Yogananda, was a beloved world Teacher who has come to be recognized as one
of the greatest emissaries to the West of Indias ancient wisdom. His life
and teachings continue to be a source of light and inspiration to people of all
races, cultures and creeds.
life story, Autobiography of a Yogi, was published in 1946 and expanded
by him in subsequent editions. The Autobiography has been an inspiration for many
people all over the world.
perennial best-seller, the book has been in continuous publication since it first
appeared and has been translated into 34 languages. It is widely regarded as a
modern spiritual classic. In 1999, it was designated one of the "100 Most
Important Spiritual Books of the 20th Century" by a panel of spiritual
authors. The Book has changed
the lives of millions and it has sold more than four million copies and counting.
Yogananda was born Mukunda Lal Ghosh on January 5, 1893, in Gorakhpur,
India, into a devout and well-to-do Bengali family. From his earliest years,
it was evident to those around him that the depth of his awareness and experience
of the spiritual was far beyond the ordinary. In his youth he sought out many
of India's sages and saints, hoping to find an illumined teacher to guide him
in his spiritual quest.
was in 1910, at the age of 17, that he met and became a disciple of the revered
Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri. In the hermitage of this great master of Yoga
he spent the better part of the next ten years, receiving Sri Yukteswar's
strict but loving spiritual discipline.
Yogananda began his life's work with the founding, in 1917, of a "how-to-live"
school for boys, where modern educational methods were combined with yoga training
and instruction in spiritual ideals. Visiting the school a few years later, Mahatma
Gandhi wrote: "This institution has deeply impressed my mind."
1920, Yogananda was invited to serve as India's delegate to an international
congress of religious leaders convening in Boston to disseminate worldwide his
teachings on India's ancient science and philosophy of Yoga and its time-honored
tradition of meditation. Over the next decade, Yogananda traveled and lectured
widely, speaking to capacity audiences in many of the largest auditoriums in America.
March 7, 1952, Paramahansa Yogananda entered mahasamadhi, a God-illumined
master's conscious exit from the body at the time of physical death. His passing
was marked by an extraordinary phenomenon.
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emphasised the underlying unity of the world's great religions, and taught universally
applicable methods for attaining direct personal experience of God. To serious
students of his teachings he introduced the soul-awakening techniques of Kriya
Yoga, a sacred spiritual science originating millenniums ago in India, which
had been lost in the Dark Ages and revived in modern times by his lineage of enlightened
is an advanced technique for spiritual evolution that comes down from higher ages
of spiritual enlightenment. Part of the ancient science of Raja Yoga, it
is referred to by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras, and by Sri Krishna
in the Bhagavad Gita. While the actual Kriya technique can be
revealed only to initiates, its purpose and basic nature have been described by
both Yogananda in his autobiography, in chapters dedicated to this subject.
Kriya Yoga which I am giving to the world through you in the nineteenth century,
" Babaji told Lahiri Mahasaya, "is a revival of the same science which
Krishna gave, millenniums ago, to Arjuna and which was later known to Patanjali,
and to Christ, St.John, St.Paul, and other disciples." (Paramhansa
Yogananda, 'Autobiography of A Yogi', First Edition 1946).
In 1920 Paramhansa Yogananda brought Kriya Yoga to the Western world.
From then until his passing Yogananda lived in the United States,
where he initiated tens of thousands of sincere seekers in Kriya, inspiring
them to dedicate their lives to the pursuit of God-realisation.
Kriya Yogi mentally directs his life energy to revolve, upward and downward, around
the six spinal centres (medullary, cervical, dorsal, lumbar, sacral, and coccygeal
plexuses) which correspond to the twelve astral signs of the zodiac, the symbolic
Cosmic Man. One-half minute of revolution of energy around the sensitive spinal
cord of man effects subtle progress in his evolution; that half-minute of Kriya
equals one year of natural spiritual unfoldment." - Paramhansa Yogananda.
Yoga Lineage of Gurus
Whereas in India the guidelines
for living a spiritual, "yogic" life are well known, in the West
Yogananda had to educate people about such things as proper diet, right
attitudes, balanced living which harmonises body, mind and soul; developing will-power
and self-discipline; how to transcend physical and emotional attachments.
"how-to-live" teachings have become an essential part of the
path of Kriya Yoga and are a necessary requisite to learning the technique
of Kriya Yoga, in the same way that the yamas of Patanjali are necessary
steps towards the highest levels of Raja Yoga.
meditation we connect the little joy of the soul with the vast joy of the Spirit.
Meditation is that special form of concentration in which the attention has been
liberated from restlessness and is focused on God. Meditation, therefore, is concentration
on God." - Paramhansa Yogananda.