Introduction to Paramhansa Yogananda
Paramhansa Yogananda was born Mukunda Lal Ghosh on January 5th, 1893, in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, India. He was born to a devout Hindu family. Paramhansa Yogananda was an Indian monk, yogi, and guru who taught millions of Indians the virtues of meditation. He taught Kriya Yoga through his organization, Self Realization Fellowship(SRF)/Yogoda Satsang Society of India (YSS).
He was a chief disciple of the Bengali Yoga Guru Swami Shri Yukteshwar Giri. Yukteshwar Giri sent him to America to spread the teachings of Yoga to the West. In this visit, he also proved the unity between Eastern and Western religions. His long-standing contribution to the yoga movement of Los Angeles led him to be called by experts as the “Father of Yoga in the West”.
Paramhansa Yogananda was the first Indian teacher to settle in America. He was the first Indian to be hosted by the White House by President Calvin Coolidge in the year 1927. This early acclaim led him to be called as “20th century’s first superstar guru”, by the Los Angeles Times. After arriving in Boston in the year 1920, he undertook a successful transcontinental speaking tour. He finally settled in Los Angeles in 1925. For the next two and a half decades, he strove to spread his influence worldwide. During this time, he also created a monastic order and trained disciples and went on teaching tours.
He went on to publish his book, “Autobiography of a Yogi” in 1946 to critical and commercial acclaim. This book has sold over four million copies with the publishers listing it as one of “the 100 best spiritual books of the 20th century. Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs had also ordered 500 copies of this book for his memorial. This book has been labeled as “the book that changed the lives of millions”. A 2014 documentary Awake: The Life of Yogananda, won many awards at film festivals all across the world. His continued legacy around the world led authors like Phillip Goldberg to consider him as “the best known of spiritual teachers to come to the west.”
Teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda
In the year 1917, Yogananda began his life’s work by founding a “how to live school” for boys. In this school, modern educational programs were combined with yoga training and instruction in spiritual ideals. In 1920, he was invited as a delegate to an International Congress of Religious Liberals taking place in Boston. During this event, his address to the Congress on “the science of religion” was greatly received. For the next few years, he lectured and taught across the United States. In his discourses, he taught about the unity of the teachings of Jesus Christ and the original Yoga as taught by Bhagwan Krishna.
In the year 1920, he founded the Self-Realization Fellowship. Then in 1925, he established the International headquarters for the SRF in Los Angeles, California. Yogananda wrote The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of Christ Within You and God Talks With Arjuna – The Bhagwad Geeta. In these books, he revealed that the teachings of Christianity and Hinduism bore a great resemblance to one other. Through these two works of his, Paramhansa Yogananda quoted that these principles of truth are the common scientific foundation of all true religion. Yogananda wrote down his ideas for setting up the Yogananda Satsang Society.
Some of his ideas and beliefs are elaborated here:
- To disseminate among the nations a knowledge of definite scientific techniques. To attain the direct personal experience of God.
- To teach that the purpose of life as evolution. A man’s limited Human consciousness can be turned into God-consciousness through self-effort. To Promote the constitution of individual temples of God in the homes and hearts of humans.
- To reveal the complete harmony and basic oneness of original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ and original Yoga as taught by Bhagwan Krishna. To show that these principles are the true common scientific foundation of all true religion.
- To point out the one divine highway to which all the paths of true religious beliefs eventually lead, the highway of daily, scientific, devotional meditation on God.
What are your thoughts about the life and the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda?