Shri Dhyanyogi and the Hero’s Journey

One of my spiritual teachers was born Kashinath Mishra in Bihar, India in December, 1877 and left the body Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas-ji (the suffix “ji” is a term of respect) in Ahmedabad in August, 1994.  He was 116 years old.  If ever there was a living being who traveled the hero’s journey, it was Dhyanyogi-ji.  He was a wandering holy man, a saint, a teacher, and a great deal more.

Much of his story seems mythical (if not apocryphal), but those who knew him know that each tale is the truth.  Still, the parallels to myth are fascinating.

While I did not know Dhyanyogi-ji during his years on Earth, I have come to experience his presence since, and to learn from his story and his teachings.  Most references to his life in this essay come from his biography, This House Is On Fire – The Life of Shri Dhyanyogi,  as told by Shri Anandi Ma (2004, Dhyanyoga Centers).  Shri Anandi Ma is Dhyanyogi-ji’s spiritual heir, and my principal Teacher.

As he is my Teacher, I refer to Dhyanyogi most often as Guruji, and I beg your indulgence if I use that term in the course of this paper.

Joseph Campbell’s description comprises twelve stages that define the Hero’s journey.  Dhyanyogi-ji’s life did not always follow these stages in the order listed by Campbell, but in this essay I will show how he passed through each stage and moved through the journey.

Stage One

Stage Two

Stages Three & Five

Stage Four

Stage Six

Stage Seven

Stage Eight

Stage Nine

Stage Ten

Stage Eleven

Stage Twelve


This House Is On Fire – The Life of Shri Dhyanyogi as told by Shri Anandi Ma (Dhyanyoga Centers, CA, 2004)
Death, Dying and Beyond, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas (Dhyanyoga Centers, 1979)
The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers
The Writer’s Journey, Christopher Vogler
The Jataka, together with its Commentary, 5 vols. Edited by V. Fausböll, 1877-91.

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