Yogananda, Paramahansa (1893–1952)
An early Indian spiritual teacher who visited and taught in
Western countries and who founded the Self-Realization Fellowship.
Yogananda was born Mukunda Lal Ghosh in Gorakpur,
near Calcutta, on January 5, 1893. He manifested psychic
powers as a child. As a youth he was fascinated by the holy men
of India and visited many of them. Shortly after graduating
from high school, he was initiated by Swami Yukteswar in the
spiritual lineage of Swami Babaji, a legendary Himalayan master.
He graduated from college in 1914. While in college he
took the vows of a sannyasin, to live the renounced life, and was
given his religious name, Yogananda, meaning the bliss (ananda)
of yoga.
Yukteswar encouraged Yogananda to come to the West, and
he traveled to Boston in 1920, ostensibly to speak at a conference,
where he taught a system of yoga deriving basically from
the classic text Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. He also developed his
own variety of kriya yoga, involving withdrawal of life energy
from outward affairs to inner spiritual centers (basically a form
of kundalini yoga).
Yogananda remained in the United States after the 1920
conference and several years later founded the Yogoda Satsang,
which was incorporated in 1935 as the Self-Realization
Fellowship. He wrote books and a correspondence course that
attracted a number of pupils to him. He laid great emphasis on
the reconciliation of Hinduism with Christian teachings and established
the ‘‘Church of All Religions.’’
Yogananda passed into mahasamadhi (the great sleep of
death) in 1952, but his body is said to have remained free from
decay for 20 years afterward. Among his last accomplishments
was the writing of his Autobiography of a Yogi (1946), which was
widely influential in attracting Americans to Eastern religion.
He was also the teacher of Donald Walters, founder of the Ananda
Church of Self-Realization, and Roy Eugene Davis, now
head of the Church of the Christian Spiritual Alliance.
Yogananda, Swami Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi.
New York Philosophical Library, 1946.
———. The Divine Romance. Los Angeles Self-Realization
Fellowship, 1986.
———. Metaphysical Meditation. Los Angeles SelfRealization
Fellowship, 1960.
———. The Science of Religion. Los Angeles Yogoda SatSanga
Society of America, 1928.
———. Whispers of Eternity. Los Angeles Self-Realization
Publishing House, 1944.