Self-Realization Fellowship
An early American Hindu organization founded in 1920 as
the Yogoda Satsang Society by Swami Paramahansa Yogananda.
Yogananda was the inheritor of a tradition of kriya yoga,
which had been revived in the 1860s by Mahavatar Babaji, a
guru who lived in the foothills of the Himalayas and was believed
to be an incarnation of Shiva, the Hindu deity. The lineage
was passed to Swami Sri Yukteswar, who passed it to Yogananda.
Yogananda traveled to Boston in 1920 for the tricentennial
anniversary of the Pilgrims’ landing, sponsored by the International
Congress of Religious Liberals, and decided to stay in the
United States, one of the few Hindu teachers to settle in the
country before immigration from India was stopped in 1924.
He moved the headquarters to California in 1925. He wrote
several books and began a magazine, East-West (later SelfRealization).
He also developed a set of correspondence lessons,
which facilitated the spread of the movement to all parts of the
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Self-Realization Fellowship
The Self-Realization Fellowship was incorporated in 1935.
As its name implies, it emphasizes the attainment of ananda,
through self-realization, which it teaches is accomplished
‘‘through definite techniques for attaining a personal experience
of God.’’ Central to Yogananda’s teachings is the practice
of kriya yoga, which reinforces and revitalizes subtle currents
of life energy in the body, enabling the normal activities of the
heart and lungs to slow down naturally. It is based on a form
of meditation, the details of which are taught only to students
of the Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons.
The fellowship also emphasizes what it sees as the essential
unity of Eastern and Western spiritual teachings. To that end,
its teachers often provide interpretations of parallel passages
in the Christian New Testament and the Hindu Bhagavad Gita.
Following Yogananda’s death in 1952, Swami Rajasi Janakananda
(James J. Lynn) led the organization for three years but
died in 1955. He was succeeded by Sri Daya Mata, who has led
the organization since. SRF has more than 500 meditation centers
in 56 countries, including twelve temples and ashram centers
nine in California and one each in Arizona, Virginia, and
Nuremburg, Germany.
Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, first issued in 1946, has
proved to be a widely popular text and has influenced people
far beyond the Self-Realization Fellowship. Among the more
famous members of the fellowship is W. Y. Evans-Wentz, scholar
of Eastern mysticism and author of various books dealing
with Tibetan and yogic texts. Website
Mata, Sri Daya. Only Love. Los Angeles Self-Realization Fellowship,
New Pilgrims of the Spirit. Boston Beacon Press, 1921.
Self-Realization Fellowship Highlights. Los Angeles SelfRealization
Fellowship, 1980.
Self-Realization Fellowship Manual of Services. Los Angeles
Self-Realization Fellowship, 1965.
Yogananda, Swami Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi.
New York Philosophical Library, 1946. Reprint, Los Angeles
Self-Realization Fellowship, 1971.
———. Descriptive Outlines of Yogoda. Los Angeles Yogoda
Satsang Society, 1928.