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Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Search in Secret India- By Kenneth Thurston Hurst (son of Paul Brunton)

A Search in Secret India was an instant success when published in 1934. It continues to be popular after many reprintings, and has been translated into several languages. 

Written at the age of thirty-five, it was my father's first book. To mark the occasion, he adopted the pen name of Paul Brunton. This is the story of his personal odyssey, his search for holy men to guide him on his quest. To this task he brought all his professional journalistic skills coupled with an extensive background in spiritual research. 

My father was a pathfinder. In this book he introduced the terms yoga and meditation to the Western world. He travelled the length and breadth of the sub-continent interviewing yogis, fakirs, and mystics, exploring a side of India previously unknown to foreigners. His story became a tale of high spiritual adventure.

Fifty years later I retraced my father's steps and journeyed around India giving "in memoriam" lectures in his honor. I learned that his name is still held in highest esteem. Many Indians told me they discovered their country's spiritual dimension from this very book. 

I made a pilgrimage to the same ashram he discovered and offered my obeisance in the meditation hall where Ramana Maharshi had lived. I saw the small bungalow my father had inhabited, and I gazed up at towering Arunachala. 

The highlight of my trip was my encounter with His Holiness Shri Shankara Acharya, the Spiritual Head of South India, whom my father describes in Chapter VIII. I had no prior intention of meeting him, but upon leaving the Ramanashram, decided to seek him out. 

After driving along country roads for three hours and locating the village where he was staying, history seemed to repeat itself as I was told there was no chance of my being granted an audience with him. However, a friendly disciple agreed to submit my card and returned with the news that His Holiness would receive me at the rear of the temple, to avoid the crowds milling in front. 

His slight figure, clad in a saffron robe, reflected his ninety-one years. I told him I was the son of Paul Brunton. He replied briefly. The interpreter informed me, "He knows!" His Holiness spoke again. "He has been waiting for you! He has been expecting you," said the interpreter. But how did he even know of me? How did he know I was in India, I wondered to myself? 

I held out a copy of this book and showed him his photograph, taken when he was thirty-eight. "I know!" was his comment. At this point I had hoped to elicit his views on the world situation as had my father previously. But suddenly all questions melted, as I felt an onrush of peace and love. All I could do was prostrate myself in the time-honored tradition at the feet of His Holiness as he gave me his blessing. He then put around my neck a sacred mala, a garland fashioned from fragrant sandalwood. I wear it daily.

Thus the wheel came full circle half a century later.

Kenneth Thurston Hurst

August, 1985

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