Paramahansa Yogananda is one of the greatest spiritual figures of the twentieth century, and also was one of the first Spiritual Mastersto bring the Yoga of the East to the aspiring West.
Paramahansa Yogananda is one of the greatest spiritual figures of the twentieth century, and also was one of the first Spiritual Masters to bring the Yoga of the East to the aspiring West.
Yogananda was born in Gorakhpur, Bengal in 1893. Originally his name was Mukunda Lal Ghosh. He was given the name of Yogananda after his initiation as an Indian Swami (monk).
Yogananda means “Bliss” through yoga (divine union with God) The title “Paramahansa” was given by his Guru Sri Yukteswar. Paramahansa means literally “Supreme Swan”. It is given to Swami’s who have established constant communion with God.
From an early age Yogananda was fascinated with meeting spiritual Saints and seekers. His autobiography recounts many riveting occasions of meetings with different Saints, (including Master Mahasaya, who was the author of “The Gospel of Ramakrishna.” ) Even as a young child Yogananda spent many hours in meditation, aspiring to attain God – Consciousness.
At the age of 17 Yogananda became a disciple of Swami Sri Yukteswar who expertly guided him along the spiritual path. Sri Yukteswar was a direct disciple of Lahiri MahasayaLahiri Mahasaya is credited with reintroducing the ancient art of Kriya yoga into modern society. After several years of strict spiritual training in his Masters hermitage, Yogananda was inspired to travel to America. With the blessings of his Guru Sri Yukteswar, Yogananda travelled to the West, in order to share the spiritual traditions of India and his own inner realisations.
In America, Yogananda founded the Self Realization Fellowship, which served as the organisation committed to his teachings. Yogananda also gave many lectures on spiritual themes throughout the country. Yogananda taught that although outer customs of religion may be different, the underlying principles are the same. He also taught that the essence of any religion and spiritual practice was the Love of God and to realize the true nature of your own divine Self. Yogananda also did much to show the underlying unity between Hinduism and Christianity, in doing so he helped bridge the gap between East and West. Less well know perhaps is the poetry of Yogananda. However books such as ‘Songs of the Soul’ and ‘Whispers from Eternity’ reflect the poetic vision of this great Spiritual Master.
During his life Yogananda was able to meet with many prominent spiritual, cultural and political figures. For example, during his period of running a school in India, he was able to meet the Bengali Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore. In the mid 1930s he was able to meet Mahatma Gandhi at his ashram in Wardha. His autobiography also tells of fascinating meetings with spiritual illuminaries such as Sri Anandaymoyi Ma and Sri Ramana Maharshi. Yogananda was also the first Indian Swami to meet with a US President (C.Coolidge in 1927)
On March 7, 1952, Paramahansa Yogananda entered mahasamadhi, leaving behind a profound spiritual legacy. His writings and life continue to give countless inspiration to many Truth – Seekers and God – Lovers.
- Yogananda Poems – Selections from Songs of the Soul at Poet Seers
- Self Realization Fellowship
– Home Page. Founded by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1920
- Paramahansa Yogananda
– Selections from his writings at SRF
- Slide show of Yogananda Poems and inspiring photos
- Autobiography of a Yogi available online at Crystal Clarity publishers