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Teachers and Inspirations


Portrait of Paramahansa Yogananda

Paramahansa Yogananda

  Hindu - Kriya Yoga | Self-Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles, California, USA



My first introduction to Paramahansa Yogananda was due to my friend Fran who thought I would be interested in this book she had, which turned out to be the spiritual classic "Autobiography of a Yogi."  I had very little experience with Hinduism at the time and was just beginning to understand the idea of universal truths underlying all religions.

For the record, many people say that the spelling should be Paramhansa, and to be honest, it is up to the writer.  Yogananda was Bengali so he would have dropped the "a" traditionally but leaving it in is not incorrect.  The title "Paramahansa" is Sanskrit for "great swan" and is used to signify one who is constantly in communion with God.  "Yogananda" translates to the "Joy of God-Union."  I will be spelling it paramahansa since that is the correct spelling in Sanskrit.


Portrait of Swami Kriyananda

Swami Kriyananda

In September of 1948, a young man by the name of J. Donald Walters arrived at the Hollywood Temple and began his journey that he would document in his book "The Path (Autobiography of a Western Yogi)." While "The Path" is the story of Donald Walters, a very large part of the book is about his 3½ years with Yogananda.

"The Path" was later re-edited and is now available in under its new title "The New Path: My Life with Paramhansa Yogananda".

When Donald Walters took sannyas (ordination into full monkhood) initiation in 1955 from Daya Mata, the 3rd president of Self-Realization Fellowship, SRF, he was given the name Kriyananda.

I've never been exactly sure why, but in July of 1962, Swami Kriyananda and Self-Realization Fellowship parted ways and he started what would become known as "Ananda."  While Self-Realization would continue the "church" or "temple" aspect of Paramahansa Yogananda's vision, Ananda would be the first "World Brotherhood Colony" that his guru had envisioned.

Visit Swami Kriyananda's Ananda Web Site

Read "The New Path: My Life with Paramhansa Yogananda" by J. Donald Walters (Swami Kriyananda) on-line

Paramahansa Yogananda was born January 5, 1893 in Gorakhpur, India with the name of Mukunda Lal.  His family was fairly well off and quite devout, being devotees of Lahiri Mahasaya of Benares.  Young Mukunda started his search for God at an early age and never really attempted anything else as a profession.

When Mukunda was 17, he met and became a disciple of Swami Sri Yukteswar, at whose ashram he would spend the majority of the next 10 years.  During this time, Mukunda graduated from Calcutta University and in 1915 took his monastic vows into the Swami Order, which is when his name became Yogananda.

1920 found Yogananda going to Boston as the Indian delegate to the International Congress of Religious Liberals where his speech on "The Science of Religion" was very well received.  Also in 1920, Swami Yogananda founded "Self-Realization Fellowship" (SRF).  For the next several years, Yogananda would tour the United States, speaking in many cities

In 1925 he would establish the international headquarters for Self-Realization Fellowship in Mount Washington, a suburb just north of Los Angeles.

During an 18-month trip to Europe and India, Yogananda went to visit his guru who bestowed upon him the highest of spiritual titles, that of "Parmahansa," shortly before Sri Yukteswarji's mahasamadhi (a yogi's final conscious exit from the body) in 1936.

Upon Swamiji's ("Ji" is a customary respectful suffix, particularly used in direct address) return to the United States, he started to withdraw from his nationwide public appearances to devote himself more and more to his writing and expanding Self-Realization Fellowship.  During this time, he would write his spiritual classic, "Autobiography of a Yogi" which was published in 1946.

Amongst other things, he would also write his commentary on the Bhagavad-gita titled "God Talks to Arjuna."  Paramahansa Yogananda entered mahasamadhi on March 7, 1952.

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.

Paramahansa Yogananda

Visit Self-Realization Fellowship's Web Site

Read The Original 1946 Edition of "Autobiography of a Yogi" by Paramahansa Yogananda on-line

Read the 1949 Edition of "Whispers from Eternity" by Paramahansa Yogananda on-line