return alive. After viewing the austere conditions of a polar camp from yesteryear and photographing many nesting penguins in a nearby rookery, we climbed into the two UH-1N helicopters and strapped down for takeoff. Suddenly, our previous 20 mile visibility changed so rapidly that after five miles of flight we ran into whiteout conditions.

    There was no visible horizon and no depth perception. Sea ice, glaciers and sky all appeared as one and made us feel as though we were maneuvering in a bottle of milk. I was a lone woman with seventeen men at Shackleton Base and we were marooned! Also, we were hungry, tired and generally uncomfortable. Soon the efficient crew brought out their only survival gear and lit a small gasoline stove to prepare a meal. It took a while to melt the several million year old hard blue ice chipped from a nearby glacier.

    Into the uncontaminated water went a combination of chicken, spaghetti, beef, and everything else readily available to make the most delicious 18 cups of 'hooch' any of us had ever tasted. Then we made another try. The pilots followed along the coast, hoping we could stay close enough to the glacier fronts and rocky outcrops abutting the sea to find our way back to McMurdo.

    But again, the curtain of white dropped. In a flash reaction we made a sharp bank towards the last visible crevasses at the edge of the ice barrier. As we jolted around degrees, I thought we were going to crash into the glacier front, but the skillful pilot righted the craft and we returned again to Cape Royds. By now we had seen more of the volcanic ash, penguins and Shackleton's hut than we cared about. It was easy to conclude we really didn't want to become heroes after all. Walking 40 miles back to McMurdo was out of the question.

    In our path lay mountainous terrain dotted with crevasse filled glaciers pouring down the valleys from Mt. Nor could we reach the base over the sea ice pierced with wide open water leads quite impossible to cross. Our return depended solely upon the two helicopters and our next try would have to be successful as there was insufficient gas left for a third abortive attempt. Left momentarily to our individual reveries, I had no difficulty imagining the men of the top Command back at McMurdo figuratively tearing their hair.

    Innocently enough, I had become a good example of why, in those times, the U. Navy had to swallow hard each time it permitted a woman to enter its once exclusive Antarctic domain. Long ago, I had broken this tradition on my husband's private expedition when I spent a year on the other side of the Continent. But, now my safety was clearly the Navy's responsibility. Mentally, I cringed at the sticky situation, and could only surmise the assessment that must be taking place. As time wore on, the dingy hut took on new dimensions. In spite of a New Zealand Government notice cautioning all visitors from removing any item whatsoever from the historic shrine, we began to eye the corroded cans of Bird's Egg Powder, Cabbage, Ox Tongue, weathered boxes of hard tack biscuits, and suspected bottles of brandy with more than casual indifference.

    Only a musty bottle on the medical shelf labeled as the remedy for diarrhea and dysentery provided the necessary restraint. Dirty torn socks, worn mukluks, inadequate shoes, old blankets, well used pieces of canvass and unappealing seal skins, covered with layers of volcanic dust had been fascinating testimony to the hardships of long past era when we first arrived.

    Now, the longer we remained the cleaner the surroundings appeared. Subconsciously, each of us picked out a corner or niche on a hard bench which might possibly afford some relative comfort during the forthcoming night. Every 30 minutes or so we had to move around to keep our circulation going. There was a stove. Had there been fuel, a note indicating the old relic did not function property dissuaded us from the probable fire hazard. Clearly, an overnight experience under these conditions would separate "the men from the boys. Fortunately, no one was put to the ultimate test. During one of our forays out for exercise, we noticed a small break in the dense cloud cover.

    Slowly, the patch began to grow. We were enthralled. When the sun finally broke through, eighteen elated visitors bounded up the volcanic slag hill to the waiting helicopters without a backward glance. Someone up there had delayed our moment of truth. Forty-five minutes later we were thawing out in McMurdo's familiar surroundings. The episode made a believer out of me. Never again did I go further than the mess hall without taking my own survival gear. My husband died in , and although, I continue to give spot lectures, as before, there was every reason to believe my active Antarctic "career" was over.

    However, some twenty-three years after having accompanying him to the Pole, I returned to the Base on Stonington Island, Palmer Peninsula, where we had spent a year on the Ronne Antarctic Research Expedition forty-seven years before. I was the guest lecturer in February on Abercrombie and Kent's tourist cruise ship Explorer. Their unpublicized objective was to get me back to our Base, which had recently become the First American Historic Site in Antarctica. Ice conditions being what they are in that area, I gave them a thirty percent chance of penetrating the pack ice.

    We were unbelievably lucky, and made it, within that year's two and a half week ice free span. I had never expected to get back and gaze upon that magnificent scenery again. But, what made it doubly thrilling, was that my daughter, Karen Ronne Tupek, was with me, becoming the fourth member of the Ronne family to visit the world's most spectacular continent. The trip reawakened and renewed my interest. Currently, I am preparing a manuscript of my Antarctic experiences by utilizing my diary, which graphically depicts my historic year there in - The following article appeared in The Washington Post , April 5, Women do things for love they might not do in their right minds: Ignore infidelities.

    Raise other women's children. Rob banks. Edith "Jackie" Ronne spent 15 months in a by hut in Antarctica. She went there in , two years into her marriage to a drop-dead handsome naval officer and explorer. Finn Ronne, who had two previous polar expeditions to his credit, returned south after World War II to survey the last unknown coastline in the world, a mile stretch along the east coast of the Antarctic Peninsula.

    Somehow, he talked his reluctant wife into accompanying him on a six-week voyage to the land of icecaps, seals and penguins. In late February Jackie Ronne, 75, a widow since , extended the family saga by taking her daughter Karen on a cruise to the base camp that housed her husband's expedition.


    Although she'd been back to Antarctica, she hadn't seen the camp since they left in the spring of You have to hit it just right. Jackie and Finn Ronne pronounced "Ronnie" met on a blind date in wartime Washington. He was 42, Norwegian-born, divorced, glamorous -- a man who had driven dog teams hundreds of miles across the Antarctic, exploring uncharted sections of the continent.

    She was 22, a George Washington University graduate living with her aunt and uncle in Chevy Chase who bused downtown each day to a typing and filing job at the State Department and worried that nothing exciting ever happened to her. She was making her way through the ranks when friends matched the two up because they both skied -- though Jackie was just starting and Finn was a competitive ski-jumper. They courted for a year, hiking along the Appalachian Trail, biking when gasoline was scarce, rolling back the rug and dancing on her aunt and uncle's highly polished hardwood floors.

    March 18 would have been their 51st wedding anniversary. When they married, Finn promised her he'd never go back to the Antarctic. The land -- with its earthquake shocks and rocks, its trying temperatures -- was his obsession. And he wanted to command his own expedition. A trained geographer and naval engineer, Finn Ronne began raising money as soon as the war was over, but it was a struggle. And his former expedition leader, the renowned and influential Adm.

    Richard E. Byrd -- by then a rival -- was not supportive. The dangers of the expedition were real: the blizzards that could kill a man in an hour, the hidden crevasses, the icebergs, the way the white landscape could trick the mind. But newspaper stories about Ronne's plans prompted 1, volunteers. Ronne chose 21, some with polar experience, some with much-needed flying, medical or mechanical skills, others with a taste for adventure. Jackie Ronne didn't share their daring.

    She agreed to accompany the explorers to Beaumont, Tex. In Beaumont, Ronne persuaded her to stay with the group until it got to Panama. But as the ship made its way down the Chilean coast toward Cape Horn, Ronne urged his wife to commit to the whole trip. Because English was not his first language, Ronne needed his wife's help writing the articles he'd committed to for the North American Newspaper Alliance, which had provided some funding. Even now, almost 50 years later, she recalls the arguments she made in a hotel room in Valparaiso -- the last place she could change her mind.

    They would never go after headlines. My aunt was frantic. And I was afraid that if I went with him, people would say he took me along for the publicity. When she finally decided to stay with him, Jackie Ronne realized that all she had brought along to wear were cocktail dresses and nylon stockings -- "everything I would have had for two weeks in Texas.

    So, in Punta Arenas, Chile, she disembarked to purchase nightgowns, slippers and a robe, ski boots and general necessities, plus knitting wool and needles to while away the evenings during the long antarctic winter. The Army Air Corps had supplied cold weather clothing that it wanted tested. I would have gone to the moon. It was the moon. She filled three notebooks -- the first in a school-size copybook, the next two in ship's logs.

