Born Mukunda Lal Ghosh, this beautiful soul with the luminous eyes would be given his monastic name, Paramahansa Yogananda, later in his life. His book
Autobiography of a Yogi was one of my first (re)sources in the 1970’s when I began my search for something beyond sex, drugs and rock & roll. Little did I know at the time that I was keeping company with the likes of George Harrison and Steve Jobs in my passion for this book!
Yogananda lived from 1893 to 1952 and was considered in India a “premavatar” or incarnation of love. He was a real live Yogi who in his early years wanted to be one of those guys who sits around meditating in a cave all day, but that was not to be! Yogananda apparently knew from a young age that it was his job to take a 5,000 year old tradition – Kriya Yoga meditation – to the West. And to do that, he would need some initials after his name to gain credibility with the materialistic western world. So, he obtained an A.B. from Calcutta University.
Yogananda moved to the United States settling initially in Boston in 1920. After a few years he changed coasts to the more liberal shores of California where he had more latitude to introduce foreign ideas (such as the notion that we are each connected to our own divinity free from religious dogma.) In 1935 he chartered the Self-Realization Fellowship. When I began my studies in the 70’s, you could still write to them and receive (by snail mail, of course) a monthly installation of his teachings. He covered Kriya Yoga extensively as the science of soul and spirit and the meditation technique which centered largely on the spine. I followed his teachings for awhile and kept the folder of yellowing pages for years. But even after leaving the SRF, I have never ceased to feel somehow close to this pure soul whom I never met in person.
Recently, a wonderful movie about the life and works of Paramahansa Yogananda has become available. It’s called Awake:
the Life of Yogananda and it is shown below with some of his books: