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Yogananda Ji

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Paramhansa Yogananda Ji
Birth:    5 January 1893;  Death:   7 March 1952

Paramahansa Yogananda and Jiddu Krishnamurty were contemporaries of the well known Indian Spiritual leader Sri Aurobindo. These two great sons of India were primarily active in the western world and set up centers in the USA mainly for the westerners to introduce them to the teachings of meditation and yoga.

Paramahansa Yogananda was born in Gorakhpur on 5 January, 1893 to devout Bengali parents as Mukunda Lal Ghosh. According to his younger brother, Sananda, from his earliest years Mukunda's awareness and experience of the spiritual was far beyond the ordinary. In his youth he sought out many of India's Hindu sages and saints, hoping to find an illuminated teacher to guide him in his spiritual quest. He studied at the Scottish Church College as an undergraduate and had his graduate degree from Serampore College, both constituent colleges of the University of Calcutta.

Yogananda's seeking after various saints mostly ended when he met his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri, in 1910, at the age of 17. He describes his first meeting with Sri Yukteswar as a rekindling of a relationship that had lasted for many lifetimes:
“We entered a oneness of silence; words seemed the rankest superfluities. Eloquence flowed in soundless chant from heart of master to disciple. With an antenna of irrefragable insight I sensed that my guru knew God, and would lead me to Him. The obscuration of this life disappeared in a fragile dawn of prenatal memories. Dramatic time! Past, present, and future are its cycling scenes. This was not the first sun to find me at these holy feet!”

After graduation, Mukunda spent some time at Sri Yukteswar's ashram in Serampore and in 1915 took formal vows into the monastic Swami Order and became 'Swami Yogananda Giri'. In the year 1917, Yogananda founded a school for boys in Dihika, West Bengal that combined modern educational system with yoga training and spiritual ideals. A year later, the school relocated to Ranchi and this school would later become Yogoda Satsanga Society of India, the Indian branch of Yogananda's American organization.

In 1920, he went to the United States aboard the ship City of Sparta, as India's delegate to an International Congress of Religious Liberals convening in Boston. That same year he founded the Self-Realization Fellowship to disseminate worldwide his teachings on India's ancient practices and philosophy of Yoga and its tradition of meditation. For the next several years, he lectured and taught on the East coast and in 1924 embarked on a cross-continental speaking tour. Thousands came to his lectures. The following year, he established, in Los Angeles, California, an international headquarters for Self-Realization Fellowship, which became the spiritual and administrative heart of his growing work. Yogananda was the first Hindu teacher of Yoga to make his permanent home in America, living there from 1920-1952.

In 1935, he returned to India to visit Sri Yukteswar and to help establish his Yogoda Satsanga work in India. During this visit, as told in his autobiography, he met with Mahatma Gandhi, the Bengali saint Sri Anandamoyi Ma, Nobel winning physicist Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, and several disciples of Sri Yukteswar's Guru Lahiri Mahasaya. While in India, Sri Yukteswar gave Yogananda "the further monastic title of Paramhansa. (the spelling was later changed to 'Paramahansa'). Paramahansa is a title given to enlightened teachers in Hinduism, and literally translates as 'supreme swan’.

In 1936, while Yogananda was visiting Kolkata, Sri Yukteswar left the mortal world in the town of Puri. After returning to America, he continued to lecture, write, and establish churches in Southern California. On March 7, 1952, he attained ‘mahasamadh’i while attending a dinner for the then visiting Ambassador of India at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles.

Yogananda taught his students the need for direct experience of truth, as opposed to blind belief. He said that “The true basis of religion is not belief, but intuitive experience. Intuition is the soul’s power of knowing God. To know what religion is really all about, one must know God.” Echoing traditional Hindu teachings, he taught that the entire universe is God's cosmic motion picture, and that individuals are merely actors in the divine play who change roles through reincarnation. He taught that mankind's deep suffering is rooted in identifying too closely with one's current role, rather than with the movie's director, or God.

He taught Kriya Yoga and other meditation practices to help people achieve that understanding, which he called self-realization: Self-realization is the knowing in all parts of body, mind, and soul that you are now in possession of the kingdom of God; that you do not have to pray that it come to you; that God’s omnipresence is your omnipresence; and that all that you need to do is improve your knowing. Yogananda's work is continued by several of his disciples and organizations. Self-Realization Fellowship, which he founded, is headquartered in Los Angeles and has meditation centers and temples across the world. The current head is Sri Daya Mata, a direct disciple of Yogananda.

Ananda, near Nevada City, California, was founded by Swami Kriyananda, a direct disciple of Yogananda. Ananda expresses an aspect of Yogananda's vision for World Brotherhood Colonies, an idea for spiritual intentional communities that Yogananda often recommended to his students. Ananda Village is located near Nevada City, California, with six other Ananda World Brotherhood Colonies worldwide. Ananda also has centers and meditation groups throughout the world. Swami Kriyananda often speaks at Ananda Center in Palo Alto, California.

Song of the Morning Retreat Center, near Vanderbilt, Michigan, was founded by Yogacharya Oliver Black, a direct disciple of Yogananda. The retreat center offers classes on yoga and meditation and hosts programs featuring visiting spiritual teachers. The Center for Spiritual Awareness, located in Lakemont, Georgia, was founded by Roy Eugene Davis, a direct disciple of Yogananda. The CSA publishes books and audio cassettes, and offers meditation seminars at its retreat center headquarters on a voluntary donation basis.<'font>

Main Publications by Paramahansa Yogananda:
--Kriya Yoga : Kriya Yoga is a set of Yoga techniques that are the main discipline of Yogananda's meditation teachings. Kriya Yoga was passed down through Yogananda's Guru lineage - Mahavatar Babaji taught Kriya Yoga to Lahiri Mahasaya, who taught it to his disciple Swami Sri Yukteswar, Yogananda's Guru. Because of ancient Yogic injunctions, "the actual technique must be learned from a Kriyaban or Kriya Yogi", according to Yogananda.

--Autobiography of a Yogi : In 1946, Yogananda published his life story, Autobiography of a Yogi. It has since been translated into eighteen languages. In 1999, it was designated one of the "100 Most Important Spiritual Books of the 20th Century" by a panel of spiritual authors convened by Harper Collins publishers.



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Created by Sushma Gupta on March 15, 2009
Modified on 06/04/13