    But until three months ago, when she began preparations for her recent trip, she hadn't looked at the diary in 47 years. The stresses of the expedition were apparent almost immediately. In isolation, emotions festered, and without warning, small disagreements became serious disputes. In particular, tensions emerged with a young pilot and his new wife who was the second woman in the group. The physical challenges were more straightforward. Even though Finn Ronne headed for familiar territory, his old base camp on Stonington Island, it was a demanding, stormy place, with blinding winter blizzards and inaccessible, ice-packed harbors.

    And the days were filled with difficulties and dangers. Reaching Antarctica just before the winter freeze, there was a great deal to do. The base was uninhabitable for humans or dog teams without repairs. Supplies, including three small planes, gallon drums of high-octane gas and all their scientific instruments, had to be unloaded and stored. And after dark, there wasn't much to do except play cards, watch movies, study navigation and worry.

    You can turn your back and find somebody in great difficulty. The door to our hut was open 24 hours a day to report emergency situations. One of our men went down a crevasse and was stuck upside down for 12 hours before help came. Until the rescue team got back, nobody slept.

    Nobody thought he would ever come out alive. Finn was beginning to worry about what he should do with the body. Beyond the immediate challenges, the Ronnes' underlying concern was the success of the expedition. My husband had a firm hand over what was going on. When the year was over, she was proud: proud of the success of the expedition, proud to have been the first American woman to set foot on the continent, proud that she and Finn were the first couple to reach the South Pole and that she was the first non-royal woman to have an Antarctic site -- an ice shelf -- named after her.

    But she was glad to leave it behind. The sight was a relief and release to me. The embassy dinners and parties disappeared immediately, of course. Her home in Bethesda has the understated look of a house designed to set off memorabilia. The framed photographs and maps. A toy-size hickory sledge her husband made to pass the Antarctic hours.

    A radiogram from Byrd asking him to join the admiral's second expedition. And penguins everywhere. Mounted and stuffed, in the living room hall. On pendants and earrings. Refrigerator magnets. The shower curtain. She knew about Antarctic cruises but never wanted to go on one until late last year when she was asked to plan "an ultimate field trip" for a group of college scientists. Together with daughter Karen, 44, as the stars of a well-heeled group of 92, a different Jackie Ronne set off than the explorer's young wife -- an older woman who swims to stay in shape and delighted in finding penguin rookeries and buying T-shirts for her grandchildren.

    The journey was not for the faint-hearted. The weather was just as difficult and the ice as treacherous. The access to the Stonington Island base was just as unpredictable. Since their ship was too large to get through the icy coastlines, land was reached by large, hard-to-maneuver rubber rafts. When the rafts couldn't get any closer, the stalwart walked the rest of the way, wearing several layers of clothing, parkas and high boots. Her ultimate goal was the base camp and the hut she had shared with her husband.

    Ronne was determined to show her daughter where she'd spent those long months. As the two climbed the yard hillside to the camp, they had to negotiate thigh-high snow, and almost turned back. To propel them forward, Hawthorne told jokes when they fell. Was Ronne reliving her life? But I wanted to fix up what was broken, iced over, ripped out.

    And I wondered what happened to our 5,pound galley range and curtained bunks. When Ronne left the camp a few hours later, she closed the door firmly, shutting out the wind and snow and -- perhaps -- some of her memories. But she just might take another cruise there. One that heads on east into South Georgia tempts her.

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    Alternate Bios:. Edith "Jackie" Ronne b. She married Finn Ronne on March 18, , and on the expedition of - , that her husband commanded, she and Jennie Darlington, the wife of the expedition's chief pilot, became the first women to over-winter in Antarctica. They spent 15 months together with five other member of the expedition in a small station they had set up on Stonington Island in Marguerite Bay. Edith Ronne Land was named after her by her husband, who discovered the coastline and claimed the interior land as well. When it was determined to be mostly ice shelf, the name was changed to Edith Ronne Ice Shelf.

