Carolyn urged me to read the Autobiography of a Yogi for years before I finally read it. However, after reading Yogananda’s spiritual classic it became one of my favorite books and I’ve reread it numerous times. It’s an amazing story. There’s no other book quite like it; it’s a wildly entertaining page-turner, overflowing with magnificent tales of incredible miracles and profound Eastern wisdom.
Born in India in 1893, Paramahansa Yogananda was a Hindu monk, yogi, and beloved guru, who introduced millions of people to the teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga and is considered one of the pioneering fathers of Yoga in the West.
In India, Yogananda was a chief disciple of the Bengali Yoga guru Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri. While meditating one day in 1920 at his Ranchi school, Yogananda had a vision where he saw a multitude of American faces pass before his mind’s eye. He took this vision as a sign that he would travel to America, and soon afterward he accepted an offer to come to speak in Boston.
Yogananda left for the United States that year to spread the teachings of Yoga in the West, to demonstrate the unity between Eastern and Western religions, and to help promote a balance between Western material growth and Indian spirituality. Yogananda’s talk in Boston was well received and he soon embarked on a cross-country speaking tour. Thousands of people came to his lectures, and he attracted a number of celebrity followers, including Clara Clemens Gabrilowitsch, Mark Twain’s daughter.
In 1925 Yogananda founded the Self-Realization Fellowship in Los Angeles, which became the spiritual and administrative center of his growing international organization, and it continues to disseminate his teachings to this day. Yoganada’s worldwide influence has been quite substantial; by 1952, his organization had over 100 centers in both India and the U.S., and today they have groups in nearly every major American city.
Carolyn at Self-Realization Fellowship Temple in Pacific Palisades, California
Yogananda’s book, Autobiography of a Yogi, which was published in 1946, has remained continuously in print, sold over four million copies, and has been translated into over fifty languages. Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs loved Yogananda’s book so much that he ordered 500 copies of it for his own memorial, so each guest could take home a copy.
Yogananda was the first prominent Indian citizen to be hosted in the White House, by President Calvin Coolidge in 1927, and the Indian government released a commemorative stamp in his honor in 1977. Yogananda’s great popularity led to him being dubbed “the 20th century’s first superstar guru” by the Los Angeles Times in 2006.
Some quotes that Yogananda is remembered for include:
Live each moment completely and the future will take care of itself. Fully enjoy the wonder and beauty of each moment.
Be as simple as you can be; you will be astonished to see how uncomplicated and happy your life can become.
You may control a mad elephant; You may shut the mouth of the bear and the tiger; Ride the lion and play with the cobra; By alchemy you may learn your livelihood; You may wander through the universe incognito; Make vassals of the gods; be ever youthful; You may walk in water and live in fire; But control of the mind is better and more difficult.
Kindness is the light that dissolves all walls between souls, families, and nations.
Forget the past, for it is gone from your domain! Forget the future, for it is beyond your reach! Control the present! Live supremely well now! This is the way of the wise…