    At her request, the U. Board on Geographic Names removed her first name, so that the Ronne Ice Shelf would more correspond to the continent's other large ice shelf, the Ross Ice Shelf.. Her husband, Cdr. Army Air Force. Finn was Norwegian-born and educated, and already a veteran of two Antarctic expeditions, including the second Byrd expedition and the U. Antarctic Service Expedition. He was the son of Martin Ronne who, as a sail maker on the Fram, had accompanied Amundsen to Antarctica, and served with him for twenty years.

    Martin also took part in Byrd Antarctic Expedition I []. Finn was a remarkably self-disciplined man, well known for his lifelong excellent physical condition, and who had skied all over the Antarctic continent. They were married on March 18, Admiral Richard E. Byrd even demanded that Finn give him all of his detailed plans, which reluctantly Finn did.

    The Air Force also donated three planes, equipment, spare parts, and clothing. At this same time, at the end of , as he was presenting his proposal, Finn also served on the Task Force that created the Thule Air Force Base in Greenland, and he assisted Thor Heyerdahl in planning his trip across the Pacific on a balsam raft. Among the key personnel were the pilots Harry Darlington, Jimmy Lassiter and Lieutenant Chuck Adams, and the aerial photographer, Bill Latady, who used a trimetrigon camera to capture a horizon-to-horizon scan.

    When one of the planes was damaged beyond repair while loading, General LeMay found them an exact match. As she has recounted in her diary, which she kept every day of the trip, Jackie originally had no intention of going to Antarctica with the Expedition. Only the extreme persuasive powers of her husband, Finn, ultimately persuaded her to go.

    Since his native language was Norwegian, he needed her to write English-language articles for the North American Newspaper Alliance. Both women faced strong opposition from their own family members Harry Darlington, the pilot, at first was adamant that his wife should not go and from some male crew members, who said they wanted no women onboard. Ultimately most of the men were supportive. The final decision for the women to continue on to Antarctica was made in Valparaiso, Chile, where they purchased some essential clothing items including boots. A total stranger gave Jackie knitting needles that she used frequently; in fact, some of her knitting made with those needles is on display in the Naval Museum.

    The last port of call was Punta Arenas where the sea proved to be surprisingly calm even as they crossed Drake Lake. Walter Smith was the navigator, and always did an excellent job. The latter was one of three British men rescued by pilots Lassiter and Adams after their plane, a small Auster, crashed on the Weddell Sea coast. The role of the airplanes was of the utmost important to the Expedition. Unfortunately the weather was usually difficult or unpredictable. During the whole time the flying season took place, there were only eight good flying days.

    Peterson and Bob Dodson traveled by dog team to the upper plateau to establish a weather station to support the planes. While there, Peterson fell in a crevasse, but Dodson was able to ski back to the base for help. A search party was organized immediately in the dark. The British doctor, Budson, not only volunteered to go, but later was lowered into the crevasse to rescue Peterson who, incredibly, was still alive.

    He had been lodged upside down in the crevasse for twelve hours. His recovery was complete, but Finn was furious with both men since their disregard for rules of safety had led to this costly misfortune. The men were not roped properly, their sleeping bags were soaked, and Peterson stepped on the radio key and broke it. Both were largely confined to the island base for the remainder of the Expedition.

    Another potential disaster was narrowly averted when [? Fortunately, help was nearby and he was pulled to safety. Later he suffered a broken collarbone in a sledding accident. Jackie spent most of her time in the 12 square foot hut she shared with Finn, although she usually ate her meals with the group. There were no private toilet facilities for women.

    Over time, tension developed between Finn and Harry Darlington. Harry was third in command behind Finn and Ike Schlossback. Initially a close personal friend, Harry reportedly was undermining Finn behind his back. Finally, Finn could tolerate no more such insubordination, and dismissed him. The two pilots never had any accidents or trouble, scouted unknown territory, and earned commendations from the Air Force. Ike Schlossback also wanted to fly. He was a trained pilot who had commanded surface vessels, underwater vessels, and a flight squadron, and was the only person in the Navy at the time who had done all three.

    But he only had one eye, and Finn never allowed him to take a plane up. Harry was never reinstated despite pleas from certain friends, and later complained to Finn about the several short flights that Jackie made as a passenger. Jenny tried unsuccessfully to smooth things over with Finn and Harry. After the weather station had been established on the other side of the 6, foot-high plateau, an advance base at Cape Keeler was created. It was mainly an underground base, covered by snow, and connected by tunnels, but there was a command tent on the surface.

    There were caves going out from tent where people could stay with sleeping bags. Two planes, the Norseman and the Beechcraft, departed south from Cape Keeler on exploring missions in the rare intervals of good flying weather. Dog teams were never flown into the field, although occasionally a sick dog was flown back to base.

    The Chief Geologist, Bob Nichols, led a fifteen-dog team that gathered rocks, did glaciology, measured solar radiation and atmospheric refraction, and operated a cosmic ray machine. His party spent days in the field. This broke the previous record of 84 days for a sledging trip set by Finn and Carl Eklund seven years earlier. Jackie developed a personal interest in science, and she worked as an assistant to Andy Thompson, a seismologist, who measured the first earthquake recorded in Antarctica, and recorded tides. In February , as warmer weather returned to Antarctica, and the sea ice began to melt, preparations for departure from Stonington Island were made.

    Gasoline supplies were low, and the flying program was over. The year in Antarctica had come to an end. An icebreaker cleared a path to the open sea. Rough seas hampered the trip northward, and food was running low. It was necessary to make an unscheduled stop in Punta Arenas. Here Jackie enjoyed her first fresh salads and vegetables in some months. Jenny Darlington was pregnant, and she and Harry flew home from there.

    Lincoln Ellsworth was also present. But the lure proved irresistible, and she returned many times. She was a passenger on the first tourist cruise ever to the Antarctic. The ship visited Deception Island and an Argentine base. A base, including the South Pole Dome, was under construction there, and Jackie and Finn made a radio broadcast to Lowell Thomas directly from the pole. Nothing was left. It was totally empty. Everything had been stolen by various nationalities coming down. Even the pound cooking range was gone. Jackie returned a year later, but once again everything was stolen.

    In recent years, Jackie has continued to lecture on the Explorer and the Marco Polo. Finn was the leader of the first Lindblad tourist cruises to Antarctica. Reflecting on her long association with the Antarctic, Jackie is thankful for her first trip in , one that created all sorts of later opportunities. She has since traveled and lectured throughout the world. In hours of flight time, including 86 landings in the field, RARE took nearly 14, photographs covering , square miles.

    From Society of Woman Geographers :. The interview describes her family background, childhood, education, and activities after her Antarctic experience, but the bulk of the interview provides a detailed personal account of the expedition, its planning and preparation and various personalities, including Admiral Richard Byrd, who were involved in one way or another. Her account also refers to other historical events involving Antarctica and polar exploration. Member Explorers Club. Joined SWG Jackie is featured on an " Adventures of the Elements " game card:.

    In the 's, Baltimore, Maryland did not believe in co-education in their public schools so she graduated from Eastman High School at 16 without ever having a date. Jackie attended George Washington University, joined Phi Mu Sorority, had a great social life, and in graduated with a major in history and a minor in English.

    She worked for the U. State Department. In , she met the polar explorer Captain Finn Ronne on a blind date and enjoyed his maturity Finn was 20 years her senior , nationality, "charming" foreign accent, and stories of exploration. Finn proposed to Jackie in and they were married on March 18, Jackie edited all of Finn's correspondence and reports and was to be in charge of the domestic side of the expedition. However, instead of remaining Stateside, she resigned her position with the State Department to accompany her hustband on his fiteen month expedition. She also made routine daily seismographic and tidal observations.

    Jackie Ronne became the first American woman to set foot on Antarctica. Before her, only the wife of a Norwegian whaling captain had briefly visited. No woman ahd ever lived in the Antractic before Jackie. In , she accompanied her husband to the South Pole Station, as the first husband and wife team and seventh woman to do so, in observance of the 60th Anniversary of Amundsen's attainment of the Pole on December 14, on which Finn Ronne's father, Martin Ronne, was a member.

    Jackie returned to Beaumont on Novermber 11, for the opening of the Ronne Expedition and Aruthur Own Museum Exhibit at the Clifton Steamboat Museum, the debut of the book Antarctica's First Lady, a reunion of surviving crew members from the expedition, and the unveiling of this character card.

    Edith "Jackie" Ronne, a former president of the Society of Woman Geographers, is a grand dame of the white continent--one of two women who were the first to spend the winter of in Antarctica.

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